Remembering Margaret Perkins

Sadness this morning to wake to the news of Margaret’s passing. Her enthusiasm and knowledge of the bush of Australia was always fixed in place with her needles, thread and materials. When she would enroll in my workshops down under, I looked forward to all that she had to share with us.

A very long time ago she gave me this set of coasters that she dyed with various Eucalyptus leaves and bark. One is permanently attached in my visually biographical book titled, My Decennia Book.

As Margaret unpacked her materials for class, it was the first place I headed. So many of the colors I love about Australia were in her satchel.

Her botanical drawings were excellent. In one of my earlier classes with Margaret she was stitching into a large paper map of the Flinders Ranges. She knew so much about the natural world of her country and every piece I saw of hers work reflected such a deep caring for the land.

This was our last workshop in 2019 at Hall’s Gap, Victoria.

She told me then that she would not be attending more workshops. Said the travel was getting too hard. As a goodbye gift she gave me a bottle of single malt scotch.

How very thoughtful and kind. But that was Margaret.

I shared it with a fellow scotch drinker in the company of a cockatoo. It was lovely.

For those who knew Margaret and enjoyed her company, I believe she will always be there in every crack and crevice of the Flinders Ranges. And a mark of her pen in every botanical drawing. Her presence can be felt as we pass our hands over thread and cloth put together to illustrate our love of her country.

Several years ago I wrote a story about how we can open “The Spirits Bar” when someone we care about is no longer with us. We can have another drink with them through fond memories and a few sips from the glass.

Tonight at five o’clock I am pouring a single malt, setting the glass on one of Margaret’s coasters as I go open the door for her.

Til later…..





A Beautiful Fall Day

A leaf that caught my eye the other day on my river walk. It was such a drizzly morning but I got the walk in before more rain came.

And then this morning…totally different and back at the dam.

I decided to add more steps on my walks and on the return saw this bit of pure magic. Like some sort of promise if I just keep going.

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few things and was surprised how many are not wearing masks. Surely they can read the increasing obituaries! I get what I need and leave quickly.

Next trip was to the surveyor to get a small piece of property lopped off for a neighbor I promised  a long time ago. I let it slip by and now the surveyors are very backed up with the new building going on. Since it is a simple request and job they might move me further up the list.

I meet with a realtor next week to view a friend’s house who is out of the country. If we get along as well in person as we did on the phone I will have her handle the sale of my house when the time comes. Selling land, building and selling houses is like the old days when Lee and kept our hand in real estate. More good memories.

Since my wonderful company was here last week I have been keeping up with my drawing.

This afternoon I walked the trail. So many colorless leaves are down. Not at all like a year ago when Lee and I filled a bowl with color every time we went out there. But still so much dried green on the trees.

Lots of blooms on the water hyacinth in the pond since my company trimmed dead leaves.

Bits of fluff on the trail.

And the basket becomes more settled in its new place.

Seeing it made me decide to make it the last drawing for the fabric swatches journal. Now complete.

So maybe back to the Bird Stories Book….or might be something else.

My daughter and her partner arrive Saturday to help me declutter the office and make my old computer less cumbersome with cords. They will install a new TV that is internet compatible and more in line with the needs of where I will be moving….gives me time to get used to it. The builder agreed to eliminate a closet and give me that 2 foot deep and 8 foot long space as a recess in the den/office to set the television back. Like here you would have to walk into the room and turn around to see the television. He just needs to remember to put an outlet in that space…no cables necessary.

They will also help me reach the top shelves in the kitchen and dining room so I can pack or toss what is up there. Actually I think there is a three deep line of bulgur wheat bags because I push things to the back. So emptying those high shelves will be a good idea and save time later. In the dining room there is a gorgeous set of eight crackle-glazed square salad plates on a top shelf that I bought at the Japanese “town” of Disney’s Epoch Center years ago. Needed to have them! Used maybe twice at most!

So that is about it for now. Just had a glass of the sangria I made for my company. It has gotten a bit too sweet so will add a bottle of dry red wine to it…..can’t hurt.

Til later

Good Times With Old Friends

Thursday I went for my morning walk at the dam and then purchased a cake to decorate for Suzy’s birthday. Four old friends from St. Louis were arriving later that day to spend a long and wonderful weekend with me.

Suzy works with textiles. I called her obsession “wallowing in the rag bag”.

Ed went with me on morning walks. He was the only one up early and eager.

The river was way down.

So was the dam.

Suzy, Carlene and I worked in the studio. Carlene is an excellent sketcher/stitcher. With her husband, Ed, trimming out the fish pond, she had some lovely dead leaves and pods of lotus to draw. I forgot to take pictures of her expressive sketches of them but caught her stitching on her faces.

Suzy worked on trying to find ways to resolve her stitched pieces.

Bryan and I enjoyed taste testing a new find they brought me from Trader Joes in St. Louis.

I could not believe that Trader Joes now handles liquor, let alone a single malt scotch that is quite good and sourced from Aberdeen, Scotland! A quick check reveals that only Trader Joes in states without state controlled alcohol regulations can have it. So we found Illinois, and Kentucky besides Missouri. But not North Carolina and Georgia. The single malt was only $24 a bottle! A little sweeter than the Glenlivit they brought for comparison, but very nice.

And their final day here we went to a local vineyard. A perfect outing! Crane Creek Winery just over the line in Georgia.

I miss them already. Ed not only trimmed the pond but replaced all the fallen rocks from Lee’s stacks along the walls. Later today after the rain stops I will walk along the trail to look for feathers, etc.

One of the great things about their visit was how much of my studio cleanouts they took back for artists/craftsmen to put to good use. And inside their cars was a total of six framed artworks for them to donate to their guild’s artist collection auction. It has been awhile since I donated to that worthwhile effort and it felt good to take work off the walls and put it into the cars.

Just before they arrived I finished another sketch in the journal, a portion of my tapa cloth on the table.

Now I am going to get the lotus leaves and pod to draw next.

Til later….

Trying New Things

Making my first batch of sangria for company coming to spend a few days with me. It will be so much fun to have them here, wives working in the studio and husbands working outside, hiking, cooking and maybe even working in the studio with us. I will make lasagna later today to serve tomorrow when they arrive.

The walks in the morning have been wonderful with the sky views at the riverwalk.

Then this morning at the dam!

More drawing in the fabric sketchbook.

And with so few pages left in that book, I have started a new one. The cover is made with using gesso mixed with earth pigments from my yard, then coptic bound using watercolor papers, some with rusting techniques used on them.

I am calling the book, Bird Stories, and every page will have an image related to birds. And every page will have stitching added.

Here is the start…more pictures to come later as I add more stitching.

The pages are loosely water colored, then graphite drawings are added. Next I pick a pattern for the stitching to follow and poke the holes through before taking needle and thread along the path. There are limits to how much I can turn the book as I stitch so making the holes before adding thread helps.

I have put some stitching in but looking it over, I think much more is needed. Stay tuned.

I am getting more sociable in my conversations on the walks. At first it was only a nod, then talking to their dogs, then the people with eye contact, and just yesterday stopping to carry on a full conversation with a gentleman who just wanted to talk. Coming out of covid and the solitude of being with Lee has resulted in a reserved-ness I was not used to. Now I am hoping not to talk too much as I loosen up a bit.

Covid rages in our area with so many not believing the science. Hospital beds full and funerals on the rise. I am masked more now than ever.

But tomorrow friends arrive and more than just a little conversation and fun comes with them.

Til later…..