Many Days Later

I am taking cautious steps into the changes coming up. My morning walks, good friends and family have helped me get it all sorted in my mind. New places and new adventures are ahead and all I have to do is keep clearing out my space here.

These two pictures are from the Riverwalk the last couple of days. It is shorter to get to and because of meetings and phone calls I have not made it to the dam for awhile. Tomorrow for sure.

And the drawing continues! We used to have several people come for Christmas dinner and the adults usually got a small travel bottle of liquor acting as a place card setting. I found Lee’s and mine in a cupboard that needs packing and decided to draw some. Next I intend to drink them all up!

And then this from a friend I have lunch with occasionally. She gave me this perfect gift of probably the most beautiful leaf I have ever seen.

It took a few hours to draw but was so much fun to do. And this morning…

These are Japanese combs that I have bought over the years from Wafu Works near Hobart, Tasmania. It is one of my most favorite places to have a look. The good thing is that almost everything in the shop tucks in nicely.

The last few days I have also been finishing up another short story. It should be posted on my website under “short stories” within a day or so.

Many of us are followers of the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny and the latest one arrived yesterday. Once I start it is hard to put down. I always hope that the old poet, Ruth, makes several appearances. I so relate to that character and her duck that expresses the poet’s opinion with a single word.

Since I am down in the studio while the cleaning lady works upstairs I will go out and pick a bunch of rosemary for those lovely cocktails I have on the group calls. Tonight we all catch up with one another.

I am back to wearing my mask to the stores because so many in the rural south will not get the vaccine. Our single hospital for the area is full and dealing with the ignorance and selfishness of the area. I hope the health providers can continue until this comes to an end, and not leave in disgust. No mask mandate in the schools will keep the virus affecting everyone. When you live in a Republican leaning community you can expect the least amount of effort put into caring for the population as a whole. Integrity has dwindled to a new low in that political party.

Til later….

This Is A Good Week

How wonderful to get two stuffed envelopes from Australia. From Madeleine came this fun map of Australia to play with and a postcard of the Flinders Ranges tucked in with her very kind words and memories of my times having her in classes. And from Jan a card by famous Nature artist John Wolesley, a stunning hank of six strand cotton thread and more kind words…even an inquiry of whether I needed a resupply of malt extract that is rarely seen available here in the states. Thank you both so much and also those who keep me up to date on their artworks during such trying times of lockdowns and closed borders down under.

Patches who rarely gave me the time of day now wants to stay close to me, even sleeping between me and the edge of the bed.

And a whole crowd of turkeys feeding outside the dining room window.

This morning it was back to the dam for a walk.

This week I have met with a builder/developer of a retirement village not far from here. I have selected the house plan and the extras I think necessary. It is within walking distance to so many things I now drive to. By next Spring I should be selling this home of so many memories and be settling into a new place with new neighbors. Those I have met seem keen to have me join them. It will be different for how Lee and I have lived but at least I get to see another house built around my needs and wants. Our children are both in agreement that it is time to take this step. Almost every home Lee and I have lived in during our fifty odd years together was a home we built to our needs at the time. Now I get to do it one more time…once more smelling fresh timbers being put into place.

There is lots more to clear out of this house or box up to store in closets until I move. Much of it will go north by way of movers and into storage until our kids get into larger homes.

For now I play around on paper where my furniture will fit and how much studio equipment is really necessary…..funny how I want my old drill press but not the bigger etching press. Times change.

This morning I finished up a new shirt/blouse and now all the fabrics are stored in the old shoe makers chest with buttons and notions. It feels good to have related things in one place.

When I finish off The Home Maker, all four of my autobiographical head sculptures will be completed. In the new house they will be placed in museum cases along the top of the old Brasstown Post Office Table….a constant reminder of who I am. Not much of The Traveler anymore, but The Writer, The Printmaker and Home Maker are all still here. I plan on having my own artworks around me and let some of the collections go.

But always there will be drawing and stitching.

Tonight I am actually being picked up to go out to dinner. It has been maybe two years since that has happened. Even meeting two more friends for an outside lunch tomorrow. Invitations have been scarce since dementia and then Covid took over our lives. I am now combing my hair (well sort of) and putting in earrings for such occasions.

Til later….


Sewing Tips for Those Who Have Lowered Their Expectations

If you can thread your needle on the first try, easily lick your finger to roll the thread over to spin into a solid knot, and know exactly what the outcome of your efforts will bring, then this may not be the blog entry for you.

My thinking is that I may not be the only one who just needs to make a few stitches by hand to get the clothes a bit more wearable. I looked in the closet and asked why am I not wearing this?

Alterations was the answer.

So this first pair of heavy linen black slacks were just too wide in the leg. Solution: take a good one inch off the side seams and one long inch from hem to hem through the crotch on the inseam being careful to not take that much in right at the cross seams in the crotch because that fullness there might just be why they ended up coming home to sit in the closet.

To do this the hems needed to be unpicked but only enough to grab an inch or so from each side of the existing seam to get it positioned under the sewing foot. Next remove the excess seam allowance and press the seams to flatten. It really does not matter which side you press them to. Once you have them on who will notice or care.

Now back to those opened hems. They need sewn back up by hand. These slacks are black. Black thread, though somewhat easier to thread into a needle because you can actually see it, is almost impossible to see where a stitch has been made into black material. I chose a charcoal from the only sewing basket upstairs. And how fun is that! To paw through old threads, a pincushion you haven’t seen in years that brings back even more memories, and a whole packet of sewing needles you can see the eyes in!

Now back to the hemming. You will have to take my word for it that these slacks are the blackest of blacks. I think the Iphone took pity and tried to make them match the thread. So next you get enough thread to make it across the distance needing sewing, thread the needle (for me that is not less than three times trying), and try your best to make a knot at one end. Sometimes you may have to give up on that licked finger way and just treat the end like a piece of rope, put the needle down and use two hands to get that other end knotted.

Also what invariably happens is that the thread you are pulling through will knot up. Give it no more than thirty seconds to come undone and then just shove the wad into the hem and stitch down tight to make sure it does not work its way free. Make sure there is enough unknotted thread to make it to the destination before shoving wads into the hem or you will have to face threading that needle for the one inch you have left to travel.

Now that the hems are sewn back up, press the slacks. It is here that you will quite often notice that between the machine stitching up the sides and the hand stitching has caused an uneven hem at the bottom of the pants. Let it go. Only your cats are going to see this. Who else is that close to the ground? If a “friend” mentions it, consider that you were not so selective in some of your relationships.

Now moving right along to another problem piece from the closet.

This was a contact printed shirt I made after coloring each pattern cut piece separately just to find some sort of order to it all. It is a favorite pattern with a cowl collar. The last time I wore it was to my doctor’s office and she commented how comfortable it must be. I am not sure that that is a compliment. In fact when she said the matching shawl was interesting, I knew that it might need altering. That was not a shawl but a constantly growing cowl collar.

So let me add here that I am not such a fan of the leaf printed clothes. After a few washes, we all begin to look like Mrs. Haversham’s sister who escaped the attic only to be keeping house in the trunk of a tree. Okay, I said it and am aware that it is a look some strive for….just not so much me except in scarves and socks.

So back to the big collared shirt. I started by grabbing the back seam of the collar and sewing a new seam that took out some of the fullness….maybe four inches total by the time I got out to the hem.

Next I rolled the hem under and pinned it to the French seam that should have ended up on the inside of the shirt but because of overthinking and overworking ended up on the outside. It boggles my mind trying to figure out what is going to happen to that lovely seam before I begin sewing…and half the time get it wrong.

Once that has been hand stitched in place I noticed that the back seam of the collar was a bit wonky. So it was never a consideration to rip anything out. I simply wadded more into hiding. There is likely enough excess fabric to make Barbie a matching shirt but at least it is going to stay put.

Again, if a “friend” pats the back of your collar and asks what happened here, ignore her. If it bothers you, just do some embroidery over it and call it a feature. Actually I just did that with a shirt I made from a sari I bought in Bali. An unfortunate darker section of the batik appeared on one breast, looking like spilled salad dressing.  I took white thread to stitch over the darker spot and now it looks better…well sort of.

I think that is enough of helpful suggestions on sewing. For some of you it might be helpful. There is only one person I see locally and she would not dream of being critical of my sewing methods because I recently made some clothes for her that she seemed quite pleased with. This blog might have her turning them inside out though.

I have kept up with the drawing and textiles book.

In the meantime I am hanging in there like this tree as the river rushes past leaving little to hang onto.

Til later….


Some Long Pauses Between Spurts of Doing

I really like the mysteriousness of this river. It moves slowly and stays quiet. A very good place to think. Such clarity comes shortly after dawn….a sureness that falters as the day goes on and the sun tries to coax in other directions. Isn’t that word “coax” funny looking? Now a word spelled the same way has two syllables and has something to do with technical wiring. The way the letters are arranged doesn’t even remotely look like a word that means gentle persuasion. I am not going to use it again in written text…it just looks odd and isn’t even trying to be gentle.  From now on it will be “persuading with kindness”. Just look at that word “persuading”. Say it out loud and you almost see a hand reaching out to take your own while the word “coax” just sits there like a peculiar lump. I won’t use it again.

Aside from that diversion and getting back to the river…an odd pair enjoying each others’ company.

This morning at the dam I saw this. We shared a knowing of aloneness with a slight nod of the head, then went our separate ways.

Mostly under the overpass at the river there are just rocks but a few times there are small bibles or books offering comfort and an offer to choose another way. This offering caught my eye with the addition of an empty pint of a short-lived diversion.

By the next day half of us will believe someone picked them up in hopes of being saved and the rest of us will think they have landed in the litter bin. Regardless within the week more will be placed under the overpass by a true believer offering salvation.

I have been busy drawing. The fish wine bottles hung outside my studio.

The pocket finds from the river walks.

And my cats, Patches and Sadie.

They watch me closely waiting for me to say things out loud to stop the quiet of being here by ourselves.

Today I mended some clothes and began sewing on my last cut out shirt. I read a bit of poetry from Ted Kooser’s book, Kindest Regards. It is a lovely book of memory and observation. And it feels like a poetry book should feel. Like someone coated the cover with talcum powder. The two hundred plus pages inside are that soft ecru color that just beg to be turned and thumbed and paused over.

Lee is the same. Not as many falls as last week. He keeps to his wheel chair and pushes himself up and down the halls. He eats by himself if the food does not require utensils. The nurse told me that this morning she put his French toast together into a sandwich of sausage which he finished off in no time.

Well I need to go talk to my cats and locate something for dinner.

Til later