Time Again…..

Where did the four days go? If I don’t write a blog today then the photos and thoughts just pile up.

Saturday was my birthday. I usually make my bed as soon as I vacate it, but was so taken by how inviting it looked to just get back in… I didn’t.

I am in the third day of my 79th year.

So I have watched the second hearing of the January 6 Insurrection, had some lunch or maybe just some crackers, washed the dish detergent  bottle because there was some dirt in the grooves, thought about packing some more boxes, books preferably, but instead just ordered two more books…Suzanne Stryk’s In the Middle of Somewhere, and a hardbound on the drawings, illustrations and artwork of Beatrice Potter. They will come in two days and sit next to a book I bought last week, Making a Life by Melanie Falick. I can’t settle down to just opening them up and reading…I just wanted them to give me places and things to think about when I can get back to drawing in a designated place.

But in my defense, I worked out at the gym, walked the dam, grocery shopped and picked up a breakfast drink before settling in for the hearings.  Now I poured a glass of wine to prattle on here. Speaking of which, I found these in the grocery store and had to bring them home at only $7 each. This was the first Australian wine I ever had a chance to buy here in the states and although it probably is not the best, it does have a sentimental value. But it is true what that snooty wine shop owner told me years ago in New South Wales, “You Americans will buy anything with a critter on it.”

Aged in barrels it says…probably its second week of fermentation and then bottled for the US. And can you believe I am saving these for a special occasion while I sip a box red.

Back to the last few days….Walks. This morning the dam…

And a couple of days ago over to the house,

All lined up correctly.

Hot and cold for master bath shower. And drawn in the book…

Getting older makes me think about holding onto memories. Probably has something to do with leaving this house…Anyway I did write a very short short story and if it was not so terribly hot and humid at noon today, I would have gone out to lose myself like Lillian in the grasping of memory with shadow. I do have two shirts to iron so I can touch base with her that way.

Four more boxes were packed yesterday. About all that is left in the studio is the empty shelves that will follow me over to new walls only to hold the same old things.

The fixit man came the other day and did everything he needed to do, and a new bathroom faucet has been ordered for the guest bathroom vanity, so he will be back to finish this week.

Tomorrow I will go back to the house to see what might be new there. I am hoping insulation at least. It is getting harder to find things to draw.

At 4:30 this morning there was the most beautiful big fat orange moon setting on the horizon while giving a wonderful glow to the bed. I am going to watch it float about tomorrow morning before making the bed, feeding the cats, taking my shower, dressing, wondering about makeup and hair, remembering that splash of Jean Nate before heading back off to the gym, a visit with old men and coffee before coming back to the ironing I just postponed while doing this blog and drinking two thirds of the glass of wine.

Til later….

Packing Up Studio and More

The river is filling up and the rose bushes have started to bloom.

And this morning choppy waters at the dam.

A pile of rocks with grass and the lake beyond just when I thought there was nothing else to see.

After the walk at the dam, I stopped to see the builder. He told me it might be a good idea to put off the closing on my house here until the end of August. That gives him another month to make sure any complications with sub contractors can be solved. My realtor is fine with that and asked if I was still ready for the photo shoot in two days. Of course I am!

Today the ceiling fans were washed, porch cleaned several times to get all the collected pollen off the surfaces, cluttery bits stored away or just plain tossed. Some things are just easier to throw in the garbage bag than wonder where to put it. And to be honest I have never reached in the bag to retrieve anything I tossed there.

The grounds look really nice for photographing, and so does the living/dining/kitchen space. Bedrooms and den are okay. But boxes of cookbooks I am handing down to Amy and Patrick are piled in the laundry room. The studio books and some artwork and copious journals are packed up.

Packing books is back breaking work! But seeing the empty shelves makes me feel I am accomplishing something.

Books don’t look like much when they are lined up with others on a shelf. But when you separate them from one another, they put on weight and expand. And what is worse each one of them knows they are indispensable. All of those wooden shelf units have places in the new house. Shelves are like drawers…extremely important for settling into a space.

Tomorrow I will look over the apartment and shop to make sure it is looking presentable. But today I am exhausted with the cleaning, tossing out, blowing off the deck, getting cobwebs off very high light fixtures, washing fans, vacuuming and tossing things out. My favorite was dragging off a scrappy looking cat scratching post/bed/cat toy holder to the garage where the things too big for a garbage bag are being held til help comes.

The first of the artwork is coming off the walls. I started in the kitchen with photos of Lee cooking his favorite things (they are packed in a box for Patrick because so much of that was done together) and three small egg temperas I did that were near the knife block. Funny how empty the kitchen looks without those small pieces. I even cleaned out some kitchen drawers and ended up packing all my hot pads. Good thing I found something usable below the range because once a box is packed it is not to be opened til it arrives at the new destination.

I carry around my peanut butter jar of wall paint to brush over holes left behind where I pulled nails. Some will be dreadful to cover as when I needed to find a stud to support a heavier artwork, I just guessed and kept on banging a nail in til I found it! My rule was every half inch til you found it.

Yesterday friends took me out for Mother’s Day. A terrific brunch of shrimp and grits, Then we toured my new house and decided to spend the rest of the day sitting on my porch drinking bloody marys and talking. It was such a nice day!

Til later….

Three Days Later

The front door is hung…held open so I dared not close it. A side panel of lite next to the door itself.

A walk at the dam.

And bear with me while I show the almost exhaustive yellows of this morning’s riverwalk. Then we will get to good follow up things.

And such a lovely place for a critter to live.

And this wonderful view of the river slowly filling with the dam releases.

I couldn’t help all those yellows…so Spring-like! The only thing perhaps prettier in yellow are the cheeks of a goldfinch.

Now for other news in last few days. The Riverwalk (name of the subdivision) print is finished and at the framers. I found just the tiniest scraps of tar-like roofing in the scraps of the house two days ago. They seemed perfect! So between them and my carved crows, I made the narrative piece to remind me I now have neighbors.

My house is the one in the middle. The crow flying away represents Lee while my crow is just getting settled and like my neighbor, it will eventually simply move in. This print was on the top of the stack I took to the framers yesterday and I was prepared for her to give me the side eye of disapproval…but she blurted out right away how much she liked it! Here are the details.

And the blocks arranged into their own house.

I like the sense of visual urgency about this project. In a crazy way the house is finished even though the doors just got hung…and it makes me smile. I now have neighbors.

And because I have always loved these next two prints but never framed them for myself, they too are at the framers.

The Tasman Tree wood block print colored with the watercolors made from Australian soils. And The Daily Grind, a collograph of all the ways I have been served coffee….done in a coffee brown ink.

For those wondering how it was done. I first textured a plate with the five cut out spaces for the small collographs that were inked before placing them face down into the center of each embossed rectangle and running it through the press a second time. It will hang over the counter in the kitchen near my coffee maker. The framer had a perfect match of oak wood for it to hang between the cabinets stained similarly.

And finally the large grey owl chine colle”d print that has laid on the dining room counter waiting for me to make up my mind. It won out.

This new house will have many wood block prints on the walls. It is the mark of the hand that appeals so much to me. You look at them and you can see gnarly hands making decisions that can’t be taken back…purely gut instinct….and the sound of wood being scraped away. You  can smell the paper and ink behind the glass. They will be such good companions and encourage me to stay at it in my work space in the garage.

And finally a little story about yesterday.

While dining alone at the pizza place in the town I am moving to, a lady, not too much older than me, stopped to kiss me on the forehead, smile and tell me to enjoy my meal. I thanked her and she went to stand by the door. Her companion came up and explained in a hushed tone that the woman suffered from Alzheimer’s and hoped I did not mind. I did not mind one bit because I simply could not remember when someone kissed my forehead…probably my mother sending me off to bed.

So with the lady in the restaurant, the doors being hung in the new house, the enthusiasm for my work by the framer and so much yellow that I had to keep myself from simply flopping down into it, it has been a nice few days.

The realtor and my new desk arrive tomorrow!

Til later….

Getting There With Diversions

The new bed quilt set arrived…soft as a kittens tummy. And the color is perfect because it will go with the grey walls of the room and the large painting that will hang overhead. …..aptly named Starting Over – Coming Home.

A walk out to the dam and another over to the new house. Progress! Finishing siding…

And the porch…

So nice to see a door hung. I met the electrician to go over where wiring will need to be. Such a delightful man. Very helpful and thought of all the things I did not. Like, “If you are getting out of your car here with a six pack of beer, you want that little garage refrigerator here and not over there.” That advice determines where an outlet needs to be. And so we walked through every room and talked about what furniture would be where. He kept asking if I was sure there was not to be a television in the living room or bedroom. I assured him that only in the den/office was fine. He was also good at telling me about how many recessed ceiling lights would be enough and I could have some of them dimmable. They will let me know before the drywall goes in to see if I want to make changes. Nice.

I made another two cups of lemon myrtle gin and celebrated with an Australian flavored G & T.

When I would walk over to the house these past couple of months I collected scraps of two by fours. I wanted them different lengths to carve into house shapes for block printing. Friends in Australia have set our art challenge for the year based on letters of the alphabet. April is the letter “H”. Perfect for me to think of house as the topic to interpret. So last week I carved.

I wanted them to be in there natural state with just carved spaces that would not receive the color. And I must say I have been following the Ukrainian printmaker, Olesya Dehuraeva, who lives in Kviv and has been finding scraps of wood and using them to print with the black soil of her devastated area. The pieces are haunting and have a sense of the hurry with which she must be working to stay safe.

Even though I planned on making these prints from two by four scraps with my watercolor made from the house site, Olesya’s prints showed me again that the intention of the artist must take precedence over any other considerations, and to just do it.

So, find a brush, get the watercolor soft enough to transfer enough color onto the block and print quickly.

I had to soften the surface beneath the printing paper and sometimes hit the block with a wooden mallet. It was easy to go over again if necessary because I had marked off where each block would be printed.

I looked at it, but not for long before deciding it would be fun to stitch around each house so I punched the holes through the heavy paper first.

Then I stitched it with a very dark brown thread.

I had erased all the pencil guide lines before. Then I sprayed it with a fixative before steam pressing the paper flat…well sort of.

And guess what! I didn’t like it! Still don’t. So this morning I spaced the houses further apart and made a change in one of them. It is drying thoroughly before I think of what I want to do next to it. Scraps of something like tar paper would be fun to cut into strips to add as roofs but I will make another trip to the site to see what is there.

Something tells me it needs a black crow and I have one I carved a long time ago. I will wait and see where it goes next. But my thought was that when satisfied, I would have it framed and hung over the front door on the way out to remind me I do have neighbors now.

Isn’t it odd how Olesya’s scrap wood and black soil images make your heart sink. And mine in this somewhat cheery yellow ochre of my new home can make me smile. Both our intentions have been met.

And if I feel like threading a needle I have this to work on.

I cut up the owl print that I thought needed cloth and stitch added. Then found more cloth to piece the pieces together. I am going to fill it with more of those randomly directed black marks until I either like it or just say, “I don’t like that at all.” And give it a toss. It is so funny how easily we can deceive ourselves into pathetic being passable. Or passable being perfect.

This morning the fellow came to clean the shop before repainting it. By the time he finished it no longer needs painting. It almost sparkles. I pawned a swivel rocker off on him and we were both delighted. I cleaned the porch that was covered in pollen and am relieved that there is so little to move or pack up out here. My cleaning lady will take all I don’t have a home for and donate it to her church.

It is sunny and quite warm today.  I can see the leaves popping out at the tips of branches. Lee and I would have been sipping a beer and feeling lucky to have such a view. I am ready to leave and hope to meet with the realtor this week.

It turns out he does not need difficult dental work and is eating most of his meals.

More later…..