Beautiful October

I am doing nothing. It is a bit like Spring Fever. Once my early morning walks are done and I am back in the house, doing nothing seems the better option.

I tried sewing on my strip of hemp, not linen, but then cut out the section because I hated it and tossed it in the bin. It had too much color. It was too patchy. I even painted over the cloth patches and stitched some more. It was dumb looking. Good idea to pitch it. Start again another day.

And then with a new television and more options to waste time, I got hung up on The Great British Baking Show. I like how kind they are to each other. And one episode leads to another just to see what they will bake next. It has not inspired me to bake. I am even having to remind myself to eat lately, let alone cook. Last night it was a small plate of leftover rice from last week. Even the cats wouldn’t help me finish it off. Tonight I am promising myself to fix flounder with asparagus and cheesy grits. If I make enough for two meals then I won’t have to fix anything tomorrow. That seems appealing.

I am not even drawing. It is hard to be enthusiastic about anything here at the house. It is like I have left the place without going anywhere. Here there are mostly walls surrounding things that need to be packed up. I am ready to move. But for the next several months or more here is where I will be, sitting smack dab in the middle of memories that are fading as they brush past on their way to a safe place where they can wait for me to cherish them again.

My god, it is quiet in here! We should have been dog people. At least they make noise with their barking and begging. Our cats don’t even think of rousing from their slumbers unless they sense I am somewhere the treats cupboard.

Anyway here are some images from those perfect walks.

With the darker mornings and me having to feed the deer and birds before I set off for my walks, I am later getting to these lovely places.

And the Riverwalk hasn’t got much in the way of drama. The river is very low and this fall is offering little color.

And this one that made me wish I was Alice and could grow small just to walk up to this door and give it a good knock.

I come back from these walks and wonder how to plan my day. Some days I throw myself into something like sorting and packing bits in the studio. The other day I made decisions and packed up papers I may use from both of those large flat files. That felt good, just thinking I might someday use them for something.

Lee’s birthday was last week. He is now 84 years old and needed to be put on a medication to calm down his abusive language toward those taking care of him. Unlike the last place he was in they are very used to handling this kind of behavior. It is not uncommon for some of their dementia patients to turn on bad language when they hardly ever used it before. The staff just have to call whenever there is a change in medications and assured me that he only talks this way to the ones trying to give him a bath or help with his eating. Most of the time he is content talking with one of their stuffed cats on his lap.

When the weather is this beautiful I will walk down to the mailbox and back up to the house…this quiet, quiet house.

It is now four-thirty and I will pour a glass of wine, maybe get back to writing my next short story,……

Til later.

Rainy Day Procrastinating

It is raining again this morning. It might be this way all week and I am missing the early walks. Maybe just put on a raincoat later today and go anyway.

Now I am down in the studio just playing around instead of packing up papers from a flat file. There is a wonder and a doubt as I look at the materials left in here whether I will ever get back to doing much with it. It is the “maybe” that makes the decision for me. I did love having friends working in here a few weeks ago and found it inspiring to get back to it. What to do with it all when it is finished is the problem. So….

This morning I cut an eight foot by one foot piece of linen in half lengthwise, giving me two strips only 6 inches by about 100 inches long. I wrapped them loosely and they are now sitting in a dye pot of just rust and a few leaves that had been left in there.

I found the linen textile while packing up some fabrics. There was this natural linen one that had a bit cut off and a full length grey one the same width. Remember when we just had to have those strips brought in by textile importers at the fiber conferences? These like all the others of this size and material came from Thailand. They were irresistible because of their “exoticness”, possibilities, and so easy to pack in a suitcase.

I boiled what was left in the dye pot from sampling on papers and cloth a few weeks ago. In the bottom is a rusted curved part of an old wood burning stove that I bought on one of my first teaching tours in Australia. It was a junk shop in Mittigong where a textile conference was being held.  Australians are the best to go to places where used things come up for sale. They call them Op Shops and the good ones anticipate the needs of artists and sort their goods accordingly. The man running this one wanted to know why I wanted not only this piece, but a couple of rusted drill bits and an old small wood handled garden shovel. “Don’t you have rusty bits back in the States?” I told him we did but it was simply not as good as the rusty things from Australia. From there I went to the post office to have it all sent back home and faced similar questions from my husband when it arrived several weeks later.

That day was only the start of buying whatever I could afford from that country. The thought that I may not get asked back made me think each trip was my last and the opportunities would come to a close. Now I am dealing with fourteen trips’ worth of those irresistible things that will go with me, not one left behind.

So when I take these two tied together strips from a cold pot, maybe tomorrow, I will dry them, stitch the two ends together and have what will look like an endless strip to stitch into. I miss the stitching since my last sketchbook was filled up.

To get ready I have dug out this very old sewing basket I made with the guidance of Grace Kabel, my basket teacher back in the eighties. The compartments were woven in place.

Like most baskets that were woven to hold sewing materials, sweet grass was added to the rim if not in the actual weave structure. You can still dampen the rims and get that wonderful smell. I found it being a catchall on a shelf in the den. So cleaned it out and found the scissors my grandmother gave me years ago, some scraps of cloth and buried deep down in were the two strawberries for holding needles and pins respectfully, and tied in place with a satin ribbon.

Now cleaned and packed appropriately it is ready to lift off the top of another basket to travel around the house with me whenever and wherever I want to do some stitching.

Isn’t that an inviting basket of bits and pieces?

Sometimes the sewing is simply not right. I did not like the bird stories book with the thread stitched in. So I pulled it all out slowly so as not to tear the pages. Then I did not like the rows of holes. the solution was to just add more holes!

And more sketching along with those holes.

The biggest problem with the stitching threads was not the maneuvering of the needle but the stitching pattern affected the opposite side of the page. After I get all the holes I want on these pages then I can use this book for drawing and pricking patterns only. I will still be able to close it because there is no added materials.

I still plan on adding watercolor to work into before drawing…that’s the plan anyway.

In the next hour I should have that flat file emptied with the good bits rolled into an upright carton that will be easier to move and fit easily into a closet at the new house. Whatever I don’t want will stay in the drawers for the new owner of the flat file or be given away to a friend who could use it.

So I will get to it.

Til later….

I Am Getting Exhausted!

My last post about losing Margaret Perkins will be used at her funeral service this Friday at 1 pm Australia time in Victoria. I was honored to be asked permission. The service can be viewed live but that makes it 11 pm here in my time zone but I will get something sent to me so I can view it. Such a wonderful woman and due to Covid restrictions there can only be ten allowed to attend. will be the live stream site for those wishing to be virtually present.

Above was the scotch I shared with her the day I was told Margaret had died.

With the arrival of Amy and Ben came a new oversized television…now all hooked up in the den and ready for me to get used to before it goes with me to the new house in the spring.

Plus new drinks from Ben:

Lemon Grass Whisky Sour

2 shots bourbon

1 shot lemon grass syrup (simple syrup of sugar/water equal parts and lemon grass blades brought to a simmer to dissolve sugar, then bottled and kept in fridge)

1/4 lime squeezed

dash or two angostura bitters


Lemon Grass Old Fashioned

2 shots bourbon

1 shot lemon grass syrup

dash of angostura bitters

Both of them were good but not the flavor hit you get from rosemary  or turmeric syrup.

Now we found an old recipe Lee had for making your own Drambuie

3 cups scotch

1 cup honey

We seasoned our scotch overnight with one tsp chopped fresh rosemary, zest of half a lemon and 1/4 tsp fennel seeds…these were just some of the options in Lee’s recipe.

Scotch and seasonings sit overnight, then strained before adding honey, bottled for two to three weeks before sampling. I will let you know how it compares to store bought Drambuie.

In addition to the drinks recipes, Ben has fixed the first squirrel I ever ate. He got a license to shoot them in Tennessee while here and some ended up in Squirrel Tacos.

Tonight there will be more, some in a cream sauce over risotto, with a course of brined duck. It was delicious so far. Squirrel tastes somewhat like chicken and somewhat like pork. He gets them very tender in his fancy pressure cooking pot.

They have unloaded the top shelves in the kitchen and are taking several foodstuffs home with them. Also Amy has helped me tackle the office/gym.

Three bags of trash out.

Shelves of just piled up papers are clearing off into boxes, some to move, some to go to the shredders.

They are still game to go on the early morning walks.


The dam:

Very foggy mornings. I have to wait until it is light enough to feed the deer and birds before we can start off. I will be glad to see us set the clocks back so the early mornings have more light.

Two loads of wash also done today with a bit of ironing. A meeting with a realtor at a friends house that may be coming up for sale. I think I will use this realtor myself when the time comes.

The worst of the cleaning out has been done. Now there are some spaces in the studio that need some attention and garbage bags and more trips to a professional shredder. Artwork to pack up, papers to put into flat storage boxes for under beds, the pantry shelves to sort through. Really how many jars of beef broth, tomato paste, etc. does one person need! And those Dutch ovens, roasting pans, plastic storage containers!!!

Amy and Ben will be taking home as much as I can pawn off on them. A whole carton of papers and supplies has been packed up for them to take to teacher friends up north.

No drawing this week…I will try in a few days. Tomorrow we take a break and go to a winery!

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….