A Good Week

It has been a good few days here. The cold weather has brought down almost all the leaves. Now Lee will have something to use his leaf blower on. He is now into his winter sweaters instead of just the same two sweatshirts. He has found his shoes with ties and insist on wearing them…even though they come undone often. And he was downright congenial and full of conversation…although disconnected….the other night when friends came for dinner.

I have been keeping up with the drawing a day with haiku. See the following for proof.

Holiday candles

quietly wait in drawers

for entire years.

 

I bought this strange pot

because of its crackled glaze

of pale celedon.

 

Can you imagine

a more fun place to poke your

sharp pins and needles?

 

Lee made the wood bowl.

I gathered honeysuckle.

Thirty yeas ago.

 

Found in the bottom

of a drawer waiting in

service to hors d’oeuvres.

 

Pieces of fabric

are patched into place around

a print on paper.

 

We remain wingless

until brought to the table

to hold napkins.

 

It is hard not to

purchase something perfectly

charming and useless.

 

These were fun to do and I think my drawing is getting better. Curved lines off to the right still give me problems and make me grateful for the eraser. I suppose it is the reverse for left handed drawers.

Some of the pieces I drew this week reminded me of the dinner parties we no longer have. I really could get rid of a lot of things that are saved for the occasions of having people over. It is sad how we get attached to objects because of their history and not because we are going to give them much of a future.

I did have a visitor this week. She took my earth pigments class eight years ago. Went home to make several oil paints and now is part of an exhibit at the Asheville Art Museum. Amanda Brazier. She and her husband came down to the studio and loved looking at work and hearing stories. She has agreed to take all of my earth pigments processing materials when I give it up for good. In the meantime I will still teach private students here. But I love knowing that it will all go to someone so young and enthusiastic.

I need to find more Amandas for other bits and pieces…..fabrics, papers, studio equipment, etc…..but not right now.

Not much else new. Tomorrow Lee will help me make a freezer full of chili and some quiches. Cooking days are fun and make me feel like I am making progress.

Til later.

 

Another Week of Observing

It is turning colder. I got out my felted blanket from Bridgett in Hobart, Tasmania. Both cats love to curl up on it together.  I have to gently move them over to get under it. Lovely feel and memories of down under. Sadie is always first to be on it.

I have been getting my drawings a day done on time with the haiku. Here are the latest ones that are in my newly made journals.

A magical tool

can cleverly carve the light

on all our edges.

and

More tools are needed

for carving and printing some

white line Christmas cards.

I have about fifteen printed so far. I can do this upstairs on the dining room table. Funny how I thought ALL printmaking must take place in the studio. Times change.

And more drawings a day.

An apple a day

is supposed to do something.

Mine doesn’t want to.

 

The dark chocolates

are said to be good for you.

I am listening.

 

The only plant here

sits in the kitchen window

hoping I notice.

 

Why do we hold on

to the dried up remains of

brittle memories?

When I finish up here I will go back upstairs and work on today’s drawing and print more Christmas cards. Not that many more to go now.

I went over to Andy’s house today just to see how it was doing and tell it that he was not coming back. It was hard seeing shoes he had just stepped out of, his bike all ready for a go around these hills, the table laid out with mats and napkins ready for company coming to have one of his wonderful meals….. I opened the glasses cupboard just to touch a wine glass that for so many years I drank from, even before Andy took the house over from his mother, Barbara.

She and I shared so many white wines in that house. We thought we were having the best of the best (reasonably priced) white wines from Australia. She shared my love for the country and we would buy any bottle that had a kangaroo on the label. Later ones with penguins. Really all it had to say was “Australia” somewhere on the label and we would give it a go. One of our favorites back then was Alice White. Silhouette of a lone kangaroo against a bright background. That was the front. On the back was the sad travails of poor Alice, who was suffering with amnesia and found herself in the company of Nick. Each year was a continuation of their saga. The last label that I remember about Alice was something like this, Nick had been attacked by a giant crocodile and Alice knew how to patch his wounds…..”could I have been a nurse in my previous life?”, she asks herself. Good marketing to say the least. 19 Crimes can market even better and I think their wine is better than Alice White. It certainly cost more if that is any indication.

I think I would like some of my ashes placed near Barbara’s and a bottle of 19 Crimes Sauvignon Block dug in nearby. She didn’t live long enough to try any of those wines and would have loved the adventure.

Anyway a cleaning lady will come and take care of what needs to be done in the house and a yard man will blow the leaves off the driveway. Andy’s lawyer has been in touch and I am to forward expenses that I will handle on to him.  Andy’s love and partner will arrive when she can bear to return to his magical place so full of memories. I might dig that bottle of white in while she is here so Barbara can start without me.

I saw this at the feed store and wonder about cowboys. Recently I bought the series Deadwood just to have some cowboys around. I miss the western movies that are not made any more. A recent series called, Yellowstone, with Kevin Costner has a supporting cast of not so much cowboys as former druggies on horseback. It is simply bad casting. They should have checked out Deadwood if they wanted actors that can look and act the part. But here is what I saw at the feed store and it made me wonder if cowboys are drawn to the Bible if it is an easy read version.

We used to have a church near here…a storefront actually….that was called the Cowboy Church. Lots of black painted plywood ranch hand silhouettes leaning against the outside walls and hitching posts. And on the marquee out front it said, “Rounding Up Souls for Jesus”. There were actually cars in the lot on Sundays. Maybe these were left over bibles from there. A man we knew that came from Europe and rented our apartment when he took classes locally went there once and reported back that all they did was rant and rave against gay people. That was all before the wrenchingly sad tale by Annie Proulx called, Brokeback Mountain. After the cowboys left and took the plywood characters with them, it became another church and then a perpetual flea market of nasty things left in the rain.

Speaking of cowboys our neighbor’s dog came over on Halloween with his costume of a bucking cowboy hanging on for dear life.

Cute. Extra treats for staying still long enough to get this picture.

More later.

Making Books and Other Things

It is late October and with the past few days full of rain and now wind there will be few leaves left on the trees. It has been a short fall. Down to freezing tonight. It will be easier to keep an eye on Lee if he is inside.

This week we had an interview with a woman who would come to take him out for lunch or a movie or just a ride so I could get back in the studio and do something that would take more than just a few minutes. After she left he simply said, “No.” And much as I had hoped this would be a good thing I soon came to realize that it was not a good idea. What if she took him to a movie and in the dark the music got loud or he had to go to the restroom or wondered who she was. It is not worth it to put stress on him now.

Yesterday I had a student here working in the studio. I could continue to check on Lee who was upstairs. When I came up he was confused and asked how my mother was doing downstairs. She died about thirty years ago. When I was helping him get down for a nap he asked who I was. I told him and then he asked, “Do you sleep in this bed with me?” I said I did but way, way on the other side. He apologized for not understanding who I was and I told him after his nap he would remember. And he did. But I think we are entering a new phase of his dementia.

If I say some silly nonsensical thing he will laugh and then not so confused. Talking about the weather is always something to chat about over and over. Old men like talking about weather. Weather is a memory jogging subject. Today we went out to meet our friend for lunch at the brewery and he knew who we all were. He likes his porter beer with half a sandwich and both his and my servings of coleslaw. He gives me the chocolate coated pretzel they place on a stick across the top of his glass of beer. We keep to the routines we know.

I have my drawing a day which gets done with the haiku each day. Yesterday with my student, Kent, here I even got to start a carved block to print our Christmas cards. All in all a good few days.

Here are the last of Octobers’ drawings a day.

This small dried up pod

had such hopes of becoming

something much greater.

Two pottery cups

sit in anticipation

of some ginger wine.

The leaf remembers

a life it never should have

expected to last.

Scissors can sever

old ties or open bundled

opportunities.

A cat toy is the

physical evidence of

some very tough love.

 

I have noticed how these drawings and haikus reflect my moods of the time.

So that was October and because I want to continue with this I made three more sketch journals.

They are covered with the backed fabric of worn out linen pants. It was close in color to the Milini journal I used for October and could not find on Amazon….only available in Australia.

I used a marbled paper that I have been saving forever to make the end pages.

The new journals are just a bit bigger than the October one because the inspiration was upstairs and the papers and book board and worn linen pants were downstairs. I located an old leather purse that I bought in Florence, Italy to hold the pad for writing haiku, the sketch journal, hand made water colors, pencil, pen and brush.

I am looking forward to using them starting tomorrow.

Another thing I did today was head out to the liquor store. Yesterday I was informed that the incredibly stupid president that now sits in office is tariffing foreign goods. Among them Italian cheeses and scotch because it comes from Scotland. Fearing that the shelves might be getting low we made that our first stop. There was plenty of scotch there. I relieved them of four bottles of single malt between 10 and 12 years of age. I might just live in bourbon country or no one bothered to check to see if this was indeed true that tariffs were on the way….as early as November 1st.

I could not be more ready…sketchbooks and scotch.

Til later.

This Is A Good News Blog

Halloween is coming. Today is our fifty-second anniversary. I finished my six-way book. This fun card came yesterday from the one member of the Art Group that stays in touch. Love it. Our doctor came for dinner last night and had some suggestions.

So I left off talking about the pages for the six way book. Then it went together under the supervision of Gian Frontini. Here are the stages.

The two larger books facing opposite directions and I added running stitches to the spines of each to give more texture to match the fore edges.

The top view.

Four smaller books glued to the stabilizing boards on each back of larger books.

Gian shaping the spine edges of the four cover pieces.

And sanding them.

While I picked out cover material and made six clasps and cords.

Gian recessed vellum loops for clasps into the covers.

 

Nice fit.

Bit of fiddling to get the right length of cord to close the book…put in press and done!

Front.

Back.

Here is Gian’s leather book that works the same way.

Gian is much more the traditionalist than I am. He would never hammer the edges of the covers to make the book look and feel more comfortable in the hand. I like doing that. Makes me want to pick a book up and hold it.

So now what to do with my book.  The thought came after an old friend called me after she read my novella, Kind Gestures. At first she thought it was a group of short essays on seven different women and had just read the first part. Then she copied the whole thing off and read the story. She told me to keep writing because she loved it. It reminded her of a favorite book of hers titled, The Road to St. Ives, now out of print. BUT she was so kind to call back a bit later to tell me she found one on Amazon used books and it is on the way to me. Isn’t that kind?  I decided that since I have been wanting to return to Oliver, NC where the fictional account takes place and revisit some of those women, I will use this six way book to write about some of them. Just phrases to get me back to writing, to getting into their heads. And more importantly getting me out of my own head! And I really like that each of them has their own personal diary that latches their thinking in secret places.

So that is how I will use my book. Will I ever make another? Doubtful. Tedious work and especially since it was originally designed for six separate prayers that I would be hard put to come up with, I am satisfied with this one off.

And speaking of writing, the haiku has continued. A friend in Australia told us about haiga, the Japanese practice of writing haiku and doing small related illustrations.  Which is what the six of us are doing with our Drawing A Day and Haiku.

Here is the latest of mine.

How can you claim that

“They are light as a feather,”

when some are grounded?

and

They march across time

and distance only to be

trapped in my journal.

We believe we see

ourselves in most everything

that crosses our path.

The stones are dressed up

waiting to be told where to

push their weight around.

The pens and pencils

wait in the company of

a blank paper pad.

Three restless chickens

wandered off to the sea shore.

They came back impressed.

Cooking starts with a

mirepoix of onions, carrots

and some celery.

 

And yesterday….

 

A book that opens

six ways can inspire me for

several stories.

 

Now I am off to bake more of those Second Best Malted Cookies I Ever Ate and do another drawing….maybe the cookies.

Tomorrow someone from the doctor’s office will call about being a rent-a-friend. Just a couple times a week for a couple of hours would be so helpful right now for both of us.

More later. But thanks Gwen for the encouragement on writing more, and Dick for keeping us smiling.