Back in the Studio

A lovely gift from the painter, Amanda, in exchange for all my cartons of pigment making tools, supplies, rock and soil collections. I got the better part as it has opened up my storage room for packed cartons of those art supplies going with me. I also gave my entire collection of bird and wasp nests to her little boys and threw in an ABC’s in the Woods poster. Their car was packed tight with an additional add of a floor lamp and a ream of paper for sifting soils onto. Thank you Amanda and family for helping to clear space.

The one last minute grab back was a small clay type stone of gorgeous blue/grey collected out on the Pacific coast and a large soft rock of a bright yellow that Gwen Diehn and I called, “Rivercane RD Morning Sun” when we discovered it many years ago. I will take them to my new home.

I have more space to work in the studio with recent cleanouts.

And with cleaning out the last of Lee’s drawers, I found this animal claw he brought home from a trip to Asia. It was a perfect addition to the right brain side of the Traveler.

And a final touch of maps of Italy and France with magnifying glass to the head.

I only have the Homemaker to work on next. Then all four of these autobiographical sculptures will be finished. Marla and Patrick took the final measurements so they can make museum cases of wood and glass to house each one. The four will just fit onto a tall oak postman’s table that I bought from the Brasstown post office many years ago. I will be eye to eye with each as I contemplate and converse with myself. Their bases are all designed and only need to be securely glued in place. I will keep the heads separate until after the move.

We all walked to the dam last week and saw loons.

Then again this morning I actually got a picture of a pair plus some other interesting shots of the moodiness there.

So the loon needed to go into the Bird Stories book.

There are also a bunch of pictures from the walk we all did earlier along the river. I will post them later. Dilly has volunteered to share wine time with me since all company is gone.

Til later….I am headed back to the studio to actually do some work. The Homemaker needs her head carved out on the two sides and the things sorted that fill that head. I also want to start a large wood cut.

Happy New Year to all of you. It just has to be better than the one we are wrapping up!



Christmas Time Come and Gone!

Christmas morning was small and quiet and quick. Interesting gifts that were mostly comestibles except for subscription to the Washington Post and some snazzy food containers. Lots of basic pantry foods. But then…

A bourbon from Detroit Michigan and some bottles of Stones ginger wine…a favorite!

Patrick turned each of us a pastry dolly for shaping small pies. Mine is a beauty from a crab apple tree. Then he roasted oak sticks to flavor alcohol. Here is the chart that explains the flavors of light, medium and dark roast.

We played board games starting with one sad round of one called Pandemic. We could not save the world and like Covid outbreaks, it happened far too often. We all thought there should have been more virus in the United States as here is where we have more people who are spreading it with their vast grasping of misinformation over facts.

So we put the board game away and went to our favorite…Settlers of Catan. Here we can travel, discover and trade our way to success.

And when we finish playing the game all the fun little parts go into this old field paint box I gave Amy for it years. We made little muslin bags for colored tokens and larger ones for the parts. I think Lee may have made the wooden tray to hold commodity cards.

Lee also made a slew of spare tokens out of wood because some get lost under the table. Patrick and I tied with three games each, Amy won one and Marla came close, but mostly discovered where more water could be found at sea.

And we had some good drinks.

Starting with Madeira to go with my first ever home made Christmas cake and a recommended Irish cheddar cheese.


Newton’s Law that has apple butter, bourbon, sugar, lemon juice, garnished with an orange twist and sprinkle of cinnamon.

Marla’s amazing Hot Buttered Rum made with her special “batter” and stirred with a cinnamon stick when mixed with a good rum.

Patrick’s Black Manhattans with whisky, Amaro, bitters and dark sweet cherry/orange twist garnish.

And our favorite when we all get together to celebrate our dear departed friend, Pacia. These drinks are dreadful in a somewhat pleasant way and always served in a Jefferson cup with fresh popped corn. We had no idea there was a name for these….Friskey if using a cheap whisky in equal parts to Fresca and a Frumpy if substituting rum instead. When we looked them up, the advice was to drink quickly but we take our time and remember Pacia fondly and share stories.

Oh, and I need to follow up on the little bottle of Screwball Peanut Butter whisky. It was not bad but didn’t taste much like peanuts.

We took several morning walks. The most recent one was at the folk school walk along the creeks. I will show more of the other walks in the next blog.

Then this morning they all left. Patrick pulling another trailer of things they want from here and Amy and Marla finding just enough room to fit themselves in her Jeep.

And away they went.

Now they are just about home in Michigan and driving in snow and slush on the highway.

So glad I live here and not there. All the laundry is finished and the beds made up again. My studio has less furniture and tomorrow a painter comes and gets all my pigment making equipment and soils. Then lots of cleaning to be done!

Til later….



Birthday – Seventy-Seven and Doing Okay

I trimmed the bolted lettuces, nasturtiums and blooming parsley from the pots on the deck just now. Some shoved in with the ever-present rosemary stems I keep on the counter.

My drawing yesterday had to do with my birthday coming and going and a turned bowl Lee made several years ago. I love that he was such a practical use wood worker who seldom made things just to appreciate their forms.

These bits of stitching added to the book remind me of what it has taken to keep things together. They are small autobiographical patches of who I was and am becoming. It is so soothing to hold the pieces together with stitch. Touch is so important to holding onto ourselves, our memories, our need to record days gone by in a very physical, tactile way. Like my memory of places I long for in Australia stitched into this long panel that hangs over my love seat in the den. It is much longer than this detail…fifty some inches by six.

I was recently advising a friend in Australia that getting through hard times on a daily basis could be helped by stitching into a long scroll. Each day with its good and bad can be marked in some way with scraps of cloth and threads and then rolled up tight and held in the non-stitching hand waiting for the next day to be recorded and hidden. I was not only inspired by my own strip of longing for Australia but also a stitched piece of textile artist, Carolyn Sullivan. I think hers was more about recording a place in her extended travels throughout Australia. I loved how at times it appeared to be an endless documentation lovingly told through stitch and cloth.

After recording and rolling the days up tight they can be stored next to each other in a box. And later pulled out unwrapped and viewed as the beautiful strips of cloth they will end up to be….hopefully the hard times will give way to the beauty of release. In the meantime each is a meditation on the struggles life can toss our way that need tending to.

And about that birthday! The evening dinner from Patrick…more oyster shooters with popovers and a lovely Caesar Salad.

He has gone back home now that all his work here is finished, not least of which was helping to get Lee settled.

And I dug out my night critters pieces wondering how to frame them up. 8 x 10 frames were too tight. So another backing of cloth enlarged them enough to fit nicely into 11 x 14 frames. Now I just need to order some more in that size.

Today I am going to paste in an old etching I did of Australian landscape that has patched cloth added to it and on a facing page I will draw the Eucalyptus leaves someone sent me. I am missing that country today and this will help get me past it. Like rolling the scroll up, I can turn the page tomorrow and think of something else. Maybe these small pieces of driftwood my daughter put in her rock tumbler to make them irresistible to the touch for her father and me.

Til later…


Escaping Again


I have escaped over here to the apartment which is just a bit down the driveway from our house above. My studio is on the lower level and today I went down there to take pictures of how neglected it looks.

Where I wrote and read.

Where I carved wooden blocks and thought about weaving.

Where I piled things and kept frames for work as it finished.

Where I put things.

Linens waiting to be sewn up.

And the tai chi wire and rock figures that remind me how long it has been……almost five years.

And when I leave this house to find somewhere that lets me be myself in a world of others trying to hang on, this most certainly will come with me.

Lee found it at the dump not long after we moved here in 1993. I remember the man wrote it on a store carton of some paper product. He framed it with lumber scraps and then painted it. How long it sat in his yard before he either gave up or she showed up, is anyone’s guess. I always loved his curly “G”s and the need to place periods here and there. He himself must have also been very serious.

It has been a constant reminder of my own shortcomings and will have a much more prominent place than the washroom of my studio.

I did get the Marks drawings finished up.

Some of these black pens seem to have an endless supply of ink in them!

I finally threw out all the sticks I put on the table last November.  Now that old pitcher is filled with forsythia.

I keep a copy of Trusting the Tether Line book on the table to put the thank you notes from those who received one. My memoir writing instructor was especially pleased to get one as I did so little memoir writing in her class. Others have emailed me their thanks and comments on the poems that most resonate with them. I am glad I wrote it and have kept two back for our children to read later on.

Below are two gifts that came in the mail yesterday from recipients of the book.

From Rosie in Australia a book for me to “sing along as you draw.” It is a continuous sheet from those old piano rolls that has covers of handmade papers from her sister, Barb, (also a recipient of the book) and a contact printed silk bag to keep my songs in. It all is the weight of a feather and I look forward to using it. So thoughtful and all the way from down under. Such a perfect gift! I must say the support, good wishes and countless cards with small gifts to lift my spirits has been wonderful coming from friends down there. The other beautiful thing to come in the mail yesterday was the contact printed card seen here. It is from a friend in St. Louis who when last seen, we were gathered around a dining table sharing poetry after dinner. Her words in the card are a reminder of why I miss her and others in St. Louis who I used to see often. I hope we get some of those times back, if only for a little while.

Now I have a little over two hours to get back to my next short story. And just a note of thanks to Gwen for her enthusiasm over the last one. Those kind of responses make me want to keep at it.

Til later…