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…

Covid Second Shots and Fun Memories

We got our second shots two days ago and I only had a sore arm where the shot went in. Lee was fine the first day but yesterday was totally out of it. He shook in the afternoon, could not comprehend simple questions and just had a bad day. Our doctor assured us that side effects can be flu-like and happen up to two days after the shot. This morning Lee is back to his normal and is walking around the driveway with his rain hat on.

The other night I had a fun dream about one of the only friends I ever had who could me laugh out loud. We laughed in the dream and I woke smiling at the memories of our funny times. So I dropped her a message asking if she remembered how we shared details of our dreams over thirty-five years ago. And told her what a pleasure it was to share another good time together in my dreams. She immediately got back to me with a message of love and maybe a future trip to see us. Of course it would be after covid restrictions and might not even happen but I am still chuckling as I remember even more things we found so funny years and years ago. I really hope I dream of her again for another good laugh.

Yesterday a friend from St. Louis sent me a package of these.

Three Australian hankies! On bad days I can snivel away on a kangaroo, koala or map of that so missed country. They would also be fun to stitch into after they get softened and faded with use.

And the outcome of Mr. Snowman.

The last page of that signature gave way to anxious doodles yesterday and this morning as I watched to see how Lee was doing.


It sort of looks like a visual of “things fall apart’. and that is how it is some days.

Today a friend shows up with a pizza for our lunch. When she says, “What can I bring you?” Sometimes you just have to say, “Pizza!”

I still need to find the writing about the young girl who just did not quite fit in. It would be fun to try to capture that in a line drawing narrative.

It is sort of like this poem I wrote and then did a limited edition of tiny books with it.


The Position of Periphery

Our place is somewhere on an edge

away from those centered and focused.


It is a not-belonging place

with expansive views


where we are mobile

and deliberately uncommitted.


Free to choose and change,

we remain inaccessible  –  transient.


Free from doors closing behind us

and the constraints of expectation.


Here on the periphery we can

try on the skins of otherness


….and then discard at will.



Til later….

More Writing/More Drawing

Our son, Patrick, is opening that beautiful bottle of scotch from Kent. It is delicious.  Balvenie 12 year single malt. I keep up with filling pages of the Covid Coping Book 2.

It is what we all are drinking to get us through….no repeats of labels allowed.

Every couple of weeks I will get a package of labels in the mail from our friend, Marla, daughter, Amy, (always different teas) and her partner, Ben, who are using this time to clean out liquor cabinets and tea drawers. We have all become less particular during covid.

I forgot to photograph the previous days of Lee’s and my socks, so will put them in next time. But the last six pages of Drawing a Day Books are going to be covid masks.

A comfortable

covid mask from Medicare

is so wearable.


Safe Mate covid mask

purchased from Amazon Prime,

three colors, one price.


And another old journal writing about Australia.

Train to Ararat

I watch the land slip by and imagine how it was before farms and houses. The land barely lifts here and there are low valleys, low hills and everywhere it is dry and brown – a greyed brown. Eucalyptus are gathered in groups along the landscape. Old decrepit ones seem abandoned by their kind as they struggle alone to survive. My fellow travelers read a kindle and a magazine unaware and seemingly immune to the drama flying by our window. Tiny dust devils swirl upward here and there across the plowed fields in search of a cloud that may bring moisture and push them back down. I don’t see it happening today between Baran and Ararat, VIC. Just what are those cattle all chewing out there?

I can’t remember if I shared that one before…here is another…


Is there anything like a belly full of extraordinary food and wine – then locked up in a single cabin first class on the Ghan swaying your way into the Northern Territory and listening to the anti war version of Waltzing Matilda” I think not!

I am washed, lotioned and propped up in a space that is pie shaped, 24” at the pillow end and six feet down it is panning to 48”. My door to the hall is across from my daughter Amy’s cabin. A wash basin folds up not six inches from my right foot. All I need is here in this space.

A wonderful dinner with Aussies – full of politics, wineries and family talks and a promise to meet at breakfast. Then there is the window- more than a metre and open to the outback of Australia. What is out there in the dark? I know it is wild, mysterious and beautiful – nothing less. I will sleep through some of this and be sorry that I did. But I am older now than the last time and can trust Australia to be here when I wake. Good night.

And more from the other pages of books. Here I took pages from a John C Campbell catalog and then printed them using a gelatin plate, stencils and acrylic paint. They were bound into a book that serves no purpose other than to have pretty pages and I thought would be a good sample to inspire students in a printmaking class.

And you can see in my desire to have no waste, the folios are of different widths.

Two days ago I drew these lines in a sketch book. They are my matrix for the tether lines in the new poetry book.

After I photographed the sketch I put it into a photo app program to get more of what I wanted to use going from page to page.

I am going to stop and get some tea. And here is a poem about tea that I will use in the book.

Tea Leaves

I tilt the pot and pour

the last of my herbal tea.

Watch the leaves

settle in the bottom.


Wondering about

the hidden messages

of tea leaves,

I pull the cup closer.


It smells delicious.

And before I know it

I have altered what

they were trying to tell me.

til later…