Getting On With It….

I am starting to stitch bits and pieces on my my hemp strips. It feels good to be doing it.

So far all the episodes of The Great British Bakeoff have been watched. Couldn’t help it…addictive and there seemed to be nothing else to do. It didn’t make me want to bake, just pay attention to how the bakers responded to utter failures in the kitchen and take that British thing of keep calm and carry on to heart and pull themselves together. Now I have moved on to The Crown where it is such a scrumptious set of actors and costumes and castles…..even more stiff upper lips, but a beautiful production.

Aside from that more walks to the dam.

And the wonderful sunlight….

And the operations of the dam doing its job with beautiful reflections.

Tonight Patrick and I meet friends at a winery. The past couple of days we have been helping people clean out a family home of not exactly hoarders, but those who just cannot decide whether something should find a new home, and then wait a bit too long. A good lesson for all of us. Patrick now has an old kayak to take home. I turned down an exquisite piece of art glass that was left to me from the estate and hope to just take one wine glass to toast the two generations that lived in that house and poured my wine with good cheer, good company and fine food.

My closing on the loan to build the next house went swimmingly (too much British television reflected there) and now I just wait for the next closing so I can officially start.

The laptop is fixed to where it can be trusted until a new one arrives.

I am fighting the urge to go to the cat shelter to get a new companion for Sadie. Not sure how long that will last. When Lee and I lost a cat we were at the shelter within days to make sure there were two and sometimes ending up with three cats at one time in the house.

All for now…

Til later……

Trying to Focus Today

I did fix a somewhat decent meal for myself. It was just ugly plating.

Speaking of food, the Great British Baking Show has lost its appeal with the changing of two female hosts to two tiresome/annoying male hosts. Mary Berry appears to have left and another competent woman judge has taken her place. But the new season of contestants must have been selected for their incompetence. Not one could even bake a simple brownie. I think the show has become dumb and we have more than enough of dumb going on, especially in the US.

Still the walks.

And another inviting door into fairy land. This one with a latch.

After cutting out the bad piece from my strip of hemp I decided to fold over the cut edge, steam it in place and then stitch it down by crossing over the raw edge with a double row of stitches.

I noticed in the stitching that there is definitely a right and wrong side to the hemp. The wrong side where the hem is has loose ends and frays in the weave. The right side is much more finished and smooth.

In cleaning out my studio I noticed how many old wooden boxes I had been using to hold bits and pieces. Now I have quite a collection ready to be reused one way or another. These two long strips when stitched together end to end will give me over fifteen feet to stitch on. I will roll the strip like a scroll and place it into one of these boxes. It will keep my hands busy while my mind tries to focus on what will be happening next……. closing on the loan and start of the new house. And Lee’s continuing decline.

The sun is trying to get through this interminable fog. I meet a friend for lunch tomorrow and others next week for a good beer and dinner out. That part of sharing meals with friends seems like getting “back to normal”.

But there really is no more normal. Life with Covid has been a filter of so much that seems quite unnecessary and ridiculous when compared to the necessities of now.  At least one good friend, lovely walks, calls from family, a good book, some stitching, and a nice beer will be enough to get me through….more than enough actually.

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….

A Beautiful Fall Day

A leaf that caught my eye the other day on my river walk. It was such a drizzly morning but I got the walk in before more rain came.

And then this morning…totally different and back at the dam.

I decided to add more steps on my walks and on the return saw this bit of pure magic. Like some sort of promise if I just keep going.

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few things and was surprised how many are not wearing masks. Surely they can read the increasing obituaries! I get what I need and leave quickly.

Next trip was to the surveyor to get a small piece of property lopped off for a neighbor I promised  a long time ago. I let it slip by and now the surveyors are very backed up with the new building going on. Since it is a simple request and job they might move me further up the list.

I meet with a realtor next week to view a friend’s house who is out of the country. If we get along as well in person as we did on the phone I will have her handle the sale of my house when the time comes. Selling land, building and selling houses is like the old days when Lee and kept our hand in real estate. More good memories.

Since my wonderful company was here last week I have been keeping up with my drawing.

This afternoon I walked the trail. So many colorless leaves are down. Not at all like a year ago when Lee and I filled a bowl with color every time we went out there. But still so much dried green on the trees.

Lots of blooms on the water hyacinth in the pond since my company trimmed dead leaves.

Bits of fluff on the trail.

And the basket becomes more settled in its new place.

Seeing it made me decide to make it the last drawing for the fabric swatches journal. Now complete.

So maybe back to the Bird Stories Book….or might be something else.

My daughter and her partner arrive Saturday to help me declutter the office and make my old computer less cumbersome with cords. They will install a new TV that is internet compatible and more in line with the needs of where I will be moving….gives me time to get used to it. The builder agreed to eliminate a closet and give me that 2 foot deep and 8 foot long space as a recess in the den/office to set the television back. Like here you would have to walk into the room and turn around to see the television. He just needs to remember to put an outlet in that space…no cables necessary.

They will also help me reach the top shelves in the kitchen and dining room so I can pack or toss what is up there. Actually I think there is a three deep line of bulgur wheat bags because I push things to the back. So emptying those high shelves will be a good idea and save time later. In the dining room there is a gorgeous set of eight crackle-glazed square salad plates on a top shelf that I bought at the Japanese “town” of Disney’s Epoch Center years ago. Needed to have them! Used maybe twice at most!

So that is about it for now. Just had a glass of the sangria I made for my company. It has gotten a bit too sweet so will add a bottle of dry red wine to it…..can’t hurt.

Til later