The Shallows and Other Thoughts

I don’t have many pictures for this one.

Just thoughts written down.

It is not easy giving up a life that you thought had more “life” in it. This week our son took home with him half of the dozen extra chairs we bought for “entertainment” and “dinner parties” that are not happening anymore. As a matter of fact with our necessary considerations here at home, I have noticed an end to being invited to other dinner parties. It could be that we were the only ones having them or it could mean that friends think dementia requires a special diet. Whatever….love that word…..whatever.

And the plus point to that is we don’t have to look in our closets and mirrors to see if we can be made “presentable.”

The word, “presentable” reminds me of a conversation I had a while back with a friend who is married to a woman he sometimes thinks makes fairly “shallow” comments….quite often on others’ appearances.

We talked about that word, “shallow” and I told him that there are some like us that are just trying to stay afloat when we find ourselves over our heads in thoughts and ideas and responsibilities. And when we glance over toward the shore we see those who have the security of ground under their feet, water there for their own entertainment…….. and maybe, just maybe our disapproval might be a resentment borne of envy for that shallowness.

He just looked back at me and shook his head. Shallowness is something he just can’t get his head around. But for myself there is that memory of being there closer to shore and not feeling like I was drowning at times. And then being able to dry myself off and put something presentable on so I could go off to an event and sit down next to someone who had more to say, someone who could make me realize how privileged I was to be in the shallows.

And what else am I thinking of today…..?

On the way out this morning we stopped by our mailbox and found a hand-written note to us from friends in California who took in others from the horrible Camp Fire last year. Their life is getting back to normal. Soon they will be off on a biking tour from Amsterdam to London. How wonderful is that for those close to Lee’s and my age? Every so often they come here and stay in our apartment….and even invite us over for dinner. We smile when we read her note and when I get to the last word on the back and read about the artwork on the front I put it with the last few years’ Christmas cards in a bowl in the corner. It will stay there until the time comes when I look over and think, “I should clean that bowl out.” Then all those cards and notes from friends who keep in touch will be gone…..and we will get excited all over again when more show up in the mailbox.

It is almost time to share a beer with Lee. That is our lunch on Sundays because the breakfast out has a way of just sitting there needing liquid saturation.

We will sit on the porch and look at the weeds, notice how heavy the trees have gotten, wonder why we thought we needed a garden and when we get up toss the tomatoes over the bank for the deer in the morning.

Til later when I have some pictures of something more fun.

I might just talk about some artwork clicking away in my head.

A Bit of a Break

Our son came down to spend time with Lee. They stay in the shop or at Lowes Hardware store getting things to use in the shop. Lee loves it because they can get back to making glasses out of wine bottles.

After the glass is cut and polished Patrick will put a food grade epoxy in the stem and turn some exotic woods for the bases. Sometimes they will put some frosted design on them.

Patrick will go home tomorrow and Lee and I will get back to doing nothing in the shop because I am so afraid he will turn on a power tool. But he will spend a few days vacuuming any dust up and asking when Patrick will return.

Last night I had the fixings for spring rolls laid out for our dinner. This is easy and I will do it more often because Lee likes it and it is easy!

I did get away for an overnight in Asheville. Some shopping, a lunch out and good views and visits. I leave long before my friend gets up so I can take in Trader Joe’s on the way home. I decided to buy several frozen meals there to make dinners easier for me. By dinner time my energy is pretty much depleted. And because their red and orange peppers were only a dollar each, I bought several to make meat stuffed peppers for Lee and a vegetarian version for myself….all now in the freezer.

This morning when I went out to get a shovel to bury the forgotten piece from funeral the other day I found this little fellow in an over weed-filled  garden.

There is no way to keep up with the weeds so I have let them go. The deer have chomped down some azaleas in the front yard and later this fall I will just pull them up.  A lady who wandered into the driveway a week or so ago told me of a friend who bought a house here in the area because she just loves it here…..and then turned around and sold it because there is no one willing or able to do work whether it is in the gardens, yards or house repairs. I understand but need to keep Lee in the place he is used to for as long as I can.

Winter will come and then everything will die off….the ultimate weed control.

But I did bury the last little thing this morning and covered the place with the last of my collected soils for watercolors and laid out all the sweetgrass on top of that.

I like this picture and may use it for the cover of a book of notes on letting go.

And in the meantime I will finish the framing of the textile/prints pieces and then what? Not sure. Maybe start to do something made up of lots of small stitched parts….a quilt of sorts with paper and cloth and threads.

This one is a wood engraving I did with antique Japanese cloth patches stitched on.

And a woodcut of an owl I did years ago with textiles.

I am hoping to find a shop that will take them.

Anyway that is enough for now.

Til later.

Final Resting Place – Finally!


Today the grave digger came. He brought a worker to help with the clearing and luckily for me carried all the pieces and assisted with the laying in.

For a while in my artist imagination I thought I might dress in black, carry an umbrella, lean over the hole with sadness…..maybe even have a fellow artist help me with the placement. But no, this was better. I took the helper aside and said, “Listen, you have to do this in a certain order. It matters.”

His response, “Yes, Miss Sandy.”

How perfect was that!

Here he is laying down the cloth in the fresh dug hole.

Then the houses are placed. Tony, the helper does all the carrying down a slippery slope and hands the work to Steve who dug the hole.

Then all those patriarchs….so glad to be laid to rest by men they would have appreciated.

Lovingly collected earth pigments mixed together and tossed over.

The war works get laid next and I tell the boys to be careful as these represent the suffering…lay them down softly.

Then the Expedition to Elsewhere pieces go down.

I toss the collection of Artist Group Meeting notebooks into the center of the pile.

Once the boat gets laid on top with all the specimens inside, they cover it with the banners.

My final view. And then the dirt goes back.

Pack it all down.

And then it is done.

I turn and find a small piece from the Expedition to Elsewhere….it was just a small basket made to fill wall space in the exhibit. I will bury it with the rest while the dirt is still soft enough to get it underground. And I will scatter the rest of the soils on top of that and cover it all with the sweetgrass. Just not today. It is hot and humid out there.

My outside studio space is empty again. I can’t remember when there was not a pile of things out there waiting for something to happen.

I will go read a book….another good book.

I tried to not read too quickly the book by Paul Howarth titled, Only Killers and Thieves, but yesterday it wouldn’t leave me alone. Like a Cormac McCarthy the writing draws you in with the writing of place, descriptions of people….but like McCarthy, not for the faint of heart. I have to say I loved it and hope that he writes a sequel. It reminded me in no small part of McCarthy’s first of the Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses.

So now I have dug out a book that a friend in Australia gave me to read on the plane coming back home. I saved it to read when I had just finished another Australian story and was not quite ready to say goodbye.

Then I am sure it will be back to some other mystery from the Brits to get lost in.

And just a couple more remarks about Australians. I miss them. I miss that I am not on the roster to teach this coming year. We mostly keep in touch and they will let me know who the lucky tutor is that will have them in a workshop. They are the best students ever and will push themselves to get the most from whatever is on offer.

And you know what else. They will call each other, “gorgeous”. I love that they use that to compliment each other and no one checks to see if that person really is “gorgeous”. I miss being called gorgeous, but last week I came close.

The Hispanic waitress at the diner looked me right in the eye and said, “You are very beautiful.” And all I did was order my usual pecan waffle. The word “beautiful” is lovely in a Spanish accent. Made me feel gorgeous just hearing her say it.

Til later.






It Just Takes One Thing

I picked up the long (51″) stitched piece this week and hung it where I wanted it….over the small couch where I stitch upstairs.

I sat under it and looked across at the TV with all the NZ flax baskets hung around it. Where to put them all where the cats won’t get to them…..the only cat who jumped up here to race across the cupboard tops was Spooky….now gone. Patches and Sadie can’t even show an interest.

Next fill the now empty wall with all the pictures, well almost all the pictures.

Prints by Lucious DuBois hang together on a side wall…..these here are mostly egg temperas that wrap the corner to the right and hung with watercolors to the left.

And the cow painting from 1984 ended up here. Lee always loved the cow.

Just one thing added to a room and everything else looks “off”. Now it is loads tidier.

I bought this book because I could not resist the premise of it. Losing words in dictionaries that have to make room for others that have nothing to do with Nature.

Irresistible illustrations and thoughtful words by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane respectively.

I love these big sweeping pictures that know no bounds….they just run out of paper.

Here is what is left of the lotus in the kitchen window.

It still seems to be making an effort so can stay another day before I find something to do with its remains.

And a follow up on going to the framers to have mats cut for the pile of stitched prints. Did you know that it costs $7 per cut for a mat plus the cost of the mat board? Then the cost of frames! So my framer encouraged me to return home and frame them up myself the way I always have. Three hundred dollars later all the sizes of frames I need will be here by the end of the week…..and that is buying mostly in bulk.

Some I will paint with the lovely gritty grey that Home Depot quit carrying a few years ago but would order it for me if I bought a case…..I have several cans left.

Now I will cut the size mats to mount each print on and order the glass when the frames come in.

My framer was right….costs have gone up! And she has twenty-eight orders to fill.

Now all I need is a place to sell the framed prints so I can recover some cost and keep on going.

For now I will carve some more wood blocks and stitch more slowly on the resulting prints. The stitching part is closely watched by my couch friend, Patches.

I just started a new book….unfortunately on my kindle and not in page form to mark up margins. I read the first page to Lee….read aloud it is even better. The author is Paul Howarth and the name of the book is , Only Killers and Thieves. It is set in 1880s Australia.

Howarth writes like a poet would… Cormac McCarthy or Peter Matthiessen.  The descriptions put you right there waiting to breathe in the next sentence.

Like my stitching, I am going to read it slowly, very slowly.

And one final thing….the book makes me want to write so today I may be able to take a bit of time from watching Lee to do just that.

Til later.