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….

The Helpers Have Gone Home

Over 75 pounds off to be properly disposed of at the community shed on Friday. It was very exciting as I had never seen a shredder like this before. And the bank sponsoring this free of charge service served an assortment of sodas and water with bagged popcorn. Super relief to get this much out of the office and hauled away. Thanks Amy.

Ben pulled everything from top shelves so I could decide if it stayed or went away with them. Surprises like you would not believe shoved to the back! Lots of it went back with them this morning and the rest is waiting to go to someone else or stay with me.

Ben cooked his delicious squirrel and a Mallard duck that was not to my taste…chewy and a bit wild for me. But he did have time to hunt in Tennessee and is taking more squirrel home.

Friday morning I had a bit of time to spend by myself watching the funeral service for Margaret Perkins. It was so nice of the family to film the farewell and stories of those who knew her well. Hearing my words spoken aloud and being thanked from afar was particularly moving. Margaret, such a grand old girl and missed so much already.

We thought of going to the Women’s March in Sylva, NC on Saturday but time constraints and even more packing of boxes needed finishing. Three trips to the dump and one to the shredder!

We continued with the walks.

Found these strange little fellows on the riverwalk.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Phallus rubicundus is a species of fungus in the stinkhorn family. First described in 1811, it has a wide distribution in tropical regions. It has the typical stinkhorn structure consisting of a spongy stalk up to 15 cm (5.9 in) tall arising from a gelatinous “egg” up to 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter. Atop the stalk is a pitted, conical cap that has a foul-smelling, gelatinous, green spore mass spread over it.
We did get some time to go to the local winery.
And now with rain coming down I am going to go watch some of that new big television.
Til later….

I Am Getting Exhausted!

My last post about losing Margaret Perkins will be used at her funeral service this Friday at 1 pm Australia time in Victoria. I was honored to be asked permission. The service can be viewed live but that makes it 11 pm here in my time zone but I will get something sent to me so I can view it. Such a wonderful woman and due to Covid restrictions there can only be ten allowed to attend. will be the live stream site for those wishing to be virtually present.

Above was the scotch I shared with her the day I was told Margaret had died.

With the arrival of Amy and Ben came a new oversized television…now all hooked up in the den and ready for me to get used to before it goes with me to the new house in the spring.

Plus new drinks from Ben:

Lemon Grass Whisky Sour

2 shots bourbon

1 shot lemon grass syrup (simple syrup of sugar/water equal parts and lemon grass blades brought to a simmer to dissolve sugar, then bottled and kept in fridge)

1/4 lime squeezed

dash or two angostura bitters


Lemon Grass Old Fashioned

2 shots bourbon

1 shot lemon grass syrup

dash of angostura bitters

Both of them were good but not the flavor hit you get from rosemary  or turmeric syrup.

Now we found an old recipe Lee had for making your own Drambuie

3 cups scotch

1 cup honey

We seasoned our scotch overnight with one tsp chopped fresh rosemary, zest of half a lemon and 1/4 tsp fennel seeds…these were just some of the options in Lee’s recipe.

Scotch and seasonings sit overnight, then strained before adding honey, bottled for two to three weeks before sampling. I will let you know how it compares to store bought Drambuie.

In addition to the drinks recipes, Ben has fixed the first squirrel I ever ate. He got a license to shoot them in Tennessee while here and some ended up in Squirrel Tacos.

Tonight there will be more, some in a cream sauce over risotto, with a course of brined duck. It was delicious so far. Squirrel tastes somewhat like chicken and somewhat like pork. He gets them very tender in his fancy pressure cooking pot.

They have unloaded the top shelves in the kitchen and are taking several foodstuffs home with them. Also Amy has helped me tackle the office/gym.

Three bags of trash out.

Shelves of just piled up papers are clearing off into boxes, some to move, some to go to the shredders.

They are still game to go on the early morning walks.


The dam:

Very foggy mornings. I have to wait until it is light enough to feed the deer and birds before we can start off. I will be glad to see us set the clocks back so the early mornings have more light.

Two loads of wash also done today with a bit of ironing. A meeting with a realtor at a friends house that may be coming up for sale. I think I will use this realtor myself when the time comes.

The worst of the cleaning out has been done. Now there are some spaces in the studio that need some attention and garbage bags and more trips to a professional shredder. Artwork to pack up, papers to put into flat storage boxes for under beds, the pantry shelves to sort through. Really how many jars of beef broth, tomato paste, etc. does one person need! And those Dutch ovens, roasting pans, plastic storage containers!!!

Amy and Ben will be taking home as much as I can pawn off on them. A whole carton of papers and supplies has been packed up for them to take to teacher friends up north.

No drawing this week…I will try in a few days. Tomorrow we take a break and go to a winery!

Til later……

Remembering Margaret Perkins

Sadness this morning to wake to the news of Margaret’s passing. Her enthusiasm and knowledge of the bush of Australia was always fixed in place with her needles, thread and materials. When she would enroll in my workshops down under, I looked forward to all that she had to share with us.

A very long time ago she gave me this set of coasters that she dyed with various Eucalyptus leaves and bark. One is permanently attached in my visually biographical book titled, My Decennia Book.

As Margaret unpacked her materials for class, it was the first place I headed. So many of the colors I love about Australia were in her satchel.

Her botanical drawings were excellent. In one of my earlier classes with Margaret she was stitching into a large paper map of the Flinders Ranges. She knew so much about the natural world of her country and every piece I saw of hers work reflected such a deep caring for the land.

This was our last workshop in 2019 at Hall’s Gap, Victoria.

She told me then that she would not be attending more workshops. Said the travel was getting too hard. As a goodbye gift she gave me a bottle of single malt scotch.

How very thoughtful and kind. But that was Margaret.

I shared it with a fellow scotch drinker in the company of a cockatoo. It was lovely.

For those who knew Margaret and enjoyed her company, I believe she will always be there in every crack and crevice of the Flinders Ranges. And a mark of her pen in every botanical drawing. Her presence can be felt as we pass our hands over thread and cloth put together to illustrate our love of her country.

Several years ago I wrote a story about how we can open “The Spirits Bar” when someone we care about is no longer with us. We can have another drink with them through fond memories and a few sips from the glass.

Tonight at five o’clock I am pouring a single malt, setting the glass on one of Margaret’s coasters as I go open the door for her.

Til later…..