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Better Days Ahead

This came yesterday from my son! Perfect timing and a mate to the first Trumpty Dumpty book that Gwen Diehn sent me earlier. We are in for a rough ride with that many crazies in our country and the massive amount of enablers in Congress and security staff.  Quite an eye opener for ourselves and the world.

This fat fellow was outside the den this morning enjoying a newly found nut and watching the news with me.

The last few days I have been obsessively working on the clothes page.

This is so much fun! My pen ran out of ink so I went down to the studio to hunt for more and found a half dozen that I hid in the back of a drawer because they were getting hard to come by. It is a pen that Gwen Diehn and I decided years ago was the best for pen sketching….a pilot V ball…..05.

So armed with all six to bring upstairs, I could not resist turning the page and drawing in the new subjects…my couch, pillows, cloth scraps bag, lamp, and the long stitched piece I made about travels in Australia that I had framed when finished. The next page has Patches by a window with sun shining.

This going to be so much fun. This is as addictive as eating peanuts! And I am getting more confident in doing the drawings with no hesitation.

My need for writing seems to be more satisfied with working on poetry and short stories. I received the new black inks yesterday and have laid out the pages with the new tether lines in Microsoft Publisher. Next step is make perfect copies for the printer to follow up with in making twenty copies of the book. Hopefully he can use some of my papers from my stash when I printed my own books…poetry paper has to feel right.

Here is an excerpt from the first short story I am working on about old Ellie in the kitchen.

Title: What Would Jesus Do?

She turned on the kitchen tap to clean the morning’s harvest of six potatoes, four carrots, two bird-pecked tomatoes and one large onion when she heard the preacher on the radio ask, “What would Jesus do?” Stupid question, Ellie thought, he’d do what he always does, the right thing. These preachers always tossed out two options for Jesus while addressing a congregation of people Ellie thought might be a bit dense to even waste time deliberating on an answer. One option was nasty, mean, thoughtless, and the other was kind, forgiving, tender. Of course Jesus was going to go for the latter. He had years of practice and did not need those who had to think about it advising him. Why didn’t those preachers use their Jesus connections to find out something useful?

“Is the neighbor’s dog ever going to stop barking?”

“Would you get a knee or hip replacement?”

“You had a way with water. Do you have any idea how to elevate these vegetables beyond soup?”

That’s a few paragraphs down from the start of Ellie’s story where she is standing over the sink and waiting for her gospel music hour to come on the radio. Here is a bit from that part:

When Gerald died one of the first things Ellie did was turn the radio dial off his right wing talk show in search of anything else and stopped when she heard the deep tone of Mahalia Jackson singing, “Take My Hand Precious Lord”. Hearing that took Ellie all the way back to little white dresses, shiny shoes and her dearly loved Louise. They were bittersweet memories of a childhood bereft of any affection beyond what their housekeeper bestowed on her. Every afternoon on her break Louise would push her way into the front porch rocker and hold out her arms. Ellie would scramble up past rolled stockings to a generous lap of folds and flowers. As the chair rocked slowly back and forth she would tell Louise all about her day, making it up as she went and keeping her ear close to Louise’s chest to hear the rumbles of suppressed laughter deep within. After twenty minutes or so, Louise would lift Ellie down, grab her little hands and say, “Pull!” Ellie went back to her swing, Louise into the house to start dinner.

Anyway, my daughter tells me that a short story is between 5,000 and 10,000 words. I am just under 1500 so far. 5,000 is likely to be more where I end up with each story in a book titled, Kitchen Stories.

Once I get Ellie sorted out and on her way, what about a young gay guy who is found doing yoga in his kitchen while the coffee brews? It’s my book, my stories, so why not? Now that I actually put that down on the page, I can sort of see him…slight form, dressed only in his PJ bottoms, blonde hair and a tattoo he is wishing wasn’t there. He is going to have to hold that Warrior pose til I get back to him.

Okay, better get back to it.

Til later.

A Very Good Day!!

We woke up this morning to what looks like a sea change in the country. Thank you to the voters of Georgia for getting us to this day!

Anxiously watching the news these past few days I have been working in my new marks sketchbook. Here is the evolution to where I drew in it this morning.

I turned the page and drew some more quick line drawings of a couple of things in the room and then a less structured outline for filling in with marks.

 

Then on the short page drew myself with one earring.

Next I thought to pattern her scarf.

Turned the page to make a new outline to fill in and then sketch models with jackets.

This morning I filled in one of the coats and gave two of them an earring and the third a scarf.

What I am really enjoying is the tight structure imposed on the random drawings. I get to be loose and tight at the same time and on the same page. I have no idea where this is going but I would not mind filling the entire book with these types of illustrations. Four more ink pens have been ordered. No writing has occurred to me to put in the book so far.

But I have been working on my short story about Ellie, the recently widowed older woman in the Kind Gesture story….the novella that can be found on my website.  The other day I left her finishing off her lunch, reminiscing about her childhood, and getting ready to dig a hole. When I first wrote about her, she was fixing lunch for her friend, Margaret. She is an abominable cook and a recent vegetarian which actually allows for poor cooking. All the short stories must have a relation to the kitchen. If I did not set limits I could be all over the place….more than I am now.

And I have redone the tether lines for the book and will make perfect copies to take to a printer…..just as soon as my Epson ink shows up. Just yesterday we received mail sent three weeks ago.

That is it for now. I need to go back to the news and see what is going on.

Til later.

 

Finally A New Year!!!

Lee went back to stacking his rocks the day after Patrick left. He did not ask to go to the shop nor did he ask where Patrick was. He just fell back into the safety of his usual routine. A relief for the caregiver and myself.

We enjoyed Patrick’s stay and did our holiday tradition of remembering our dear friend Pacia who lived to be almost 100 years old and was a major part of our lives as the kids grew up. She was one of the first we thought of when Patrick and I decided to open the Spirits Bar that I wrote a book about. You might remember, it was about how you can have another drink with departed friends by just opening the bar back up. In the book a page is devoted to a person’s memory with the recipe of their favorite drink. Every Christmas because all five of us miss her very much we have a Pacia Night at the cocktail hour. I had Fresca left from last year and some horribly cheap whiskey just for the occasion.

Pacia always had this drink of 1/3 whiskey to 2/3 Fresca with ice cubes served in Jefferson cups, those pewter short bowl shaped glasses that keep a drink quite cold. A couple years ago Patrick found me a set of those cups and we use them only on Pacia Night. Anyway, Patrick made the popcorn just like Pacia always did at cocktail time. She believed one should not drink without something to snack on and she like me was most satisfied with fresh popped corn.

We love it when Pacia comes back this way. She and several other missed ones are in that book with their favorite drinks. We miss them all but Pacia is the only one to get a special night of remembrance while we all sip away and recall the fun times with her.

Someone asked me once if when they died I would open the bar to them. “Simply put,” I said, “if I did not like sharing a drink with you in this life, I probably wouldn’t in the next.” But others that I miss have also left too soon and I think they should come back and share some time in the Spirits Bar. So I will let a couple more pass, then turn the original book into a dos a dos book. Which fits rather nicely into the idea of coming and going in our bar. Here is the original book.

I chose a dark green book cloth because that was the color of the famous Waldorf Astoria Bar Book.

And if there really is a hereafter, and I happen to get there with them, I expect to be greeted with a nice single malt scotch.

Also while Patrick was here I finished the fox.

Now all there is to do is the bat and I can look for another stitching project.

And instead of the drawing a day with haiku, I have been searching a direction in the new sketchbook. I could not leave that poor avocado cat alone. It needed black pen which opened a whole idea of trying to control where marks go without an eraser.

And then by this morning I felt ready to just draw with the pen loosely. In this book I can have control like in the Klimt like markings that are there just to fill very small sections at a time, or just draw outlines of things quickly. I have worked on this every day since I finished the graphite haiku books.

I finally get the meditation of those who work on zen tangle books and designs. Just fill small spaces with marks and move on to another section.

Now as for the Tether Line book. I am going to make another tether line, smaller with more tension in places. The font has changed to Garamond and no italics. Because my printer can be moody and splurty with its ink, I am going to make perfect copies of each of the twelve pages, both sides, making twenty four in total and take them to a printer to print off. I can do the cutting, folding and binding myself. Now I just wait for the new black inks to arrive.

And speaking of arriving by mail, my daughter’s cookies went from Detroit to West Virginia to South Carolina in almost two weeks now, but not here. Also not here are some lovely cheeses our friend sent priority with a guarantee of three day delivery. We have a despicable Post Master General who wanted to do the president’s bidding by slowing mail in ballots but totally gummed up the holiday mail in the process. Thank heavens decency is about to be restored in Washington and major changes can be made to fix the mess.

Now back to writing.

Til later….

Last Blog of 2020

Patrick taking Lee down to feed the animals the day before he went back home. It was a good two weeks of having him here. The two of them worked daily in the shop on turning wine bottles into glasses and wind chimes. Patrick also got to do a bit of wood turning. Lee’s biggest and I think only job was running the vacuum after any dust that showed up. Instead of the shop triggering memories of all the things he used to do, Lee seems to think the shop is Patrick’s shop and he gets to help keep it clean when Patrick is using it.

Thinking Lee might take a sad turn after Patrick left, I filled yesterday with making lasagna for the freezer, baking banana bread and letting him vacuum the dead fern leaves out on the porch. This morning while the cleaning lady was here I took him for a drive out to the dam where we walked in better weather and before Covid. The caregiver is here now and I have several hours to write.

Speaking of which I now have the finished Trusting the Tether Line book. The only change I might make is increasing the font size…what is a 9 in Book Antiqua is a smaller 9 in Garamond. It can not be much larger because one of the poems has just enough length for one page but not enough to make it look right on two pages. Funny how all those types of things go into the decisions of how you want a book to look and feel.

Cover with heavy card stock. Hard covers would make the book feel more distant from the reader.

There are two signatures of six folios each. As a friend pointed out, “You can always do a volume 2 if you are not through writing on this subject.”

The tether line starts on the title page and continues through the last page. I had to run all the tether lines on the pages first…both sides of the paper. And because my printer had not been used in awhile, the ink bursts out even though I cleaned the heads twice. That process used up even more ink, not to mention paper, so now I am waiting for my order from Epson to arrive before I can make more of this book.

Only the tether line appears on the left side. I like the feel of this book in the hand. I like the words. Here is the introduction that appears on the first page after the title page. No Pages are numbered because there is no need to think of the order of things.

Introduction to Trusting the Tether Line

We have shared a life of over fifty years with the last several in the company of dementia.

The diagnosis brought shock, grief, anger and fear of how we were going to make it through all the changes that had to be made. Our lives were not just interrupted but irrevocably altered to meet the needs of the one afflicted and the other left coping.

I needed to find ways to help me deal with all the new responsibilities. At first I stitched endlessly into a rotting linen shawl trying to make it whole again. Holding onto that cloth and being covered by it at the same time was comforting.  Next I traced the outline of my hands six times in a sketchbook and slowly filled the space inside with drawings of the things he could no longer do. By doing this I could actually see how much I was needed and how much I was taking care of.  After that I began to write poetry that was a short glimpse into our lives.

Friends encouraged me to write about living with dementia because it might be helpful to others. The best I have to offer is the sharing of those poems.

Of course that introduction is laid out to properly fit onto the narrow page.

And the newest short poem I wanted on the last page.

I wish

I wish, I wish, I wish

I wish, I wish….

until I don’t

anymore.

I wish

I had known

that would happen.

 

I would like to find a way to get this book into print but the format of the pages matters to the content, so not sure if that would even be possible. In the meantime because I have this precious time for writing, I am thinking of doing a volume of short stories. It will let me go back to that town in North Carolina from Kind Gestures and visit some women I miss. And there are those notes of overheard conversations in diners, the overworked tools in the kitchen that have so many memories and experiences, and on and on….

There is so much more than Lee and me to put on paper.

Til later..