I really should check myself before
I post here lest you all think I'm coming unhinged. It's all true for a
few minutes out of every hour and then I dry my eyes and busy myself
anyway I can whether the muse moves me or not.
There's been a lot of
rooting and rummaging. We were big on stuffing things in boxes to be
dealt with another day. The days are here my dear. The other day
Colin and I drove into Atlanta to take most of Jim's winter and
working wardrobe to an outreach program for homeless veterans. I know
he would approve.
There was an actual breakfast this
morning and Jake has taken up his fathers Sunday mission of making
sure I have the NY Sunday times which I parse out over the course of the whole week.
I've been working on our deteriorating photo archives the best I know
how with an ancient version of Paint Shop Pro dreading the day when
the next version of Windows will render it senseless and I have to
purchase and learn something new.
Ewok costume by y'rstrly
It's been wet and cold here so I
decided an old fashioned spaghetti dinner was in order so while Jesse& Walt cooked meth on the tube, I cooked up a batch of sauce and
meatballs that will carry us through most of the week in one form or
Later it was Earl Gray and cinnamon scones in the study for a
good long stitch with cats in attendance and Downton Abbey and
then Beloved for background.
Thank you all for your compassion,
support and love while I am in sadland. (Thanks for that Steve, your perfect description of this time and place)
Without thinking about the answer I would have once said "wife, mother, artist" Now I have to redefine my life and maybe not use any of those words for the time being.
Find a broader perspective.
There are baskets of beautiful cloth everywhere. At least I can still see the beauty in each piece even if I have no inclination to make. Anything. Food and clean clothing is almost too much. If it wasn't for Colin, I would have given up cooking altogether and gone raw by now.
Thank the force for Chinese takeout.
Thanks for all the orders that have rolled in since I posted this. I will be sending everything out first class USPS on Monday morning so you should be seeing the goodies before the end of the week.
....after a fashion.
Years ago I wrote my own Quilters Prayer. I'm sure it's not what people were looking for when they googled the words but to me it was never more true than now.
I'd much rather see my cloth in the hands of other artists right now so I spent the morning packing up a squad of fat baggies and will continue making them available through the holidays over at Random Acts of Dyeness. If you are sending one as a gift, make sure I have the right shipping address and I will make the package festive for you, no extra charge.
Doing what I always do when the muse has fled, shaking my moneymaker, tis the season or so they say.
After Jimmy came home from the hospital
last week Voodoo was on constant vigil with him, mostly sleeping
between his feet but once or twice a day stalking around the
perimeter of the bed.
Not normally a lap cat, he has become one in
The past months, needy and vocal in his demands for attention. I was thinking that it was just part of his
dotage but he has taken on this guard duty with a fierce gravity that
forces one to admit that animals have a knowing beyond human
When the priest came to give Jim last rites Voodoo
sat at attention at the foot of the bed and his golden gaze moved
from Jim to the priest and back again, over and over during the
recitation. No wonder, no amazement just a steady watchfulness over
his charge and the proceedings.
Bereft, he has transferred his need for
contact to either myself or Colin, whomever has a warm lap in his moment of need.
Jim had a serious setback late Monday night and we went by ambulance to the hospital.
After tests and scans his doctors have agreed that any further treatment of his cancer would be not in his best interest and we are now focusing on his comfort and quality of life.
I can't thank the wonderful team of professionals at the hospital enough, although I will find the time and a way in the future. We are now in the hands of a hospice care program and will continue to live in the Golden now together, here at home, as long as love allows.
I was going to sit out on the deck yesterday and stitch a while but I could tell that the sun running lower in the sky these days would not clear the trees that stubbornly hang on to their now mangy leaves.
So, like the cats will, I pulled my rocker over into the big bent rectangle of light coming through the back door and sat there, shifting the chair every few minutes as the patch of light and warmth made it's transit. Jimmy was napping and "Band of Brothers" ran in it's entirety on TV yesterday and I just sat with my back to the screen and let the music and dialogue take me as I worked.
I'm going to try to stay with this one until it's finished, soon. soon. While rooting in the bottom of the bottomless basket for my cell phone I found the missing piece which will be nest on the roster of things to tackle.
I've brought most of my houseplants up to Jim's sitting room into the east facing window. There's probably a lizard or two in there but time will tell.
This Christmas cactus is a great grand daughter sprung from stems from my mother's plants that I brought down from NY years ago. She has made a fine recovery from the day one of the cats decided to climb up on it and mash it into a cozy nest.
It's been a tough week for Jim physically and emotionally..the wedding, the travel, strange foods and round of chemo tossed on top just for fun. This weekend we rest.
Although I set it aside for a while, I've come to recognize that I need to do this work, this art, for the sake of my own well being. Even if I don't always get enough sleep, even if I can't get a balanced meal, I must take a few minutes and stitch.
Who knew you could stash your sanity in a river grass basket?
There's a clutch of twenty inch square vintage damask dinner napkins in the closet that I held back from the summers dyefests. They make great, controlled starting places. Boundaries are important to me right now.
As I make up fat baggiesfor the store I'm pulling out little treats and tidbits of cloth to keep for my own stash, a snip here, a sweet little passage there..most of these will become part of the Vigil series.
It may not come to anything but it has a different feel. Everything feels different now. I call this "vigil stitching"; I was up most of two nights in a row with Jim.
The festivities took a toll on him and yesterday's chemo hit him hard even though his docs were happy with his numbers going into the treatment. He is better today than yesterday which is all I could ask.
One more wedding shot, my most favorite so far; my son standing with the official, his face when he first saw his bride.
I spent a couple of hours yesterday making a selection of garters for my future daughter-in-law. The scrap basket on the floor was muttering at me the whole time. Later that night this was sketched out. Only basted for now, I'm just going to consider it when there is time.
My first splash in the dizzying world of hand dyed cloth was my Velvet Lashes...I really could have run with that one but fashions come and go. We got a good three or four seasons out of selling hand dyed cotton/rayon velvet scarves.
Making these was much like making pizza. The scarves were soaked in soda ash solution, wrung out and then, one at a time, the color kneaded in; more kneading, less color definition. Pop it into a baggie and let it rest overnight before the wash and rinse. The hardest part was not repeating myself colorwise. I never failed to make the cost of my table before lunch on day one anytime I brought these to a fair.
That's my first dye partner, Jan Thompson in our art fair set up at the Norcross Art Fest. It was a perfect vendors weekend. Hot product, great weather and they put us in front of a great Italian restaurant.
I was spoiled rotten.
Jan has since moved on to glass art and you know what I've been up to.
Every year when it turns cold (as it did with a vengeance last night) I pull my two survivors out of the closet and wear them all winter long. Everyone else sits at a traffic light and fidgets with their phone (which will still get you a ticket here in GA, btw), I braid my fringe.
Here is our feline codger dominating his human the way he insists on doing. On a chilly day, a hairy hot water bottle can be nice.
All that mad color is my very first attempt at a quilt that I knew was outside the pale of the traditional. That was all that I knew at the time. 2001 I think.
I found a fabric place that sold remaindered cloth by the pound.
The base for this quilt was a high quality king fitted sheet. What seemed like and acre of thick navy flannel had been damaged in the manufacturing process; there was a bite sized chunk missing in one corner.
I had amassed a blinding array of commercial cotton prints, mostly from remnant bins here and there, and I was hand appliqueing irregular chunks directly to the flannel with no plan beyond coverage. The stitches are tiny. Under Voodoo's paws you can see an embroidered cotton doily that I picked up somewhere. The flannel was so lush that I never considered backing the quilt and now the checkered border is evaporating the way cheap cotton tends to. It's warm and cozy.
We were just home from the cancer clinic in this picture. The docs are encouraged by the results so far. Jim is tolerating the treatments well and now we are just building health and strength to enjoy the upcoming festivities.
It's been two clinic/doctor days, all good and fruitful and I am grateful but I'm tired.
This morning I shopped myself silly in the food store in a vain attempt to not have to go there just one day this week. Foolishness.
All my tropical plants had to be brought inside; frost and even freezing in some areas have been predicted. I unpotted all the lantanas and committed them to the mailbox garden as there is no room inside for them. Tomorrow I'll bury them under some mulch and hope they make it through the winter.
A good friend reminded me that I needed a little diversion, she was right. There are dirty dishes in the sink, a dishwasher full of clean ones and mountains of laundry just lurking about wondering what I'm going to do about that balky dryer. Instead I spent a few hours just stitching.
To everyone who purchased Fat Baggies last week. Most of them should be arriving today if they haven't already gotten to you.
I forgot to mention the added bonus of how amazing and different the bits of damask will look if you take the trouble to iron them! Some of the pieces take on an iridescent quality and you will be hard put to choose which side you want facing the world.
Whether you are hand or machine piecing with this cloth, you will get a great stitch definition as the thread sinks into the fabric in a juicy way.
I snapped this shot of Jim the other day with my cell phone. I think all this Old Dutch Master needed was a white ruffled collar but he thought he looked like one of the dwarves from the Hobbit.
Jake came over this morning to set things right. The last time I used the clippers (on a human) both boys came home and announced they wanted me to shave their heads and I said "sit right here" and gleefully whipped out the cape and clippers. This was back in the days of the fussy bowl undercuts and I was happy to see them go.
It was over in minutes; bald is easy.
Jake looked like an otter pup and never grew his hair long again. Colin looked like Knucklehead Smith and there are NO pictures.
The only hair I cut anymore is my own. Jake did a terrific job and Jim looks terrific.
I whipped myself into a sweaty frenzy looking for this yesterday so I could pick it up again. No luck.
It's somewhere in a 10x12 room. I hope I didn't stuff it in a baggie and send it off somewhere!
To quell the aggravation, I found these other scraps and started feeling around for the next holiday. Somehow I'll be hooking it up with the wolf/gator head below.
We haven't done Halloween around here since the boys stopped trick or treating. This year, I won't even be hanging up the ghosts because I'll be too busy getting ready for the trip to Big Canoe for Jake and Missy's wedding.
It's been a tough couple of days here. On chemo day Jim woke up with a fever and serious weakness. The clinic told us to come anyway so the doc could assess him. They took blood and gave back a short tank of IV fluids and a scrip for antibiotics. Some random germ brought him low but 24 hours later he's back on an even keel and the blood test showed very happy liver numbers. The chemo was set back by a week but it's all good.
What I am going to do is stuff a quart sized ziplock baggie with a little bit of everything here, take it to the post office and weight it...I'll get back to you on the price but it's all here...damask, huck, lawn, sheeting...everything I've been making magic with over the past year or so. Never fear, there's always more.
Let me know if you want to reserve a bag or if you have a particular colorway I'll try to accommodate you once I get to stuffing...
The plan is to revisit this summer's cloth harvest and get a bunch of them into the store. There is so much and I hate to see it just boxed up on the shelves. The rivergrass basket will be churned too.
Select, iron, photograph, measure, document, package, post, Go back and repeat!
With any luck there will be some updates to the store as the day rolls along.
Yesterday, on a wild whim, I picked up my friend JK in the next town with the intention of walking in her town park instead of mine.
Instead, we stopped by this little thrift shop and spent an hour looking to complete my mother of the groom outfit. Very trendy but nothing grabbed my fancy. I kept picking up dresses and talking about cutting them up and making owner grow faint.
I was literally walking out the front door when Kim pulled this out for my approval. Ding!
It's at the dry cleaners right now and if my guess is right, Procion MX dyes will sort out the garish gold and reds. More to come.
Some days there just are no words. The Braves fell to the Dodgers last night and our baseball season is over. I am in withdrawal.
These are all aimless starts, shiftless scraps, hanging on the design wall so they don't get accidentally-on-purpose hacked into, shredded or otherwise kicked to the curb.
Before almost everything else I have to return to some regimen of self-care.
Now that the swimming season is over I have to carve out an hour of walking each day and I plan on pairing that with with music or an audiobook.
It's too early in the fall to feel like a bowl of cold noodles.