Friday, October 21, 2016

Home Improvement time!

This time last year I was celebrating the brand new heating and air system. This year - a badly needed new roof. Who knew how much damage there was up there from wind and hail? State Farm and TruTech knew and I'm a happy camper.

This was the tarped-over view from the studio. A beautiful light.

The crew was here before it was fully light and soon it sounded like a tribe of rabid Sufi's on crack were working it out on the roof. Sweetie and Juicy disappeared for parts unknown and I even bugged out for a couple of hours of quiet.
Their generators bothered me more than the banging, I think.

They finished and cleaned up by five. I'm having some hedge tidying done soon so I'll wait on the after photos. It's a good feeling. I know Jim would be pleased with the work and the outcome - a big boost to the value of our home.

I feel Jim's love and protection here as strongly as ever. This was my last birthday gift from him,  taking a few hours of fresh air and sunshine.    10.14.13

Monday, October 17, 2016

it's Charlie Monday

I'll be leaving in a little while to spend the day with him. We went to the park yesterday and he was less impressed with one of the new features than I was but we had a good, wearing-out time, nonetheless.

He's gone from two words to three and now four-word repetitions of almost anything one says. All you have to do is pause and wait for him like a little bell's echo. It's amazing. He still says a lot that I don't get and I worry that it's partly my hearing loss. I don't want to frustrate him or make him think that Nana is a dummy.

The coat project is looking to be a fizzle for this season. I almost never wear a coat anyway. But, I won't pitch it or give it away. Just back burner it and see what comes.  There was some long looking and touching here.

I've been pretty much consumed by the first draft of my book lately. Discovered that the expression "First Draft" actually means "Take a hard look and start over with an axe."

The word is RESOLVE

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

gratitude and the coat project

One of my favorite pictures popped up in FB this morning. I have it as a screen saver on my cell phone. Now that little baby looks at it and says, "Nana and baby Charlie....awww."

The picture comes from an old post that I make a point of revisiting around this time of year, as a gift to myself.

So I started work on that coat. Found a selection of gaudy two-toned rayons that just dazzled me until I'd spent a few hours pinning them up and down one lapel of the coat. I was reminded of the recent spate of evil clown sightings and have changed my mind about using strong color. Back to the baskets.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Saturday, October 01, 2016

coat project #2

 This coat repaving is going to be harder than I thought, not execution-wise. I love free-motion nail-downs. I get on a roll and have to guard against stitching my fingers in.  It's the color/design that is going to be hard to decide on.

I was plucking through my private stash, concentrating, really being critical and found a length of fringed black-fade-to-white linen that stopped me in my tracks.

 Should I go for the B&W graphics to accentuate the elegance of the cut or just go hog-wild with color and admit that I really like the idea of that Holy Elephant only I want to be the artist.

The plan is a great deal of ripping, cutting and pinning and rearranging before I even think of threading the machine.

Friday, September 30, 2016

the coat project

Have you ever tried on a coat or dress and the cut, fit and cloth were just so right that you had to smile? This sucker fits me like it was tailor made.

Then, you looked in the mirror and something about it  just so off. So wrong, but not so wrong that wishful thinking made you buy it anyway.

This garish embellishment runs the length of both sides of the front of the calf-length coat and spans the shoulders. I kinda look like the Maharaja's favorite elephant on a holy day.

I got it from the second-hand store for a pittance so, a rescue attempt began. Got out my handy stitch ripper and started to remove the acres of machine embroider. After an hour, I gave up and tossed the coat into the "be gone" corner of the closet.

A little while ago, I picked it up and tried it on again and got that same "Love Me" glow. Then it occurred to me that nothing would be lost if I tried paving over all this grotesquerie with my own cloth embellishing. The Janome is feeling feisty. I've been fondling my stash and know what I have to work with....what's to lose?

Progress pictures as we roll.................

Sunday, September 25, 2016

small trials

Coming up for air after the worst head cold in memory. For forty-eight hours I was too sick to complain. Grateful to be upright and quasi-functional. I was so grateful for two full and productive days poolside last week  that it didn't matter that I was sneezing and sniffling until I sat down at the computer for the day job and realized that I couldn't talk or make sense of what I was seeing on the screen. Over-medicated much? None of it was making a dent in any of my symptoms and I discovered that more was not better. To bed.

It's past and over. So what used to take 24 hours now takes 48, a concession to age that I'm now willing to acknowledge.

This basket of delights is a fat baggie (picked with gloves and a mask!) that will be flying home tomorrow.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


I feel a little traitorous to my own slice of heaven out back, but my pool is well on its way back to its off-season pond state and no place to hang out.

This is the pool at the condo where a good friend lives, a few minutes away. It seems like none of the residents are aware that the pool will be kept open as long as the weather permits and it's been hot and sunny. Not sunny enough to get a scorch, but hot enough to make swimming glorious.

The ten-day forecast calls for more of the same, so this is pretty much where I'll be until Fall finally has its way with us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

reflexes, deep and wide

I came upstairs to start revisions on a chapter and instead, just spent twenty minutes burrowing through my private stash searching for the right shade of blue and not finding it.

Remembering that Procion discontinued Bonny Blue and any shreds I had left are gone. used up.

This is nothing more than a thought right now and will probably spin off into vapor, but I was reading my email at the same time and went to answer one. Instead of picking up the mouse, I picked up a spool of blue thread, cut a length and threaded a needle before I realized what I was doing.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

the GO'keefe

Without any conscious decisions along those lines, I've turned a pair of men's Levis into quite the womanly, utilitarian item. The choice of lining and pocket fabrics were really a matter of what was within reach of the sewing chair, I swear.

 In the beginning, there was going to be some embellishment, but when I get done hand setting and stitching the lining into place through all that denim, I can promise you that this one will be finished and ready for action.

Back before the internet, 1988 to be exact, I had a nifty little mail-order business selling detailed instructions for the DIY crowd. I ran little one-inch ads buried in the back of a few craft magazines because that was all I could afford.

Every single day I'd get mail with cash or stamps inside and then next day I would send out my four-page, lavishly hand printed and illustrated instructions for AZZBAGS. I also offered to "Do it for you", but I never had any takers for the service. No surprise, given where I was advertising.

Jeans were a disposable commodity back then, as now, so there was no shortage of cheap raw material. I made hundreds of these bags and other accessories and sold them briskly at craft and art fairs. Those were fun days.

Friday, September 16, 2016

DIY. Satisfaction

I've been looking for a shoulder bag and must have looked at a couple hundred on Amazon. Even bought one... Sent it back today. Solution? It's been many years, but I haven't forgotten the Trick. I did have to go to Goodwill for just the right jeans.    


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fall sinks in

It's not the noticeable turn of seasons here the way it is in New England. All of a sudden the media is pushing pumpkins, apples, cinnamon and the like.  I still run the house AC all day. We are in a drought condition, yet it's humid. Just a serious case of blahs, weather-wise. The pool is really pea-soup, not this pretty and I really have to see to some kind of winterizing or we are Club Zika Med out there.

I haven't returned to walking in the park yet for a long, lame list of reasons, chiefly a bothersome callous on one foot that I know is going to require surgery in the future. I will not consider it right now.

Work continues, half-heartedly, clearing up/out the studio. Cloth bundles get shipped, but better...packages arrive. This one, by Jude, is called "Storyteller".
How could I resist him?   I am tempted to take to the river basket. For the first time in months, I'm beginning to consider stitch as therapy. Needful therapy.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Show coming up.

Three of my pieces will be taking the air at The Art Place in Marietta, GA  from Sept.8-29. They will be in some great company!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Critics abound.

The pained expression on Sweetie's face says it all. "When are you going to get that crap out of my chair and get this place squared away"?

Any day now. There's a hurricane gonna drag its skirts over the area and I can pretty much guarantee that pool season will be over the day after. That will free up about two to three hours of my weekdays. Then we'll see some stuff happen around here. Maybe. Right now, it's me against the falling leaves and the exploding sweetgum balls.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

not Fall

But it's right around the corner. I'm back in the studio this morning putting together a few fat baggies that need shipping.

This morning FB showed me a memory of this date with a picture of my swimming pool in a lurid pea-soup mode, typical for this time of year. It takes huge chemical and labor heroics to bring it back to blue and in late August I usually decide to let it go back to nature.

Not this year! It's still Caribbean blue and clear, but as the leaves start to fall, it calls for a daily hour of cleaning that can only be accomplished wet. Such a suffering. And that sums up why I've been missing from here. In another week or two, things will change and I'll get down to business indoors.

The Last Harvest pieces are all gone and will be on their way to the UK soon. Some scraps from that lot went into the tubs I'm working from now.

With no sense of sorrow, I've decided to give the cloth studio an entire makeover and will be selling/giving/transforming a lot of stuff in the coming weeks. Tools, books, and lots of cloth, of course. Finished art will be on the block, too. It's "Make Me an Offer Time!"

It's crowded in this chrysalis and I'm looking to break out.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

lenses on the past

Antonina Catalano and Antonio Mercurio
Charles Henry Useted Sr.
I have become the family archivist.

While I was in NY, my sisters and I spent an entire afternoon going through one large tub of my mother's photographs. They tell me there are many more.

We went through the stacks of pictures and sorted them based on who should get them. In many cases, we had no idea who the people were. These were in the keepers.

The newlyweds are my mother's mother and father. I never met that Nana and only Poppa once when I was maybe seven. He did not make a favorable impression.

The character is below is Pop, my father's father. I thank him for all that good hair. He spit tobacco juice on my bare feet to comment on not wearing shoes.

He also taught me how to strop a razor and use a whetstone to sharpen any kind of blade. Some skill for a little girl. He was a man of very few words and when you were around him, it was a good trait to adopt.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

August 18

Since the late sixties, August 18 has been an auspicious day for me, some years more spectacular than other, but always the day has dished up personal magic. This morning I watched the full moon set through the trees as I pulled into the parking lot at Charlie's house.


This is happening outside right now, even though Colin shot this video a night or so ago. This was what August 18th has done for me in years past.

For the years to come, that full moon slipping us all into Aquarius had me draw these for myself. Why leave it to fate when excellence is at my fingertips?

Monday, August 15, 2016

wandering scraps

Now what to do with that hastily scrounged sewing kit that I smuggled past the TSA twice without thinking about it. I never took it out of the plastic bag while I was there. There was no time or inclination.


I know a lot of people travel to see and experience places. I go for the people. You get the places, no matter what.

This is my nephew, Dallas holding his new little brother, Memphis.

New York was hotter and more humid than Georgia ever thought of being and I remembered, it got like that in the summer sometimes. Fierce.

I met a few old friends over great food and better conversations.

And below, my sibs. The four of us took ourselves off to the beach in Rhode Island for a day. Alone. No kids or partners - something we've never done before. It was an enlightening experience. Everyone had a good time.

Friday, August 12, 2016


One of the side treats of coming home to New York is seeing pieces made and gifted away after years of
service or just display.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

the shift is on

 I'm heading to NY for a visit with family.

In a move towards changing course from the direction of stagnation, I'm curating a sewing project to take with me instead of hauling the laptop along.

It's taken a while, but I've discovered the theme of my book is touch and connections.
I'm not sure how knowing theme matters when the thing is already manifested. I sure didn't think about it going in.  Themes are funny things.They sneak in over time and one day, you flip back a shutter and there it is, a sleeping bat clinging to the wall, it's eyes scrunched shut and muttering "Good. She can't see me."

Not much of a reach for a stitcher, this tactile thing. There's just no denying it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


I found a stack of that creamy card stock that I bought to make direct prints from the fabric with.

Digging the originals out of hiding and hauling them to Kinkos over the weekend for more prints. They mesmerize.

Monday, August 01, 2016

A special Charlie Monday

Hi! I'm Charlie and this is Nana.

This, of course, is not a steering mechanism, it's her HAIR which, she reminds me, is attached to her BRAIN.

I get it, cause I pulled my own hair once or twice and, yeah, it's attached.

but sometimes, I think about the RODEO we watched on TV

and I just gotta say "YEEHAA!"

Sunday, July 31, 2016


 I've been packing up the last harvest in baker's dozen bundles and getting them shipped off.  There is not as much of this cloth as a half day of ironing lead me to believe.

The light at the end of this tunnel shines on everything in the studio and has kindled some interesting thoughts.

The zeitgeist of the publishing threads that have floated by my screen recently has been about cover art.  At the most recent writer's group meeting, there was some talk of the experience of holding an actual book as opposed to some e-mode.

To me, it's like the difference between champagne and distilled water. It's all about how many senses are engaged while the story takes over your life.

While I was looking for something else, I found a folder with some of the reprographs I made a few years back. I've been cutting them up into postcard sized pieces and using them as bookmarks. They are just the right weight and size and the backside plain paper is perfect for taking notes.

Fortunately, I leafed through the folder before I cut this one up. It's the last and the original was sold. This print is all I have left.

After looking at dozens of "BEST BOOK COVERS" according to I don't know who, it occurred to me that I have all the cover material I could ever look for right at my fingertips and should I not find something suitable, I can thread a needle and make that happen too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"just going" with the last harvest

To that end, I decided that the last two harvests needed to be showcased, so I did the unthinkable! This morning there was IRONING!!

I always tell my customers to iron the damask scraps before they decide how to use them because the heat, steam, and pressure brings out an entirely different character inherent in this cloth.

Using the first morning light through my north window I've done my best to capture some of that character. Iridescence is very difficult to capture digitally, but I think you'll understand. You can click through most of these pictures to some very large images.

I confess I was thinking about something else altogether while I was ironing. (If you don't do that yourself, something is wrong.)

                                      All will be available here while they last.

Proceeds from all this glory will be funding a trip to my first writer's conference in November. Yes! I won the scholarship, but there's airfare, lodging, and even writers have to eat!  It's a big step in a different direction, something I'm very excited about!