Thursday, September 29, 2022

Grateful to be missed


Once again I'm trying to make friends with the seed stitch.  This was just a little something to hold on to and fiddle with while listening to the storm news. 
I've already taken the snips to it once - the red patch was stitched to the wrong side of the purple base at first. 

Now that it's clear we won't miss a sunny day to Ian, I'm going to set it aside before I do any more damage. No heart in it. Saving that for the page.

I have a busy schedule coming up in October. Accepting invitations and obligations as they come without worrying about a work schedule is fun even if the first thing I do each morning is check to see what day of the week it is.

The beasts were acting up a little. Lots of murdering going on what with the chilly nights reminding them about stocking up for winter. I pull into the driveway and before I can turn the car off, Bailey jumps through the window for his afternoon portion of love. It's always nice to remember that they have no worries, just goals to be grabbed, moment to moment. 


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Summer's shadow

We don't get too many sunrises around here, but Colin did a double shift and grabbed this one. The beautiful weather persisted and belied the sailor's warning. 

The mailbox garden is set up to bless our senses with gardenias and butterfly bush blooms until we have some hard frost.
Christmas gardenias will always be magical for this Yankee gal.

Everyone who ordered bundles should be getting them by Friday. While I was making them up, I pulled some drama to keep in the River basket until I'm moved to thread a needle. I've made a mess of fancy damask in the past so I'm going to let them ripen in the closet. 

It's the Autumnal Equinox. I savor it one day at a time because I grew up in the Hudson Vallery with a short, capricious fall.  My birthday is smack in the middle of October. On some birthdays, I could still go swimming in the lake. Other years, frost crackled underfoot making sneakers treacherous.

Summer looks back on herself and smiles at the miracles she's wrought. Bright wings. Water in the air. Bounty.
Fall puts his arm around her, pulls her close, and whispers,
"Hang with me a while. You won't regret it."

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The cure

It's day four of this malady that a second test said is NOT covid, but I have my theory.

My body, equipped with vaccinations and booster, recognizes this invader and deals with it, but imperfectly.  The Rona symptoms (respiratory struggle, no sense of smell) come and go within hours. In between, it manifests as a five-alarm head cold.

Nothing for it but to sit out in the fresh air and sunshine and hand wash chunks of cloth. And nap when needed. 

Washing soda ash solution and excess dye out of cotton damask is labor intensive but tactilely satisfying. 

On the first pass, an orange-sized ball of cloth feels slimy and will jump out of your hands and splat color on your bare feet.

 Add just a drop of Dawn to the second pass and trouble doubles. The damask weave and the density of the fiber whip the detergent into foam.  

A hot water pass calms everything down and soothes my paws. Back to cold water for the final two or three passes to make sure the water runs clear. 

Then I snap them out and hang them over whatever; lawn chairs, railings, the old thyme and lavender shrubs (you may smell them.)

Then, the next day I found that a lot of these had dried to a pale mess so I set up for overdyeing. What caused the color loss? Old dye? Not enough time in the soda ash? There's no telling. 
 Washing these out today and then most of it will get blended into the Hot Scraps inventory. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Next gen art

 I was sick enough this morning to cause me to take a covid test. Counting on that negative to be fact because I have stuff to do.

Charlie's school had a digital learning day today. As if all of the second grade wasn't enough. Five hours in a semi-darkened room at the laptop. Fifteen-minute assignments drag on past an hour because he hunts and pecks. 

The worst out of the way, I found a Learn To Type for Kids game and left him to it. He's delighted that his fingers have brains. What bothers me is that he'll never learn cursive. I will teach him his signature. With my favorite fountain pen. Eventually.

It was really fine out today. After the traditional lunch trip to Sonic, we hatched out the dirty threads. The Cassiels.  The reluctant angel from Wings of Desire. 

They were pretty murky looking at first. The carrying cloths all circles and stripes. 

Hopefully dry by this time tomorrow.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Wings of Desire

 Acknowledgments first. I could not have managed this day without Colin's help. If I had to go under the house to turn on the water, I'd still be down there sleeping with the spiders and snakes. And the heavy lifting? Toting shit to and fro? He handled all of it, on his day off. I am grateful.

The dirty threads are rolled up in these five little bundles. Poaching in the autumn sunshine. Forty, fifty? 

I swiped the name for this dye set from the film even though I'd never been able to sit through the original. The concept of spirits wanting more from eternity has been on my mind. 

Of course, you know I'm a drop-dead, cry-like-my-heart-is-breaking fan of the American version from '98, City of Angels with Nick Cage, Meg Ryan, Denis Franz, and Andre Braugher.  It's one of those movies I haven't rewatched in ages because it just turns me inside out.

Beyond the emotional workout, I desired different things from the colors this time. I wanted greens that lurked in the weeds. Ocean and sky blues, inky purples, and rotting pumpkins. But you know how it is with wet cloth, so we'll all just have to wait until late tomorrow. 

All of this is vintage damask and most of it will be going into the Hot Scrap Mix.

There are dyes and magic sauce left over. Sunshine blazing through Sunday. I'm going to rummage in the closet to see if there is anything left that could use some color. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Away & back


All forecasts pointed to dismal weather, but the sun had other ideas. The heat and humidity were shockingly equatorial for the Outer Banks in September. A strange compromise between New England's rowdy, freezing salt smash and the Emerald Coast's gentle, sterilized smoothness.
Swimmers were warned out of the water because of fierce undertows. We perched on the high-water mark, then ventured in, old lady style.
 The water was warm, edgy, and mostly devoid of life. It felt like another planet. An angry one. 
Ankle deep, the sand being snatched from under my feet by greedy waves, I said, "Mother forgive me. It's been years since my last visit." Mother sizzled around my feet, threatening to unbalance and upend me. I'd been warned. Retreat was easy, smart. 

Friday, September 09, 2022

Friday fringes

I don't know the Ens, but on closer inspection, it looks like they subbed out their monograms to the lowest bidder. Then again, I just pulled this tablecloth out of a hot wash/dry cycle. 

A raft of damask cutters (items stained or damaged) popped up on eBay and I was lucky enough to be first in line to grab them. They were yellowed, stained, and holey- just the way I like them.

  According to the voodoo bullshitters at next Wednesday looks like a great day to get these into the dyes.
I have some experiments planned. 

I put up a few more gangs of dirty threads in the store but I won't be shipping anything until later next week. 

Post wash, they are like so much vanilla ice cream or cool whip. I plan on ironing this lot to bring out the iridescence once the color comes to roost. Photographing said iridescence will be another story.

Right now, I have to do laundry and pack!


I watched "The Crown" last year and came to a better understanding of Queen Elizabeth. Like many people, I'd never given a thought to the fact that she was a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother in a hugely complicated family all the while living with the demands and constraints of being a monarch in a world that has been anxious to shed monarchies. 

May she rest in peace after a long, hard job, well done. 
The double rainbow over Buckingham Palace was sublime.

                        Then this moved me to tears.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022



I have a pretty severe case of it. 
After so many years of having my schedule dictated for me, reallocating those weekly forty hours is challenging and I'm not up to any challenges so there's been a lot of listless time-wasting.  

My grandmother would have made me clean the parakeet's cage with a toothbrush. While the vicious little bugger was in it. 

Knowing why is something, anyway.  I'm having another back procedure tomorrow and will see about some physical therapy that is NOT in a public pool. I'm having some annoying breathing issues that feel like long covid and the last thing I want to do is spend an hour in a chlorinated atmosphere. 

Thank you for this, Liz. It was in my stack of "I'm gonna be bookmark any day now".  It reminded me of something important beyond the obvious. 

When I'm writing into a brick wall and getting nowhere, a neat trick is to write a scene for another character. Up to now, I've neglected the ghosts, Hope and Sam. They have a lot to say and hands to play in the sequel I'm developing. 

This was a big outing for me on Saturday. We took books to the little free library in the park where I used to walk and write. I managed 1200 steps and Charlie couldn't resist a last swipe at summer silliness.

It's a good thing I have him to remind me of simple joys.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

A big week


I take this picture to be a good omen. A sense of community that I have missed while I was putting in forty hours a week with people I never saw or got to know.
This is the resident cat posse. Center on the mat, the youngster, Milly. Colin's Christmas rescue. She's a gonif and we are already having to restrict her caloric intake. No more basketball-sized cats in this family. It's really not good for them. 

On the left, Her Dowager Highness, Sweetie. You all know her. I indulge and spoil her. The two of us feeling the weight of life and years, arthritic and lazy.

Center on the steps, Young Thug, Bailey, the lithe fur snake who will interrupt his napping to rush onto my lap with the urgency of a child needing to be soothed after a nightmare. Sixty seconds of head scratching and poof, he's gone, back to his cat business.

Last, but not least, Lady Salem, she of the gorgeous graphics,  is still a bit troubled by Milly, the young interloper. Salem guards me jealously at night treating my hands like her long-lost kittens - licking them clean and moving them with a nip.

I am owned.

I have a few daily duties. I am honored to have breakfast with Charlie. He reads to me before and after school daily. Improving in leaps and bounds, he's found a hero writer in Dav Pilkey, author of the brilliant Dog Man Series. This, from "Dog Man: Mothering Heights"

Every story is chock full of action but sewn together by scenes like this. 

There were seven words or phrases here that prompted spirited discussions. The triple pov endings of this one made me cry, but I'm an easy mark.

He is perfecting his delivery for maximum Nana impact. 

There was a delightful adults-only day that included swimming in a still warm salt-water pool, food, drinks and a Braves game on the radio. Late that day, there was a phone call from the workplace. A wellness call, she described it. Thoughtful, if proforma. 

The next morning, I called and put them out of their misery. Who knew there was something called "off-boarding"?  The deal is done. I am free. 

The daily path is pretty much up to me and the calendar is already booking up. Today, I'll be driving to the gallery to fetch home the pieces that didn't sell.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Dirty Threads


That didn't take long, thank you all. 

I still have plenty, but I haven't had the time to get more sets posted. More tomorrow.

Up to now, I was going to document a dyefest in order to write a DIY, but that's just more procrastination bullshit. Something I am trying to flush from my thought process.

Step One. 

Open a blank page....

Sunday, August 21, 2022

the switch flipped


I knew it the minute the float turned me in this direction, Summer left without even saying goodbye. The water loses a degree or two each day and within minutes of this moment, I was scrambling to get out before the thunderstorm hit.

Tomorrow I will be disconnecting the day job equipment and getting it out of my space for good.  It can stage down in the living room until they let me know where they want it sent. Eighteen cubic feet all told. Bailey will be upset, but that office chair is going too. More space! 

I don't quite know what to do with myself yet.
They do. 

Really, so do I.  Some travel plans are afoot.
Lots of pesky admin stuff to get out of the way.

Stories are spinning up, taking hold.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

August 18, any year.


August 18 has always been an auspicious day for me, on many occasions and for many reasons. 

Laugh out loud times, tears in my eyes times, and the sound of that sweet inner bell saying "Do it!"

So many memorable 8/18s, that at some point in the middle of Summer's last laugh, I always take notice, connect the dots and remember them.

No random pull for me today. I picked all of these for myself. Like the day.

I have walked away from the day job. No regrets. For thirteen years it has both sustained and confounded me. I'm grateful that it was never more than a way to make money and now, time matters more than money. Roll on. 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

under the Sturgeon Moon

Yesterday was the best weather for dyeing that I've had for years. Hot enough to get the colors reacting, but not so hot that I was uncomfortable and therefore NOT rushed.  

I took my time making up the colors while I had my coffee. Forgot all about what I needed in the stash, but instincts drew me to warm colors and stayed my hand when I picked up Raven.

My only regret is that I didn't have more cuts of this linen ready to carry and wrap groups of thread. Shortfall?  I threw the threads right down on the deck boards same as I do with cloth bundles. 

Butterscotch, Sun Gold and Lemon had a field day. Avocado came out for the first time in many years. Prochem has improved it immensely. Bright where it used to be murky. Plays well with others too.

An even better day coming up.  I'll get these washed and laid out to dry in time for a decent pool day. Yesterday, I actually got cold. By the time I hit the water, clouds had moved in and the water is still a little colder from all the rain we had during the week.

It's that time of the year when I take note of each swim knowing that good water days are numbered. 

A peek at the results. I washed and rinsed these an hour ago. Hope the cloth stays as intense as the threads seem to be.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Conjuring colors


I shot this through the sunroof the other day. It was quickly followed by a carwash thunderstorm. 

Today is supposed to be glorious, with no rain in sight. I'm about to drag my fingernails over a bar of soap and start cooking up the colors for a dyefest. 

Updates as the day goes on. 

Monday, August 08, 2022


 Pulled this one out of the trunk of my car. It was in the FREE ART bag, destined to be left behind on a park bench some sunny day. 

I was so caught up and in love with some of the elements that I overlooked how hideous the background is until I stepped back and took a hard look.

I spent some time changing the orientation by 90 degrees. That required the sleeve to be removed and relocated. The original stitching on that sleeve looked like I sent it out for the nuns to work on. Took an hour just to cut and pick all the stitches. 

Now I have to decide what I'm going to do about the background. The fabrics are very "touchy", that is, a cotton/rayon blend designed to soak up spills. Anything liquid applied is going to travel uncontrollably. 

I can't use soy wax to mask and protect the central elements (that pink also needs help) because of the silk satin and more of that thirsty cotton/rayon.

It might come down to surgery and if the patient survives, a new name. Ideas are welcome. It's on a back burner for now.