Sunday, June 30, 2024

The why of a thing

 (Shopkeeping note. All the threads from the most recent dyefest have been posted. If you missed out, there will be more soon. I'm on a roll!)

There were other words here when I posted this yesterday. Some existential dread spilled over as if I needed to share any of that crap. Funny how things conspired to wipe those thoughts away.

It was my mistake (no mystery) that I opened the page on my phone,  looked at one picture, and then closed it before saving.

How quickly much of what we labor over these days can disappear in a flick of a switch. Bits, bytes, and pixels evaporate in a nanosecond. 

These thoughts give me a lot of satisfaction when I hold cloth and thread, working the needle like a paintbrush. 

When I'm writing, I use a fountain pen on paper for the same reason. After this, I'll tackle transferring all those notes into electronic ephemera. Someplace where I can stand back, see it all in tabs, and make some order. Remembering to SAVE as I go and not trust the app. 


Spawn Prime had a birthday yesterday. The number on that old shirt is coincidentally correct.  I'm so proud of the way Colin seems to be accepting adulthood, but I worry that his big heart will cost him some pain. Jade him some. There's always someone ready to take advantage of good intentions. Happy birthday, Sun. 

Charlie is having a fine summer. I will get to spend the last week of it with him. Do you know what he gets for his birthday? The first day of fifth grade!  We used to say "What a gyp!". 

My cusspots overflow.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Batched babies

 I've been out running errands including buying a new box of gloves. When I got home I remembered these were still simmering so I turned them out. I'd forgotten about the intensity that sometimes happens. 

Another round of thunderstorms is due so I'm leaving them out there another day. 

Some of these are going to be hard to part with.

Some of the murkier ones a prime candidates for discharging. Nothing is carved in stone until they are hand finished. No more machine disasters. I need a rock by a river, but I'll settle for the kitchen sink. 

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Just this side of blues

 Update. It's pouring! I can feel all the plants and creatures go "Ahhh!"

Well. Half of them. Maybe.

As ever, the colors had their way with me. I did lean hard on the blues. 

A return to past proven moves: batching was a Thing. The kind of thing that made me take an unannounced turn. Today, I'm all in. Those threads will lay there. It might even rain on them later. And the bundles in the jars? Maybe later tomorrow. 

Thanks to everyone who ordered. First order of business tomorrow is the post office.

This is Old School 

We had a frog-strangler! First rinse, done.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Eyes closed, hoping.

I'll be posting these in sets of four here. 
Also prepping a run of just blues provided the spirits of color are in a generous mood.

 You never can tell. Until then..


Sunday, June 23, 2024

More like baked and blanched


Every time I dye, there is something to learn and more to remember. 
I like to flex, that is, improvise. But sometimes flexing causes me to lose focus on what should be hard lessons from past fails.

Do NOT wash out vintage cloth in the washing machine. There is no setting gentle enough to prevent tender fabric from disintegrating and coating everything with a layer of lint like so much cotton candy. It was the worst mess ever! I 

This was especially bad for the handful of crocheted cusspots. I'm hoping that when they are fully dry I'll be able to work them over with a lint roller or the vacuum cleaner. 

As for color, I'm always hoping for more. 

I shouldn't dwell on or share wet textile images. So much eye candy!
Still, there's a chemical mystery that I have to solve. What happened to the blues? Was I too cheap with the dye powder? Was the magic sauce too weak?
Did the cloth have a fabric softener on it? 

-I did not scour the cloth with HOT water and Dawn
-I was distracted and hasty when I was making up the dyes and way short on table salt. Kosher coarse should only be a special effect.
-It may have been optimal weather for dyeing but not for this human. 
-Wrapping the threads in cloth and kneading the bundles was overkill. But they are lively.

All things to consider.

I'll be getting all of this into the store later in the coming week. 

Saturday, June 22, 2024



 Wiping off with a piece of lovely old tablecloth.
 I wonder why no one ever uses damask to make garments? I can see it being winter wear. Supple, weighty, and warm. Maybe a caftan.

It's hot. 90ish. Nothing like the rest of the country has been suffering. The heat here is typical for this time of year. Even the cats are smart enough to stay inside with the AC.

For all my prepping, I forgot to ask Colin to get salt. No worries, I have a big box of coarse kosher salt.
That will do.

Sure it will.       Wishful thinking.

Right off the bat, I knew problems were brewing. Not enough color distribution. Too many voids call for a lot of handling, never good. So I flexed and batched the threads between two pieces of cloth giving them a second blessing in the magic sauce and little kneading. 
Too much of a good thing and some of these look overcooked. I won't really know until it all dries.

Here's where I usually get lucky and leave the cloth outside in a thunderstorm for a natural rinse. No such luck this time.

Once I had everything where I wanted it, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool.
Quite the perfect summer afternoon.

This is Way...with music

ProChem and USPS came through! 
Sending and receiving via the post office has been sketchy for a while here in Georgia thanks to a 'new' processing center in Palmetto, GA only one hour away from me with the city of Atlanta smack in between.

No excuses have been forthcoming, but I imagine the Postmaster General, Louis Dejoy, (a Trump appointee) is laying the groundwork for disrupting mail-in ballots. 

That's enough poison for one morning. I'm sneaking up on a dyefest. Late that I am, I'll call it the Solstice Special. 

If I write a book about dyeing dirty, it will have to be fiction because I'll be damned if I'll pay lawyers to write up disclaimers. Here is the one I wrote years ago: 

My "Law & Order" law degree dictates that I give all the inane and obvious warnings up front - Don't huff dry dye powder. It will gunk up your lungs. Don't drink dishwasher gel or soda ash solution. Don't make any of it into meatloaf and don't use it to cure crabs. 

Being a carbon-based life form myself, chemicals bother me so I work outdoors and wear gloves and glasses. Duh. This stuff will kill you as quickly as most anything else under your kitchen sink. 

If anyone chooses to disregard common sense (so what else is new?) the gene pool thanks you for getting out.
Here endeth the lesson.
The Braves beat the Yankees like a rented mule last night. Pity on the mule. 

I spent most of the game measuring off forty turns of thread onto my treasured Luminarc tumbler. I got them as a wedding gift so long ago and still have three shorties and three tall ones.  Just a tool that I favor. 

No science here, but I think the handling and the smoothness of the glass sets up a uniform surface on the thread that may cause the shine mine are known for. 

Or it could be the devil's bat piss. 

I'm not trying to kill myself out there in the sun today so this is going to be a short run, which is a good thing in the long run.

There's still a lot of summer ahead and the pool beckons.

Listen. So much magic in his lyrics. 


Friday, June 21, 2024

And be still


It's just what it looks like. Something soothing to keep me in the present. Things that must be accomplished are in the here and now, so this is just a little side step. 
I'm going to have the two of them mounted together in some fashion. 
There was supposed to be a local gallery show tomorrow, but their emails (with copious demands and instructions) only came yesterday. Oh, and btw, artists are expected to pay 25$ for refreshments for the guests and must stay at the venue all day.  
Fuck that shit, folks.

K. this was the favorite that I wrote about. A simple, cotton tea towel with more woven embellishment than usual. Does anyone know what this weave is called?  

I know it's going to take the dye beautifully with a diffusion that does not occur in other kinds of cloth. And I'll be keeping every shred of it.

There is still a ton of vintage cloth ready to go. Some Irish double damask, a cotton that's almost lawn it's so fine and delicate. Some old-school embroidered tablecloths. 

Still waiting on ProChem to come through with two colors that I'd used up, I started winding off skeins last night, but I had to stop because I was tired and a little clumsy. 

This part of the thread dyeing process needs a light, delicate touch or annoying and wasteful snags will frustrate the crap out of you. Think of putting decals on butterfly wings and not harming the butterflies.

I finally got one of our lawn chairs up to the grove for an elderly neighbor who walks (is walked by, actually) his little dog, Rocky. 

Since this picture, I've also replaced the old clay bird bath. The new one holds two full gallons, so I'll be lugging jugs of water up the hill for my daily workout.

I can't seem to nap these days. Can't imagine why. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Hearts & Bones

He misses camp. It's a delight to know he builds camaraderie wherever he finds himself. 

There will be two more weeks of it in July and then another spell of time with me. I will have to come up with some better entertainment.

I fished some scraps out of the stitching bag and tried to make something happen. Rolled up for now, maybe another day while I wait at the math tutoring.

There is an ice cream place on the way home from Mathnasium. Delicious ice cream comes with Spanish lessons and some raucous Latin country music (I think).


Madam Salem had much to express about my absence. I know their needs are met while I'm away, except for mama love.
She came to us with a deep-seated fear of men. She's no longer afraid of Colin anymore but he's no source of comfort for her. She's a one-woman cat.

When I got home last night and settled in bed, she chased Bailey and Camilla away from me then rebuked me with mewling growls and skin-sanding licking before she settled in beside me. 

I put on the documentary "In Restless Dreams" for background while I got caught up with admin stuff, but as on the first watch, I sat mesmerized between the music and his words. If you like Paul Simon, this distillation of his career is magical. 

Belly-full of reheated meatball & green pepper pizza, it was an almost perfect evening.

Now, so late in life and his career, the documentary explores his struggle with hearing loss. How an artist addresses the loss of one of his most important tools. 
Apropos of that, whenever his music was featured, (which was often and beautifully rendered unlike some music docs)  beautifully readable hand-lettered lyrics floated across the screen like angles helping me see the words I only thought I'd heard all these years. 

As writers, we both sometimes take leaps of thought that leave some readers/listeners in the dust. 
Painting with words. 


I'm not ready
I'm just packing my gear
My hand's steady
My mind is still clear

I hear the ghost songs I own
Jumpin', jivin' and moanin'
Through a heartbroken microphone

Life is a meteor
Let your eyes roam
Heaven is beautiful
It's almost like home
Children! get ready
It's time to come home

I want to
Believe in
A dreamless transition

I don't want
To be near
My dark intuition

Friday, June 14, 2024

Full tilt hedonism.


Taking the waters after a quick overnight in the county and a challenge that reminded me that I can OM and O-SHUN with the best of them. Shit, I can practically levitate.

Water, 80 degrees. Sun, straight over the yardarm. I have a funky incense to run off any mosquitos. We grew a huge herd of amphibians this spring, the mosquitos wait until dinnertime for the most part. 

The little wireless speaker and my phone, fully charged. Some lemon LaCroix. Four strawberries, round as golf balls. Two chocolate chip cookies stuck together with cream cheese frosting. frozen. 

The floatie, filled and ready.  

A nice basting with Coppertone, spf15  cause I don't want to scorch. Nothing in the world spins me back to all summers the way that fragrance does. Every time I open the bottle I hear the Beach Boys and the Ronnettes.

In a bit, there will be some shrimp scampi over fettuccini. 


Getting ready for the last day of day camp, for a bit. 

Last night, we spent some time drawing and watching The Snowman. I was tasked with drawing a company mascot and naming the company. Monday we are going to invent Red Wolf Root Beer. There will be strawberry ice cream, muddled fresh strawberries, and root beer, of course.  C tells me this label will reel the Hipsters right in. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

East & West


Late in the day, the sun goes down beyond the pool and light floods the master bedroom.

I drag a chair over by the sliding door and work the needle until the sun falls below the tree line. 

The window of time? 45 minutes? Less if it's the least bit cloudy.

It goes as quick and sweet as a bowl of ice cream.

What's your sweet treat? 

Sunday, June 09, 2024

More or less flexible

Three times I stitched this word. 
Twice I picked it all out. That's a full twelve strands. Six doubled. I found a lovely tapestry needle with a hole big enough to carry it all without fraying or snagging and a point sharp enough to make way for it all through the two layers of linen. Slow, steady and focused for each stitch. You can see where my mind might have wandered. 
I forgive me. 

Not going to wrap the rope this time. I like the way this allows the color shifts and shine to come through without any interference.

I'm going to take this one very slow. Not for the sake of precision - I've already tossed that out the window. For all my fussing over the original drawing, the transfer paper was an abject failure. It took me hours to do, but after very little handling, the ghost letters were gone. 

I was pissed about it at first. Even took a run at trying again with just this first line of text. Another failure and a big flag calling for attention.
 Let this one unfold more organically than the first one. As a spell should. 

I'm in the good place for the first time this year. Later than usual because I didn't force myself to suffer the cold water. There was a good bit of scrubbing and inspection to be done before I could board the floatie and just chill.

And once I did, I was ready.

While looking for the shape of The Monkeytown Murders I wandered off into details about the main character's parents. What a crew. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

the Anniversary

 The day started out so fine. Bright sun, mild humidity, everything green and wild. I just goggled at it for a few minutes before it dawned on me that it was June 4. And I had to do the math, 47 years ago Jim and I got married.  If you haven't ever been to As Long as Love Allows, here's an anniversary story 

It's hard to celebrate alone, but I rummaged this out of a file and am sending it out to Jimmy. Of all the things people use the internet for, there is no better use than this. A new song for an old love and a mesmerizing video with lyrics.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

And him


untitled watercolor on paper, 24"x36"  

We talked briefly about the importance of cleaning your brush before switching colors.  Changing the water often. Using a paper towel to take back too much moisture.  The transparent aspect of watercolors. 

I have no formal training in this medium so I don't have much to offer. He asked Alexa to play some jazz and I left him to it. He worked two hours in the morning and another hour in the afternoon. 

Late in the day, he rushed a passage and got a little discouraged but I showed him a few recovery tricks and he was mighty pleased with the outcome. 

It's rare for kids to not be intimidated by a blank page. He talked about how he liked the way he felt while he was painting. "Smooth and quiet."

Last week, me


The peace and quiet is so thorough, it's disarming. I spend a half hour just soaking it up. Listening to the birdsong. 

Watching them flit around when the hawk casts his shadow across the lawn. 

That's a dead-end drive shared with a few neighbors out of sight through the trees. An organic farmstead across the way. Beyond that, a field with cows and donkeys. 

After coffee and breakfast, Charlie and I part ways for a little personal space. He, with the Regular Guys or Adventure Time, and me with Rachel Maddow and Heather Cox Richardson.  

Not touching on the sex scandal aspect, remaining impartial through the trial, and explaining the legal system to him has been challenging. He's a born prosecutor. 

I'm going to need a bigger lunchbox. 

 I've sequestered these in a gallon baggie for the Worm 2 project. 

I'm holding off starting because I'm going to need some darker colors. Fresh thread and new dyes are on the way.

And best, stories are starting to rustle around looking for attention.