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In the beginning… or rather… was there a beginning?

20 Feb

I see-saw between the forest and  the trees. The former is more comfortable.  I’m a big picture wanna be. Yet I’m haunted by details.  I believe what we have here is something quite pre-historic.  A velociraptor perhaps.  And something else, directly below, emerging from the void.  Part fish, part mammal?  There’s a sense of fertile potentiality, as though anything could happen.  Tomorrow I will learn more.


Picking Up the Pieces.

19 Feb

I’m loving this time in the cycle of seasons.  Only a few plants outside are showing signs of greening up.  Leaves are nowhere to be found.  And although it’s unseasonably warm, I think we still have a month or so before the lure of new growth begs commemoration.  It’s also a slow time in terms of art & craft shows–a venue I’ve become dependent upon.

But right now I’m not thinking much about craft shows.  Instead, I’m looking at all the cloth I’ve generated from eco printing

and anticipating the process of melding together disparate pieces into whole cloth.

Marveling at the little marks left behind–
littlemiceLittle Mice?

birdbeaksHappy Birds?butterflyButterflies.butterfly2

I play the “cloud game” and imagine all sorts of things–like this hummingbird in search of nectar…hummingbird

Or this–how negative/positive space can hold both leaf tips and faces.sadcat

I love these little etchings on cloth–the last hurrah of the heroic effort on the part of a tree, shrub or flower.  A mark that will last linger long past this growing season.  Sometimes these marks commemorate an event–an occasion–a time spent in solitude in nature, or a social event with family and friends.  Times or joy.  Moments of sorrow.  Sometimes these marks recall weather patterns.  Times of drought.  Times of unseasonable rain.  And although these little imprints on cloth may look like absolutely nothing at first glance, for me they are intriguing.  Mysterious.  Beautiful.  Parts and pieces that, when combined, tell another story.

I’m going to document the birth of this next cloth–a cloth that right now comprises 8 separate scraps of botanical imprints–finding the places where lines and shapes connect–where the whole emerges from the sum of its parts–where it makes sense to me.  Where on some level I’m able to understand how the puzzle pieces can fit together –forming the big picture.


And thank you Jude Hill.   Slow stitch and slow cloth.

the comfort of kantha

9 Feb

Again, lulled back into the comforting rhythm of kantha. Into the near hypnotic motion of running stitch.   Waves across the surface of cloth.

Much is held here in this cloth.  Memories. Snippets and scraps.  Like the oddly arranged, seemingly incongruent events of my life– held to the light.  To be examined.  Revered.  Treasured.

Memory–like kantha– weaving the ground, holding the story, supporting the whole.

Warrior Women: prayer flag #11

4 Feb

This morning I’m thinking about a warrior woman–one woman in particular–a scrappy keeper-of-goats living in the harsh yet beautiful desert of the SW.    Not a place for the weak of body or spirit.  I’m joining her this morning in solidarity, vowing to take back what I’ve been relinquishing–stepping out of this small, spiteful drama and reclaiming, to the degree that I can–a sense of perspective–a sense of how it goes.  Viewing the big screen in high definition.onewomancu


This warrior woman was part of a weaving exercise using a little box as the loom.  She stands on cloth dyed with black walnuts.  Mounted on fabric mordanted with sumac.  Her head is one half of a sampler I made while practicing slow cloth with Jude Hill.  And yes, Jude Hill is a warrior as well.  As was my mother.   As is my daughter.  My sister, friends cousins and nieces.  This is for you.

Holding Truth: prayer flag #10 as antidote to alternative facts

3 Feb

As far as I know the Bowling Green Massacre theory is an alternative fact.  Not a truth.

This butterfly–slow stiched during a gentler time spent online with Jude Hill–is meant as a reminder of the value and beauty of truth.  It’s a pocket–a safety net–to hold written words or ideas that clarify one’s world view.   And it’s a reminder that butterflies aren’t alone in their struggle to avoid extinction.


This morning’s prayer flag.  Stitched with cloth pieces from older incomplete projects. Patched together for unity.  A truth holder.


Into the Stillness: prayer flag #9

2 Feb

img_4189This what-might-look-like-a rag pile is actually my hoard of earthly, material treasures. (No pun intended.)   Things I would grab if leaving home in a hurry.  On that little couch, and the shelves that surround it,  I find remnants of work from the last ten or so years.  Natural dyed fabric experiments, hand-dyed indigo shibori pieces, pieces of slow cloth that I labored over so intensely, eco print fabrics, pieces of silk hand dyed and ecoprinted, needle felted wool, etc.  And this is where I go, these mornings of late, when I begin the prayer flag of the day.

This morning I was contemplating the importance of stepping into stillness.  Especially as a tool to handle the maelstorm of current events.  Contemplating stillness and casually examining pieces of cloth.  What surfaced was a felted wool stork.  Felted wool and pieces of linen indigo dyed shibori.  Surfaced and coalesced with little effort on my part.

Curious abbestreallyout stork’s symbolism in light of the intent of these prayer flags, I googled stork.   My take-away:

If we allow it to it can instill a sense of calm in us…. It reminds us to be careful with our words and attitudes, remaining calm, cool, and collected in the face of adversity. When we do this, we can be at peace.

Instill.  In still.  OK.  Into stillness.


Point-of-View and Acceptance

14 Jul

Thought threads. Lots of pieces. Fragments. But there is one thing arising that started a few days ago.

I’m taking a workshop with Jude Hill. “Considering Weave” is the focus this go-round. It has me outside my comfort zone. I like that. And part of the intention is to explore weave structures as weave strengthens cloth or embellishes existing cloth– providing a matrix for exploration as only Jude can do.

I missed the first week of the workshop and have been playing “catch up.” Looking at other student’s work. Not really “listening” so much as looking. And so I had an idea–based on a window screen I made in 1969. Then I had taken a piece of burlap–a big piece–dyed it purple, machine stitched various enclosed shapes and then pulled out the weft threads inside the shapes. I loved it. It created visually interesting open patterns popping out of the field of purple. So I was thinking about that purple piece when I took a piece of red linen and started cutting shapes. Shapes that would hold some amount of woven interest.

This is what it looked like in the beginning–hanging in the window–and what I liked about it was that depending on where I stood, the view from each portal was different. lr reinforcing an idea I just read– Thich Nhat Hanh –“Perception is deception.”

I had been thinking about perception/deception and point-of-view when I started hacking up the red linen. And I wanted to express for self the relevance/irrelevance of being attached to a point of view. That’s what I wanted. But it’s not what the linen wanted. unnamed (3) And even though I really loved how it looked, I had chosen the wrong fabric for this project. The linen lost its integrity. It began collapsing in on itself. Folding and draping. Melting almost.

This morning, in an effort to return “spine” to the cloth, I re-wove binding strength into the holes I had excavated. They are just okay. So so. The cloth maybe isn’t quite as strong as it was…it’s changed…but it weathered the storm. DSC01386




So. Respecting. Respecting the nature of . . . . Things. People. Self. Not pushing against. Not wanting to change something against its will. Against its nature. Ah. And that leads me back to–acceptance. Again, the lessons of cloth.

Garden. Producing like crazy. Little rain really, but the ground is so heavily mulched that watering hasn’t really been necessary. DSC01352


The pole bean trellis is straight out of Jack and the Beanstalk. Ladder needed for picking and yesterday one of the bamboo supports gave way while I was about six feet in the air. I had already scoped out my landing pad when it broke.


Groundhogs are wreaking havoc in the squash patch. The fencing on this part of the garden is plastic. The gate was one I made, weaving bamboo together. Clearly an optimistic gesture. Because it deters NOTHING. And to date I’ve hauled off 4 groundhogs to various locales and now I’m thinking they’re hip to the havaheart trap. It’s baited with honeydew but being ignored, and honestly, I’m always relieved when I look out the window and its empty. Squash will probably recover.
groundhog damage

And finally, a reward for reading this far–
back in asheville

Sculpture in a downtown storefront. Asheville, NC. Sorry I don’t know the artist.

Possum, Turnips and Spirit of the Garden

30 May

In the garden. Before sun up. With dog companions. In an early-morning-green trance, shortlived that it was. During the night a possum found the cantaloupe in the havaheart trap. And there possum sat–in the trap–and the dogs were totally in freaked-out-by-possum mode. So. Back inside with the dogs. Brief google on possum. No reason to move him…just needed to open the door. He was hissing and baring teeth and sitting on the mechanism that kept the door open so I had to find a branch to string through the trap to keep the door ajar. And then it wouldn’t leave. Didn’t exactly belly up, just reticent to move…

And later, picking turnips for tonight’s dinner–

Turnips and greens, vidalia onion, and sweet potato–baking in the oven in one of those clay Romertopf pots–a thrift store score from years back.

And while the possum drama was unfolding, spirit of the garden emerged –so here it is, awaiting stitching.

spirit of the garden

And another. Unsual for two cloths to step forward in one day. But this one, I think an earth guardian, witnessing the stormy weather–
thunder and rain.

earth cloth

Expressing Essence

21 May

I pick up boy-in-purple-shirt after school. Observe completion of homework. Listen to his interpretation of the day. Sometimes offer opinions, but not very often. He’s finding his own way through it all.

There are challenges to this routine. I question–should a first grader have homework? And if so…should it be done right after school? Or later? After play? But we’ve fallen into this routine because it seems to work. “Later” doesn’t. His focus, which can be tentative at best, is near impossible to harness “later.” So.

I’m thinking about the beginning of the year…months ago…the learning-to-read process. A struggle. Math a different story. I remember thinking, “I wonder at what point I’ll be useless with the math component?” It won’t be long. But reading…well I can read. In fact I love to read…but accept that it’s not something everyone loves. Including this boy. He does it. He does it just fine. Now. But he’d rather be doing other things. I get it.

So the progression of reading material over this past year–from the early stuff–pretty boring — to Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series has been interesting to watch. And yesterday, the completion of a fantasy book about the Japanese poet, Basho. At the end, I asked if he’d like to try his hand at haiku. OK. I would transcribe. First effort was more of an epic tale. Shorten it a bit, I suggested. OK. A condensed version of the first. How about just pulling out the essential feeling you want to express? That resonated. So a haiku-of-sorts–

The words. Yes, a from-the-heart sentiment–essence distilled to a few words. But I also had the privilege of hearing the words spoken. Heard the love. Heard the sincerity. The honesty. So now it has me thinking about that …about essence, about distilling expression to the most basic common denominator.

The process of expressing through cloth seems similar to creating a haiku–with cloth substituting for words. But the challenge is the same. Distilling form to essence.

This green cloth, a sampler of many pieces of naturally dyed fabrics–earthy. And the intention– to capture the essence of the life force of the earth right now–the small patch of earth behind my house where a lovely garden vibrates with energy–
It started here:

then changes–






like the creation of a haiku–writing and re-writing–editing–paring down and re-doing–throwing away and starting over–pieces added, removed, rejected.
Still searching for truest way to depict the essence of something nearly indescribable.

Sensing Spring

20 Apr

Last week, another three nights below freezing and lots of scrambling to keep plants alive. Straw. No longer available. Anywhere, in this town. Something about last years weather. But maybe–they say–maybe in a month–maybe there will be a first cutting from some place. Maybe we can get more. Right now it’s as precious as water.

It’s been very cool and rainy and I just finished slug patrol–they–the slugs–are doing just fine. Fat and plump and merrily grazing.

There have been teaser days–days when spring seemed settled in. Days when boy and dog–park bound, paused just long enough for this–logan and macy Days when finding tossing sticks revealed the sublime beauty of maybe my favorite flowers: violets
and then, because Asheville has a leash law, we, my friend and I, settled for watching from a distance. macy She could not be distracted. Was vigilant. Without motion. Would hardly blink. Much later when she caught sight of her person returning, she looked at me and smiled. Yep. She smiled. Heading for the front door of the house she shares with her people.

And I need to record for myself the progress that Juno is making. Because it would be easy to become discouraged. I need the pictures to show me how she looked before. When she was really tense. When resting was not something she could do. When adrenaline fueled her every movement. Here, downward dogging at home, with other people and other dogs wandering about:down dog
and she came to the chair where I sat, touched base in a way, then scurried off. juno up close
Hope is a wonderful help mate. Hope is full of confidence…and I’m so hoping she’ll help Juno find her own strength.
Because still Juno does not want to be handled Will not voluntarily come for touch. I read up on the breed. She’s a Tibetan Spaniel. Bred 2,500 years ago to be companions for the monks and lamas in the Himalayas. Slept with their person to help keep them warm. Were trained to spin prayer wheels. What I read stressed the importance of early bonding with people. The importance of socialization right out of the gate. Juno did not receive that–and how that could be, I cannot imagine.

So…there have been a few stitched added to “The Last Moon of Winter.” And slowly she’s coming into herself.last moon of winter

And some cloth–a nubby silk from Dharma–wrapped with rebar wire and soaked in onion skins. rebar cloth

…and these three squares thrill me. Echo some deep rhythm from beyond now…DSC01004

Moving Forward

9 Apr

I almost said “progress” but changed my mind. Negative association with the word. Progress. We’re told that so much about 21st century life is “progress” and I usually wonder, “REALLY?”

Juno is moving forward. Coming out of her terror. Still a long way to go. These pictures almost capture her fear and skittishness. They almost capture the chronic fight or flight mode that’s running her engine. And they do show me that in 6-going-on-7 days, she’s made some major shifts. And so has Hopi, who was not at all happy, initially, to share me and here and toys.

Two days ago. She boxed herself into a corner. Very, very slowly she withstood touch.




And this morning–really rowdy before breakfast. Insistent that I listen and feed. Now. Standing her ground.waiting for breakfast

and later:

two playing

So. There is comfort here for all of us. For Hope because she is beginning to realize that she is not being up-staged. For Juno who is beginning to believe that “maybe” she can BEGIN to trust. For me, because there is a lot about this experience that is less than optimal. Juno is not house trained. She won’t or at least doesn’t go to paper. She cannot go outside yet. Fill in the blanks. But I’m seeing the progress when I review these pics…

and here…FINALLY…and wow, what a trip

moon cloth

And this, I just noticed, is Post 99.

These Things–and a bit of cloth

6 Apr

Four days ago I agreed to foster a dog just released from a puppy mill. Today, four long days later, I’ll tell you it’s not a pretty picture. Juno. She is one and a half. She has NEVER been outside of a plastic crate. She knows nothing about outside. Or inside. Or anything else.

I’m not going into why I decided to foster–but I am examining my motivation closely. All that matters right now is that I’m in this situations, right now right here, with a very wounded, frightened, anxious scared creature. Until last night, she paced. Constantly. Non-stop. Back and forth. Room to room. Skittish as a deer. When we would meet, her feet would spin out on the hardwood. A blur of panicked flight or fight trying to about face and get away. Keeping my back to her helped. Crawling on the floor around her helped a little. She seems desperate to trust and starved for love. Wants it. But just can’t believe it’s possible. Lunges at my hand, a blur of a tongue kiss, and then she’s gone. Hit and run bonding on her part. And it’s all going to happen on her time table. Here she is. This is the view I get most often:
usual view

Hope and I were in the garden this morning. I cannot let Juno out just yet. The world is too big. Too scary for her. Too overwhelming. But she missed us. Barked when we came in. Sitting on the floor, I asked her to come. Hope makes that hard for her to do.hope and juno

But Juno came a bit closer. Quick kiss. Then gone. front Last night while I was flat on the floor trying to convince her I was just a bigger version of herself, she came closer. Not close enough to pet, but closer. She sat. Her eyes started drooping. They closed. And flew open again in alarm. She has not slept. But now, look. This is a miracle:
I’ve got to be very quiet. The slightest noise causes her to recoil. Jump. Become vigilant. The crates belong to Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. They’ll be returned at some point. But right now they’re trying to remind me of something. Something like “fencing in or fencing out?” I’m not sure. And this is the view from the room where I sit right now.


The garden sits up on a hill behind this house. Every week, Dirt Devas come and work in it with me. They bring things. Wonderful energy. Joy. Food scraps for the compost. Horse manure–bags and bags. Raspberry starts:
golden raspberry


During the week–I putter–anticipate needs like this low “Hope Fence” to protect the herb patch– tend the seedlings. Water. Watch.
hope fence
But on the weekend I need to be prepared because the Dirt Devas want to work–and they work hard. Yesterday holes were dug for tomatoes. Deep holes. Dirt mixed with well-aged manure. My next door neighbor loaned us “water walls.” Plastic sleeves that have channels which can be filled with water–passive solar. He said we can set out the tomatoes now–it’s very early–but he swears he grew tomtoes in January–in Illinois–using these water walls.water walls

A structure for training sweet potatoes

and new starts of Swiss Chard.

The rest of the pictures here are to remind me of what the garden looked like in April 2014. And to remind me that cabbage, lettuce and broccoli can survive 18 degree surprises.cabbage and broccoli

the hugelkultur bed:
lettuces and radicchio

preparation for the winter squash bed

winter squash

turnips planted 3rd Saturday in March. Waning moon. Frigid cold snap followed.


last year’s woad,


this year’s red bud,


and mullein.


But cloth? I almost forgot. The moon cloth has morphed again.
And a lighter one, romping in the light of the moon.


Neither any where near finished. Hardly begun. Because right now…just for now… just until… there are other things . . . .

Not Much Cloth, but…

9 Mar

a lot of other stuff going on.


Hope is the same color as this wool Pendleton blanket. It was my mother’s. She washed/dried it once by mistake and it shrunk a lot. But still she used it for cover in her last years. The blanket was a gift from her best friend–a fine woman named Lucy.  I find the blanket all over the place. She travels with it. Like Linus. But never too far.

Seedlings are getting ready for the earth and I’m waffling back and forth–too early? too cold? go for it? We’re having a few nights this week in the mid 20’s. Maybe after that. The 10-day forecasts on help. But I wonder if it’s made me a bit less sensitive to the nuances that indicate how it might be. Sky color. Buds. Robins. Shadows. Birds. Worms.  Soil temp. Smells. Knee/shoulder aches?

Last week I experimented. Set out one each of very tender spinach, broccoli, lettuce, radicchio and kale. That night the temp was 24 degrees. They survived but have not recovered. And the rest–outside today, beginning the hardening off process:


Some amazing women are working the garden with me this year. “Dirt devas.” This is where we are now:
rows ready for seedlings–rich soil separated by straw and leaves. Soon–cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards, swiss chard, turnips and potatoes. This is 1/3 of the garden. Spring garden/fall garden. The rest of the space will house tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, beets, lettuce, radicchio, radishes and sweet potatoes.


and outside the fenced in garden–the start of an herb bed and a modified hugelkultur bed for winter squash.


This cloth I’m liking. Haven’t added much except rows of stitching and noticing the shift in my attention. From cloth to dirt. Looking for the common thread.DSC00787

tikkun olam: mantra cloth 2

12 Feb

Tikkun olam. A phrase that before 5:30 a.m. this morning, I had never heard. Tikkun olam. “Repairing the world.” OK–and I’m appropriating it w/out hesitation because I was asking for a mantra for this cloth, and after 5-6 days, “tikkun olam” appeared. DSC00727

Tikkun olam. “Isaac Luria, the renowned sixteenth century Kabbalist, used the phrase “tikkun olam,” usually translated as repairing the world, to encapsulate the true role of humanity in the ongoing evolution and spiritualization of the cosmos.”  There.  That’s as much as I know.  But I love it.  The thought.  The way it looks in Hebrew:


At least the way it looks when I stitch it in Hebrew. Tikkun olam.

I was thinking about seeds when I made this cloth. Seeds and spring. Getting materials together to make a grow-light stand in a few days because I don’t have enough “good” window light and I’m ready to start a LOT of seeds. DSC00690

Two hundred of these I’ve made so far. Little biodegradable starter pots. Tikkun olam.

Live, Love, Leap–a Mantra

5 Feb





Maybe I’ll do a series of these. They could be mantras. Reminders. Maps of how we can go. Portable. Easily moved from place to place. Following the day. And I’m thinking $25 because there are holes in the household economy’s bucket.

live love leap

4 Feb

live love leap

Here. I’m talking to myself. This morning I was on hands and knees– picking scraps up from the floor. Tossing them up overhead to land on my work table. Not watching, not planning, not in-my-head. And this figure is pretty much what happened.  A few tweaks but not much. And no, I don’t know what the red dot is–I usually see my figures as feminine.  So this one?  I just don’t know.  But I might do a few more of these  “blind” cloths  because–because–it was liberating.  NO MIND at all.  And it was fast.  But it asked me to express words– words that hold important direction.  Directions.  A map for going.  A 6″ square map for going.

Taiji Cove Complete–Making room for garden thoughts

3 Feb

For the Dolphins of Taiji Cove

dolphin finished1

It seems a few weeks early for robins–but I heard one last Thursday and saw two in the back yard yesterday. Garden thoughts now. Actually, last summer’s garden took the wind out of my sail. From July on it was a disaster–constant heavy unseasonable rain–blight, mildew, rot–no yield whatsoever after the initial bounty. But the ancient stirring begins. A need. An itch almost. And Grace has excited me with her postings on permaculture–hugelkultur specifically. I looked into it. It makes sense. Use everything. I do that for the most part, but I’m thinking that hugelkultur mounds just might drain better–give the plant roots a break if we have the same kind of wet season this year. I looked into it–mound building –layers upon layers–starting with logs, branches and twigs layered with a variety of organic matter.

The neighbors behind me were cutting down trees and I sat here dumbfounded, watching as the backyard view changed. Watched until the space opened enough so that I could see their house. Watched while the sky opened up. Watched the tree cutters jumping over the fence to remove everything that fell into this yard. Then found myself running out–running up the hill–stop, wait, please–and they were stunned. Quizzical. “Leave the huge branches? Leave the small limbs? Leave everything?” Yes. Leave it all. Please.

DSC00633 DSC00630

The long big branches are too heavy. Will  be cut into manageable pieces after I get the chain saw fixed. And this one with the hole–locust–not good for hugelkultur as locust takes FOR EVER to rot. We used locust for fence posts in WV. They will be in the ground long after everything else decays–but good for critter habitats.hole in locust

And on Sunday, Imbolc and the Chinese New Year–I started one trial huglekultur mound. It’s for gourds–it’s outside the garden proper and it will be vulnerable to the neighbor groundhogs. But I’ll fence it off before then. Circle it with netting. The mound is about 4′ in diameter–dug 6″ into the ground and sits up about 6″ in its unfinished state.   Because it needs to be watered. I read each successive layer should be watered. Not thinking I dragged out the hose and turned on the spigot. Nothing. Then the sound of water. In the basement. The hose was frozen and the pressure blew out the inside water line–into the basement. Hose is thawing. Keeping an eye on the basement. And last night it rained like crazy.




More leaves then sod turned dirt side up–waiting for more—straw, compost, topsoil…DSC00649

and worm’s eye view of a humble beginning:

Heading to Sow True Seeds on Wednesday–Asheville’s own wonderful GMO-free/heritage seed company DSC00642

That’s enough for now–except to say “thank you, Grace”– and to also share this hugelkultur link:

Taiji Cove Cloth–complete reversal

31 Jan

It wasn’t working.  Was that it?  Or was it that I couldn’t work from that place?   I said the portal was there.  An escape hatch.   An ingress to a gentler realm.  And I thought about the cloth’s direction a lot. But every stitch in cloth seemed to be reinforcing a horrible situation–and I realized I had to dwell in the land of “what could be” rather than reinforcing “what is” in this particular case.  So that’s where we are.  A new world for dolphins. A safe, free world

There will be a lot more kantha, and there will probably be a hand.  But Delphinius, the Dolphin constellation is intact and I’m  much more comfortable in my own skin.  The cloth is holding memory of what was there.  The anger.  The rage.  Despair.  The horror, even.  And I think that’s good.  That cloth holds memory.  But there’s more room now for hope and change to enter.  To move forward.  To replace the old paradigm with a new vision.

new taiji cove

There was a comment on my last post. I don’t have tv. But there’s a program–“Katie” as in Katie Couric. And this week one program was dedicated to “The Taiji Cove Controversy.” I was able to watch it via internet and highly recommend it–it was encouraging. Uplifting, even, because the world IS paying attention. And the people interviewed feel we’re right at that tipping point where enough public outrage is going to swing the balance in favor of the dolphins. You may have to sit through a 15 second bladder control commercial–but it’s worth the wait.

We heard that this was a cultural tradition. And I was thinking in terms of centuries of exploitation. But no. 1969. That’s when it started. And it REALLY started in order to capture dolphins to sell to sea-world type places.

And it was a week of two snow days and two late-start days. A cold week. And here in NC, a black-ice week. My driveway goes uphill. I can stand at the top and move to the bottom w/o taking a step. But it was a good week. Days to observe busy little hands and eyes fascinated with captured bubbles in glass. I have several of these. Two were my mothers–they look like candies trapped for all eternity in a world of glass. But this one–this gold globe, this is his favorite. He can talk about it for hours. The beauty of it when the sunlight shines through. A personal solar system.

solar system

For the Dolphins of Taiji Cove

23 Jan

This cloth is moving along on its own volition. It calls to me when I’m doing other things. Insistent. And each time I return to it, I’m glad that I listened–not to my mind–but to the cloth’s voice. This morning I was looking at trees from a vantage point on the floor. Squinting. Making a peep hole with my fist–a tiny viewing mechanism. I scanned the branches, limbs, spaces in-between. Noticed things. Shapes, curves, lines. Some of the branches had that beautiful curve–the dolphin’s-back curve. But the spaces in-between are what really captured my attention–and I started seeing constellation diagrams.cropped

Which of course led me to wonder–is there a dolphin constellation? And yes, there is. And it’s called Delphinius. There are several legends from Greek Mythology that explain how this constellation came about–and in each case, Dolphin was a helper to humans. A helper. I’m thinking about that now.

The red on the cloth represents two things. First, it’s arranged in the general shape of Delphinius. And it’s red–it’s red because blood is red.  And that seems to be what we do to beings that come to help us.
And again, as with Starfish, a portal exists. A departure point. The point where two spheres touch , creating an opening.  Portal to another realm.  And I left the twigs with the shell center.  It reminds me of how we stick symbols in the ground to remind each other that something BIG happened here.DSC00612

From “aaargh” to Winter Solstice and beyond

19 Dec

Aaarrrgh.  That’s where I’ve been with my computer problems.  Stuck in “the land of aaaargh.”  Yesterday this little machine was cleaned up, restored to factory settings–not by me obviously.  Good?  Yeah, but…everything I had previously installed–Norton, Picassa, Office, Sony stuff for camera–all of that had to be reloaded–by me.  Not a big deal for someone with patience, or even for someone with a bit of techno savvy–someone who keeps track of stuff like “product keys” and passwords–but that would NOT be me.  I get nuts.  Heart beats faster.  Feel tension in my forehead.  My scalp gets too small for my skull.    And constantly I hear the questions I’ve been asked lately–like “why do you have so many computer problems?”  If I only knew . . . . But there, I’ve said it–the “land of aaaargh” is where I’ve been. This is so NOT what I wanted to be posting today. I’m moving on.

But first, just to show that the lights are on and everything appears o.k.–a record–this is what “the land of aaargh” looks like.  Seems innocuous glitch

Big shifts in my environment–cloth work environment. Jude has discontinued her on-line teaching presence. I didn’t think it would be a big deal. But it is. A BIG deal. I’m finishing up several pieces that were started during my apprenticeship and then, who knows. So as I’m looking at this cloth, this cloth that started as a plea to the universe to protect grandson. And slowly morphed into a tribute/acknowledgment of the upcoming winter solstice, the fulcrum point between seasons of life. Going deeper. Then surfacing. Dying into. Blooming out of. And now, it’s a placeholder. Marking time and space between different worlds–different dimensions. The mysteries of things we may sense but cannot see. The notion of parallel universes is stitched into this fabric. The idea that for every choice, the choice not taken also exists. The figure–grandson soaring–now feels more like spirit holding things together. Embracing all the various components as One thing. THE thing.wintersolstice13

Lessons from a Spider

5 Dec

This morning I was reading Grace Forrest’s blog–Windthread.  The conversation focused on the power of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ “Women Who Run With the Wolves.”  Passages were cited.  Moving, powerful, instructive quotes.  I was reading carefully when out of the blue a tiny spider crawled up the monitor and plopped itself down.  Right there.  Part of the conversation.spider

I’m watching her now– crawling up the wall in front of me.  She started at table top level and has managed to climb up a few inches.  It hasn’t been an easy trip.  And just now, she lost all ground, fell/floated down on her invisible string and landed where she began.  But this time, without hesitation, she took off–shooting straight up , with speed and deliberation.  Undeterred.  Reaching heights unsurpassed in her previous efforts. Now she’s resting. Legs pulled in as though consolidating strength and will.  Still resting.   And now movement, again. Up.  Across.  Going.  Simply going.

And this too is amazing–the joy generated by simple virtue of a spider’s journey. And the joy too of flipping open my own copy of WWRWW and reading, “It’s not by accident that the pristine wilderness of our planet disappears as the understanding of our own inner wild natures fades.” For truly, I’ve not been tending to this inner nature quite with the care it deserves. And the result has been a sense of separation. Not true separation, but a sense of. And today this spider has reconnected me. Pulled me back into the web. How can I not but honor her for this?

Then there are the starfish. The sense of holding. Of wanting to protect, to shield.  And now the awareness that it’s not only for starfish, these feelings.  But for all of life.  And the hope that perhaps we can slip through the eye of the needle. To another side–the other side.

close up of starfish

Post #75 or #3–However you want to see it

3 Dec

I have a new camera.  Gifted.  A lovely generous gift  And it’s giving me fits.  Not only is operating it presenting a challenge, but downloading to my computer and then to Picassa.  Computer simply not recognizing the files.  Downloaded a driver.  Yes.  Did that.  Did all sorts of things.  Tried the wi-fi route.  Did the hard wire usb from camera to computer.  Nothing was working.  No thing worked.  Posted on forums. Reloaded Picassa.  Contacted Sony.  Amazed myself at both the depth of frustration I succumbed to, as well as my detachment  from it all on some other level.  “F*%^ it ” expressed several–no, many–times.  Watching self acting out.  Thinking “isn’t this something?”  And yesterday I have no idea what I did but suddenly I had current pics in Picassa.  Solved.  Issue solved.  Right?  No.  Same problem this morning but somehow the magical combination of plugging, unplugging, doing this and that, resulted in a download.  My palms were getting sweaty and I was sensing a slow boil mounting, but it didn’t.  Something worked.  So now, having said this, I’m wondering, “was that just a necessary distraction?”

And I think it was, and seeing this now, I realize how perfect the universe functions.  I might elaborate on that later.  But right now I’m looking at what the techno problem distracted me from.  And it was this–it distracted me from the sense of feeling totally and completely adrift. Questioning.  Everything.  Why am I doing this–this cloth stuff?  Why am I drawn to it?  Why can’t I seem to put it down? What’s going on here?  And not just questioning the “whys and whats” but also judging.  Thoughts like “geeze, another little pile of cast-off rags  occupied my focus and concentration for hours, days even.”  How crazy is that?  And who is asking the questions?

It’s cleared for me now.   I’m seeing that more importantly,  cloth is  the medium.  The medium that supports an inner journey.  An armature for holding thoughts and beliefs as they arise.  A solid foundation providing context allowing me to examine my world view.  My spiritual path.  My what?  My existence I suppose–and how each individual existence relates to the all of everything.  And I really don’t have to be in my head to do this.  In fact, the process doesn’t happen as an intellectual, cognitive exercise.  It only happens when I’m open to receiving whatever wants to arise.

Will I remember this the next time I feel stuck?  I don’t know, but please feel free to remind me.  Remind me that I’m stuck because I’m resisting.  And I think I resist because often what’s arising has an edge.  Could be viewed as painful.  Unpalatable.  Not fit for dinner table conversation.  All right.  Here’s an example.

I have been distraught over what’s is happening to marine life as a result of Fukishima.  Starfish trying to pull their arms off.  Fish and wildlife piling up, trying to get as far away from the radiation as possible.  Creating scenarios that have old-timers saying “Well, we’ve never seen this before.”  No doubt.  But this isn’t a very warm and fuzzy topic, is it?  And wouldn’t we all just rather ignore it?   But there it was.  There it is.  Arising, arising.  Asking at least just to be acknowledged.  The starfish.  The fish.  The mammals.

Yesterday I looked for a  little sketch I’d done.  Not thinking specifically of making a cloth–just a way of saying, “I hear you.  I’m so, so sorry.  And I wish I could make it right.”starfish

Then the trunk show, GivingThanks, the camera fiasco. Adrift. But wrestling with question of how does one express certain things? Certain unpleasant things. Like sadness, despair, frustration and even loss of real hope for this entity we call “civilization?” Is it met head on? No, I don’t think so. It has to be dissected to arrive at the reason for these feelings. And the reason always comes back to this. Love. Care. Concern. The flip side. This is what can be expressed.

I had no intention of going here this morning. And at any point now I’ll probably just bale. So just a bit more. The starfish would not back away from my consciousness. Nor would the feeling of being adrift. And out of that, without knowing it, this background cloth grew:ship

and now I’m thinking about it as safe haven. A place where starfish might be safe. I don’t know yet what will come forth, but it might look something like this:sketch

Adrift with Starfish.

And there is another cloth that is trying to morph into being. A notion of winter. A recognition of winter solstice. Another holding place. A fulcrum between two opposite sets of perception and/or reality. Impossible to determine that one side is “better than” the other. Is this what is called “acceptance?” Or is it simply acknowledging what is?parallel universes

I want to end this on a lighter note. This reminder that love flows through life constantly without obstruction. Building bubble mountains in the snow. Life. Beautiful, fragile and temporary.bubbles

Staying Put

22 Oct

Looking at this black bean dyed seven-patch, I’m seeing more than I expected.  Started as simply stitches moving out from the center.   Something to hold in my hand. For grounding.  To help me move into the rhythm of mantra-like movement.  No-thought.  Just thread.  And cloth.holding the centerLots of times I don’t recognize what  is coming forth until it’s finished. So here. Staying centered. In the midst of uncertainty. Not-quite chaos. Unsettled-ness . But there it is. Right in the center.  The reminder to stand firm.  Downloading the picture to my computer, I had to name it–and the expression “just stay put” jumped into my mind.  Where does that come from–“stay put?”  Why would the word “put” describe a state of being–or a place?

And why, in the past, did I hear that expression and immediately think “no, I won’t.” Because now it seems like very good advice. Stay put. It could as easily mean “stay centered.” Stay present.  Avoid future tripping.  Avoid the inclination to re-hash the past.  Stay. And this other cloth, another in the series of altar cloths I’m working on–cloth wrapped and marked by tin can– a path through it all. A personal shield as well–the life force of red.  And a reason to focus.just going

… the little things

16 Oct





To See the World in a Grain of Sand

11 Oct

I’ve been in a two week time warp.  And it feels like the “me” that went into it on one end and the “me” emerging on the other are barely recognizable.  It was not a pleasant experience.  But it was power full in that I sense some intrinsic rearrangement of inner self.  I’m not trying to be oblique.  And I’m only recording this for my own point of reference.  Needing to document when this happened.  To say more would be to say too much.  Except it’s all resolving well.

Yesterday and today there was no school.  Teachers doing things they needed to do.  We did the same.  loganandearl

It was one of those days almost too beautiful to comprehend.  The just right-ness of every thing. leavesandsun

Almonds and raisins savored under a very old covered bridge and I was so engrossed with reflections that I totally forgot to document its existence. Even though we discussed it. Discussed “why” a bridge would be covered. It’s magnificent, that covered bridge. Huge old 12″ thick beams notched and seated perfectly. But I forgot it because of this:reflection in water and there’s an idea here that’s wanting to come forth. Something about perception and form. Or maybe magic? Because it did seem like magic, that such an expansive vista of trees and sky could be so encompassed in such a small area of quiet water. The sense of merging of finite and in-finite. Seeing the world in a grain of sand and all that.

As for cloth, there is one forming now. Awaiting stitch. It appears simple. But it’s holding the lessons from the past two weeks. The need to remain vigilantly present. And focused. Committed to standing ground. And holding. Whatever arises. And looking at the cloth here, I see reflections of thoughts and emotions. Lightly etched into the over-dyed cloth. holding

Accompanying the echo of words of this young-old one. “You know, it never IS tomorrow. It’s only ever just now.”loganb&w

Grace and Focus

6 Oct

When I was in the 4th grade we had to memorize a poem. Any poem. One of our choosing. My dad, the least literary man I’ve ever known, thought it important to teach me his favorite. A sports related poem– a metaphor for life, actually, couched in terms of the dynamics of football of all things. A football game to be precise. Like having your back up against your own 5 yard line and all of that. It was about how one IS in dire situations. Dreadful ditty but over the years I’ve rephrased it into my own venacular. It popped into and out of my consciousness during this past week. Because this was a week that needed grace and offered lessons that could not be avoided. Had to be embraced in fact.

And there was little stitching, except to finish this: threegracesfinal

Not a lot of changes from the last time–when was that?–but enough. And today it goes as a birthday gift to my daughter. Forty-two today. It was hard to finish, but it was important that I did so. Because she named it–Three Graces–and asked for it. And because today she needs this–not the cloth so much as the promise of grace bestowed.

And then this:reddot1

that started as a play with over-dyed fabric and merged as three oddly shaped critters with one thing in common. Focus. The red dot. Focus. And I needed that too, this week, that red dot in front of me, demanding attention, disallowing wandering thoughts, insistence upon staying present. Right here. Right now. And it helped. Is helping.

On Learning to Listen

29 Sep

Listening. I got a lesson in “learning to listen” this week.  Not the physiological process of hearing.  But the art form of listening.  What does it look like?  What does it mean?  I made a really inane comment about listening a few days ago.  A reactionary comment, actually–and like most reactionary, mindless comments, it was a mere reflection of my inner condition at the moment.  Even though I thought I was deflecting attention elsewhere. Funny how that works.

The comment has come back to me daily in various forms, nudging me along.  Gently and not so gently.   It’s been humbling.  Then this morning Thich Nhat Hahn was interviewed on “Oh Being.” He spoke on compassionate listening. I googled for more. Knowing I needed to hear more. So here, a link… a three minute interview. Just what I needed to hear.    Even though there has been some discomfort around this–the comment and its fall-out–I’m totally in love with the way the universe provides.  What we need.  When we need it.  Uncanny. Miraculous even.

It’s been a  week of little shield samplers.  Little stories perhaps–about color and form and black walnut.  And learning about listening.shield4



Then this. Next year’s Swallowtail, I’m fairly certain.

Nearing Completion–and moving towards abstraction

19 Sep

I don’t really have any thing much to say but I need to record the changes happening in cloth.  And the changes which may be lurking on the horizon.  This one now named.  “Three Graces.” A cloth to be gifted soon. It’s been silent for quite a few weeks.  Then several days ago it spoke up and here’s where we are.   Subtle changes.  Stitches in black.  A defined horizon.  Stars.  Birds.   Nearing completion.three graces

and Earth Guardian. Also taking its time. Topo lines added. A forever reminder of a beautiful morning hike to waterfalls. Consulting a map. Determining altitude. Distance. But really, the genesis of this cloth was concern for water–and came forth from the nuclear spills in Japan. The impact that it will have on the oceans–on water and critters–two leggeds, four leggeds and fin-beings. And there seemed to be a huge disconnect when I stood in front of a 150′ waterfall, hypnotized by the constant sheets of cascading water. How could two things–this waterfall and the Fujiyama Nuclear Plant coexist in a sane world? And I had to clarify for myself the meaning of “sane.”earthguardian

And in the interim, while waiting on cloth, I’ve been dyeing. Coupling cloth together. No story in mind. Just the wonder of the cloth itself. The transformation. The unexpected.abstract1

There’s some thing about the abstract-ness of these cloth fragments that has me wondering. Can abstractness be a story in itself? I think one of the first lines in the Tao Te Ching says something like “the name that can be named is not the eternal name.” And that helps. Because often I have the need to create–to express–and many times the “thing” wanting expression cannot be said in words, cannot be sketched, cannot even be rendered in cloth.  Can only be felt.  Sensed by self.  And in some very strange way, these little scraps of hand-dyed fabrics seems to satisfy that need.

Dyeing Time: Black Walnut and Indigo

12 Sep

I’m not sure how long I’ve been doing this–this communing with cloth thing–but I think for maybe 2 years now. And I’m amazed at how my preference for types of cloth and color has changed. I still have a few piles of “new” cloth, somewhere, but I don’t use it–and the re-purposed fabrics I get–at thrift stores, yards sales, etc.–well, I rarely use them just as they are. I tend to do some thing to them–some thing to change the color. Mute it down. Pop it up. Some thing. And here is my latest cloth, still waiting for stitch. An earth guardian. Honoring sun/moon. Holding things in place. Watching over. Protecting heaven and earth. Fabrics all over-dyed or first time dyed in walnut, indigo, onion skin. Some tin can wrapping. Altered for a particular sense of what? Earth? I don’t know. But it’s where I’m pulled these days.


Two months ago I started an indigo fermentation vat. And NO THING happened for weeks. I even put a light on it for a month, stirred it daily, but really just decided it wasn’t going to happen. And then yesterday, when I popped the lid off the container, there it was–that big coppery pile of bubbles on top of the liquid. So I dyed yesterday. With indigo. Simultaneously I was heating a pot of black walnuts on the stove in the kitchen. And I forgot about it in my indigo bliss. Forgot about it until I could SMELL it–and I was quite a ways removed from the kitchen. This was o.k. The windows were open. Fans on. Magic incense burning. But still. An unexpected delivery from Fed Ex. The driver looking at me with a peculiar expression. Sniffing. Looking over my shoulder into the house. Wondering. I resisted the temptation to explain.

But I did dye yesterday. And here is the cloth wet:




and the finished, dried fabric:






Would have posted yesterday but got side tracked. Two weeks ago I was handed two “cicada seeds” by g-son. To keep. To guard. I always honor those requests, so why I tossed them, I just don’t know. But I did. Threw them away. I vaguely remember that I also crumpled them up first, rather intrigued with the way they crunched, like some food snack. Thought about them, then, as food stuff. But the bottom line was I threw them away.

Yesterday after school, g-son told me he needed them now. Needed the “cicada seeds.” Wanted to use them for a class project. In two days. So would I please bring them tomorrow when I picked him up? O.K. Yes. Hmmmmm. So spent this morning looking for more. And found these three hanging in various places, on the stone wall, the wooden fence, and one tangled in a spider’s web. Good. This is good. “Cicada seeds.” Yes.


Sitting on top of just dried fabric. Black walnut. And here’s some of the black walnut dyed fabric from yesterday.

black walnut

World With No Borders

1 Sep


So. Again. Amazement with the process of cloth. How it unifies  thoughts. Solidifies them. Pulls together disparate scraps of ideas and memories–forgotten threads. How, in the case of this cloth, spending days with its evolution mirrored simultaneous cultural and social events.

And again, as reminder to self, I’m chronicling the process as a personal reminder of the synchronicity of energy. The close relationship between
internal experience and external movement. And the miracle of how it comes together to tell cloth story.

This cloth started out as no thing except color and shape. Color as experiment. Color as an exercise prompted by following the ideas of the workshop I participate in with Jude Hill.

rainbow woman

At this point, even though it looked like a rather unsavory hodgepodge of material, there started to emerge a sense of meaning for me. I had been mulling over the concept of karma and free will. Karma specifically as in the notion that perhaps we really DO come into this life predisposed towards certain proclivities–tendencies. And because school had just started and I was observing grand son navigate the beginnings of grade 1, I was noticing also my tendency to “worry.” Then thinking not of grand son, but of this  tendency to worry. And as a clear example, remembering a time–and this was more than 55 years ago–a time when I would be washing the families’ dinner dishes, gazing out onto the mountains in front of our kitchen window. Worrying. Not about my children. Rather worrying about the world my grandchildren would inherit. And this strikes me, now, as a REALLY weird thing for a 10 year old to worry about.  I wonder at the genesis of this.  Nature?  Nurture?  Karma?  I don’t know.

Then the cloth started to have meaning in a different way, and the two mid-body wings became the the arms of the grandchild I’ve carried around inside of myself for all of these years. And the sense began to emerge of our universal connectedness. The web of life that unites us all.  As well as the primal urge to protect what we love.


Seasons and cycles and the rhythm of life began emerging in my consciousness. Life and death and rebirth all began exerting their influence and the cloth started moving from the personal to the universal. Universal as in universe. Cosmos. Stars and planets and galaxies–all of which I, in my sometimes earthbound focus, forget to acknowledge.


and as the sky changed and stars began appearing, the cloth reminded me of the oneness of all things–and unified the cloth with the suggestion of circle–the reminder that my life is but one tiny light–bright or as dim as it may be–yet part of the whole–and a huge sense of joy started emerging with this reminder….


and the joy continued as the cloth easily filled in the gaps.


This morning, while I was  completing the final stitching, I caught an interview with NPR’s Onbeing with Krista Tippett. She was interviewing Natalie Batalha–a “mission scientist with NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope program.” The program was entitled “Exoplanets and Love: The Science that Connects Us to One Another.” And I need to mention that chemical warfare in Syria has been on the news and again, the question of US involvement–and I have been so, so concerned about ALL of this–and then this program.

Ms. Batalha: Ninety-five percent of the mass of the universe being something we can’t even see, and yet it moves us. It draws us. It creates galaxies. We’re like moving on a current of this gravitational field created by mostly stuff that we can’t see. And the analogy with love just struck me, you know, that it’s like this thing that we can’t see, that we don’t understand yet. It’s everywhere and it moves us. And science has given me that perspective, but also in very logistical, tangible, practical ways, you know. I mean, when you study science, you step out of planet Earth. You look back down at this blue sphere and you see a world with no borders.

Ms. Tippett: Right, right.

Ms. Batalha: You see a tiny mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. You see the expanse of the cosmos and you realize how small we are and how connected we are and that we are all the same and that what’s good for you has to be good for me, you know. I mean, it just changes your perspective.

As I finished the cloth, resonating with the wonders of the interview and the way the ideas seemed to reinforce the story of this particular cloth, I imagined being in space and viewing earth. Looking “back down at this blue sphere…a world with no borders.” And I nodded to myself,  “Yes. ” And Ms. Batalha reiterated that essentially we are all created from the same matter–in fact we are all made from the basic components of star dust.  Imagine that.  And she hurried to say that this was not some new age hippy dippy concept.  It is true.  So then, what is it going to take?

A Stink Bug Moment

21 Aug

I’m sitting here watching a stink bug crawl across the window screen.  It grabbed my attention just as I was thinking about time.  The different qualities of time.   Times that speed by.  Times that don’t.   Thinking how months and years seem to be moving faster.  Remembering summer days as a kid.  Months between one school year ending and another beginning stretching on forever.  And so I’m watching this stink bug. It’s not in much of a hurry but it clearly has something to teach me.   My scalp is starting to do the funny thing it does when this sort of thing happens.  I have a hunch what this demo is about but I’m going to really sit with this one because I sense that it is important.  And I don’t want to trivialize the message.

stink bug

But besides just the quality of time’s speed, I’ve also been thinking about its structure. And before I go any further, I need to clarify this. When I say “thinking,” I don’t mean I sit around for hours or even minutes at a time really pondering time. I simply mean thoughts about time run across the ticker tape periodically. There they are, and then they’re gone. But still, time has been somewhat of a theme lately. And about the structure of time, I’ve been wondering–is it linear? is it circular? is it some other structure outside of our habituated 3-dimensional perspective? I think so. Yes. I think it is some thing else. But like the stink bug’s message, it eludes me. Teases me. Feathers my nose. Does that thing to my scalp.

So yes, I was surprised to see it’s been two weeks since I last posted. Two weeks of intense shepherding of the grandchild variety. All summer, actually, but much more so this past bit. And today school started. So.

This is what I want to show. The morphing of cloth. A project that started out with potential. Earth tones from black walnut and the pinks– Amma roses. Maybe I should have stopped there. Maybe it was finished. But it didn’t feel like it was. and then…heart with filter Then it stalled out. Completely. And waited and waited and waited. Until a Rumi quote came to me. I wasn’t looking for it but clearly needed to have it. And it seemed the cloth needed it as well.

Then this:back to sleep
and a step is missing. The way the cloth looked before the entire thing went back into the black walnut vat. That’s the missing step. And the black walnut bath–made the words almost impossible to read. Darkened things up way more than I wanted. It seemed unredeemable. Ruined. The cloth barely escaped scissors several times. Shuffled around the work room looking for a landing spot and ended up wadded in the corner. Very sad. Both of us.

Segue. I’ve mentioned Jude and spiritcloth frequently. No words really to describe the experience of being her student. And now her focus has shifted again to color and I have been inspired to play along–experimenting, exercising. With colors other than the “saddened” ones I get from backyard dyeing. I love those muted tones, yes, but sometimes nothing else will do but pure, vibrant color. So several samplers for sampler’s sake color chart

and then this:breeze at dawn

In person it’s better. The walnut stain is more pronounced. The colors are more vivid. The purple is really intense–not blue. But overall, this is what happened. The story of one cloth’s journey. It reminds me of my own life. The changes. A consistent underlying direction perhaps–but the unimaginable changes. And I think it’s o.k.

Nettle in the Mint–the shadow side of self

31 Jul

I like to taste words.  To roll them over my tongue.  Notice their flavor.    The emotions they evoke.  This morning over at windthread Grace posted briefly around the idea of “regret.”  I noticed the way that little six-letter word made me feel. The brief moment of sadness that wanted to arise.   And just as I was heading down a road of my own, lined with what I could have called regrets,  Grace flipped the concept on it’s back–answered my comment–clarified the idea of not applying the concept of “regrets” to things one has done — but to future things that would cause “regret” if NOT done. She re-framed and presented a more constructive use of the word…and i’m quoting “i realized i have a tendency to think of regret in…what would i regret NOT doing in any given situation?”  A total about face.   And this struck me as such a profound reflection–a moving away from a negative spin towards the positive.  From the ingrained response to a liberated restructuring of the concept of regret.  A point-of-view that implies if we know in advance what actions would cause regret, then we can take steps to circumvent it–or not.  But still it feels like a choice.

I’ve had my own word lurking around lately.  “Shadow,” as in the shadow side of self.   My shadow side specifically.  The not-so-pretty, often problematic part.  Bats in the belfry and all that.   They’ve been asking for attention. Persistent.  Clearly holding an important message.  Right now I sit here listening to the rain. Noticing what, in the past,  I would have called “weeds”–common nettle– growing on the bank right in the middle of mint and lemon balm. nettleThe nettle in the mint–bottom right hand corner.

It has meaning for me now. because nettle can be used as a dye plant.  It changes things. Improves cloth when used in a certain way.  I will harvest it just as I harvest the mint.  Now it has value to me. But the value of shadow?

Then I think of my grandson who totally loves his physical shadow.  He plays with it.  Runs full steam while watching it over his shoulder.  Sometimes it gets in front of him, sometimes it stays behind.  And sometimes he trips himself up in the process of watching it.  But he’s always aware of where it is and it delights him to no end.  Obvious I can’t actually see my own shadow side — although I can see the fallout from it, from time to time.    But I do see that it’s just like the nettle in the mint.  To be looked at as nuisance/weed–or something instructive and useful. An agent for change.

Oh Sunday I sat with seven women for seven hours in a workshop conducted by Jude Lally.   We discussed a lot of things. And we made felted objects. This one is actually a holder of sorts. Right now it’s holding memories. Old memories that seem to be arising from another place and another time. And it holds a feather.  felted piece

And this cloth, muted, eco-dyed fabrics in the early stages of becoming,  feels like it’s arising from that same ancient place.

the sisterhood

Fabric Dyeing with Roses from Amma

26 Jul

I thought I was going to post about “filters”–a concept suggested by Jude Hill–in an online study focus called What If Diaries #1.  The figure below–or at least this type of figure–keeps wanting to appear in my cloth.  I resist it.  She suggested I use it as a filter.  Filter?  Is filter the same as focus?  Or perhaps soft focus?goddess1

I wanted to explore that in this blog but the exploration immediately turned into a babble about non-dual reality and became so obviously NON focused that I stopped. Remember Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” and the brilliant one-liner–“Plastics?”  Well this is my non sequitur transition.  From filter.  To . . .

Rose Petals.  Specifically the collecting of rose petals on the morning following Amma’s Devi Bhava program in Washington, D.C.

Rose Petals

Rose Petals

I had gone to bed the night before around midnight. The program was to last until around 10 a.m. the following day. It didn’t. It ended early. I missed the grand finale but all along I was thinking about the flower petals Amma tosses down onto the people.   How if I could collect them inconspicuously, I could use them to dye cloth. That was my plan.

Out of curiosity I returned to the large hall where every thing had taken place. It didn’t matter that I was in my p.j.s.  Everyone else seemed dressed that way’  Devotees running huge industrial vacuums were quickly removing evidence of the night before. Flower petals were being sucked up faster than I could get to them. But a little boy, the son of a devotee, told me he would help me. He had just received his mantra the night before. He was eight years old. Precocious. Helpful. We stayed one step ahead of the giant floor suckers. And filled a gallon size plastic bag with multi-colored petals. He kept his own stash and I left with mine. These pieces of damask were dyed with those rose petals that Amma tossed down:

rose petal dyed cloth

this piece which is only in the making, lacking clear direction at the moment, holds several spheres of the rose dyed cloth.  The cloth holds the color.  Holds the memories.  Holds a lot of energy.  And just for the briefest of moments, even smelled like roses.

heart with filter

A Crone’s Story: On coming full circle

29 Jun

First there was this–moon sketching. Two eyes, wide open, witnessing acceleration. Expansion.

seeing at the speed of light

… a visual portal for seeing what now seems very obvious. Upon reflection and a week of sitting and holding the feeling that some thing was not quite right. We were missing some thing–Crone and I. And yesterday, in a moment of silence, we heard as if with one ear, this: “Transcending difficult situations is only one part of what you will do. But ‘transcending’ does NOT mean cutting yourself off from your ground, from your roots, from your past. You may try to do that but it’s impossible, for one thing, and it’s counter productive for another.”

What? What? We sat together with this, Crone and I. She was the first to nod. Yes. So clear now. what were we thinking when we slashed off the bottom part of the cloth?cronecomplete

Simply a knee jerk reaction that provided a much-needed sense of space. A Gap.

True. The foundation of her life WAS complex. It was. And there were parts that felt scary and confusing. But they were hers and by accepting them back, she reclaimed some thing.

So. A bit of space was added. A blue strip provided perspective–space–and the cloth grew a bit and was whole again. And funny now how the red puppy, fangs and all, seems so benign. To think that a week ago it was all so overwhelming. But the red thread–the life force–remains entact. And Crone marvels at its ability to stretch and accommodate her need to fly.fearless flight1

And because they are also part of this story, part of the nudge that opened our ears, I want to thank Mo, Dee and Julie for showing interest in red puppy. And I want to thank Grace, who said some time ago, “Just stand and face.” And of course, thank you, my Crone, for listening.

A Crone’s Story

23 Jun

First there was this, early this morning,moon setting

Then there is this cloth. This cloth that started from a comment my grandson made. About how cool it would be to have a zipline to/from the moon. He wrote it down for me so I would remember. I started the cloth during our vacation.  Initially I thought it was just going to be a light-hearted piece.  Putting his comment to cloth.  It became something else all together.

We have been home now for one week and this is the story of how the cloth changed, and how I evolved with it. This was a peek through the hole in an oyster shell.window of a shell Her journey had taken her many place and the cosmic thread that held her in place–well, it was red and had sustained her for a long time.  She was connected to the moon yet able to fly.  But she couldn’t see.  Her vision was obscured. And she knew she needed to see things clearly.  Very clearly.  Cosmic flight can be a tricky thing.cosmic without eyes But I ignored what she was saying. I thought, “She’ll get over it. It will be o.k. in the long run.” And in the meanwhile, the base below her feet started changing. And it became very complex and jumbled.cosmic umbilicus 1 and it didn’t take long until the currents of the underworld were so unpleasant that she could hardly bear to stand there. At one point the red puppy grew fangs. It changed from a companion to a threatening creature. Drops of blood dripped from its mouth. I was beginning to listen now. Didn’t like what I was seeing and She didn’t like it either. And she talked for awhile.

Talked about transcending seemingly impossible challenges. Talked about soaring even when her tether appeared attached to powerful, limiting forces. What do we do in those instances?  What do we do? She felt she had choices.  That we always, in all ways, have choices. In fact, she insisted on taking responsibility for her life–for making her own choice.  It wasn’t an easy one.  There were many factors involved.  Many things to consider–but in the end, it was clear.   And so–heeding her surety of intention– with one quick motion the ties that were holding her down were severed.  The cloth was separated.  And suddenly the cloth was permeated with an amazing “lightness of being.”

cosmic umbilicus3

Still, there was work to do. She wanted a real face– she had a need to be seen for who and what she was.  A face that showed the map of her life. It’s trials and joys and work and weather. A crone’s face. And it took hours. There was a lot to think about.  A Lot.  And the eyes were next.   Of course she needed eyes.  To SEE things.  Not just to LOOK–but to SEE.  To see AND be seen.  And to understand what it was she was seeing.

I even heard her say that it’s never an easy process to really see deeply into the reality of   existence–and all its wonders.  And even though she’s still a bit shocked over the changes of the past week,  and yes–a bit sad– her eyes ARE open. Her heart is open as well–open and intact. The earth may still be her grounding reference, but she knows in her heart that her wings were meant for soaring.  And she gives thanks for the gift of sight.cronecompleteThis particular style of story telling was inspired by Saskia’s postings at  tales from the bird hut. Scroll down to “Little Bird has Left.”  The crone’s style–well, you’ll have to ask her about that.  And as you may have guessed by now,  my story and her story cannot be separated.

Saved by the White Heart

28 Apr

Still working on prototypes for the tea pouches–little bags that will hold between 2 and 4 oz. of tea. I wrote about this project in my last post. And in the interim have learned a lot about self. For one thing, I am not mass production oriented. At All. I loved/love making the cloth for this project. But realize that once the cloth’s made, it’s time to turn the fabric over to a seamstress. Which I am not.
I’m not at all precise –I could be but it kinda bores me–so to get the general size, i’m just ripping and eyeballing. Still a certain amount of planning and precision is called for at this stage of the design process. Ends have to meet and drawstrings have to be long enough and then there’s the MACHINE. Filling bobbins–aarrrgh i hate doing that–and fiddling with things that jam up the needle or whatever. So this white heart figure. Oh. she saved my life. Evolved straight from right brain activity almost without my noticing. I was just handling scraps. Setting them here and there until I noticed the form and then I looked more closely and smiled. She seems to say, you take a break now. Stop thinking. Relax that furrowed brow. Don’t measure. Forget all of that. Just enjoy. Take your time with me, we’re just getting started. Forget production. Forget speed. Go slowly. I appreciate her advice.

What could I call her other than White Heart?white heart

But I’m committed to making the fabric for these little tea pouches. I love doing that. Even enjoy the free motion stitching–it’s loose and spontaneous and can be anything it turns out to be. But once the design and dimensions are firmed up, we will just find someone who enjoys production sewing. So here are a few puerh pouches intended to hold 2 or more oz. of loose tea. They’ve yet to be stained in tea. When I put them on the table, I was so charmed with the interaction between the four. A little family of sorts. puerh bags

I think about tea now. Tea that’s travelled from amazing parts of the world. From there to here. And I think about the history of the journey of tea over the milleniums. Here’s a fascinating article:

Unexpected? … yes.

9 Mar

I really try to avoid cloth until I’ve morning-routined things.  You know.  Sitting. Breakfast.  Yoga.  Shower.  Getting dressed.  Because if I don’t do them FIRST—an entire day can pass before ….

Like now. It’s 10:33, I’ve been up for 4 hours–but curiosity snagged me before …before those other things .. grabbed me as I was just going to take a little peek to see how cloths fared the night. Just fine as it turned out. And I decided to post the come-along of the birds from Primordial Soup. I’ve added thread to them. They stand out a bit more now. Not sure, but here they are.4 birds

AND THEN when I was downloading the pics. LOOK! Unexpected? Yes. It must have been on my camera. Where did this come from? Went back to check. Not there. Just here. On my computer. Giving me ideas. Unexpected ideas.

many birds

Quilt Saga

22 Feb

So the boy’s quilt is finished. After hours of free motion quilting and several minor repairs, it survived it’s first road test last weekend. Now it’s gone from here, tucked in sweetly in a bedroom on the other side of town–and although I had wanted to show it in person to a few people–it’s not looking like I’ll get it back any time soon. So here’s what we have:
date a reminder of WHEN it was made and for whom–but figure he’ll remember WHO made it so left that off–face underneath it for the first time and finally,
the morning after.leg

This was my first quilt and I was surprised that it shrunk as much as it did after it was washed and dried. Final size approximately 56×72.

Repurposing–a Harbinger of Spring.

27 Jan

Harbinger: omen. sign.

After viewing one or two J. Peterman catalogs–from Way back–its novelty–for me– quickly turned into an overdone, too clever by far, terribly predictable publication. That being said, I was gifted one of their Indonesian caftans. Circa 1995. And I wore it and wore it and wore it OUT. Now the fabric is rolled up in strips, soft as butter, fragile as thin parchment. But the color has held and the ethnic designs are still wonderful to ponder. neckline
And for months now I’ve been enthralled with Jude Hill’s coat/wrap/kimono/wonder garment named “wind,” deciding that a garment of this weight would be a perfect transition for a going-into-spring cloak. Thus the genesis for this garment–“Harbinger of Spring.”

Last summer I found a thrift store oversized shirt–flax– and put it in the indigo vat –and this weekend it became part of the J. Peterman legacy.  Of sorts.  kimono Lopped the sleeves off a few inches from the shoulder–the collar had previously been removed–added kimono-type sleeves and then decided the whole thing needed to be lined. Because the original garment seams were flat-felled, I didn’t take it apart–just did my best to cut a bolt of thrift store muslin into shapes that would contour to the original garment.lining Finally I made fringe fasteners, again thank you Jude. Today is Sunday–and sunny–as Harbinger of Spring stepped out into the sunshine.a la j peterman

Actually I hadn’t planned on posting this sequence, and then when I thought about it, I thought I’d do a spoof on the original catalog-type descriptions–along the lines of “winter in the Smokies found her yearning for the warmth of Bali ….” but those thoughts seemed to have a life of their own and I found them creating a scenario/reality that didn’t truly apply to my life, today, here, and yes–now.

Finally, “Harold of Spring” evolves at its own pace. (Dee Mallon suggested this reminded her of the “Herald of Spring” and suddenly it was obvious what the name of the cloth would be.)harold of spring So this is good. Timely. The robins have returned, daffodils are up, and my cloak-coat will see me through.

January Stirrings

23 Jan

There’s a stirring that starts this time of year.  It’s predictable and welcome.  The urge to get ready for . . . .  Some thing.  Planting.  Discovery.  Creating.  Growing. seeds It’s a stirring connected with a visceral need for action.  And except for vegetable/garden plans, everything else that arises during this stirring season is generally  totally UN scripted.  This year the un known becomes a need to organize.  workspaceTo make room for…to utilize space more…to work better with what is, rather than wishing for something else.  In this case, a bigger studio.  What I have is tiny– barely 8 x 10.  workspace 2 And there’s so much Stuff.  Right now it’s all over this tiny house.  Or it was.  Now it’s moving back to its own room and by this evening, when the additional shelves arrive, the table will be totally clear.  A blank palette.  Space.    After storing cloth in plastic bins stacked ceiling-high, it became clear that shelving would be better.  More efficient.   Would allow the cloth to be seen.  And so the first unit of shelving went in quickly and easily and I’m loving the floor space it opened up.  This evening UPS should be delivering two more smaller units.  To house the supplies that are  now stacked on my work table.  Tomorrow morning I think I’ll feel like this–coming out of a long winter’s hibernation:



And it doesn’t escape me that I actually have More space than many.  And it doesn’t escape me that Space is precious and valuable–to be honored and nurtured.  Moving into the smaller footprint.  Embracing less.

Metamorphose of Cloth

13 Jan

The healing cloth is finished now. The butteryfly representing the evolving process and lending Hope to the journey. And underneath one small square, etched in the fabric, was the image of an eye. Begging to be embroidered.  And viewed upon request. Thus the flap. And the blessings continue to flow outward.woven hearthidden door
i see you

Cloth as Healing

9 Jan

Yesterday I posted a request for healing.  And because this is a blog about cloth, I used pieces of cloth  to illustrate  the request.Intention

Only the woven center was mindfully constructed with focus on healing.  The gauze and red linen were just there–so I used them.  It was that unplanned.  Not a project.  Not the beginning of something else.  Simply cloth and color accompanied with a request that healing flow  towards a loved one.  Or so I thought.

I left the cloth pieces on the table and several times during the day  looked at the little pile –the gauze was turning into something that suggested a heart.  An unplanned surprise.  But the red linen started Really bothering me.  Nice by itself, but clashing somehow with the overall intention.   Clearly lacking gentleness.  Off and on during the day I switched out backgrounds.  Nothing was working–better, worse–but never just right.  So I went to bed.

This morning just as I was ready to pitch the pieces in the scrap pile, I tried one more thing–auditioned one more piece of fabric that I’d been saving for something special, and immediately it seemed to pull things together.

But the muslin strips weren’t right.white stripe

So I replaced them with old pieces from my grandmother’s pillowcase crochet–black walnut dyed.  crochetAnd the cloth started to speak to a sense of ease, or comfort, or gentling.  Started to speak towards healing perhaps.  A very interesting evolution.  All happening seemingly with a life of its own.

And it’s still going.  Now I’m hearing that Maybe just a touch of the original red is called for here?  A reminder of fire, energy, life force?

crochet with redSo the cloth is healing itself in a way.  Moving from a haphazard arrangement of individual pieces towards something integrated.  So I sit here with this awareness, that  this process is simply a microcosm of life  The constant adjusting, repairing, mending, realigning, rearranging of self. Moving and shifting and all the while  mysteriously pulled towards the place that resonates with “yes.”

Healing Intentions

8 Jan

I have a dear friend in need of healing energies. A dear friend. And I believe in the power of intention. If you are so inclined, please focus on this image with the intention that healing energies will flow towards her. Your intention will know where to go! With blessings. . . .


Seeing the Whole

5 Jan

Noticing how easy it is to see  the daily dramas/events/interactions/comings-and-goings of life in isolation–separate from the whole.  Noticing how easy it is to fixate on one THING and that THING becomes EVERY thing–the ONLY thing.  For a while.


until attention shifts to the next piece …8

and then the next2

…all the while noticing how some parts are easier to look at than others–and some parts so much easier to BE WITH than others…

yet knowing–somewhere in that deepest place–that without each scrap–as lovely or as lonely as it might appear– the whole could not exist.
whole picture

Solstice Drummer–Remembering

3 Jan

The solstice altar cloth became this–a drummer–echoing the remembered beats of the hearts….Solstice Drummer

Solstice Drummer

 from NEWTOWN.   And we listen.

Travelling Home

Travelling Homehonoring more

(Clicking on the images should enlarge them.)

Winter Solstice Altar Cloth

19 Dec

On Friday I’m attending a winter solstice celebration marking “a time of realignment, a new cycle for humanity … a  huge astronomical shift in the Earth’s herstory.”   I’ve started this cloth to add to the building of an altar that will be part of the ceremony.  A little more hand stitching.   You might want to check out this 21 December 2012 link.Altar Cloth

To Honor

16 Dec

Noticing now.  Wanting to ignore, turn away from, jump into something else.  To NOT feel.  To shield and turn away from…the grief.  But over-riding that the need to honor, embrace, give meaning to the lives– and if possible, wanting to understand.  So I pull out scraps of indigo and salvaged cloth with these children and their adult helpers in mind.  Holding the cloth gently.



Blues seem right.  The circle with the red cloth in the center seems right.  And batik wings.   This will be a slow cloth for certain.  Unplugged.  Each placement of each stitch knitting cloth together while honoring life.  Maybe there will be birds here.  Maybe leaves or feathers.  Maybe seeds.  But something.

the start of some THING

11 Dec

For most of my life I’ve carried a book around.  Reading when I have down time.   But now I’m finding that I want some THING to come out of down time.  I want to SEE it.  Sort of like tracks in the snow.  To look and see and be able to say, YES, that was when I waited for…what ever it was.   This is the beginning of some THING.    I stitch on it every day while waiting to pick up grandson from kindergarten.  I arrive early when I can.  It’s a good time to sit and let the pieces of the day sift down and settle in some way  I can understand.   It may become a quilt that I’ll give him to honor his journey as well.

a start

Thoughts on the Bias

7 Dec

Somewhere along this stitching trail I’ve developed the opinion that somehow “slow cloth” is more–what?–authentic? meaning FULL? moving, intense, honest?  And I’m looking at that now because I have no idea where that notion comes from.  Actually I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the polarity of ideas and opinions we all seem to have and promote.  And I’m always amazed that say two people can have diametrically opposed opinions on the same topic and each believe in their heart-of-hearts that THEY are right.  And something has been niggling away at me presenting the notion that perhaps the truth lies outside–or within– this seeming duality of thought.

So what started this off today–I’ve been digging out old pieces from months ago, pieces I clabbered together by the seat of my pants–feeling what I wanted to stitch down but tool-less in a sense.  I painted and dyed fabric to get the colors I was after–with little idea of what I was doing.    I free motion stitched patterns because that’s all I knew in terms of how to sketch image.  I embellished with bead–and some hand stitching only after I saw it executed by Susan Sorrell over in Greenville, SC.   And some of the work was really o.k.  But lacking in some THING.  And now I’m realizing what that THING is–STORY.

So then I stumbled upon the mother lode of slow cloth as executed by amazing artist’s such as Jude Hill–I thought “yes”  this is what I’m looking for.  This is the way I want to proceed.  This work has guts and blood.  Aha.  And because I loved it so and wanted to grow up to be just like THAT–slow cloth became branded on my heart as THE way to go.   I still feel very much inclined in that direction.

But today I pulled up this piece.  I call it “One World” and it’s been in a drawer for many months.  When I held it and looked carefully, I was surprised.  It feels GOOD.  Resonates with energy and intent even though it’s not slow cloth.  It was executed on a machine using free motion stitching with only a spattering of hand work.  Yet I really like it.  And there IS a story here.  And, again I’m realizing that I don’t have to see through the filter of always “this” OR “that.”  In fact, I can embrace both with equal passion.  And I can continue to notice this dogmatic tendency I have to label things into division.  One world.  Cloth is teaching me THIS.

One World

One World

Stepping Up

6 Dec

For months and months I have been hanging out at various fabric artists’  blog sites–sometimes leaving comments but generally just viewing from afar.  And for several months I have been taking what can only be described as a journey through cloth–and in to self– with the fabric artist Jude Hill at   So now it’s time.  Time  to share.  Time to give back, in a sense, to the community of cloth at large.  Time to reach out and probably time to sometimes ask for help.    But like so much we encounter in life, things are often not as they seem.   So I’m beginning this process having no idea where it will lead but ready to “follow thread” nevertheless.

It has often occurred to me that working with cloth is, in many ways, a metaphor for life.   Perhaps the process of blogging will be the same.  It feels like a commitment to self, a commitment to record the moments in between what we generally call the “big things” that happen.   Those little moments that actually define the warp and the weft of our existence.   I’m guessing that process and perseverance in blogging, as in the creation and re-purposing of cloth, are two elements of equal importance.    So I will proceed now with the intention to continue–remembering the lines of the I Ching:  Perseverance furthers.


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