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Marking Life

17 Apr

Yesterday, a spontaneous, unplanned unscheduled walk.  I was showing my sister  the location of a nest of baby black snakes in our flowers.   She wanted to show me some wild azaleas up the road–at least  we’re calling them wild azaleas–

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And because it was a nice day, and because we could, we followed our noses…. followed a windy path through the woods.  A path we hadn’t noticed before.  Off to the left, down into a ravine.  Into a realm FULL of amazing patches of trillium.  Dozens and dozens of trilliums. IMG_1874 IMG_1869 IMG_1868

Trilliums in their own little colonies, and trilliums nestled into mayapple villages.
It’s hard to explain. The wonder of it all. Their quiet, simple elegant beauty. And most of all, their color.

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On our return home, we veered off into an old mountain cemetery that’s located just across the way from our house. IMG_1877 IMG_1878 (1)A narrow span of woods and a blacktop road separate our house from the cemetery. Still, looking out the kitchen window in winter–pre-foilage– it’s possible to catch glimpses of red from the flags that fly there. It’s an old cemetery. Old. Personal. Down-to-it. Some of the stones are just that–stones. IMG_1893Some of the markers are cast from concrete and imbellished with stones and shells.

IMG_1887Some markers have inscriptions and tell stories. Like the fellow that died in the Gulf of Mexico in mid 1800’s.  And this one– IMG_1895

A colonel in the confederacy.  30 years old at his death in 1864.  And on the stone, information that it was
erected by his nephew who drowned in the Snake River in Idaho in 1890.

At the far end of the cemetery, a small platform has been erected.  A viewing platform the looks out into the woods.  IMG_1899To the casual observer, there are only trees here.  But beneath the trees and under the leaves are more stones.  Rocks and stones scattered everywhere.    IMG_1900

Ode to a Tool: My Mother’s Hoe

16 Apr

I loved this hoe.  Loved it.  It companioned me through many long, hot summer gardens.  Through early spring and late autumn gardens as well–a go-to companion.  Together we could dig-chop-weed-hill-cut anything.  And Sunday it broke.  I heard the first tell-tale creak of wood giving way and tried to ignore it.  But with the next chop into the bed I was breaking up, the neck broke.  And I was stunned.  Too stunned to continue working.  And so I reflected.hoe1

This was my mother’s hoe.  She treasured it beyond the beyond.  But somehow it ended up with me after an afternoon of working in her hosta bed.  This happens.  Unintentionally.  I seem to have the uncanny knack of walking off with things.  Lighters when I smoked.  Pens.  Pencils.  Scissors.  People who know me know it’s simply a thing I do without malice, forethought or intent.  I’d like to say she gave it to me with her blessing.  Asked me to “go forth” and do good work.  But that’s not the case.  Simply put, I don’t know HOW it came to be with me.

But I acknowledged my mother every time I used it  Must have said a hundred times to numerous different people, “This was my mother’s hoe.”  And I don’t remember anyone seeming the least bit curious about that.  About why I would mention the hoe’s origin.  And truthfully, I don’t know either.  Except it seemed important.  Seemed to honor both–the tool and the person.

I know how to fix this hoe.  How to burn out the old broken neck part.  Or drill it out.  But I don’t think I’ll do that.  Played with the idea of burying it, but don’t think I’ll do that either.  So for now it’s resting–a long needed rest I’d say–and I’m telling again the origin of this tool.  This was my mother’s hoe.

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Nests and Dye Gardens

14 Apr

Last night I was tired of anything that felt like order.  Or structure.  I had wrapped rope for these two purple bowls in the Iris series twopurple pods
and needed a change from deliberate intention to random happenstance.  So instead of selecting each color/cloth, I simply wrapped rope with whatever color was closest to my fingertips.  It was liberating.  No decisions involved.  Just the need to have something, anything, in order to wrap rope.  This morning while I was following spiral with this baskowl, I realized I was modelling bird behavior.  Building a solid nest from scraps in my environment.  Structure and soundness trumping everything.  bird nest

And the dye garden, coming along slowly. weld2Seeds planted on Sunday–woad, weld, agrimony, marigold, madder and marjoram–now gently watered by these last few days of soft rain. These weld plants were in the garden at my old home–relocated last week. weld1

And these, black Hopi sunflower seeds, hopi seedspre-sprouted inside, will go out tomorrow, surrounding the trunk of the pearless pear tree that split sometime ago and had to be removed. These seeds hinting of the color they’ll provide.

And slow cloth changing slowly.  Like winter moving into spring. Accelerating now. Energized. Responsive.still going

Still Capturing Color

13 Apr

Turns out my cell phone gives more accurate color, at least from this end.  I appreciate so much all of you who have given me technical suggestions.  Suggestions for capturing correct color–and scale.  And saying this, I realize that  even though what I see here looks pretty accurate to me, what you see may be entirely different.  That makes me cringe, but so be it.  Because, well because at least I have to know that what I’m sending forth, regardless of how it’s interpreted, looks authentic at the get go.

In a way, it’s like that game–a bunch of people sitting around the table–one whispers into their neighbor’s ear–whispers something–and so it goes–person to person until it arrives again at the beginning.  And you know the rest.

blue and gold green gold blue monday green purple haze

Mountain Iris

12 Apr



Perspective–Lost and Found

10 Apr

Colors for a grey day:

bright lighttwo little one daylily

Yesterday I received a good lesson in perspective. Keeping things in perspective. And I wasn’t very graceful about it. For maybe two hours I took MANY MANY photos of green bask-owls–bowls. Futilely. And I initially posted about the frustration–the inability to capture “correct” greens, blues, yellows and oranges. I whined about it until I got sick of hearing myself whine. I gave explanations until I got sick of hearing those as well. Then I tried to explain why capturing “correct” was SO important. And what was a downhill trajectory totally bottomed out at that point.

I drew a line through all the text. Posted it. Came back a few minutes later and totally deleted everything except the baskets. Even though I was unable to capture the true qualities and shades of the green bowls. I had had enough. Enough already. And what I was left with was a heightened state of agitation floating on top of a series of thoughts–like “why in the world is this so important?”

I don’t know “why?” But I do know it was some form of insanity. Mild, but insane nevertheless. Simply put, I had lost perspective. Lost my focus, lost my center. So. Clearly there are lessons in every thing. Yesterday I thought I was learning how to capture correct color. Today I see I was really given an opportunity–another opportunity–to simply let go of how I wanted things to be–and accept how things really were. Enough said about that.

Still, I must be hanging onto it all, somehow, because I have the NEED to say–I didn’t get it–yesterday–I didn’t capture the true beauty of the color. What IS there, doesn’t do the bowls justice. At All. Now I’m finished.

The Jawbone Saga continues….

8 Apr

So–it’s very narrow–the distance between the left and right row of teeth–


less than the width of two relatively small fingers, And the teeth–the lines and patterns on the teeth–beauty full.


Mo thinks “horse.” Now wondering–a little one–a colt perhaps? Still, have to say I want it to have been feral. Feral.

The Heart’s Voice

7 Apr

Today’s Offerings4

Lots of stretching going on. Getting outside my comfort zone. Coming up against resistance, acknowledging it for what it is, then moving past it.

Learning new tricks on WordPress is just ONE of those things. Yesterday I spent several hours posting. Today less than 30 minutes. So moving past techno-induced frustration and resistance. And I realized something–this morning I realized that I can post new bowls on The Shopping Place page without having to actually post a new blog here.

So I’m not going to flesh this out–this idea/thought I have in mind. Thoughts about how, by implication at least, we are taught to NOT listen to the voice in our heart. How in our culture-in many cultures I suppose–listening to one’s heart is NOT something we’re encouraged to value. Or recognize. Or even cultivate.

Not now. Not today. But a later post perhaps. Still trying to understand it all. How it fits. The value of each–passion and practicality. Integrating the two.

The Jawbone of a Beast Meets “The Shopping Place”

6 Apr


Today’s Offering at the Shopping Place

OK. I’ve had a few questions about the bask-owls–and the answer is– Yes, the baskets and bowls I post here are for sale.  To hopefully facilitate things, I’ve added a 3rd page to this site–“Shopping Place.” I’ll put new items there as I can–right now it feels like a very clumsy system…and probably won’t include everything–but I’ll try it out for a while and see how it goes. I’ve spent way too much time setting this up this morning — would much rather be chasing spirals.

But here.  This is what really excites me–scraps of linen, muslin and silk–overdyed in alkanet.
And the jawbone of a beast.  Uncovered yesterday while investigating one of the flower beds at this new house.  Horse?


Indigo Sky and Bask-owls

5 Apr

DSC02644Probably more dips in the dye vat would have darkened the cloth before I wrapped rope– 2 dips is all it got and the color is pretty pale. Still as I look out at the day–the row of forsythia blooming across the road, in front of someone’s forest–I’m so taken with the sky–an indigo sky feathered over with a dusting of wispy clouds. I love this sky. Love the comfort it suggests. Captured here in cloth. And speaking of bowls–baskets–my conundrum as what to call them is resolved. I’ve decided on this–bask-owls.

Today’s bask-owls:




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Spring Greens

4 Apr

I’m eyeballing dandelion greens outside. Eyeballing grasses and the very first hint of dogwood leaves. Waiting for that amazing green palette–greens of every imaginable value and hue– that presents itself ever so briefly before blending into one long summer GREEN. For now:




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Color and Eggs

3 Apr

Really challenged this morning. How to capture true color? Wondering about that, and then wondering what in the world is true color anyway? Because it changes. Color. I move bowls around. The color shifts. I go outside and sit on the brick wall and color changes. Inside on the table. Different. And so I don’t know how best to show these baskets. And they are baskets this morning. Larger than yesterday. But I can’t get the color.

So moving on. Can’t quite get the color right but what about their “holding magic?” How much will they hold–and WHAT? This wasn’t my idea–I’m borrowing it from a seed planted by a dear, dear woman in VT whose name I will withhold simply because I have not asked whether it was o.k. to mention. But EGGS. How many eggs will the baskets hold? So here. Colors all over the place but clearly each capable of a dozen eggs and then some.DSC02615


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And I need to say–the first basket–my eye sees as a palette of soft greens. And the last–vibrant orange. Blue is pretty accurate.

Morning Meditation

2 Apr

This is what I do most mornings–some earlier than others. I follow spirals. Follow thread. Stitch covered rope wrapped the prior evening. It’s always a surprise. An offering of sorts.





The question becomes are these bowls or baskets? And the reason I wonder is because the images don’t indicate scale. A huge basket can look the same size as a small bowl. And for some reason I’m not inclined to place a quarter or a banana next to the bowls. Because I love way they look straight on, into the center. A mandala effect. So these particular bowls vary in size from 7.5 to 6 inches in diameter and 1.5 to 2 inches in height. Could be that a bowl isn’t as tall as a basket. Could be that it doesn’t matter at all.

Yesterday Mo suggested adding color to the rim of the vegetable dyed bowls. So I tried it and agree that the results are better. I love her feedback, love suggestions for making things better –but this morning I’m feeling that hand dyeing rope is just way too labor intensive. And I find myself wondering “why bowls?” So I’m thinking other things to dye. Yardage maybe. Scraps more likely.

Or maybe scarves. Silk scarves from Dharma. So if it comes about that these bowls find homes elsewhere, I’ll get silk. From Dharma. DSC02537

And yesterday I didn’t delve into my dy(e)ing thoughts but this morning I found that Grace did it for me, in her wonderfully inimitable style. And the point here, for me, is that living and dying are not exclusive. But concurrent. And I need to remind self that how I do one is how I do the other.

Indigo Vat #1

26 Mar

Mo asked for indigo vat instructions. Probably there are better ones online but here’s a brief explanation of my experience yesterday and OK. I’m forced to admit that when it comes to starting an indigo vat, it IS important to measure AND pay attention to water temp.

When I got home from the workshop, I pulled out my stash of dyeing supplies. Stuff I had used over a year ago with barely marginal success. Wondered if there was a shelf life for the goods but decided to concoct the 1-2-3 indigo vat just the same. This ratio stands for 1 part indigo, 2 parts calcium hydroxide (pickling lime) and 3 parts fructose/per liter of water.

In the past I’ve just eyeballed the proportions. But this time I was able to use the scale my sister has for weighing weaving fibers. scale

The day before I had placed the indigo powder in a small pickle jar (empty) that still smelled like pickles. Added a few small stones I picked up when I was having lunch with a dear friend. Then added hot water (quantity and temp not measured) and shook the jar for a few minutes. The stones helped mix up the powder which has a tendency to lump up. This mixture sat overnight.

So yesterday I measured out the fructose and calcium hydroxide, dissolved the fructose in 180 degree water–dissolved the calcium hydroxide in cold water per instructions–poured the liquid indigo into the vat, added fructose and calcium hydroxide and within a matter of minutes a bloom started forming on top of the surface.indigo vat

The bloom is a good thing.

Stirred energetically and then let the vat rest overnight. This morning I skimmed off the bloom and the coppery surface film and began experimenting. In the interim I have been thinking about the rope bowl/baskets. Wondering how they would look dyed in indigo without wrapping the rope in fabric.

Two results:

small basket

large bowl

The white fleck repeating pattern? That must be polyester in the cotton rope. A wonderful surprise.

They’re still wet and may need to be over dyed again, but i want to see the color when they’re dry before I make any decision. And because I have tons of scraps of fabric I’ve dyed in the past–wrapping cans, using avocado skins, rusty objects etc–I decided to over dye a few pieces to see what would happen. Some nice results–here’s the best one I think:


Natural Dyeing

24 Mar

catharine ellisLast week I took an intense 3-day workshop with Catharine Ellis on natural dyeing.

My good-to in the past has been black walnut because it’s readily available and relatively easy. I love black walnut. But I also love color and so wanted to be able to get a few intense colors from plants–and before I say anything else–

Just Look. The samples are arranged by fibers–first column is wool, second is cotton, and third is silk. The first row on each sheet is simply the fiber dyed in the color. The second row is the fiber first dyed in indigo and them overdyed with each color. The third row shows what a teeny bit of iron does to the original color–and the last row is experimental. The dye sources we used were osage, cutch, lac, pomegranate, weld, madder and indigo.

So–osage  first:




Then Cutch















The indigo vat we made was based on Michel Garcia’s 1-2-3 formula and it worked. (I’ve tried it before myself with no success–but now I’m a believer.)

So I’m sitting here 3 days later still reeling from the amount of information–technical and otherwise–that we were exposed to. And following directions, being methodical, documenting process and result–well, those are not my strong suits. I rarely follow a recipe. Most times when I begin something, I do so because I have to–not because I really know where it’s going. And now I know why I’ve never been able to liven up my dye palette. It’s simple. I wasn’t doing it right.

And then there’s this. It’s spring here. We’re able to see what vegetation/plants await our appreciation since having moved in in the winter, we had no idea. DSC02489DSC02492

Lots of–well, landscaping specimens. Shrubs and bulbs. And yes, of course, I’m glad to see them. But there will not be a regular garden here, I don’t think. At least certainly not this year. Containers probably. Too many deer. Plain and simple. Still, we had to cut down a tree in the front yard–an ornamental pear tree badly damaged. Part of it had already fallen on the roof and did a bit of damage. And because it was so close to the house and rotten in the crotch (unfortunate wording perhaps) it came down. So now in the yard we have a very large circular mulchy area free of the surrounding bermuda grass. And it’s going to become a dyer’s garden. Yesterday I ordered seed from a place in Maine–Fedco–and hopeful that deer won’t like the dye plants. Marigold I know will be safe.

Momentum. Inertia. Resistance. Change.

18 Mar

I captioned this post Momentum. Then thought, “Perhaps ‘inertia?'” so googled “inertia” to be sure I understood how I was thinking about it–and the definition has bowled me over for several reasons:

The vis insita, or innate force of matter, is a power of resisting by which every body, as much as in it lies, endeavours to preserve its present state, whether it be of rest or of moving uniformly forward in a straight line.”

Bowls me over because of that one phrase: “power of resisting.” I’ve been pondering resistance in other forms–not physical forms as in this definition–but thought forms. Emotions. Reactions. Old programming. Any and everything that arises and feels like a flow deterrent. Any and every thing that disturbs my “wah.” I know I didn’t make that up–this word “wah.” But again, I just googled its spelling and can’t find it. It was a common concept in something I read years ago. A novel probably and “wah” as I interpreted it, broadly referred to tranquility–an unfettered state. Can anyone help me with this reference?

So anything that disturbs what I’m calling my “wah” creates what I’m also referring to as “resistance.” And paying attention to this–to resistance–has preoccupied me for the last few weeks. In the past I’ve struggled with it–or more aptly–against. Made resisting resistance a career. To be overcome. But suddenly the irony of “resisting resistance” becomes almost laughable. So–the practice has been NOT resisting but simply acknowledging. Allowing room for it to be without globbing onto it and making it all pervasive. And noticing how this simple shift reduces the charge. Fine tuning. That’s all.

When I sat down to post, I was stunned that it’s been a month. A few weeks I thought. But the momentum of thoughts and creation hasn’t translated to blogdom. Still, here’s what I’ve been doing. Bowls taking precedence for a while over slow cloth. I’ve placed a lot of them down town at Woolworth Walk and at a local market in W. Asheville. Constantly having to rephrase my thinking from “no one will buy these” to “they’re beautiful and will find good homes.”

Here are a few recent ones. Bowls with lids:




and a larger bowl, inside outside:

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and several from this morning–moving back and forth between color and neutrality:





So. A month of momentum focused on bowls and recognizing/allowing resistance. And one more thing–the cloth that earns the title “slow.”DSC02457

To Understand

17 Feb

I didn’t know what to call this post. Simply didn’t know. And in fact, I thought I had a draft somewhere–a post I had started on Friday the 13th, a day after Mercury stopped being in retrograde, or however that is expressed. A draft of observations about that–about Mercury in retrograde. About how really funny it was this time around. How fillings fell out of my teeth–just fell right out. And my new “gifted” Bernette just gave up the ghost. And the error SS light lit up on the dash of my old Subaru, along with the ABS light. Most of the time I ignore dashboard lights but ABS got my attention because I carry precious cargo a few days a week so I called my mechanic friend and he said not to worry. SS stands for speed sensor so naturally the ABS light would come on and he’d take a look but no rush. And then the next day I read that Mercury was out of retrograde and even though it was Friday the 13th I have to admit to a certain sense of relief. And I never found the draft I had started. So here….

The sewing machine. Still waiting to hear what the problem was but I had already realized that it was too finicky for my style of sewing. I need a workhorse that doesn’t care if the bobbin thread is cotton and the needle thread polyester. And I need a machine that doesn’t care if the needle is less than perfectly sharp. Or doesn’t mind if lots of lint builds up before I clean it. It know myself. Maybe I’m a slob, but some details I just don’t attend to as often as reccommened.

It’s hard to fly in the face of the advice from experts and to the person–everyone I spoke to–everyone in the know–advised against a Singer. But I have history with Singers. Just like with Subarus. So I got one anyway–on Ebay–a heavy-duty Singer. And so far-25 baskets later–I’m still loving it. We’ll see.

And the fellow who installed our kitchen, a wood wizard really, built me a nice poplar shelf and a light rack for my little wall space at Woolworth Walk. It’s lit now. Bright. The baskets add something that helps it pop a bit. And they’re really reasonably priced, I think–ranging from $10 to $15 with a few a bit higher.display

So baskets are still multiplying here: these, from the new machine–and they’re better really. Broad bottoms. More versatile.DSC02308


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But I’m only good on the machine for a few days and then I have to unplug. Step away. Slow it all down–so this–a hybrid– free-motion with hand stitching on black walnut/tin can cloth:DSC02327

and this–the sampler of dye scraps–unified now with kantha. I worked it in sections. Nine sections. Then for some reason wondered how many stitches would eventually be here. ~400 per section. Nine sections. The 3600 stitch sampler.DSC02329

Finally I labelled this post to understand. Because of a eureka moment. I got it this morning. The derivation of the word understand. One word comprised of two. Under Stand. But thinking it would be more empathic to say standunder— Stand Under. To stand under some thing or some one–to support– and from that perspective of being underneath, to know. It makes more sense to me. That compassion can emerge from standing under another. Experiencing their truth.

Basket with Black Walnut

31 Jan

This new shower. What can I say? The water is now HOT and the patterns of the tile are totally transporting. I rub them in the morning. Run my hand over each one that I can read. Notice the texture. The coolness. And most of all, become immersed in their visual message. This one must be placed just so because it is where my eye finally lands. Always. And it speaks to me of universe beyond universe. The energy of creation.

And this morning, gazing here, it came to me to do this. To use black walnut. To dye AFTER the basket is complete. And then another idea. A variation. Because I sensed a need for the unexpected. A way to allow light into the center.




Beginnings AND Endings

30 Jan

Thinking they may really be the same–these arbitrary points I’m calling “beginnings and endings.” And noticing how they are each different on their own accord. Practice is helping but I really don’t need to judge if one is better than the other. In fact, all I need to do is get out of the way of my opinions–get out of the way of thinking I can control how it will be.

So, here’s to getting out of the way….










The Importance of Ending Well

24 Jan

Basket thoughts abound right now. The importance of beginning with flow. The importance of “just going” with flow. The importance of ending with flow.

I finished two very small ones this morning. Spent time refining the beginning. The spiral. Easing into it with flow and openness. Then noticing the coiling itself. How each layer builds on the previous one–how growth depends upon what came before. The importance of foundation. And until this morning, I was having a lot of trouble with the ending. The completion. Because I wanted to finish with flow–with grace. With beauty.

Essentially, the basket’s coil is thick. Doesn’t lend itself to simply stopping or easing into a gentle conclusion as you can see in this basket. Simply stopping mid-stream creates a visual presence akin to falling over a ledge or down a step. DSC02140

And so–here–I’ve been practicing ending with grace: DSC02173


There’s a message in all of this–for me at least. Or at least a clarification of why I’ve been thinking about this certain theme. Because for the last some-period-of-time, I have thought about how we transition from this existence. I’ve noticed the cultural bias that exists around what we call “death.” How even to talk of it seems taboo. How the notion of practicing/preparing for that transition seems anathema to life in some circles–rather than simply a continuation of what we call life. So I’m noticing this and how — in the case of these baskets–it all seems to improve with practice.

Foray into Pots

23 Jan

Unexpectedly I find myself in the Land of Pots. Obsessed almost. Tearing fabric into strips–1/2″ x 18″-24″ long. Loving the sound of threads rending, coming apart, readying for the alchemical transition which I can’t even begin to predict once colors and patterns are wrapped and coiled. Then, beginning with the spiral center. Turning. Turning. The flow of it. Counterclockwise.

So I want to say this because Grace asked–“Could this technique be used for rug making?” And I think “Yes!” it could. And the shape would be determined by the genesis of the spiral. Round, oblong, rectangular even.

There must be gobs of tutorials online. Goggle coiled fabric bowls I suppose. So no reason to add to that treasure trove–instead I’ll just mention a few things that have made coiling MUCH easier. At first I was working with long strips of varying width. Short is better for me. 18 -24″. And width makes a difference to. If the strip is too wide, it doesn’t coil well. I suppose it would if your cloth was cut on the bias, but I don’t have the inclination or patience to do that. So I simply eyeball what seem to be 1/2″ intervals, give or take, snip across the entire piece, set down the scissors and RIP. When I have an adequate pile, I tie the pieces together.DSC02119

and when I have enough bundles, I begin coiling. I’ve found that my technique has evolved naturally. I couldn’t begin to explain it. But it does get faster. Much faster. For me, wrapping left to right feels natural. But it probably doesn’t matter.hands

On my first bowl, I tried to start the spiral on the machine–but it was hard to see and it meant putting my fingers way too close to the needle. So I start the spiral by handstitching a short distance and then stick it under the needle.



I hate to say this, but looking at this last picture, I see that I started on the wrong side. And now I remember. I did have to remove the spiral, flip it over, and begin again. Because–because–it’s important that the coil grows on the left of the needle rather than on the right. One of those things better understood when you actually experience it.

The base can be as large or as small as you want. And if what you want is a circle, then just keep going. But at some point, if you want a bowl, the base gets flipped up perpendicular to the sewing platform….turn

and grows…


and grows….DSC02139

The Markings of Days

21 Jan

Noticing markings. On fabric, on walls. Patterns and textures. Patterns of behavior and thoughts that give texture to the hours of these days. A week of images to upload. For tracking. Noticing. Clarification. And noting still the amorphous images that have my attention during these middle days of January. Noticing movement. Inside and out. Movement, yes, and also a certain lightness. Visible on the morning horizon. Palpable with each precious breath.

So…still tracking shadowsshadow1

and noticing this. A turnip from last year’s garden…turnip

and this cloth–paralleling somehow the turnip. A coming out of the hallowed space of winter, into the light again, turnip

Finishing stitches on a piece started when I don’t recalldeer

And yes, I ironed. Ironed what I feel are priceless vegetable dyed scraps so small that some would not hold 7 beans. Two perhaps. But they’re magical to me. Their markings. Patterns formed randomly– unreplicatable. And then layered around a found object. A sample of fine stitching so different from my own,

Finally, because I do have commercial fabric that never makes it to my cloth, and because I really am geared, in a certain way, towards function–but really because I was gifted a Bernette (sp) that needed to be tried out–these have started to emerge…another use for cloth. Use full.

For Holding:





Shadows and Light

14 Jan

Strange land it is, the land of Flu. Pneumonia. I knew something was really not right at all, but it took me a good while to get myself to a doctor. Because…well because that is what I do only when nothing else works. And nothing else was working. And really, there’s a place inside that knew it was time.

It’s been an interesting period. A time to practice lots of things. Patience for one. Acceptance another. And gentleness to self. I’ve been moderately successful at some…moderately being subject to debate, except not by me. There have been other lessons practiced–or anticipated–but now that I’m moving past that place and on somewhat of an upswing, I’ll just rest with the knowledge that there’s still some work to be done in certain areas.

I’ve been in an underwater, ethereal place. A place where only shadows caught my attention. Shadows and shapes. DSC01985



And although I’m never certain which way my cloth will take me, a few days ago I found myself sorting out fabric. Specifically fabric dyed with vegetation–iris, walnut, onion, acorns, leaves–all these things and more. And I notice how abstract I’m feeling. Non-specific. Non-linear. Non-representational. Still adrift, I suppose, in that la-la land of wherever-it-is that I was. And I’m finding that I have no specific thoughts or objectives. Simply looking at relationship. At color. At texture. Simply looking.

And this. Collage of samples. Forming cloth. Whole cloth. Lots of tiny stitches mending together the various parts.

D O G spelled backwards

31 Dec

Signs are important to me. Sometimes I ask for them. Sometimes they present themselves–almost out of the blue. Sometimes they’re a gift and sometimes they might feel very, very random.

This morning a post presented itself. Unsolicited. Random even. John Trudell. Conveyor of “coyote logics”. And bingo. LIGHT. Understanding of certain things I had been considering this past week. And near the bottom of this article, an interview with a man-child. An awesome being. Worthy of a cosmic high-five. Skip the article if the ideas put you off–but the interview–well, I recommend it.

We will have our own boy-child this evening. And hopefully a bonfire. And tomorrow, black-eyed peas and collards. And these gifts:

day before

the gift of a real Hope


and this–a gift from Christmas…


Holding each of you in my heart today…tomorrow…and on…as we continue this journey of, as Jude Hill often says”just going.”

Reflections, Boxes and Space

27 Dec

On December 15 we surfaced from our subterranean basement home to “upstairs.” To windows. To light. To freshly sanded floors and open spaces. To a kitchen. And bedrooms. To trees and sunlight. Deer. deer

Turkeys. And birds. Lots of birds. We surfaced to sky and openness. To shadows and reflections on walls. DSC01930

A lamp my mother made more than 50 years ago–DSC01931

And now 12 days later most of the moving boxes are unloaded. Broken down and stacked against a wall outside. An ad is running in Craigslist, and soon they will be moving on. Ready to participate in someone else’s move.

I’m surprising myself right now. Mentioning boxes. Because initially I thought I’d just post a few images–make an effort to get back to the land of blog–I miss it–the conversation–and the longer I’m away, the harder it’s becoming to return. So to even mention boxes– I thought I was fed up with them–with their clunkiness, mass, heaviness. Fed up with their smell and the noise packing tape makes when pulled off their surface. Still–I’m sensing a germ of an idea here that needs to be explored. A metaphor that feels important. Boxes? What do they mean? When do they lose their value? When are they a tool and when are they a trap? How do we use them for compartmentalizing? For discriminating? For separating self from others? When do we open them? Air out the contents? Examine them to see if they still hold value? Or have simply become weights we lug around from habit? I could go on . . . .

But not now–later perhaps, or not. Because right now I need to look at a few images from the past weeks. The child’s sock–lost then found on the pavement outside of a home supply store–on a cold wet day in December….sock

sock and hand

And this–an old door…a very old door…long and heavy and perfect I thought for becoming a headboard. headboardBut because it was old and cracked it fell apart when I ripped it to the needed length. So a short project became a labor of determination–but after lots of glue, braces and wooden splints–here it is. Recycled. Sturdy. Functional.


part of the new living space–DSC01967



And my work space? It overwhelms me. DSC01909

This morning I realized my dousing crystal hasn’t surfaced. And because there was a question, I made one out of wooden beads. It has its own space now. With hawk wing. Hanging over the soon-to-be-consecrated work table.

Box update: the old ones are gone. Just picked up by a young woman moving to a horse farm in Madison County. And so it goes . . . .

A Trail of Reminders

3 Dec

A photo trail. Of the hours. And days. And the little moments in between–that “gap” place that’s free of thought, emotion, “charge.” The space in between breaths where nothing and everything abides. So here. To remember the basement time. The basement time and the tasks that don’t change, regardless of externals. Like picking up boy-child from school– and gently monitoring the things that get done after school.  The snacks.  The homework.  The shared-events-of-the-day time. Precious, priceless grounding time.


And there have been cloths. Three actually, but two I forgot to document. They are downtown at Woolworth Walk. One was new–part of the Super Moon and Critter series. A panda eating bamboo. The image came at night, after I shut the light off, and I fell asleep saying “super moon with panda.” Was it that night or the next? I’m not sure. But I woke in the night and saw, plain as day, a black bear cub peering in the window. Looking with animated curiosity at me. At my sister. As we slept. Looking through this window which is 5 feet off the floor. One of four that provides minimal but essential light to our living space:

Bear cub looking through this window where during the light of day the underside of rhododendron provides more magic and support than I can explain. I feel that I’m underground–I am underground–but looking at this tree-shurb from such a novel vantage point, I become part of it–part of its root system. Nurturing and receiving sustenance simultaneously. I think about the Hopis. Their mythology. Coming out of the earth.

Fewer images of this journey than I thought–and the awareness that I need to keep my camera closer. But I still have time to rectify that. So here:

Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pie. Shared with daughter and her family…a pie that received kudos galore. And did I share that it was a 3 ingredient pie? Condensed milk, 2 eggs and Libby’s pie mix? Nope. But I laughed when I heard the compliments. Because, while I was making the pie, daughter called to say how much she was enjoying preparing the feast-that-followed. And as we spoke, I shared that, as she knew, cooking was just not my thing. I wish it was. I told her that. I told her that part of me would love to be the very rotund granny with a bun, ample bosom and tummy wrapped in a white apron, humming in the kitchen as I prepared one delightful dish after another. But that isn’t who I am. I eat out of necessity. Eat to live rather than the other way around. But still that romanticized “provider of sustenance” exists.

The pie:

And here’s what I forgot to say–that while we were talking–daughter and I–I poured the entire contents of a 12 oz condensed milk can into the batter. Yes, I wondered why there was quite a bit of batter left over that wouldn’t fit into the pie shell. And later, after the “why of it all” plagued me enough, I pulled the pumpkin pie can out of the garbage and read the directions. 5 oz. of milk. Not 12. But I cooked it anyway and am here to attest that it was just as good, if not better perhaps, than any pumpkin pie I even made from scratch.


The dogs are having a period of adjustment.  Underfoot.  Confined more than usual.  They are both males and there are territorial issues developing.  Moments of low, serious guttural growling that needs to be diffused immediately.





IMG_1375 (3)

And Hope, seemingly oblivious to the changes around here– happy to eat and sleep and explore.
Hope. Esperanza.



Sky this morning, sweet pink underbelly


and a cloth–Midnight Sun with Polar Bear–this is what’s showing up now. Somehow these animal cloths are easier. Require much less mental activity, and that feels just oh so good.


So it will be twelve days from now when the upstairs will be ready enough. And we will emerge from this kiva-of-sorts.

Disclaimer–Pop up Ads a mystery

14 Nov

My sister was just reading this blog, on her computer. There was a weird video at the end of it. I asked her what it was. She said, “These ads always pop up and sometimes they’re really bizarre.” I had no idea. Trying to figure out how to get rid of them. Anyone have suggestions?

Progress and Patience

14 Nov

Shadows and light from a few days ago.

And this morning I walked around the house …early. Documenting the progress of this process. Noticing what gave me pleasure and what still presented challenge. Noticing the one hundred and one decisions still to be made. Decisions that perhaps the contractor would have made–or not. Decisions like “exactly at what height do you want the bathroom light to be hung…?”

And why do I need to determine exactly where? Because if it’s too low it will interfere with the medicine cabinet door. And so I measure…height of pedestal sink–36″, add in the height of sink faucet 5″, add in height of medicine cabinet–30″. Add in the light shade that extends down from the mount itself, 6″. Oh. And add in the thickness of the cement board that goes on the floor plus the thickness of the tile. Another inch? So there. All of that and we arrive at about 82″. Wiggle room.

But what I am REALLY struck with during this process is the kindness of people…and in this case, because they are all male, I have to say the kindness of men. We replaced old very drafty windows–not because we can’t live with drafts, but because we cannot abide the thought of heating the outside during our long winters. And the window installer stepped up when we let the contractor go…stepped up and said he would help us out–at least give us information as to what needed to be done, and when. Stepped up and days later mentioned that divine intervention happens in many ways. I love that. And we have painters, father and son, Bruce an Cory, who although initially part of Contractor’s crew, stuck with us. Will see the job through. Lowered their price. Determined to see the job through. Because they said they would, and their word means everything to them.

And then Alvaro. Young Latino. Here for 12 years. Hardest worker I have ever seen. Twelve hour days are nothing to him. He has a wife–a Portuguese wife. Her name is Patricia, too, and the way he says that word, well it makes the English version sound harsh and crude. Pah-treee-seeee-ah, he calls me to come see–to come help with a decision– A graphic artist from Mexico who now hangs tile, sheetrock, a bit of this and that. Anything. Because, as he told me one night as we waited in Lowe’s to get sheet rock loaded, he wants to buy a “brick house” for his family. This is just beyond beyond. And here, his work, …a 1950’s pink ceramic tile bathroom slowly becoming earthy…

DSC01831 I’ve laid a bit of ceramic tile myself…with just a “get-er-done” mentality. So when questions arose yesterday, and I offered my version of a solution, Alvaro just smiled and shook his head “no.” No, we will not do it that way. We will do it the right way. Ha.

We keep adjusting our move-in date. Becoming more realistic as we accept that the progress is only minimally subject to our control. It doesn’t really matter what we think we want…because the project has taken on a life and momentum of its own.

Kitchen with cabinets maybe installed on November 28


Reclaiming of floors to begin November 19. And we will have to stay off of them, then, until the 28th. I would rather have waited and had floors reclaimed at the end…but there is a logical sequence to why things are done when they are. I am learning this as we go. Floors before baseboards and cabinets. That is the sequence we’re told. So. OK.

Only one cloth box opened. And Blue Person emerged first. Leaped out. I don’t remember cutting this denim shape. But met its appearance with joy. So here…a jaunty sprite, surrounded by pieces of a process. Patiently holding space. DSC01833 We knew we were going to have the place painted. We knew the windows needed to be replaced. We knew some things. But we really didn’t know what it would be like. So now we know, as we own our decisions, and we cultivate patience as we wait. Grateful I have to add, for the kindness of helful people.

Knowing where to look

7 Nov

First of all…and maybe the most important… we have a moonscape here. A view of it…rising. Rising. This moon has been huge and it looks full now. And it was clearly rising in the east. And I wondered…I guess for the first time…”Does the moon always rise in the east?”

Often, in mountains especially, I have no idea which way I’m pointed. I know things like “up or down the road.” That’s what’s important. “Towards town or away from town.” That’s how I explain locations. But here, on this spot of earth, a bit elevated, I know exactly where the compass points are. So I knew I was looking due east. And for some reason that seems important. To know…to know where to look.

So I googled “moon rise” and learned that the moon pretty much always rises from an easterly point. I’m wondering now why I never asked that before. Maybe it doesn’t matter but it seems important now. Because it speaks of some kind of orientation that I can really feel. The spin and movement of the universe. The sense of standing on the back of this planet as it spins its way through the universe. And knowing where to look for the moon.

We are in the basement of the house where we will be living. The upstairs living space is uninhabitable at the moment. A construction zone.




It’s been like this for a while now. No progress. But lots of excuses. And so yesterday we–my sister and I–we fired our contractor. It was amazingly liberating. To take the process into our own hands. To step up and know that we can arrange for plumbing, tile, electrical and carpentry just as well–and perhaps better than–a busy contractor who really showed our home little respect. Wood floors have been ruined. They were oiled floors. Recycled oak from an old barn. Planed, cut, installed and then simply oiled. And though we stressed many multiple times that the floors had to be covered, they were not. And now sheetrock dust is captured in the grain and the oil, and although I’ve scrubbed and scrubbed, it does not come out. So…Sanding will have to happen. Sanding and sealing and days more added to our basement sojourn…which looks like this…




and yesterday, straight from the Land of Enchantment…a copper pot for dyeing


and a cloth…really my favorite of all favorite colors…


In probably a month or so we will be upstairs. And right now, that is just fine. Dogs are becoming acclimated to space and to each other. And we are all learning what it means to live in community again. But I found myself yesterday wondering when I would feel the movement of needing to speak with cloth. I don’t have a work spot yet that feels conducive. I don’t have the window to sit in front of that provides the old inspiration. I haven’t found my spot just yet. The knowing-where-to-look spot. So I’m biding my time. Watching this.

Moving On…Out…Into….

2 Nov

Major transitions happening. M A J O R. Now. This very moment.Truck coming in a few hours. A month ago this date, November 2, was just a block on the calendar. Now, everything in boxes–approximately 70 boxes which is stunning in itself. And the other stunning piece is that I actually bought the boxes. Did not succumb to my passion for dumpster diving behind big box stores. And they–the boxes–in about a month–will be listed on craigslist–“free moving boxes”–

And it all feels so surreal. Meaningless is some big way. And silly. I have to say this–that having all of this stuff just seems silly.

Hope has monitored the entire process. She’s anxious. Confused. All of her nesting spots have disappeared. Except me. My lap.
Watching. Wondering.DSC01748

And because this blog is a record of my days–a reminder to self of what was–I’m recording this now to remember…to remember a life that is no longer here. Somewhere, for sure. Just not here. The grandfather of boy child. A fine fine man. Suddenly, Thursday night, in his sleep, moved on…out…into….It was a shock. The suddenness of it. I remind self that this is how I’ve always said I would choose to pass. But now I’m revisiting that idea. And wondering. Looking at a belief I’ve parroted for ever. The notion that we do, in fact, choose the path of our exit. Is that so? Now I’m not sure.

And this morning, lifting up computer to put in a moving box, this doodle slipped out. Made recently, obviously. A doodle because cloth is in a box. But we don’t have to be.


Not sure when I’ll have internet again.

“Metaphysical Background”

27 Oct

Boy child asked me what this was. A doodle. It surprised me. No recollection of doing it–or where I was–or even when–except it’s been in the last few days–hmmmm. IMG_11491

Grace over at windthread has been talking about Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm by Stephen Harrod Buhner.  I ordered a copy and it arrived Saturday evening.  Right now I’m essentially camping out in my house, surrounded by packed up moving boxes and a variety of things that will probably be moved by hand.  Unboxed.  Or Not.  As soon as I think I have a plan, either it changes or I change my mind–so I’m not taking any one thing too seriously.  But what I wanted to say was that I started reading the book and on page 19 came across the clearest expression of–of –I don’t know what to call it.  So I’ll simply quote Buhner here–he’s talking about art.  And everything else.

For if we should recapture the response of the heart to what is presented to the senses, go below the surface of sensory inputs to what is held inside them, touch again the “metaphysical background” that expresses them, we would begin to experience, once more, the world as it really is:  alive, aware, interactive, communicative, filled with soul, and very, very intelligent–and we, only one tiny part of that vast scenario.

But it’s the phrase “metaphysical background” — two words I’ve never strung together–but I’m in love with them now. These words–a physical handle, a tool, a tangible concept–recapturing the response of the heart…manifesting the metaphysical background.  And somehow communicating that.  If possible. A wonderful thing to attempt.

Just  reread this.  It feels like I’m circling the wagons–getting close but still not there with the idea–but again, I blog to remind self of certain things and will revisit it.  Later.  Now these are the images I want to remember–not for their surface message, but for that other thing–that thing Buhner calls “metaphysical background.” And remembering that first time they made my heart sing:



A block print and leathery leaf–from 1969–



A wool sweater my mother knit for herself. The original color a very pale light blue. Now after a recent Indigo dip.


Starfish Cactus ready to bloom


and This–yesterday, a flock of wild turkey in the back yard where we’ll be going.




A Question of Integrity

7 Oct

So about my booth in downtown Asheville, at the Woolworth Walk Gallery. I need the booth to at least pay for itself and monthly rent is $45. I’ve been there a month and two cloth pieces have sold.  Both cloths were $45 each. I’m mentioning price because the two that sold were the least pricey pieces hanging. Is that why they sold?–their lower price? And then I’m wondering that since both pieces were part of the “supermoon” series — is that why they sold? And if so, should I continue with this series, at least one/month?  I’m thinking about this and it’s disturbing me. Because…

…because…the thoughts I’m having are alien to me.  Thoughts like, “I think this might have more universal appeal.”  And “Maybe something like this will pay October’s rent.”  I’ve never considered marketability.  Never.  I made/make cloth because I can’t help myself.  But now I’m thinking about paying rent and making one cloth a month that will do that…and this brings up questions of authenticity and integrity.

Actually, it’s this cloth–“Supermoon with Pacyderms” that brought these questions of integrity to the surface.  It’s  VERY different from my previous cloth work.  Perhaps it borders on trite?    And even though it embodies a certain tenderness,  my personal discomfort level with it is still high.

Beth  commented that it would be interesting to see how and/or if my work changes as a result of going public.  I think that’s my concern.  That marketability–to a degree–influenced this cloth.    And even though, for me, there is a heart element with Pacyderms,  I did not want to “show” the cloth here.  Maybe that’s what I should look at–the not -wanting -to- show .  Maybe that feeling holds the answer to this question of integrity and standing true.





Moving On: Separating Needs from Wants

2 Oct

Relocation has started. DSC01610 Or at least the things that need to be completed prior to moving have started. My sister and I made an offer on a house. Offer accepted after some back and to. OK. House inspection revealed radon. Several days of freaking, trying to decide to continue or NOT. Then a settling down, gathering of information, discussing radon mitigation with “experts.” So OK. Moving forward. It can be corrected. In fact, we discover, over 70% of homes in these mountains have some level of radon. I don’t like it, but it will be corrected. And then, I think, people have been living here for a long time–long before radon was ever tested. Living here. That’s the operative word. Living. Here.

We’re in a due diligence period. Another week before it expires. And what DD means is that at any time for any reason, we can back out of the offer to purchase contract. Until October 10th. The house under contract is nothing like I would ever have imagined moving into. It’s brick. I call it a rancher, but in fact that’s incorrect. It’s mid-century modern I’m informed. Hmmmm. A just ever so subtle hint of Frank Lloyd Wright-ism. Ever so slight. It’s open. Rooms flow into and out of each other. It’s located on a secluded street-of-sorts with only 2 other houses. In the woods, after a fashion. And it has lots of big drafty old aluminum windows. Windows that will be need to be replaced.

So during this due diligence period, we’re pricing windows. Pricing other things as well. Trying to make good choices and decisions. Keeping wants at bay. It’s not about that–not about wants. More about needs. Which brings up the more interesting part of this process. Determining essential needs.

I raise this question because I literally have tons of books. Well, maybe a ton of books. And I’ve schlepped them around for 40 years. Many of them I’ve never opened again in all that time. So why am I doing this? Boxes of books are heavy, and although this will be the first move ever where I’ve hired someone to move me, I’m still packing stuff. And I find that once things are in boxes, I hardly remember the contents. Could easily take everything in boxes to Habitat for Humanities Retail Store. Could easily never see any of this stuff again, and be really ok.

Books. Books AND artifacts. Pieces of memory bound up in material form. Do I need these things? I don’t think so. And that raises the question of just what it is really that I do need. The answer is surprising me. I need my scraps of cloth. I need a bowl. And a spoon. I need a coffee mug and a blanket. And of course, I need a coat and sweater. But multiples? Many multiples of each? Several coats? Many sweaters? When did this accumulation begin? When and more importantly, Why? I study pictures of refugees fleeing Syria, fleeing their homes. Fleeing with only what they can carry on their backs. And studying these pictures, I think, something is really out of balance here. That I have to rent a truck, probably a big truck, to transport my stuff down the road.

What if I just took what I could carry?  Thinking about this

And the kaleidoscope images, converted to pictures, affixed to unbleached 5 x 7 card blanks. For sale. $4. They will be in two spots in town and available here as well.




And underneath everything, the moving cloth is evolving. Holding me. Grounding. Leading.


There it is. Interestingly resting on top of this week’s Mountain Express. On its own.

September 27–good day for a birthday.

28 Sep

Eighth birthday yesterday. And of course, the b-day song. My favorite part?–the addition at the end of “and maaaaaaaaany moooooooooooooooooore.” Love it because I sing off-key anyway, so can belt that out with certainty. A party in the park right next to their house. Weather was kind–clear sky, sliver of a moon, inflatable movie screen projecting “The Lego Movie.”



and in lieu of presents, a request for FOOD. Food for the animals. digfiid

Before this soft ending to a soft day, Super Moon with Penguin–finished. Backed. Hanging. Small.


Super Moon with Penguins

27 Sep

Wondering about a lot of things–and lately wondering about September’s super moon.  About super moon and animals.  Wondering if it felt different to them.  Wondering where they were.  What they were doing.  And before I  even had a plan, this cloth popped into being.  Super Moon with Penguins.  It’s small.  I’m going to work small for a while, as I imagine critters, worldwide, soaking up moon beams.DSC01581

then wondering about kaleidoscope filter–what that would do…so, this:

supermoon with penguin1 kaliedescope

Kaleidoscope Magic

22 Sep

Again this morning. Awake. Wide awake at 3:15 knowing I had to locate the feather. The feather that greeted me on my back stoop, several days ago. It’s tiny. A bit over an inch. Tiny. And power full. And there it was, safely nestled in scraps of cloth. Holding its own. Asking for recognition. Asking to be seen. To be seen for some thing … some thing other than what I first thought. So here…all of this a miracle today. September 22, 2014.

First the feather–it’s the middle one–the other two are jays but I don’t know what bird gifted this one. Peach/golden undertones:

day after

Nice, right? Sweet. Enough just to study the feathers. Their amazing design. The engineering of it all. That in itself…well, miraculous. Then I noticed something in my photo editor–a category I hadn’t opened before. Filters. And under Filters, this–Kaleidoscope. Now a confession. I love kaleidoscopes. And I love mandalas. And I love love love what happened. Early this morning…night sounds providing background music through my open window.








kaliedescope 33


Hopi Maiden

10 Sep

So I seem to be heading back into a phase of waking up much earlier than I’d like…but I’m also waking up with energy…pulled to cloth. To woven beings. I’m loving them. So much. And this morning, a cloth that has been sitting since I saw the eastern garter snake earlier this summer whispered itself out of a stack of works-in-progress. Whispered itself into the light…and all but pointed towards this being. When I set it on the cloth magic happened–suddenly Hopi Maiden with Squash Blossom.

Harvest Moon with Crow

9 Sep


I didn’t see the moon last night. Wanted to. Tried. But the cloud cover was too dense. I felt it though. Again. Early morning pull. So…Harvest Moon with Crow is finished. Crow came about, as happens, on its own. Woven figure morphing a bit and then outside…loud, insistent, continuous–CROWS. I was deep into the cloth and it took a bit for me to surface, for me to hear–for Crows to get my attention. And when I stopped to really listen…to listen and acknowledge their presence…I found myself following thread again as 8 crows formed on the cloth. Eight little crows and one originator. And so cloth, as it does, changed quickly from focus on moon to moon and crow. The dance.

Harvest Moon

8 Sep

Tonight will be the harvest moon–full moon closest to the fall equinox.  And a supermoon.  Closer to earth than usual.  I’m feeling its pull.  Awake since 2:30.  Not good.  Not bad.   But clearly EARLY.  So this, this early morning, a little cloth–the beginning of  Harvest Moon ’14. Moon will be appliqued. Probably some kantha stitching. What else? Maybe nothing.

sort of colored corrected but still a bit dark:

And it’s been raining. Hard. Constant. Straight-down rain that means the basement is getting damp because the lay of the land changed when the neighbors behind me cut down their forest. The run-off has changed. And where the next-door neighbor’s retaining wall fell over in May, now this:DSC01523


It’s hard to get the sense of the drop-off but it’s quite steep, and the dozer man is building up a dam of sorts to keep the water on my side of the hill. It’s a fine solution even though I’m losing some yard space, and all I have to pay for is the dozer man hauling the chain link fence to the land fill. Oh–and the new fence. Overall, it’s about a 50′ span that will be re-erected.


As soon as it’s daylight, I’m going out to see what’s left of it all. Last night a red river was running down neighbor’s driveway, down the driveway, down the street, heading down to Canie Creek.

Grace–this is for you

7 Sep

Hi Grace.  Here’s the artist’s statement you asked to see.  It’s posted at  my booth space.  I’m open to suggestions if you see changes that could be made–and I’m not sure it’s a statement so much as an explanation–but an answer to the often-asked question–“what IS this?” 


Artist’s Statement:

Story Cloth is an old…very old…traditional form of communication.  A way to preserve and honor life.  Events.  Emotions.  Births and yes, deaths.  A way to preserve memory.  Recording on  cloth.   Story Cloth–a blend of collage, quilting, painting and story-telling.  All stitching and embroidery is executed by hand—totally unplugged so to speak–without the use of machine.

There are other names associated with this type of art– slow cloth being one.  Slow– because the process is contemplative, unhurried, thought full. Slow–because cloth is not in a hurry–cannot be hurried in fact.  But mostly slow because the cloth has something important to convey –- a message that has its roots deep below the surface.  And the message  cannot be rushed, any more than the growing forth of a plant can be rushed.  So Story Cloth/Slow Cloth describes my work, for now.

I work exclusively with repurposed, recycled natural fabrics including cotton, linen, silk and other natural fibers.  I hand dye/over-dye most of the recycled cloth used in my assemblages using natural sources found in nature—such as leaves, black walnuts, flowers, and bark.  I also grow the dye plant indigo and use it for dyeing my blue fabrics.

Each piece of cloth that forms the story, from start to finish, also has its own intention–its own way of blending and becoming one with the whole.  My challenge is to remain open to what wants to come forth.  Often I find myself watching.  Waiting.  Arranging, rearranging.  Waiting for “yes” or “no” as the cloth’s story reveals itself.   The whole process–an exercise in “getting out of the way”–can take a long time.  The stitching itself is contemplative and time-consuming– and often I borrow the expression needle-chanting to refer to this stitching.  But time is not the consideration here.  The challenge is learning to listen,  and in the listening to honor the voice of the cloth and the story it reveals.

Story Cloth combines for me the need to express, the need to delve deeply into self and the need to understand the larger world in which we live.  It satisfies many of my passions–working with materials from nature, communication, repurposing existing materials–and most of all, it provides an outlet for the creative energies that exist in all of us.

Patricia Spangler


Lessons and Teachers

7 Sep

Shocked and saddened by the news that Thich Nhat Hanh is seriously ill.  Hard to imagine a world bereft of his light.


OK.  In light of the above news, this posting seems almost silly– but I’ll go ahead with it, with the awareness of what is really  important and what is simply daily drama.

A little more than a year ago I applied for booth space at Woolworth Walk in Asheville.  A very popular venue downtown.  Two floors of an old Woolworth’s store  containing the work of local artists.  A month or so later I received a call saying my cloth had been accepted, but was told that it would probably be a while before space opened.  Well, a year later, last week in fact, I got the call.  A space was open.  Did I want it?

My first reaction was no.  I felt too busy.  I had only several days to pull it together–paint, hang a shelf, deal with lighting.  That doesn’t sound like much.  But the day the call came I was participating in the drama of having made an offer on a house–and I just felt overwhelmed. Even after we backed out of the house offer, I still felt resistance to taking this step.  The rent on the booth is cheap, really.  $45/month.  And IF something sells, commission is 19%.  But the booth is small–a 3′ wall approximately 6′ tall.  I couldn’t visualize it.  Couldn’t see how I might display the cloth so that each piece could be  seen.  Then when I hesitated and the WW manager said,  “Well, you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t take it–but it may take another year before something else opens,” I decided to go for it.  Other than a few intense days of set-up, what could be the harm?

It’s been an interesting process–the thoughts and feelings that are arising.  I’m looking at those now–those thoughts and feelings.  How I seem more comfortable just storing the cloth under my bed.   I’m really wondering about that.  The complacency with being invisible.  Wondering also if fear of rejection is playing into all of this?  And as soon as I notice that one–the rejection thing–a HUGE white flag waves in front of me.  A reminder.  An insight.

It amazes me how  lessons/reminders  come in so many different forms.  And the lessons that are up right now are directing me back to the wisdom bound up in Miguel Angel Ruiz book,  The Four Agreements.  There’s really no reason to list the phrasing of the thoughts I’m having.  It’s enough to say some of them are less than positive and really deserve as little air time as possible.

So I’m looking at this.  Noticing the thoughts. Wondering if I’m inadvertently confusing  cloth and self.  Asking for clarity.   And as Jude Hill always says, just going.


The trak lighting I hung overpowered the cloths.  I was tempted to leave it because adapting the trak and hanging the light was a BIG deal.  Challenging.  But the light cast heavy shadows around the kantha stitching.  Made the cloth hard to view.  So I’m rethinking lighting.  And the background paint–I was locked into that–gallery white.  But for now here it is–an opportunity to observe and to notice where my bucket holes need patching.




House Hunting as Spiritual Practice

4 Sep

I have to get into a groove. A rhythm. Every time I think it’s happening, some THING comes along. Three weeks ago I posted “Offering.” And when I posted it I thought, “I’ll be back tomorrow to explain.” But that didn’t happen. In fact, I’m chagrined to see that I didn’t even respond to kind comments posted there. And I can hardly believe this oversight because comments are the lifeblood of this blogging venture. They keep me going, really. They form ground–substance–support. Without which I would be spitting in the wind. Today I will respond to those “offering” comments, with gratitude…and explanation…the explanation that  I’ve been caught up in major-other-than-normal activities. Like falling into a vortex. Or the rabbit hole. And now I’m peeking out to see what’s still here and what isn’t….

Now. Let’s see. Where to begin. For a long time my sister and I have thought it would make sense to combine households. We both live here. A few minutes apart. Why replicate utilities? Why duplicate services and their associated costs? Why this and why that? It seemed to make sense. We thought for certain it would reduce our carbon footprint. We thought that we would take up less room on this already crowded planet. That living together would somehow reduce the drain on all things. And so, we have been looking. And clarifying our individual needs. Space needs. Configuration needs. Dogs’ needs. Personal needs. We’ve been clarifying where we want to be– here in this town. How much time we want to spend driving for the basics–library, groceries, post office.   Clarifying how we will sell our homes.  Put the proceeds into this new abode.  Acknowledging and grateful for the fact that we are sisters AND friends.

We come from the same place–a very rural, rural WV setting where driving for groceries and errands often consumed half a day. And so that has become a big factor because driving is also associated with gasoline consumption and air pollution issues. And since I drive several days a week to pick up boy/child from school, I have to consider that. And as I’m considering all of this, I realize how much I’ve changed. How my lifestyle and thinking has shifted–from rural to urban sustainability. Their similarities and differences. The trade-offs. But this is where I am. For now.

So. House-hunting. Hmmmmm. Learning to read between the lines of descriptions. Learning to see past the lens of the realtor’s camera. Wondering how what I’m seeing in real life could possibly relate to what I looked at on the MLS. Learning to filter out this and that before taking up our time and our realtor’s time…yet not wanting to rule out something based on assumptions. Having said this, we’ve looked at a LOT of houses in the last month or so. We’ve looked with creative eyes–seeing how things could be changed, rearranged, altered to fit our needs. Then analyzing the cost of those changes and going forward from there. We’ve made offers on two houses. One offer we rescinded even before it was presented to the seller. The other offer was accepted, we paid for the house inspection, and then realized we were out of our minds. And fortunately, in NC there is a 30-day grace period called “due diligence” where prospective buyers can change their mind for whatever reason, without penalty.

This has been going on daily now for some time. And really, I’m starting to see this endeavor as another form of spiritual practice. Noticing what arises. The tendency to think, ooooooooh, I want . Looking at that. Stepping back from it. Realizing that each of those thoughts, thoughts that pull me–us–off center are really simply FLAGS. My dad refereed high school football. He ran around throwing down white hankies when something went afoul. That’s what all of these thoughts are reminding me of. White hankies indicating that I’m off base in one way or another. White flags.  Accompanied with the reminder of the need to detach– to surrender.  To heed white flags.

There’s something else but I’m feeling the need to be quiet now. Enough with words for now.  Just this:


What is now “Spirit of the Harvest”, completed–spirit of the harvest


A beautiful Ojibway bead loom.  ojibway bead loomand the beginning of what may be a series of figures–

the family of  beings



family of man



An Offering . . . .

18 Aug

an offering

Cellular Memory of Sorts

11 Aug

It’s rainy here. Rainy. Grey. Cooler than expected for August. And a cellular memory is stirring. The memory that speaks of winter…winter and cold and the need to be prepared. To have wood “put up.” And food. To have food canned and set aside on pantry shelves. Or placed in a cool earthen cellar with potatoes and squash. And even though I’m not exactly doing these things–there’s still a message woven into my DNA that lets me know it’s that time again. I understand the feeling. And when I’m quiet enough, mental images surface. Images/scenes/scents from another time. Another place. And perhaps even–from other lives. These are the flip side of feelings that surface in early spring when surfacing and the need to go to ground manifest in a different way–in a more expansive way. Up and out rather than hunkering down.

This cloth, I understand it now. The gathering of…. The preparation for…. Getting ready….

For the next week I am tending boy. Sharing the joy of it with his grandpa. Alternating days that involve many things. Many things. It’s amazing to me how much I’ve forgotten about how much is involved in shepherding children. The basic logistics of feeding. Of having food available. Of meal preparation. Laundry. And then watching from afar and waiting for the return. It’s a LOT. And then the other thing…the listening to…to words…actions…expressions…the unspoken. Listening. And honoring space. His. Mine. Ours. My heart is full right now simply because I am seeing him for who he is rather than who I imagined him to be. There’s a difference.

Yesterday we dried wet laundry in a laundromat. Broken dryer at home. And we met some very interesting people. Men tending laundry. Household laundry. Washing sheets and towels and family clothing. They loved seeing boy there. And one man in particular shared stories of doing laundry with his grandma. Shared all sorts of stories in fact. And said as we were leaving, “Boy, you’ll remember this–you’ll remember helping your grandma fold clothes–and it will be a tender memory.”

A tender memory. And as we were leaving, I wondered why that comment move me so deeply. Was it his own sharing of memories?–memories helping his own grandma fold laundry many years ago. Was it this commonality of similar tasks that thread through generations. Was it because when I first saw him, I was not inclined to get to know him? There. That is true–because I had made certain assumption about him. About just staying far enough away that eye contact wasn’t going to happen. And then before I knew it, everything I had thought-without-thinking–all of my unconscious conditioned assumptions–vanished with the connection. The spark. The seeing…the recognition. The awakening inside on some cellular level. I’ve been wondering if he’ll be there next weekend. If we go back, will he tell us more? I’m just wondering about it all….

And something about this image–rain drops on a spider’s web–an image that we looked at closely, yesterday. Looked for a long time. Looked for the weaver. Marveled at the rain drops and the beauty of it all. That it speaks so deeply to me about everything I’ve tried to express here…. Still wondering.IMG_07991

Cleaning House ….

7 Aug

Yesterday I had my house cleaned. Actually, it was a partial exchange–a swap for dog sitting which I’d rather do any day. I think it had been weeks. Months perhaps. And things were getting to the point where I was looking at MLS listings–thinking I’d just swap this house out for a clean one. I’m happy to say I’m liking it here again.

So yesterday I stayed in my little cloth room that had also become a garden room, tool shed, office, mud room and dog space. And I forced myself to clean it–hauling out dirt, sand and a year’s worth of dust –sweeping up the fallen-off things from all the found items I bring in. Leaves. Pine cones. Sticks. Branches. To name a few. I identified the strange odors that had discouraged me from spending a lot of time there. Organic fertilizers, blood and bone meal, wolf urine. Relocating them to the basement.

When I actually started in on trying to organize my scrap pieces, I had an incredible realization: if this house were to catch on fire I’d grab Hopi and these, first:


I’m looking at this now–this basket of scraps–one of MANY–and marveling at its importance for me. Its VALUE. To-me-a-treasure. And I’m remembering a question I posed to Grace several years ago. “Where do all of those wonderful scraps and shapes come from?” I don’t remember her exact reply–but I was left with the thought that if I just stayed with the cloth, what I needed would become available. And it has. In spades. Because I seem constitutionally unable to throw out anything but the tiniest pieces that would not hold up to stitch. For a brief moment I wonder if I’m a hoarder? But move past that quickly to the understanding that these scraps–these treasures–are what allow me to express self. To make sense of the world as I see it. To integrate experience with understanding of how things are. It’s clarifying and much purer, in some sense, than the noise I make when I write and/or speak.

And also, yesterday during the process of creating order from chaos, I found lost treasures: pieces of tiny sewn together scraps of which I have oodles, plus this little black and white scrap missing for several weeks–safely pinned down to be stitched shortly:


and this piece of heart poplar from my daughter’s tree that had to be cut down last year–a majestic tree, well-loved tree that sheltered their home for years, but now was in danger of falling on the house–the center heart of the poplar–together with two bluejay feathers found on a recent walk with boy:


Very early this morning I added nails to this old frameDSC01405 and dug around in my treasure basket, pulling out long skinny strips and then weaving them with no thing in mind–still, slowly I began to see what it was. With the addition of a found cloth head…another one of those “things.” Things that have peopled my dreams and thoughts for years, eons. And though truthfully I’d like to add some diversity to my images, these “beings” adamantly come forth, asserting their need for “air time.” The irony/humor/oddness of it all doesn’t escape me. Still sometimes I ask, “why this? why them?” and I’m hearing: “WHY NOT?” DSC01408

This AND That

4 Aug

Yesterday morning I noticed the bubbles on the inside of my water jar. Bubbles that had formed overnight. Something about them begged a picture. And that “something” quickly became more–became an idea illustrating for me the importance of really seeing how things are. The difference between simply looking and really seeing. How things are in relationship to themselves, in relationship to environment–in relationship to global systems. And even the relationship of various dimensions. How things fit together in this world, in this life.

The bubbles up close

Through the water


from a distance

And then, from the garden, a potato:

but not just a potato–a very large potato. And for the sake of scale, it’s important to me that I show the potato in relationship:


I’m realizing an old tendency–one that has not always served me well– to form “story” based on just a snippet of what I see, or what I think I know. I’m looking at this. Noticing how I feel when I focus on parts only. Noticing how I feel when I focus on the whole. Part and/or whole. Realizing I don’t have to create story based upon either/or, this or that. Because in fact, it’s always BOTH.

So cloth–represents this for me. Detail. Components. Parts. Integration. Whole cloth.




new cloth

You don’t need a weatherman to know….

28 Jul

End of July.

A hike at Craggy Pinnacle on Friday–on the Blue Ridge Parkway outside Asheville. Misty, foggy morning starting to break when we reached the top. crggy gardens I’m reading Lee Smith’s work now–her novels that focus on life in these parts. Oral History for one. True to place.

So–Two things from an on-line class I’m taking with Jude Hill–“considering weave.” Threads were compliments of my sister–my sister the weaver–I mean as in a real weaver. A vintage weaver. A weaver of heirloom patterns. Big looms with many moving parts. Mind-boggling designs laid out on paper. I marvel…because we’re related…and because I clearly didn’t inherit the “weaving” gene and everything else that goes with it.

DSC01393 This tapestry figure is about 1.5 inches wide and about 5 inches long. I spent many hours on it. Asking myself from time to time during the process, “Why?” I still don’t know why. And I don’t know why I continued except that after a point, I was curious to see the result.

This one feels more like it. Kinda wacky. Loose. Unexpected in a way. The figure in on a pilgrimage. Arms and antlers to follow. Or not.

It’s been one of those odd summers for me. Quiet. Internal. A lot of processing and “looking at.” Then looking at what comes up while I’m looking. Following breath.

When I started this little not-much-of-a-post, an old Dylan line was running through my head…”you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” I deleted it at the beginning, but it wants to be heard.

Ocean and Mountains with Juno in-between

6 Jul

There are going to be a lot of pics here. A reminder to self about vacations. What they really are. How they can change things. How sometimes they have to be “recovered” from. I went into this one with a really screwed up, painful ear, and it prevailed. Colored the days. Messed with balance. Provided unwanted discomfort–but then, when is discomfort truly wanted? I’m talking to myself. There will be little commentary. You may not want to proceed. Won’t hurt my feelings–because I remember times when I found myself having to sit through family pictures. Not my family. Maybe not even a family I knew. So, caveat emptor….


Early Morning, Pawley’s Island

early morning


Boy Child

ocean surf

Mother of Boy Child


I Was Just a Shadow of Self

shadow of self

and then a few days back before scheduled trip to WV. To son. last pic of juno A few days frantically dealing with finding a new home for Juno. WV–not a place for Juno–WV called “wild and wonderful” for a reason. She auditioned in several homes. Each time it looked like it would work, but one thing after another made it a no-go. After three months, time was running out. Then two nights before leaving, she was offered up in a native medicine ceremony. Turned over to the universe–released to her destiny and her highest good. Those intentions held in each knot of the red cord–DSC01361 along with reminders to self that I am not the bus driver. That I am also simply a passenger on this amazing ride. So…to trust. A reminder to trust.

–and as the clock was striking midnight, a call came in. From West Palm Beach, FL. Yep. She had been spotted on “petfinder.” And yes, I explained her idiosyncrasies and her personality. And yes, all of that was just fine. Simply perfect. So. Juno’s angel sent a van for her and she rode all night to Florida where her name is now Dali and she is referred to as “her ladyship.”

Ear was some better at this point–and trip to WV on-go…so, the reasons for trip:

Beauty Full wife-of-man child

Man Child

View from Porch

Something called a Ranger

Old County Road
old road 1

Series of pics on old county road when the camera freaked out along with the photographer. Happened all on its own. I’m guessing because of the bouncing and tilting and feeling of imminent doom.



scary 31

But it righted itself. Just that one blip. Then this overhang:old county road

and finally our destination. Nuttallburg

heavy with the sense that “others” were still there…walking among the trees, leaning on the old foundations of schools and boarding houses. Working the coal. Stoking the coke ovens. A viable town from 1870 to 1956. Right ON the banks of the New River. The Nuttallburg link, if you check it out, mentions John Nuttall from England sensing “opportunity.” And I think of how so little has really change, for WV is still viewed as a commodity. Not as a beautiful part of the country to be preserved, but as opportunity for industry, for capitalist, for profit.

monolithic right-of-way marker next to foundation of old school–celtic-like
r of way

Refurbished coal tipple, prettied up

pillars of an old church.

West Virginia. Yep.

just a bit more–

View from Beauty Mountain, Fayette County, WV
nr gorge

Rhododendron in bloom

Rusty scrap from the tipple–oh the cloth it would color

Young hens just started laying
looking for eggs

first egg

Breaking through the fear of 4-wheeling
4 wheeling1

and finally, clearly time to head home….

time to go home

Catching Up

13 Jun

Heading out of town tomorrow. To the ocean. Lost Wednesday and Thursday due to unexpected ear drum malfunction. Still waiting to hear out of my left ear but at least the pain has abated. So here. Before I lost the sense of hearing–the wonder of smell. Fresh cut hay. I think I would have followed this truck wherever it was going if I hadn’t been on my way to pick up young man child.


I look at the picture now and wonder–how to convey the profound impact of that moment? Of opening a car window because it was hot–and there, where before there was nothing, was this overwhelming welcomed aroma. Moist. Rich. Filling. Smell. The most direct-to-the-brain sense organ. And the accompanying memories. Of putting up hay. One eye on the weather and one eye on the field. The heat. The total immersion into humid, hay saturated air. Totally consumed by….

And later, while pausing on my way to the garden to admire a brown toad, another admirer-of-toad — an Eastern Garterd Snake. Not this one. But one just like it. It was fast as blue blazes and I didn’t have my camera.

e_gartersnake Garden has a sense here of balance this year. Of critter comfort. Of birds finding worms and wasps finding insects. Of toads helping out and hopefully staying safe. Of garter snake patrolling. On duty. And the garden feels happy.

From this, a cloth–a snake cloth:

and this one–just starting–with Jude Hill’s weaving class in mind–DSC01335

and finally to remember next year. Mullein begins to bloom in June. And leaves from second year plants are best harvested in the spring.



And finally, a huge “thank you” to dear friend-of-many-talents. Sidekick from many years ago who, much to my delight, has relocated to Asheville for the summer. I was OUT OF IT. On ear drum pain meds–it was bad–and I was faced with completing my one responsibility for vacation which was to bring our first meal, prepared, to the ocean on Saturday. Like an angel of mercy she showed up and took over with utter competence and skill and this is what we’ll be enjoying on Saturday night. With greens from the garden. It was enough to make me weep. Another reason I love that woman.
unnamed (1)

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