yearly wrap-ups

2012: The year of Ireland and sputtering ovaries

This, my 51st year on this go-round on Earth, was a roller coaster ride! I have also discovered, in looking back, that I really did not blog much.

In January, my focus was on healing. I had surgery in two places, my left wrist and my left palm. It took longer than I expected to heal, but I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer to play with some dye and fabric. I also painted this acrylic piece, unusual for me to paint on canvas, but it was an unusual time. I reintroduced myself to a sewing machine, inspired by the work of Jude Hill and her students, because I could not hand-stitch. These boros fascinate me – weaving strips of cloth and stitching them together pushes my buttons on so many levels.

In February, I celebrated my 51st birthday, my 7th blogiversary, and began obsessively planning our trip to Ireland. I also started weaving on my loom again, and put together a couple of little books, both of which belong to new owners now.

March was mainly focused on my paying job, as it often is. I wasn’t well enough to tackle the enormity of the garden clean-up to get the Back Forty going again full on, but I enjoyed the time I had left with my buddy Guido.

April was full of menopausal craziness and anticipating the big trip ahead, but I did take a few great photos of my hometown and nearby sites.

May was seriously all about Ireland. I couldn’t possibly pick only two of my favorite photos to post here, so go to the posts. We spent our 25th anniversary between Kenmare and a beautiful inn on the seacliffs of the Dingle Peninsula. Our journey left me with a heartache to go back, and we both agreed that we will start planning for our retirement there.

June: I guess that I did get a little gardening done.

We spent the last week of June at Lake Waccamaw.

In July, I had a great weaving month. Mainly because I played. It is good to play.

In August, not only did this website get buggered up, my laptop got such a nasty Trojan horse that we finally wiped the hard drive. I decided that I didn’t care that much about having total control over my blog’s design, and began the move to I have not regretted it.

September brought the Art-is-You retreat in California, one of the nicest retreats I have attended, and that is saying a lot. Plus I got to hang out for about eight hours with one of my favorite people, exploring Point Reyes National Seashore and eating a great dinner in Petaluma.

I finished weaving my favorite piece of the year in October, a tapestry based on a photograph I took on a short hike in front of our inn near Dingle.

It was a tough month for me, though. My depression turned severe. I holed up in my bedroom more than ever. I didn’t write much in public about it. I had to send my buddy Guido over the Rainbow Bridge.

I did get by with a little help from my friends JoJo and Lauren, who invited me for a beautiful weekend in Wilmington and Wrightsville and Topsail Beaches.

November: Fun handwoven cuffs, a couple more books, Thanksgiving, hair dyeing, and some emotional healing.

In December, taking back my kitchen, getting rid of stuff, and turning the dining room into a studio became my obsession. I took on some new responsibility at Elements Gallery. Fun with marbling paper at Susanne’s, which led to this book:

Hopefully, my art mojo is back to stay for a while in 2013.

agoraphobia, depression/anxiety

A bout with agoraphobia

I am 95% finished with cleaning out the kitchen – I have two drawers to go, and they won’t be bad. It was the ones in which nothing had been touched for months, in some cases, years, and around the trashcan under the sink that had me horrified. The mice found those spots irresistibly peaceful and set up homesteads there, so it was a nasty job to tackle. Fortunately the large majority of the heirloom stuff was boxed up so that the mice couldn’t touch it, and I ended up throwing “away” most everything that wasn’t metal or glass and couldn’t be sanitized. I ended up with three big cabinets and five drawers to use for my art supplies. This was a rare instance in which I actually used bleach and a face mask in cleaning the kitchen. I had had it with the procrastination and I was taking my space back.

One of the reasons this made me feel so much better is that the kitchen mess was a result of my struggle with depression. I couldn’t face it – it was overwhelming. I was already using a tiny portion of my kitchen to prepare food because I felt that I could control it and keep it reasonably clean. I got to the point where I hated cooking because the kitchen nagged me that it needed major attention every time I walked in there. I bought prepared foods from the farmers’ market to take to potluck parties.

As a recovering agoraphobic, I realized that I was retreating from spaces in my own house.

Once I got that (and I’m not sure that I totally understood it until just a couple of days ago), I knew that I had to move past it. That is the only way to deal with agoraphobic behavior. So I took it a little at a time until it was done. I feel so much better. I cooked soup this week and I worked in my new studio space. My kitchen space is smaller and manageable. I am not holed up in my bedroom now, although it does still beckon to me. I’ve set up my laptop in the dining room/studio.

That’s the thing with agoraphobia, it will slip up on you if you stop paying attention.

I try to write about my experience with it from time to time, because I think that it is important to talk publicly about mental illness. Agoraphobia is about your personal comfort zone and can take many forms.

To those of you who can relate to this overwhelming anxiety of moving out of a comfort zone, if you haven’t gotten help, I urge you to either find a doctor or therapist who can help you and if you can’t make yourself go, get a friend to take you. Agoraphobia is a behavioral problem, but I was not able to deal with it on my own until I had taken medication for anxiety and depression for a few years. Now I fly and travel all over the world with great pleasure. I wish you the same.

voluntary simplicity


Hey, I’m still around and I’m okay. I am not a holiday person and I get overwhelmed this time of year, even when all seems right with the world. I promise to write at least one good post this month – if nothing else, I’ll probably do a Festivus post and I do an end-of-the-year post every New Year’s Eve.

Today and tomorrow I have taken vacation days to seriously tackle deep cleaning and purging my house and yard. It is taking me a month just to do this humongous kitchen with all the hoarded food and jars and many sets of china and crystal and glassware and flatware that we never use. I’ve had two people over to take what they need, and plan to invite another young man who is just moving out on his own to pick out what he wants. Most of the stuff from my husband’s side of the family is going into storage for whatever Sanford heirs want them, our wedding china has been sold, our wedding crystal is being stored or sold, I have boxes of stuff to go to Goodwill, and I’m starting a box of my Aunt Lib’s stuff for my niece who is named after her. Old paperwork has been burned in the woodstove, and what junk that is of no use or can’t be recycled is going in the garbage. I hope to finish the kitchen today, and I have a friend who has volunteered to help me clean up the garden tomorrow.

When I am done, I’ll have storage room for art supplies, and I have moved my loom into the house from the back building. I’m going to take some time today to finish measuring and maybe winding a warp.

Back to work.