Suddenly, this happened…The Fosters’ First Night

Right now, these two one-month-old boys are known as “the fosters.” The only time I could get decent photos were when they stopped running long enough to explore and decimate Sandy’s bookshelf. They’ll spend a few days on their own behind closed doors (or as long as I can stop Sandy from letting them out) and then they get to terrorize Theo and Miss Lucy.

Theo and Miss Lucy were cowering in the front room when I left the house this morning, and they haven’t even seen these two guys out of the cat carrier. What a couple of wussy pussies.

We went by Petsmart last night to pick up some Pill Pockets and these two fellas had just come in from the animal shelter. They had not even made it to the crate. They were cleaned up and sent home with us in a lent carrier. This is a danger of being sleep-deprived – we had not intended for this to happen at all.

However, when we do adopt them (as I’m sure will happen), their $25 adoption fee includes neutering and their first shots (which they’ve mostly had). My vet suggested that kittens from the shelter be kept separate from our other cats because she has seen a lot of upper respiratory problems in shelter kittens.

As soon as I opened the door this morning, they spilled out and romped around my bedroom until I managed to catch them. Fearless. No crying. Just playing, pooping in the litterbox, and eating. I haven’t seen them sleep yet, but Sandy slept with them last night. I couldn’t do it, I had to catch up on my sleep.

art, Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts

Spirit and the Back Forty

I can’t tell you just how freeing it has been to my spirit to not worry about making art for sale any more. I’ve definitely had some physical challenges, but they are nothing compared to the mental roadblocks I run into every time I start selling my work on a regular basis. I always think that it will be different this time, that I won’t let it happen, but it digs a pinhole under the current of my creative energy until I am drained.

It was a lovely evening and now a pleasant rainy morning. North Carolina has been in a bizarre weather pattern all summer. We have had way too much rain. Right now it is downright cool. Highs in the low 70s are unheard of in August. Normally it would be averaging around 90, and we had a really bad triple-digit heat wave in August only a few years ago. I turned off the AC and opened our windows last night. This house is almost soundproof so I don’t usually hear the crickets and a soft steady rain with the windows closed.

The mosquitoes, as you might guess, are horrendous. If we get a break in the rain, I’ll cover up with long sleeves and plants and try to pull some weeds while the ground is soft. My back is still healing up so I need to be careful. Yesterday I found two beautiful cucumbers that are almost too ripe because the weeds hid them so well. And I’ve been checking that plant every other day! I think that I’ll try to seed them and chop them up for a cream cheese and cucumber spread.

Pulled up the squash and zucchini plants, except for one squash plant that got a late start and is confusing me because it is not what I thought that I planted. It has one green striped squash on it the shape and size of a butternut squash. The other squashes were ruined by powdery mildew.

Lots of delicious figs, and I continue to pick a few butterbeans and a smattering of green beans from the couple of plants that survived the rabbit attack by mixing in with the butterbeans. Hardly enough for one portion, but a few are better than none! Tomatoes have been the biggest disappointment. We planted seven plants in half-barrels and have our usual volunteer Juliets, and we’ve gotten exactly one ripe tomato all summer. Maybe next year I will plant all peppers (they have done well) or lettuce and carrots.

I’m very happy with the front garden, which is much more decorative and has several kinds of herbs. The potted Meyer lemon tree has two large green lemons on it for the first time ever. It has fruited before but the biggest they have gotten has been dime-sized before they fell off. It is in a fairly sunny place outside and has gotten the benefit of all this rain.

Last night I played with painting Citrasolve on the pages of a National Geographic magazine. It was good, mindless fun and I got wonderful pages out of it. You can’t get much easier than this technique. My friend Diana Trout posted a video tutorial on her site. The interesting part was that while I was futzing around with the pages at the front of the magazine (after painting the pages with Citrasolve), the really cool effects were happening all by their little lonesomes on the back pages of the magazine. You can buy Citrasolve at Deep Roots Market here in Greensboro. I love it for cleaning – at last there is a scent in my house that I love and doesn’t make me sick!

Today I need to do some cleaning but I’m also going to get my hair cut and play in my new studio space some.

fiber art, Slow cloth, weaving

Old Norwegian weaving films on O Tecelão

I have not been able to figure out how to save these films or embed them here without going to a Brazilian Facebook site called # O Tecelão which is dedicated to weaving. I find these fascinating and want to refer back to them from time to time. This is one more major reason that I love Facebook – it has broadened my connection to the art world exponentially!

“Rarity! Complete process of weaving on Low Heddle Primitive Loom from Scandinavia – Norway. Silent movie – 1947”

“Rarity! Weaving in Scandinavia – Adversity of weaving – Norway (Silent movie)”

Rarity! Weaving on Band Looms in Scandinavia – Norway (Silent movie)

dyeing, fiber art, Slow cloth

Dyepot and bundle experiments

My new studio. The lighting needs serious improvement, but other than that it is a much better use for this space. The aluminum foil draped over my weaving keeps the cats away from it – they are terrified of the sound of aluminum foil for some reason. Maybe it sounds like some predator coming for them.

Saturday I pulled out some ornamental grapevines that are invasive in my yard and decided to try a dyepot with the leaves. Then I remembered the frozen avocado pits and peels my friend Leslie saved for me, and I decided to do two more dyepots – a crockpot with just the pits and a stainless steel pot with just the peels. I decided to overdye some of the silk and wool fabrics that I dyed in India’s class (ones which did not come out so great), and I had a bag of cotton fabrics that I had previously mordanted with alum and dried.

This square was one of the earliest bundles from India’s class and it didn’t take up a lot of dye then. I stitched on it with silk thread, but I was never satisfied with it. I rolled it up with these plants from my front yard, which include crepe myrtle blossoms, plantain leaves, and yarrow. I didn’t include the maple or cherry leaf in the photo. The bottom bundle was an undyed strip of wool wrapped around a stick with grape leaves rolled inside. The grape and plantain leaves did not print, but the dyepot was a success. I got a very rich olive brown color with no mordants. The spots are from the crepe myrtle blossoms. I tossed several bundles into this grape leaf pot.

A tiny silk bundle folded over yoshina cherry leaves and dyed in the grape leaf pot gave me delicate but definite prints.

One of the squares that I did in India’s class was wool with a silk fabric stitched onto it, and for some reason it didn’t take up much dye. I cut it into quarters. One small bundle wrapped with silk thread and a yellow maple leaf on the wool side went into each dyepot, with one left out for comparison. Below are the pieces dyed in the avocado pit and avocado peel dyes. The pits produced a lighter, peachier color than the peels. I loved the silk thread color that came from the pits.

What I learned: use a different variety of maple leaf, but in general this wool was not good for leaf prints.

Here are some unbundled cotton fabrics mordanted with alum that I dyed in the avocado pots. The white on the bottom is the original fabric, shown for comparison. The peels produced a grayer color. I tossed a good-sized splash of white vinegar in the pots after I turned off the heat.

Okay, that’s enough for now!

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters

Sunday morning coffee pot post

This is a coffee pot post, when I write whatever comes to mind until my last cup of coffee is empty. I use these to document the everyday details of my life, my thoughts, my plans, my dreams. Sweep out the crumbs in my brain.

When Sandy drove me home from the airport, he had a suggestion for the house that I’d been thinking of for a long time, but I never mentioned it because I didn’t think he’d go for it at all. We have now moved my studio into the front room of the house, which is long and weird and didn’t work well as a living room, but works great as a studio space, other than inadequate lighting, which can be fixed.

So instead of dyeing bundles, I have worked on moving heavy furniture, looms, bookshelves, etc. for two weeks. Well, not quite that long, since I pulled a muscle in my back when we moved the really heavy stuff, so many hours have been spent resting with cold packs and heating pads. Now that I am beginning to heal, Sandy has moved anything on the heavy side, and I have moved stacks of books and supplies a little at a time. It is frustrating to have this wonderful space set up and not be able to weave or tote water around for dyepots. But we are almost there.

I love having the sofa and big comfy chair in the former dining area next to the kitchen. I’ve spent more time on this furniture in the last two weeks that I have in years.

Theo is funny this morning. I took them both to the vet yesterday and he got his semi-annual depo shot for his allergies. It has him all charged up and playing. Lucy didn’t have a very good visit, so it is good that I finally took her in. She has a bad ear infection and a tooth problem, so she is going back on Wednesday for dental cleaning and probably surgery. Theo is scheduled for dental cleaning in September. They had blood work too. My expensive kitties. Sigh. After my experiences with Squirt, Jazz, and Guido I’m taking their dental health much more seriously than I used to.

The Back Forty is a terrible mess. We have had one of the rainiest summers ever here in North Carolina, and it isn’t even due to hurricane activity. The critters took out my field pea and green bean plants early, but thank GOD they left my butterbeans alone, because I cooked a little pot of them yesterday, about two cups. One of my okra plants escaped the ravages, so I have a few okra pods. I got a few squash and zucchini but most of them were eaten when tiny, along with all blossoms, including my cantaloupes and even my black eyed susans and purple coneflowers. The rabbits pulled down the flower stalks and ate the flower heads. If I didn’t know better I’d think that a freakin’ deer is visiting my garden every night. What green tomatoes I had are completely gone. I got one Roma tomato this summer and that was IT. Now the tomato plants are dying, there is powdery mildew on the squash, and the mosquitoes are horrible. I am DONE until frost (except for my butterbeans and okra) when I’ll try to clean everything up and decide whether to keep trying. If I do, I’ll have to build some critterproof cages and I’m just not sure I want to do that. Who knows how I’ll feel during a nice warm spell this winter, though.

The rest of my energy has gone to planning my mother’s 90th birthday party with my sister. Mama has been extremely anxious over it and driving us both crazy worrying over it and nitpicking our decisions. We have everything settled now and so hopefully she will stop now that she can’t do anything about it. I have been calling her (and vice versa) nearly every day and that is unusual for us. It will probably be the pattern for the future, and that’s okay. Mama was the one who got tired of daily phone calls when I initiated that a year ago, but now she wants to be checked on more often. I hope that she will be able to stay independent, but I know that it isn’t realistic given her spinal problems. She comes from a family of tough women, many of whom lived on their own well into their nineties, and she has good friends and neighbors as a support system. Better off than I’ll probably be, as one of the youngest in the family and without children. But let’s not think about that. I’ll be in Ireland or Vermont anyway!