Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw

Below is a post from 2005. It was mentioned in Fred’s memorial service today so I reposted it. But, I suggest that you look at the comments at the bottom of the original post for some of the best insights and memories of Fred from his friends. Rest in peace, Fred. You were loved greatly.

slowly she turned

My cousin owns a beautiful place on Lake Waccamaw, where a house that my grandfather built in 1952 stands next to a sandy beach under bald cypresses. Across the road from the house is a canal where alligators swim and sweet bays grow wild.

Lake Waccamaw is a natural lake with some species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world. Its origin, along with the other smaller Carolina Bay lakes, has been a subject of much research and speculation. The theory that the lakes are fed by artisian springs makes a lot of sense to me, since this property boasts one of the few artisian wells on Lake Waccamaw. The water rises through an old pipe and is icy cold and clear.

Thank God the alligators don’t seem to have any interest in the lake. That’s probably because it is sandy and clear (at least in front of…

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coffee pot posts, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina

Saturday Morning Coffee Pot Post at Lake Waccamaw


Sitting on the old glider on the screened back porch of my cousin Fred’s house, one of my favorite places in the world to be. Although we could have stayed at my sister’s house down the road, which is much, much nicer, we chose to come here this weekend because we have such an affinity for this place. I’ve been coming here all my life, and Sandy and I spent our wedding night here almost 29 years ago. I can’t count the number of nights I have spent in this house. It is well into the hundreds, I’m sure.

Fred left this earth on the day that we came down here. He was our only living cousin on my father’s side, and was more like a brother than a cousin. My sister was closest in age to him and loved him dearly. She is trying to decide if she will be able to speak at his service on Monday.

He had been in Hospice for more than a year, so his suffering was great. His wife is an angel.

I don’t know what will happen to this place.

The birds are amazing here. So many songbirds, many different water fowl. The mornings are filled with the chirps, chitters, knocks, squawks, and melodies of more variety than I’ve ever heard anywhere else. We have heard the wild laughter of loons as they prepare to fly north.

Today my brother will come for a family Easter dinner, and we will hang out on the pier at my sister’s house and share memories of Fred.

I have collected a wealth of driftwood and other objects for a new Lake weaving, and there will be many photographs uploaded later when I have a better Internet connection. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the rest of this pot of coffee looking out at the lake, and the bones of my favorite tree who is still undressed from the winter, and do a bit of stitching in time with the music of the birds.

art, Family, fiber art, Lake Waccamaw, tapestry, weaving

Labor Day weekend at Lake Waccamaw


Labor Day weekend was a mix of hard work and fun. Sandy and I met my sister, brother, and brother-in-law at Mama’s house in Marietta with a rented UHaul van. We filled it up with two bed frames, a set of double mattresses, two chests of drawers, my mother’s sewing machine/table, a wicker rocking chair, and various boxes of stuff that we could squeeze into every last bit of space. We moved a very nice old oak cabinet to my sister and brother-in-law’s new place at Lake Waccamaw. In between loading up on Saturday afternoon and unloading on Monday, we had a relaxing dinner with my brother and sister-in-law (no pics) and chilled out on the pier on Sunday. Even the rain was pleasant.

Not the greatest selfie of me, but I’m trying not to be vain. That’s my sister, brother-in-law, me, and Sandy.

Sandy plays chess with Tim. I love his beard! Every now and then he threatens to shave it and I have a fit.

Now I have the four-poster bed and matching chest of drawers in “my” bedroom. A friend of ours took the futon and queen mattress that I was using in there. I put my mother’s chest of drawers that she used as a dresser in my studio. Her sewing machine is a Singer from around 1960, I think. She always kept it oiled and well maintained because she used it a lot, sewing our clothes when we were kids and quilting and other sewing projects when she got older. I am proud to have it.

Here’s a photo that was in the treasure trove of photos Lisa found in her house. We think that she was about 13 years old and so that would date it around 1936.

I submitted the 98% Water tapestry to the ATA Biennial. Pam Patrie is responsible for the excellent job of mounting it. I’ll find out if it gets juried in in January.

I was asked to include a comment about the tapestry. I said that this was a self-portrait that melted. Here’s the detail shot.

Now I need to get ready for Sandy and I to go to Colorado! Then I will probably have to spend a few weekends in Marietta to finish cleaning Mama’s house for its new owner. I will be very glad to get this off my mind.

art, fiber art, Lake Waccamaw, tapestry, weaving

Another lake retreat

(Don’t worry, s/he was a little critter, about three feet long head to tail. More scared of me than I of her.)

I ended up going to my cousin’s house at Lake Waccamaw on Thursday afternoon, after a stop at Mama’s house to pack up some of her art supplies, including many very nice watercolor technique books, and to assess the room and make a plan. The whole house is a nightmare to think about – every closet packed, every drawer and cabinet stuffed to the gills, every space under every bed used for storage. We will have plenty of time to clear it out, probably, since it is in a difficult area to sell a house. I decided to focus on the back bedroom that also served as her studio, since I will probably take most of the furniture in that room for my own house and I’m the only practicing artist in the immediate family.

Part of the problem is that we can’t just toss stacks of old paper or magazines without looking through them. There are buried treasures to be discovered, such as photos, my grandmother’s ration books from WWII, my father’s bronze star. In the bottom of one drawer that was mostly full of junk, I found a manila folder with papers from my childhood, mostly handmade autograph books which were all the rage in the 4th-6th grades. I took four stuffed boxes to the lake with me and poked through them, throwing out most of the ballpoint pens, the paintbrushes with no more bristles, the instructions for things long gone. I kept watercolor paints, watercolor paper, fabric scraps, and many brushes, exacto knives, ink and ink nibs. I will need to do better with the purging. Most of the books will go to the used bookstore.

In the back of my sixth grade autograph book, I found an entry from my Grandmother Jones, who I shared a bedroom with and I adored. I wept with joy. I don’t have anything else in her handwriting addressed directly to me. I also laughed to read Art Britt’s wish that the bird of paradise build a nest in my nose. Art was the class clown and his sister is now my sister-in-law. It was a time when children would ladle out the insults and then say Ha ha. Apparently I was both ugly and pretty, sweet and mean, always smart and nutty, already boy crazy. One girl told me that she liked me but she couldn’t stand to hear me laugh. Huh? One boy told me that I was his favorite girl in the class, but I apparently didn’t take it to mean much then. Six years later we shyly went to the senior prom together, after being pushed together by a mutual friend.


Anyway, once I got to the lake, I was able to get some peace and solitude and it was very healing. Not having to worry about anybody else’s wishes or needs or questions, what I was going to eat, when to sleep, etc. I cried when I needed to instead of choking it back. I wove my tapestry on the screened back porch and read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I swam a little and ate dinner at my sister’s house a few houses down a couple of times. On Friday morning she and I drove to Lumberton and did some financial things related to the estate, then ate fried shrimp at Dale’s. I had planned to go back to Mama’s house on Saturday, meet my brother, then drive back to Greensboro. But on Saturday morning, I had just really been able to start relaxing so I called everybody, stayed another night, and slept well for the first time in days.

On Sunday, I wove this little duck feather piece on a piece of driftwood I found in the lake.

Family, Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, June 2014

This rainbow appeared at the end of a very rainy day and lasted for at least twenty minutes. I cried looking at it, hoping that it was a sign from Mama that everything would be okay. I had asked her for one.

My brother and my “other brother” grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.

My grand-nephew Jake has nearly tamed Bill the duck. Agnes is his mate and is usually on her nest. When she gets off her nest to flirt with other mallards, he chases her back to the nest. When someone feeds Agnes, Bill will stand back and let her eat her fill before he joins in. She will stand on Jake’s feet and jump up to eat out of his hand.

These are the “Odd Ducks.” The black one appears to have a pearl necklace on when viewed from the other side. There is a Peking duck in another large group that mates with the mallards. I’m guessing that she might be the mother of the tan and white duck. I love it that these outsiders banned together. They are very shy with humans around.

I became intrigued with the wiggly reflections of the pier and boathouse next door.

Jake found an awesome piece of driftwood at the bottom of the lake.

art, book arts, critters, dyeing, Family, Lake Waccamaw, Nature printing, whining

Lake Waccamaw etc., May 2014

Sandy and I spent a couple of days at Lake Waccamaw at my cousin’s house last week. It was a busy week despite being on vacation. We spent one day reading and playing in the water and the next day we went to Wilmington briefly and I did some eco-printing inside because of the rain and the midges and mayflies. When the workers began cutting back the bushes at the house next door on Friday morning we both decided to split and go to Marietta with Mama.

The full moon was beautiful the first two nights. The third night there was a tornado warning for a few minutes but most of the weather shifted to our northwest. Thank goodness, since there is no good place to take cover in the lake house.

I walked around the yard between storms and collected as many different fresh leaves as possible, combined them in a folded accordion book with some metal pieces that I’ve collected, and steamed the book, then immersed it in a dyebath with privet leaves and flowers and bald cypress needles in lake water. I figured that the bald cypress needles and lake water would provide enough tannin to create a mordant.

The problem was that I used too much metal and to me it spoiled a lot of the individual prints. The ones I like the most are simple. Also, part of my goal was to identify which leaves made the best prints, and for the most part, I couldn’t tell you. The Virginia creeper and Rose of Sharon leaves made nice prints:

There were other vines that I liked and the oxalis stems and bald cypress needles made nice lines. The flowers on the shrubbery and privet flowers worked well too, but very subtlely.

Mama transferred from the rehab center to my sister’s house for a week, and then we met my brother-in-law halfway on Friday and took her home. It’s been about a week since she went home and although she is still weakened, a physical therapist is coming to her house three days a week and she has a little more paid help to assist with light housework and yard work. She also has an amazing community around her that supports and loves her. I’ll go back down there this Saturday and stay the night.

I hate all the driving but I’ve found that books on CD makes it much more bearable. I decided to listen to Newberry Medal winners that I never read, because they are a little easier to follow while driving. Anything more complicated causes me to skip back to see what I missed, IF I missed something, when I am distracted by something on the road. Last week Sandy and I listened to Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and this week I will listen to Holes by Louis Sachar.

We came home to a huge pile of hardwood shredded mulch in our driveway. The problem was that I ordered compost. We are using part of the mulch to put on our paths but it was disappointing since I thought that I’d be planting more in raised beds this month. Oh well. Actually, last week really sucked for the most part. A friend died, my sister’s cat was bitten by a poisonous snake and died (I loved that cat and everyone is wrecked over his death), my laptop got a bad virus and didn’t come back intact after wiping the hard drive, and our basement flooded. I’m looking forward to that week in June in Gatlinburg, studying indigo dyeing with Rowland Ricketts at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.

However, even though the kittens are almost a year old, they are so much fun. We put carpet down in my bedroom and it looks and feels so much better. Still reorganizing and getting rid of stuff and it feels good. We celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary and ate a delicious brunch on Sunday at Sweet Potatoes on Trade St. in Winston Salem. Best shrimp and grits that I’ve ever eaten and I do not made that statement lightly.

Will try to do better with the blog posting but between work and Mama’s illness it was all a little too much.

Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina

Lake Waccamaw, June 2013

This was our second trip to Lake Waccamaw this year. My original intention was to stay a couple of days with my sister, visit my mother in Marietta, and then spend the rest of the week at home doing arty kinda things. However, my sister and her family were involved in a tragic rescue attempt that ended with the death of a small child next door, and in order for them to stay in the house (which was rented through early August) and work through it, they needed some loving company. So I stayed.

And it rained. And it rained. And it rained some more.

This little house was perfect for storm viewing, but gah. By the time I left, the front and back yards were covered in water. My car got bogged down in the mud at one point.

But there were a few times when we could sit out on the wet chairs on the pier between storms, and I enjoyed the break from the Internet and reading books. My cousin and his wife were a few houses away, and I got to visit with them.

I gathered Spanish moss and papyrus to take home for papermaking, along with the palmetto fronds I gathered at Jojo’s apartment in Wilmington.

Of course, there were alligators. Lots of babies. I didn’t see Mama Gator this time. We had to park our car next to the canal where the babies of different sizes were hanging out on the bank. When they swam you could see all four feet paddling. They were oddly cute. But I was aware that Mama Gator was probably watching them and us the whole time.

When I left, it was raining. A dangerous, dump of water that made cars swerve all over and off the road.

We swerved around a silver car that had wrecked with its back end sticking out into the busy highway. Sandy pulled over and I ran up to the driver, who was okay but clearly shaken. The truck she had hit had left. I convinced her to pull out of the road, otherwise I might not be here to tell this story, because it was an urgent, extremely dangerous situation. She couldn’t get 911, but a young guy came along to help and said that he’d stay until help came for her. There were several other cars and trucks in the medians and sides of the road.

It has rained every day for over a week and heavy rain is expected every day throughout this week. Everyone is sick of it. My sister’s house in Chapel Hill flooded, and I suspect that she will find that her rental house at the lake is flooded when she returns.

art retreats, dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, Marvelous meals

Lake Waccamaw Art Retreat Days 4 & 5

I mostly relaxed with a novel yesterday. My hands needed a break. The lichen tea dyepot was the last art project, and it was a success, although it produced almost exactly the same color as the onion skin dye, which was a tad disappointing. However, I was thrilled to get any dye at all since I’ve never tried lichen and it is unpredictable, and I did it with just the lake water, so next time I’ll try some mordants and additives and see if I can manipulate the color.

The biggest difference was in the silk. Below, from left to right:
Onion skin silk
Lichen silk
Onion skin wool
Lichen wool

We went to Dale’s Seafood for lunch again, where I got a veggie plate with double fried yellow squash again. Man, I could eat that for every meal. They fry them just right – thinly sliced with a light batter, sweet and tender on the inside, crispy on the outside. It is one of the small pleasures of coming to Lake Waccamaw.

I sat for Sandy to draw a charcoal portrait of me. He complained about not being able to make it look just like me, but really, my features are not very distinguished in any way except for my very blue eyes, so considering that it is black and white and the small amount of time he spent on it I think that he did pretty well. He was too kind to my jowls, though.


This morning I was awake before 6 a.m., mainly due to itchiness. Forgot my Claritin. So I had no excuse not to photograph the sunrise once the fog lifted. The best one is at the top of the post and here are the others.

art retreats, critters, dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, Marvelous meals, Wilmington

Lake Waccamaw Private Art Retreat Day 3

Yesterday was a full day of mixed emotions. I mixed up three colors of Procion dyepots, then combined some to get a variety of colors on a variety of rags, fabric remnants, and silk and wool skeins. I didn’t get the purples that I wanted, so I’ll take that up at home. The dyepots were too red, but I was working with a turquoise dye and that color is difficult.

I like the colors that I got on Sandy’s old khaki trousers and my old pajamas. These will go into the rag rug project. I haven’t decided about the fabric remnants. I’m thinking shibori and overdyeing on those.

The wool skeins have very muted colors, which I expected (and wanted) because wool needs a hot dye bath. The silk skeins were fun and unpredictable. Lesson learned – do not use twist ties on skeins. What a mess to untangle.

The afternoon and evening became caught up in the small drama of trying to rescue an abandoned mallard duckling. Baby D was with a mama duck and three other ducklings at our house earlier in the day, but I noticed that Baby D kept her distance from the others. Mama Duck did check her out now and then but she swam away from the rest and Mama Duck abandoned her. We picked her up and she seemed exhausted and I really expected that she would die. We brought her/him onto the screened porch to protect her from predators and when the duck family did not appear again, we started researching wildlife rescue groups in the area. Skywatch Bird Rescue in Wilmington was willing to take her that night so we jumped in the car with Baby D (or Henry/Henrietta as Sandy named him/her) in a big box with a towel. As we were entering Wilmington she started freaking out and scrabbling around under the towel, pecking. She did that twice, and then she died just before we got there.

I had already gotten attached and Sandy was sort of considering taking her home, which we both knew wouldn’t work. So sad. Her feathers were so soft and she relaxed when we petted her – it was obvious that she enjoyed it.

So we drove back to the riverfront and had a pint of Smithwick’s at Slainte Irish Pub on Front St., then walked across the street to Circa 1922, where the food and service was amazing. Sandy had on shorts and flip flops and I know that I probably reeked from sweating over dyepots outside all day, and nobody seemed to notice or care. I had scallops over carrot spaetzle with pea sprouts and Sandy had chicken orechhiette with a cream sauce – both dishes were incredibly delicious, and the restaurant itself was full of huge reproductions of Hopper paintings on old brick walls. A fascinating ambience. I want to go back there because there was so much to choose from on the menu. They use local foods too. The carrots were obviously not from a store.

I didn’t bring my camera or there would definitely be some food porn here.