art, Family, fiber art, Marietta, tapestry, weaving

Heading into the holidays

You know, I am NOT a holiday person. I do celebrate Buy Nothing Day and Festivus.

This year will be the first year in many that I have not spent at least part of the long Thanksgiving weekend at my mother’s house. She passed away a year and a half ago. Today was supposed to be the day that we closed on the sale of her house. I’m very attached to places (my grad mentor described me as having a great sense of place, which I never even knew was a thing) and this sale has been difficult for me, even though I knew that I’d never want to return there to live and it was too time-consuming and expensive to hang on to the house. Well, the closing didn’t go through, but I assume that it will happen soon. It’s not a lot of money but I’ll pay off my home equity loan and put the rest into my rainy day account.

At least the clearing out of the stuff is finished. There were surprises and treasures along with every piece of paper that she ever touched. We left a little over half the furniture there for the next owner to use. Much went to the thrift store that supports the Boys and Girls Home in Lake Waccamaw, which was her chosen charity. Much went to the dumpster, burn barrel, and recycling center. A lot went to used bookstores and recycled art supply stores such as Shelf Life in Greensboro and the Scrap Exchange in Durham. I brought back a lot of crystal that I will never use, and I donated about half of it to the history department to use for receptions. There’s a possibility that we might have an exhibition of her paintings at the Pecan Festival in southeastern North Carolina next year. We couldn’t get it together in time for this year when my sister was asked about it.

With the pending sale of this house there are many mixed feelings. A huge sense of relief mixed with disbelief. We have worried about and dreaded inheriting this house for years before Mama died. The dread didn’t even prepare us adequately for how many garbage bags or boxes we would need to clean out just one stuffed and overflowing closet. We would go in with the determination that we would knock out most of it many, many times, and we always vastly underestimated what needed to be done.

I do not want one of my relatives to have to do this when I am gone. I have to get myself together and my clutter and hoarded boxes of stuff OUT.

The disbelief comes in because we can’t quite process the fact that we are done. The relief won’t be complete until then. And that the only home that together my sister, brother and I have ever known will be out of our hands, although I’m sure it will not ever be out of our hearts.

But there were treasures too.

No one ever accused my daddy of being shy and unassuming.

My mother was a real looker and she knew it. This is one of the houses she grew up in. Country girl. Learned how to take care of herself and made sure that we all did too.

There’s no doubt that I have much scanning and cataloging of photos to do. There are photos going back to the mid-19th century. Unfortunately, nobody thought to write on the backs of them. Some of them are tintypes.

Anyway, I’m heading to Lake Waccamaw to have Thanksgiving with my family at my sister’s new home. I’m going to try to finish up this little weaving while I’m there, tentatively titled “Migraine Day.” The sides are a mess, so it might be a sample. This is the first time I’ve used twill and wedge weave in a tapestry. I did have a warped perspective the day I designed it.

augggghhhh, Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, Marietta, Reading, tapestry, Tapestry Weavers South, weaving, whining

Sunday Morning Coffee Pot Post

First, THIS article is helping me get back on track after a rather hellish month: 12 Little Known Laws of Mindfulness That Will Change Your Life.

I came back from Arrowmont with steadily worsening anxiety and physical problems, which peaked about three days ago. My pain level has gone from about an 8 to a 3 after two visits to my chiropractor and two visits to my massage therapist. I did resort to taking some pain meds left over from my mother’s stash on Thursday, but they were a kind that I’ve taken before and I cut them way down to the smallest level that still helped. Thank God the addict that worked in my house did not steal all of them. Also I made a DIY cervical collar out of a scarf.

Making all this worse was that I spent a week of clearing out my community garden plots and reduced my fall allotment to one 4×8 foot plot. They were so overgrown with cardinal climber vines over tall sunflowers and other monster mystery plants that others in the garden had staked them up and an email went out to all the gardeners (I was not the only offender, but I was one of the worst) and I got embarrassed. Sandy helped me dig up some plants to transplant into pots and the Back Forty at home, and some of the huge plants and roots. I was going to give it all up but I want to harvest my green cotton, and the director of the garden encouraged me to stay on now that I’ve gotten it down to a manageable size and state. I am very prone to being ashamed and none of this helped my mental or physical state!

However, now I feel very good about it and I planted peas and lettuce in the area that we cleared out. I have not tried planting these in late August before and it may be too hot for them to germinate. I guess that I will find out. The black compost that I mulched the bed with looks beautiful against the green plants. I didn’t do anything that strenuous and it did a lot for my soul.

I’ve gotten a great yield of butterbeans and field peas this year, enough to freeze some for this winter and Thanksgiving dinner.

Today I am taking it easy and I’ve been advised not to weave yet. I want to weave! I’m reading “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr on my Kindle through my local library on Overdrive. If you haven’t tried this app and you like to read, I recommend it highly. I made an account with my Greensboro Public Library card number and it is great for travel. I can get new audiobooks too, and a lot of popular audiobooks are available right away. You usually have to get in a hold line for bestsellers. My time on this one runs out today and I’ll have to get in line again to finish it.

I just finished reading Man in Profile, Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker. I probably have written about this before, but Joseph Mitchell and I share a great-great grandfather, whatever cousin that makes us, and I did not know about his talent and international fame until after his death. None of my family did, as far as I can tell. I was told by my mother that “Cousin Joe” wrote for “some magazine up north” and that my great aunt thought that he hung the moon. When I found out that “some magazine” was the New Yorker, I started investigating and then obsessively tracked down all I could about him. His writing is brilliant and he is a native of Fairmont! Why wasn’t I taught about him in school? Why didn’t he have more publicity in his own home state, or county, or town, or even family? I feel cheated that I never got to meet him. Evidently he made many prolonged visits to Fairmont and he felt caught between the two worlds, such as I do most of the time.

We have signed a purchase contract with a buyer for Mama’s house in Marietta and Sandy and I will rent a UHaul cargo van to go down there and take some furniture to Lisa’s lake house and some back here to Greensboro. I purposely chose one that will be just big enough to hold a double bed and mattresses, a small chest of drawers, and my mother’s sewing machine. My house is too small to bring in more of her stuff, and part of the deal with the buyer is that she will finish dealing with what we leave, whether to use it or give it away or trash it. It needs to be done even though it breaks my heart. My mother spent 70 years in that house. I can’t do my part in helping to maintain it.

Work is pretty good. We have three new administrators in our department, all of whom I think that I can work well with.

I rallied enough to drive to Hickory (about 100 miles away) and back on Friday to attend the Carolinas subgroup of the Tapestry Weavers South meeting and potluck. We went to a tapestry exhibit at the Hickory Art Museum that was a collaboration between American artists and Yoruba weavers. Very, very good.

Pam has mounted my “98% Water” tapestry and I should have it in time to photograph and enter it into the American Tapestry Alliance biennial show. I really like the teal background we chose for it. I am nervous about it because I feel like I am jumping into the deep end. If it doesn’t get accepted I will have to get over it and keep working on my technique.

Two weeks from now I will be in Colorado, visiting my aunt and cousin and exploring a bit on our own. So there will be another travel blog post coming up after that.

I’ll post a few photos to this post at a later time – need to go rest my neck!

bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Family, Marietta

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I’ve spent so much time farting around with trying to get my laptop back into adequate working condition that the coffee is nearly gone and I have been resigned to tapping this out with two fingers on my Kindle, which I hate. I am one of the last secretaries; I prefer typing on a normal size keyboard. And…now I am back on the laptop with a mouse and so far Chrome hasn’t crashed. Crossing my fingers.

Seems like the only time I post any more is about travel. Either I’m about to travel or I’ve just come back. Pretty tough life, eh?

Anyway, this week I wrapped up my summer projects at work, mostly, and tomorrow I’m driving to Gatlinburg for a weeklong weaving workshop, which sounds fascinating in concept but I’m not so sure about how I will handle the physicality of the heat in the forecast and how my back muscles will react to nomadic weaving systems. I’ve become such a wimp since I’ve gone through menopause. I am going to take this laptop with me to check email and try very hard to stay off Facebook. I’m not taking the Kindle because of the lure of games, which I have not loaded on this machine. However, I may still blog and I might upload photos from my phone to Facebook and Instagram without reading my feed, because I need a news break in the worse way.

Arrowmont very kindly gave me a gift certificate for what I paid last summer when I had to leave as soon as I got there because of Mama’s passing. They didn’t have to do it, and I didn’t ask for it, but they did it anyway and for that reason I’m already in love with them. I couldn’t fit in another workshop last year and it was hard to fit it in this year, but I did and I upgraded to a private room in a cottage with air conditioning. So, if I can’t physically bear whatever happens in class, I am taking plenty of personal projects and To Kill a Mockingbird, which I realized that I have never read when all the hoopla came out about Harper Lee’s new book. I will probably fill up the whole damn car with my studio, but this one is all about me.

Here’s a link to the workshop description:

^^^Daddy, Laurie, and Sherman.

A dilemma in the computer world is that Flickr is doubling its fee for my Pro account. Granted, they are giving me two year’s warning and that is good. However, as much as I love using Flickr I’m concerned because a) $49.95 annually is too damn much to pay for a photo storage service, and b) does this mean that they are having problems and my photos are in danger of disappearing? I know that Flickr is not used as much as it was ten years ago. I can find a free storage solution, but almost every photo I have on this site actually resides on Flickr. So much code will have to be changed if I get rid of my Flickr account! I have thousands of photos on Flickr. I feel pretty pissed off about the choice that I face.

Boy, this electronic world we live in is so much simpler, right? Now that I have a smart phone it dings and whistles and buzzes at me all the time. I love it but I feel like I’ve fallen further down the rabbit hole.

In the actual world we are selling my mother’s house. We have a buyer, who is getting it for about half of what it is worth, but she will be a good neighbor for our next door neighbor down there, who has done so much for my mother and us. I won’t be getting much out of the deal once my sister and I split the money, but it will be enough to pay off my home equity loan and do a few more repairs to our house. It has depressed me much more that I ever expected, just as the grief that I still feel about Mama’s death is surprisingly fierce and catches me off guard and sends me into tears. However much I despise the thought of living in Robeson County as an adult, Marietta was my home and I was lucky to spend my childhood there. It was a community that took care of me and allowed me to range freely and play tag with horses and build hideouts and catch tadpoles and dig through old trashpiles in the woods and climb as many trees as possible and ride my bike for miles around and my mother’s friends were incredibly patient in dealing with me, although they did report me when they saw me playing tag with a friend on our roof.

But it is time to move on. I’m lucky to have good friends here now, and it frees me up to leave the area if I choose to. I’ve read some very scary stuff about earthquakes and tsunamis expected on the Pacific Northwest coast that has rocked my anxiety world. At least in this area you get some time to get out before you get blasted by a hurricane. I’ve also considered other areas to move to, but you can’t escape climate change and so I may as well stop worrying. I do know that I will NOT consider moving anywhere hotter than here.

Time to get laundry started and start packing for my trip.

Here’s a shout-out to an old friend, a song that applies to me as well:

art, dyeing, fiber art, Marietta, Slow cloth


Before I move on with my day, let me post about this ongoing art project that began in September, 2013. Here’s what I wrote about it to send to India Flint for this project.

Our family farm sits upon the site of a Native American village and mound site from around 900 years ago. In the 19th century the area was known as “Affinity.” Reflecting on and finding artifacts from the cultures that lived there before always fascinated me.

In September 2013 I printed and dyed long strips of cotton fabric using plants and leaves I gathered from the farm with the intention of making a scroll. The dyestuff included goldenrod, broomsedge, oak and sweet gum leaves, and pomegranate rinds. The bundles were rolled around old tobacco sticks that were once used to hang tobacco leaves in barns to cure.

I also was taking the last college art course of my degree, and created a ceramic box for the scroll. The lid of the box is a relief map of the farm from a satellite view. The bottom of the inside of the box is a relief map of what I imagine the same view might have been 900 years ago.

During the making of this project (which is still in progress), my brother told me that he had banned hunting on the farm and is in the planning stages of constructing an observation platform and feeding station for wildlife overlooking a beaver pond. This made me consider the lives of the other inhabitants of the land that have always been there. I began stitching outlines of these creatures on the scroll with silk dyed with black walnut hulls from the farm.

The cloth turned out to have a mystery coating on it, but it still took the dye and even retained the texture of the materials in the bundle after washing it, so the texture is part of the piece.

Spaces were saved to stitch poetry on the scroll, probably from Wendell Berry’s “The Mad Farmer Poems.”

coffee pot posts, Marietta

Sunday Morning Coffee Pot Post: Down Home Photos

I figure that I really have no excuse not to do a coffee pot post this morning, with this lovely rain, so I made another pot.

I don’t like whining on the blog so much and I hate looking back on my posts and seeing negativity. On the other hand, this is my journal and I want it to represent my life fairly accurately, good and bad.

Lately it’s been mostly good and a little scary. I sold three items in the gallery so far this month and I worked in the gallery a lot. I decided to go ahead and do all my service requirements to the gallery right away so that I’ll have the summer free. Because who knows what the future may hold for me? It certainly has kept me on my toes lately.

I went back home to spend Easter weekend with my mother, after a visit in March when I spent the weekend battling norovirus. Thank God she didn’t get it. It was fortunate for me, because Sandy got it at the same time and we only have one bathroom here, that I drove down to my mother’s house clueless about what would happen that night. Anyway, I took some photos when I was there this last time.

The building that this used to point to was the Starlight. It was the club that my sister’s generation was forbidden to go to in high school so naturally they sneaked off to it. I never made it to the Starlight. By the time I was old enough to want to get in trouble there was the Purple Onion (briefly) and then the Gator Disco Lounge. Now the sign points to a beautiful Spanish moss draped millpond.

I love this old house in Marietta. It has been in this condition for many years, and I am always afraid that it will be gone by the next time I visit, as so many older buildings that I explored as a kid in Marietta have burned down. So this time I took a lot of photos, with the idea of artwork to come.

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A building in “downtown” Marietta. It has been used for storage for as long as I can remember by the current owner. It used to be the depot when the railroad ran through Marietta. I believe that my grandfather ran a store out of it for a while but I’ll have to check that with my mother. The railroad once ran through our current yard and down Alligator Branch Road.

These signs are from near Fairmont, where I went to school. I’ve always found them funny. “Branch” refers to a stream in the swampland. Most streams and creeks down there don’t have well defined banks.


Merry White Christmas!

We returned to Greensboro a day earlier because the weather forecasts have been all over the place, and they were calling for several inches of snow in southeastern NC in the morning – they rarely get much snow and given the unpredictability of the whole scenario, we decided after a call to a Greensboro friend that we should probably avoid driving out of there tomorrow. I was told that it had started snowing in Gboro at 1 p.m., and we were beginning to wonder if it had all turned to rain when we hit the county line and there it was on the ground. Fifteen minutes later we were home on a street covered in snow. So I think that we made the right decision. The latest forecast calls for 3-5 inches here. I had a good time at “home” in Marietta and we were not eager to leave but it will be nice for Sandy to have a whole day off at home in Greensboro. I have the next week off.

I grabbed up a small bag of acorns and bark from the extremely old white oak in Mama’s yard for some dye experimenting on our rush out to get home before the roads got bad.

This morning my mother woke me up because there was a massive flock of blackbirds covering the soybean field behind her house. When I went out with my camera, they all moved up and into the surrounding trees. The sound was incredible. I got a few nice shots, even the ones without so many birds…

Family, Lake Waccamaw, Marietta

Father’s Day photos

Daddy and me on the homemade “go-kart” in downtown Marietta, North Carolina.

This photo of my Granddaddy Jones with his brothers and sisters had to have been taken in the teens or early 20s. He is the one with the guitar.

I barely remember Daddy Thad, my grandfather on the Parham side. He died when I was three. Here he is standing on the shore of Lake Waccamaw.

I’m not a corporate-made holiday person. I love my daddy and Granddaddy every day of the year, but Father’s Day is a great excuse to post photos of them. We swapped so many great family stories this week. I was absolutely a Daddy’s girl, and the memories of going fishing together (I got terribly seasick so didn’t get to go much) and learning to throw and catch a baseball are precious to me. I am such a tomboy.

Here’s a post that I wrote in 2005 about Daddy and farming that I like. He died so young, only 65 years old, and had rarely been sick before the colon cancer that took him. Get your colonoscopy, friends. It could save your life. You really don’t want to die of colon cancer.

Family, Marietta

Christmas in Marietta, 2009

I’m not sure, but I think that this was the first Christmas that we’ve had an inside dog at Mama’s for Christmas since Janet Planet went with us down there. Casey was such a GOOD DOG.

Sandy and I have been meaning to take photos of ourselves with the Marietta City Limit sign for a long time. The city limit sign used to be in the middle of “town” and the signs were on either side of one post. Marietta has since expanded but as you can see, the houses did not. I’m standing in mud because this ditch was full yesterday. I lived about a mile down this road in the heart of Marietta, North Carolina.

We had twelve people at Christmas dinner, including my nephew, who I think is one of the coolest people in the world. I’ve decided that my New Year’s resolution will be to learn to play blues harmonica and speak Italian so that I can convince him that I am the coolest aunt in the world.

I spent a good bit of time fretting over Theo’s health, because when we left he had been throwing up for a few days and was a little lethargic. I convinced myself that I was worrying for nothing because today is the anniversary of Squirt’s journey over the Rainbow Bridge. And I was. When we got back, there was no vomit and he was playing hard and pretending like he didn’t know me. Damned cat.

I’m really looking forward to this week at home.

coffee pot posts, Local food, Marietta

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Sitting out in the gazebo this morning. I’m telling you, when it is not muggy and warm this is my favorite place other than Lake Waccamaw. Which was kind of the point when I bought this contraption last summer – I needed a beautiful place to hang out that was screened to keep away the skeeters, and the only place that I had to go like that was three hours away at Lake Waccamaw. I was afraid at the time that I wouldn’t be able to go there much anymore, so to soothe myself I bought this 9X12 screened gazebo on clearance, and paved it with cardboard, landscape fabric, and then cement pavers. I think that it is one of the best purchases I have ever made.

Right now I am reading the news and getting ready to finish binding a book then do some more painting paper covers. I have some excellent old free books to play with too – also three record album binders that I’m mulling over how to alter them.

Yesterday’s yoga was interesting in two ways. One was that I made it through the whole time period because I am in terrible shape. I had a couple of times when I just had to take a breather because my arms wouldn’t hold me up any more or I couldn’t get balanced. The class used easy poses but we moved continuously from one pose to another to live music, so it was a mild work-out. I highly recommend it and I plan to go back. They need participants and it is by donation. Grow Yoga – Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. above the Green Bean in downtown Greensboro. I’ll probably go on Thursday nights because Saturday mornings are fairly sacred as Farmers Market and grocery shopping times.

The second interesting thing is that there is a small possibility of renting the place with them as a co-op of artists with the same kind of lifestyle interests. It is a beautiful space with a kitchen and hardwood floors with large windows facing the street. J and C said that it is possible that it will be rented to someone else and that they may only have use of it for the next few weeks. I told them that if they could get together a few more people I’d be interested in renting it with them for a studio/gallery space, if it doesn’t get rented to the other person.

This has been a dream of mine for a long time, but it seems to always fall through, or I’m not able to afford it at the time. I have rented and shared a studio before and I got an enormous amount of satisfaction and work out of it. Then it flooded and that pretty much settled that, since I lost a lot of supplies and early artwork to water damage and mildew.

I’m trying not to get TOO invested in this idea since there is more than a good chance that it won’t happen, but I have to wonder if this is falling into my lap because I called it to me. I have told others many times that I would love to have a space where I could not only work on my art but show and sell it and teach lessons. This place is close to my house and is perfect as far as I can tell. It’s just that it’s expensive and would have to be split by at least 5-6 people for me to begin to afford it.

Family, Marietta

Sunday sweep

Happy Eoster, all y’all li’l bunnies out there.

I went to see my mama on Friday, helped her plant about a third of her garden: cabbage, onions, tendergreens, spinach, beets, carrots, and corn. I talked her into letting me plant way more beets than she needs so that I might have some. As you can see, her garden is much different than mine, and much, much bigger. My brother plows it with a tractor. It’s right smack in the middle of beautiful downtown Marietta, N.C. I had three dogs run up to me for loving, and I only knew one of them. She fed me field peas and okra and chicken tetrazzini and squash casserole and blueberry muffins, and sent me home with pecan pie, more pecans, and venison from the freezer.

Thing is, my bursitis is back with a vengance, leaving me with the pain dilemma – do I work through the pain and make the whole thing worse, or let the garden go for a while longer. Last weekend I pulled out a lot of my rosemary and made a lot more room for my beans, but it was with a price. Anyway, I did plant some dill, parsley, carrots, spinach, and tendergreens today.

There’s a robin building a nest on top of the gutter next to the back door.

I’m very, very excited about our vacation plan for July. We have decided to take a cruise from Vancouver up along the Alaskan coast on Norwegian. I think that we found a very good deal and I’m going to call and arrange everything tomorrow. Most of this will be paid for with the money we got back when we refinanced and our tax refund.

I’ve been thinking about the Pacific Northwest for quite some time, especially since I met an artist from near Juneau and saw her work based on the landscapes around her. I hope that we can add one night in Vancouver before the cruise.

Tonight’s dinner is beef stew in the crock pot. It smells extremely delicious!