Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Uncategorized

Staycation week, day three


What happened to Days One and Two? They went by in a flash and that’s okay.

Here’s the agenda for my art retreat/get shit done at home week. The idea is that I choose at least four of these every day to check off. The daily checkbox, in priority order:

  1. Get something done you’ve been putting off. (Monday it was going with Sandy to a will planning meeting at the credit union and sewing buttons on my favorite pair of shorts. Yesterday I dropped one of the cars off at the mechanic for an inspection and oil change.)
  2. Sort/purge/organize one box/drawer/pile. Goal: five paper shipping boxes of stuff out of the studio.
  3. One small area weeded or tended in the garden.
  4. Weave tapestry.
  5. Stitch on apron.
  6. Blog.

Today, I’ll probably clean and vacuum the front porch. We’ll see. Trying to stay off Facebook for the rest of the day.

So far I have not played with my apron, so I’d like to do that today, sitting on my clean porch. The weather is lovely this week. I was able to turn off the air conditioning and even give the fans a rest.

Yesterday, I spotted TWO groundhogs in the back yard! This wasn’t a big surprise, but I had not seen them at the same time before. So much for the water jet idea. They munched plants right around it. I don’t think that they are setting it off, although I hear it go off from time to time. They burrowed under a wire cage and ate the broccoli there, right in front of the motion sensor.

My thinking is that this needs to be a year of observation and reassessment of how to handle this. I’m not fond of the idea of trapping and relocating them, but that is still on the table. I’m watching what they like to eat the most – all varieties of greens, lamb’s quarters, broccoli, certain varieties of beans (Jacob’s Cattle and Cannellini), the cucumber vines, celery, the watermelon blossoms, rudbeckia and sunflowers. They also like the wild yam vines and violets, and I wish that they would chow down on only those. They are leaving alone, so far, the tomatoes, butterbeans, carrots, strawberries, pineberries, and herbs.

Now that there is a sunny forecast, I’m going to spray the repellent again. I also hung reflective hologram tape all over the place. I’m sure that the woodchucks think it is pretty, but maybe we’ll save some blueberries from the birds for ourselves this year. Other than that, I’m trying to let it go.

I enjoyed going through a box of fabric scraps and sorting and purging yesterday, and it makes me wants to do some more cloth strip weaving.

Blogging takes up a LOT of time so I’ll probably skip that for the next couple of days.

The tapestry diary is a scene from St. Simon’s Island in Georgia, where I went for the tapestry retreat. I’ve started it from the image in my head and will refer quickly to a photo later.


On tap for later today, a massage and maybe a trip to the farmers’ market. Right now I’m listening to an audio panel about Enneagram types 8, 9, and 1. I’m a One, and I’ve been working with the Enneagram for about 12 years now. It makes more sense to me than any personality type system out there.

depression/anxiety, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018

Tapestry diary progress


I stopped weaving my tapestry diary near the end of March. It was not fun for me any more. I struggled to find anything I wanted to weave or represent and if I wove about my mood I reached for black and gray, then forced myself to pick up blue and purple and pink and green instead. Then I put down the yarn and walked away from it for two months. Art might be healing for some people, but when I am in a period of depression, I can’t do art. I don’t enjoy much of anything at all.

I threw all my energy toward getting better physically and getting my gardening back on track. I concentrated on fairly mindless things, like stitching around a pattern or bundling fabric with leaves to put into a natural dye pot. That took a lot of mental pushing, although I wasn’t trying for any specific results.

The tapestry retreat was coming up and I didn’t have any project to take with me. I made a design with a snail riding an albatross and decided to weave it on the warp on the other side of the loom that the tapestry diary was on. (This is not a bad idea: the snail and the albatross. I fantasized about weaving a tale about a world traveling snail and her companions who help her. After all, a snail can’t get a passport or buy a plane ticket. It still might happen, but on a different loom.)

I also took my small traveling loom with the seed of an idea to weave with the silk threads I’d recently dyed with my fabric. Suddenly that idea took off and I was in a flow state. I didn’t want to stop working on it. I left the big frame loom with the tapestry diary on it in my hotel room.

When the weavers began showing their work and talking about tapestry diaries, I admitted that I’d brought mine but had stopped weaving it. It was such an encouraging group that I brought it over and got lots of good feedback on how to get unstuck. The biggest question I needed to answer was (and is, to be honest) if I really wanted to continue or if I should let it go.

So, here is the decision: New rules. Most people don’t know this about me, but I have been obsessive-compulsive since early childhood. Most people think of the stereotypical clean freak Sheldon type and that is definitely not me. I am more of the kind that hoards things and has to have things in a certain order, plus some thought patterns and habits I don’t talk about. My ways of coping are better than they used to be. I don’t write about it – in fact, when I started writing this post four days ago, I got to this part and my system crashed. I hide my OCD very well and apparently my brain wants to keep it that way. So be it. I will let the brain have a partial win on this and won’t write the long post that I intended.

I write my own rules in my head for nearly everything, and I believe that limits are good for my art projects most of the time. Otherwise I can get overwhelmed and shut down. This time I got overwhelmed by my own rules.

So, new rules:

  • One tapestry entry per month. I pick a subject at the end of the month to represent that month. Anything I do around it is rules-free. My entry for April was woven at the end of May. I will weave an entry for May this month (during June). Likely having something to do with the tapestry retreat – maybe a palmetto tree or sunset. I’ll have the first week or so to percolate ideas and design and the rest of the month to weave it.
  • To keep it consistent, I’m still using the cotton and linen thrums, but I can go to my yarn stash if there is a color I want that isn’t in the thrum bag.
  • If I don’t like the way something turns out (i.e., the entry on Jan. 2 that was meant to represent a thermometer that instead looks like an erect white penis) I can take it out and reweave it.

I thought about weaving a tornado for April, given my focus so far on weather and mood, but chose to weave the new garden bed in the Back Forty instead. And yes, I did unweave the whole thing and rewove it. Good for me.

You know, on one hand, I think that it would be healing and valuable to others to share my mental illness experiences on my blog, and I’ve tried to do so over the years, based on some of the feedback I’ve gotten, especially in the early years when I suffered from agoraphobia and truly was turning my life around step by step, inch by inch. On the other hand, it is just too painful sometimes and I need to respect my inner child’s privacy on this point. Writing about depression is not so bad, but OCD is too much, apparently. That said, I am light years better that I was when I started writing this blog in 2005 and that’s some amazing progress.

The next post will be cheerier, I hope, but if I’m going to keep a personal journal, there needs to be some honesty lest people think that I am one of those incredible people that does it all. I don’t, believe me. I went to bed almost as soon as I got home from work Tuesday through Thursday. I live for the weekend, mostly because I can sleep as much as I need to and have the freedom to be alone. I have long periods of time when I feel like a normal person, and I search out companionship. The times when I feel weird and wish for solitude are not as often or as long.

Okay, time to get some house cleaning done.

art, art retreats, dyeing, fiber art, Georgia, Lake Waccamaw, National Parks and Monuments, tapestry, weaving

Tapestry Weavers South Retreat



I’m taking a personal day to recharge after a particularly sweet and inspiring art retreat weekend with members of Tapestry Weavers South at Epworth-by-the-Sea on St. Simons Island.

It is a lovely venue and the price was very reasonable for three nights and all meals. We were lucky that even though most of the Southeast US was getting pummeled by thunderstorms and flooding, we only had a few light showers and the temperature was perfect. On the last night we enjoyed the veranda next to the river and it was lovely – not muggy at all and I didn’t notice any bugs. The sunsets were nice too:



^^^Just outside my window

The greatest value of this retreat was the talent and encouragement of my fellow tapestry weavers. I’m not kidding – if you are a tapestry weaver in the southern U.S., I recommend that you join this group.

I left for the retreat with just a vague idea of what I might do, and a fairly neurotic state of mind about my weaving break. I was also worried about sitting for the long drive and the workshop in general, but I met April Price near Charlotte and she drove the rest of the way, so I was able to adjust a rolled-up towel under my legs, hips, and back frequently. That helped so much, and I am grateful for her willingness to drive! April organized the retreat and did a wonderful job.

I left the retreat with a warm feeling of making new friends, and the beginning of a small tapestry on the loom that I am excited about. Some of my artist crushes were there and we got to know each other. I was encouraged to continue my tapestry diary that I dropped at the end of March and was given a few suggestions on how I might proceed from here.

You are likely to see more from me on the subject of Tapestry Weavers South, because I suspect that I’m going to break my vow of getting involved in group leadership and help out with this one. Just in a minor role that I’m comfortable with, though.

Jennifer Sargent was our featured artist and she shared a slideshow of her work and critiqued the pieces that other weavers brought. She gave me very positive feedback on my own work.

We honored Tommye Scanlin with a lifetime membership and an emotional celebration on the last night. She was my first teacher that was an actual tapestry artist. We figured it out that was in 1991! She is loved by so many people.



Holly Wilkes and MJ Lord allowed me to photograph their hands in action.



I decided to work with the abstraction of a favorite photograph of rain on Lake Waccamaw, using my naturally dyed silk/cotton threads from India’s online class. It’s interesting that I return so often to this family place at Lake Waccamaw for art inspiration. Even the threads are wound on driftwood sticks that I picked up on this shore.





April was kind enough to go with me to Fort Frederica National Monument so that I could get a stamp for my National Park Passport book. The deerflies were pretty bad and we were short on time so we decided not to walk to the actual fort, but it was a lovely park. The 42d Regiment of Foot battled with Spanish forces there in 1742 so I was especially interested in visiting. That was our regiment when we were 18th century re-enactors. We drove around St. Simons Island, then we stopped in Savannah and ate Crabcakes Benedict at Bar-Food, which I highly recommend. Just as we were driving into Charlotte, the bottom fell out and I have rarely seen such a hard rain. I thought that I might have to spend the night at April’s house but we looked at the radar and I made a good decision to drive home. I wonder how many inches fell in that half-hour?

art, fiber art, tapestry, Tapestry Weavers South, weaving

Tapestry Weavers South: “A Strand, A Shape, A Story”


I broke all the rules and took photos at the closing reception of the Tapestry Weavers South exhibit, “A Strand, A Shape, A Story,” that ran in the upper gallery of the North Carolina Folk Art Center from January to April 2018.

Many of these tapestries have moved on to Yadkinville, where they will reappear in an exhibition at the Yadkin Arts Center in June.

You can see the rest of the photos in my Flickr album. Some photos were blurry or had reflections from glass, and they won’t be there. It is worth clicking through to see the album, because this is a very fine show and I finally stopped loading them on this page because it was so hard to pick.