yearly wrap-ups

2018 Wrap-up

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2018 had its charms. I was in much much better physical shape than in 2017 but spent about six months in a serious depression. I am starting out 2019 with much less physical and mental pain, and I have regained some lost hope.

In January I decided to weave a tapestry diary and I was really into it for about three months. It was bitter cold at this time last year and we got a lot of snow. I had to consolidate my two studios and focused on squeezing the stuff from my little corner in the Wharton St. house into my already overflowing living room studio at home. Also went to the Women’s March in Raleigh with my family. I thought a lot about this, which I’m thinking about again now.

Women's Rally on Raleigh

February was a very creative month. I participated in India Flint’s first online class, Bag Stories, which was a real joy. My WandRbeutel bag is falling apart now, but I can mend it and maybe I will make another. It is a great portable project. Seth Apter came to Greensboro and I took his 52 Card Pickup class – great fun. My books “Flow” and “First the Seed” were in an impressive Triangle Book Arts show called “Re(f)use” at Artspace in Raleigh.

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"Flow" top cover and three pages

I stitched a LOT in March. Rather obsessively, as I recall. Started India Flint’s Alchemist’s Apron class. Got serious about gardening again, transplanting my perennials from the Wharton St. garden and putting up a small greenhouse.

New greenhouse!

I got smart and lucky and hired a guy I met in the permaculture guild to redo my main garden area and dig up some unwanted shrubs and dig a hugelkultur bed at the end of my driveway in April. We went to Lake Waccamaw, where I gathered plant material to print and dye my apron and silk threads.

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Tapestry was the focus in May, when Sandy and I went to see the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition at the Folk Art Center in Asheville. We took the opportunity to go to a cheese festival too, YUM. Later that month I went to St. Simon’s Island in Georgia for a Tapestry Weavers South retreat. Groundhog woes in the garden.

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Susanne and I took an incredibly fun workshop from Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller at Topsail Beach in early June that combined botanical printing and natural dyeing on paper with the Zhen Xian Bao book structure. I took a week’s staycation to purge and organize the studio. Groundhog family wreaked havoc.

Zhen Xian Bao by the Sea

July is bittersweet in retrospect. I spent the last week at Fred’s house at Lake Waccamaw. It was beautiful and we had a few friends visit. I stitched my hands into numbness so I got out the sewing machine and started working on the t-shirt quilt again.

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In August, we spent the money to cut down the silver maple, and much of it is in the same place the arborist left it to this day. I picked and dehydrated tomatoes every few days, and paid close attention to what the groundhogs ate and avoided in order to plan for this year.

September – OY. What a big month. Sandy and I took a big wonderful trip to Idaho and Wyoming. We went to Shoshone Falls, Minidoka National Historic Site, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Fossil Butte National Monument. Judy met us in Yellowstone and was our tour guide. While we were there, Hurricane Florence rolled in and flooded both family houses at Lake Waccamaw.

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In October I went to Talk Story in Connecticut for a long weekend to take a class from Sharon Payne Bolton and made a bunch of new friends. I also realized that I needed some help at home with my deepening depression and started seeing a therapist. I focused on mental healing and the t=shirt quilt, wove the last entry on the tapestry diary and let it go.

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tapestry diary 2018

Election and work anxiety made November tough. I got out my mother’s sewing machine and did what I could. Thanksgiving was spent at my sister’s rental house at Lake Waccamaw.

In December my depression lifted, this time for more than a week! Winter Storm Diego dumped a foot of snow on us. Work was better, politics became more optimistic, and we went to my sister’s rental house at the lake for Festivus. We have been at home since then and I finished the t-shirt quilt.

yearly wrap-ups

2017 Wrapup. Hmmm.

One great thing about writing these wrapups is that I always see that the previous year was busier than I thought, or better than I thought. I did manage to write at least one post every month. I tried to stay away from political commentary, just because I am so sick of it and there are plenty of other places to go for that. This year was tough for everybody with brains and heart. In the end, this blog serves me and me only. My first post of 2017 explains my thinking pretty well. I don’t dwell on it because I have friends with children. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

In January, I had moved my studio into my friend Susanne’s rental house, occupying the little area of the kitchen where the dining table would have been. I enjoyed a lot of sewing there, and good company. Soon I will be moving out as Susanne looks for new digs in the coming year, so I’m consolidating it into my home studio slowly. It’s working out.

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On January 21, I participated in the amazing Women’s March on Washington along with about half a million other people. What a rush!

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In February, this blanket woven and stitched from Sandy’s discarded shirts was well under way. I need to get back to that. The cats were loving our newly screened in front porch. However, Miss Penny from across the street had a much different opinion.

March was mostly about thinking about upcoming trips. The depression was starting to sink in. Theo obviously didn’t have much more time to spend in this world. I made a book from the denim paper I made the previous year and had hopes for gardening in the back yard of the studio house. I tried to ignore growing physical pain because my chiropractor moved away and I was in denial.

Ragged denim book

In April, I worked hard on the front yard garden, spent a lot of time on the front porch, and went to Lake Waccamaw for Easter. Apparently I didn’t write about going to the People’s Climate March in late April! Wow. I’ll have to go back and do that.

People's Climate March, Washington D.C.

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May was bittersweet. We let my sweet Theo go on May 5. He spent a day at home on the front porch eating all the treats he wanted and accepting last visits from friends. He was quite emaciated so I posted a photo of him from when he was healthy. I will probably never have another cat as loving and needy of attention as Theo. Everybody was in love with him.

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Ten days later Sandy and I left for a two week trip to Ireland, London, Devon, and Cornwall for our 30th anniversary. I wrote it up in June. It would take all day to pick out one photo, so I made a quick decision about one photo from Trebarwith Strand on the Cornwall coast, since I think that was probably my happiest day of the trip, walking on the Coast Path. Afterwards we hiked the opposite direction and climbed a bazillion steps to visit Tintagel Castle.

Treknow/Tintagel/Coast Path

I’d barely caught my breath in June before Susanne, Joseph, and I got on a plane for Oregon where Susanne and I went to Focus on Book Arts and Joseph visited family. I was thrilled with my classes with Jennie Hinchcliff and Leighanna Light! I then spent a day on my own in Portland, visiting Powell’s City of Books and the Japanese Gardens.

Opening one of the twelve hidden containers in the book

Above, from Jennie’s class “Collecting & Keeping: Chinese Thread Books.”

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Above, pages in progress from Leighanna Light’s “Lily’s Book” class.

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Above, Japanese Gardens, Portland

July brought a trip to Lake Waccamaw again and lettuce and tomatoes from my new container garden in the front yard. The woodchuck came back and decimated a lot of the back garden. I was sick and in pain and frustrated.

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In August, I found out that my gallbladder was a mess, but I found a massage therapist who, although she made me cry on the table, fixed my neck and shoulder pain with trigger point therapy. I lost a couple of friends. Sandy and I went to see Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at the Carolina Theater. Lots of figs.

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A trip to Colorado has become a tradition in September. This time we stayed in an AirBNB in Boulder for one night before joining my cousin and aunt on a weekend trip to Cripple Creek to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. There are donkeys that roam freely through the town and they were spoiled rotten! I would love to move to Colorado.

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My gallbladder was removed in early October and I learned a lesson about pain management and trying to be tough. I worked on an accordion book to hang in the Triangle Book Arts show coming up in January.

Deep depression came down like a dark cloud in late October and November, although you wouldn’t know it from the photos. I had a good time that night, although I won’t be playing the bongos again, because Sandy bought us bodhrans for Christmas! The whole #metoo thing got to me really bad. We spent Thanksgiving with my sister at Lake Waccamaw and got to see my brother and nephew. It pulled me out of my funk.

December was better. I took a lot of good photos in the winter storm and began weaving on Cathedral again. I missed having Christmas with my family because of a stomach virus, but over all I feel better than I have in months. My friend Jackie and I went to the Asheville area for a couple of days to deliver “98% Water” to the Folk Art Center for a Tapestry Weavers South show. Tonight Sandy and I are going to a steampunk ball at the Haw River Ballroom with friends. This is very out of character for me to go out on New Year’s Eve, but we are looking forward to dressing up.

Here’s the progress I made from early January to yesterday on “Cathedral.” Not much, but at least it’s growing again!

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yearly wrap-ups

2016 Wrap-Up…working on the bucket list

A lot of people are happy to see 2016 go. Yes, it was a very stressful year for almost everyone, but I am quite fearful of the next few years so I’m not ready to let 2016 go yet. However, I don’t have much choice, do I? So here’s my annual wrap-up blog post.

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“Save our State,” a postcard tapestry I sent to an exhibition in Oaxaca, Mexico this year

I marked a couple of things off my bucket list this year. One event that might have made my bucket list but didn’t was voting for my man Bernie in the presidential election. It wasn’t on my list because I never ever expected him to get so close to the goal. Bernie Sanders has been my political hero for years, and it filled my heart with gladness to vote for him in the primary. At least our guys won in the N.C. governor and attorney general elections, which can only help, although the legislature has a controlling majority and is hellbent on taking away the powers of the governor’s office now that their party lost it. UGH.

My heart ached all year about the sale of my mother’s house in Marietta in late 2015. Although I’m glad that we don’t have to deal with its upkeep, it will always be home to me. I didn’t expect its loss to hurt so much.

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In January, a big bucket list item was fulfilled when my tapestry, “98% Water,” was accepted into the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial exhibition. Right now I think it is still in Kansas at the Mulvane Art Museum. and will be traveling to its final venue at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. I also rented a small room at my church around the corner as a studio space, which I enjoyed for most of the year. My grand-nephew lost his father who was only in his mid-thirties, which had a huge impact on our family. This post wrapped up that month pretty well.

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Pocosin Arts Center in Columbia, North Carolina was the location of a workshop Susanne and I took from Daniel Essig. It’s a sweet little town that most people breeze through on their way to the Outer Banks without a second look, but it is also the home to the headquarters of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, which I took as the theme of my wood covered mica book.

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In March, my cousin Fred Adams died. He had Type 1 diabetes and a stroke and was in kidney failure for a long time. His house at Lake Waccamaw is the place that I have written about and photographed so much here over the years. He was a dearly loved family member and we all miss him very much. Everyone who knew Fred loved him. He was one of those kind of people – funny, intelligent, and friendly.

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During the spring, I dived into weaving and sewing cloth strips, mostly from my worn-out jeans that I collected over the years. I learned a lot about what my little sewing machine is and is not capable of! I owe this cloth party to Jude Hill at Spirit Cloth.

Then in April I used the diced up denim trimmings to make paper!

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Which was really fun until my back and hips said uh-uh.

Tapestry Weavers South had an impressive 20th Anniversary exhibition at Yadkin Arts Center in May. I’m so glad that I became more involved with this group.

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May 2016 also brought the second bucket list item to fruition – we took a train ride on a sleeper car. It was during a big beautiful trip to Montana and Washington and Oregon, and there are too many gorgeous photos to choose from so you’ll have to travel back in time to my link above if you want to see them. We flew to Minneapolis, boarded Amtrak in Saint Paul, got off at Glacier National Park for three days, took the train again to Seattle where we only spent a couple of hours near the depot, then took the train to Portland. There we rented a car and drove to Mount St. Helens National Monument, the Astoria and Cannon Beach area, up the Columbia Gorge, to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Painted Hills) in central Oregon, to Bend and Sisters, and back to Portland for the last two days, where we flew back east.

It was absolutely one of the greatest trips I’ve ever taken, but I will not be riding in a sleeper car again! It also reinforced the idea that Sandy and I really should go west if we are ever able to retire.

June and July brought me back to the studio and growing field peas and butterbeans in my garden, which is much reduced in size now due to my chronic physical problems. I spent July 4th weekend at the lake at my sister’s house for the first time. She has kittens!

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In August I finished up the denim blanket, which I learned was too large, bulky, and heavy to use as I intended, so I cut it in half and now it is two rugs on my bedroom floor. When I need picnic blankets, I’ll roll them up and take them along. I started on a new blanket project with a bunch of my husband’s old cotton and linen shirts.

American Tapestry Biennial 11

American Tapestry Biennial 11

Giacometti and the view from inside the Art Institute of Chicago

On Labor Day weekend I traveled to South Bend, Indiana via Chicago to attend the opening reception of the ATA Biennial at the South Bend Museum of Art. I flew through Chicago, took Amtrak to South Bend with the points I earned from the May trip, stayed in an AirBNB (which has made me a convert!). On the way back I spent a few hours at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Only a couple of weeks later I took what seems to be turning into an annual trip to see my Aunt Delaine and cousin Cherie near Denver, Colorado. Hey, you can’t tell we’re related, can you? This time I was there to go to a class with paper collage artist Elizabeth St. Hilaire at the Art Makers Denver retreat. As usual the entire time with my family was lovely.

After the disastrous owners’ meeting in July I had written off Deep Roots. When I came back in September I got involved with a group of Deep Roots owners with the purpose of changing the direction of the cooperative, whose management and majority of the board got way off track in trying to deal with the financial problems. I spoke before the board about communication – my speech is in the minutes here. The good news is that we did prevail. The general manager was gone by November and most of the board members who supported him serve their last day on the board today.

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Screened in front porch!

I didn’t write on my blog at all in October or November. My nerves were shot and I was angry or shellshocked all the time. But once I was able to, I did a catch-up post here. The good news: I met and drank with Ben Harper. We screened in our front porch. We went to Savannah, Georgia for a long weekend for Sandy’s birthday.

Bonaventure Cemetery

My favorite place in Savannah was Bonaventure Cemetery. I’ve got it in my head now to do a angel tapestry after the “Cathedral” tapestry is finished.

Lake Waccamaw reflections

We had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, brother, and cousin-in-law (Fred’s wife) at Lake Waccamaw. I didn’t blog it.

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Then I took Susanne’s offer to move the church studio into her house. We are having a great time! I’m working on a travel themed t-shirt quilt. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

Goodbye, 2016.

yearly wrap-ups

Goodbye to 2015

2015 was a very full year. Although I feel like I didn’t blog that much, I realize that I did write about the big events, and as usual, found that there were more of those than I realized. We traveled a LOT.

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From January to March, I wrestled with my new-to-me Shannock tapestry loom until I finally got a warp on it, although I would struggle with it and rewarp it several times. I began weaving a tapestry based on a photograph I took in 2006 while lying in a hammock under one of my very favorite trees, a large bald cypress at Lake Waccamaw that I played under when I was a baby. This tree carries a lot of memories and meaning for me. When the sun shone through its large Spanish moss laden canopy and reflected off the lake that day, I knew that it was going to be the subject of a special artwork for me one day. I reworked the photo repeatedly in Photoshop, cut it up and pieced it back together in different ways, and thought about interpreting it in fabric collage or in acrylics or oils. It was taped to my closet door for years as I considered it.

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Finally I began weaving it, deciding to interpret it through the blending of different colors of wool singles. It felt good, it felt right. The warp tension is god-awful, but I finally had to begin weaving or go crazy. I’ve made adjustments along the way and I think that it will be fine in the end. I know what not to do next time. Part of the problem was that I enjoyed weaving on my front porch in nice weather, and carrying the loom back and forth made the tension problems worse. Now I have it set up in my studio, which is what half of the front room became this year. The cats don’t bother it because I booby-trapped it with things that fell down and made a clatter in the beginning, but they will steal my yarn if I am not careful.

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April brought an unexpected and amazing opportunity to study with Archie Brennan and Susan Maffei at Pam’s cabin near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

The City Museum, St. Louis, MO

In May Sandy and I took that trip to Cahokia Mounds and St. Louis that we canceled last year when Mama was sick. We had loads of fun exploring St. Louis, including the zoo and the City Museum. There are not enough photos in the world to represent the City Museum. Funhouse and art. Ten story indoor slide. Cave tunnels. Ferris wheel and more slides on the rooftop.

Cannon Beach June 2015
Sand blowing near Cannon Beach
(Above: click for video and sound)
FOBA 2015

Then, because this was the trip we planned and paid for first, Susanne Martin and I went back to Oregon in June for ten days to study with Pam Patrie at her cabin, explore the area, and attend Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon where the three of us took a great map and bookmaking workshop with Jill Berry. It was one of the most enjoyable workshops I’ve ever had, and I made some new friends on both trips. I was able to explore a little more this time, since Susanne and I rented a car. We went to Ecola State Park, Lewis and Clark National Park in Astoria, and drove down Hwy 101 to Manzanita.

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In between all this traveling, I was trying my best not to think about the gargantuan task in Marietta of cleaning out my mother’s home. At the time it seemed that we would be lucky if we ever sold it and so had all the time in the world, and my sister and her husband had just bought a house at Lake Waccamaw, so she was retired and was close to Marietta and took on the bulk of the work, driving down there to make repairs and improvements and take loads to the charity store and the dumpster each time. Then we got an offer on the house. An extremely low offer, but as is. Our friends from down there advised us to take it, and we did. But I still had a lot of traveling scheduled, including a weeklong class at Arrowmont that they were kind enough to issue me a gift certificate from 2014 when my mother died when I was there.

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The class was Site Specific Weaving, and it was a hot muggy week in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and I chose that Monday to fall apart. However, later I did get it together enough, despite a lot of pain, to get some good work done. My installation was simple, but considering I came up with it and did it in about 24 hours, I was pleased. I started a tapestry, “Migraine Day,” that I hope will become a part of something bigger in 2016. I also came home with TMJ and neck and shoulder problems that I am still not quite done with, but I’m much much much better than I was.

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Rocky Mountain National Park September 2015
Utah 2015

In September, we went to Colorado for a week to celebrate my cousin’s birthday and do some more exploring. We went ziplining (or rather, my husband, my cousin, and my 87 year old aunt did, I wimped out), drove through Rocky Mountain National Park on our way to Dinosaur National Monument, then came back to visit the Denver Art Museum with my aunt, where we were able to see the new textile gallery with an impressive tapestry exhibition.

Then I had to concentrate on getting the house ready for closing with my sister. The whole family and my good friend JQ helped pack boxes, load trucks with furniture, make runs to the dumpster, and clean. In the end we left a lot behind, simply because no one had any more room and the new owner told us that she didn’t mind. I don’t even want to know what she got rid of and replaced. It broke my heart, even though I absolutely know that it was the right decision on a practical level. The sale was, and still is, incredibly screwed up. Hopefully it will all be over soon. I’m starting to heal just by being able to put it behind me.

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Sandy and I went to Asheville for a weekend in October where I made books with Karen Hardy and some very fine bookbinders at Asheville Bookworks, in a workshop exploring the binding techniques of Hedi Kyle. We found a cheap place to stay through AirBNB, which I hope will make it easier for us to make more trips to that area.

Miss Lucy, produce inspector

We said a sad goodbye to Miss Lucy just before Christmas. She was twelve years old. I’ll never chop broccoli again without expecting her to come around the corner asking for a handout.

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Throughout much of this, I was able to spend precious time with my sister Lisa, who is enjoying retirement at Lake Waccamaw in a lovely small house in easy walking (or swimming) distance from the bald cypress tree at my cousin’s house in the photo at the beginning of this 2015 wrap-up. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this year without my sister. I love her so much.

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It was a much better and busier year that I had realized. No wonder I was so exhausted! Tomorrow, I look ahead.

yearly wrap-ups

2014: The Turning Point, Part Four

Cannon Beach Tapestry Retreat

And so, I grieved and got on with the job of renovating the house. Now, because of Mama’s life insurance, I would have enough money to do the needed repairs and a few extras without going further into debt. Thanks, Mom!

I was so glad that I had already designed a tapestry and was ready to weave before all this happened. The tapestry and the anticipation of my trips to Oregon, Colorado, and California sustained me.

We made a second bathroom out of an odd existing space in the house and are still working on renovating the original one that had (HAD, that wonderful past tense!) a serious foundation problem.

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I spent a lot of time at Lake Waccamaw with my sister and brother-in-law. They rented a house for six months and it was close to Mama’s – now our – house.

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But the thing that brought me the most joy was the Cannon Beach tapestry retreat, where Pam Patrie took me under her loving wing and welcomed me to the Divines.

Cannon Beach Tapestry Retreat

Okay, this is where the words fail me. I cannot gush enough over the gratitude I feel toward Pam. She is a fairy godmother to me, in all honesty. She is on that level. How can I describe the magic? How can I describe the bliss of joining a group of companions on my same path, who get me and share my passion? How can I describe the stunning beauty of the landscape, the breeze blowing through the cliffside trees, the sound of the waves below?

Cannon Beach Tapestry Retreat

I knew I would be back as often as my finances and job would allow, until I could make the transition to living there.

In September, I visited my family in Colorado, then went on to the Art-is-You retreat in Petaluma, California. Both incredible trips in their own rights, but quite frankly blogging this on my Kindle is just about used up all my patience so I’ll attempt to finish this with a photo from each and one of the latest photos of the “98% Water” tapestry, which I intend to finish before midnight tonight.

Colorado 2014

Sharon Payne Bolton's Far East class

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