Coronavirus Chronicles, yearly wrap-ups

2020 Wrap up

Well, there won’t be anything exciting in this post, as you might guess. But it is a tradition for me.

In January, I only posted once, on New Year’s Day, with my aspirations for the year ahead. Of course, nobody could see what was coming. Sandy retired on Dec. 31, so this was his first year of retirement. I moved my studio from the front room to the dining room and bedroom, and the front room became our living room again. This meant that I purged a lot of stuff, but of course, it has still not been enough.

In February, I posted a lot! I was really into collage, and was traveling to Chapel Hill to meet with a small group from the Triangle Book Arts group who were doing an online class with Melinda Tidwell. I was also working on a caterpillar tapestry for the ATA Renditions exhibition, an unjuried small format tapestry exhibition done in conjunction with the Handweavers Guild of America’s Convergence every two years. I was getting together with new friends that I made through the Tiny Pricks Project. I was also very depressed, but that’s nothing new, especially in an election year. We saw Gordon Lightfoot in concert. We voted for Bernie. I got a haircut in February, and unfortunately rescheduled my massage appointment because I felt sick. I haven’t had either since. My friend Jeanne expressed concern on Facebook about her husband getting pneumonia. It turned out to be Co-vid.

March 2020: The shutdown. I finished the caterpillar tapestry and was still going strong on the collage. We went to our last social outings for a long time: a seafood dinner at Full Moon Oyster Bar and an Irish band at Oden Brewing. Then UNCG and the state of North Carolina shut down for several weeks to allow the health system to catch up before the full brunt of the virus got ahead of their capabilities. I started working from home on March 19. Diego had major dental surgery. I was trying to start seeds inside. At that point I still hoped that I’d go to Ireland even though the retreat had been rescheduled to 2021. The Topsail Beach workshops and Convergence in Knoxville were still on. I thought that I’d be able to get a lot of artwork done and did some online Facebook activities with Crystal Neubauer.

Jeanne’s husband did not make it. His death from Co-vid made me understand secondhand how terrible this disease was, both on the person and on their loved ones.

April 2020: Gave up on seed starting under the grow light. I started sewing some masks. I tried to tie on the next set of warp threads to the previous threading on the Macomber loom, but had too much trouble with the knots going through the heddles and pulled it all out. I noodled around on my Beka rigid heddle loom, using the warp threads to weave useful things like dish towels, but also wild Saori style stuff. One day, maybe this weekend, I will cut them all off.

May 2020: Reality bites. Bought plants from Weatherhand Farm at the drive through farmers’ market. Spent a lot of time on the front porch and moping. Started baking sourdough bread like everybody else was doing. I eventually let this go.

June 2020 began with posting about the George Floyd murder and protests. We spent a week at Lake Waccamaw during the time I was to go to Ireland. It was good to be with my sister and her husband. I did some of Roxanne Stout’s Notebook Journeys class, and some more collages with Crystal, but my artwork pretty much ground to a halt after this. Fireworks going off nearby in the middle of the night every damn night. I am glad that we don’t have a dog.

In July, I finally finished this collage, “Illustrated Question Box”. See the top photo for the beginning of this one. I mounted it on a wooden panel and I’m very pleased with it. I decided to work from the lake house for two weeks since the wi-fi there is actually better than the wi-fi here, and it helped me to have some solitude and to see my sister. And boy, did I have a lot of work to do, with our history class schedule going almost completely online or in hybrid format.

In August, I began working in my office on Fridays. I set up my workspace at home ergonomically and actually starting feeling better physically than I have in years, as far as my back and neck and hands go. Sandy and I took a road trip to Town Creek Indian Mound, which was reconstructed under the supervision of my grand-nephew’s grandfather, Joeffre Lanning Coe. I enjoyed taking photos on a hike through the woods there.

Went back to the lake in September, then a few days at an AirBnB near Sparta, North Carolina. We went to Stone Mountain State Park on the way. We were either brave or foolish enough to eat inside a few restaurants during this month. At the time that area didn’t have a lot of infections. It was an extremely red area and there were lots of Trump signs.

We hunkered down in October. My friend Pat Bush died. She had been sick with various ailments for so long. I harvested the “beautiful beans” that she gave me the seed for. I finished another collage, and did a fun collage workshop with Leighanna Light online. And I began writing about my fixation on moving to Portugal.

In November, I was all about Portugal and finishing moving the photos from Flickr to WordPress. I was obsessed. It was easier than thinking about what was happening in this country. I signed up for three more online workshops, all of which I took in person from the artist in some form, and I’ve barely looked at them. Susanne and I got together on the deck outside her studio and dyed and leaf printed some papers to go into our books. I made more masks for gifts. We ordered a take out Thanksgiving dinner from Deep Roots Market. No family gatherings this holiday season.

I’m not even sure that I need to recap December, as it was mostly about me finishing the Flickr move and worrying over Sandy’s health. More obsessing over Portugal. When will we be able to travel overseas again? Staying awake at night thinking about what I can get rid of, what I will try to take with me, how will the cats adjust…and will we even be able to do it by the time that I retire in May 2023?

It will be interesting to compare what I write tomorrow against the yearly wrap-up for 2021. Who knows what could happen? Nothing surprises me after this year.

yearly wrap-ups

2019 Wrap-up

2019 – the slowing of the slow. Just as it went last year, I have spent a lot of time in and out of major depression. So some things went to the wayside that I had big plans for, like this blog. I won’t say that they won’t still happen though. I did manage to post at least once a month, so yay, me! Hopefully I will get a laptop soon and won’t have to rely on this Kindle.

Anyway, my aspirations for 2020 will have to wait for tomorrow’s post. Right now I am looking back at 2019 after a wonderful week spent at home, mostly by myself. What an introvert I am. And it was actually a pretty great year.

In January, we fulfilled a life goal and installed 12 solar panels on our roof.


In February, I learned Tunisian crochet and began a weather scarf that used the high temperatures of each day in 2018 to determine the color of each row. It was a lot of fun and I have started a 2019 one. I continued weaving a big twill gamp project on the Macomber loom.

We lost my Aunt DeLaine in March. She was absolutely my favorite aunt and I miss her terribly. Her last year was dreadful, with dementia and failing body, so I prefer to remember the adventuress who traveled the world and went ziplining with us (well, not me, I chickened out) at age 87.

Susanne and I took a wonderful book workshop with Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller at Topsail Beach again, this time with plaster covered books and an amazing array of natural dyepots.

It is good to look back at April posts to see the lovely photos of my gardening. We went to Lake Waccamaw where my sister and brother-in-law had finished the repairs to their house from the hurricane in September 2018.

We traditionally take a big trip in May, and this year we met my cousin Cherie in Denver for a road trip to New Mexico. There are many photos. It was a grand time.

Bernie and Liz, two parakeets who hate us, joined our household in June. They belonged to a family member who was not able to take care of them properly and had them crammed into a little cage. Now they have a cage big enough for them to play and flutter around a bit and they still hate us, but they are Sandy’s birds and I just walk into his man cave and make noises at them now and then.

Susanne and I made our biennial trek to Oregon for the Focus on Book Arts conference in Forest Grove, a town where I would love to live. This time I took two classes from Leighanna Light, who has become one of my favorite art teachers, and we stayed in a lovely AirBNB apartment that we shared with another FOBA friend. We spent a few days in Portland first and I got to see Cat, another person I really miss but we have managed to see each other every few years when I go to the west coast.


In July and August I took a break from traveling and caught up on some online classes and took a day class in sakiori weaving in Durham from a saori weaver, Dawn Hummer. I harvested tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and figs.

Labor Day weekend was the Tapestry Weavers South retreat in Elkin, NC, this time only about an hour’s drive away! Sandy went with me and we stayed in a cabin outside of town. I ended up taking a wedge weave class with Connie Lippert which really opened up my mind to what I might do with all this wool I have in bins in the studio.

September brought the beginning of the Greensboro chapter of the Tiny Pricks Project. It was a lot of fun and I made some new friends. And I got to see BERNIE! Oh how I love Bernie.

I wrote about the Tiny Pricks Project and posted a lot of photos of it in October. My friend Leslie Millsaps passed away in a tragic car crash and many people are still mourning her.

A cancellation in Leslie Marsh’s Nature Bound workshop and a very wise impulse led me back to Topsail Beach for another round with Leslie’s patient and excellent teaching, this time a book with metal covers. I left with one of the most beautiful books I have ever made.

About ten of our Tiny Pricks embroideries were hung at Scuppernong Books for a few weeks around Thanksgiving until Lisa sent them off to join the big exhibition in New York.

We went to Lake Waccamaw for Thanksgiving, where, SURPRISE! we stayed at Fred’s house because Weezer managed to clean it up, fix it, replace the furniture, and make it livable again. Lisa and Tim left their rental house and moved back into their house down the road again, nearly a year after Hurricane Florence’s eye decimated the houses and piers along that shoreline.

And December. Well. I have mostly nested and cocooned but I did spend the past week doing a major purge of my studio. I squeezed a lot of stuff into my little bedroom and the plan is to repair the plaster and paint the front room, then move the living room furniture and TV into there, and my studio will move into what would properly be the dining room in a normal household, an open room next to the kitchen with much better light.

Sandy’s last day at work, ever, is today. A big shift is happening in our lives with the new decade. Good things are happening. I will spend some time writing about this tomorrow. And I will insert links back to posts later this week when I have access to a computer.

yearly wrap-ups

2018 Wrap-up

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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


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.

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.

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.



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!

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.

“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.

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.

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.


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.

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!

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.

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!

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.



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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

book arts, Family, fiber art, National Parks and Monuments, tapestry, 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.

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.

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.



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

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.


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.


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.

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.

DSC_8502


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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

yearly wrap-ups

2014: The Turning Point, Part Three

The Overlap

It is very hard for me to write about this part because of the strange joy I feel about it.

Just before Mama’s passing, I joined the American Tapestry Alliance, created a design and cartoon for my next tapestry, and talked to Pam about her tapestry retreats. At first I was inquiring about her ad in the ATA newsletter because I felt sure that there had to be a typo – how could this incredible opportunity be affordable? Weaving tapestry with other tapestry weavers in an Oregon cabin on a Pacific sea cliff?

I hardly had a chance to talk to Mama about it, but I mentioned how passionate I felt about going to live on the West Coast because I feel that I belong there. “What’s keeping you from going? Me?” she asked.

“Well, yeah,” I answered, in a tone that implied obviousness. Then I felt the awkwardness of the answer and made a joke, as I often did, about her outliving me. Seriously, I always thought that she might well live into her 100s. She had the toughness and the genes for it. I added that of course, also I am married and I have a job that I love, but yes, I would not want to leave her.

A few days later that conversation would haunt me for weeks when I heard from all sides that the widely held opinion that my mother had chosen her time to die. That she didn’t want to be a burden. That she had discussed many things with my sister concerning her final wishes that very week of our conversation, during what we now know was her last week with us.

I don’t think that my mother chose to die but I do think that she was willing to let go of her life once it became time. I hope that I will feel the same.

Now my life would turn toward looking at my future without her. Becoming an adult at age 53. Feeling no need to get her approval concerning my choices, which was always a problem between us. We are all very critical personalities in my family. I loved her, but her passing brought me a certain freedom that I can’t deny if I am to be honest about it. I was always caught in the stress of trying to please her and trying to please my soul. It was an impossible situation. I don’t have to justify my life to anyone but my Self now. Wow.

I still grieve, but life will always be different now. I feel that if my mother’s spirit is still watching, she would be pleased with me, mistakes and all. She finally understands.

yearly wrap-ups

2014: The Turning Point, Part Two

I began 2014 in an upward spiral of creativity. With my tendinitis and back pain much improved, my mind turned again to tapestry. I was having a great time weaving and sewing these fabric pieces, inspired and mentored from afar by Jude Hill. I am still sewing these because they are fun and portable. However, I have not yet decided what to do with them. For now, they are enough just being what they are.

In February I enjoyed this hike to Ridges Mountain Nature Preserve near Asheboro, and the kittens, of course.

In March, I enjoyed a two-day felting/bookmaking workshop with
Chad Alice Hagan, an artist who I’ve wanted to play with for a long time, right here around the corner from my house, thanks to Victoria Clegg and Rosser Tilley.

Elizabeth Lanier starts a group that will transform into the Central Carolina Fiber Guild.

I also nearly finish the Affinity scroll, which India Flint includes in her book about her students.

Gardening becomes my focus in April. But just a week after Mama wins the People’s Choice award in an art show in Lumberton, she gets mysteriously and gravely ill.

We cancel our vacation to Cahokia and go to Lake Waccamaw instead, and bring Mama back to Marietta from the rehab facility and Lisa’s house. She seems to be recovering well and begins living independently again. I realize that we need to get moving on adding the second bathroom in case she needs to come stay with us some, so I start gathering estimates.

Mama gets sick again and returns to the hospital. This time it seems under control and they place a drain tube on the fluid around her kidney. I leave for a week-long indigo dyeing workshop five hours away in Gatlinburg, Tennessee after Mama assures me that she will be okay until I get back. The next morning, I get the call from my sister. Mama died of a quick heart attack, and her last words to the nurse are “I hope you have a good life.” She certainly had a great full life.

yearly wrap-ups

2014 – The Turning Point, Part One

I am a childless woman by choice, and somewhat eccentric, and rather childlike myself. I think that not being a parent makes you less mature and more focused on selfish pursuits instead of say, regular meals and bedtime and general responsibility toward other people if you don’t fill that space with other people. When my mother used to ask me about grandbabies, I said that I would be glad to provide them if I could leave them for the weekend with a food bowl and a litterbox. So, she accepted the grandkits as her grandbabies from my side of the family.

With a beginning like that, I guess that this will be a different year end wrap up than the others. I didn’t mean to start out with that. It just happened.

I lost my mother in June. I lost my father in 1986. Nothing makes you grow up faster than when you no longer have your parents to turn to, whether through death or disease or having to become their caretakers.

I no longer have to dread this event – this life without her. It has happened.

I no longer have to worry about how long she would be able to live independently, how a nursing home might be paid for, whether she might have to be moved away from the community she loved, how her suffering would increase from day to day, both physically and mentally.

I no longer have to dread inheriting her home with my sister. It has happened. It is not fun. It is full of hoarded magazines, packed closets, knick-knacks from the 1950s, one hundred thousand pieces of paper that have to be inspected, empty frames and matboard under the beds, and requires that we pay extra bills in utilities, taxes, and maintenance for an unknown, probably years-long, amount of time in a poor county where I no longer wish to live and where houses take years to sell for far under their value.

It is full of memories and surprises and love.

It is full of how much I am like her, and how much we differ.

It is full of her humanity, her soul, her seventy years living in the same house as a wife, mother, artist, Christian, widow, traveler, community leader, friend, girlfriend, and independent woman.

Is it any wonder that I feel overwhelmed? Thank God I am not facing this alone. Without my sister and brother I don’t know how I’d do it.

Looks like I will have to make this year end post a four-parter.