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.

yearly wrap-ups

2013: A year of letting go and four lakes

In January, I let go of trying to get the Greensboro Fiber Guild going, and I let go of the idea of graduating by May since the class that I needed to do so looked like four months of misery. The “Whatever” book seemed to set a theme. Reclaiming a despised response for positive use. I ended up using this book for my journal during the fall.

I bought a used Macomber Add-a-Harness loom in great condition in February for only $500, but I’ve yet to weave on it! I have an ambitious project planned for double weave rag rugs and have been measuring the warp for this project ever since February (with a long break in summer and fall).

I enjoyed a trip to a cold and windy North Topsail Beach with a friend in mid-March, which included a lot of lying down in the sand searching for sharks’ teeth. I was sick as a dawg but the treasure hunting was irresistable. I want to go back and do it again. For some reason I didn’t write about it. I also created another altered book and wove a lovely scarf and went to a fun “Abstract-a-licious” workshop with Lyric Kinard.

Back yard clean-up dominated April. In hindsight, I am amazed at how much we got done, and how awful it looks now. I had a lot of hopes for getting my food garden back up and running back then, hopes that were pretty much dashed by June. Sandy bought a lovely garden swing for my Christmas present, where I rested and listened to birdsong between bouts of yanking out vinca and honeysuckle and English ivy and wild yam and dreamed about tomatoes turning red on the vine.

In May I moved some herbs and ferns and shade-loving plants to my small front yard, a garden that I plan to expand this year with more hostas and foxgloves and lenten roses. Sandy and I spent time at Lake Waccamaw where I played with natural and fiber-reactive dyes and we tried to rescue a sick duckling. I went kayaking on Lake Orange with Missy. I also said an amicable goodbye to Elements Gallery at the end of May. Being in an art co-op had been one of my dreams, but it turned out that I’m happier on my own. Great group of artists, though, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

I had an incredibly full and satisfying summer.

An early June dyeing workshop with Dede Styles taught me a lot. I learned why a lot of my experimentation at Lake Waccamaw didn’t work out! Sandy and I had a beautiful weekend in Asheville. We LOVE Asheville and Black Mountain, and we stay in a cheap motel in Black Mountain to make it affordable.

I went to my first Moral Monday rally in Raleigh with my friend Deb – and discovered that my sister and brother-in-law had been going to them regularly! My brother-in-law was one of the early 900+ non-violent demonstrators to be arrested. His trial is coming up soon. I am so proud of him. I joined a couple of my childhood friends at the beach where my friend, Jojo Hammond, played at a Wilmington music spot. My sister, brother-in-law, and grand nephew were involved in an tragic rescue attempt at Lake Waccamaw which left them reeling. I went back to the lake and spent more time with them.

July was SO FULL. The absolute highlight of my year was my week-long workshop with my art goddess India Flint at Madeline Island School of the Arts in Lake Superior. It’s difficult to choose photos from this trip. I posted and photographed extensively and here is the link to the posts.

I went back to one more Moral Monday rally, and I feel that I am a part of an important and powerful movement. We shall see if we are successful when the next election rolls around, but it will be a tough road and may take a long time to correct the direction of our once-moderate state due to the gerrymandering and heavy spending by Tea Party Republicans and ALEC.

August was no less amazing. I was full of inspiration from my time with India and played a lot with bundling fabrics and eco-dyeing. I moved my studio into the front room of the house. I started the last class of my BA in Studio Art. But the really huge life event happened unexpectedly and suddenly when we went to Petsmart for some cat food late one evening and returned with these guys, who immediately set to wrecking the house, terrorizing the older cats, emptying our bank accounts, and wiggling into our hearts.

Even though I knew that I needed to spend all my spare time (that is, other than planning and going to my mother’s 90th birthday party) in my Ceramics III class, a class that I was woefully unprepared for, I was excited about dyeing with goldenrod and began an exciting multi-media project that involving dye plants from the farm and a ceramic box with relief maps. Dyeing and plant prints on paper inspired ceramic book covers.

Too busy in the ceramics studio and playing with the kittens to post much in October. All baskets have been converted from their original uses to being toys for the boys.

In November, suddenly, lots of blog posts. I decided to take a different, simpler tack and concentrate on posting two photos per day, one representing my activities or feelings that day, and one with some detail of my home, yard, or nearby walks. The idea is to get me blogging regularly again, keep me creative, keep me looking for the little things that I might take for granted.

My Uncle Wilton died. He was a good, kind man and will be missed by many.

The kittens were finally cleared for neutering after a couple of months of fighting ringworm. We took a long weekend trip by train to Washington DC for Sandy’s birthday, which included visiting several museums, the National Zoo, and Old Town Alexandria. Thanksgiving was at my sister’s house (little Clark Lake below is in front of her house), then at my mother’s house. I worked like crazy to get my art pieces done for my Ceramics class.

My Aunt Louise followed my Uncle Wilton a month later after 65 years of marriage. Somehow, I shrugged off my humbug and decorated for Christmas (well, more than usual, anyway). I pulled out my magic cloth that I began in Jude Hill’s Magic Diaries class over two years ago, before my hand surgery. I stitched until my hands needed a break, then I started pulling out pieces of my fabric stash to iron in preparation for weaving and more stitching. A quiet Christmas at my mother’s house was followed by a heavenly staycation in which I have mostly done absolutely nothing but read, play, watch Netflix, and clean out clutter.

Oh, and I visited my friend Missy at Lake Orange again, where we explored an amazing old cemetery on its shore.

I nearly forgot to say that I graduated with my BA in Studio Art, a second degree that I began way back the early 80s. I made a B+ in my Ceramics III class, which left me with a 3.51 GPA. I don’t really feel that it has made me any more of an artist, although I did benefit from the classes that I took at UNCG. I identified as an artist before, so it doesn’t surprise me that I almost left this out. I do feel a huge weight lifted – another bullet point off the bucket list.

So I leave you with still another lake photo. Water has brought me a lot of joy and some sadness this year. These reflections were very good for me. I feel enthusiastic about the year ahead and wish you a very Happy 2014.

yearly wrap-ups

2012: The year of Ireland and sputtering ovaries

This, my 51st year on this go-round on Earth, was a roller coaster ride! I have also discovered, in looking back, that I really did not blog much.

In January, my focus was on healing. I had surgery in two places, my left wrist and my left palm. It took longer than I expected to heal, but I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer to play with some dye and fabric. I also painted this acrylic piece, unusual for me to paint on canvas, but it was an unusual time. I reintroduced myself to a sewing machine, inspired by the work of Jude Hill and her students, because I could not hand-stitch. These boros fascinate me – weaving strips of cloth and stitching them together pushes my buttons on so many levels.

In February, I celebrated my 51st birthday, my 7th blogiversary, and began obsessively planning our trip to Ireland. I also started weaving on my loom again, and put together a couple of little books, both of which belong to new owners now.

March was mainly focused on my paying job, as it often is. I wasn’t well enough to tackle the enormity of the garden clean-up to get the Back Forty going again full on, but I enjoyed the time I had left with my buddy Guido.

April was full of menopausal craziness and anticipating the big trip ahead, but I did take a few great photos of my hometown and nearby sites.

May was seriously all about Ireland. I couldn’t possibly pick only two of my favorite photos to post here, so go to the posts. We spent our 25th anniversary between Kenmare and a beautiful inn on the seacliffs of the Dingle Peninsula. Our journey left me with a heartache to go back, and we both agreed that we will start planning for our retirement there.

June: I guess that I did get a little gardening done.

We spent the last week of June at Lake Waccamaw.

In July, I had a great weaving month. Mainly because I played. It is good to play.

In August, not only did this website get buggered up, my laptop got such a nasty Trojan horse that we finally wiped the hard drive. I decided that I didn’t care that much about having total control over my blog’s design, and began the move to I have not regretted it.

September brought the Art-is-You retreat in California, one of the nicest retreats I have attended, and that is saying a lot. Plus I got to hang out for about eight hours with one of my favorite people, exploring Point Reyes National Seashore and eating a great dinner in Petaluma.

I finished weaving my favorite piece of the year in October, a tapestry based on a photograph I took on a short hike in front of our inn near Dingle.

It was a tough month for me, though. My depression turned severe. I holed up in my bedroom more than ever. I didn’t write much in public about it. I had to send my buddy Guido over the Rainbow Bridge.

I did get by with a little help from my friends JoJo and Lauren, who invited me for a beautiful weekend in Wilmington and Wrightsville and Topsail Beaches.

November: Fun handwoven cuffs, a couple more books, Thanksgiving, hair dyeing, and some emotional healing.

In December, taking back my kitchen, getting rid of stuff, and turning the dining room into a studio became my obsession. I took on some new responsibility at Elements Gallery. Fun with marbling paper at Susanne’s, which led to this book:

Hopefully, my art mojo is back to stay for a while in 2013.

yearly wrap-ups

2011 Wrap-up

The word I said would be my guiding theme for 2011 was “play.” The real theme of 2011 turned out to be “get it done.” But I did get in some wonderful travel and art experiences anyway.

Much of the first part of it was miserable. I was in pain physically, mentally, and emotionally. It wasn’t due to turning 50 or officially hitting menopause. I welcomed those things. I have to be able to work with my hands, whether it is through art, cooking, or gardening. That creativity is what saves me from major depression, and I was not able to do any of that without paying for it in pain.

In February I celebrated 50 in Los Gatos, California, at An Artful Journey, painting papers for three days under the guidance of Albie Smith and pondering the direction my life would take. That was a wonderful experience! It is so exhilarating to be able to travel by myself across the country to take advantage of these teachers – ten years ago I would never have predicted this possibility.

Susanne Martin and I also traveled to the Focus on Book Arts conference in Forest Grove, Oregon, where we met up with my book artist friend Judy Strom. We both fell in love with the area and enjoyed our one night in Portland, although we got to see very little of it. It definitely gave us both a yearning to go back, and Susanne was able to get her Lakota book into a gallery in Portland. Maybe she will get to teach at the next one in 2013, in which case there is no doubt that I will tag along.

In July our family rented an oceanfront cottage at Sunset Beach and played with my aunt and cousin and cousin-in-law from Denver. That was a fantastic week.

Over Labor Day weekend, Sandy and I went to Asheville where I took a one-day shibori workshop at Cloth Fiber Workshop and Sandy indulged his newly discovered fascination with painting by wandering around the galleries. Asheville. God, I love Asheville.

I took out a home equity loan and we replaced our entire HVAC system – both the furnace and the AC were on their last legs (or dead) and our ductwork was total crap. This also meant that I had to get asbestos removal specialists to remove all the ductwork. My plan for the rest of the money was to remove the deck so that we could get to our basement, a situation I won’t go into, but it was nearly impossible to do and was flooding frequently. I wanted to rebuild a simple small, screened porch to replace it and bolster a joist beneath the house that somebody before us inexplicably sawed in two, but then was told that our three 1922 vintage chimneys were letting water into the house, so the rest of the money went to deck removal and chimney repair, and a small platform off the back door for safety’s sake, and we just have a tarp thrown over the basement entrance. So it was “get it done” year for the house, and the next thing will probably have to be rebuilding the bathroom floor over that joist. All of this will have to wait, because I am not putting off travel in order to do it.

I skipped Journalfest because of the house repairs and the other trips, telling myself that I needed to show some restraint and frugality and that I could always go in 2012. Except that after Journalfest was over, Teesha announced that she was not doing Journalfest any more, which broke my heart. Man, I loved that event, that place, those people. It still makes tears well up in my eyes to think about it. But as I will soon tell you, 2012 will have delights in store for me anyway!

I did all the proper 50 year old medical tests and procedures – I officially hit menopause, had my yearly mammogram, had a good dermatologist check me out thoroughly and pronounce my skin cancer-free, and my second colonoscopy. also polyp-free (family history made me begin at 40). I spent a lot of time in physical therapy for my de Quervain’s tendinitis at the beginning of the year, which didn’t help, then tried injections a couple of times, which did help but the doctor would not do more than 2-3 max per year, and they didn’t last but 3 months. So I had surgery for de Quervain’s and this Dupuytren’s nodule in my left hand just before Christmas. Which is why I’m posting this wrap-up a week after I began it – it takes a while to type one-handed, although I’m very good at it. Dr. Weingold thinks that the surgery was successful – he said that my tendons were pretty tightly bundled up in there. The surgery expanded the hole that they pass through. The nodule removal was more preventative – it could have eventually drawn my fingers down and surgery now is much less recovery time than later, so I decided to do both. “GET IT DONE.”

My mother really suffered this year with sciatica and that was a huge concern. Thank God she is much better now after several epidural injections. She also had her cataracts removed. All this means that she ended the year still able to live on her own and drive around and do all her Mama thangs – not bad for 88 years old.

The big bucket list item was joining an artists’ co-op – Elements Gallery – this year. My sales were pretty decent for Christmas so I guess I will renew my contract in April, although for a smaller amount of space.

Since May I have been taking online classes from Jude Hill (Spirit Cloth), and although I have not been able to stitch nearly as much as I wanted to, it has been a mind and heart opening process.

We lost Miss Jazz in April. That was heart-breaking. Our little girl was with us for 17 years, and her spirit was amazing and strong until the end when her twisted little body just couldn’t carry on any more. Miss Lucy scared us this summer with asthma so bad it confused everyone and put her in the ICU for a few days. We thought we might lose her too. Then Guido got cancer and kidney stones and spent time in ICU in December, but it seems to be benign, thank God. Two days after Guido got sick, Theo apparently ate some chicken bones from the garbage and HE had to spend time in the ICU. So we really ended up with major bills this fall, and almost lost our other fur-babies.

So what will be my theme for 2012? I don’t know yet. I think that it will be a much better year. Maybe my theme for the first half of the year will be “patience” and then I’ll adopt another for the second half.

art, yearly wrap-ups

A Year of Artistic Inspiration – Link Love

2010 has been such a brain-busting, heart-opening, imaginative adventure for me, despite the fact that I spent a lot of it bemoaning my tendinitis and thinking more than doing. I decided to do a post about all the teachers that I have been inspired by this past year (and during a little of 2009).

Susanne Martin has been an amazing friend and teacher. She has gone way above and beyond the normal mentoring with me, supplying me with equipment and expertise and labor in beating paper pulp for me. She has even (with husband John’s help) delivered me the goods! I am so grateful for her kindness and help. And we’re planning to go to the Focus on Book Arts conference in June. She and Judy Strom and I are going to have a blast!

Right now, I am deep into the book Eco Colour by India Flint. I love getting interesting colors from nature, and the surprises from resist dyeing delight me. Back in the 80s-90s I spent a lot of time with dyepots. Now I remember why I was so fascinated by them.

A new influence on me is Jude Hill. Looking at her “spirit cloth” makes my heart beat faster and I forget to breathe for a moment. Guess that means that I’ll be weaving some of these onionskin dyed fabrics together very soon. And rooting through my old clothes for more scraps. I do have some old rag balls from when I was locker hooking rag rugs, so that will probably be the saving grace for my hands. Scissors aren’t really my friends right now.

Future and past teacher: Albie Smith. I am wriggling with anticipation for February 17, 2011, the day that I turn 50 years old and will begin a three-day class with Albie at An Artful Journey in Los Gatos, California. I took a daylong class with Albie at Art and Soul in Hampton, Virginia in May, and it whetted my appetite for more from this gentle but firmly-pushing teacher whose color-drenched work is marvelous eye candy. I hope that one day I’ll get to take a papermaking class with her as well. I love her pulp-painted work.

Another huge bookbinding influence as well as photography inspiration is LK Ludwig. I took two of LK’s classes at Journalfest in October 2009, and an online class of hers in late 2009 because I couldn’t get enough of her insights and thought provoking prompts. She has helped me push the envelope in personal journaling with photographs.

Dan Essig will always be special to me. He was my first bookbinding teacher and so was a life-changing instructor for me. I’ve taken two daylong classes from him at art retreats and spent a week in his Wooden Books class at John C. Campbell Folk School. I love his work and appreciation for the odd and ordinary found objects and funky illustrations.

Melanie Testa tries to blog Every Single Day! I took her soy wax batik class at Art and Soul in Hampton in May and her friendly spirit has buoyed my spirits ever since. Every time I open my copy of Inspired to Quilt I find another page where she doodled a little star or heart or other encouragement. Batik is another resist technique that I’ll be exploring more in 2011.

Diana Trout, author of Journal Spilling, has become my friend too. Her wry wit and totally authentic demeanor is a joy to be around. Her teaching has freed me of a lot of my self-imposed constraints, and that may be the most important thing that happened to me all year. Here’s the post I wrote about her class at Art and Soul in May.

Traci Bunkers is just plain cool. Traci Bunkers would be who I want to be when I grow up, except that she is younger than me. Traci is probably me in an alternate universe where I am single and living in Kansas. I’ve taken three classes with Traci. The one in May was McGyver Roller Printing, and her book Print and Stamp Lab is a playground. She taught me how to carve stamps and is another artist who has stretched my brain. Her willingness to share her very honest personal journals online is much appreciated and admired.

Carla Sonheim: Wow. What can I say about this beautiful woman? She is the Silly Queen. She doesn’t like glue so she uses packing tape. She helped me transform junk mail into amazing, unusual painted papers. My favorite quote of the year is from Carla: “It’s square enough.” Her book Drawing Lab will convince the most stubborn “non”-artist that s/he can draw and have fun doing it.

“Outside artist” embroiderer extraordinaire Susan Sorrell. Took an online class from her at the beginning of last year that I am STILL working on! I became so obsessed with stitching that I stitched my way into serious numbness problems with my hands! I love her style. I love embroidery. I wish that I could do more of it. She is seriously funny on Facebook too.

Roxanne Padgett’s class at Journalfest was so easy and fun that I actually almost had a panic attack from all the goodness of it. Really. Rarely, but sometimes that does happen to me. When I raid the remnant bins at JoAnn’s or root through my sample and scrap pile, Roxanne’s class fills my brain. Her motto is “Fear No Color.” She makes me want a sewing machine in the worst way. Too bad sewing machines hate me.

Here’s the story about Leighanna Light, Thingmaker. I had a major migraine the morning I took her class. I managed to get dressed, get downstairs for coffee (otherwise I figured that I would never get over it) and popped into her class to ask for the class materials and to tell her why I wouldn’t be able to make it. I saw her samples and said, uh, I’ll go back upstairs, get my supplies, and try to get through the demos. I ended up having one of the most fun classes ever. My migraine passed after an hour, and at the end of the day I thought in wonder, “Damn, I came so close to missing this class!”

Jody England Hansen: I took her class at Journalfest on making niches and boxes to hold really cool objects in books, including smaller journals. I really liked Jody. I would take another class from her in a heartbeat. I felt like I tried to do too much in her class and that was frustrating, but it was because she made me want to do more. She was another teacher who had a warm heart that showed.

Last but not least, Orly Avineri. I will see her again and her class from the outside at An Artful Journey. I took her class “Mapping Me” at Journalfest 2010. I felt inexplicably weird that day, but I left her class with some really great artwork. I have a feeling that she would be a wonderful teacher in a smaller class where she didn’t have to spread out her attention so thinly. I’m looking forward to seeing her again in February.

yearly wrap-ups

A 2009 Retrospective

January 2009 – thrilled over Obama’s victory and I started making bigger, more complicated books. I started a woodcut class at UNCG. I struggled with hip bursitis until the end of June, and that’s all I have to say about that. It needed to be put out there because it really affected my gardening and my spirit, hence, not a lot of blogging going on.

March 2009: I liked this epiphany, much more for the reason that I’ve pretty much held to this manifesto! Concentrated mostly on the woodcuts, from what I can tell. Funny how I don’t remember much else about this part of the year. I must have been in serious daydreaming land. That’s okay, the year would get much better!

April 2009: Looking forward to the day when I can weave baskets again. I spent a lot of time in the gazebo, birdwatching, journaling, goofing off in general. Probably the most important thing that I accomplished this month was totally stepping away from the Slow Food leadership team. I still share the mission of Slow Food, but man, was I burnt out.

In May 2009, I made my second trip to what looks like will become an annual event for me: the Art & Soul retreat in Hampton, Virginia. This year, I learned longstitch binding from a couple of different instructors. It opened up my color muse and fed my desire to make things from cool old books and papers. Planted a LOT of butterbeans. Seriously fretted over upcoming budget cuts and the economy in general.

June – the month of dot addiction. I painted dots on everything. I cut off all my hair and took a History of Photography class 4 days a week. Finally I succumbed to reality and got a steroid shot in my hip. Ow, but it fixed it.

July was a major month of firsts. First whale, seal, and bald eagle sightings. First glacier. First icebergs. First snow in July. First cruise. First and hopefully not last trip to Alaska and British Columbia.

Well, THIS trip was hard to top. I wore my camera completely out. I actually sat on the deck of a ship and sketched. Yeah, I want to go back – but maybe not on a cruise this time.

August 2009: I blogged every single day except Aug. 1. The month began great with setting up a table at Art Oasis with Susanne and selling a couple of my handmade books. I set up an Etsy store (not in operation at this time). Started my transformation into Betty White. Ended the month in a world of dental pain which didn’t get resolved for six weeks. Bought a fancy new DSLR camera.

This green cotton and dozens of figs were my positive garden surprises this year. I spent most of September in a fog of painkillers and antibiotics. But I made a lot of paper and spent a lot of time shelling butterbeans and field peas, enough to actually freeze some for the winter.

October was full of travel. Susanne had to cancel the Italy plans for summer 2010, so I decided to spend the money I’d saved for the trip on other fun things. I bought a small upright freezer to store paper pulp for winter papermaking. Sandy and I took a 3 day weekend trip to the Black Mountain/Asheville/Hendersonville area. I worried about catching swine flu and not being able to go to Journalfest in Washington state. Little did I know that I should have been worrying about my clumsy feet instead – I tripped on a curb and fell on both hands.

The Journalfest posts are here. I will definitely be going back again next year. It was held at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington, right on the Puget Sound. I saw the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen in my life there. I took an enormous amount of landscape shots. I took two classes with LK Ludwig and one class with Dan Essig, two book artists with completely different styles who I greatly admire.

Then, at the very end of October, something truly amazing happened. We found Theo, an 8 year old shelter cat up for adoption at Petsmart. He is the exact image of my little Squirtley Dirtley that I lost two years ago, except healthier and with a more assertive personality. Remember Puss in Boots in Shrek II? Yeah, Theo has that vibe down pat, especially the kitty sad eyes when he wants to be loved. He is spoiled rotten. His rise to Top Cat was rapid and unexpected. It has pretty much been all about Theo around here since he came to live with us.

We made a brief trip to Sunset Beach for a family Thanksgiving, a place that is familiar but constantly changing with the currents.

And here we are at the end of December. I’m planning my trips for the year ahead, and taking art classes online. The art history class at UNCG this semester will be Modern Art. Tomorrow I may or may not list my goals for the year, keeping in mind that they are usually interesting in retrospect but seldom reflect what really happens in the future. I would not have guessed the events of this year a year ago. I hope to have another great year, except that I’d like to order a lot less pain, please. Hello, anybody up there hear that?

yearly wrap-ups

2008, a year of loss and growth

Every year I look back through my blog and write up a little retrospective. I think that it’s valuable. It usually seems like a longer time ago to me and there are always things that I have forgotten. I’m especially surprised at all the headache complaints.

In 2008, I was reeling from the loss of my furchild, Squirt, but I felt strangely freed as well. I didn’t understand it at the time, but the thing that I had dreaded most had happened, and my load was lightened. I understand better about the damage that living in a negative future can do to your psyche, and I turned my energy toward art. I learned a lot about letting go and living authentically.

So here are what I gleaned as the highlights of the blog last year.

In January 2008, Sandy was rehired. I changed medications and got on with my life, especially my creative life. I planned and explored some paths that didn’t work out, but I did begin weaving the tapestry bag.

February brought the finished tapestry bag, the beginning of the labyrinth tapestry, woven ATCs, the discovery of podcasts and free audio books, the rediscovery of discussion lists, and beginning to fix up the house.

In March, I was thrilled to finally earn the trust of Mama Kitty after 12 years! I got heavily into the woven ATCs. Usual garden stuff. After years of grousing, one of my major goals of replacing the SUV was completed by the purchase of a purple Honda Fit.

April 2008: “By the Sea” tapestries. After photos of the Back Forty, with my favorite photo of Mama Kitty. Obsession with the free book shelf at Ed McKay’s. A LOT of time hanging with Mama Kitty on the deck.

The Back Forty is at its most beautiful in May. I went to Art and Soul and bound my first book and carved my first stamp. Mama Kitty went home. I changed my mind – this is my favorite photo – from 2007 just seconds before she whacked the bunny. I miss my feline garden friend.

In June we took our annual week-long vacation at Lake Waccamaw, with an unwelcome wildlife encounter. Cherry picking. Heat wave from hell. Most significantly, I made my first paper with the help of Susanne.

July was all about papermaking, binding books, journaling, and spending lots of time in the studio. Said goodbye to my friend John at the celebration of his life. These artichokes, from which I would later make beautiful paper, were in bloom.

In early August we put up a gazebo with mosquito netting in the very back – a wonderful place to relax and journal nearly bug-free. Recycled papermaking, altered journals, and more small bound journals.

I actually went to Slow Food Nation in San Francisco in late August, but I killed my camera and didn’t blog about it until September. I started back to school as an art undergrad (for the third time!) but I dropped my design class because I was frustrated with the Mac and physically hurting from being on the computer all the time. My need for blogging decelerates quickly. Finished the Labyrinth tapestry.

October brings another loss with the passing of Miss Peanut. I take an incredible week-long class in book arts with Daniel Essig at John C. Campbell Folk School.

Naturally, as an Obama supporter I was excited about Election Night in November. Guido had dental surgery, while I had the fun of forcing antibiotics down his throat twice a day for weeks.

And I didn’t blog much in December. Did the usual holiday family stuff. Had a lot of pain problems with my hip, but my attitude is pretty good. We bought some new furniture and painted the porch. Picked up and shelled a lot of pecans. Greatly disappointed with Obama and his lack of vision for our food future, but happier than I would have been with the alternative. A pretty laid-back Christmas, all-in-all, and focusing now on 2009.

augggghhhh, yearly wrap-ups

2007, don’t let the door hit ya on the way out

The year certainly started out well – in January I put up a butt-ugly greenhouse and Sandy and I hauled almost 4 tons of composted leaves from the front driveway to the Back Forty. I built raised beds and covered them with Reemay/Agribon fabric and made plans to do some winter market gardening in the winter of 2008. The 2007 winter farm was a test. I also exposed a seed company whose name rhymes with Dark Greed for spamming gardening bloggers. I think that they have stopped, but I think that they are still checking on me. ::::paranoia::::ooh:::: Nah, it’s just that I don’t feel like getting them all stirred up again, but if you’re interested, you’ll find the posts in January 2007 archives.

February was full of seed starting and I was still planning to go to Italy in the summer, at that point.

In March, I took some great pics of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse reenactment. I enjoyed using my new camera, a LOT, and I spent most of my energy on planting the Back Forty.

Early in April I spent a week at John C. Campbell Folk School, where I learned to weave hats. I gave away bags and bags of salad greens. I tried to kick out the narrator in my head and only blog when I was blogging, and have been mostly successful.

On May 16, 2007, Sandino Galore and I celebrated our 20th anniversary, so I wrote about our wedding. On May 21, 2007, I had the most incredible dinner in my life with Carlo Petrini and leaders of Slow Food USA and Slow Food in North Carolina.

June brought my usual trip to Lake Waccamaw. I put a window air conditioner in the studio and got serious about using it.

In July, I did more Slow Food thingies and suddenly burned slam out. I spent a lot of time in my studio and began participating in “One Local Summer 2007.” My garden was at its peak for beauty and I did some before and after photos.

In August, I started my last class, hoped that our air conditioner wouldn’t break down, said good-bye to rain for a long time, got this laptop for $60 (woo-hoo!) and wove kitchen towels. I cured garlic and onions for the first time.

A Crafting 365 project became a Crafting 25 project in September, as part of an effort to jumpstart my new enthusiasm for weaving. However, my depression and anxiety and all the sadness I was repressing brought that to a screeching halt. I’m glad that I switched gears to concentrating on art and creativity though.

My friend John died in October. We blocked, for a few months anyway, a ruling to put black dye in raw milk in N.C. I ate a lot of butterbeans, but didn’t have enough to freeze. My husband made a very bad decision and took a new job. I realized that the winter farm wasn’t going to happen this year because of the worsening drought.

In November, Squirt was diagnosed with multiple health problems. Our focus was treating hypothyroidism and planning to do surgery on a thyroid tumor. At the time I was totally unaware that the “beginning of kidney failure” was incurable. I attended two major food events: the RAFT picnic at Celebrity Dairy, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Conference. Sandy lost his new job.

And in December I graduated with my M.A. in Liberal Studies. We installed a new Slow Food convivium chair and set up a board/committee structure that we hope will bring new energy and ideas to the convivium. And you know the rest. Oh God. Let’s move on to 2008, shall we?