coffee pot posts, fiber art

Saturday morning coffee pot post

20230121_103835This week I took a free online class with Gwen Hedley through – actually, I’m still taking it because I got started late. It’s a short class, designed to get you going with some simple instructions. I decided to do it precisely because it provides a creative jumping off point and I’m following the instructions as exactly as possible to give myself the limitations I need to get out of this creative rut. I bought Gwen’s book “Drawn to Stitch” years ago and her work is representative of the direction in which I’d like to go. So I have stitching on this project to look forward to during the next week.


First was mark making with acrylic paints on fabric. We were to use three colors – a light color for the base fabric, and medium and dark colors for the paint. One piece was supposed to cover much of the fabric and the other was to be more lightly marked with lots of negative space showing. Each piece was supposed to have more of the dark color on one side and more of the medium color on the other. Then we cut it up and put it back together in ways that we could find links between the pieces to embellish with stitching and applique.


I found that I liked the back sides of the fabric where the paint bled through as much as the front sides. It almost gave me too many choices and I started seeing the wisdom of her advice to keep it small. My pull was to make a larger piece and I was considering making a box shape – I still might do something like this but not now.


Here’s where I have ended up. Now the embellishment will begin.


I realized this week that I have spent nearly every other weekend away from home for over three months. We were at the lake in late September when the remnants of Hurricane Ian came through, and then I traveled for pleasant events, such as Leslie’s class and the weaving retreat and our train trip to Charlotte, and the last six weeks I have been to Lake Waccamaw four times. It is time for me to stay in Greensboro for a while, even though I love being at the lake and I was happy to spend time with Lisa and Tim. That’s been a lot of driving.

I have been so sick this week with sinus pain. Feeling much better today because I finally started taking Allegra D again. I did not want to take it because antihistamines trigger my restless leg syndrome, but finally the headaches got to be too much. I’ve also been using a neti pot several times a day. The other night I neti-ed at 3:30 in the morning! This all rapidly got worse after we stayed in that hotel room in Asheville that was saturated in fragrance. Hotels should realize that upon smelling that level of perfume, people wonder what they are trying to cover up. Anyway, I hope that I’m on the road to healing now. This afternoon I have a massage scheduled and that should help my aching neck and shoulder, which is a chronic problem.

Now I need to get hold of my growing desire not to leave the house. It’s funny how I can travel to other places with little problem but once I get in my house or office or the lake house, I do NOT want to leave for any reason. I need to get out and take walks.

My sister seems to be on her way to healing, although of course, the grief is very, very hard. Her shingles cleared up and she has gotten down to the business of learning to live alone. She just found her husband’s journal, last instructions, and three new poems on his phone yesterday. I’d love to make a book with Tim’s poetry.

This coming week Sandy is having surgery to remove half of his thyroid gland. He is quite nervous about it but seems to be more concerned about the bill than anything. My guess is that Medicare should take care of most of it. If he wasn’t on Medicare, then I would be very concerned. I watched my mother go through thyroid surgery and I feel as good as possible about this surgeon after we met with him. It’s not the worst cancer, if that ends up what it is. They couldn’t tell from the biopsy, so into his neck they will go. I worry about him going under anesthesia more than anything, but there is no good worrying about it since worry won’t change what has to be done.

coffee pot posts, critters, Lake Waccamaw

Saturday morning coffee pot post at noon


^^^My yin yang feline nephew and niece

I’m down at the lake again for the three day weekend. My sister got the gift of shingles for her birthday, which is Monday. She is doing fairly well, though, because she went to the doctor and got meds for it at an early stage. It’s chilly, so we’ve pretty much been hanging out birdwatching in the sun room facing the lake. She cooked soup before I got here, and I cooked chicken tetrazini last night. We watched an 1981 movie last night, The Four Seasons, which I had forgotten about. It was a good movie to watch 40+ years later, after you’ve been married for decades and have seen your friends get divorces or drift away as your lives change, basically relating to the middle aged issues that I was too young to understand at the time.

I haven’t even been over to the house where I usually stay. At this time of year we keep the water cut off and the heat barely on over there. My sister’s house is lovely, warm, and comfortable. I’m happy here, even with our missing Tim. I worried over Lisa getting sick, but I was going to come here anyway because sometimes when you’re grieving, you just need someone to sit with you and listen and not try to fix anything. She is finally getting some sleep and that will help her more than anything.

The skies are almost always interesting here and that’s why I take so many photos. Maybe one day I’ll make an artist book of just my Lake Waccamaw water/sky photos.


This morning was interesting. The next door neighbor’s daughter got married on the dock in the photo above. We watched from the porch. It is windy and in the low 40s and we could see how cold everyone was!

I went to the local grocery store where an old man with a gold cross around his neck tried to engage me in a political conversation over the price of food and how the people in Washington did not care how it affected seniors. I told him that I knew exactly what he meant and moved on. Then the handsome young man at the checkout flirted with me. I’ve reached the point in my life that I appreciate this, if it is done right, and it was.

Sandy got the cardiologist approval for his thyroid surgery so I guess we’ll schedule that soon.

I registered for a book arts workshop near Volterra, Italy in September 2024, so I have that to look forward to and save money for. I should be retired by then. It is four classes led by four teachers doing one book project. A different teacher leads you every day. One of them is Laurie Doctor, who I’ve been aching to take a class from for a long time. I’m not super interested in calligraphy, but I love her work and her writing and her palette of colors. She is so inspirational.

Still musing over a trip to Scotland in May/June. I’m not sure about it just yet. There’s too much sickness going around and it’s making me nervous about planning five months out.


Looking ahead in 2023

I’ve been writing this post in my head for so long, and of course when I sit down to actually write it on the computer, my mind goes blank. I’m giving myself a whole lot of slack lately, because it’s been rough. As far as this blog goes, I keep thinking that once I get my mojo back I will develop it more into my art website and archive the blog and then blog on Substack. Or archive this WordPress blog and move to Substack entirely. I played around with it yesterday and this morning some. I need to learn more about it before I make that decision.

It is always good to write up the year’s summary because I always find that I did a lot more than I thought. Or maybe it seems like it because that’s pretty much the times that I write. Here’s what I find interesting about getting those tapestries finished and ready for display and delivered – the weight of that procrastination was much, much heavier than I thought. I really want to move back to doing book arts and collage more, but I always had that damn unfinished tapestry hanging over my head. I felt like I had to work on it before I could let myself work on other projects, and what happened was that most of the time, I ended up doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong. I am pleased and proud of that tapestry. I am NOT happy that it took me almost eight years to weave and finish it. A lot of that was due to physical issues, but I could have lightened my load by getting it done more quickly when I was able.

My hope is that now that elephant in the room has been released to the jungle, I can play in the studio, maybe do some of these online classes that I bought, and banish the word “SHOULD” from my artist brain this year.

If I can get enough of a body of work together this year and highlight it on this website, maybe I can get some artist residencies after I retire in June 2024. Then I could travel AND do place-based art.

Of course, I have travel on my mind too. I’m not so sure that I’ll attend Focus on Book Arts if they have it this year. Last year I was surprised by the big increase in cost. Part of the reason I could fly to Oregon for this event was that it was always very reasonably priced. Then when they canceled it, it seemed to me that they could have sent an email saying that they needed everyone to register or it would be canceled for low enrollment BEFORE they canceled it. I don’t know what was going on behind the scenes and I know it is a volunteer run event, so I’m not mad, but I am disappointed. I am able to travel because I search out deals way ahead of time. You pretty much have to book airfare several months ahead to get a good price. If I can’t trust that they’ll have the event more than two months ahead of time, that’s a budget problem for me. Refundable fares are more expensive, and I usually go with travel insurance instead. I was also annoyed because I chose FOBA when I could have driven to Convergence which was held at the same time. However, I enjoyed Portland and lucked into getting an art class while I was there, so it turned out okay.

This experience makes me rethink the travel insurance for future trips – maybe I should spend the money on refundable airfare instead. It won’t help with getting my money back for events if something happens to make us cancel our trip on our end though.

Anyway, we are talking about going to Scotland in late May/early June this year. Sandy obviously can’t do much walking, so as long as we can take trains around the countryside, that may be our best bet for sightseeing. Scotland has gorgeous scenery and lots of trains. Then later I want to do a “girls’ trip” with my sister and a friend, and go to Scotland as well as England. Maybe Cornwall or Wales. Maybe somewhere else in Europe. My sister wants to do a river cruise, and that sounds very appealing.

I’ve been saving up my miles with United Airlines, and Sandy and I should be able to buy tickets that are very inexpensive with these miles. Then we’ll be just looking at accommodations and food and land transportation. I’ve told Sandy that he will need to pitch in more money for this trip if we go. As far as airlines go, I’ve had the best experience with United. When we got caught up in that shitstorm of canceled flights just before Memorial Day, they were very helpful and kind. It was Aer Lingus that was the problem because they shut down their customer service counter before the luggage was accounted for, and didn’t even have a sign on their office door in Boston Logan Airport!

I always have to keep in mind that Sandy is not in good health. He can totally fool you into thinking otherwise, which is great – he is not a whiner or complainer – but it is not great that he is often in denial about it. He has multiple issues that are being managed but they are not curable. Everything that I plan has to take that into account – that I might end up being a caretaker instead. Of course, I would really rather not think about it either, but that’s the way it is.

Now I’m going to copy and paste this post into Substack in case WordPress decides to eat it for Sunday dinner. It’s already given me a warning message that I am not allowed to edit this type of post. WHUT YOU MEAN, WORDPRESS? Gah.

art, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Saturday Morning Coffee Pot Post

Oh my god, I can’t believe that WordPress just ate my entire post without saving it. I really have to reconsider using this platform. I’m paying for it and it can be such a pain. Maybe I will have to start writing it separately and pasting it in.

Anyway, hmmm. I was writing about the past week, which started in Lake Waccamaw at my sister’s house, traveled to Greensboro then Asheville mid-week, then back to Greensboro. I spent the last several days of 2022 finishing up my tapestries for display at the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville. It’s called “Follow The Thread” and will be there from January 14 to May 3. After that, the show goes to Elkin to the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center as part of the Tapestry Weavers South retreat.


This is a photo from just after cutting it off the loom. Originally I had planned to mount “Cathedral on a frame. So I planned ahead to hem it on all sides, and I did that. Since I waited too long to get someone to construct a canvas frame the exact size, I sewed the longer slits and backed it with fabric and a sleeve in which I inserted a wooden slat with a hanging wire attached. The way I did it means that I can go back to my idea of either mounting it on a canvas or frame, or hang it from a limb or piece of driftwood from the bald cypress tree it honors.


^^^ “Cathedral” today

I forgot to bring the fabric to wrap the foam core boards that I wanted to mount “Mr. Blue Sky” on, so my sister came to the rescue with this perfect paper. The top board is wrapped with red, but you’d only see it if you looked at it very closely, which I’m diggin’. It’s like a little secret. Originally I was going to attach a blue jay feather to it, but it looked better without it. Now I’m thinking that when I get it back, I’ll attach a bottom fringe with beads and feathers.


The other one was blessedly ready for display – this was the “rain on the lake” tapestry that took a direction of its own. I renamed it “A Place You’ve Never Been” from a friend’s suggestion. It was woven with naturally dyed silk.

lake tapestry for web

Now I’m going to wrap up this post and hopefully save it before I lose it again.

yearly wrap-ups

Yearly Wrap-Up, 2022

I’m post-dating this blog to December 31, 2022, but I’m writing it on January 8, 2023. I had some heavy grief at the end of 2022 and ongoing…so I wasn’t up for writing much then. So I’m going to try to focus this morning on the past year.

Looking over the 2022 blog posts today, I realize that the majority of the year was quite boring until May-July. Beginning in January, I was working on finishing “Cathedral” and doing some collage work. I was fretting over work more than usual and obsessing over planning our trip to Portugal.

In March, we were beginning to venture out to eat and drink, but we were mostly avoiding indoor places. The yard guy planted my asparagus bed in the womb garden in the Back Forty. I still had hopes at that time that he would be reliable help, but I ended up letting him go later when he raised his prices and then started not showing up. Sandy got some bad “news” about his heart. I took Leighanna Light’s Vintage Metal Deck class again, this time on Zoom, and enjoyed that a lot!

We were celebrating in April because Tim had a great scan and it appears that the chemo had worked wonders on his cancer. We spent our usual Easter weekend in Lake Waccamaw and I was concentrated on our upcoming trip to Portugal as well as going to Focus on Book Arts in Oregon in July.

In May we made an epic journey to Portugal, in which we learned just how disabled Sandy has become. In hindsight, it was a lovely trip even though we had to make some changes on the way. I could see myself living in Tomar or Tavira if we ever made the leap. However, we have a lot more of that country to explore in the future. We made new friends there so possibly we will visit them in Braga and travel around northern and central Portugal.

I was dismayed during this time when I was informed that Focus on Book Arts had been canceled. I had bought non-refundable plane tickets thinking that our travel insurance would make that a safe bet, but it didn’t cover event cancellation. In June, I used the money refunded from FOBA to go to Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft and take a week-long wooden book class from Dan Essig. This was another retake for me, but I don’t work with tools enough that I needed the refresher, and I always learn something new from Dan. I am still reworking this book.

I needed that workshop to recover from the news that Tim’s cancer was back and that Sandy didn’t want to move to Portugal anymore. Back to therapy!!!

In July, Susan and I decided to go to Portland anyway. We had a great time and got to cuddle with a Boston terrier puppy on the plane from Chicago to Portland. We ate well, went to the Japanese Gardens and Powell’s, and took a paste paper art class from Jill Berry at her home.

I also made some great leaf printed papers with Susanne in July!

In August we went back to the lake with some friends and we played with cyanotype printing. I asked our friends to make pages for me for a book I’d like to make about the lake one day.

In September, I cut “Cathedral” off the loom, we rescued a baby squirrel when its nest fell down our chimney, and went back to Lake Waccamaw where we got to see a much diminished Hurricane Ian up close. It was still scary enough that I can’t imagine what it must have been like in Florida. I rescued a little yellow slider turtle.

October brought  two lovely weekend trips: first, the Tapestry Weavers South retreat in Elkin where we had a relaxed time in Leslie Fesperman’s new space for the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center and dyed yarns and cloth in indigo.


Then, I took another book workshop with Leslie Marsh. A couple of friends I’ve made from her other workshops and I stayed at the Breezeway Motel on the soundside and saw some gorgeous sunsets.


Sandy turned 70 in November so of course we had to celebrate that! On his actual birthday we had dinner with friends and the restaurant’s owner offered him a shot, but he had to take it straight from the bottle. My husband is a bad-ass, y’all.

Then on the weekend, we decided to take Amtrak to Charlotte, stay in an uptown hotel and go to the Mint Museum and Bechter Museum. We left early to go back to Greensboro, and the train hit a tree trunk that had been put on the tracks and our car decoupled from the rest of the train! Sandy was about to open this door between the cars when he changed his mind about two seconds before it happened.

Thanksgiving at Lake Waccamaw began well, then Tim got really sick again. We did have a good time for a couple of days…watched football, had drinks around the firepit.

December was a swift downhill slope for Tim when he stopped being able to eat at all. He died on Christmas morning.


This is a photo from about ten years ago when Tim was playing pirate ship with his grandson on the hammock. I love this photo because it captures the moment when Tim just said something outrageous to Jake and has that wry smile waiting for Jake to respond to it.

We are devastated – a world without Tim is a much emptier place. He was loved by so many people.


Lake Waccamaw

At Lake Waccamaw for the New Year

I don’t think that I have been here before for New Year’s Eve. I expect a lot of fireworks and gunshots. That won’t be much different than Greensboro has been in the past few years though.

My priorities are to spend time with my sister, get the tapestries finished and ready for display, and do my end of the year post. The post may have to come later. We’ll see. For now I’ll be short and sweet.



This is a hard post to write. You’d think that I’d have it all down by now, considering how many hours I’ve spent awake in the middle of the night writing it in my head. But it’s one of those occasions when words won’t suffice. My brother Tim died early on Christmas morning.

Sandy and I have talked about why this loss is so hard. He and I both loved him as a brother, and my family adored him. But Sandy nailed it finally when he said that Tim made everybody feel special. We couldn’t imagine a world without Tim in it, but now here we are.

Anyway, here is a favorite photo I found this morning, from when Jake was a little boy and they played pirate ship in the hammock at the lake.


coffee pot posts

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Just realized that I didn’t do my usual Festivus post yesterday. I didn’t do it last year either. Gah! Oh well. I hope you had a Painless Festivus and you received many apologies for your grievances and you were victorious in your wrestling matches.

We weren’t expecting any Festivus miracles. My brother(in-law) is still hanging on. He hasn’t eaten in over a week. Hospice is helping my sister care for him at home but they haven’t been as much help as she hoped for. There is one Hospice NP that is very experienced and helpful who was supposed to come last night. The main problem, other than my sister dealing with the emotional and physical trauma, is that she has to ask for everything and she is exhausted and doesn’t always know what to ask for. Last night they were going to bring a hospital bed and start him on morphine.

Another huge worry is that we are in the midst of this Arctic blast and there are power outages everywhere. If they lose power (and they did for a short time) I don’t know what she will do. I guess she will have to call an ambulance and put him in a hospital, because the Hospice care facilities aren’t giving her any firm answers. Of course now she is second guessing her decisions but honestly, if she had decided to have him live out his last days in Chapel Hill or in a facility, she would have wondered if she shouldn’t have moved him home to Lake Waccamaw. That is where he wanted to be. It’s so hard.

I’ve talked to my blood brother twice in the last couple of days, and that’s a struggle for me. However, last night we had a good conversation even though I do get frustrated about his distrust of doctors and medicine. He just got over a bad case of Covid and I had hoped that he learned a lesson about getting vaccinated from that, but no. He loves my b-i-l like a brother too, so it is tough for him also.

The three of us have had our father’s last days of his life on our minds, and each of us has mentioned that last horrific day, which we normally can’t talk about. We just hope and pray that there won’t be a repeat. He says that he needs to talk about our parents and how much he misses them to somebody who understands, so I said that he could call me and talk. I promised to call him with information as soon as I got it from my sister, and he will do the same, but she has a hard time calling people and often she will not take a call. I understand that too because I am like that.

Today the wind has finally calmed. Last night it got down to about 6 degrees F here. That is very unusual for North Carolina. The wind chill was below zero yesterday. At least we didn’t get sleet or ice. The high is expected to be 26 today. We’ve had times like this before, but they were a long time ago. When I was in my early twenties, I sold batteries at a Sears Auto Center. I was on commission and a day like today would have been extremely busy for me. I remember getting in my car to go somewhere that night in the early 80s and I had to turn around and go home because my windshield kept freezing over on the inside.

I like to think that I would like to move somewhere to the north of this latitude but times like this make me realize what a Southern girl I am. I am NOT into snow. It’s pretty, but I want to stay hunkered down during winter weather instead of getting out and living a normal life. I can’t imagine dealing with temperatures way below zero or being stuck inside a house without heat.

This morning I dreamed about my little Squirtly. I was boondocking in a white van in a parking lot next to a desert scrubland. (I just finished reading Nomadland this week.) I remembered that Squirt was in a box and opened it to let him out, then realized that I had let him out earlier and he had been out all day. I nearly panicked, thinking about all the wild critters out there and whether he was lost. I called him and he meowed and came running to me, very happy with his day’s adventure. “Let me hug you, baby,” I pleaded, and he did. I picked him up and walked around with him, contently curled against my heart.

I have written before about Squirt showing up in my dreams to comfort me, and also about letting him go. It’s been fifteen years since I had to let him go from this world, and it touches me that he still comes back from time to time.

Anyway, I have this weekend through next weekend with no alarms in the mornings and I slept long and hard last night. It’s obvious that I am now a night owl and my body wants to sleep from 1 a.m. to 10 a.m. I have been hemming my tapestries and once we get on the other side of this @#$% holiday and weather I’ll get them mounted and drive them to Asheville. I have barely left the house since last weekend. On Monday Sandy and I brought most of my stuff home from the print studio and went out for a very late lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant we like. I checked my accounts again and apparently my payments to rejoin the studio never went through. So there’s no money lost there – I just got some free storage for a while. I can’t get back into the building until next week.

Reading “Night Train to Lisbon” again. It is a very slow read because of the philosophical ideas. I’m enjoying it when I have the mental energy to stop and think through a passage. When I don’t, I turn to other books. I’ve been on Mastodon a lot, and I subscribe to a lot of Substack newsletters. Yesterday I checked out “Braiding Sweetgrass” as an e-book through UNCG’s library. That one I’m having to read on the big screen.

I’ve also been cooking more than usual and depending on how things go, a baked ham and sweet potato gratin and some other side dish is in the near future.

Speaking of which, it is time for lunch.


Sunday sweep

I’m writing this afternoon from a present that Santa brought early, a new all-in-one desktop computer with a 24″ monitor. I hope that this will help with my physical issues that I got working on my laptop, but mainly I wanted a computer that I can use as personal device. I was never comfortable, for various reasons, using my other devices to blog. In the last few days I went on a wild (for me) shopping spree. I’m pretty sure it was a dopamine enhancer, since I’m trying to drink a lot less. I have enough food in the house to hole up for weeks. Somebody needs to stop me from going to Costco.

And it took a while to figure out where to find the classic option for the paragraph block again. I wish that WordPress wouldn’t make this so hard for those of us who were just fine with the typical Word format instead of blocks. It has made me seriously consider moving over to Substack, where I already created an account. If I ever decide to archive this one, I’ll leave a post at the top where to find me.

It is a sad, sad holiday season. I’m expecting a call at any time that my brother has passed away. He is suffering and just started morphine, so I hope it is helping him and that he leaves us soon. Technically he is my brother-in-law, but in my heart (and Sandy’s heart) he is our brother. I last saw him on Sunday, when we exchanged a long hug and he said that this might be the last time he ever saw me. He wrote me a sweet email on Monday morning. He wrote his last Facebook post early Wednesday morning, bitching about politics as usual! Ah, he is a great liberal activist and writer. He was one of the original Moral Monday protesters that got arrested. And he is a poet, which not many people know.

Thank god I am not depressed right now, although my therapist is calling me on Monday to check on me. She has helped me so much. But I am grieving and think about him and what he is going through and what my sister is going through and what her grief feels like and what is happening now that I’m not witnessing nearly constantly. Their daughter and grandson are there now and the Hospice nurse was of help and I hope that my sister is getting some rest. And that she will call me as soon as she needs me, but I’m letting her make this decision. I remember that Daddy was very particular about who he wanted to see him in his last days.

And it is bringing up all those terrible memories of my father’s illness and death from colon cancer. He was a stubborn man, and lived much longer than he should have. It was a real life nightmare, one that I’ve never gotten over, although I’ve tried in many ways.

I have got to work on getting these tapestries ready for this show. I keep saying that but I can’t seem to get going on it again. I also need to bring home my stuff from the print studio, but I keep procrastinating on that as well. So I guess I better git.


Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw in late fall


Here’s a coffee pot post from Lake Waccamaw. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been here in December. The first day I was here the high was 77 degrees! Now it is more seasonable in the fifties. A couple of weeks ago it was warm enough that the gators and turtles in the canal were sunning themselves. Forgive the poor quality – these shots were from far away and cropped.



The leaves have fallen and the sun shines at a low angle on the lake. There are always a few different varieties of birds that pass through as they migrate and as the climate warms more are staying. I haven’t heard any loons yet, but a pair of Baltimore orioles are living at my sister’s house. The other night when it was warm and the windows were open I could hear the American coots “purring” out on the lake. There are at least a couple of thousand of them. Sometimes they string out in a very long line. Eagles take dives at them. Here’s a small group of them taking off.



20221208_085518We were here for Thanksgiving and then a couple of weeks later I came back by myself to cat-sit while my sister and brother-in-law did medical stuff in Chapel Hill. I’m working on trimming and hemming a couple of tapestries. Yes, I finally got started on them! It’s a lot of dull work that I was procrastinating about. Believe me, it was much “furrier” when I began yesterday afternoon.




^^^It’s rare that I am awake at sunrise, but this is the view I had when I opened my eyes one morning from my sister’s porch.


This one shows the roots from a tree that used to be here before my time on earth.