Catching Up…

IMG_5100Even though there have been no posts, there has been some progress.  I can actually see the floors in both studios!  The HUGE pile of boxes is GONE.  I wish I could say that every thing that was packed away in those boxes has actually found a good (and final) landing spot.  But, so far, that’s not happening.  All of my cookies have been truly tossed.

What used to hold my stuff, no longer does!  My china closet is actually in a real dining room…good for nothing at the moment, it’s not even holding dishes.  It is too long of a trek from the studio, anyway to use it to store the beads, lace, trims, binders, and books it used to hold…That was one VERY useful piece of furniture!  It might actually be re-purposed for its original one…imagine that.  I also “lost” two of my tables and an armoire; I may have acquired a trunk…and a bookcase…but, nothing seems to be going easily in the “organization” effort.

IMG_5087I finally stripped the old varnish off my mahogany “sewing” table: its beautiful inlay work had been hidden by all the dings and chips in the finish.   I wanted to do that for years and knew I would never get to it once it was back in action).  It turned out great!  Feeling sort of smug about that one.  I have to cut off a few inches from the top of my design wall panels…sure going to miss those…but its wood support is in place…waiting.   “Claimed” a great rug for the floor…one of our last purchases from the Elephant’s Trunk.

IMG_5093The other room is not faring so well.  Basically, I plan to do everything except sew in there. Lots of manpower got the huge (10 feet long!!!) table around tight corners and up the stairs.  (John made it for me years ago; the top, salvaged from an old drafting shop.  In the old house, it was doing basement project duty.)  I am truly hoping it will work upstairs this time.  But, so far, I just keep unpacking boxes in there, trying to sort things into “common” piles.

To best use all of this space, and, especially the closets that I do have, my fabric has ended up being in the “paper/bead” studio closet and the beads and art supplies, in the closets in the other room.  It is a little mind-bending at the moment, as I try to get it all organized.  But, who knows, maybe there will be more “cross-pollinization” in my future work because of it.  I know it is all looking very fresh. IMG_5103


A Small Victory

IMG_5042Stolen moments and sheer willfulness got the “traveling” bag done and shipped off…ready for its first trip. Hopefully, it will be “just perfect”.   I truly enjoyed mucking around in my stuff once again, trying to figure out how to make the thing and then, how to make it special.  Couldn’t find much more than my most basic tools…scissors, pins, a needle, thread, and, the very important seam ripper!  Had to scrounge for “stuff” beyond the things my daughter left behind when she visited a few weeks ago: the penguin buttons, the patches from Korea, the dragon…I got lucky and found my trays of mother-of-pearl and ivory-like treasures.  (SO glad I labelled the boxes as well as I did and I could have done better still…I am NOT going to even think “next time”!)  Who would have thought so many would still be taped up six months later?)

IMG_5046Went with the black and white theme suggested by the penguins…added some polka dot ribbon I found in a plastic bin (a real advantage there…I can see what is inside!)  Lined the pocket with a great black and white print.  I tried to make the “private” side of the bag under the flap as interesting as the “public” side…without overdoing it (keeping my “client” in mind).  Under the flap is a quiet message just for my daughter.  In the zippered pocket is a good luck coin.  It might have been especially fitting if I could have found my old Chinese coins…but in a way, secreting the lovely old French coin there, was even more so.  We found it in a Paris street market on the trip that started this whole “traveling bag” story…AND, it is a reminder of a really good day.

IMG_5045The zipper pulls were a bit of a problem.  No tools.  No headpins.  It was totally extravagant to use the silver wire…but it was all I could find.  Deadline…tick.tick.tick.  They may have to be replaced at some point…but that will be a problem for another day.  TODAY, I am feeling pretty good.  This was fun.  And, hopefully, the bag will do its job well.  Bon Voyage.

Picking up the Pieces

IMG_5033Studios are almost done.  What is taking so long is elusive…time just seems to slip by as I try my best to do the things that should be done.  The “should” is the telling word.  Not going there…

The dining room table (the only clear and flat surface in the house) has finally succumbed to the assorted projects that are piling up as “the painter” lags behind.  Quite a few years ago, on a once in a lifetime kind of trip, my daughter and I were wandering through the streets of Paris.  We happened upon a trendy boutique (more her style than mine…big surprise!) where she fell in love with a pocketbook/bag…army drab in color, but sparkling with stuff.  Her practical side decided that “we” could make one.  We spent the rest of our trip seeking out “Paris things” to sew on a bag.  It did get made.  And it has since been much-loved and much-travelled…and is now, falling apart.  Who travels with a bag with a broken zipper?  Pickpockets, any one????  Her response is always the same.  “It is just perfect, Mom”.  (This is the daughter who likes the new thing only if it is just like the old thing.  Try shopping for back-to-school shoes!  Challenging, to say the least.  Glad those days are done!)

Well, life for her has been tough, lately.  She IS getting back to work which involves the inevitable travel.  And, this is a good thing.  So, instead of painting studio trim, I am making her a new bag (as much like the “perfect” old one as is humanly possible!)    Travel is so fraught with potential disaster…I keep telling myself that for her, the worst has already happened, and, practically in her own front yard…but still…

So I have gathered together the penguin buttons she had bought for his birthday, and the embroidered dragon that will guard her gate, and a small patch purchased on a memorable trip taken together when her life was good, and I am hoping to help her pick up her pieces…with a bag for her travels, made with talismans and love.

And, for me, I guess it is a first step in a new life as well…


Showing Some Promise…


Kate got me off the dime.  By the time she left all of the studio walls were painted.  I will admit that it is an extravagant use of space…but, really, who needs more than one guest room?  So, I find myself with a suite of studio spaces…

IMG_5024I lived in a white house for nearly 25 years.  This time, I am choosing color: fresh, light, easy.  I have to admit I probably went a little crazy when I started out with four gallons of “Breath of Fresh Air” to paint my bedroom…but the name was catchy, the room was huge, and the color was lovely…blue.  Well, I started with the little alcove in my bedroom, using the color straight from the can, and it SCREAMED. It GLOWED; it was BRIGHT!  Too much.  Really.   Not in the plan, at all.  Funny how deceiving those little squares of color can be.  But, I had four gallons of the stuff!

I would not recommend this if one is faint of heart, color-wise,  but I have been dumping that “Fresh Air” into my leftover cans of white paint (my ceilings are still mostly getting the “white” treatment, but am thinking of adding a bit of color there, too).   Stirring, testing,  adding a bit more “Air”, stirring, stirring… what a great color!  Still blue, but light and “fresh”.

IMG_5026Then, I bought a gallon of “Misty Lilac”…looked pink in that little two inch square.  Put some on the wall…Whoa!  Added LOTS of white: concocted a lighter version.  Painted one room.  Added blue to the  can of “mistiness”.  Painted another room.  Added more pink, a dollop of blue…painted the last room.

IMG_5019Needless to say, if I ever have to “touch up”, things could get dicey.  But, for now, I  am happy.  There may be some room switching as the job gets finished.  The sun is crossing across the walls in an unexpected way, which will definitely determine where the design wall has to be…and therefore, which space will be for fabric work.  The rest will fall into place after that.  But, still, showing some  promise…Home is where the art happens…and, it has been far, far too long…


Looking Up

IMG_5004When I started this series (partly as a New Year’s resolution to be “more aware”) I had no idea what the year would bring.  It has been a challenge, house move aside.  Mom’s illness–ten weeks in ICU through to rehab…and then, there was and still is the loss of our son-in-law…such a joyful noise he made.  Our family is in deep mourning, and will be for a long, long time.  And yet, the pageant across my valley continues day after day…

The Fragility of Life


I do not know quite how to write this entry.  But for those of you who continue to “just check in” to see if I am finally back to work in my studio, I feel I need to at least come up with some words.  My son-in-law was killed in a tragic car accident a few weeks ago.  It was a seemingly random event.  He was not the driver.  He would have been 28 on Wednesday.  He added a grace note of joy and humor to our family.  We loved him.  He was the light and the lodestone in my daughter’s life.

She has been here with us for the last week or so.  And, ironically, my studios are getting painted…at her insistence.  We paint and we talk.  But, it is not enough.  Who could ever find the words?  She is going home soon and I worry…how will she be able to walk in her front door and pick up the pieces of her life?

On another note, my mother is out of rehab and also staying here for a few days.  She is trying very hard to get back her life as well.  But, progress is slow.

Here on the hill, all is teeming with life.  Spring has finally come to the valley.  An amazing array of birds visits the weeping cherry tree just outside my kitchen window.   (Most of them I don’t recognize: a bird book is in my future.)  But, as in the rest of life, the hawks are ever-circling…

An Unexpected Treat

I know there should be a picture, there should always be a picture…but in the way of unexpected happenings, I didn’t have my camera…that being about the last thing on my mind, these days.  Though my mom is doing better, my days are truly taken up by keeping her things going…laundry to do, lunches to bring (she is getting rather crotchety about her meals), bills to pay, and just plain old time to spend visiting to help her days go better.  (There is talk of sending her home soon…she has worked very hard for it…but, at the moment, it is a bit mind-boggling…how will we deal with that?)  Then, there are the things here at the house to do…daily two hour painting sessions aren’t feeling much like progress…the boxes are getting to the point that they could use some dusting…I refuse to dust my boxes!!! or even to vacuum around them…”frustrated” doesn’t begin to describe my current state…think the “downstate” word is “tetchy”…

But, the other day I had a few hours “free” between places I was expected to be .  I had seen a notice in the paper about a fiber exhibit at the Delaware Art Museum.  I am hoping to find a group to join, and I thought to check them out.   With one  exception, their work was just beyond me: stitched saran wrap, gauze bags of tied wool balls laid out on the floor, a wall of mangled black plastic mesh…but, the art museum was an “old haunt” of mine…so I just wandered about, and re-discovered a very special place.

I think I was in the fourth grade when my elementary art teacher asked my parents if I could be a part of a Saturday program at the museum.  One kid from each school…every Saturday…free rein of the upstairs studios…huge rooms, full of light, AND easels, looms, and potter’s wheels.  Take your pick!  Make some art!  My father drove me in (it had to have been a forty minute drive each way) for years. I was still doing my “Saturday thing” in high school!  What a gift.

The museum’s main claim to fame at that point was its collection of Howard Pyle paintings, especially those used to illustrate Kipling’s novels, Treasure Island and Kidnapped.  These were huge (to a kid, anyway)… of pirates and mermaids and found treasure.  I loved them.  I walked through that gallery every week.  They are there.  STILL love them!

The museum has been renovated way beyond the little place I knew, with its wonderfully  narrow stairways up to the second floor to galleries that always seemed more like someone’s library or living room…in fact,  all those studios I remember so fondly are just  “gone”.  About all that remains is the old brick facade, now encased in green glass and steel.  But the paintings are there!  Old friends.  It was a wonderful afternoon.  I will be going back often.


Still Somewhat of a “Pipe Dream”…

When we decided to leave New York, I was the designated “house hunter”…in retrospect,  that was an awesome challenge.  We had many of the usual requirements, but top on MY list was a studio.  Did I get it?  Well, not exactly…

I looked at some bona fide ones.  Real studios with a track record…art on the walls, paint splattered on the floor,  good vibes…do you think they “convey”?… (real estate speak).  In the end, “must-haves’, aside, we were seduced by a sunset across a valley…the house just came with it.  “It” happens every night (how could I have been missing those colors? for 30 years!)…gorgeous, but STILL…a studio? nope.

I picked a bedroom with a closet (two, actually)…THAT was a step in the right direction.  Look closely at the photo.  That closet actually has my name on it.  Destiny! With only one exception, I have never had a “studio” with a real closet…with doors…that close…and hide the stash!  (My number ONE requirement)

That bedroom had an odd little room attached to it.

B-i-i-i-g closet?  perhaps…

Just outside of the room was an odd space.  Sort of like a group study corral (the family had five kids).  It “went” the day we closed on the house…but the space remained.  

A reading spot?  No light…maybe good for a photography set-up?  a library?

You can see where this is going, I am sure.  The house with “no studio” was showing some promise.  Did I mention the bathroom just off the “library”?  But where would the paper stuff go?  Hmmm.  How about that other room just to the left of the back stairs?  To make a long story short, I have claimed it ALL.  Four closets!  With shelves “to order”… The color choices remain “unique”, the piles, a bit daunting…but it is ALL mine…stay tuned.

ps:  My mom is better.  At 87, I admire her determination to “get her life back”.  Another, “work in progress”.

That “thing with wings”…

Why no posts?  I am caught in that unreal world of caring for a very sick parent.  My mom has been in, out, and back in ICU for the past two weeks.  And, though there are three of us, I am the one of her kids who can most easily(????) be her primary watchdog.  So there have been endless nights sleeping in chairs in her room and long days of mostly, hand-holding…whatever it takes.

I think of Emily Dickinson’s poem about hope being “that thing with wings”, and picture the flock of hawks that soar over my valley.  That’s what I need: some hope with some very big, very strong wings…take care.