Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year

marking time, making plans, reflecting on the dying year (i almost wrote dyeing). 
when a year has been bigger than ever before, 
a watershed, 
as this one has for me, 
i hardly know where to begin. 
but this i do know:
 all of the friends and budding friendships (and in some cases old friends reconnected) 
that have happened as a result of internet technology 
have been sustaining 
in a way that utterly amazes me. 
i am grateful for these relationships, 
each of them,
each of YOU 
because i think these are patches of beauty in a broken world, 
if you will, of the goodness of the human spirit. 
and when these patches are sewn together or pulped together 
the resulting fabric or piece of paper are whole things. 
useful, full of potential, 
my very good wishes to you all. for health, or for suffering well, if that is your job.
happy, i say, new year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


i wonder sometimes about how broken our planet is, how terribly injured. i grew up near love canal, only 10 miles away or so, and as a young married woman chose to move away partially because home was polluted. terribly so. i lived in dallas, then louisville, then ended up in star lake, a tiny hamlet in the adirondacks. just down the road was benson mines, an iron ore strip mine, abandoned, with huge slag piles all around. there was plenty of ugliness around those heaps of reddish rocks. and more than ugliness. a few years later i moved to this old farmhouse, around 30 miles away. and have had the privilege of finding a home that is moderately safe. i now live not so far from some pretty toxic spots, an alcoa plant, a gm plant, a corning plant. most obvious are dairy farms that spread huge amounts of liquid manure.
and yet i live in a rich ecosystem, a place that sustains me emotionally, physically. i am very lucky, here i could grow most of my food (if i so choose) to live well. there is wild food, too, and the human population is low. (with the social problems of such places of isolation). it is beautiful with a harsh northern beauty that is not for everyone. this landscape of foothills to the ancient adirondacks is suited to me. i have found home.
Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.--Terry Tempest Williams

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


 some glimpses into the process of how i record stuff. the stuff of making stuff.
 i steal from all kinds of places, national geographic, my photos, a stray flicker feather... 
this journal was made by my former yoga teacher anastasia osolin, and i just love the size, about 6x8, easy to cart around, big enough to work in.
working on some very green daylily paper as well as working out some poems.
this paper ended up here.
 ian's book, the barn and a bunch of polaroid transfers and emulsion prints.
the barn where mist lived.
and below, the old swing set, and mist in the meadow.
i can't wait to see where he takes this book. i bound it with lots of room in the sections to add in writing, drawing, "stuff" he might collect. and he is a collector, like me. 
the cover has pockets, and the pages could be removed and resewn if necessary.

Monday, December 27, 2010

last day of zpack

 medicine done at noon.
sick day, antibiotics always get to me.
and now i will be all better! 
and my christmas present arrived.
from ian!
 it tells a story, one way or another.
 the petunias i brought inside in september have made a miracle in the kitchen
and the barn story is a narrative for me to reenter time and again.

 my toes are cold tonight, as the cold deepens. no new snow! 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

the tree with the lights in it

annie dillard changed my life. 
i read pilgrim at tinker creek, about the tree with the lights in it, 
then perhaps the next year, i saw it. too.
(i was 23, maybe.)
today i saw it. them. thousands. tens of thousands. 
once again.
rime ice or hoarfrost or snow coating the trees. 
all along tooley pond road. from to degrasse to cranberry lake.
deep woods.
in the thin december light, before it changed and flattened.
we traveled the snowy road (thankfully plowed this year) to the deep woods.
wild forest.
saw a few tracks, nothing much moving, a raven is all.
but crystal in such quantity
i was visually exhausted.
excess of holy day presented by mother nature.
 the sound was amazing, wild water in the very cold.
a portent. a blessing.

Friday, December 24, 2010

christmas eve

katie and hannah and zoe, sammy, bentley, and wendy on their way home. 
wendy spotted me.
this year has been a marker year for me, a watershed.
isis and katrina. her first tree in decades.
i don't have any trouble with the idea that this is a holy time. 
every day is.
celebrate the return of the light!
wishing you joy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


my dear friends pat and butch sent me this delicious cinnamon candy. this year they had an organizational glitch and i got TWO boxes. i could return one, or send it to someone else, but instead i will share them. so come by, if you're in the vicinity, and i will serve you some delicious tea and RED candy! yummy! i took some to school with me tuesday, and the kids loved it. thank you, my dear friends!
it's snowy here, and icy today, but about an hour's drive away in croghan, at ravenpond, there is probably three times as much snow. heaven for cross country skiers. (and i may get out on skis tomorrow, my knees are that much better!)
wendy supervises hannah checking her oil, readying her car for a road trip to her dad's for christmas eve. 
tis the season of nests. they're visible everywhere, little surprises in the trees. these have lived on my back porch for a while, one has paper engulfing it. i don't know for sure, but i think it's pulp i tossed out of the mill and over the stonewall, and a bird with imagination decided to create a nest like none i've ever seen. it's half cocoon, half nest.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

beginning books

see, one happy book artist! two slipcases. 
these are book models that aimee made for the class that she's teaching at mills college 
in the spring semester. 
models by claire van vliet. 
papers by me. 
the hard work by aimee lee. 
lucky intro to book arts students!
see the two slipcases in my small bookshelf? 
 from the workshop i took with claire at the papertrail
 when it was still in ottawa.

Monday, December 20, 2010

three down, one me

yep, there were several falls at the arena today, including me in the first 10 yards. 
umph! both knees have just come out of their first icings. a packet of frozen corn for my right, frozen flowers for the left. half of my freezer is dedicated to flowers, pulp, roots for papermaking and dyeing. the other half has food.
in a little bit of pain. only five students showed, three didn't come because they can't skate. two had conflicts and couldn't. one never showed.
we ask our students to take risks. it's interesting which students took the risk to come and skate. three pro staff took risks (all over 50). one paraprofessional didn't. we went to a restaurant for lunch and ordered off the menu, using budgeting skills they're learning in math. it was a good day. one more day and then break and hopefully (please to all the powers that be) we will be back in our school building.
update: knees are working fairly well this morning. icing helped.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

making marks, leaving traces

saturday walk
i know about leave no trace. but even a snail* leaves a trace. i will. a thread that says i was here. and then it will be gone. so the thing is, i should mind every mark i make as they go out into the world? do i? of course not.
kid knot, tire swing
many of my marks are made with fiber. of course. i wish, often i wish i could make my work in clay. it's not meant to be, for though i love clay quite madly, i cannot bear working with it as it dries. i am also a bit crazy about print making, the wonderful expressive lines that are possible. i have almost no idea how to make a print. it's those scores of marks on the de-bossed (is that the right word) paper that move me.
mill window, tibetan mould, grandfather maple
so i think often of mark making; and see marks, lines, shapes and colors that others might see as things, not so me. 
a friend points out something and i see the whole composition, the lines, the space, the colors, not the thing itself. this is very disconcerting at times. my children make lines, ian draws and draws, and hannah knits and she has a calligraphic hand, she makes beautiful letters. a joke in my family came from my dad, who asked me if i could study penmanship in college, because my handwriting was so poor.
memory dazzles for ian and hannah
why make art? why make anything?  i will argue that making is essential. it is making that keeps me human. there will come a day, perhaps, when this is no longer my great passion, the need to make. but not yet.
this barn was made, twice. it has been repurposed. it may be again.
this loft held many bales of hay, upon a time. 
it holds memory now.

*a must: the sound of a wild snail eating by elisabeth tova bailey

Saturday, December 18, 2010


i'm not so tired this morning, woke early, ate oatmeal, and am thinking about the work week, which was hard work, no creative energy at all. but hannah came home! 
and our building IS being "cleaned" by the "exterminators". how did the week go? wednesday i was ready to quit, to abandon ship, to crawl into a hole and stop up the entry. but thursday was better, friday we managed. wednesday also brought my period, and for this 54 year old woman "working" with 10 e.d. teens in a very noisy and public building that isn't their school...well, it's over. we have school monday and tuesday, skating and lunch out, and a kick back day with a movie. we'll see....
hannah is knitting a thong for a friend for christmas. 
out of bamboo yarn i gave her. 
well. of course!
my hosta pulp is waiting for me to beat it and pull sheets. maybe today? on my table is a large skein of thin linen that i am thinking of warping the little floor loom with. i don't know if i have enough heddles for that, but we'll see. ian called after work and with a working-all-week-in-a-foundry-tired voice told me he liked the book. (yay, usps, it got there in half the predicted time) when i told him to work in it-draw and paint and whatever-his voice lightened, and sounded happy. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

evening reflection

i almost didn't walk tonight.
but i heard geese and looked up, pulling out the camera. i was so tired i forgot to mess around with the settings, flash, etc. 
star light, star bright near the moon. it was 16 degrees when i left the house, colder back home. in the dark.
happy nightfall in the north country. one peaceful me, a happy dog.
a door.
 today at school the same student who flipped on me yesterday, repeated the performance
he walked out of class. and i had him stay out. we went on. after, he came back, apologized for his behavior, explained the source of his behavior, stress, and the reason for the stress. a looming court date. he understood himself. 
that's huge.
i asked him if we were ok. he said yes. the door opened.

Monday, December 13, 2010


keith smith binding learned from cathy tedford, i added trade beads
we're all managing in the *alternative* location. i suppose since we're an *alternative* ed program in an *alternative* location, we are now an *alternative alternative* g.e.d. program???

the day wasn't without stress, and i did get (mouthed, not audible) sworn at (fucking bitch), but all in all we did ok. i went to our building to pick up materials and was not happy to see no workers cleaning up.
but i got everyone's (who is expecting to get mail from me) stuff mailed this afternoon. came home and crashed. no yoga. it's snowing again. 
i was taking pictures of some old journal pages and thought you might like to see some of what i record. 
few *real* drawings. mostly thoughts and wee samples.
this one i really, really like, a bit of twined milkweed (or dogbane), gold braided waxed linen, and my favorite, walnut dyed kozo *knitted* on a spool ginny.
weaving drafts, dyeing samples, silk, cotton, old household textile ads, climbing pants shibori, yellow, floss, white tape, line drawing

two books, three covers

three split rocks
i made two books sunday, one for ian. it is bound with a cover of st. armand flax paper, and the pages are polaroid emulsions. here it is before binding. i made a nifty cover, that folds on itself and contains a spine stiffener, all held together without glue, just folds. putting together the show reminded me of my emulsion investigations. above you see three small rock book covers, the ones i'd lost and never made the pages for. now i can.
the rectangular object photographed here is the cooling system for the milk house on this old farm. now it serves as an interesting artifact of 1950s farming, and a breeding ground for mosquitos. i love it's weirdness. and remember, these photos are the rejects, but will make a wonderful ground for a sketchbook. it will be in the mail today. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

maybe i'm disheveled in mind---

well, friday we had another air quality issue (mold) and sent home all busses as they arrived to school. and now we know that we will be out of our present school building until after the first of the year. we will be holding classes at the boy's and girl's club building in town. yikes. i grabbed a bunch of supplies before leaving on friday, and will be able to teach immediately, but oh, my, our school is shut down at the hardest time for e.d. kids to deal with.

 the stack of eco dyed scrunchies looks like my mind grappling with this situation. 
any thoughts of a store will be on hold until we go on break. 
this will be challenging.
 the first photo above is contained in this one, milkweed papers, recycled botanical papers, lots of walnut dye, and a wee milkweed vessel.
silk scarves, ecoprinted
working with a great team will make this possible, but oh, my.
by way of solace, today's mail contained selvedge and fiberarts, with a feature article on india flint. fiberarts is owned by interweave press, u.s. publisher of india's book ecocolour.

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