Monday, May 31, 2010

quebec smoke

there are many forest fires north of here, not very far, actually, in quebec and ontario. the highest number i've seen online is 72 active fires, several out of control. we can smell it here in north russell, and earlier the sky was very hazy. around nine there was no smell, by eleven it was nasty, smells like someone burning trash nearby. 
i've also been trying to put this book into a cohesive unit--and decided to line the limp vellum cover with some eucalyptus dyed retired gramicci climbing pants in cotton twill.
as i thought about the smoke here, i realize this book has marking and color trails. a bit smoky perhaps. muted. about dyeing old cloth: there are always surprises, and i just love the shibori marks left by time and wear and chance. about 1/3 down from the top of the twill piece you can see the old machine stitch line. connections: mrs. belfer and dorothy and mary anne and tom and chela and india and me all made this book. watched by wendy. approved? 
back to work tomorrow for the final few weeks. we will camp and work at the camp, and work at bittersweet farm and white water raft and climb and have a family picnic...and finish our novel and journals. it's been the best year teaching i have ever had.

beautiful morning

beautiful morning today. cool, birds everywhere, cars don't seem rushed.
lena, 11 year old doberman, hiding from the flash.
gwen, a llewellyn setter, enamored of birds, especially ruffed grouse.
eucalyptus bundles.
beautiful tess, a year old english setter. sweet and tractable. my friend's dogs are frequent visitors, wendy dislikes them all!
ice flower on silk.
hollyhock on abaca paper, steam fixed.
summer's here for sure.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


i spent about 24 hours unwired by accident, and over two hours rewiring on the damnable cell phone with a wonderful man from india (i think) this morning. my macbook was fine, my friend eliminated or confused some settings. all is well, but i hated being unwillingly disconnected from the great mother internet. silly of me.

i have been making stuff, and will return with pics later, but wanted to apologize for getting rich's grand opening dat wrong--it's next friday. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

twitch rules

my nephews had some odd nick names, and rich, the one closest in age to me, has a brand new endeavor: the natural history center. rich, his wife natalie, daughter anouk will be there, and so will my daughter hannah, who is earning money for grad school in bar harbor this summer.  i wish i could be there, too. so if you're going to maine (and who wouldn't be? me!) check out their new place. better yet, go birding with rich. blogger won't let me put his invite here, but there's a grand opening tonight at the shop.

here at home, i'm playing with color and textiles and books. 

it's soooo much greener than here! chartreuse, even
i used india's "ice flowers" technique on milk protein mordanted cotton 

Thursday, May 27, 2010



5:30 am at wake robin
last night, after a day from july, sleeping was...warm. then add in power surges and a thunder storm. my poor ear, hairline, chin, and a variety of unreachable spots are hot after the visits by black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes, and one bot fly. kinda hard to photograph bug bites!
bad ear
anyway, i headed off to work with no time to spare but 3 miles away i turned around to come home and fetch my camera.
now this is some mama! snapping turtles like the roadsides here because of the nice, sandy soils built up, i think, from years of sanding the roads all winter. maybe 100 feet away was 
a younger mama, not quite  so large. i was careful not to disturb them (ha! these mamas would just as soon bite off my finger given the opportunity) because i want the eggs to have a chance. already this afternoon i could only spot one egg depository site from the car.
i so want to dig up a few eggs and 1) eat one, 2) raise one here in a bucket of sand in my home, and 3) touch one. i will do none of those things. if you could feel the intense female energy surrounding these ladies as they were working, right there next to speeding traffic, you would be in awe of them, too. this year my first turtle sighting was a painted turtle, yesterday i saw a dead snapper, and now these two, successful egg layers. indicating an auspicious four day weekend. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

hot with breeze

90 degrees in the car on the way home from work. here, it's 86 with a good breeze, almost enough (but not quite) to keep away the black flies. last night's almost full moon was lovely. and my camera picked up this spruce where hummingbirds sometimes nest.
what you aren't seeing here are lightning bugs. so soon! out back i saw them, just a few, just starting up the season of flashing earthbound stars.
i had some fun with the camera, a bit of moon play, a moondance, and the lightning bugs getting in on it in the meadow. they'll be up here, soon, but last night they were keeping the woodcock and tree frogs company. a lone coyote called once, longly. summer early this year.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

new word

xylothek. and i wonder, is the great northeastern woods, of which my 90 acres is a smidgin, actually a xylothek? we talk about reading the land, the forest...
two ethiopian board books, one with pages made from maps. maps from alaska and canada, which describe the the land for pilots. the boards? poplar, not hand hewn, but sourced from lowe's. sewn with waxed linen. 
these boards are hand hewn, though, and the paper hand made, the flax thread hand spun. made at jim and melody croft's old ways workshop in santa idaho. it doesn't live in a xylothek.  

Saturday, May 22, 2010


sometimes you just don't realize when you're doing the wrong thing. sometimes you just don't imagine that far. my basement is nasty, damp, low ceilinged, with an old cistern and a new well pump. the ceiling rafters are full of weirdly white rymed spiders. lots of them. they look cold. it's over 80 degrees out today.
my son tells me of his great fear of spiders, especially the ones in the rafters. (he says they don't hold a candle to portland spiders, though.) i think i harmed the gentle psyches of my children. i apologize. the spiders, they return, no matter how many times i sweep them down. mostly i ignore them. i was mowing the lawn and thinking about actions, how hot this day is, how my mower uses gas, which in another form is spurting from the earth in the gulf. 
the california poppies are early, this spring is so weird. i come inside and think about doing some admin and i can't. i go out and do some gardening or walk around amazed. it's just that way today. unsettling. 

i just posted this, and saw this a few seconds later. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


unfolding the first ice flower dye experiment using hollyhocks and calendula
as it dried, it became muted. not bad, just muted. a different aesthetic. i am waiting a few days before i change things by checking for wash fastness. 
i first started messing around with rust and other ways of marking fabric and threads several years ago, but as purely experiment. i was shocked when other artists were interested in what i was messing around with. and in the finished pieces. sometimes i would take, say, a bundle of handmade papers someplace. i'd wrap them in a dyed/patterned cloth. often people would like the cloth as much as the papers! 

so, i have been contemplating opening a store here, and wanted to mention the thought is in my mind. i have made a couple of sales through this very simple blog already. for me the learning curve is steep, and i may give up before i get there. but it's in my head... 
i will continue to work on the next shifu pieces and books, they are piled around as i attempt to get through the last six weeks of school. if you have any thoughts i'd appreciate hearing from you.

ps look at what jenna writes about sheep:

Sunday, May 16, 2010


this day was gorgeous! sunshine and cool enough to not sweat unless you were involved in hard labor outdoors. i opened the house in hopes of warming it up. i mowed the lawn. i hate this job. it's miserable, fumey, jarring, LOUD, nasty, and unavoidable, redundant. and i always gripe about it. my knees hurt after. i cleaned indoors, too. not exciting. laundry i hung out, my favorite job. figured out some bills and sent letters off. a satisfying, not very important day. down the hill from my place the little church had a revival. they were very quiet. resident birds and tree frogs were more noisy. black flies stayed elsewhere. 
make sure you hang your horseshoes the opposite way--to keep in the luck. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

news here

items of interest: 
item 1: i will be attending the paper and book intensive this summer. i have three awesome papermakers/book artists as my teachers, tatiana ginsberg, frank brannon, and melissa jay craig. (i may have mentioned this before) so i have been trying to get a bit more work done and out there-- which leads to:

item 2: i will be showing in the upcoming show interior markings july 1 – august 8, at the abecedarian gallery, denver, colorado

item 3: i just got this book
item 4: recent dye experiments
item 5: wonderful cordage from julie johnson
item 6: and i acquired some deaccensioned large books from a library sale, the shelter card is from one of them. i love that word.

item 7: and: look at this: at nina judin's site.
item 8: blue eyed grass. for my blogging friends the indigo lovers. one of my favorite tiny spring surprises. each year, it startles me. you would think it would be old. this is the first one i've ever picked. i couldn't help myself, and it was on the roadside frequented by tractors. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

way more than ten

on monday we moved piglets. at bittersweet farm. brian handed j. the first two, and we were on our way. and so were the larger piggies from several litters. it's easiest to hold these guys by the hind leg(s). 
they seemed to like their new digs.

this student gets pigs. she's calm and easy with them. she has a real ease around a big mama like this girl (i've forgotten her name, maybe tiptoe?)
bittersweet farm is aptly named. a small, diversified organic farm run by ann and brian bennett is located on some heavy north country soil. i know, i've dug in clay to plant trees, and felt with my hands the soils improved by the bennetts. the students hear each time we visit what kind of day it is, monday was a leaf day, according to the biodynamic methods they adhere to.
after a morning of work we gather at the cabin for bag lunches.
the friends of bittersweet farm have been a big part of several initiatives here. st. lawrence university and clarkson university send teams of students for different projects, one was building the cabin in some woods on the farm. it's a favorite place to gather after working to eat and talk.
we don't have to enter the bus this way...i think we're loading/unloading something. 
brian and ann sent us home with a dozen eggs we collected, and two bags of spinach and one of arugula. we will eat some of this tomorrow.
one of the three greenhouses
                                           a day at bittersweet is always a good day.
yesterday. a day of working hard, of learning how to do a job well, and then home for yoga and then a walk with wendy. and someone left me a gift on the roadside. a day of praise. 

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