Wednesday, December 28, 2016


this has been a doozie of a year.
so many losses.
so much sadness.
a terrible election process and a worse result.
more evidence of global warming.
and yet...
and yet...there remains 
the generosity of plants
the kindnesses of human beings
the love of our animal companions
brave people
art, and the joy of using tools. 
recently my son ian went public 
asking for financial help via gofundme.
he is hoping to pay his counseling bills.
ian's campaign came online just after amanda degener started
one for bridget o'malley (these two are Cave Paper).
bridget has had a health crisis.
these two remind me of amanda palmer
who has made a case that asking 
is ok to do.
 yesterday i went out to my meadow
and harvested milkweed in the mild winter weather
sharpened by wind.
(i remember harvesting milkweed one year on skis
the snow was knee high or so.)
last night,
unfinished though i worked seven hours stripping the bast,
i had time to ponder asking
giving, receiving,
and realize i have to rethink all of this.
 on ian's gofundme one woman donated the cost of a pack of cigarettes. 
this strikes me as generous
and sacrificial.
some friends of mine have contributed, too.
abundance shared is beautiful.
here's a photo taken out the kitchen window at the new place
i call HOME.
 and our old barn at my old place,
so loved by my kids and me continues  
returning to earth.
 one stalk of milkweed,
waiting for me, perhaps,
or a songbird next spring might 
harvest the fibers for nest making.
the generosity of plants
and i ponder gratitude.

Monday, December 26, 2016

catching up the year end

she's been visiting regularly
but i don't see her often,
just her tracks.
 i made two homes for special pebbles.
the australian ones came from the southern oceanside
at cape otway.
the acadian ones came from mt desert island, maine.
 i couldn't get them all in focus, but it didn't matter.

 the last three contact prints
with the left over flora from this fall.
i had saved it
and it was mostly all dried out-
 some freeze-dried plants shared their 
 the colors were strong, lots of green, too.
what a surprise.
 i practice bindings
 on leftover scraps of paper
you can see tension was an issue here.
 over at zone 4
milkweed pulp.
i made three different milkweed papers,
from here, field retted and colorful and wild
 milkweed from berea 
gathered by gin petty and dried for some time
lovely tidy paper
sheet formation a bit better
 and butterfly weed
also from gin.
all three were handbeaten, the best was the butterfly weed.
either i was more patient
or got tougher
but my shoulders and neck are still complaining.
using the gift of the zone 4 studio
i've been happy working 
with different moulds,
formation aid that was already prepped, 
and all i have to do is haul stuff around.
i've gotten to know which moulds over there i like
and which ones are beguiling 
and rather strange for my work.
aimee reminded me of placing thread between two wet sheets
so i did some with kami-ito
long ago i used linen for this purpose,
and in fact my very first hard bound book
was made with this paper
my teacher was the amazing sally smith.
 this is the corner i like to make sheets in
there's a drain directly under the mat i stand upon.
 and felts. 
i've washed and/or brushed all of the felts now.
 drying out moulds
my own and zone 4's
 there's even a manifesto of sorts:
Let's make paper!
and books! 
and silkscreens
and adinkra prints
and journal binding
i've been using some of the larger 
offcuts from caliban press
for funky sewing.
making paper with the smaller ones.
 drying blotters
 on christmas eve
listening to the festival of nine lessons and carols
from king's college in cambridge
a tradition i adore.
i cleaned and tidied and readied myself
for christmas.
 christmas morning breakfast
pancakes and strawberries leftover from that summer wedding.
(and maple syrup and butter)
 we'd agreed to have a quiet christmas,
 purchased new tubbs snowshoes for ourselves.
but then this little machine appeared.
and it works just fine!
astonished me
i love it.
 we went for a drive in the 27 degree sunshine before lunch 
and i found the first paper-related "official" sign i'd ever seen!
 that huge mission oak table will move through the doors
into my studio soon
 where i will set up the dry studio.
  a chilly and frozen and slippery walk ended
coming home with the dogs
through meadow
and the long shadows
you can see the new place,
 bridge to the side door.
home, where soon with luck,
i will be full-time.
all of the kids are away this year.
 to you
my dear readers,
friends, and sometimes even students,
happy holy days 
see you on the other side.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


it's snowing steady and hard today.
yesterday i had one of those days.
it could have been really really bad.
but it wasn't.
i subbed in my old school.
on the way my car made a big stink-burning rubberish.
but i had to get there.
let me report that this class of sixth graders was pretty challenging
and not at all fun.
after school the car still smelled bad.
i stopped at zone 4 to pick up the milkweed papers.
 the photo above is 'enhanced', below is not.
the sheets are WILD, WILD.
 i hand beat the fiber
the first time in too many years
 and you can see it's way underbeaten,
 but oh, it's beautiful!
after, i went to 'my' mechanic's shop
and the verdict was: a frozen brake caliper.
a woman was there picking up her car.
she turned to me, 
and it was marilyn,
one of my riding coaches from my 30's.
i hugged her probably too hard. 
it was terrific to see her. 
and she drove me the five miles home.
(i was so very happy and still am!)
where i sit, without a car, for the duration.
 my porch, just now
i will be teaching at nancy zeller's beautiful  longrigde farm 
next august,
please go over to the website and take a look. 
this year sandra brownlee and i are teaching,
(not simultaneously)
we will make clouds of pulp and 
other delights. 
if you haven't been to longridge, 
and you are considering a summer workshop,
you are in for a treat.
do join us!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

a day or so late

 just before the moon was full
i walked in late afternoon
to the east, the moon rising
 to the west the sun setting
and the neighbor cows
 well, i've taken to talking to them.
and they look at me.
they seem to be staying close to the barn
and the round bales in the yard.
there's a new baby
 chocolate amongst the beautiful mamas.
and this itchy girl
made good use of granite.
 holding fast to normalcy
i am hoping for hope.
these beautiful beasts whose consciousness i can't grasp
and the birds, snow buntings, chickadees and bluejays
(at night owls call)
these things ground me and remind me
that our beautiful mother will be here
before and after me.
i keep turning off the news.
i will make milkweed paper today.

Monday, December 12, 2016

prayer flags

one of the few positive political
actions i've taken this year (besides voting)
 i'm participating in a group project
 organized with 60 participants
 from across the country
 can you guess which ones are mine?
shu-ju wang is hosting this prayer flag project.
mine are picture number 3
indigo and rust dyes.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


yesterday i taught a group
of adult hospice workers
how to make star books and an origami book.
they were a lovely bunch.
i came home so happy to have been asked to help non-art folks
make something with their hands
that maybe they can pass along.
one tiny book,
that becomes an ornament.
nancy moraines taught me this structure a long time ago.
and claire van vliet taught me the origami book
that i passed on.
(no photos, 
somehow it seemed to be a photo-free day.)
it creates a book that has change integral to the structure.
someone i know called this kind of thing a trick with a hole in it.
transformation is a peculiar thing.
these flip flops
 have been on the roadside for months
i don't know the story
but the snow increases intrigue.
the barn continues its disappearing act

 exposing the spot where the kids played and played
 i loaded the mow with hundreds of bales of hay
that i hauled off the meadow after baling
years ago.
 what memories this building has
30 years of our memories, 
and many more before
because many of the framing timbers were recycled.
 it's locking into cold now.
ice forming its own contour map.
 such a huge crop 
of wild grapes here this year.
 and i've been gathering milkweed bast
 gin sent me some milkweed bast, too,
a bit different than mine
 and this was another batch, 
field retted until there is quite a bit of gray.
cooked and ready for beating.
 these days walking has been rather gloomy
 which is what happens.
a ring around the sun
 as it sets
very subtle
but there.
i saw it.
two days ago.
 the cows, as ever, watch
and eat,
their sweet muck scent startling,
rich in the coldness.
 they watch me 
 i speak to them
sometimes the calves are skittish.
sometimes there is little
interest in me.
our concerns are perhaps not so different
 food, shelter, joy, daylight.
 december moves into solstice.

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