Blog Archives

Coloring My World (Outside the Lines) With Brilliant and Vibrant Goodness for Forty-one Years (And Counting)

ARCHoldingJHCBdayCakeFeb1973

(Andy, less than a month after we met. I asked him to hold my birthday cake so I could take a picture of it.)
(Honestly, it’s a wonder the cake even made it in the photo
cause all I really wanted was a picture of HIM.
I’d known him 18 days at this point in time,
and already I knew I loved him with my whole heart.)
(And then some.)

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(Alison, Andy, and Kipp)

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(Kipp, Andy, and Alison at Sliding Rock in NC.)
(He told them about sliding down the wet boulders, but he kinda’ “forgot” to mention how cold the water is in the pool at the bottom.)

Dear Andy,
For the way you . . .

  • continue to hold my hand after 42 years
  • drive me to workshops
  • never fuss (at least not on the outside) about how much something costs if it makes me smile
  • laugh at things I say
  • sing along with me (this is not a metaphor)
  • walk closest to the street on sidewalks
  • open doors for me as an act of consideration and respect, not from a place of condescension
  • find us the most remarkable places to live
  • continue to rouse and rally the butterflies in my stomach with your kiss
  • see my strengths and abilities when I can’t or don’t
  • sharing my love of quirky and odd. (It makes life so much easier.)
  • encourage and support me towards self-determined life (even though so many times it would undoubtedly be easier not to)
  • love Nancy so openly and tenderly and share her with me so willingly
  • never had a business meeting more important than your child’s soccer game
  • never once were too tired to attend a performance
  • gave piggyback rides till they were tired instead of till you were tired
  • worked two and sometimes three jobs so I could stay home as a full-time mother and find outlets for the kids to explore their varied interests and become their best, most creative selves
  • drove home from the office, picked us up, then drove us back to wherever the kids needed to go just so we could have extra together time in the car
  • use your creativity so brilliantly and profitably, always crafting situations where everybody is satisfied
  • continue to show our children what a real, honorable, good man looks like, sounds like, acts like – not just occasionally or when things are going swell, but every minute of every day through every smile and tear . . .

Thank you.

I couldn’t’ve found a better husband
or a better dad for our children
if I’d had a million years to look.

Happy Father’s Day.

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(Kipp, Andy, Alison)

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(Nancy and Andy, 1999)

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(Andy, Alison, and Kipp)

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(Andy at the Grand Canyon.)
(Let it not escape your notice that I stopped him before he backed out over the edge.)

The Same . . . But Different

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(Above photos of kantha stitching by Dorothy Caldwell herself, used here with permission)

Dorothy told us about the women of Bihar, India and how they were under cultural house arrest until one day they decided to go outside and talk to each other about their stitching. The men were nervous – very nervous – until they began to hear the whispers of ka-ching, ka-ching. Once the women huddled-up, they set about changing their lives, their families’ lives, their future’s lives.

For example, knowing that the dwindling profits from fishing were dwindling, they came up with a solution and every day for three months, the women entered the river and pulled the overgrown plants by hand, allowing the fish room to grow and multiply. They tell this story and many, many other stories in stitch using the basic running stitch – in and out, up and down. The kantha stitch they call it, and they use it brilliantly to record their history artfully.

After hearing about these women and seeing examples of their glorious quilts, I set about using the kantha stitch for one of Nancy’s drawings from In Our Own Language 3. I usually use, well, I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s a basic stitch that I use to trace each drawing, to recreate Nancy’s drawing as a line drawing in stitch. I found using the kantha stitch with colored thread a playful way to stitch Nancy’s drawings, and I ‘spect you’ll see more of the colorful kantha pieces in the future.

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Presented here, separately then side by side, are two stitched versions of the same drawing. Same drawing, different looks. The plant? It’s a moon flower, a little something my husband surprised me with from this morning’s pre-workshop romp through the New Albany Farmer’s Market.

Before we thread our needles this morning, Dorothy invited me to talk about Nancy and how she draws and I stitch. I showed them In Our Own Language 3 which is not even half finished yet, and let me tell you: the open, loving reception and the ensuing stories they sprinkled on me throughout the day will warm my heart for a long, long time.

The women of Louisville Area Fabric and Textile Artists (LAFTA), who made this workshop happen, are some of the most hospitable, engaging, talented, interesting, supportive women I’ve happened upon in a long, long time. Mega, uber thanks to Kathy Loomis, Dorothy Caldwell, MJ Kinman (who will soon have a blog for me to direct you to), Rosemary Claus-Gray, Joanne Weis, Linda Henke, Linda Fuchs, Sue Yung, Marti Plager, Linda Theede, and Debby Levine for making this such a marvelous, magical time. And, as I told Dorothy as I hugged her ‘bye, I’m not much of one for sheri worship, but if I was, she’d be The One.

look closely and you just might catch a glyphs of it

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Judaculla Rock, a boulder covered with petroglyphs is not far from where we live.

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We had trouble finding it . . . probably because it is right out in the middle of a field. Hidden in plain view.

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Archaeologists estimate that most of these glyphs are between 300 and 1500 years old. It is thought that this petroglyph is on the site of a council house mound and served as a boundary marker for Cherokee hunting grounds which were closely guarded by the legendary giant and master of animals, Judaculla.

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(In Our Own Language 3.79)

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(In Our Own Language 2.2)

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(In Our Own Language 3.102)

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(In Our Own Language 2.2)

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(In Our Own Language 3.56)

As we walked around the rock, I was taken with the similarity between these drawings and Nancy’s drawings, finding both evocative and an invitation to introspection and wonder.

I am tickled beyond description to be participating in a two-day workshop with Dorothy Caldwell exploring human marks and expressive stitching. I’ve long admired her work and though our work varies in its theme, focus, and purpose, I am hoping to conjure ideas (as in be inspired) for faster and creatively intriguing ways to present Nancy’s work. In her talk tonight, Dorothy showed photos of petroglyphs she saw while working in the Outback of Australia, many bearing a striking resemblance to those on the Judaculla Rock.

Iool3f

(In Our Own Language 3.260)

Most petroglyphs tells the story of the people who lived there; some offer directions, warnings, or blessings. often wonder what Nancy is saying with her drawings, with her marks. My theory is that she’s expressing her emotional response to what’s happening around her.

In Our Own Language, indeed.

tears (as in drops from the eyes) and tears (as in rips of the heart)

AdaHewellBabyJeanne001 copy

you met my mother here and here and here, now i know good and well that it’s mother’s day, but it’s not my mother i want to tell you about today.

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and it’s not my niece who had her baby boy last night at 10:49, even though you can bet your sweet patootie you’ll be hearing about him soon. isn’t he a beautiful baby?

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today it’s my cousin mary (the one who always makes sure we take plenty of pictures at every family gathering) i want to tell you about. that’s her there on the left. (then there’s my mother in the center. then there’s me on the right.)

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if you pay attention to my facebook feed, you know that 14 months ago mary’s oldest boy (that’s him – billy – there with the blue oval around his handsome face and that’s mary there on the left with the pink oval around her) was diagnosed with cancer. you know that he endured everything science has in its arsenal to throw at cancer, and you know that it wasn’t enough. mary buried her oldest son today – on mother’s day.

at first i thought that was an awful, horrendous, unimaginable thing to do – i initially felt physically sick for mary. but as i talked with her over the past few days, i tell you what: i’ve never loved her more or been more proud of her. that cousin o’mine really knows how to throw a good funeral.

she didn’t opt to have billy’s funeral on mother’s day to cast herself as a martyr. she didn’t want pity or attention or people fawning over her. you see, this wasn’t about mary at all. this funeral was a tribute to billy, and mary made sure of it in every way large and small.

friends were important to billy, so mary and her husband danny decided to have the funeral today because they knew a lot of billy’s friends would be in town visiting their mothers and could attend the funeral.

during the visitation that preceded the funeral when mary spied somebody she didn’t know, she walked right up to them and introduced herself and thanked them for coming then listened to their stories about billy.

she was right there every minute. she was so present.

she made sure people had plenty to eat. she asked if they had moved their car to the line that would go to the cemetery. she thanked people. she fed people. she hugged people. she listened to people. you might think she was distracting herself with busy work, and you’d be wrong. mary was there, she didn’t shy away from the reality of the occasion, she cried – she cried plenty – she just never lost sight of the fact that today was about honoring and memorializing billy.

when danny (billy’s daddy) cried, mary put her arm around him and patted him. when the preacher came to clarify what song would be sung, she directed him to danny because danny had selected the song. when the pall bearers (some of billy’s friends from college) arrived, she took them all into her house, and when they got upset, she comforted them.

she told the preacher story after story after story to make sure it was a fitting, story-filled tribute to the multi-faceted, multi-talented young man billy is . . . was (it’s hard to use past tense). in the past few weeks and especially today, mary exhibited every trait and characteristic that made billy the fine and good young man we know him to be.

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(that’s billy there with the orange oval with his hand on mary’s shoulder.)

as an actor and a managing director of a theatre, i see my fair share of drama queens, and as a woman of that certain age, i’ve dealt with a lot of women who desperately want to be seen, and i want to tell you one very important thing: mary focused that spotlight on her son billy, and she made sure it didn’t stray, not one little bit. and in her unfaltering selfless mother love, i saw her more clearly than i’ve ever seen her before.

i love her so much.

the janus approach

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we trekked to the cemetery, that stormy morning in april, in search of tombstones to rub, transferring their images to our cloths. as we pulled away from art camp with susan lenz two days later – i mean, we were literally about to back out of the parking lot – i got a call that my friend valerie along with her husband and their daughter had died when their house burned.

who knew cloth could commit foreshadowing . . .

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right on the heels of that, another call that my 32 year old cousin billy – who, over the past 14 months had endured everything science had to throw at his cancer and was waiting for tests in june that would determine the success of those treatments – was not doing well. in less than 2 weeks, he went from eating a bowl of grits at the kitchen table to back in the hospital for more tests. that was saturday, 4/26. on monday (4/28) came the news that the cancer had spread to his brain. on tuesday (4/29) came the news the cancer had spread to his spine. a week later on sunday (5/4), billy was moved to hospice. last night he took his last earthly breath.

“come make him laugh,” his mother mary said when she called me. my husband, mother, and i spent that wednesday afternoon at his bedside telling the old familiar family stories. legends, really. i told the same ole’ stories – even used the same ole’ words – and we still laughed till our sides split. stories are like that.

days later, his mother pulled her chair up close to billy’s bed and let the memories spill right out of her heart. for more than two hours, she told billy good memories she has of him. “i just wanted him to go out with lots of good memories,” she told me. i don’t know about you, but i can’t think of a finer send-off.

he’s only 32. billy is only 32 years old, and i just want to go on record saying that i find it especially cruel that a mother has to bury a child (especially so close to mother’s day) and that a 32 year old as good and fine as billy should die in the spring.

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today we bury another cousin, a quiet man who served in the vietnam war. he didn’t raise his hand to go, but when he was called, he went. my last memory of theron is of him telling stories about our grandparents. i was throwing a family reunion in my backyard, and i’d asked everybody to jot down their memories of grandmother and granddaddy so i could include them with the cookbook of grandmother’s recipes i’d created. not much of a writer, theron called me and talked for more than 3 hours, spilling one precious memory after another. to this day, i cherish those hours spent sitting on the back deck, looking around at all that needed to be done in preparation for the reunion, but not even really seeing it as i trekked down memory lane with theron.

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it’s been an emotionally rough spring.

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that’s not the whole story, though . . .

i just got a text message from my sister-in-law, carole, that her daughter/my niece will not be having her baby today – her labor will not be induced, anyway. we’ll just have to see what mother nature has to say about things.

tomorrow we celebrate the anniversary of my beautiful, precious daughter’s birth. on March 19 of this year, she had a partial thyroidectomy. she’s an actor and a singer, so of course we were on pins and needles about someone cutting on her throat. but my brother-in-law donn steered us to a surgeon who did an outstanding job as you can very well hear for yourself.

later this month we’ll join in merriment and shenanigans when my son kipp married the lovely and long-necked marnie. you’ll surely be hearing more about this as the days roll on. (i’m “foreshadowing” over on facebook, if you’d like to connect there. you’ll need to be logged in for the link to work.)

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we have memories. oh good lord, do we have memories – and that’s something you just can’t buy, regardless of how much money you have. memories . . . stories . . . those are treasures far greater than any amount of gold or silver or real estate. greater than any fleet of planes or drawers of diamonds or walls filled with paintings.

stories are art. so let’s get on out there and make some art today, why don’t we.

(but maybe forego the tombstone rubbings.)

(just sayin’.)

“Rock On” Means So Much More Now . . .

ValerieVoyles

Valerie Voyles Phillips

This is Miss Helen’s favorite photo of Valerie. I can see why, can’t you? Isn’t she beautiful, our Valerie? And the thing about Valerie: her beauty is inside and out. It’s organic. It’s through and through. It’s authentic. All the makeup and plastic surgery in the world can’t create this kind of beauty. It just can’t.

~~~

When I think of Valerie, I think of her faint stutter, the hesitancy with which some words fall out from between her lips. I never really thought of it as a stutter until today. It’s always been just the way she talks.

~~~

She is smart, you know – brilliant, really – and that brilliance is woven together with the homespun wit and wisdom of her mother. What a combo: intelligence and wisdom.

~~~

When sitting, Valerie rocks gently, as though she’s in a front porch rocking chair we can’t see. I don’t know why she does it, but I think it might confirm that she’s an old soul, living deeply and authentically far ahead of her years. Even in high school, she’s lived from a place I’m still trying to get to.

~~~

LarryVoylesInOveralls

This is Valerie’s little brother, Larry. He had a crush on me once upon a decade. I still have the love letters he wrote me – those big, deliberate words written with a little boy’s hand using a big, chunky pencil on pages of 3-ring paper snatched from Valerie’s notebook. Funny, I don’t ever remember Valerie being embarrassing, even when he asked her to deliver his love notes, though she certainly didn’t offer any commentary when she tossed them in my direction.

~~~

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My birthday is February 14, and Valerie’s is February 15, you see, and for reasons I can’t explain – maybe time just got away from them, maybe they just wanted to be different, maybe they just weren’t all that good at math – our parents huddled up and threw us a Sweet SEVENTEEN birthday party.

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Valerie was dating Dan Turner at the time. Dan is now married to Kathy Turbeville who was at the party with Joe Lee that night, a guy I’d dated previously.

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I was dating Dwayne Lindsey who Valerie went on to take as her first husband after we graduated from high school.

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Growing up in a small town you learn that everybody has history and stories and a life before you, and you don’t let things like former boyfriends get in the way of a good girlfriendship. Shoot, you learn early-on not to let anything get in the way of your relationship with a girlfriend cause good girlfriends can be mighty hard to come by. When you love somebody, you weather storms, you deal with whatever comes up, and you never, ever cut the ribbon of connection. You don’t even consider it. Our mothers, friends forever and a day, taught us that.

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It was such the well-orchestrated ruse, that Sweet Seventeen Shindig, that Valerie and I were totally and genuinely surprised. Dan and Dwayne planned a double date at some exotic destination that allowed us to dress up for the night, and they picked Valerie up first because she lived “in town.” Mother and Daddy had other plans (wink, wink) that coincidentally had them leaving in dress-up clothes and leaving the house before I did. Just before Dwayne’s white GTO pulled up in my driveway, Daddy called (from the clubhouse, of course, but it was before caller id, so I didn’t know that at the time) to say shoot – he’d forgotten to lock the gate at the golf course and wondered if we’d mind going by to lock up. “Oh, and be sure to check the clubhouse doors, too,” he said without a trace of a smile.

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Nobody minded, especially since the golf course was within walking distance from my front door, so that little side trip wasn’t going to make us late. Well, you’d think we would’ve noticed something when we pulled up and saw cars in the parking lot – and maybe we did – but we never dreamed that we’d hear a riotous SURPRISE when we walked through the unlocked clubhouse door. It only now occurs to me to ask Why did we even go inside at all?

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With all the tape and construction paper the local 5 and 10-cent store had to offer in those days before Amazon and Walmart were even ideas, Miss Helen and Mother, along with Mr. Charlie and Daddy and even our boyfriends who’d been let out of school for the afternoon to help (Our mothers worked at the local board of education, so they simply called the principal and told him they needed the boys’ help. It helps to have friends in high places.), transformed my family’s small town golf course clubhouse into a festive haven where we teenagers could be young adults for a night – even holding hands and slow dancing right in front of our parents – without all the responsibilities, trials, and heartbreaks we now know are inherent in adulthood. Did our parents think about that as they watched us that night, I wonder? Was that the real gift of that night, the gift it takes decades to realize?

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In addition to friendships that have lasted a lifetime, our friends chipped in and gave us each a heart-shaped pendant with sparkly little diamonds to mark the occasion. I still have mine. I think I’ll wear it to the memorial service.

Valerie, you see, died in the dark thirty hours of Sunday morning, along with her husband, Darrell and her daughter, Emily, when their house burned to the ground.

Because there’s an ongoing investigation and unimaginable things must be tended to, we don’t know when the service will actually take place. So in the meantime, as we wait, let’s hold our own collective service, swaddling the friends and family of Valerie, Darrell, and Emily in our warmest, most loving and kind thoughts and prayers, why don’t we? What say we pay tribute to Valerie and Darrell and Emily by letting our friends and family know how much we love them. Many of my elementary and high school friends still live in our not-so-small-anymore home town. I’ve moved away, but there’s still a strong connection, a groundedness that means the world to me. There’s something quite comforting about having friends who’ve known you through thick and thin, though feast and famine, and love you regardless.

As Miss Helen (Valerie’s mother) and Larry (Valerie’s brother) along with Darrell’s family members tend to the business at hand that must precede planning the service, let’s do what we do best: tell stories. Please pull up a chair and share your favorite stories and memories about Valerie, Darrell, and/or Emily in the comments here or in the comments on my Facebook posts. Miss Helen and Larry are reading, and your words are a balm to their souls.

And as we go forth, let’s all rock gently in a rocking chair only Valerie can see.

~~~

HelenVoylesAdaHewell

You know, I’ve long said that my children made me the best friends. Now I realize that my mother did, too.

~~~

Other photos from the photo album of That Sweet Seventeen Party: (cue Those Were the Days music)

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Dianna Harrell and Gary Baker

ElenderBallardWebbHowell

Elender Ballard and Webb Howell

GingerJonesGlenWard

Ginger Jones and Glen Ward

ChrisRollinsRobertReeves

Chris Rollins and Robert Reeves

JimNations DanaDougherty

Jim Nations and Dana Daugherty

JoanDumasDavidKnowles

Joan Dumas and David Knowles

KathyTurbevilleJoeLee

Kathy Turbeville and Joe Lee

KarenMcClanahanAddisonLester

Karen McClanahan and Addison Lester

KathyDettmering BuddyBridges

Kathy Dettmering and Buddy Bridges

MarkieSwaffordTerrySomebody

Markie Swafford and Terry somebody (whose name I can’t remember)

PamBurdetteGordonKing

Pam Burdette and Gordon King

BrendaTyree ButchRush

Brenda Tyree and Butch Rush

SueEllen MikeGable

SueEllen Daniel(s) and Mike Gable (They are now married.)

SuzanneDavisDougWalker

Suzanne Davis and Doug Walker

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Dwayne and me, changing the music
(Yes, those really are vinyls.)

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and last, but definitely not least:
the people who made this all (right down to the two guests of honor) possible:

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Ada and Crawford Hewell

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Miss Helen and Mr. Charlie Voyles

~~~

Dear Valerie, I’m betting . . . hoping . . . that with the arrival of you and Darrell and Emily, your daddy now knows how you and I felt when we walked through that clubhouse door. I love you, and I miss you already.

The Engineer & The Artist Do Art Camp: Day Three

Communion12

Communion 12

I’ve long ached for an epiphany – for things to come whooshing in, connecting, clarifying, lining up. I’ve witnessed it happening to other women, and I’ve held the space for women so it could happen for them, but I’ve never had The Big Epiphany myself . . . until 4:50 this morning when I woke up with a start and clarity like I didn’t know was possible. I saw cloths, I transcribed my artist statement, I knew what I do and do not want to do. I couldn’t turn the light on, though, cause Andy was sleeping, so I just sent myself an email and when I copied it into my journal later this morning, it filled almost 20 pages. Astonishing in every way.

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Communion 10

(Communion is the series where I stitch what conversations with Nancy look like.)

I designed eleven cloths today, basting each one of them so that they’re ready to stitch. Yes, that’s right: eleven.

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Andy threw some more pots, but honestly, I’ve lost count. Late in the afternoon, I did accept an invitation to join the potters who convened on a nearby bar for drinks, and what a fun bunch they are! After supper, it was back to the studio for me. I could stay here forever.

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The Engineer and The Artist Do Art Camp: Day Two

“breakfast starts at 7:30,” he says in a bit of a startle when the alarm clock goes off at 7:10 this morning.

“so?” i say, rolling over for (at least) a 10-minute snooze.

“so we need to get moving,” he says in a tone that’s rather annoyingly urgent.

we have breakfast, and as i look forward to heading directly to the studio to start working on something – anything – he reminds me that class doesn’t start till 9, even though the studios open at 8. his engineer is showing.

when we meet for lunch, he’s thrown another 6 pots:

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AND he tells me that he’s gotten over his bout with perfectionism. i clap a little bit, delighted to know that he’s embraced the wonkiness factor:

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by the time we met for supper, he’d glazed all his pots and finished a face jug:

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[ :: ]

meanwhile, my day started out with a trip to the local cemetery where we did a few tombstone rubbings before the downpour turned us back an hour or so ahead of schedule. this is the one i rubbed:

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back in the studio, i set to work dressing up my key a wee little bit:

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and laying out and basting Rinse Cycle 5:

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as well as Rinse Cycle 6:

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i can’t begin to describe how relaxing it is to spend so much time in the studio. (even if i haven’t yet completely tucked in and shed the outside world.) oh, if my life could be like this.

there is stitching in my immediate future. and a lot of it.

[ :: ]

today’s bonus:
as we left the fiber studio when andy came to pick me up for lunch, i said i wanted to start putting in at least 37.5 hours on writing and stitching each week to which he said “and you need to get your studio so that it’s conducive to creating space wise.” oh man am i ever glad he came now cause after being in this fabulous fiber studio a few times, he sees how important it is to have a space that loves it when you’re creating. even if he hasn’t thought about the fact that i’ll need his help to make changes.

The Engineer and the Artist Do Art Camp, Day One

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honestly, i wasn’t sure how much i’d like being at art camp with my husband. turns out i like being here together. i like it a lot. not only do i have somebody to sit with me at all meals plus a roommate i don’t have to worry about short-sheeting my bed or hanging my underwear on the flagpole or anything such as that, it’s great, big, huge, heartwarming fun to see his work, to see him create. he’s taking a pottery class called Turners & Burners: Folk Pottery of Southern Appalachia, and man is he productive. in the first 3 hours of class on day one, he threw 4 pots and a pitcher.

Arcpitcher1 2

“some aren’t smooth and round,” he says in a (surprisingly) apologetic tone.

“they’re wonky, andy” i tell him. “they’re the ones you would buy or at least gravitate to if somebody else made them.”

“i know,” he laughs.

[ :: ]

while andy was throwing pots, i was in a fiber class. not so much productivity for me on day one, but i did make this key:

Key1

and meet susan lenz (the instructor) in person – finally – and see some of her beautiful work up close:

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and also meet rena wood, the textile artist-in-residence:

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“i think of it like doodling with thread,” she says of this puddling effect:

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this piece was done on a vintage tablecloth given to her by a woman who works here. rena dyed it black and started stitching:

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Renawood13

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and this piece was inspired by the loss of memory she saw in her grandfather. he was losing his memory as she was building hers:

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[ :: ]

afterwards, there was a bonfire (complete with wine) then more walking hand-in-hand with andy as we strolled through the town.

you know, when i went to camp with my lifelong best friend, dianna, a few decades ago, my mother didn’t send me the first note or letter, even though i left a stack of self-addressed/stamped envelopes ready and waiting. as we settled into orientation, i get a text message from this same mother, asking me the name of the song that played when the ballerina jewelry box was opened. my goodness how things do change.

but hey, they don’t make me drink milk at this camp, so there.

the engineer and the artist: caregiving

031914alison2

This time last week, my daughter Alison had a partial thyroidectomy. It was a harrowing time, made even more harrowing by the fact that she is a professional singer and actor and voice instructor. The surgery finally over, we joined her in the Recovery Room, where she enjoyed small cups of ice chips that I called mini-margaritas.

In the week since, while I set alarms every 2-4 hours round the clock for meds, crush pills up and bury them in applesauce then spoon-feed them to her, fill ice bags to keep on her throat to prevent swelling, find ways to make and keep her comfortable, The Engineer fills bird feeders, plants cyclamen and petunias, and does odd jobs around her house.

Three days after surgery, at 2 a.m. as I remove (with the surgeon’s approval, of course) the steri-tape strips covering her incision, because she is so very allergic to the adhesive in the tape, Alison cuddles with the oversized stuffed pink bunny that The Engineer bought his ever-little girl.

My mother washes clothes and cooks.
Dr. Frank Cole doesn’t give up until he finds what needs attention.
Donn Chambers (my brother-in-law, an anesthesiologist) points us to Dr. Liz Shaw. It’s who he’d have operate on him, he says, and a week later, I can sure see why. The woman has good hands. Real good hands.

Friends and family call and mail and email and text their concern and support. Some send flowers. One sends a stone that I carry with me to the hospital. People we’ll never know in person light candles and send prayers out and up.

Though it’s surprising how much energy the surgery saps from her and how long it takes to replenish the reservoir, she stays up a little longer each day and can stand more space between pain pills. They warned us to expect hoarseness, but there’s actually very little. And though she hasn’t sung yet (unless you count that one note the day after surgery), she will. In fact, she has an audition next Tuesday.

Forward motion.
Progress.
Recovery.

So many helping, supporting, praying, comforting. Through it all, an entire village – a large and powerful village – rallies, and we see quite clearly that regardless of how your brain works . . .

Beauty heals.
Science heals.
Love heals.

Petunias1