Friday, November 17, 2017

Lemongrass, Hyacinth, and More

This sweet-smelling lemongrass came from L’s garden, good for simmering into a soothing tea as well as for using in Thai cooking.

I still need to draw people in meetings;  and these hyacinths blooms were undaunted by our light frost this morning.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


I’ve spent a lot of time lately knitting secrets into a scroll for an artist’s book on the topic ‘Secret.’  In the process I learned a lot about steganography, or the concealing of a message, image, or file within another message, image, or file.  Go to to learn all about what Madame DeFarge was up to as she sat knitting before the guillotine in Tale of Two Cities.

I wish I had known how to do this in high school, when passing notes in class got me into lots of trouble—

Sunday, November 5, 2017


I was waiting for L to come home the other day, and got so entranced by her front porch things that I almost wanted her to be late.  This broken ceramic hand with its appendages, the specimens from the bone table—

And out in the dried up frost bitten garden by our front porch one of the dwarf hibiscuses is putting forth blooms as though it were still August.

I can never resist pulling into the driveway by the white barn and sketching the leisure bulls.  

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Have you seen this lone,  dried-up looking, green and white striped leaf lurking in the fall and winter forest? This is the winter stage of the putty root orchid, the tiny blooms of which I watched avidly last June.  In winter the chlorophyl-laden single leaf makes food for the plant even when snow covers it and icy winds flatten it.  Meanwhile underground a complex root with bulbous corms stores the starchy food.

I found fifteen of the leaves where the flowers came up last summer.  I dug up one leaf and the corm to which it was attached to see if the corm really had adhesive putty inside.  It does!  Native people and early colonists/settlers/displacers of Native people are said to have used this corm’s sticky pulp to mend pottery.  I tried using it to adhere a piece of paper to this page.  It works very well— dries flat and it can be reversed with water.  The putty root is not endangered in NC but check its status in your area before digging any up.  I replanted mine in our front garden.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sheep at the Fiber Fair

Finally a chance to get really close to sheep!

All different breeds and all groomed for the show.

A Shetland ewe

And a Shetland lamb ram

A big Icelandic

At the end of their competitions some owners had their sheep shorn, and here is a master shearer at work.  The sheep was relaxed and looked like it was lying back in a barber’s chair.  The shearer wore interesting Australian felt shearers’ moccasins.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Odd Duck

Three ducks — a male and a female mallard and the unusual green-billed duck above— were dabbling around the dock at Beaver Lake yesterday.  There are apparently many hybrids of mallards, who breed freely with other duck breeds as well as with geese.

The steers were very close to the fence ;  it feels like being in the middle of the herd.

Late afternoon on the farm.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Hydrangea, Late Phase

This bloom is from a hydrangea that put forth cream-colored flowers in July, which turned blue in August, then pink in September, and now light green with violet in October.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Trying Out New Paper

A tumbly pile of cheddar black pepper boules at City Bakery
Walking after yesterday’s torrential rain I found this downed cattail near the flooded lake.

Also right after the all-day rain, this late rosebud growing outside of my studio window

Sunday, October 22, 2017


These jewel-like seeds cluster in their pods.  The seeds are edible as long as the water they’re growing in isn’t polluted.  They can be roasted or eaten raw for a snack, and they can also be ground to make a nutritious flour and added to your bread flour.  You can find pickeralweed in wetland areas.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

This Year’s Disappointing Persimmon and the Hidden Life of a Peony

Every October persimmons appear at Whole Foods, and every October I imagine hopefully that this year they will be local persimmons and will have seeds in them,  and I’ll be able to forecast the winter weather according to the Old Farmers’ Almanac.  So even though there was no sign saying LOCAL— actually I’ve never seen a persimmon tree here— I carefully chose one and rushed home to cut it open.  Yet again it was a mass of bright orange quivering jelly-like pulp without a seed to be seen.  

On a happier note, M brought us a pink peony bulb/corm/root thing Saturday, and after I dug a proper hole for it I took a little break and drew it while it was still sitting on the grass watching me dig its new home.  It began to look like a Medieval hill town to me—

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Heron, Fields

Saw this young great blue heron walking on mudflats and wading at still-low Beaver Lake Tuesday.

The mountain we live on and the valley below with my favorite gynomorphic tree stump.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Last of Summer

Perfection— drawing this last fistfull of orange-pink-yellow zinnias and oregano blooms while soft rain falls outside and P plays something in a minor key on his guitar in the next room.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Sweet Time

Maya is doing wonderful oil pastel drawings this past few weeks.  Yesterday I picked her up from school and we went out behind my house and sat up on the high hilly pasture and drew in oil pastels together till the sun set. Here’s my first drawing in my very small sketchbook.

Here’s Maya’s drawing, her first time drawing thesemountains  from life.  The ever changing light was interesting. 

Here’s my second drawing, of a row of trees along the road below our mountain.  

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Really Trivial But At Least Not Political

M and I wanted to canoe yesterday but no luck.  The lake has been lowered so much ( in preparation for Hurricane Irma, which was more or less a shoo-shoo here) that the water is too shallow.  The dock goes from grass to mud!  Turtles were hanging out on an old tire that had surfaced.

And this morning these dignified,  at-leisure bulls lolling in the sun in the White Barn pasture, not giving a rat’s about anything past or future.  Had to draw them on the back of an old parking pass.  Single line ten second ink sketches.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Field Notes and Interventions

Thursday night my friend L and I went downtown to the top of a parking deck to watch, we hoped, swifts descend like a little tornado into an old chimney at dusk.  We did see lots of swifts swifting around but not going into the chimney on the right, which was just below our perch.  They were going into a chimney across downtown, barely visible to us.  But it was exciting to watch, and we will maybe try again soon as they will be migrating through here for a few weeks more.

And yesterday some interventions along the river-
And some more-
And today field notes about the location of some oche in a cliff halfway up Jones Mountain.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Maya and I experimented with oil pastels and some gouache tonight.  I did this passionately desirable plum for a collaboration titled Passion/ Desire.  Maya did a scene of northern lights for a science class assignment.  I haven't used pastels since I was around 8 years old and took Saturday morning art classes at the old New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park.  Fun!

Monday, September 25, 2017

White Road/Strada Bianca/White Road

Our dear friend in Italia asked P if he would write a poem for her to use on her agriturismo web page.  So P reworked a poem he had written one summer in Italy about a place that was very near our rented house and that evoked the feeling of a very particular late summer afternoon there.

Be sure to enlarge these white lines in order to read the poem, which appears in the top line in English as P wrote it-

then in our friend's translation into lovely Italian in the middle line.

In the third line you'll find my literal translation of the Italisn version back into English.

I am fascinated by the slight shifts that inevitably creep into translation.

I decided to make a large accordion folded book with relief prints stamped over monotype backgrounds.

The white road itself is a strip of absorbent ground into which I incised the three poems using a mechanical pencil when the ground was still soft.

The cover is an encrustation of local clay and acrylic medium with a piece of mica covering a print,