Thursday, October 25, 2012


            Tim and I got some hard news this week. A very dear friend and long-time client received a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer. It somehow feels appropriate—if “appropriate” is even close to the right word—that this body-slam should come in the fall, when a transitioning world puts on its gayest and gaudiest dress before fading into grey.

            In southeastern North Carolina, the deciduous trees don’t put on much of a show most years. Except for the maples, reds are muted, browned. Tulip poplar and sycamore leaves turn bright yellow for about ten minutes before their edges go crispy, and they’re on the ground.  Occasionally the sweet gums spark multi-hued, but dull purple is much more common.

            This is not to say the landscape’s gone bland. You just have to take the time to look.  When I did, I found shards of rainbow all over the place.


            Red pentas blazing in a windowbox.


            An orange sweet pepper, possibly the last of the season.


            A yellow-yellow black-eyed susan petal, still hanging on.


Yellow-orange tarragon flowers dug from a friend’s house last Saturday.


Chartreuse new growth on ‘Alabama Sunset’ coleus.


New green baby iceberg lettuce leaves.

Metallic blue Viburnum tinus berries.



True-blue mealycup sage, one of my favorite flowers.

Yellow-eyed lavender asters hugging the ground.


Velvety violet Mexican bush sage.

 The magnificent magenta of an ‘Alabama Sunset’ leaf.

Even if you live where sugar maples blaze all October long or where bougainvillea blooms year-round, comfort—and joy—can be found in nature’s saturated colors, even when the world dips into shadow.

Gratitude for what we have is so important. Thanks for dropping by.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012


            Sorry for the long hiatus. Put it down to changes in attitudes, if not latitudes.

Kathy's messy work space, circa 2011
            For example: yesterday I spent time with my weaving teacher, Kathleen, who I suspect is actually myself in some parallel universe. As usual, aware of how I learn best from words (as opposed to pictures, which is how both she and Tim think), she gave me reams of handouts with terminology; technique diagrams; sample cartoons, or drawings of what you want the weaving to look like that you can pin to the warp threads as a guide; loom, materials, and resource information; and several weaving-related articles, including a short piece on John Mercer of Mercerizing fame. She also loaned me five—count ‘em!—five books to peruse.

Arriving home in an inspired but somewhat brain-overloaded state, I piled the stack of printed materials on top of the other stacks of printed materials on the conveniently located flat surface I call my desk.

Kathy's neat desk, circa today
That teetering heap of paper assaulted my eyes this morning, so I decided something must be done about it. I sat down to make a list of how to organize the mess when it occurred to me: don’t plan to do it, just do it. So I did. My weaving stuff is now divided among five folders—Articles, Cartoons & Designs; Techniques & Terms; Tools & Resources; and Warps & Wefts—collected in an uber-folder. The rest of the stacks got doled out either to existing folders (Election, Letters, Down-the-Hall Filing, etc.), or found their way into new ones, or were actually cleared away with  a few phone calls. Now the desktop is clear except for the poetry collection I’m preparing for submission to a contest, neatly contained in a manila envelope.

I just did it.

A half-bushel of apples, transformed
It’s the same with my unabated canning illness. In early October, Tim and I took off five days to visit The Cousins in Maryland, who took us to the Berkeley Springs, West-By-God-Virginia, Apple Butter Festival. Naturally, I came home with a half-bushel (25 pounds) of apples. Adding to the bounty the following Wednesday, I scored a respectable bundle of cucumbers and a couple of pounds of okra for pickling at Wilmington’s Poplar Grove Farmers Market. The enormity of what I’d done hit me as I recovered over a cheese-and-tomato sandwich from my Saturday morning stint of weeding-for-hire. Produce covered every inch of counterspace.

            Instead of looking the other way and burying myself in the Saturday Sudoku, I put water and jars in the canner and got to work. By six o’clock, nine pints of bread-and-butter pickles, four pints of pickled okra, and a single pint of pickled peppers straight out of the front yard (to use up the rest of the vinegar solution) cooled on top of the chest freezer. Tackled the apples the next day. Peeled, cored, quartered, boiled, and strained 64 apples, ending up with about three gallons of applesauce, apple pie filling and apple butter.

I just did it.

After finishing my raglan-sleeve sweater, I started knitting Tim a vest, hoping the third try would prove the Goldilocks moment: the first one I made him was too short, the second one waaay too big all over. (We both could fit in it. At the same time.) With a decent fit in mind, I knitted and measured against his back; ripped out, reknitted, remeasured; ripped a little bit more, remeasured. At bedtime last night, only five rows remained for the the back, so I sat up and finished it.

Raglan-sleeve sweater, completed
Tim's vest back, 
completed AND right size

I just did it.

Then I remembered I hadn’t posted a blog entry in over two weeks. Today,  after clearing up the desk disaster and making those phone calls, I sat down at the computer and started to type. This is what resulted.

It may not be much, but at least I did it.

More garden-themed posts will begin flowing soon—the paper mountain hid lots of post-it-noted ideas that made their ways into the appropriate notebook this morning. All I have to do is write them out. And get pictures, of course. But I’m guessing the present little bagatelle will buy me another week or so.

There’s a lot to be said for just doing stuff, no matter what the stuff is.

Thanks for just dropping by.