Archive for the ‘Living’ Category

Pondering the “Views” or landscape

January 21, 2018

My entry, now in Japan, collecting light with ojiisan for companionship.

I’m not going to try to second guess what Ricketts and and folks in Tokushima had in mind when they conjured up this project.  To have only been thinking about indigo and bringing in an international aspect was and is a statement, just on that simple or basic level. It speaks.

What comes to my mind first, is the word けしき/keshiki. One definition is “scenery, view or landscape”. One person involved in the cloth dyeing process used ‘scenery’, Ricketts said ‘view’ and I like ‘landscape’. That speaks to me. A recent video is here. You, dear reader, can decide for yourself.

Another thing is that there were 9 (possibly 10?) countries represented with 450 participants, each person given a square of indigo (or handkerchief) cloth. Each piece collected the rays of the sun from their personal parts of the world for roughly 5 months. Then, they were returned to Japan and now on display for roughly a week.

The universal color, dyestuff was indigo – one color absorbing the sunbeams from 10 different countries – collected, to make a whole “‘scape”, landscape or view. 450 people represented from 10 different countries, represented by 450 pieces of cloth bathed in sunlight, reflecting one universal hue with no borders between them. They are all unified by sunlight and color. Each individual, each county or province, state, country…all side by side just “breathing” quietly in blue.

That’s what speaks to me. I wonder what else comes to mind.



In a new year…

January 9, 2018

Last year…well, it was memorable in so many respects, it’s an understatement.  I’m simply grateful for the events, many forms of engagement, friends, family and the many others who in many ways kept me thinking, working and engaged with living. It was an overwhelming year in many respects, but I’m still grateful for the challenges.

Indigo Threads

There was some fun in it, and work. I’m looking forward to more of that “blue” engagement.

I don’t know quite what the year will bring, which is a good thing. I like a little mystery. I do know that I plan to be a student at some point instead of a teacher (more upcoming). I’m looking forward to learning some different perspectives on the topic.

For the moment, I’m offering an exploration in “nui” or stitched shibori at Sertoma Arts Center (Raleigh, NC) in March. There’s more detailed information on the Workshops page. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Wishing you serenity in this New Year.



It’s still spring….

April 20, 2017


At the moment, I don’t know where or how to begin.  It would be an understatement though no matter how I described how this season has gone (so far) and what’s to be anticipated in the near future.  There is so much to look forward to.

To step back, a little, I have finally completed the yukata that was a huge preoccupation since last summer.  I’m happy and honored that it’s part of an exhibit, “Filaments of the Imagination”, at the Durham Arts Council.  And there are so many delightful treasures to explore in this exhibit.  If you happen to be in the area, please drop by and see it.  “We” (my Threads group) are exhibiting through May 11 (we are disassembling on the 12th).

Upcoming, (see the Workshops page & link), one month from now, is a 2 day workshop in shibori and indigo dyeing at the NC museum of art.  Needless to say, I’m looking forward to teaching this in a new studio situation.  So, join us.  We’ll have fun!

Yes, the sun does still come out, my siblings and I share stories and laugh.  There is sadness, we miss her.  It was complex.  But she gave and taught us much.  We have yet to celebrate her life as a family and that is also upcoming in late spring.

Mom never saw my yukata, but I did describe it to her and we talked about the imagery.  It was one of my last conversations with her.  The imagery is a mix, but universal, as it talks about summer universally, but some aspects of summer that I experience (always) and loved from my years in Japan, North Carolina and visiting my sister’s home in Wisconsin (up on Lake Superior).

I’m amazed it’s still spring and there’s more and more coming.  I haven’t even mentioned the garden – so much work to do and now we have an abundance of fearless rabbits, it seems.  Things are ongoing.


Mother’s day was yesterday

March 23, 2017

Mother at 90.

At this point, I’m simply marking the day (it was yesterday) and will come back to thoughts later. But I’m including a quote from my youngest sister, a post from facebook, that I feel expresses many universal feelings about her.

After a long, good 92 years, Sue Oliver passed away early this morning.  She made it possible for me to be raised in Japan where I learned pretty quickly to think critically.   She gave me the love of gardening, cooking and of having a stable home.  She also taught me to take care of me and to never sell myself short. She enjoyed beauty. In her last days, she continued to be interested in the world around her. Newspapers and the news were vital!  I will miss her in ways I have yet to know. I am comforted knowing she is done with a worn out body and
surrounded by friends and family who have gone before. I feel blessed.        – – –  Jean Oliver – Holder

I am also grateful to the man who held her hand as she took her last breaths. I am comforted by the fact that she was not alone.


keeping it simple

December 30, 2015

In the midst of visiting and “working” with my mother this month, there was time for walks and talks with family in the balmy Tampa temps, Christmas lights and nourishing, delicious eats. Needless to say, it provided the same comfort as a warm hearth: cheering, nurturing and enjoyable.

a light show we encountered on one night's stroll...

a light show we encountered on one night’s stroll…

On returning home, it was good to move into my own home preparations, which were fairly simple. I always make cinnamon twist rolls – a reference to my mother’s Christmas baking.

Sweet Trolls2

She often made cinnamon rolls with icing, sometimes on a Sunday. But, it seems consistently, for Christmas morning, she baked them. I recall her starting the dough the day before, setting a large bowl of dough on the oil heater (covered, used it to warm the house back then), and the aroma of rising dough filling the house. To be able to pass this memory on to my family with my own baking is beyond satisfying.

It has been like spring all week – I wonder how long some flowers will last? I can bring the Passion vine indoors before the cold sets in finally. Today, however, we’re experiencing thunderstorms and the blossoms are wilted and soaked.


This Daphne may be blooming early, but over the last few years it has been encased in ice – I’ve missed its exquisite fragrance. Not so this year.

Good-bye Year of the Sheep!

Good-bye Year of the Sheep!

There’s been little time for ‘that’ work or making in spite of the temps and it’s hard not to be doing it. There’s been an abundance of rain and more to come. That adds to the challenge. We’re moving toward cooler temps in the New Year. And the new is around the bend. I wonder what it holds?


December 29, 2015

先生・せんせい/sensei – the word means teacher, but the deeper meaning is “one who comes before”. Wiki says “a person born before another”. [先] sen defines as “previous” and [生] sei as “life”.  It’s a term mostly given to professionals, the ones we learn from and that opens up a wide world. Our parents could be included.

Lately, I’ve been preoccupied with my mother, where she is in life and aspects of her care. Fortunately, I can share these concerns with my siblings. Also fortunate, is the fact, that, so far, with much discussion, we’ve been able to agree on these things. In this process, over the years and particularly the last few months, there has been much research, discussion, relying on the skills and experience of family in the healthcare profession – much learning. I’m the student in these matters.

It has taken much listening – especially to my mother who wants to advocate for herself and to maintain her independence. Listening to her wants and needs, respecting them, as well as helping her to advocate for her health and safety has sometimes been a delicate balancing act. At this point in time, some decisions have had to be made for her and that’s where it has become delicate – sensitive.

So, December, in many respects, has been a month of reflection. It’s been much more actually, as my siblings and I ponder and address further stages of mother’s aging and needed care. While it’s life and universal, each person is unique and she is our mother.

My sister's and my first homes school room - my parents' bedroom - mom's the "sensei".

My sister’s and my first homes school room – my parents’ bedroom – mom’s the “sensei”.

In early childhood, she was my teacher – she taught me to read, write and sew among many other necessary life skills. Now, she’s teaching me about aging, at least some aspects of it.


September 18, 2015

Flying in earlier this week,  the lakes and rivers were a welcoming indigo blue.

welcoming blues - heartening


A good sign! I’ve been away for a bit.

butterfly bush

butterfly bush

Other good signs – it has taken all summer to coax this bush to bloom. Was it the heat or lack of rain? I can’t be sure, but we have bloom.

promise of seeds....


This shows promise of seeds later in the season. I’d started talking to the plants out of desperation.

beginnings of indigo bloom - can't wait.

beginnings of indigo bloom – can’t wait.

I thought they would never bloom, now suddenly, there is promise, possibility.

morning's dip

morning’s dip

Yes, vat, I’m back.

in the dirt

April 23, 2015

Lots of scratching in the dirt, digging deep holes, transplanting and planting seeds.

raised beds! finally!

raised beds! finally!

This is just a beginning.

Polygonum tinctorium seedlings

Polygonum tinctorium seedlings

They’ve grown a wee bit since the last entry.

"scum" on the vat's surface

“scum” on the vat’s surface

Keeping my eye on the vat, always as it hasn’t had much activity lately.  The days are warming up though and there’s promise.

potential for blue

April 16, 2015

I won’t mention it (rehtaew eht). I know I’m always talking about it, but I’m so dependent on what “it” does. It can’t be helped.

Woad flower

Woad flower

One of the many blossoms opening this week – woad. It grew from seed (Milkweed seed).   I thought it would never take off last year.  Yet, here is one result after this winter’s ice and snow. This is the best of the bunch, so it looks like chances are good for an abundant seed harvest (I hope).

I see lots of potential here.

I see lots of potential here.

It’s past the time for harvesting the leaves – should have done that last year. My plants were so small. It’s a biennial, giving good leaves one year (for the dye), flowers and seeds the next. I’m learning.

first indigo sprouts of the season

first indigo sprouts of the season

On the other hand, new indigo sprouts – just this week. They’ll need to mature a bit before transplanting into a new bed.

Consider this entry a little sprout – sometimes it’s difficult to articulate the words, in a sensible manner, for all of the life that goes around.  This is a little something, but one of the many that makes the day, the week or the season…well worth the living.

some considerations

January 23, 2015

Back to it after some gloomy, damp winter weather and a bit of a respite. This week, for a few days, the weather turned spring like with welcome sunshine and milder temperatures. The idea of not dipping seemed like a missed opportunity. The vats had a bit of “revamping” with sunbeams to boot.

January dipping

January dipping

Truth be told, I’m preparing for an early February workshop celebrating wintery motifs – an emphasis on sekka/snowflakes and itajime/board clamping. More information can be found here but don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.



This month I’ve needed a break, a breather. I’ve taken that point of view as I was “ordered” to do so after giving myself a mild concussion a few weeks back. It has seemed prudent to take things at a more measured pace. However, I’ve returned to old habits – too easy to do. Generally, it’s made me aware that some things need to change.


a crop from a larger photo – early days in Kagoshima. I love the dress and am impressed that she’s wearing a hat!

Another thing occupying my thoughts and activities is a project centering on my mother who celebrates her 90th year in roughly a month. It has involved looking at old photos of her and what surfaces, on one level, is her sense of style. That aspect has carried through her long life.  She always presents herself well.

Over the holidays I read Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible and enjoyed it thoroughly. Between the two, I’ve had many thoughts about my own clothing influences as well as simply considering my mother’s style in the context of her times and the culture in which she immersed herself. Sometimes I wonder “Who was she? What was she thinking?” The stories that come to mind…!

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