Potholders in a Frame

May 14th, 2015
Cathy's Weeping Tree Potholders

Cathy’s Weeping Tree Potholders

Cathy sent me an email saying it was the first time she framed something herself.  The frames, she said, were the perfect size for the Weeping Tree Potholders she bought from me.  I think it’s wonderful that she put her creativity together with mine to figure out a way to hang my potholders.

And I have to say, I love the way my work looks in a frame.  A step up for my potholders?

Wear It or Not

May 13th, 2015

wear it

I was in sixth grade when a  girl in my class who I was friendly with (and whose name I can’t remember) asked me if I wore a bra.  I didn’t.   Because I didn’t need one and because it wasn’t something I ever really thought about.   This girl told me I should.  My sister had given me her training bra when she outgrew it and I had it in my dresser drawer.  So I started wearing that.

I don’t know if such things still exist, but now when I think of it, it’s a pretty strange idea….a training bra.  I mean, where does the training come in.  Are they training girls to wear a bra (not really that complicated) or maybe they’re training our breasts how behave in a bra.

Anyway, it was sometime around 6th grade that I started wearing a bra and sometime in high school that I stopped wearing a bra.  I never had big breasts and I found wearing a bra more uncomfortable than not wearing one.    It was also the late 70’s – 80’s and the feminist symbol of bra burning was fresh in my mind.

I did wear a bra one time after that.  It was at my sister’s wedding.  I was wearing a fitted dress  that required a strapless bra.  It was as uncomfortable as a regular bra, but became unbearable after I ate.  I don’t know how women wore corsets and didn’t starve to death.

So now I’m 51, and I’ve been wearing undershirts or nothing instead of a bra for about 30 years,  until Monday, when I had my fifth riding lesson.  Kind of self explanatory.  Age, gravity, a different distribution of more weight and all that bouncing around on Chloe……. well there was a lot bouncing around.   Suddenly things shifted and wearing a bra was more comfortable than not wearing one.

And I have to say that I was pleasantly  surprised.  From what I remember, it seems to me that bra’s have changed in the last 30 years.  It wasn’t uncomfortable at all.   Since it was such a hot day, it was actually more comfortable than wearing an undershirt under my t-shirt.

But it’s not easy to just toss off an old belief.  And not wearing a bra has become a belief for me. Not just a Feminist symbol,  but a symbol of freedom and non-conformity.   I was actually embarrassed to tell Jon I was wearing a bra, like it was something to be ashamed of. (He had a different reaction, he listened to me as he does and offered some support for my feelings.  Then a wicked little smile spread over his face, pulling the conversation in a different direction which I won’t elaborate on).

But I’m not going to let my beliefs or shame keep me from being comfortable and doing what is best.  Thirty years ago that meant not wearing a bra, today maybe it means wearing one.  Not all the time of course.  Just when it feel right, just when I choose to.  And especially when I’m learning to trot with Chloe.

The Moments In Between

May 12th, 2015
My new quilt with the backing on the floor and ironing board

My new quilt with the backing on the floor and ironing board

I feel like it’s been such a long time since I’ve been in my studio.  And in a way it has been.  The week before our trip to Iowa, I was mostly busy getting my yarn sold and shipped.  But the moments in between, during those two weeks, I made some potholders and started a quilt.

Today I finished the top of the quilt and started piecing together the back.  I hung it in all four directions to see which way I liked it best.  I’m still not sure.

quilt (1)




The Lessons Never End

May 11th, 2015
Eli in the barn

Eli in the barn

Eli broke her wrist a while back, it still hasn’t healed right and she’s having surgery on it this Thursday, but that doesn’t stop her from going to the barn everyday and taking care of her horses. She’s gotten really good at sweeping with one hand.  And it doesn’t stop her from being a great teacher either.  Maybe I could have found someone else to teach me about horses and how to ride, but the way Eli does it is just right for me.

Eil’s kind and encouraging and tells me the things I forget again and again without losing patience.  And she laughs a lot.  When Chloe and I do something really good, she cheers for us, I mean she really seems like she’s as excited about it as I am.  And when we do something not so good, she lets me know in a way that never makes me feel bad about myself.  Thinking about it, I’m not quite sure how she does it, but  we always seem to wind up laughing about it.

I think part of it is that Eli really loves what she does.  And she has a passion for horses that goes back to her childhood.  Without encouragement from anyone she got her first horse when she was fourteen.  She worked before school and after school at a stable to be able to keep it.  She’s never had just one teacher, but has taken what worked for her from a bunch of different instructors and workshops and her own experiences and brings them to her students and horses.  She never loses site of the fact that every person and every horse is different and what works for one may not work for another.

Today Eli tried to fit Chloe with a saddle that I could have.   She has a bunch of extra ones at the barn and we found two that may work.  I think I’ll probably be taking Chloe home sometime in the next couple of weeks.  I’m ready for it and I think Chloe is too.

Today when I left the barn, Chloe was munching on some hay in a stable.  I stuck my head in the small window  to say goodbye and she actually stopped eating and came over to me.  She looked at me for a moment then went back to the hay.  Eli and I both squealed in delight.  Did you see that I said, she came to say goodbye, didn’t she.  With a big smile Eli agreed that she had.

When I got home Eli texted me a slew of photos of Chloe and me that she had taken.  what a super afternoon! she wrote Such nice communications today!   (See what I mean about Eli)

Later this week I’m going to go to the barn to groom, saddle and ride Chloe by myself, to see what I can do.  I know I’ll be asking Eli to come to Bedlam Farm once Chloe is home for more lessons. When I first thought of getting a horse I told myself that I wouldn’t get one till I knew all there was to know about riding and taking care of a horse.  Now I know the lessons never end.


It was hot today, so after riding I gave Chloe a bath




One of my Tree Potholders on Yuko’s Cedar

May 11th, 2015
Yuko's Tree Potholder

Yuko’s Tree Potholder

Something I never thought of, what a beautiful way to photograph my Tree Potholders.  Yuko took this picture of the potholder she bought from me, hanging on the cedar tree in her back yard.   I love the way the texture of the bark looks with the fabric and the lines on my tree.

Yuko also sent me a picture of a Singing Cottonwood.  Which made me google  the tree, how could I not.  I found this video of a recording  of what the Singing Cottonwood sounds like.  Yes, it actually makes a sound that our human ears can’t hear without some help.  Reminds me of the drumming class I took a couple of years ago.


A Pony And A Puppy

May 10th, 2015


A Pony and a puppy!   Once I had a dream I was eating an ice cream cone and holding a kitten.   A dream for sure, I still smile when I think of it.  And now it turns out we’re getting a pony and a puppy.  In my opinion, that’s right up there with ice cream and kittens.  Only it’s real, like a dream come true.

Until the reality of it all started to sink in.  Which I have to say didn’t take long. My first thought was it’s too good to be true.  Tell me, I said to Jon, that something doesn’t have to go wrong.  Done with the old superstitions, I then went on to what I thought was the practical part of it.  I won’t have enough time to spend with them both and all the other animals and do my work and blah blah blah.  Okay, so this is one of my great neurosis.  That I don’t have enough time.

When I spoke to Karen, the puppy’s breeder on the phone, the first thing I said to her is, This is a miracle.  I was talking about the  way it all fell into place.  How Jon emailed Karen just as she got off the phone with her friend who decided it wasn’t the right time for her to take the puppy.  And how the moment I saw the photo of Fate (yes, that’s her name, argue with that), with that black patch over her brown eye and the other eye blue, I knew she was ours.  Because she already looks familiar to me.  Like I’ve known her a long time.

It’s not as if I’m not taking responsibility for my part in the decision, I am.  I have no doubt this is the right puppy for us and we’re the right people for her.  But I’m also allowing for the part that I don’t have control over.  I’m trusting that this is the perfect time for us to be getting not just my pony Chloe, but Fate too.  And that somehow getting them at the same time is going to bring with it something (besides learning how to have a horse and training a puppy at the same time)  I don’t yet understand.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m saying yes and trusting life.  I mean, if a single mom can have a full time job and raise some happy and healthy kids (which happens, I’ve seen it)  I can certainly get a pony and a puppy at the same time and do well by us all.

I’m also thinking that the combination of pony and puppy will keep the lessons I most need to learn in my face. Things like patience, and being able to be the leader, being clear and not reacting out of guilt or my own issues.  And then there’s all the stuff I  haven’t even thought of yet.   So we’ll all be learning together.

The other part of it is that I  have Jon, who has raised and trained so many great dogs.  It’s going to be fun doing this with him.  I keep thinking, We’re going to have a puppy together, probably the closest we’ll come to having a kid together.  I’m looking forward to seeing how well we do and where the differences come.  There’s a  touch of anxiety in it all, but mostly excitement.

A pony and a puppy, imagine that!



Her Ears are my Shoulders

May 8th, 2015


Her ears are my shoulders, I thought as I rode Chloe in a circle around the ring.  I watched Chloe’s ears move in the direction of my shoulders as I turned my body from the waist.  I’m sure someday I’ll take that for granted, the way a horse will go where you want to just by moving your body, but right now it still seems like magic to me.

Every movement of my body is a message to Chloe.  If I unconsciously shift my weight, or press a leg against her, I may be telling her to so something I don’t consciously want her to do. And my attitude means so much.  You have to mean it, Eli tells me when I want her to stop and she doesn’t.

It’s like playing a drum, when I finally get the beat down, and it’s not just my hands hitting the drum at the right time in the right place, it’s as if my whole body is playing, like my hands are my feet dancing across the floor.  That’s what it’s like when we’re moving together.  My shoulders and her ears, my legs and hips moving in time with hers, my hands feeling her mouth through the reins, my heart soft and my mind not having to think about any of it, only needing to know where it wants to go next.


Something was off with the way I was holding the reins.  I wasn’t feeling any of that connection that people speak about.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel or even what it might feel like.  I didn’t really think about it, but suddenly I was aware that  I was afraid to hold the reins too short.  I thought I was going to hurt Chloe if I did.  ” I heard that a bit is painful in a horses mouth”, I blurted out to Eli, “I’m realizing I’m afraid of hurting Chloe if I can physically feel any pressure on the reins.  So I’m holding them loose.”

Eli explained how, the kind of bit she uses doesn’t hurt a horse’s mouth.  And how, in the beginning, I had to be able to physically feel the connection between me and Chloe’s mouth.  As I got better at riding, and she and I  got to know each other better,  I’d be able to make the tiniest movements with my pinky to let Chloe know where I wanted to go or what I wanted her to do.  But now, It was important that she know I’m at the other end of the reins.  That it gives her a sense of security, that it’s my job to let her know what to do and where to go.  That loose reins are confusing, unclear.


I can still feel it now.  I’m not sure what to call it, it’s not pressure or tension, more like the pull of a magnet to metal, but without the pull. Just the sensation of energy moving from one point to another and back again with ease.

There were moments today, when riding Chloe, it was pure movement.   In the distance, like she was in another place, I could hear Eli telling me everything I was doing right. I wasn’t thinking, I was doing.  But I wasn’t alone, somehow Chloe and I were doing the same thing together.  And when that happened, I felt like I was experiencing something completely new to me, like I was occupying a different space and time.

Back in the barn, I leaned up against Chloe’s neck and I could feel her lean into me.  We stayed that way for a little while and I felt like we shared a heartbeat. Then I brought her back to her area with the other ponies and donkeys.  She ran off to be with the other horses and I went home, feeling like something had shifted inside of me.

me and Chloe

Me and Chloe

Things are different between me and the donkeys

May 8th, 2015
Lulu resting her head on Fanny's back.

Lulu resting her head on Fanny’s back.

When I got back from riding Chloe today, I went to visit with the donkeys.   Something spooked Lulu, but Fanny came up to me and started sniffing me.  I squatted next to her and I could feel her breath on my skin as she smelled my hands and arms and face.   I pulled up images in my mind from the time I spent with Chloe just a half hour before. Then I imagined Chloe in our pasture grazing with the donkeys and sheep.

I’ve been doing this, trying to tell Fanny and Lulu that Chloe is coming to live with us.

Eventually Lulu came back and the three of us hung around together for a while. I feel like my riding lessons with Chloe has changed the way I am around the donkeys.  I’m more confident, but also more loving.  I’ll wrap my arms around their necks and give them a hug or rest my body across their backs.  They haven’t always  been so receptive to such physical gestures, but I think they’re getting used to it.  Because the more I do it, the more they tolerate it.  And I don’t feel rejected, like I used to,  when they walk away from my hugs.  I don’t give up.   I’m more patient with them and just try again or let them go depending on what feels right.

Betty The Artist

May 7th, 2015
Betty's Hankies with the tatting on the edge.

Betty’s Hankies with the pink and purple tatting on the edge.

Betty had white hair, mint green earrings and used a walker.  She stood behind the empty chair at the table we were having breakfast at and asked if she could sit with us.

It was our second morning at Wesley Acres Retirement home, where we were staying for a few days in the Tudor style guest house.   Jon had already given a talk there the day before and he was scheduled to give three more talks before we left Iowa.  I saw a table for two when we first walked into the dining room and feeling antisocial was thinking we should grab it, but Jon walked right past it and sat down at a table set for four.

Moments later Betty appeared.  Her earrings caught my eye, mint green snowflakes. She was as friendly as everyone we met in Iowa, but by the time we were done eating, we had made a deeper connection.  It began when I told her I liked her earrings and she told me she made them.  “Do you know what tatting is?” she asked.   Tatting, that handmade, tiny lacy edge on so many of the vintage hankies I’ve collected over the past few years. I told Betty how I used  hankies in my art and then she got out of her chair and from a pretty pink pouch tied to her walker, she pulled out two hankies, with tatting that she had made, and gave them to me.

Then Betty told us how she learned tatting.  It was the winter of 1935-36 and it was so cold they could only heat two rooms of their small farm house.  There were six children and her mother said to keep them from driving her crazy she would teach the three oldest tatting.  Even Betty’s brother learned.  The rest of her sibling didn’t keep it up, but Betty never stopped.  Even today, at 94 she’s still doing it.  The difference is that now she doesn’t even have to even look at what she’s doing, it’s all by touch.  She uses tatting to make  hankies, earrings and greeting cards.

When I called Betty an artist, she didn’t believe it, but I think she liked the idea of it.  And I know she is an artist, because once she started creating, she never stopped.  And for me, Betty’s story is the story behind all the handmade hankies that come to me and that I use in my work.  When I look at one of those finely detailed handmade hankies, I think of the woman who made it. I think that maybe it was the only way she had to express her creativity.   And so she made hankie after hankie.  Each one affirming that she is an artist even if consciously she doesn’t see herself as one.  And if the time she grew up in a different time or the situation she grew up in was different, maybe she’d be painting or doing performance art or making videos instead.

So now, each time I see some tatting on a hankie that someone sends me or I already have in my collection, I’m going to think of Betty, who put a face to the story.  The story of the artist who created what she could when she could and didn’t give up.

“History” A New Page On My Website

May 1st, 2015
Frieda in my Studio Barn

The photo from my first Full Moon Fiber Art blog post in April 2010

Jon and I are going to Iowa tomorrow,  as part of his Saving Simon Book Tour.  I’m leaving my computer home, so I won’t be blogging again till next Thursday.  But, if you’re interested, I have this new page on my blog.  It’s called History and if you click on it you can see a relatively quick history of my work and life as I wrote about it on my blog.

When Chris at  Mannix, the company who designed and hosts my website, suggested  this  new page I liked the idea.   But I didn’t like the thought of going through all my past blog posts.  I don’t like looking back.  So I decided to think of it as if I were curating an exhibit.  I’d start at the beginning, got through all my posts up to the ever-changing present, pick some out, then edit it down.

Good idea, but it’s taking longer than I thought it would, and if I waited till I was caught up to tell anyone about it, well, I might never end up mentioning it at all.  So, incomplete as it is, (only through December 2011) I’d like to let you know about this new page on my blog.  You can get to it by clicking on the word History on the blue banner between Events and Bedlam Farm, just below and  to the right of the cat on the books.

Now I didn’t read every blog post  ( I mostly looked at the pictures as I tend to do if there are pictures) but I was curious to see how I wrote about Jon and me getting married.  And I have to say, I was surprised.  It was short, really short and it didn’t even have a picture of us or anything to do with getting married.  It was just the facts really, and not many of them.  It’s like I’m holding up my hand and saying ” I don’t want to talk about this, but I feel  obligated mention it.”  I can’t imagine doing that now.  Now I actually love writing about my work and my life.

So I guess what I’m saying is that, going back, no matter how much I don’t like to do it, made be see how much I’ve changed.  And that’s  good, because I like the changes I did see.

Anyway, I will get this up to date soon, especially now that I’ve put it out there.  And if you’re interested, check it out and let me know what you think.