Lenore of Happiness

January 9th, 2015
Lenore on Mandy's couch

Lenore would come with me to Mandy’s when I got a massage, she hopped on the couch like it was there just for her.

By now, you all know that Lenore died last night. Did she have any idea how many lives she touched?  I’m only becoming aware of it by looking at Jon’s facebook page.  I know what she did for me and  now I see that her love had such a far reach.  I think how wonderful it is that Jon was able to capture her essence in his writing and pictures and share her with the world.  How wonderful for all of us.

And I’m sad, so sad too.  We had a special connection me and Lenore.  The way we walked through the woods together, both of us finding the wild parts inside of ourselves. Aware of each other always, as if connected by an invisible thread, but each in our own world too.  Each taking from the woods what they had to offer us.  I will miss my companion of the woods.

And I have to admit, I thought someday, when Frieda finally left us, Leonore would become my studio dog.  So she would not only walk with me in the woods and  ride with me in my car,  but she would accompany me to my studio too.  It just seemed like it would be the natural progression of things.  But when does life and death conform to our sense of order.

I think when we’re authentic and  true to ourselves our spirit, our essence precedes us.  Animals can’t be anything but true.  And the joy that emanated from Lenore, was Lenore, is Lenore.  When we sat on the floor of the animal hospital last night, Jon holding Lenore, his head resting in my lap, her tail was thumping as they put the needle in her leg.  And when her heart stopped beating I felt her spirit, it lingered over her body for just a few seconds, and I looked at the space it occupied and smiled.  I actually smiled.  Because I was feeling what was there and it was pure happiness.  The space itself seemed to shimmer, like heat in the air above a fire,  with tiny, soft twinklings  of pinks and greens.  I can still feel it now and the joy of it makes me cry.

I’ve never seen Jon so moved by the death of one of our animals.  He cried for Lenore like I’ve never seen him cry. He even accused me of being happy to see him cry.  But I told him I was happy that he could cry, not that he was crying.  The depth of feeling was so powerful, it made me see their connection in a new light. Lenore always brought out the silliness in Jon, in the way he would sing to her and the songs he would make up about her.  Be she also came into his life at a time when he was at a divide.  He could have shut down his emotions or opened them up.  He always said Lenore kept his heart open, brought out the love inside of him.

Yesterday I thanked Lenore for keeping that love alive so when I came along Jon was open to loving me.  I remember when Jon first got Lenore.  We were just friends then, both married to different people, he brought her into my studio at Old Bedlam Farm.  She ran around my floor chasing scraps of fabric and we called her name again and again so she would get to know it. Lenore was there from even before the beginning of me and Jon.  Or who knows, maybe that was the beginning.

Because of Jon’s writing, Lenore will live on.  But she’s gone from our lives in a very real way.  So I miss her and I cry and I smile.  And I’m grateful for what she did for me and Jon and everyone else out there who loves her.


Winner of The Common Thread Give-a-way

January 8th, 2015
Jane McMillen's Good Luck Acorn

Jane McMillen’s Good Luck Acorn

And the winner of this Month’s Common Thread Give-a-way is…… Well, you’ll have to go to Jane’s Little House Home Arts blog to find out.  So just click here to see if it’s you.

And don’t forget to come back next month when we’ll have guest artist Debbie Glessner giving away a pair of her earrings.  For a peek at those, click here.

Waiting With Lenore

January 8th, 2015


When Jon was in the hospital last summer, waiting to have his open heart surgery, I found a place inside myself to be.  With all the unknowns  that go along with such a procedure, I decided I was not going to allow my imagination to go wild with the possibilities of  “what if” .  I gathered as much information as  there was and didn’t let my mind wander beyond the moment.   I kept telling myself, this is what I know and I refused to entertain the unknowns, I stayed in the moment. Because I know what my mind will do if unleashed, and the rest of me has been known to follow it down some deep dark holes.

The chances of Jon coming out of his surgery healthier than when he went in  were really good, so I kept that in the front of my mind and heart.   But I also kept a small open door, in that space inside of me,  for the unpredictable.  I was not Pollyannaish, but reasonably optimistic.  I’m sure I pushed a lot of  my emotions aside, not with my interactions with Jon, but with everything else, just to be able to deal from hour to hour, day to day.

I learned that this worked for me.  I was able to do what I had to do without denying what was really happening.

This morning when Jon came home from the Vet with Lenore, it turns out we’re in a waiting period.  Waiting to see if the anti-inflammatories will work, if her pain lessens,that would mean what she has is most likely treatable.  If they don’t work, and quickly, it means that what’s going on with her is much more serious.  And although her diagnosis isn’t as hopeful as I would like, I’m staying in the moment with it all.  Right now, we’re waiting to see what happens next.   I don’t have to go anyplace else but where we are right now. And that small open door is hovering in the background, but there’s be enough time to go through it if and when it comes to that.

Right now Lenore is resting comfortably on the living room floor.  And that’s good, she hasn’t been this easy in days.   I brought her bed over for her, but when she didn’t lay on it, Frieda snatched it up.   Makes it feel like things are almost normal.

A Cold Day Full Of Warm Friends

January 7th, 2015
Lulu's nose

Lulu’s nose

It’s cold as a donkey’s snow covered whisker out there, and getting colder as the wind picks up.  I turned up the heat in my studio early this morning to get it warmed up, but never got there.  It was one of those days that got away from me.

Last night I found a rogue hanger from one of my Penis Potholders on my desk.  That meant Kim couldn’t finish sewing the potholders until I got it to her.  So this morning I stopped at her house with the small strip of fabric.  And then, Kim asked me if I wanted a cup of tea.  Oh the pull was great, “I really need to get to work” I told her.  I’m usually very disciplined about getting to my studio in the morning, because I want to be there and because it’s my work, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.  But it was something about the cold and the idea of a cup of hot tea with a friend.

Kim and I don’t get to spend much time together alone.  Most of the time I pick up and leave work for her on her porch without us seeing each other.  But I’ve found being older, it’s harder to make new friends.  Especially since I work alone in my studio.  So I’ve found it important to nurture my friendships, all of which are relatively new.   And, this morning, saying yes to tea with Kim seemed just as important, if not more important, than getting to my studio.  So I told her I could stay for a half hour and over an hour later I left knowing it was the best thing I could have done. We talked about my business and her budding felted purses business, her grandchildren and the animals, hers and ours.  We discovered that one of the things that connect us is how we spent a good part of our lives going from job go job, mostly working for small businesses.  (One of Kim’s first jobs in the 1970’s was sewing “mood hearts”, ya know, like mood rings, onto men’s underpants. Right up there with Penis Potholders).

By the time I got home I had just enough time to get to Mary Kellogg’s to pick up her last batch of poems for her new book.  I couldn’t linger because Athena and Mandy were waiting for me at the Round House Cafe for our Wednesday lunch.

At 2:30 went into my studio.  By now it was nice and warm, but I didn’t stay.  I turned off the heat and held my hands over my heart and bowed, promising I’d be back tomorrow.  Because now it was time to feed the animals.  With this kind of cold, they need some extras, like grain for the donkeys and sheep , straw spread laid on the cement floor in the stall.  Warm water and extra food in the coop for the chickens.  That done it was time to pick up Lenore at the Vet where she was getting x-rays to try and figure out what’s causing her so much pain. (we’re still not sure, will know more tomorrow).  Then later this evening we’re having dinner with friends.

What’s kind of amazing to me, when I think about it, is that I could fill a whole day up with visiting friends.   And no, I didn’t make anything in my studio today, but I did nurture some important relationships. And these relationships are also creative relationships too.  They focus around our work as well as our personal lives.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to spend all my days this way, but once in a while it seems as important to do as making something new in my studio.

Simon, Simon

January 6th, 2015

“Simon, Simon”

When Simon died on Saturday, I did what I needed to do to help him and when it was all over, I worked on the dining room, peeling old wallpaper from the walls, then patching the plaster and painting.  On Sunday, I stayed up till midnight (Usually I’m happy to be in bed at 9) cleaning the baseboards and vacuuming bits of wallpaper from between the cracks in the floor boards. I didn’t read Jon’s posts about Simon, I only went on-line Sunday night to blog and post to facebook, I didn’t read my email.  I do this, when I’m upset, I clean.

Then, last night, I got sick.  My stomach was off, I was light-headed and had chills.  I slept and slept and slept.  This morning I knew I wasn’t really sick, it was my unexpressed emotions, moving through my body.  Stuck, I could feel them moving from my stomach to my shoulders, looking for a place to land or a way out.

So I knew when I went to my studio this morning I would make a piece about Simon.  I had no idea what it would be.  I didn’t have  any images or ideas in my head.  It was cold this morning, colder than it’s been so far in my studio.  My fingers were stiff so I piled on more layers of clothes, I was determined to put my feelings about Simon onto cloth.

I worked without thinking, it all came right from my gut.  I started with an old linen table runner.  I used markers and thread, cut out pictures from fabric, used appliques, buttons and beads.  I put together so many techniques that I’ve used before, but never in this way.  Inspired by Simon,  I drew big ears, hips and tail, again and again.   I drew that wobbly lower lip of Simon’s that would quiver when you scratched him.  Stitched spirals in black marker circles, all connected to each other by a thread. A donkey pin, given to me by a friend,  in a sea of pink marker.  Apples and hearts, a butterfly, flying home.


Spirals connected by treads


Apple tree detail


Waxing Moon detail

buttterfly detail

butterfly detail

I think I’ve come upon something new here, a new type of wallhanging.  Opened up by Simon in so many ways and now this.  It feels different for me and yet familiar.  It’s all line and feeling, texture and life.

Simon, Simon is sold for sale.  It’s 19″x 35″ and is $175 + $10 shipping.   If it speaks to you, just let me know.  You can email me here at maria@fullmoonfiberart.com.  I take checks and paypal.

Good Luck And Prosperity in This Month’s Common Thread Give-a-way!

January 5th, 2015
Jane McMillen's Good Luck Acorn

Jane McMillen’s Good Luck Acorn

You don’t have to be into pincushions to want to win Jane McMillen’s felted acorn in this month’s Common Thread Give-a-way.  You just have to love this hand-made acorn and know that it’s a symbol of health, wealth, prosperity and good luck.  Perfect for the New Year!

Jane did some hand stitching on this acorn which is 4 1/2″ x 3″ made with three different felted wools and stuffed with polyfil.  This means you sewers can use it as a pincushion, but it’s really more than just a pincushion.

If you’d like a chance to win Jane’s Acorn, just go here to her blog Little House Home Arts and leave a comment.  She will be announcing the winner on Thursday.  Good Luck!

Sweet Simon

January 4th, 2015

Jon and Simon (1)

Gentle, loving  and affectionate, grumpy and pushy and territorial, our  sweet donkey Simon.  His death yesterday was so unexpected.  I’m sure you all know about it by now.  Jon told the story  so well on his blog in pictures and words.

Jon and  I sat with Simon for about and hour and a half, waiting for the Vet to come.  Jon and I both knew he was dying, that the Vet would just help him along.  Simon was struggling, it seems he had a stroke, and I like to believe he took comfort in our being with him.  I know there’s no place I would rather have been.  It was a transition time.  A time to come to terms with what was happening.  I imagine, in his way, Simon was doing the same, making the transition from this life to whatever comes next.   For me, I got to think about Simon’s life with us and what he meant to me and to so many other people.

And still, it all happened so quick, just a matter of hours from the time I saw there was something wrong with him ( he wasn’t eating, a sure sign of a problem with Simon) till our neighbor Vince, pushed the soil over him with his backhoe and placed a rock at the top of his grave under the apple tree.   And yet so much happened in those few hours.  Once again I witnessed the strong connection between Jon and Simon.  Not something I can speak of intellectually, but something I could feel.  A depth and level of emotion that was unique to him and Simon.  Something shared.

And I was very aware of all the people who Simon touched, just by being him.  So many people loved him, came to visit him over the years he lived with us, and I knew they too would be sad at his passing.  But I also thought it a bit of a miracle that one donkey could bring such joy to so many people.  I could see it even just the people who came to help while he was dying and afterwards. They came for Simon and for us.  Again, one donkey and so many people.

As I sat with Simon in the pasture,  I couldn’t help but think that our time with him was ending.  But, at the same time I  thought that with ending come beginnings.  And that death, though sad, was also an opening for something new to happen.  And I realized that in this way I felt differently about death than I have in the past.

So Simon taught me something about death, but he also taught me to love and appreciate life in a way I didn’t understand before knowing him.  It happened the first time I heard him bray.  He was so sick when we first saw him, I was ready to put him down, to keep him from suffering anymore.  But he had something in him, a spark, a desire to live.  And weeks later, still bone skinny with only spotty patches of hair on his blackened rain rot skin, as I walked into the pasture he looked at me stretched out his neck and let out a loud and squeaky bray, his call to life.  And for the first time in my life, I understood what people meant when they said that life is a gift.  Somehow, his desire for life, something that I thought would have been much easier for him to just give up, made me understand that life is not to be taken lightly.

Simon was with us for about five years.  I was sure he’d be a more permanent part of the farm.  But we were really only a part of his life and he a part of our for a short time.  And yet, what a giant presence he was.  In good ways and in some not so good ways.  I don’t have to go outside the feel how the farm has an emptiness about it.  The feeling of something missing.  No more morning brays, but a quiet time.  This morning as I fed Lulu and Fanny a carrot, I got the feeling from them that things were back to normal again.  That to them, Simon being here was an interruption in the way things are.

We were good for Simon and he was good for us.  I miss his big loving soul and his willingness and need to be loved back. And I’m grateful we were able to come together for this time in our lives, when we all needed it most.

I couldn’t write about Simon yesterday, it was all to close, too soon.  Even now, I feel like there’s so much more I’m feeling about him that I can’t quite put into words.  So this will have to do for now.  I know Simon isn’t really gone for me, that he lives on in my heart and I believe, will to be present my life again,  in ways  I can’t yet imagine.


Minnie The Barn Cat

January 2nd, 2015
Minnie in the barn

Minnie in the barn

If you didn’t know that Minnie only had three legs, you might not know at all.  She gets around pretty good more than a year after her surgery.  This morning she was sitting on the hay bales in the barn.  I got a video of her jumping down and running out of the barn.  She moves quick here, but she moves even quicker when food is involved.  You can see how she uses her tail for balance. You can see my  short video of Minnie  here.

Breaking Taboo’s in 2015

January 1st, 2015

My first naked man.  I’m calling him  Adam

Well if I didn’t know a few days ago, I know now what I’m thinking about this new year.  And I got there through art and my blog and all of you who read my blog and buy my work and share your experiences.   Being able to do my work and write about it and getting feedback has been an everyday a gift to me.  I would not be experiencing this kind of personal and creative growth if I was showing my work in galleries.  I would not be writing and thinking about my life and work the way I get to here.  And I would never get to hear your stories and learn from your thoughts and ideas.

This year I’m going  to weed out those fears inside of me and shake loose those old taboos  and expose them to the light.  Where, like a vampire at dawn, they’ll shrivel up and die, or even better, burst into flames and extinguish in a puff of smoke.

I couldn’t have done if without everyone who reads my blog.  So thank you all. I hope your 2015 is peaceful and exciting, expansive and loving and creative!

Penis Potholders

December 31st, 2014

My Penis Potholders-  “Ode to Rudy”  (sold)-” Vintage Hankie Penis Potholder” (sold)- “Patchwork Penis Potholder” (sold)- “Pocket Penis Potholder” (Sold)and “Linen Napkin Penis Potholder”(Sold)

I have to say, I never imagined I would spend the day stitching penises.  How did this happen, I kept asking myself.  Then I thought of  what Diane said on facebook.  That my post yesterday was really about knocking down taboos.  And that’s just what I was doing today.  Again and again, each time I stitched  a penis, and thought about how I would make the next one, I chipped away at the taboo.  I had fun with it too. “Penis faces!” Jon said when he saw them, laughing.  Once I thought to draw a penis, I didn’t have to think  twice about what they’d look like.

It’s the creative process, an evolution.  I go to a museum and see a piece of art that makes an impression on me.  A week later I’m still thinking about it and wondering why.  So I write about it to try and understand exactly what’s going on.  And I find out, it’s about the taboo, the beliefs I still hold somewhere inside of me even though they aren’t  my beliefs anymore.   And so I go into my studio and discover how I really feel about it all.   And because all my new ideas often begin in the form of a potholder, well, it’s the natural next step for me.  And before I know it, I’m spending my day stitching Penis Potholders.

There’s Ode to Rudy (Nureyev, that is),  one stitched on a Vintage Hankie ( I like the juxtaposition between the idea of the hankie and the penis.  And that purple hankie has the perfect frame for the penis), there’s the denim penis (very manly)  on patchwork, there’s Pocket Penis stitched on a man’s shirt pocket, and the last penis is stitched on a pink linen napkin with white embroidered flowers (not visible in this photo but there) with a laurel of leaves framing it.

Some people believe in spending New Year’s Eve doing something they’d want to be doing in the new year.  I’m thinking about what Jill wrote in my comments.  That in 2015 she’s going to be asking herself one question concerning just about everything.  That question is “Who Says?”  Magic taboo breaking words if you ask me.

I don’t know if anyone really wants a Penis Potholder hanging in their kitchen, but it makes no difference to me if I sell these or not.  The important thing is I questioned those old “shoulds” and broke some personal taboos.  For me,  a wonderful way to end the old year and start a new one.

My Penis Potholders are  All Sold! (aren’t I surprised!)for sale.  They are $20 each + $5 shipping.  If there’s a Penis Potholder in your future, just email me at maria@fullmoonfiberart.com.  I take checks and paypal.  Oh,and…. Happy New Year!