let your creative wonder grow roots

Today I was planting more seeds. I got to thinking about the growing roots. The snap pea seeds I planted last week have sprouted and are forming their first roots. Roots are essential to the growth of the seed and the eventual plant it sprouts. I water the seeds, put them in the sun during the day, take them inside on cold nights, move them to bigger containers when they get too large, and weed out the weak or unwanted plants.

And so it is with wonder and creativity. Once I have been exposed to the seeds of creativity or inspiration, I cultivate that creative wonder in order for it to take root. It’s easy to skim the surface of something (and I’ve skimmed many ideas, techniques and processes) but once I develop enough wonder about something to the point that it starts to take root I want to move forward in a way that continues to develop those roots and lets it become much more. And that requires fertilizing and cultivating those roots with more wondering and practice. The more roots something grows, the stronger it can become.
Not everything takes root. But everything I learn along the process carries me forward. Some things I choose not to cultivate in the moment-I may come back to them another time. Things need time to generate roots and grow.
But enough …. meanwhile in the garden-

Moving from garden to studio…

A few posts ago I showed you some jeans i had refresh dyed in the indigo vat and repaired. That led to a friend dropping off some old pants he wondered if I might be interested in doing something with them. Only one pair was really of interest to me but seems like quite the project!

Now, I’m not quite sure how they came to be in this condition but I’m suspecting the garment industry had a hand in it. I’m going to give them a couple of dips before I put them in the mending pile. I might be up for the challenge. Thinking on it.

Meanwhile, I posted this ol’ moon today and although it is long sold, I received a very special request for one like this. I will make it with intentions of holding on.

-the complicated simplicity of disappearing

Over on the Daily Dyer, I explained the making of these pocket squares for a special order. Indigo on silk satin. One is double arashi, the other triple. having them in hand is akin to playing with a slinky- mesmerizing.

Other goings on in the studio involve completing a shibori ribbon order for a customer in the UK and doing some indigo dyeing of vintage fabrics.

Shop Update Alert!

AsiaDyer (aka Richard) and I have collaborated on a plan to relieve him of some of his growing pile of “cloth with character” (aka imperfect and assorted). This involves lots of sorting on both our parts, shipping from Japan, and in some cases overdyeing to get it into some really lovely and fun packages for your projects. Each pack contains one moon and some indigo thread to get you started. The packs include katazome, shibori, kasuri, stripes, and solids. The end result is a takaramono (treasured items) pack of inspiration for your creative wonderings. Pair it with a pack of solid indigo shades dyed in the fermentation vat and you have a project in the making. in the shop here.

In kitchen news, I have been the fortunate picker of my neighbor’s orange tree. They don’t use them and they are just now finishing their season (started in December). This week I made orange marmalade for everyone and also am making a jar of orange liqueur. Most recipes tell you to use the peel and slice the oranges but my method is simple…from a friend in Poland.

We spent a week worried about Bella- our aging dog. She’s better now after a couple of vet bills- haha. Getting older isn’t for sissies no matter person or creature. Milo the cat is still hanging in there but the time is coming. I’m spoiling him rotten right now.

There’s more, but enough for now…

And Windy has stormy eyes…

Spent some more time mending that old favorite quilt. It’s been very windy and cold here so some afternoon inside time is welcome. I’m applying the repairs on a “what do I think will work here” basis. Not all worn areas get the same treatment. The goal here is to restore the quilt to a condition that will favor continued everyday use. So that means that repairs will be visible, practical, and in some cases whimsical!

In addition, while on an outdoor gardening break, I caught my jeans on something resulting in a large tear about 10 inches long. Into the repair pile they went after a dip into the vat to restore some color to the worn areas. I had a little fun with this repair and applying the same goal as the quilt above, I’m back to wearing them and they feel very sturdy. I have another pair that could use some of this stitchlove as well. The satisfaction I get from doing this keeps me at it.

The garden is sprouting all kinds of seeds, both wanted and not so wanted. There will be plenty of weeding in my future. The feathery cassia continues to perfume the front walkway and the knife leaf wattle is just starting to bloom with its seemingly millions of tiny bright yellow pompom flowers. I’ll add a photo later when it is fully bloomed out. My onion and garlic patch is doing just fine- I have about 50 garlic and 150 onions planted there. I’m starting to plant seeds for the spring garden but with this colder weather it will take a little extra time for them to germinate. I can wait. Gardening is all about waiting. And watching. And hoping.

The recent wind pretty much tore up the studio shade/rain cover so today’s plan is to get out there before the rain hits and replace it with a used one I found online for $40. The moon was seen through the hole…

And Windy has wings to fly…
Maybe you are too young for this song but we heard this nonstop on Armed Forces Radio in 1967, Yokohama. The Association is worth a few listens …it’s been a while.

Focus?

This has been my daily undoing lately. Trying to focus when chaos swirls around me. After spending over a week now with an unruly computer, I now have it back to limping along so will take this moment to write a quick post. I had to wipe the HD and reinstall the OS and all the data from a backup. SO lots of resetting work and getting things back to where they were. Not sure it’s done yet as the same problem popped back up during the resetting so I’m expecting more computer trouble on the horizon. But in the moment it is working…

All the chaos of the last year leaves me wondering where the path even is. In what direction do I head? What purpose can I serve? Does what I do even matter (some days I do wonder about this!) ? Chaos seems to zap away my creative energy…
I know I’m not the only person experiencing this. I’m in good company.

After supporting myself for so long (over 40 years) I wonder-can I still do it? What if I can’t? What might that look like? With clearly 6-12 months more of COVID related challenges ahead of us, in-person workshops and shows are unlikely for the foreseeable future and even then, it won’t be like turning a switch back on. It will take time to rebuild. The planned 2021 Silk Study Tour to Japan is of course, cancelled. We have hopes for 2022 so I will refocus towards that.

Sometimes, focus is a matter of deciding what you are NOT going to do!

So just while I’m writing this the screen froze again. So clearly still having issues. Back to the shop it goes tomorrow. Let’s see if I can get a couple of things into my shop to help things out a bit before it completely dies off(crossing my fingers on this restart!).
I’ve still been keeping myself busy, though not really sure what I should be making! I’ve been shooting videos for the Daily Dyer on using the pleater and how I create the silk organza I use for the flowerwork. Again, I’m backed up on the videos due to the computer problems but hope to get more of them up in the next day.

In the meantime, I added a couple of flowers to the shop. I really love the white ones. Here, I am using pleated and dyed silk batting for the leaves. I think it adds a nice textural contrast to the organza.

I’ve also been doing a bit of indigo dyeing for a garment I want to make. In doing that, I selected and organized some of my indigo fabrics into project packs and added them to the shop. It’s been a while since I put these back into the shop. They are assortments of various silks and cottons dyed in varying shades of indigo. There are also a few packs of solid indigo cotton yardage dyed in the three shades using the fermentation vat.


On a side note, I watched some of the Yoshiko Wada shibori lecture videos and enjoyed seeing the work of the featured shibori artists there. I was reminded that I am really more of a commercial shibori craftsperson. Whenever I am creating, it is with an eye towards selling my work. It needs to be this way for me. So when I am experimenting with an idea, I am always wondering how I can use it in a commercial way. Can I improve the process to a point where it satisfies both my aesthetic goal as well as be manageable in the marketplace. I also realize that in the best tradition of Arimatsu shibori, shibori was a way to create a commercial product for a living! This is part of the shibori challenge for me. While beauty and quality craftsmanship is part of the desired outcome, utility remains key and with a eye towards the commercial aspect. And within that utility was a need to sell the work for a fair price for the handwork. I always admire the Japanese ability to innovate the process with this in mind. While much shibori rises to the level of art now, most who are making shibori these days do so as art or as a hobby, what I do is quite different- I made it my profession. I enjoy the challenge of that.

Another interesting Covid related activity- crafting zooms. A group of gals in California have been getting together to make up some of the items for which I offer free instructions. They order the kit, then make the item during their social zoom, screen sharing my video instructions! They have time to check in with each other while hand stitching their kits and helping each other out if needed. Each month they pick a different project. Great idea! If your group wants to do something similar and you want to invite me to pop into your zoom to answer any questions, let me know!

When my focus starts to fade, I take a trip out to the garden and see what is happening there. RIght now the most inspiring thing is the feathery cassia (Senna artemisioides) whose scent is at its peak. It has a little spicy scent -some days it can remind me of Necco wafers-remember those? The clouded sulfur butterflies flit all around and are laying their eggs there. I can always count on Nature to set me straight.

I really wish I could share the scent!
did you notice the butterfly at the top?

PHEW! Made it through the post without another freezing episode!

wondering into the new year…

Here we are. The last post here for the year.

I’m suffering from a poverty of words for the New Year.
I continue on in the studio as well as with the Daily Dyer blog. It’s quiet business-wise this year so I ponder what comes next. Maybe with this poverty of words, pictures might be the best…

And here are a few of the sillier things I learned during this year’s isolation …
*****
-I can’t believe I never learned to put chicken feet in my chicken soup until this year! (try it!)
-Planting seeds every week keeps me looking forward.
-I benefited from not being one to have my hair cut, colored or permed- I look basically the same!
-Same goes for manicures! My indigo blue nails worked just fine!
-Millions of women will probably give up bras and heels for good (at least on the daily).
-I can teach on Zoom! It’s fun and sometimes hilarious! (look for more in the coming year)
-I enjoy isolation more than most.
-I like wearing a mask when in public and washing my hands more (didn’t have a cold or the flu all year)!
-I do miss teaching in person workshops, especially at JANM.
*****

I wonder what others learned…

But on a more serious note…
I’m in sympathy with all the people who lost friends and family this year. Each day brings new losses. Today I read that 1 in every 1000 Americans died of covid or covid related illness this year. I had to look that up-to be sure. A very somber statistic with which to end the year. It simply cannot go unheeded. Add to that the related statistic that 1 in every 17 Americans have been infected with covid. I put that here as a reminder to myself of what kind of year this was-not that we are likely to forget, but as a marker of sorts- a solemn headstone for 2020.
May we all continue to carry on, to hold up those who are in need of holding, to console those who suffered loss, and to help heal those who face new life and health challenges going forward as a result. In reality, we don’t need to see the New Year roll over to accomplish these humane acts but it seems that the New Year is a celebration that can unite us in these thoughts, so I offer it here.

Seems I did manage to find a few words.
Travel well my friends. Continue to be courageous, kind, and creative into 2021.
Love to you all. And let’s keep looking up.

forgetting and remembering…plus some holiday fun

What’s it called when you think you did something but you realize you actually didn’t? Jeeze… I was helping a customer on the phone with her order (she was ordering a moonbag) and I asked her which one she wanted. She said, “There’s more than one kind?”. I had to check the shop. I took all the photos for some new pieces for the shop before the KOKORO event and then must have been interrupted and never went back and finished uploading them!

Well, in any case, I’m doing it now. Oops. See the new items here.

One fun thing i’ve noticed in my own neighborhood and even among social media friends is that people are enjoying decorating and doing holiday fun a little earlier this year. With many folks home, WFH or just home and not working, holiday decorating lifts the spirit. Walking the neighborhood at night has been cheerier than usual. I got into it here myself with the neighbor girls and we made a little holiday Santa house in the front yard that my grandson could visit. I did order the plain cardboard house and we used what we had around here to decorate it-old Christmas cards, lights, wrapping paper, extra decorations, glitter glue and anything else we could find. The girls are 9 & 11 and the 9 y/o especially took to it. In fact, she spends some time in there every day she tells me, reading, playing, taking photos – she even made a little video of herself in there. So cute! My grandson was able to visit the other evening (he’s 1 1/2 years old now) and it was a very special treat for me. His favorite part was opening and closing the doors-with gusto! The little house took quite a beating but held up just fine. I had added extra duct tape reinforcement on the doors ahead of time as they seemed a little weak. Fortunately, the weather here has cooperated and there isn’t any rain in sight. If there is, I can easily move it inside for a bit. We add little things to it here and there and it’s a continual source of fun. A little holiday magic with kids is WONDERFUL! (no photos of the grandson are allowed online so the neighbor girls are all i got- but you can trust me they are cute as hell) Hope you are having a little holiday fun yourself!

Time continues to blend days, into months, into a whole year that is nearing its end. 2020 hindsight is about to be the story of the day as all publications/media will be doing their year end lookbacks. I’m not too sure I want to read all about that. I’m going to face forward and carry on.
In case you were wondering… Milo the cat often helps me blog…he’s sitting on my lap as i write this post and this is my view…

so it seems…

We have arrived to December. I have caught up with all the Kokoro order except one which will be finished in the next few days. Thank you to everyone who ordered with the Japanese American National Museum in mind. The largest amount of revenue they will receive from me came from subscriptions to the Daily Dyer.
The Daily Dyer got going this past week and can still be accessed if you are interested here. I enjoy the structure of it- now more than ever!

For those of you interested in shibori, you might take a dive into what Yoshiko Wada and Ana Lisa Hedstrom and others are presenting over on the Slow Fiber Studio website under Conversations. I just finished watching the presentation on arashi shibori and was intrigued by one of the historical patterns presented there. I liked a lot of the things that were brought up in regards to using different types of cloth in different ways. Also I agree with the fact that overall in shibori practice, your own particular circumstances whether it is in regards to space or financial limitations, shibori presents challenges to overcome and encourages solutions to be found. The endless possibilities of all that. This is one of the main things that has kept my interest in shibori going all these years.
I noticed that one of the things that was faintly mentioned in regards to some of the arashi shibori patterns that are twisted while pushing on the pole prior to dyeing is the grain of fabric. Whether you have wrapped the cloth on the straight of grain or on the bias makes a big difference in the outcome of the pattern. At least it does for me! Try it yourself and see. I discovered this many years ago while experimenting and although I haven’t done much of this type of shibori recently their presentation inspired me to make a few new samples to remind myself.

These were done with a fairly medium to lightweight linen in the newly restored indigo fermentation vat. Cloth wrapped on the bias was very easy to twist and create the puckers in the cloth needed to create a fairly regular pattern. The center example of fabric wrapped on the straight of grain was much more difficult to twist with any evenness and resulted in mostly stripes. Same cloth, same dye vat, same pole, same day…different result courtesy of the grain of fabric.

I’ve been saving up little swatches in a notebook of arashi samples and will add these. It’s fun to try to recreate old patterns because you often end up with something new while learning. The extra cloth will be used for moons and cards.
Have you noticed the moon lately? Here, it’s setting late in the morning now.

Kokoro- with heart…

This begins a series of posts that will highlight additions to my online shop. Since none of us are doing in person shows or events these days I opted to join the Japanese American National Museum in their Kokoro Craft Boutique 2020 which benefits the museum’s education programs. Ten percent (10%) of all sales goes to the museum. There are many vendors participating including my own that offer fine handmade items for you to browse.
You can see a video featuring some of the vendors here. Please note KOKORO2020 in the discount code section when you check out so I can credit JANM with the sale.

The first item I will highlight is a subscription to the Daily Dyer 2020-2021. Here is a sample video, the write-up and shop link.

reviving the indigo fermentation vat

November is a time of transitions. More than usual this year it seems…

Among the many transitions being made around here is the transition to more virtual teaching. With that in mind, I have been thinking about how I can best do that. I’ve always done some of both. I really do enjoy teaching workshops and I realize not everyone can join a class in person. Teaching something hands-on allows an exchange of our human essence, it allows me to show you details that are difficult to relay virtually. It allows me to get to know you better.

But until that can happen again, I have decided to revisit my previous concept- The Daily Dyer.

What is the Daily Dyer?

It’s a subscription blog for daily snippets of my dyeing and making things for a living. Even I don’t know what each day will offer- that is part of the lesson! It’s about the workspace, the materials, the process and making a living- bound to be more difficult in the coming year! But come along and get a glimpse. It’s also a place to ask me to show you how I did something and for me to respond-usually via video- a two-way street. It’s meant to teach and learn in a different way. There will also be a monthly Zoom event to check in live if you are available. I’ll also do some livestreaming. You can request a certain topic be covered and if it’s something I can adequately cover, I’ll do it. 

I will give you a part of me and my work that you don’t usually see. It will give you another way to learn. $75 for 6 months. You can break it up into two parts by re-subscribing at the end of 6 months, or you can jump in for the full year for $140. The blog will be active beginning December 1, 2020 and complete November 30, 2021. It will be deleted January 1, 2022. You don’t have to be a dyer, a quilter, a shibori practitioner, or an indigo enthusiast, you don’t even have to love silkworms! You can simply just be interested and want to support the JANM, Shiborigirl and keep craft going in 2021.

I am putting this in the shop November 14 at the start of the Japanese American National Museum’s Annual Kokoro Craft Boutique. Ten percent of all sales from my online shop November 14- November 30 will go toward museum programs. This been one of their largest annual fundraisers and of course the challenge of COVID this year makes its success even more important.  
The original Daily Dyer began in 2013 and lasted for a year with a little over 200 posts. That’s 3-4 posts a week. Each post will probably be a 5 minute viewing on your part. You can view them one at  time, or catch up once a week- whatever suits your schedule.

And I think we all know that there are many ways of teaching and that people learn in different ways. Along the way. So much gets learned in the “in-betweens”. I hope you’ll join us!
I’ll end this post here while I go and add some new items to the shop which I will highlight in the next post- maybe even later today! Mata ne!

dear friendlies…final

It was only one month ago I wrote part two of this series thinking it to be the last. I mark this one final -a somewhat hopeful plea for 2020.

Today, I got a call from my sister who had been contacted by the care center where our mother resides telling us that she had passed away this morning. The duty nurse last saw her at 3 am when she popped her head out of her doorway and into the hall. The nurse says she told her that it wasn’t yet time to get up and mom dutifully went back to bed, where she was found having passed away in her sleep later in the morning. I can just picture her popping her head out-Hey I’m here! Perhaps she just wanted to say a final goodbye.

My mother’s story is a long and complicated one. Her life was made more arduous by a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia as a young woman in the early 60’s. I have written variously of it over the years and some of you have corresponded privately with me on the ravages that mental illness has taken in your own families. I always say that we were fairly spared the worst that it can be. She was taken in and committed to a mental institution around 1960. I can remember the day, though I was only 4 at the time. Sister was only 2, her memories of mom less clear. An ambulance arrived, mommy was escorted to the car. We were crying-we didn’t really know what it meant except that we were told she was not well. There had been instances that even as a 4 year old, I was able to discern as signs that things were not normal in our house. Apparently, it came to a point where my dad was forced to have her committed for everyone’s safety, including her own. Fortunately, in those days, there was a place for those suffering from mental illness to be housed, to get treatment, and to be safe. We were able to visit occasionally on weekends when “she was doing ok”. I recall there was a lovely garden that we would walk in during our visits. She was there for 10 years. Mental institutions at that time were known for their experimental and sometimes abusive treatment of patients. Not everyone came out the other side, she was fortunate. We never knew what she may have endured nor did she ever want to speak about her experience there.
In the intererum, my dad remarried, we gained 4 siblings, a stepmother and moved to Japan in 1965.
Upon her release into a halfway house, we had returned for a visit to the US and had a short supervised visit with her. Details I can clearly remember from that day were that she made us round ice cubes and put them in our milk. Other things from that visit blur. She had written to us at least weekly since 1965. So here she was, the woman behind the letters (always signed, “Your Very Own Loving Mother, Sharon L Carter”) in the flesh! I somewhat viewed her as a curiosity during this visit. She was not “cured” of course, just transitioning. Later during that same US visit at a friend’s house, we watched the first moon landing on TV. It was 1969. And, I was 11.
Then, back to Japan we went!

Upon returning from Japan in 1972, we passed through California and had a short visit with her in the main public square in Chico ,where she had moved to live with her mother, our Nana. Again, after reams of letters since the last meet-up, here she was again, in the park, in the flesh. Our mom, doing ok, having transitioned into small town life with her mother to look over her. She had made it through the institutional system with her health intact, her mental well being improved and a growing ability to operate within society given her subdued mental illness. I was 14 and wasn’t quite sure what to think. Mind you, we were just returning to the US after having lived in Japan since 1965. Everything was unusual to us at the time. After about an hour or two visit- we were off again-this time to Virginia!
After a stint in Virginia, it was 1975 and back to California where I stayed, ending up at UC Davis which was close enough to Chico to afford myself weekend visits to see both my Nana and mother. By this time I had read a number of books on mental illness (favorite was The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut), I’d seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and had volunteered to work with UCD students who had mental illness, lived on campus and were attending college. I was a bit more aware of what she had gone through this time around. I was 17. Yet still, she was a stranger to me really and over the next 50 years of long distance communications and more frequent visits I got to know her a bit. As those who have paranoid schizophrenics in their lives know, they never really trust which proved very difficult as she aged, needed help, and couldn’t accept it.
She was able to live on her own after her mother passed away. She worked in a warehouse, cleaned houses for extra pocket money, acted as a personal aid to an elderly woman and long time friend of her mother’s, volunteered as a Foster Grandparent for the Chico schools, and went every year to Bidwell Park with her binoculars to participate in Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count. She had a BA in Education from Chico State and taught elementary school for a brief time before she married and had children. The Foster Grandparent program was really a pleasure for her. Plus she enjoyed the free lunches!
Over time however, as is often the case with schizophrenia, hoarding becomes an issue. Such was the case for Sharon and especially so once Nana was no longer there to keep a lid on it. My sister and I dealt with it numerous times, clearing out her house completely after having it declared uninhabitable. Eventually it became clear that she was unable to continue living on her own and we found a path forward to having her conserved and placed in a locked care unit. She was safe, cared for, and still loved from afar. Every phone conversation I had with her over the past several years since she was moved, ended with her telling me that she was “getting out of here tomorrow”. She told me she had a new cat and even a dog! (she thought) waiting for her, not sure where she gotten it from though. Ha!
She would have been 90 in January- well past the expected lifespan of those diagnosed with schizophrenia early on in their lives. She was remarkably persistent, smart, independent and she was,
-our very own loving mother.
Sharon L. Carter
passed in peace November 9, 2020


past entries… there are probably more

https://shiborigirl.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/the-moms-in-our-lives/

https://shiborigirl.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/moonwalking-read-at-your-own-risk/

https://shiborigirl.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/and-so-it-goes/

https://shiborigirl.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/feeling-the-warmth/

dear friendlies…part 2

She was a dóttir, a systir, a móðir, a frænka, a tengdamóðir, an amma, and most recently a langamma. She passed away peacefully in hospice this past week attended to lovingly by the caretakers at her board and care and regular visits by us, her closest family, and hospice services. She was my mother in law.
To say it has been difficult to have an elderly loved one in a care facility during COVID is to say very little. There is a LOT to say. But most of that I won’t say here-out of respect for family, my own sanity, and even of you, dear reader. She had been dealing with progressive COPD for several years now and had been on oxygen-first, as needed, but increasingly full time over the past year. We had finally gotten her to move from a difficult second floor apartment into a Senior Living apartment which was really nice and once there she enjoyed it. Unfortunately upon moving there, her disease advanced quite a bit, but it was much more comfortable for her there-yet still too far from us here in Long Beach. In February of this year she had an exacerbation of her COPD which required hospitalization and upon release it was decided she could no longer live on her own. (I had already been made her POA for both medical and financial affairs as her daughter lives in New Zealand, one son had passed away due to AIDS and the other one… well… she was more comfortable with me doing it. The rest of the family lives in Iceland.) Not living on her own was a great disappointment to this fiercely independent woman of 84 years. We had to rush to find a place for her and aside from the obvious requirements, it needed to be much closer to us than Burbank and the “dreaded drive” from Long Beach.
We settled on a place- all of them seemed imperfect to us but we went with intuition, picked one, and got lucky! The caregivers there were wonderful. We set up her room with some of her favorite things-mostly family photos and personal items and a giant map of Iceland.

Why Iceland, you may wonder. Well imagine a young girl of 18 or 19 in a small town outside of Reykjavik wondering about the world at large. Imagine a village of fishermen and their wives and families. Imagine Iceland in the 1940’s. Then move on to the 1950’s.
Sometime in the mid 1950’s young Iceland girls were meeting young US servicemen and many became brides and moved to the US. Such was the story of Jane (pronounced yawn-ee) Elvina and her sister Disa. They both had families and divorced with small children to care and provide for. They took this seriously and worked hard to do so. There were hardships, regrets, and other travails, but they carried on. The rest of the brothers (3) remained in Iceland, married, had children and were steadfast Icelanders. Elvina (as she preferred to be called as Americans just did not get the Icelandic pronunciation of Jane) enjoyed many visits to her homeland and regular visits from her Icelandic relatives and friends. I married and divorced (over 20 yrs ago) one of her sons and I always said that I gained a great MIL in the settlement. She loved her grandsons dearly and spent a lot of time with us creating beloved memories. Each of my sons traveled to Iceland with her to see her homeland and loved the experience. She also traveled to New Zealand many times to enjoy visits with her daughter, son in law, and her only granddaughter.
She loved to read, watch classic movies on TV, going to the movies, live music and theater, watching the Grammy’s, big band music, the crooners, decorating her Christmas tree, among many other things and of course, her family. She never drove- somewhat of a miracle for anyone having lived in the LA area for as long as she did. I always marveled at that! She worked for decades in a publication distribution center where she was a devoted employee and lived in the same upstairs apartment for over 50 years where she had raised her three kids as a single parent. She loved to cook (especially Italian food), travel with her brother Boi to Las vegas on his annual visits where they would dine finely and see live shows. For as long as I can remember, we always had hangikjöt (Icelandic smoked lamb) with boiled potatoes, peas and white sauce for Christmas Eve as was her tradition. Her Icelandic niece and sister-in-law were both flight attendants and made sure that she always received a special delivery via carry on in time for holiday celebrations.
We called her Amma-Icelandic for grandmother.


Having to move her to her board and care in early March was difficult enough. We had a couple of weeks where we were able to visit her and get her settled into her new surroundings. Then COVID happened. All visitation ground to a halt and we joined tens of thousands of families who could no longer see their loved ones in person. It was very concerning and stressful as in addition to her being a COPD hospice patient , she had developed severe aphasia and the only way we could communicate with her was through her iPad and occasional texting, a communication card and even that was beginning to fail us. It was extremely difficult for her and her caregivers as she knew what she wanted to communicate but it was so very difficult if not just impossible for her to do so. By late June we were able to resume visits following social distancing guidelines, but that didn’t last for long.

In July she had a fall and had to be moved to a rehab center for a few weeks where they had a massive outbreak of COVID due to the fact that weekly COVID test results of staff and patients were taking 10 days to come back (*%^&#@*%?) and by then the place had become a hotspot. I was getting auto calls telling me of the number of cases daily. Horrific! Fortunately she did not ever test positive for COVID. Itself a small miracle!

By the end of July we were able to get her moved back to the B&C but she was on a steady decline at this point. Since she was a hospice patient we were able to have more visitation and we did whatever we could to help her and the caregivers make her transition peaceful. Due to COVID however, her daughter and granddaughter in NZ and her Icelandic family could not travel to see her which was so very difficult for them. It was my job to keep everyone up to date with things, to follow her wishes regarding medical care, and keep her financial affairs in order. We will all need this help at some point and it’s an honor to have the complete trust of someone who needs this help. Everyone here pitched in to support this effort. and I am grateful.

The final weeks involved many hours of simple visits and just being present. Stitching became my passtime during these visits and most of the pieces I worked on were shibori pieces for my ongoing zoom workshop at the time. It was a peaceful and reflective time.
Her family looks forward to being able to travel once again and get together in person to celebrate her life. Takk og ást.
Blessaður Amma Elvina Jane, July 23,1936…September 28,2020

dearest friendlies…(part 1)

It’s been a rough week, month, year! So many ups and downs. I been telling myself I would write a blogpost almost every single day these past two weeks but…well I just couldn’t didn’t. I read your blogs, FB pages, twitter and a few books, and took lots of stitches.
First off, my dear friendlies, one of my favorite FB friends/writers/ NYC poet of life, Michelle Slater passed away. I never met her in person but here, through the blog when she began commenting many years ago. I think she came here via Spiritcloth as many of you have for so long (and even for some, more recently). We had so many wonderful exchanges over the years, through social media as well as the mail. She lived alone in a rent controlled apartment in Manhattan and gave us the gift of so many views of the city she had lived in for over 60 years. She also wrote a blog (actually several) filled with observations of life, photos, and poetry. Just reading the sidebar of her blog could change your life and worldview.
She commented on my blog many times over more than a decade and I will treasure each comment once more whenever I come back to one. In the years prior to our friendliness on FB, she gave me glimpses into her world as they related to mine in her comments but it was only 4 years ago she left me the following comment that told me even more about herself than i had known:

I’ve never made a living at what I’ve loved to do, neither in twenty years of Theater, another ten or fifteen in Film, video and photography, nor as a writer, nor painter, and I only dabbled in cloth. I could blame this on the fact that I somehow managed to eek out a living on the fringes doing this and that, or that I always worked for unpopular causes (feminism, peace, justice etc.), but the truth is I was simply never ambitious enough to pursue money, nor did I have the stick-to-it that’s needed, and now, at seventy three, I’m quite poor in the pocket book. Sometimes friends send gifts, my Social security and small pension from one 11 year position just manage to keep me in internet, phone, electric, and rent (blessedly low after many Landlord battles) and I even get some food aid from a Senior nutrition program. I’m able to go to doctors thanks to medicare basic, but not dentists. I had help to pay for two cataract operations from several generous friends as I live without credit cards. But my admiration for craft and those, like you who manage to somehow make it work is unbounded. The way the 21st Century is leaning into the automated and the digital, outsourcing and growth does look bleak…not to mention the awful political wrangling and the shameful wars…still, I believe that though the artists are as endangered as the polar bear and Minki whale, we persist in another dimension, and that’s as real as the space probes and the industrial glut. Love fuels the enterprise and it’s the best fuel ever to emerge from this earth enterprise.

Michelle in NYC

She was found in her apartment, apparently in her usual chair, when friends noticed she hadn’t posted for several days and wasn’t answering the phone. In my mind I imagine her setting up a new post with a fabulous link or video or simply typing “Goodnight dear friendlies” with a photo view out her apartment window as she did so often.
So here’s to you Michelle… Goodnight with gratitude my friend!
Link to the last video she posted…here.
And my original post (2016) where Michelle left the above comment.

other parts (2 and maybe 3 to follow). comment link is at the top of post.