Confluence

Once again, it’s been a month since I’ve posted here, and usually when that happens I’ve been writing posts in my head for weeks and weeks before finally getting to a keyboard.  Not this time–I haven’t even thought about posting.  Old age? Beginning senility?  I’m dancing as fast as I can and the music is still accelerating!

The past month has been quite a confluence of all the facets of my life.  Don’t we all have competing interests and obligations that keep us juggling things to try and get just the right mix?  Too long without weaving and I become cranky; at the same time too much solitude in my studio and my hermitic tendencies start to drag me down.

The two big June events in my life were Bob’s 60th birthday, which he glided through like a swan.  He doesn’t look or act a day older, and he enjoyed getting together with some of his dearest friends to celebrate the landmark.  I still have more than 6 months to go, and I am feeling older and older each day.  Hmmm….

Last week Bob and another local sailor hosted a large sailing event for the Seven Seas Cruising Association.  George and Bob put on a three day conference with speakers and social time, a fancy dinner at a yacht club, and a dinghy raft up on the river.  It was a lot of work, but something both men really enjoy.  I sort of go along for the ride, although I did have a house full of overnight guests and made some breakfasts and one rather large dinner for 12!

Here we are with in our den with two couples who have helped us immensely in getting used to living aboard.  Both of these couples live aboard full time, unlike Bob and I who only live onboard during the winter months.  They are truly nomads.

And here is the young man who gives all the live aboards their daily weather information.  This is the man who kept us safe through hurricane Sandy two years ago, and has kept us safe through many other storms over the past 3 years!  He was our honored house guest for the weekend, and he even used Bob’s office to broadcast his daily weather information over SSB radio.  He had some way of connecting to his radio tower in Florida in order to do the broadcast. The amazing Chris Parker:

While both these events were fun, I have not had any time to work on tapestry or fabric weaving.  I have certainly had some important ‘thought time’ making plans for two projects that I will put on a couple of my floor looms.  Hopefully I can finish weaving at least one of these before we leave again at the holidays.  More on that in a bit….

After the guests left I turned my attention back to the linen fabric I took off the Baby Wolf about a month ago.   I spent some time over the weekend sewing a tote bag.  The linen is a medium weight fabric.  The warp was a mixture of several colors of a rather thick 2-ply wet spun linen.  In the photo below the 3 spools used in the warp are lined up together and the golden colored spool on top is what I used for the weft.

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And here is close up of warp threads; you see they are a bit coarse and hairy even though they still have the sheen of wet spun linen.

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This is the fabric off the loom in May, drying outside after machine washing.  You can see the cutting lines I wove in to help me in making the tote bag.  The fabric for the handles and top of the lining is at the top of the photo and is woven in plain weave.

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And here is the finished bag.

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The draft for this fabric is a blend of plaited twill with huck blocks.  It makes plaited huck!  How cool is that?  I got this draft from Laurie Autio when she gave a talk called “Designing for Block Weaves Using Twills as Profiles” at our guild last fall.  This particular design is a 6-Block, 8-shaft structure using huck threading on a base of plaited twill.

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My warp was threaded at 12 epi and woven to square.  The fabric is close to burlap weight, but not nearly as open as burlap.  I am very happy with it.  If you weave this structure with a lot of color contrast between the warp and the weft you’ll get a good contrast between the plaited elements, those that go over and those that go under.  I am more a fan of subltety, but the downside is that you probably cannot see the plaited effect in my photos.  I also blurred the woven effect by using multiple colors in the warp.  This is just my preference.  It would be quite dramatic woven in two very contrasting colors.

I plan to write up the procedures for weaving this project very soon.  Stay tuned!

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A Return to Tapestry

A whole month has gone by since I returned home, and I personally have nothing to show for myself in tapestry but one partial day of work .  But I have had some wonderful exposure to tapestry this month…along with all the stuff life hurled at me while I was so busy making plans to weave.

There were two deaths of friends this month, and two 85th birthday celebrations.  There were gallery openings and closings, and the unveiling of a major work of tapestry that hopefully many people will be seeing sometime in the coming year.  There is gardening and my husband’s 60th birthday, and our own son’s wedding hurtling toward me in the coming weeks.  Spring and summer are exploding with happy events, sad losses and all the emotions and introspection that these occasions engender.  Every new flower or new seedling in the garden reminds me of what I’ve lost–and what I’ve gained–so far this year.

The suprise of peonies and iris waiting for me when I returned home yesterday.

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But I’ll try to focus on tapestry.  Early in May, I saw Carol Russell’s marvelous collection of tapestries for the exhibition “Contemporary International Tapestry” at the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, NJ, right before the exhibition closed.  Carol offered to meet me at the museum to give me a tour, and I enjoyed hearing her interesting stories for bringing together the particular works she chose.  It was a stunning collection of works, and to top it off there is a beautiful hardbound catalogue to preserve this amazing exhibition.

Here is Carol standing in front of one of my favorite works, “Sounder,” by Finnish weaver Aino Kajaniemi.

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Carol is holding open Jon Eric Riis’ beautiful “Ambush Coat.”

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Here is Soyoo Park’s wonderful installation of woven discs.  She was my first tapestry teacher.

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And Ruth Jones’ lovely “Woad Diva.”–I WANT this piece!

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Ruth Jones’ “Jardin de Pallas” was also in the exhibit.  I could go on and on about all the works.  I hope you managed to get there yourself, and if you didn’t, well–you NEED the book! So go click on the link in the previous paragraph.  And if you did see this exhibit, you still need the book!  C0-Wednesday Grouper Pam Topham arrived at the museum partway through my visit with Carol Russell.  It was wonderful to see the exhibit through Carol’s commentary and with another tapestry weaver and tapestry lover.  It was a treasure of a day!

Just this weekend I met two other Wednesday Groupers at the Garnerville Arts Center to hang a show of Wednesday Group works as part of the annual Garnerville Arts Festival.  We are displaying 23 works at this festival, and it was startling how well our pieces fell into groupings that were so compelling together.

Here is a shot of all three walls seen together from a distance.

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Below: The group of water scenes on the center of this wall is quite lovely, isn’t it?  The artists incude (from L to R) Barbara Bettigole, Helen Gold and Pamela Topham.  You’ll recognize that one of Archie’s female nudes is on the left (Drawing Series, #90).  My “Parsing Pears” is on the right.

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Here is another very colorful wall of Wednesday Group works at this installation.  Unfortunately, the piece on the right, Susan Martin Maffei’s “Who’s Not on Second” is very dark in this photo.  The artists whose works are on this wall are (L to R, but with some repeats in the groupings)  Anna Byrd Mays, Betsy Snopes, Annelise DeCoursin, Carol Bitner, Mary Roth Davies, and Susan Martin Maffei.

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Lastly, here is a shot of Archie Brennan’s “Member of the Board” which starts the exhibit, above our name!

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The biggest tapestry inspiration of the month (and possibly of the decade) happend shortly after we finished hanging this exhibit.  I saw the unveiling of a new piece by Wednesday Grouper Alta Turner.  While I hate to disappoint by not showing any images of this piece, you’ll just have to stay tuned.  I hope it shows up soon on Alta’s website.  I know it will be showing up in future tapestry and art exhibitions.  It’s going to shake the world!

I’ll finish with a video that I tried to post earlier in May.  I found myself thinking about how much Tom Campbell has done for getting historic tapestries out to the public for view and for keeping this artform alive and in peoples’ minds.  The most recent blockbuster tapestry exhibit at the Met is still very fresh in my mind from seeing it last December.  He has been a wonderful champion of tapestry, and I have much to thank him for that. A mysterious glitch occurred, and I lost that post.  I have not been able to re-write it, so let me just say tapestry weavers everywhere owe him a great debt for bringing these works to the forefront over the past decade.  He was involved in bringing these wonderful exhibitions to the public: “Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence” (2002),  ”Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor” (2007).  And after he became director of the museum,  “Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry” (2015).

Before coming to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he created the Franses Tapestry Archive in London, which is the largest collection of images of European tapestries and figurative textiles with over 120,000 images.  And recently he did a compelling TED Talk called “Weaving Narratives in Museum Galleries.  Here it is:

Lastly, if you are not completely exhausted, I found this earlier in the month as well–a stop action video of the hanging of one of the tapestries for the Pieter Coecke exhibition earlier this year.  Thank you, Mr. Campbell, for bringing Western tapestry history to all of us.

 

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Wonderful to be HOME!

It is glorious in southern New England and I am thoroughly enjoying all the perks of living in a house!  Laundry!  Cooking!  Puttering in the dirt!  In spite of the harsh winter all my perennials are showing signs of life–except one peony, but I’m pretty sure it had died before last fall’s first frost–and I have scattered some seeds which causes me to excitedly search for signs of germination each morning and evening when I walk around the gardens to take stock of new life emerging.  As of this morning I have poppy seedings! Rejoice with me!  I plant poppy seeds every year–and never get any.  Dare I hope??  Rain is expected tomorrow and I sure hope it will be gentle on my tiny seedlings.

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There are a couple of wonderful volunteers in the lawn this year.  Some pansies from my window boxes self seeded along the front walk.

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There are violets everywhere in the lawn… makes me want to dissuade Bob from mowing. He’s not here now to mow down these sweet gems.

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And this is a new volunteer this year, and something completely unknown to me.  I have just googled yellow wildflowers in spring and found that this is Leopard’s Bane (Deronicum).  It blooms at the same time as daffodils.  I hope to transplant this into one of the gardens before Bob arrives home with mowing on him mind…

My first bouquet from the garden….daffs, hellebore and forget me nots on a handwoven runner on my desk where I write these posts at my computer.

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And now, along with getting as much weaving done as I possibly can, I am turning my attentions to my older son’s upcoming wedding.  It’s time to look for a wedding outfit.  I am in the unfortunate, but not so unusual, predicament of having two, yes TWO, mothers of the bride, so my fashion choice must accomodate theirs!  Anyway, I have decided to attempt making my own outfit.  This decision is entirely based on catching up on two seasons of Downton Abbey since I returned home one week ago.  My son calls that ‘binge’ watching–and he’s right!

I am thinking of making a boat neck tunic out of pale to medium blue silk charmeuse and embellinging the neckline with ribbon embroidery….. very like this tunic that Lady Crawley wore in a couple of episodes. (I have a collection of photos of Downton Abbey costumes–taken while pausing the show to snap the pix! I wonder how many others do this too!)

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I am imagining trailing vines in greens and browns with some roses and other flowers thrown in (color choices will be based on the overall effect going with my favorite brown silk pants with the pretty Chinese knots that run down the outer leg). I will stop by Banksville Fabrics on my trip to New Jersey later this week.  If I can get a lovely blue silk there I will then make a trip to Thistle Needleworks in Glastonbury to get the silk ribbons for the embroidery.

I am also dabbling in some Romanian Point Lace that intrigued me at Saturday’s monthly lace gathering.  My friend Mary is trying it and she shared the information that she has found recently.  There is a lot on Pinterest, and there are two older issues of Piecework that describe this technique  (March/April 1998, and one from 2001).

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I must have garments on the brain (too much Downton Abbey for sure!)….I think a border of this lace would be stunning on a tunic.  This time I envision a handwoven silk fabric with Romanian Point Lace at the neckline.  It would also look wonderful on the collar of a melton wool coat.

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So, with puttering in the gardens and doing just the smallest bit of spring cleaning in the house, I have not yet managed to touch any of my looms.  As I finish this I plan to bring up my portable easel and get back to my small Portuguese Man of War tapestry that I started on the boat.

Today is a glorious day for weaving outside!

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The Journey Home

It has been a bittersweet journey home–the drudgery of packing up years of stuff from one boat, then riding around in an overstuffed van for 10 days before unpacking it all onto another boat.  In the middle of the 10 days between one boat and the other we were driving south–inland to Columbia, South Carolina–to attend the wedding of a very dear friend.

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It was one of the sweetest/saddest things I’ve ever participated in.  My younger son, now 29, became friends with groom in kindergarten, when they were both five.  They went all the way through high school together, and I have lots of photos of them–mostly predating digital images.   I have vivid memories of playdates from those early school years when the two of them had a massive collection of mutant ninja turtles.  Either one of them would arrive at the other’s house with a black garbage bag full of action figures.  I remember the yearly man hunt game on New Year’s Eve which always ended with sparklers at midnight, preceded by wonderful dinners together for the parents.  I remember hearing all that wonky music from the various Nintendo games–Mario ad infinitum, Donkey Kong, Dungeons and Dragons.  These games led to more complicated computer games and more geeky science and computer interests as the boys grew.  When they were young many people thought they were brothers.  They each had a brother, but it seemed they looked more like each other than their real brothers.

Now both boys have grown into handsome men–refined, even elegant.  Seeing them together as adults makes me wonder where the boys have gone.  Chris’ friend is tall and lean, and very handsome.  He is articulate and moves with grace.  He was recently ordained a Lutheran minister so he is comfortable in crowds and is surely a good public speaker.  He looked perfectly comfortable with his stunning bride who made us all think of Kate Middleton.

In this photo Chris (on the left) is standing with his two oldest friends– the groom is in the middle. I took almost the same photo 11 years ago when these three graduated from high school.  They were so awkward and youthful then–so comfortable and confident now.

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The saddest thing about the wedding day was that the groom’s mother and father could not be there. The father was in the hospital at the end of a long 18 months of trying to stop the cancer that had been spreading for over a year.  He lost that battle only 3 days after his son got married.  It was heartbreaking to be there without the presence the parents who have been such good friends to us for 25 years.  It will probably be one of the happiest/saddest events of my life.  I would not have missed it.  In fact, Bob and Chris and I jumped through more than a few hurdles to get there.  It breaks my heart that the hurdles for getting to this wedding were bigger than humanly possible for the parents of the groom. (yes, I am wearing the sweater I had hoped to finish in time for this occasion.)

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After the wedding we had a couple of days with Chris as we continued south, back to Florida, with a destination at our new boat.  Chris flew back to San Francisco; Bob and I began unloading that van into the new (improved!) Pandora.  Bob and I had barely gotten all the boxes onboard when it was time for me to fly home.

Now I’m back in Connecticut, in the blinding yellow of daffodils and forsythia and the deep blue of the Connecticut River that glints like a sapphire in the silver setting of last year’s marsh grasses glowing in the late afternoon light.

Today I bought pansies for the window boxes on the front of our house.  I’m waiting for the trees to leaf out.  I’m going to start weaving the projects that I left on my looms in December.  Right now there is a pot of carrot tops simmering on the stove and a hank of silk waiting to be dyed.

Life goes round and round–until it doesn’t.

 

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The Sublime to the Ridiculous!

Let’s start with ridiculous.  This is day 1 of unpacking Pandora–utter chaos, and NO fun!

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It’s hard to pack things when you don’t even have room to move….

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I thought packing up a boat would be a piece of cake compared to the three houses we have packed up in the past few years…..but in some ways this is harder!

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Bob put boxes in the rented van while I tried to straighten up the main salon so we could have dinner without too much clutter.  The van is now 2/3 full, with the back seats folded down, and we still have a long way to go!

At the end of the day we decided to go for a walk.  First we passed this other example of living small.  I bet it wouldn’t take any time at all to pack up your belongings from this little abode–but I wonder how many people think that about our boat!  I guess there is always something smaller!

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And always something larger….

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Of course, if I lived here–Tryon Palace– I certainly wouldn’t be doing my own packing, would I?

Tryon Palace was the Governor’s Palace of provincial North Carolina in the 18th c. before the American Revolution.  After independence it burned to the ground just before the end of the century.  This reproduction was built in the 1950s and is now a museum.  I thought I was done taking photos of gardens, but I guess I just never will be!

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Walking through the gardens at Tryon Palace is rather difficult on a Sunday afternoon at the height of spring.  I can’t speak for other times–but it would not surprise me if this place is popular all year ’round.  There were two brides, each with her own camera crew, and a newly engaged couple with a crew of camera toting family.  Everywhere we moved we heard sighs and saw gestures–frustrated gestures, not rude!–that we were invading someone’s Kodak moment.  In trying to get out of the way of one bride we were always moving into the way of the other!–or the engaged couple!

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But I would not have missed a walk through these gardens for anything!  What surprised me most were the anemones and batchelor buttons.  You expect to see tulips and daffodils, but anemones are such a happy surprise!  This is not a great photo, but I love these iris which were in gardens all over town–mixed with batchelor buttons.

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Tryon Palace is in a residential part of town that has houses from all the architectural periods since this town was settled in the early 18th c.   Since each house has a formal garden I wonder if you have to prove your gardening skills before you can move here.

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The daffodils, tulips and wisteria are already past their prime…but en masse they still have a vivid impact!  I have been seeing tiny yellow rose like flowers on a climbing vine everywhere, even along the highway climbing up trees.  I just learned it is a climbing rose named Rosa Parks.

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I can just imagine these homeowners picking their colors to coordinate with the azaleas.

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Now it’s the morning of day 2.  I am going to have some coffee, or rather Bob’s amazing latte, and get back to packing. We hope to end each day around 4pm this week so we can take a walk through this pretty town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Final Days aboard Pandora

Mother Nature has been pretty good to us as we head to our final destination for Pandora, in New Bern, North Carolina.  We stopped for two days in Oriental, where we enjoyed a free dock with easy access to town.  On the dock with us was a boat from Colchester, England.  The older captain sailed alone across the Atlantic about a year ago.  At some point along the way he was adopted by a small black kitten he decided to name Mogs.

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At each port Mogs goes visiting.  Maybe one day he’ll decide to stow away on a new boat.  At least that’s what Bob and I hoped when Mogs made himself very comfortable on Pandora. We began to think he might stay with us…. but as the English boat made ready to depart Mogs headed quickly back to his familiar digs.  Ah, well….

Friday was our final sail on this Pandora.  I could have wished for a bit less wind, but perhaps it’s for the best.  There is nothing like a couple hours of seasickness to make one willing to say goodbye to a boat!

In a little over a week we’ll be commissioning a new Pandora in Ft. Pierce.  As you can see, she’ll need a name change!

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New Bern is a pretty city.  We are on a dock at the New Bern Grand Marina, where once you walk up the ramp you find yourself in the heart of the historic district!  Lovely! We had dinner at the Harvey Mansion on Friday evening, our first night in town.

Saturday morning we went to the well attended Farmer’s Market, and then headed out to Raleigh Durham airport to pick up a mini van to load up with all our gear and provisions from Pandora. Unfortunately that was the most economical place for a car rental, but it was a long day with 5 hours of driving round trip.

It’s Sunday morning and I must wrap this up to begin the decommissioning.  Hopefully we’ll get a bit more sight seeing in this week, during breaks from packing and cleaning. I know there is a weaving shop in town because I visited it a year and a half ago by car on my drive home from Beaufort! I cannot pass up a chance to see that again!

We have to be out of here on Friday morning!  There is LOTS to do before then!

 

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Tying it all up

Time is short!  Bob and I are rapidly approaching our last week onboard Pandora– not only the last week of this sailing season, but the last week we may ever sail on her.  We are delivering her to a broker in New Bern, NC, tomorrow, and after that we’ll spend a week unloading 8 years of provisions we’ve put onboard– and we’ll do all we can to clean and polish her to a gleaming state so that someone else might want her as much as we did just a few short years ago.  We have enjoyed our time on her!

We have just spent a couple of days at Cape Lookout, a spot we have not visited before.  What a gem!  I think it is considered the most violent bit of sand and sea along the East Coast of the US, but it may also hold the record for the most violent bit of geography on the Atlantic.  Not certain about that—but I intend to look into it. Our photos tell a different story–peaceful and serene.

At anchor in the bight at Cape Lookout….

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The lighthouse at Cape Lookout at sunset.  The light flahses for one second every 15 seconds, and Bob managed to get it!–you have to have great eyesight to see that tiny point of light in this photo!

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There is fabulous shelling on the beaches at Cape Lookout, both on the ocean side and in the bight.  Amazing. We collected quite a trove of great shells.

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These shore birds, which I can’t identify positively (they might be a type of tern–Caspian? Forster?) really scolded me for invading their territory.  I am always impressed at how fearless most birds are.  En masse these guys were determined to get me off their bit of beach!

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 After many attempts to catch dolphins on camera–since we see them everyday–Bob caught this one! I hear that loggerheads come here to spawn, and that should happen pretty soon.

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Tomorrow we head back out into the Atlantic for a few miles, then into the ICW near Beaufort.  If we time the tide right we’ll be in Oriental before the end of the day.  By Friday morning we’ll head up the Neuse River and be in New Bern by afternoon.  And then the chores begin taking down everything that has been our winter home for a few years now.  End of an era….

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Contemporary Handwoven Treasures

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This exhibit opens today at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, CT.  It will run until Saturday, April 26.  There is an awards ceremony on April 11, and a day of weaving desmonstrations on April 18th.  The museum is closed on Easter and Easter Monday.

I am thrilled to have two pieces in this show, and I hope to visit the show on the very last day it is open.  I’ll be skidding into town just in time!

The chairwoman of the show wrote me earlier this week to say that “Sunet on Wilson Cove” has received two awards!  2nd Place for Wall Hangings, and a special award for Best Use of Color!  She made my day!  The jurors were Sarah Saulson and Anita Thompson.

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“Thread of Life”

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A Return to Nature

We are passing through an area of abandoned rice paddies.  The colonists worked very hard to cut down miles and miles of bald cypress swamp—and that has to be a hard job (wonder if they had slaves to do it then)—and now it has all returned to bald cypress swamp once again.  Hard to tell man ever tamed this area.

I have learned a little of why rice is no longer grown in South Carolina.  It turns out that the process of growing rice the traditional way, which means flooding the fields at some point in the growing season, can only be done by hand.  Because the fields are so marshy and at times underwater, everything from sowing seed to harvesting the rice has to be done manually.  In other rice growing states (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and California) a hybrid type of rice is grown that requires irrigation, but is not grown in marsh conditions.  Mechanized equipment can be used for the whole process so the cost of growing rice is much less.  That pretty much put Carolina rice out of business.  There are still a few farms, but they do not export the rice and it is only available in small boutique type shops.  We bought some gold rice (not polished to white) from nearby Palmetto Plantation at the museum shop in Georgetown.  I made it last night, and I do wonder if some of the dark particles I found were just pieces of chaff or if they were critters.  I really to had to cull the rice before cooking it, just in case of the latter!  It has sort of put me off to making it again….

Since leaving Georgetown we have been traveling through the cypress marshes.  It’s always nice to be alone again….at least for a bit.  I never like being alone on holidays, and we are rapidly approaching Easter (tomorrow, in fact).  It would be nice to find an acquaintance we know when we arrive in Wrightsville later today.

Here are some scenes from the marsh. An abandoned rice paddy where cypress are coming back.

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An osprey on the nest watching us as we pass.

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Traveling through a landscape that has returned to unspoiled marsh.

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And turtles sunning themselves on a cypress root.  I just had to include it even though it’s blurry! (So….what do you call a collection of turles?  A bale or a turn.  I’m going with bale since we are in cotton country!)

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Northlight Studio exhibition in Stromness, Orkney

There was a bit of exciting news in my inbox this morning regarding the exhibition of very small tapestries taking place at the Northlight Studio in Stromness.  Joan Baxter wrote to say that show went up as planned, about a week ago.

The exhibition is up and there are 65 postcards in total from Orkney, Yorkshire, Ireland, New England and Denmark. That is a really fantastic effort, thank you for contributing.

This is wildly thrilling to me!–that my tiny little scene of the St. Mary’s River has traveled to a place I’ve always wanted to visit–that it is hanging on a wall with other tapestries made by people in places I still hope to visit– and soon!  Well… I am undone!

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