Nelson is Closed

I started this post about ten weeks ago. Cull as I have post ideas that looked good at the time, this one remained. I haven't researched all the details, (would appreciate input/corrections if you know any,) but feel compelled to finish so I can close my 2014.

It could well be a testament to how out of touch I am, as I really haven't been out and about in Nelson much since I started getting ready for our 2012 exhibition around the middle of that year. It expresses my perceived reduction in push for art in Nelson since before the Global Financial Crisis in exchange for increased participation in big sports events, (Rugby World Cup, Cricket World Cup, and Masters Games,) eroding Nelson's reputation as the arts capital of the nation.  Most of all, I was utterly dismayed at the lack of dismay expressed at the demise of this artist-friendly facility by the general public.

I got a call from the board of Refinery ArtSpace in October while I was writing this post. The incongruence was so startling the bad news could have only been true. Since then, I noticed the gallery has remained open, but I haven't inquired about the probably-temporary arrangement. 

* * * * *

Refinery Art Space went into voluntary liquidation yesterday, October 17. That they were struggling financially was no surprise, but it further compounds the erosion of Nelson as (at least one of) the visual art center/s of the nation. It also comes as The Suter, the oldest public art gallery in New Zealand and the only other not-private gallery in Nelson, prepares to relocate for major refurbishment.

Refinery is under the umbrella of Kahurangi Employment Trust, so the gallery is not-for-profit, funded in part by the Nelson City Council, and all exhibitions are free to enter. I understand shop sales have dropped in recent years.

Compared to when we first visited New Zealand in 1992, but particularly since I became aware of Arts Marketing in May 2006, I can't help feeling there has been a sea change; the focus moved away from arts towards for-profit enterprises including hosting expensive sports games. Kiwis love sports, not even I would label sports events as bad, but Nelson used to have a unique feel which started to fade even while New Zealand was said to be booming before the Financial Crisis. It feels more like other places in New Zealand.

Selling galleries, including The Red as I knew it, and shops specializing in Nelson craft and souvenirs, changed hands, closed, (and opened); short lifespan of small businesses in New Zealand is nothing new, but these lifespans feel even shorter. I think specialist selling Nelson works have reduced. (But also true, cafes and other venues "show" art so it's probably inaccurate to say there are fewer venues. Also, the old Red was not Nelson-only.) 

The demise of Arts Marketing as I knew it was the biggest shock; first was the departure of Martin Rodgers, then the organnization itself, which tirelessly encouraged emerging artists and networking among artists, went. There is a new not-for-profit group which took over the Guidebook work and an event also called Arts Expo, a mega-market rather than artists-meeting-galleries/retailers, but participation fee in either is so expensive I giggled uncontrollably when I inquired about their first guidebook. 

Art Council and Lloyd are still at the same premise but on a different lease; I think Lloyd is behind the gallery staying open for the time being, but I haven't inquired nor volunteered to help.

The WOW show, after seven years since its inception in a paddock just outside Nelson, moved to Wellington in 2004. We got a WOW museum in return, and to be fair it has a fantastic classic car display and a hallway gallery, but it is a poor relative to the show.

Trafalgar Centre is an indoor sports facility but have acted as a performance/function venue as long as we can remember. The day we moved to Nelson in 1996, Tina Turner performed here; one of the first and last concerts we've been to was also here, an unforgettable Joe Cooker. WOW also took place here after it was upgraded from the paddock. Some years ago the City Council invested in a back stage addition for performers, but soon afterwards the building was closed down because of low-rating on earthquake risk assessment.

Saxton Field, the newer sports facility, has a pavilion capable of some events; this has been used, for example for the Arts Expo but I haven't visited the venue. 

Nelson School of Music, the oldest private music institution in New Zealand, has also been closed for a few years because of earthquake risks. Among their events, Adam Chamber Music Festival, apparently a premier chamber music event was put at risk but will go ahead in 2015.

Theater in Nelson played second fiddle to visual arts, but Theatre Royal was refurbished a few years ago; this is a venue for local and visiting productions. A new theater, The Playhouse, emerged on the outskirts some years ago and seems to be run successfully with many local productions, but we haven't been there. About the same time a small private theater we frequented went bust, and sadly I can't even remember its name. The theater in The Suter, where art house films and lectures were held occasionally, is also closed during refurbishment. (Their millennium refurbish plan failed because it proposed to do away with this theater, the director leaving after effectively telling the town to "leave it to us professionals.")

We still have a Arts Festival in the spring, mainly performance, mainly visiting; there are other old and new "festivals" in the summer, and now in the winter. We have not gone to too many because I really stay away from crowds, and because of costs. I also don't participate in art-selling opportunities because I don't have the stamina to make a lot of things in a rush.  

And while I mope about the demise of an art gallery, it's actually a slightly more serious social problem that the Trust is going down the gurgler, and very indicative of where New Zealand has been heading for a few years. The survival of the richest.

And the title of the post; that was Lloyd's comment when I went to pick up my pieces on consignment at the gallery shop. 

* * * * *

So this is the last post for 2014. And I feel I can move on. I had hoped to get some work done so I can present to you my looms in slightly different stages tomorrow, but that wasn't to be. Though we still have five hours of 2014, so maybe.

I didn't want to end the year on a downer, but I don't exactly feel optimistic about visual arts collectively in Nelson, or more accurately Nelson as art destination, but I don't know what I base this on. For me personally, well, I just have to get my head down, bum up, weave and hope for the best.  

See you tomorrow. 

On Interacting with Other Humans

We met JB and Ali on the Internet first, and in person a while later. For six years they were a nice couple from Germany who visited Nelson waiting for their house to be built here. Though our meetings were always pleasant, we also felt like a bullet point on their Nelson checklist; we met at coffee places in town and JB sometimes had the next bullet point in a few hours. I can only recall conversations about the progress of their house and where they've travelled in Europe, although I know there was more. (And I understand a little bit how my nephews and niece see me now.) It was interesting but tenuous at best.

Had our house been a nice, tidy one, not my work stuff all strewn all over and in mid-process at all time, had our garden been even an averagely tidy one, I've no doubt we would have had them over and we might have had a different kind of friendship. But we didn't and we don't. The time we've known them also coincided with my trying the darnedest to quiet all noises in my head and shed anything that didn't contribute to weaving.

My circumstances haven't changed, but their house is finished, and last Saturday we were invited to afternoon wine and nibbles, and we had a really lovely time.
They're about there, behind the dark shadows, which is still Rabbit Island, but on the other side of the water.

I don't apologize for needing a lot of time and space to do my work. Raised by an incredibly social mother who is energized by the company of others, and a father equally so but whom I suspect, (Mom says not,) felt a degree of responsibility to be social, at least saw a slight discord between the suspected public self and the self-seen-from-the-inside, I feel more like Dad and apprehensive not being more like Mom. And I hate the regurgitation of conversations and do-overs in my head that follows social events. 

I was an only child for six and a half years, and though I never had an imaginary friend, I often kept my own company. I got overly excited playing with other children, even my cousins next door, and inevitably was scolded at the end of the day, so playing by myself was the safe bet. (The sensation I felt one Sunday night when suddenly I realized I didn't get in trouble with Dad after a whole day with my cousins is still palpable; I can't remember how old I was, we did all day, but it was a revelation that it could be done.)

In school and at work, though I was not the outsider, (or perhaps I just didn't know?) I was never in a clique, a member. I wasn't unsocial, and I organized a lot of do's, but I admit to taking satisfaction in playing the organizer's role well. Rolls are always easier than being myself; I've been thus as long as I can remember; I'm not lying or pretending, but I'm not sure I felt until the occasions passe and I've had time to reflect.

JB and Ali are avid art collectors and supporters with their own opinions, JB a great storyteller, well-informed, and marketing-savvy. They're both cultured, well-travelled, and good people. And German and Japanese cultures share a number of perspectives on duty, performance, expectations, standards, work.

We came home on Saturday content, as if we made new friends instead of catching up with formerly transient ones. They were the same JB and Ali, but are more settled. We also had a glimpse of how they live, and can gauge the horror they'll feel if they saw how we live. (Honestly, even I've seen abandoned properties looking better than ours just now.) So I don't know what follows, but the ball is definitely in our court.
And Ben got a new hat.


Real rain today and a little wind. It feels so soothing after a dry, windy spring, and the last few days of humid, Japanese-summer like afternoons. I have slept well these last two nights.

2014 was focused and fragmented at once: I got some mad-intense weaving done from October last year to March-ish, then came the trying-to-get-something-for-a-drawing-exhibition madness, followed by getting-ready-for/travelling-in/finishing-what-I-started-in Australia madness, culminating in a sporadic but enjoyable weaving rush since September-ish. The two in the middle not weaving were intense because of unfamiliarity of the media, watercolor and acrylic, but I enjoyed the newness, freedom/unplanned-ness, and relative speed.

Weaving, of course, I enjoyed though individual stages/pieces were often infuriating. I evaluate my life by weaving output; the more pieces I weave, the better I'm using my time on the planet. Because I can't measure quality. But looking back from a wee distance I'm glad I delved into other things because they certainly helped me, especially in trying out new color combinations and proportions/distribution.

In between, I gardened a bit, probably the most I've done in my life in one year, but I'm not effective and I kept working in one same, tiny area. Seriously Kafkaesque. And funny it I weren't me.

Ben and I were inundated by a series of minor health complaints; it was almost funny how as soon as one problem went away, another popped up. And though we don't lead especially unhealthy lives, we can stand to exercise more and eat a little less.

Although at languishing, slightly injured snails' pace, we have also begun to tidy and shed, so long may this continue.

2015. I have the usual suspect lined up in the back row; I'm  afraid to drop them because they have been on my lists for ever like bad habits, but not have I made any serious efforts: dye, spin to weave, look into exhibition/s outside New Zealand, or engage in little-everyday projects. While I'll keep these in mind, I'm going to hold myself responsible for two things, my part in Weavers and Designers, and reduce stash, weave, weave and weave. I think both are doable.
I swear the kumara grew 7cm overnight. I kid you not; it few at least 18cm in three days. I've known it needs to go into the ground but I haven't found a position deep enough so I might use a pot made redundant earlier in the year. The yogurt container contains alstroemeria seeds from when I had cut flowers in the house.

It's a little after midday on New Year's Eve, but I feel reluctant to let go of this strange year just yet. I recall a palpable foreboding and a forced enthusiasm for 2014, which turned into a prodigal year. For 2015 I have no strong feelings, which I take as a good omen.


A Couple of More Days

I've not been able to sleep well for four nights. Unrelated, but we've had rain forecast for several days but had only humidity except for tentative drops last night. Not a pretty picture: I can't get up early, I'm a grumpy sloth, and afternoons are hot and muggy like Japanese summer. Even my sourdough is behaving differently and I had to throw out a loaf.

We managed to clean the storage under the stairs and boxed up stuff to give to the Hospice Shop, plus collected cardboard boxes from around the house and flattened and tied them up as per recycling instructions. Nice to have finished, but I sure hope we get a bit more done.

During one of the sleepless nights, I managed to make drafts for the Christmas warp. I don't know why I didn't think to thread it last night while wide awake but I got started this afternoon. And if I'm up again tonight, threading sure beats telly repeats. 

It's a little late for Christmas, but that's alright, the warp colors are phutukawa colors and I have cute names like, "Life is a Kiwi Beach" planned. 
I've started a few posts but I can't concentrate for lack of sleep; I'll try to get to them soon. Meanwhile, please consider taking part in Weaver to Weaver or Looms Day.


Weird Week / Sugar / Hobbit / Anniversaries

Boxing Day was the biggest Let Down day as a kid, but as I got older it's turned into a Big Relief day, even if we don't do anything. We've survived another. And this was a strange one.

The festive season started when I baked tiny orange cakes for a street party in early December, and then we cleaned the house holiday-style, (i.e. a bit better than the usual,) and even put up Christmas lights. I think I told you it doesn't get dark until around 9PM around here so the lights have been on for a very short time but we enjoyed it for a few nights, and a few more night to come.

On Monday Ben had a yearly Diabetes check with a nurse and got a glowing appraisal, so glowing I felt very uncomfortable as I've felt he's been a bit complacent in his monitoring. (It also has to do with the GP's attitude and changes in government funding.) We were supposed to go to a big 50th birthday dinner Tuesday night but he looked tired all day and had a long nap; when we were supposed to be getting ready, I begged him to check, and his blood sugar was sky high. So, no birthday dinner. I've been making him check several times a day since so I get a sense of what his "normal" is now.

What really annoys us is, we had enough sweets in late November and early December so we haven't had chocolates or cakes in a fortnight; we're not eating special meals but lots of veg and small amounts of normal protein sans sauces/gravy, or anything festive. Ben doesn't like my gluten-free bread, no-added-sugar jam, nor yogurt, and he won't go near my kombucha except the occasional coffee konbucha. (The last one I'm not bothered about; more for me.) So Christmas Eve day and Christmas Day all day we drank a lot of water and tea and ate veg-laden meals in the heat. Christmas Eve at 8PM was 26C in our living room; Christmas Day 9PM was 28C! (That's very hot for our house; very cool for Yokohama.)

As if I needed to add to the craziness, we had saved a lot of cooking show Christmas specials and watched them these last two days. Most were English shows, so a lot of oven-cooking, which were easy to ignore, but a not-Christmas episode of Nigel Slater's show had a nice stir fry and silly me, I cooked stir fry in the searing heat last night, and reheated bean curry. Silly, silly me. 

Ben's gotten on his exercise machine several times for short periods, but in general, we feel unfairly accused. And we still can't figure out why his blood sugar level comes back down normally after brunch but not after dinner, when we've been eating very similar meals. But this is how the disease is progressive; what worked in his 40's isn't enough to maintain the same numbers. Got to read some more.

The monitoring hell continues, but we did catch up today with the birthday boy and the Mrs; in fact we went to the last The Hobbit movie, my very first 3D film. It took me a while to figure out the sweet spot on my glasses first, and then a good match with the 3D glasses, but I can see the attraction. After a while I started to feel sea sick, but maybe we can get seats in the back row another time. And it was lovely to catch up with our friends as they live in Melbourne.
I've felt a little weaving withdraw; I've had stuff to mend, fringe and finish sitting in front of the telly but I don't feel like touching wool in this heat. So some cool work session in the basement would be most welcome.

* * * * *

Today's my parents' would-have-been (or is it still even if one is deceased?) 59th anniversary. Next year my family will see 60th, 25th, 20th and 15th anniversaries. Yikes.
On a chaperoned day out after their engagement; 1955.
As newly-weds; 1955 or 56. I remember the dining chairs.


Happy, Merry, Bless

Our window is tinted and double-glazed. And dirty. But if I go outside I'd be too low to shoot the flowers. I just can't get the colors right, but flours are very saturated, slightly blue red when they come out, and fade as days go by. Birds of all kids started feasting today, messing up the red stamens. The foliage is mid-yellow-green. Today the sky is mid-light blue, exactly the color you imagine a summer sky to be; it almost looks fake.

May you and yours be blessed with health, inspiration and perseverance.


Not Thinking and Thinking

A misunderstanding on my part led to discussing with Cally issues I can't pin down but encompass our respective focus area of our weaving practices, most suitable selling venues/methods, what we allow ourselves to purchase/outsource and still feel comfortable putting our names on our work, etc, etc, etc. Not so much slotting us into existing marketing pigeon holes, but putting our gut feelings into words, perhaps. And stuff; how much stuff do we truly need in our lives and are we contributing by adding more and expecting folks to buy?

I also realized, this whole year, this side of preparing a bunch of questions for Kaz before going to Australia, I've not worried about anything external to me or my weaving.

This is not to say I'm happy/comfortable with my finished products, (remember all the broken cashmere warps, the pleats that didn't?) but I've had two intense weaving periods, at the start of the year up to drawing exhibition prep, and now, during when I have been focused on what and how I work and have not worried about much else. The noises in my head have really stopped and I'm not worried about new weaving books, trends/fashion, what everybody else is weaving, in the "I need to learn/catch-up/emulate" kind of way; I still maintain a high level of curiosity/interest in all of your work, what you are weaving, how, even why, but they have nothing to do with what I'm doing. I feel released from a whole list of "shoulds" and keep noticing how focused I am, when I do get around to noticing such things. This makes me happy. I don't know if it means I've finished or started being my own apprentice as suggested by Randy Darwall, but eight years on, I'm somewhere I wasn't before, and I'm going to call this progress.

The flip side of this has been my stash reduction projects; for ease, speed and a kind of return to basics, I've been trying to work on four shafts. To help me develop more interesting-to-me projects, I've been gazing at weaving books I bought early on, revisiting elements of weaving except many shafts. I don't apologize for my love for many, considering what I considered were the ultimate cloths as long as I can remember. But I used to know things which have either fallen by the wayside, or consider automatically, ergo unconsciously, I don't know if I know and I want to recall them. Doni's doing similar.

There may be more on these topics, or not; I don't feel compelled to reach any explainable conclusions; in fact, these will remain ongoing themes for the rest of my weaving life, I know. And/Or I'm lazy today because it's been so sunny and so hot even in our cold, dark house, and I'm tired for having gone into town to do our last food shopping. But other than milk and veg, we're good for the next fortnight.
Gluten-Free Sourdough with Raspberries In It. As opposed to some fancy Raspberry, Something and Something Else Bread. We went picking yesterday; boysenberries were abundant; raspberries plants looked sad and berries so few but what we did pick are delish. But I was ever so enamored by the peas we're going back to pick some.
Pohutukawa Report: the tree looks redder all over in person. Ben won't stop talking about pruning.
Speaking of plant morphing before our eyes, the kumara refuses to die; in fact it demands to be put in the ground. I don't know if I can find soil deep enough without something special for this, but not today. The biggest leaves are about 3cm long.

EDIT: I forgot to tell you something interesting/strange. Many of you post pictures of yourselves on your blogs or FB page so I have some idea of what you look like, right? When I was in town today, even though Ben said there was only the usual level of crowd, I felt there were heaps more folks out shopping. And I kept seeing many of you, alone, with visitors, with kids, with shopping bags, sitting leisurely in cafes, rushing though the idles in the supermarket, or frantically looking for a place to park. It was actually great fun!

Weaver to Weaver 2015 and The Day in the Life of Looms 2015

Guidelines to Weaver to Weaver 2014 2015 or, W2W14 15

This is taking place in 2015 so I changed the name. I hope it's OK.

1) Collect small inexpensive items that inspire you as a weaver, that show something of your weaverly thinking, or something achingly lovely that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Put a few in a "normal sized" envelope; I'm thinking up to a medium Christmas card size, or "business" size roughly one-third of an A4 or Letter size sheet.

2) Sign up by emailing me, not commenting here, between now and Sunday, January 4, 2015:
     * how many envelopes you want to send/receive; no limit;
     * your real name if you use an online name;
     * your physical address;
     * and an URL for a blog, photoblog, website, somewhere we can find out more about you and your work. If you haven't got any, don't worry.
     * If you've participated in W2W in the past, and if you remember, tell me who your partner/s was/were. 

3) By the end of Tuesday, January 6, I'll match you with an/other weaver/s and send you their contact detail.

4) Send your envelope/s to your partner/s on or before Saturday, January 31. For overseas mail, please use Air Mail.

5) Sit, wait, and enjoy. When you receive your envelope, make yourself a hot/cold cup/glass of something and sit in your favorite chair. Tell us about it if you like.

You may prefer to hear from me who your partner/s is/are and then start collecting.

Questions? Please ask away in the comment section.

Anything that inspires you would work. If mailing overseas, just be careful of plant/animal matters as some countries are very strict.

If language is a problem, we'll try our best to find someone who can translate. Participants need to understand how W2W2 works, but English is not required in the actual exchange.

Last year, my envelope to Alicja, and others, were posted shortly after Christmas. It didn't reach her before the end of January, nor February, and I was happy to make up new set, but it came back to me in May or June! Because I had Hobbit stamps on it, I put the package in a bigger envelope and sent it to the same address and she got it sometime in the first half of this year. So, ask each other if you don't receive your envelope by say mid-February, or contact me and I'll do the asking.

Guidelines to A Day in the Life of Looms 2015

Boy, this was big this year. Thank you, everybody.

1) Take pictures of your loom/s on New Year's Day 2015 your time. I think one picture per loom will do.

2) Post on your blog or a dedicated album on Flickr/Picasa/Facebook. Make them big pictures so we can see. Write anything you want about your looms, projects, plans for the year. Or write nothing. Please add a link to my Loomsday post.

3) Make it go public on January 1 your time.

4) After it's publicly viewable, send me the link to your post.



I Must Ask/Tell You...

Today is December 21. These are our pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas) trees. The right one appeared when we took out surrounding shrubs on Christmas Day 14 years ago; it was a nondescript 70cm stick but it looked alive and we recognized the leaf so we left it. The one/s on the left, which are in fact two to three meters taller, was/were purchased as 4cm/50-cent saplings from a dodgy-looking nursery in West Auckland in late 1995; they lived in various pots and a wine barrel until they reached two meters and had to be put into the ground. We cannot tell if one survived and the other died, or two are cohabiting nicely.

Some years these flower splendidly, some years not, and the last two years they couldn't be bothered flowering. When they do, though, they tend to have the best week in early to mid December. For whatever reason, this year they're going to put on a show between Christmas and New Year and I am intensely pleased. More flowers are opening every hour and I almost feel I need to shoot it every two hours.

The one on the right, and the shrub in front of the window, block our views to the west. I like the feel of living amongst trees, and the leaves block a considerable amount of road and airport noise, but Ben misses the view, and we do have quite an expansive view to the West, though increasingly industrial. This has been one of those "contentious" issues for a few years; a compromised, half-bottomed trimming may be in the plan.

Now I must ask you: would you like another Weaver to Weaver, albeit later than usual? If so, I'm thinking sign up by January 4, 2015, notification of swap partners by January 6, and posting of inspiration by January 31. I figured it's not exactly a bad time to put aside some inspirations this time of year. 

Also, A Day in the Life Of Looms, Loomsday as Cally coined it will take place on January 1, 2015. Except you have to take the pics on January 1, so nothing to prepare here.  

Today we've been wondering whether to go to berry picking today, (Sunday=crowded,) or tomorrow, (Monday=less crowded but possibly depleted). While sun, beach and berries sound nice, this time of year I sure miss Minneapolis. And even Tokyo's intensely-junk-merchandized, gross-over-commercialization of the season.


To Rethread or Not to Rethread

Today was Ben's last day at work for the year. I had thought the school closed early this year, requiring everybody to take 2.5 days of leave next week to have two whole weeks off, (which I thought wasn't a bad idea,) but it turns out Ben took however many days of business left. He doesn't remember when the place closes; you could say the two of us have been in holiday mode since his two-week leave in November.

Today I finished the dark peach piece I showed you yesterday. There was something funny going on at the back of the loom so I unwound and rewound the warp and measured it; it turns out I can get two more. I've been contemplating resleying because 15 EPI is so so so sparse, but if I'm going to resley, I wondered if I should rethread as well. Unable to decide, I stared at the warp from different angles for 40 minutes before deciding I couldn't decide, though I did select two weft candidates. Before the end of the year I hope to weave these two and the last of the was-ruana warp at the very least, and fringe and wash everything. 

So why do I keep weaving on the four-shaft when I'm not crazy about weaving even the stash reduction projects on four shafts? For one, I have to be very careful about putting cashmere warps on the big loom as that loom is hard on these delicate yarns. For another, I know that even with the simpler designs, my combination of yarns yield wonderful texture and hand; in fact, sometimes the hand is nicer when woven in simpler twills, for example, than in the fussy ones I like. I'm also trying to correct my erratic beating and it's easy on a foot loom where I can go back in treadling instantly. On my big loom, I have to get off the bench or scoot over to the right, stop and reverse the treadling on the computer, scoot back to the middle, unpick, re-scoot, stop and re-reverse the treadling in the forward direction, re-scoot-back, then weave forward. But most urgently, try as I may I haven't been able to make a draft I like for the Christmassy warp. Yeah, that last one has really got "my knickers in a twist!" (Mama, knickers are underpants.)

I did make one this morning that I do like; I think I will weave this sometime.

And a picture of Terri and me towards the bottom about a month ago


Slowly but Gradually...

You saw the top one last week. I put the second of three warps intended for Dad's ruana, again in a blind undulating twill. The top warp was meant for the center so it had blue bouclé evenly across the warp alternating with Mom's handspun; the other two, however, have a plain two-poly merino alternating with the handspun towards the sides of the garment, so I added some blue variegated bouclé to make the texture more even. Mom's handspun has small amount of oranges and yellows so I wanted these to show up and chose a dusty orange bouclé for the weft, but it didn't lift the orange in the warp so well. I wish I knew where this yarn came from because it has smaller loops and is an extremely delicate, soft yarn.  
For the last piece, I measured a bunch of ends in orange/yellow/pale blue variegated bouclé to supplement so this will be a colorful piece.
I wasn't sure what I wanted to use in the weft until I found some scrumptious handspun by Mom seen at the bottom; I don't have enough for a complete piece, I don't think, but I have plenty more of the handspun used in the warp so there are options.
While I make up my mind, I thought to weave some cashmere, so I put on the navy blue warp enough for three small scarves, another rescue warp. Again, I made up the twill as I threaded. In this I used a thicker dark purple weft that looks somewhere between black and navy depending on the light.
In the second piece I'm using a pink, (actually a very dark peach,) cashmere/silk mix, so there is the sheen contrast. Yum.

I'm weaving the cashmere at 15EPI, very loose, and trying to discipline my beating but it's not going so well; the pieces are so netty and delicate I'm constantly treadling back to correct beats.Hard to imagine some years ago I had such a difficult time feeling OK about asymmetrical threading; for now I can't imagine threading symmetrically.

I also went around the house looking for stray warp chains; I had one more than I imagined, though I can't remember which one it was, but I'm missing an attractive-sounding one that was on my list, a walnut-dyed with-scale merino. I have to dive into the big wool box one of these days. 


I Lied

I finished the blue piece today, and the next, similar warp has been wound. It's a 4-shaft 2/2 undulating twill, but I can't show you the draft because I made up the threading as I threaded. It has scrumptious merino bouclé and Mom's handspun single alternately in the warp, and possum/merino/silk in the weft. It's a meaty piece, and I wove it well. 

I'm glad I'm making progress with my stash-and-ready-made-warp busting, but I'm bored with what are coming off my loom; I feel I need to add a new look/style. I haven't found a direction yet, so I'm still just gazing.

I was supposed to go to a lecture tonight on how mathematics manifests in artwork. I had hoped it would show me a few interesting directions. But I've been a little tired after we went from near-winter temperatures to near-mid-summer high in about a week, so I was thrilled I was able to give my seat to a university Math student; the event was free, but the seats were limited and the lecture had "sold out".

Weeds are growing back with gusto, but today we had our first real rain for three-quarters of the day. It smelt, felt, and sounded lovely.  


And Once Again

Done. This is the lamented cashmere warp that could not withstand the vigor of the big loom.
And a new warp is on; this is one of the three I prepared intending to weave a blue ruana for Dad way back; I have three warp chains about the length of a long piece.They should make scrumptious meaty pieces in twills and good wool.

Yesterday I counted something like 21 warp chains made in the last forever on my list; soon I need to go around the house, gather them, and check against my list. The annoying things is, I only make notes on scrap paper when I make warps; some are missing and I need to count the number of ends on some chains. I'll assign one of my notebooks for keeping warp records, at least with the number of ends and the intended EPI. And the length.  

Today would have been a great day to garden; overcast, coolish, not a lot of wind. But I had to two good reasons shy I didn't.

First thing this morning Ben found a weka pulling out lettuces from the veg patch; when I went outside s/he was still at it, unafraid, ignoring me, way past her/his nocturnal life's bedtime. As with any unplanned encounters with animals, I was a little afraid and mightily annoyed, but most of all I felt this was our punishment for bad gardening. Even though we are now conditioned to be delighted encountering native birds. S/He was about the size of a cat. Now I'm a little afraid to go outside.  

The other good reason was Maclean came for tea and cake and we talked and talked and talked. It's been awhile since I last spoke to a practitioner of another discipline, (she and her husband being trained photographers,) who has also lived in Kyoto for a year some time ago. She's in Nelson only for another six weeks or so, but I hope we have time for another girl time.

And Maclean said wekas are nice visitors in the garden; she can have ours.  

There won't be another "done" picture for a while. I need to make up some drafts next.



Done. Sorry for the blur, but so far this picture conveys the mood of the color combo the best, but the brown is still not right.
Next warp is wound, but I'm yet to make up a couple of drafts. I made this warp way back in October and the color is more accurate in the October picture. I wanted to weave something with the skinny gray warp, but not to pleat, but I figured I can make two quick and fun pieces before I hunker down to tackle yet another new yarn in the warp. Besides, I needed a little cheer in the color after the brown. However, I have been lining up and editing these cones to make an autumnal series since October also.
The colors are inaccurate: from the left it's black, two naturals. two pale browns, (the cone in the back is what I used in the warp in the latest project,) and the two oranges are dirtier, more autumnal, in real life.
And don't you hate it when you come up with a good idea after you've finished a project?


The Weaver is Weaving

But not well.

Yesterday during our weekly Skype, Mom asked what I'm weaving now; I said Ben was home for two weeks and we gardened; Mom pointed out he'd been back at work for four days; touché, I was avoiding the itchy brown warp.

Mind you, I tidied the house on Monday and saw the osteopath in the afternoon; I was sick Tuesday with what felt like another 24-hour flu, then I cooked a lot Wednesday and Thursday: humus, jams, kombucha, bread, and dinner. But no, I hadn't been weaving, nor weeding. So I did today.

I modified the draft and rethreaded the sides and resleyed at 18 EPI.
This is the draft I started weaving. 40cm in, I thought since the piece doesn't have to pleat, I should have created a draft without such pronounced warp/weft-dominance, to dilute the scratchiness with the lovely merino weft. 
About 80cm in, I remembered I had thought of it and had intended to weave this draft, with slightly less warp/weft-dominance. I think the treadling in the first daft and tie-up of the second would have been nice.
Too late, I've woven sightly over a meter; this piece is going to be a tad short of two meters, and it's a short warp. I like the color combination, very "wearable", but it's early summer here and the piece looks a little, ummm, un-uplifting. I can't seem to get the colors right in photographs; perhaps after it's washed, I can try by the front door in the morning. They are nice colors, I promise.


End of Ben's Holiday

Garden Blitz Day 13, Thursday, although I dithered in the morning, I worked for five hours, the last two in the glaring sun, and made a compromised finish on the veg patch; at one point the gales started suddenly as if someone turned a switch on and I couldn't sift the soil so I picked out the biggest clover bulbs only, but a bag or three of local school's fund-raising compost hide a multitude of sins. The problem is, the way I covered everything, new clover babies will surface in a day or two and it will be a continuous battle.

GBD14 & 15, Friday & Saturday: Friday morning was alright, overcast and quiet, but I was totally exhausted and dithered. Then came the rain, wind, bluster, gust and gale, so I slept a lot. I was exhausted. GBD 16, today, started very early with strong wind again and freak rain.I did housework inside. And this is the end of Ben's Garden Blitz holiday; not so blitzy and nothing done inside the house, but still he probably did more garden work this week than in the last two or three years added. 
Not bad, though, for two bags of garlic I thought were compost; the top right quadrant where I put the least hopeful cloves is really thriving. In the gaps are also purple basil, rocket and three types of marigold seeds. I love rocket leaves but for a couple of years we didn't plant them because there were problems with large white butterflies and they love nasturtiums and rockets. I asked the Dept of Conservation staff who makes regular visits when I could plant rockets, and they said I could as long as I checked the leaves regularly.

In the foreground, we had our last harvest of winter broad beans this week and they came out and I put in purple dwarf beans. Beyond the veg patch is the small dianthus patch, and  beyond, in the left, are branches Ben pruned; we didn't used to be able to see the fence.

The ivy area needs at least another whole day, this veg side at least two, plus getting a garden skip and getting rid of the ivy and other weeds we can't compost. The pruned branches are already too dry to put through the mulcher, but if I were to put a positive spin on the wind, they are so dry we can walk over them to break them up soonish.

In an ideal world, I'd live an urban apartment with a roof terrace for pots of plants and floor sturdy and insulated for large looms. My second choice is a flat place with a woodland garden, without power lines and boundaries to worry us. I love trees, and trees left to grow in directions and styles they wish. But we live in the suburbs with power lines overhead, our house smack in the middle of the section, with a right-of-way, a driveway to the house next door, taking up a chunk and cutting off another chunk on the other side in a weird way, (though this is not atypical around here,) on a steep slope.

We have six small sub-areas and a patio as our garden, rather than a nice big chunk. So against my desire, although we don't do it nearly as often as a more conscientious resident might, we have to prune/shape our trees to keep them tidy and not encroach/violate/endanger. For tall trees and near power lines we need professionals, but I do like us doing as much as we can so the trees are shaped in ways we like.

To be continued. As long as we live here, I suppose. 


Another Non-Day

Garden Blitz Day 12. I woke up at dawn thinking it was raining heavily, then went back to sleep without checking. Then about 7, I got up to the usual roaring wind. Even if it had rained, all traces were gone. We checked our emails, ate a good breakfast, checked Facebook repeatedly and read while stupidly expecting the wind to subside. At 1.30PM we finally decided to reconvene between 4 and 5PM to see if we can go outside; at this time of the year it's light enough to garden until around 7.30PM or even later on a fine day; even later further into summer. 

The wind blew and blew and at nearly 9AM it's still going. The evening news said Nelson is having a record dry November and is in drought condition. It's official.

In the afternoon I had intended to rethread and weave, but instead made rice flour, (time-consuming but doable), tapioca flour, (don't bother,) resuscitated the sourdough, made bread, (in the oven now,) made coffee kombucha, and read more about kombucha in general. And watched as much news I could find on Ferguson.

I still have to go water the seedlings, in pots and in the ground, later; evening watering usually happens around 10.30PM in the summer. 

"Didn't garden" posts are lame enough, no picture is terrible, so here are a couple.
Left: a few dianthus flowers I broke while weeding their patch and filling in the gaps with seedlings.
Right: one-quarter of the sweet potato from dinner last night. I put in a dozen viola seeds in this tiny clay pot yonks ago and kept it in the kitchen, and half a dozen packets outside. Nada; haven't seen any of them. So I stuck the "live" part of the sweet potato on the soil; it might need better soil to root, but for now it's a cute decoration. 
Casualties of pruning. I tried cropping this picture in different ways but they are all our babies, I couldn't cut anyone out.

I've been thinking of healthy eating, again. Ben doesn't touch my no-refined-sugar jam, or yogurt, and though disappointing because mine have no additives, I like them and I'll keep making them, just not on regular basis. My jam is nice, if I say so myself, but I eat it too often; I usually eat bread with nothing on it so albeit nutritious, it's extra fructose so maybe occasionally. Ben won't go near my kombucha which suits me; I love it and may need another big jar, though from what I read it's better to let it ferment longer to boost nutrition. The first two brews I left for seven days, and a few days of second ferment, so it's a sweet sparkly drink I'm enjoying, not as vinegary which is better. 

But we have not been too keen on my gluten-free or very-little-gluten breads. Rice flour sourdough is harder to understand and sometimes I feed it wheat flour to give it some energy. I know gluten-free breads are as different from wheat flour breads as soy milk is to cow's, and so far I've produced perhaps one or two nice loaves. It's hard to know when they're baked as they don't give that hollow sound when tapped. Today I included pulverized tapioca for the first time so there may be hope but I think I'll keep the sourdough going until I try proper tapioca flour. Then I might give up.

Ever since I stopped making wheat flour bread, though he eats some commercial bread and we eat pasta and couscous, (occasionally but far less often,) Ben seems to have slimmed down a little without changing anything else. It appeared I was going in the same direction for a while, and certainly experience far fewer indigestion, but with the jam and sweet kombucha, I feel bloated more often now. Darn.

I must keep reading and experimenting.


Day 11 of 16

I had such high hopes for today, Garden Blitz Day 11; it started overcast and cool with precipitation expected in the evening, just our kind of gardening day. I expected I could get the veg patch done and Ben could weed most of the next patch, then we could prune tomorrow, and that's the end of this section which is the easiest part.

Alas, it started raining before lunch. We kept going awhile but it got heavier so Ben went inside for a shower; we were going to the hardware store, again, and the much-needed grocery shopping. By the time Ben came out of the shower the rain stopped, and it was like that for the rest of the day. We ran errands, we had to because we were digging into the last of frozen veg with only onions and garlic left of the stuff. But we forgot milk.

Today I put in three hours before the errand, three on errands, then two more in the garden, but managed only a third of the veg patch; I'm putting the empty part of the veg patch soil through a sieve, (remember my clover problem?)  and that is taking a long time, not the sieving part, but picking out the tiny bulbs and returning the very fine bark pieces back into the soil part.


Ben's home for five more days. At this rate, we would be lucky if we can get these two top parts of the garden done. Forget getting rid of the massive amount of garden waste we can't compost, (weed bulbs, vines, we need a garden skip,) forget the garage, forget any inside job. Just those two little bits. It would have been nice to have one whole day off, perhaps a late lunch and then the cinema, but we had a leisurely first week and this week have been working leisurely, and now we have momentum so we hope to keep this up. 

Weather permitting.
Which is very strange because the view in front of our house and behind us looked like this, actually a little darker, but we didn't get rain while Ben was cooking dinner; steamed green-lipped mussels. It felt silly, but I watered the one tomato, three basil and three lemongrass seedlings before I came in.

We also ran into Ali and John in the garden section of the hardware store; they split their time between Nelson and Germany living perpetually in warm part weather; it dawned on me tonight we could swap places so I could chase the cold weather. If only I liked smaller looms! Ali said she cannot leave comment here, so at least it's not just me. Nor her. I can't figure this out. Can you?


Summer has Officially Arrived

Garden Blitz Day 9, yesterday, was the first "full" gardening day. Although I dithered in the morning and we didn't get out until 11.30, we put in nearly five hours in the sun and wind and finally began pruning taller trees and some of the ivy.

As I said, summer arrived Saturday afternoon. Though we have wind, it's not the horrible gusty blustery kind, but a nice sea breeze and it doesn't go on all day. Afternoons are headache-inducing bright, and when still the bugs come out; my allergy meds aren't coping, so we best to start early and come in for late lunch.

GBD10, today, I got up late and dithered so we didn't go out until 10.30 but we still put in three hours, and created some visual impact. We also had procedural disagreement so I sulked and weeded another part; Ben said he didn't hear me, and though I know he doesn't lie, I don't believe him.
This is the view from my kitchen sink. Ben thinned a tall camellia to the right by about one-third; you can see the top of it and the Dwayne's tree. The sorry-looking lemon was pruned several times over the last three years by me; this used to be roughly twice as tall and three times as wide and we could only collect the few lemons at the bottom and got no sun on the patio; this tree is expected to come back to life next autumn/winter, but if not we'll still keep it for the foliage but will keep it small. The grapefruit that is not grapefruit but great citrus for juicing and marmalade was pruned by Ben. The ivy is one meter deep in front of the retaining wall. You can see I love my purple hellebores where they are because I can look up into the flowers. I'm going to move the fragrant yellow shrubs, (relative of Erica? These grow up to be over a meter,) so I can see the hellebores better. The path between the yellow shrubs and the hellebores/heucheras is where we have some of the the worst weedy vine problems.
To the left you see, or don't see, Ben having successfully removed some of the ivy, plus the now-one-third-as-tall, pale "lemon" tree, (it's called that but not citrus-related,) closer to the corner of our property; it's the same kind as the one closer to us. We hadn't seen the sky from our kitchen in possibly half a dozen years and we were taken aback by how wonderful it is. We may take down the red akeake, (you see the trunk,) because it's a little top heavy and doesn't do much other than to drop leaves on to Neil's carport roof.

Everything we pruned were spread on the bare parts of the slope; it looks messy but by the end of the summer we can stomp, flatten, and leave to mulch. The not-as-thriving back half of the alstroemeria patch was decimated in the process, but I put in two sachets of seeds every autumn anyway, and with the increased sun, it should look alright next summer. I'm putting in sunflower seeds tomorrow. And the short camellia I pruned by about two-thirds.

This small area, about 1/5 of our property, is going to require another two days to clear; this may be the only area we'll get to blitz this holiday, and we haven't done anything inside the house. Still, this is where we can see from the house so it will have been worth it. 

I'm working on the veg patch tomorrow, while Ben continues with the ivy. though he just told me he might work somewhere else for a change. 



Garden Blitz Day 7, yesterday, we managed to weed the only area of our garden readily visible from the house, for about three hours. It's a small area I work on most often but is in need of longer-term weed-and-Blackbird-and-gravity combating measures. The day started out overcast and cool so it was nice for us, but the soil was bone dry and most weeds broke off, but at least we got the vines growing around other plants off. This is where I've put a lot of purple hellebores and heucheras in the past couple of years; half a dozen heucheras were dug up by a family of blackbirds that nest in our tree, as well as a tiny mandarin tree, but I'm hoping I was able to save two heucheras; the good news is, there were quite a few hellebore babies that self-seeded, and I hope to spread them more evenly next autumn.

GBD8, today was going to be rain. We had some early on and I was looking forward to a gentle, quiet reading day, but from late morning it's been a full-blown Nelson summer day with brilliant sun. And wind.
I sampled the rethreaded brown warp, and am not crazy about it. For one thing, if I were rethreading the entire warp, (which I did,) I could have chosen any draft instead of fine-tuning the two-faced twill originally intended to pleat, but I thought too late. But I did think to sample another weft, so I tried a black 100% merino and a gray possum/merino/silk, and the merino part feels better. (The colors in the photo are totally off, because it's directly under a lamp.)

I don't know what's wrong with me but I can't seem to match the number of warp ends in this warp and on the draft; the first one, I had eight leftover; this one I was short five, and I'd like to modify the two sides once again before proceeding.

But heck, this is an itchy, sticky warp. I can't stop scratching my face while working. I remember suspecting this and didn't order a lot, just enough for projects to be used with yarns in my stash. I have another small lovely gray cone, and a bigger navy cone; these colors are wonderful. 



Garden Blitz Day 5, yesterday: I was up at 5AM, listening to the dawn call of the birds. The sky started to lighten at around 5.20, and for half a minute I contemplated spraying the weeds, in the dark, before the wind picked up. Silly me, I went back to bed.

We had sun, we had clouds, we had gusts, and we had "oh, my, if it were warmer this would be a tropical storm," while Ben went into town to check the PO box. We also had tolerable wind so I changed my pants to go out and the rain returned. We spent 3/4 of the day looking towards the west and figuring out and revising what gardening/cleaning tasks we could do, while squeezing in small jobs like making yogurt, Kombucha, a no-bake choc slices that failed miserably, and revitalizing the sourdough. We were exhausted. At 3PM I stomped downstairs to rethread the brown warp but it was so cold I only lasted two hours and managed only half. What a day!

Garden Blitz Day 6, today. We were expecting the sparky who couldn't come on Tuesday because the fittings hadn't arrived. (They warned us well ahead of time.) Because the kitchen and the basement workshop concerns me and the garage Ben, we both hung about awkwardly being available to Isaac; I considered weeding in the gust but sometimes Ben is hesitant approach tradesmen, or I so feel, so I stuck around. Silly me. I never know what's the right thing to do at times like these, or to be quiet or chatty. 
But look! I have better-looking, fully-functioning, no-longer flickering, LED lights, which Ben has directed in the right direction and will allow me to work longer without causing headaches, and there are only tiny holes in the ceiling which can be filled and painted over easily. By a taller person than me. I may even reconsider a better smoke-detector solution; to the left of the picture is our downstairs shower and the detector goes off with the steam so Ben took out the battery some years ago.
And Ben's getting better lights in the garage which has been his workshop since I took over his space with the big loom. (Our garage is normal height; Isaac is exceptionally tall. And lovely.)

I hope we can work in the garden on Garden Blitz Day 7. But for now, I'm going downstairs to finish rethreading.


Well, Yes

Garden Blitz Day 4; we went out too late and the sun, heat and the gust was a bit much, but we did work for three hours, cleaning one area and stacking all the disparate firewood in one place, well out of the way of other blitzing. And I weeded the flower pots. For the Garden Blitz week, it's a non-event, and we spent much too long for the job, but I'm glad we did it, as it marks a start and makes some later jobs easier. Sorry, no dramatic before/after pictures.

We are trying to go outside earlier so we can work comfortably and perhaps more efficiently.

Small "yay"???


A Little Overwhelmed and Plenty Pleased

Garden Blitz Day 2 didn't work out; I took too long to fix the Japanese blog, so Ben started preparing stew for dinner;when I finished, he hadn't, so I ironed; when he finished, I hadn't, so he made lunch. By the time we finished a very late lunch, it was too late to start a big clean up. (Not a good place to leave a bunch of stuff out overnight.) And we really were exhausted from the gale. Then the hoarding telly started and I didn't even go downstairs to rethread the brown warp. Bad, bad Meg. 

GBD3 started dark and windy, then light and gusty, then dark and showery, then still and misty. Then heavy rain, then sunny and still, then dark. It's incredible how the rain knows when Ben is outside; even in the sixty seconds he took out food scraps to the compost bin, it poured, but not before, not after.

This morning while I was cleaning the coffee maker, I got a message from Peter of Page & Blackmore saying Liz brought in a bag of merino so come and get it. Huh?? The sentence made sense but did he intend to ring me? But they did have a big heavy bag in the back office for me! 
I know merinos are big but I'm not sure if all this came from just one animal. That's not poo but a bit of native tree bark. The white parts are snowy-greasy-lovely with cute crimps. Thank goodness I have Dot to guide me, (I hope she will guide me), so I can finally do something many of you have done and most Kiwi weavers do with their eyes closed; start from this stage and end up with a woven article. This is Liz. I've got to think of a special Thank You.

Tomorrow a sparky is coming to replace the florescent lights downstairs with a third set of for-halogen fittings and LED bulbs. My basement workshop is not that old; I can't remember when we had it finished but sometime this side of 2000, and it went though two sets of halogen fittings in quick successions because they overheated. But florescent lights and I never got along; I can see it flicker, so we're getting a third set. If the fittings are compatible with LED, (apparently for some fittings LED bulbs are too cool, which may be a problem for most of our fittings upstairs,) they should be the last set. We've belatedly started replacing our other lights with LED, for the time being only the most used ones. But I like the idea of cooler lights and less energy; I'm so fussy about the color and Ben needs to keep trying different kinds until I approve. Poor guy.



Day 2 of Garden Blitz and we are inside; the wind feels worse today than yesterday so we're cleaning the storage under the stairs, the place we clean the least often but with great potential if we can manage getting rid of some stuff. Yet Nelson doesn't have the strong wind warning so I can't imagine what it's like elsewhere; suffice it to say, our chimney has been vibrating all morning.

I managed a few new posts on my Japanese blog about modifying 8-shaft drafts because Mom's two students started really reading, understanding, and modifying drafts. I also edited 3 of the 4 old posts I wrote in 2011 after hiding them a year and a half ago.

The more I learn about Japanese weaving and textiles, albeit terribly passively/reluctantly, I learn/confirm each word is loaded with information/specification/nuances. For example, the word for twill, 綾 (aya), in the first instance means a 1:2 twill. Or 2:1. Because I learned weaving in New Zealand, I don't know Japanese weaving jargon to start with, but I've been lazy about learning and have been writing cutsy posts, more or less mechanically "translating". Which doesn't work with Japanese, and truth be told, with most/all languages. 

Two of the most dire have been the words for warp and weft. (I know! Rolling eyes, yes?) Although they are homonyms, 縦糸 and 横糸 are wrong, they only mean vertical and horizontal threads; 経糸 and 緯糸 are correct, these are warp (ends) and wefts. I knew this, yet somehow some time in the past I decided to uniformly use the wrong pair! For many other words I just used the English words to avoid embarrassment. (And wait for it... Eyes rolled sufficiently they are back in their normal position.)

I only posted a little over 200 posts on my Japanese blog in the eight and a half years; 10% of Unravelling, but darn it, I tend to mention warps and wefts a lot, so I've been correcting those two this morning.

My Japanese blog has virtually no readership and I did it for Dad's benefit. Then when I learned Mom started teaching in 2010/11, I tried to come up with interesting/informative bit as best I could. In the last couple of years, however, I made friends with some professional textile folks in Western Japan, three of who are Facebook friends, and though I doubt they read my blog, both my blogs' updates feed into my Facebook profile, so I don't want to appear the sloppy idiot that I am. Until they meet me in person.

Right, back to it, then.


Postscript and Thank You

What did I tell you, it's Ben's first day off and supposed Day 1 of Garden Blitz, but it rained what felt like all night, and now it's so blustery to do much, though I might still weed a bit. However, he's had time to do a temporary fix on water-pipe-joint leaking above the ceiling that appeared suddenly yesterday afternoon. He's playing with his car in the garage now, and we have to go to the hardware store so I might get tomato, basil, and hot pepper seedlings.
Oh, the photo shoot. Truth to tell, when we we looking at couches two and a half years ago, "being able to act as an easy backdrop to textile closeup pics" was one of my criteria, and it doesn't disappoint, though our imprints are getting harder to hide. What you don't see here, to my right, is also the ironing board and three kinds of lint removers, none of which worked well enough for a photo shoot.

I found lighting extremely difficult, and kept closing and opening the curtains in the middle of the afternoon. In today's climate, I wouldn't blame my neighbors if they thought I was signaling a sinister co-conspirator the old fashioned way. I should have tried it earlier in the day by the front door; for years I attributed that good light to the specific time of day, but now I wonder if it's the ugly corrugated plastic roof on the patio diffusing the light. I must experiment in the afternoon to see if it still works well there.  

Once I am prepared, like many things I do enjoy a good photo shoot and get right into the tunnel-visioned mindset. With digital, it's so easy, cheap, and instant but the the downside is I take so many and it's hard to know which ones are good/bad.

My rant here and at Kaz's notwithstanding, we now have so many tools at our disposal we really we can make of "it" what we like, or "then" if we like, and instead of complaining, I should see and explore the possibilities with an open mind. (And take notes, because I know I won't remember.)

In terms of organizing, I wished I came up with the name earlier, (until the very last minute, it was going to be "The Photo Thing" or I was going to steal Laura's "Beauty Shot";) also the guidelines reads cumbersome and I apologize. The idea had been brewing for over a year and I thought I ironed out all niggles before I posted, but it was more my frustrations/dread with/of "new", "many" and "easy" coming to the fore. Just know that everything I cook up, the guidelines are guidelines and you are free to deviate in most respects.

Thank you very much, always, to all who participated and/or visited Picture-Perfect. And there is still plenty more time if you want to jump in.


That Place Called the Garden

I don't watch too much reality TV including the evening news, because folks I support never win, but I have been mesmerized by the various hoarder shows. It's never about my yarn stash, because although I've a lot, I'm not overwhelmed by the contents/quality, just annoyed by the space it takes up and how slowly I work through them. But it is about when I was depressed, unable to make decisions, and postponed everything. It is about the unwillingness to start things if I knew I couldn't finish perfectly. And it is about my guilt associated with throwing out plastics. (There's so much we can't recycle here.)

Stash-busting is progressing slowly and the house is a mess and we see it better in the bright soon-to-be summer lights. (Oh, the hall ceiling and walls need washing so badly!) But it's the garden that continues to overwhelm/frustrate/depress me; the scope of work, the futility of weeding in a temperate climate, the voracity of English Black Birds, (I watched one topple a new small shrub in 12 minutes; they also decimate my bulbs even when they are in flower,) gravity, various mulching and weed-suppression methods/materials vs Black Birds and gravity, but not the least, the time, effort and money we sunk into this place in the 17 5/6 years of prettifying. And the irony where the weeds are bad, Black Birds can't dig. But most of all the disinterest/unwillingness of my dear cohabitant gets me down, and the astonishingly high probability it rains on days he takes days off  work, or his old arm problem acting up. (It is a real problem, not imaginary, but because it's related to computer usage and posture, so we all know the math.)

This spring has been extremely windy, more often, for longer, and in spite of the many rain forecasts, we've had almost none for a while, and I've spent a lot of time this spring guestimating and deciding what to do, or not going outside. Wrongly, I might add, more often than not. 

Whatever excuses I can concoct, no matter how I put it, ("I'd rather weave," is convenient but not true,) I don't like living like this, and I am very embarrassed.

With this overlong intro and negativity, I bet you didn't expect the next bit, because I sure didn't; I don't even know where it came from.

A few weeks ago, even while I was feeling imposed upon by longer days, brighter sun, and other people's flowers coming to bloom, memories of earlier summers popped in my head in bits.  First was the gentle warmth, (not the piercing mid-summer rays,) then bits and pieces of conversations that took place while we lunched outside with friends, (so many have left Nelson,) and then flashes of small patches where flours or veggies flourished. And I was reminded how lucky I am to be living in Nelson where the weather is seriously mild and beautiful, and what a sad, ungrateful, small person I've become not to appreciate this even a little bit, but emotionally holding my breath for almost the entire spring and summer, (though I have honestly always had problems with bright lights including sun, indoors or out.)

Yeah, right-wing politics is terrible, wars escalate, I'm fat, we can't afford to travel except to Japan, and there are no big art exhibitions here. But Ben has a regular job even in this climate and at a workplace that's become a local joke with their habitual reorganizing, and except for Dad, my family is well. And I get to weave.

So right or wrong, I decided I must really be moving away from a decade of clinical depression. That even though I'll never stop complaining about politics, the world, the garden, and the sun, I'm able to put thing into context better than I have been this side of 2003.

What a relief.

Plus I don't need mental preparation to go out to the garden these days, and once out there I can work for half a day, or longer, until the sun gets too hot or the bugs come out. You'd be amazed what I prune with a tiny, foldable Japanese floral arrangement saw with a 15cm blade. And some years, like this year, I'll also go all out with chemical warfare. 

Ben has the next two weeks off. For For months I looked forward to a road trip for at least a week, go to Christchurch for the first time since 2001, and see the city of Oamaru which I heard a lot about, (Terri and Alan were just there!), and sketch, relax, and chill out.

One recent Saturday Ben spent eight or nine hours sprucing up the candy car. At the end of the day he had strange muscle spasms and aches and realized how he never uses certain muscles any more. Last Sunday we had to go to the hardware store and I wandered into the garden section and enjoyed not so much looking at the plants, but at the folks who were looking at the plants. And seeds and pots and soil and even the garden hose.

This is how we reached the decision to make this a staycation. We hope to clean the garden a bit while discussing long-term plans, (much of which are best carried out in autumn/winter, or March-September-ish,) put some money into plants, clean out the garage, maybe paint the outdoor furniture, maybe extend other house things, and get rid of junk. I have a realistic expectation on how little can be done by us in two weeks, and we won't be working 24/7, but at least I'll have his cooperation, enabling cutting/moving/removing bigger and heavier things than I can on my own. And faster. And we'll still go out to late lunches or cook good food and enjoy the season.

I may have to halt stash busting temporarily, but I'm really looking forward to the next couple of weeks. It's like a harbinger to the real work we can do next winter. I might even post some before and after pics. At least it's better than no good news.

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My baby sister is 50 today. She's a little sad because yesterday she got her first ever traffic ticket, and has to fork out a fine that would have afforded her, say, a nice haircut. But she's looking forward to a some cosmetic changes in her condo later in the month.So here's to being 50-years-young.