"When is Now?"

After giving some thought to how I should phrase the question this morning, I asked Ben, "When is now?" What I wanted to know was, at which point of this year we "stood", on this gray tape I saw clearly, January at the left end, December at the right, and a black upside down triangle sliding along the top looking for the current position. 
Strange, because I knew it is simultaneously already and finally almost November, but names of the months lost their meaning a while back, and I needed to see it. 
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The weather has been crazy changeable this week, from do-we-need-the-fire? evenings to so-hot-my-skin-itches afternoons. We've also been going through a cycle of steady rain, (no flooding like many parts of the country, though,) and bright sun, which is great for vegetation. Or, from my point of view, we've entered the Gardening Season of Despair where weeding has become a cruel game of whackamole I'm guaranteed to loose. (The Internet says it's "whac-a-mole" but my spelling is better.)
We lost a bottle brush tree overnight. Strange how the dead part remain upright. We loved that tree, gave it quite a lot of TLC during lockdown, (maybe that's why it died?) but to be honest, I can't be bothered to miss it just now. It's on a slope so we'll wait until the ground is drier before we venture out to clear both. And see all the green bits around and under, coming back with gusto? That was all gone back in... (month.) 
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I've also had a congestion of thoughts which lived in my head for far too long, and while most days I couldn't stay with any long enough to finish a paragraph, on inert days I wrote considered and even researched blog posts until my eyes were blurry. Then I deleted them. These thoughts seemed so important, for me to record if not for you to enjoy, as if to prove I didn't just sleepwalk through 2020. But as I reread/revised, the excruciating details obscured the very thoughts and I couldn't stand my own voice. The one merit was, the exercise was cheaper than therapy. 

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Some days I feel like a zombie; on others I take care of housework frantically. I'm not sleeping; I'm eating too much junk food; I remain in one posture for long periods; and I'm constantly holding my breath waiting for the next thing. And yet, over all, I feel fine; and that is not denial, but it's just a more urgent Destination Addiction.
We waited to go into lockdown, we waited to come out of it, twice; we waited for the election, which was delayed, then we voted early and waited two weeks for the news to catch up, and now we wait for the special votes and results of two referenda tomorrow, (marijuana and "euthanasia," although strictly speaking not exactly that;) I waited for the 16-month pension application to come through, (I got caught up with the Abdication, Japanese pension office data hacking, and Plague embassy closure and mail delays;) stuff related to Mom; a few trivial stuff; and now the American election. I catch myself holding my breath for no reason. Did you do that as a kid? One kid I babysat used to.      

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Now that I receive Japanese pension, (I get on one year a little less than what Mom gets monthly,)
I joined that group of Japanese pensioners who (help) pay for even older parents' care. I'm hardly unique, Japan cannot be the only country, and there are plenty who pay and care for their parents themselves. Still, this was not in my life's plan.

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It took a while but I listed scarves looking for nice humans to wrap around. Please have a look at my shop via the tab above.



Gwen Diehn doesn't know me from a hill of beans, and I don't know about her personal life, (she has a son and a cat,) but I've been an admirer of hers since I found her "The Decorated Page" at our local bookshop in 2002. This was in the days when I was still exploring how to "be a weaver", crawling out of my should-have-been-an-academic mindset and looking for the right door to hippie/artist/artisan/that-other-life-dom. It may have been around the time I dedicated three months to every task in "The Artist's Way". 
I remember being somewhat surprised, (perhaps unfairly,) an art book had arrived at Nelson so soon after publication. I felt I was meant to have it. By the time I learned "The Decorated Journal" came out, it was a no brainer. This one even included detailed instructions on how to make our own books, a craft I marveled at and imitated since kid-hood.
I could never get enough of the beautiful drawings, the astonishment of seeing, (I had an inkling artist kept them,) beautiful notebooks/sketchbooks filled with not only drawings and mini paintings, but notes, tickets, maps, stuff, etc. The examples of travel journals still take my breath away. I learned "journals" had a specific meaning in a hitherto unknown context. And I gazed and gazed at the process pics of how-to pages but I never got my hands dirty. 
It was and is drawings that fascinates me, that making of shapes that remind me of "things". Of the many skills I envy in others, drawing easily, often, or without pain and anguish is among the top on my list. (Also true: I have no idea if the makers suffer in silence.) It's something I wish I could/would do more light-heatedly. For pleasure. If not of doing, then of having done it. I manage sometimes, but even a project like copying a Matisse portrait in a really tiny, quick, line or gesture drawing can be onerous. When you grow up with parents who nonchalantly repeated, "we are not people who draw or paint," as if this is OK, and still, "If you're going to do something, do it right,"... well, no wonder I carried an emotional boulder. 
A few years later I mustered the courage and took a short screen printing course locally, because I was good at prints in school. And because I loved the teacher so much, (still do prints with her when I can,) I took a mixed media drawing course with her without knowing what mixed media was, but I still did OK. Although... I swear everybody else had drawn/painted all day every day of their long lives, this was a short course and we were busy experimenting, so bad shapes didn't interfere. Finally, after a few low-enrollment cancellations and bureaucratic disappointments, I bit the bullet and signed up for a figure/life drawing class, which I thoroughly enjoyed for 6? or 8? years, culminating in a small exhibition with two classmates who were far more serious about it. 
I've done a few other things since, learned some skills, bought, tried and even used up new materials. I know I prefer old fashioned material like pencils, watercolor, (still have no idea how to use it "properly",) charcoal, collage and woodblock prints. I still admire well-made shapes. I'd like to be that person who draws a little, not just gaze and appreciate, I'm only 62. Early days. 
Lest you think this is going to be another one of woe-is-me-I'm-so-un-good post, there's a postscript. From time to time I look up artists' Pages on Facebook for my daily dose of eye-candy. I can't remember the specifics but I probably couldn't find Gwen's page and audaciously friend-requested. And well, politics has been stupid, the year has been weird, and social media has its own protocols, and as I was adding yet another raucous comment on her post yesterday, I realized, she doesn't know me from...



I had a trying few weeks, but I got over it with the help of herbal supermarket cures. I cleaned the house a little more seriously and elevated our status to "OK-clean", but that was a fortnight ago. I planted all hellebore babies just in time for a couple of days of continuous gentle rain, but I must get back to weeding bigly, all over, like two months ago, with gusto. I was nominated to post weaving pics for ten days on Facebook and that's buoyed my weaving gumption. After I got over moments of grave shaft-envy.
So I washed these, a hot pink scarf and a green/orange cowl. The cowl size is a little strange, and the fabric too thin, but there's enough to go over your head like a hoodie which I like. 
I also made calico bags but ran into a problem. I made the two on top right with the old fabric, which is thicker and 90cm wide, which I bought 10m or 20m way back. I got used to it; I fold it in half warp-wise, and cut the width required. The 45cm height was good for most pieces, with the selvedge left untreated at the top. With enough for only one more bag left, I bought the second lot, (I buy whatever the only fabric shop in town has packaged up, which is substantially cheaper than off the bolt,) much thinner, (I knew this,) but 110cm wide, (I didn't check.) Folded in half that's 55cm high, which when making bags 22cm and 25cm wide, is terribly badly balanced and difficult to use. The balance becomes OK-ish from around 30cm wide, top left. Without careful thinking, I cut the 55cm in half, and made bags 22cm high. Except... in this thinner calico, they look like reusable sandwich bags you might get in multi-packs! So we'll check out the only craft/fabric place in town this weekend to see if they have a good alternative, and if not, I'll rework them sideways. (Or if I've been working sideways all this time, ummmm... the right way up.) Anyhoo, this is in preparation for a much-delayed reopening of my online store.
I want to get back to the loom but I don't know how to reconcile the bad tension. You can see exactly where it started, about an inch back. While sampling I didn't like the tension, so before this piece I unwound/rewound roughly 150cm because that's about how long the first scarf was to be. Except when I do this, I really must unwind an extra 1m to complete the piece safely. I knew this but couldn't be bothered. I'll have a think maybe on the weekend. 

Tomorrow is election day in New Zealand but about half of expected voters, us included, have already voted. Friends are going to come over to watch the returns, which is also a sneaky way for us to eat well as they are such good cooks. But do keep your fingers crossed for our lovely Jacinda.