Category Archives: in the artist’s closet

Black walnut dye, continued.

The first time I remember really seeing a Black Walnut tree was about 15 years ago when I lived in a basement apartment in Brooklyn.

There was a massive Black Walnut tree in the back yard, and the owner of the building –
(who lived upstairs and who was very fond of trees)
– told the story how their neighbor would complain that the Black Walnut tree should be cut down

(Insert incredulous, knitted eyebrow look here)

There was this complaint, because what the neighbor was unaware of, was that Black Walnut trees are exceptionally late to leaf out in Spring & quite early to drop leaves in Autumn…

Otherwise known as: misunderstanding.

This is at the farm where I’ve been tending a garden this past season

Most of the Black Walnut trees along the roadside had already dropped their walnut hulls

…in their Autumn & Winter finery

Here’s the paper after a three-day soak in the dye bath

It’s possible to do a second dye but I’m going to go ahead with the Hopi Black Dye Sunflower seeds next

So time to drain the paper

Let it set tipped over a bit

Then turn upside down onto a towel

Thump the bottom as needed


Only two sheets left in the dye basin to peel out, carefully

(The abundance of liquid pooling here shows me that I could have let it sit a bit longer to drain)

Again, with care so as not to tear the soggy sheets of paper, peel one by one off the stack and lay out onto a towel to dry

And after a day of drying…

A beautiful small stack ready for use


Good morning, black walnut dye, & mini-retreat.


I’m heading out for a short retreat

Going to unplug

So the Good morning photos will have a pause

During which time, the black walnut hulls will be dyeing paper.

This was after 2 days of simply soaking

Then put on the stove to boil & simmer

Then another couple days of simply sitting

This morning I got out the trusty dye vat & strainer
(It looks like it has a grumpy face…)

This is the black walnut dye after all these days


Easy straining such large material


Let all the goodness drain

Gorgeous inky stuff

In with the paper

Cover it all up


Repeat & repeat until all 18 sheets are submerged

Then set somewhere to just sit undisturbed

Next up will be with the Hopi Black Dye Sunflower seeds

Till then,

How to hold the heart gently.

I’m learning

It’s a new practice

Drawing helps


Going for walks

Connecting with friends


Seeing what is present, and cultivating gratitude for all the goodness

What do you do?
How do you hold the heart gently through grief times?

Bucket Gallery.

Got to the garden yesterday after work

(Inside out hat makes for a veryfine bowl)

And I found that the stark white of a (relatively) clean 3-gallon bucket creates a lovely backdrop for just-harvested vegetables.

So begins (well, perhaps) a series:

Bucket Gallery


It’s sort of late in the season, and my garden is slowing down in terms of production & variety, so fingers crossed next season I’ll keep a garden again & continue on with the series.

What if… We worked together in this way…? (Thinking about the Ebola epidemic)

What if…

The pharmaceutical company which is making the formula which is has helped cure some cases of the Ebola virus…

Could have other pharmaceutical companies to temporarily pause in their production of what-is-already-in-abundance, to help in the production of this formula…?

And in this way, it would be more abundant, and therefore more available & helpful to more people….

A bit of Saturday night moon crazies

This is it.
I am one of many waves in this great ocean of humanity

I am trying to be kind
Trying to hold my heart gently
Trying to encourage it to open
To cultivate contentment
To hold space for myself and others
To practice being with uncertainty, which is life itself

I am not perfect
What is perfection?
Living in gravity
I break things, even unintentionally.
Challenges within & without abound

I’m trying to stay open to this world
It flows through anyways, so may as well try to be with it

Thank goodness and blessings for friends
For the bounty of Late Summer
And sometimes both in the same moment

All of it, all of us are made of the same stuff

Thank you Spotify dance music
Blessings on all beings

sometimes, you just gotta stay (y)inside.


was a very tender day


i don’t really know why

i could try to point my finger in a number of directions, trying to find the root cause…

Uranus opposition? Pluto square? transits, moon cycle, mid-life unraveling…?

but the truth is i don’t really know.


all i know is that being alive felt very porous

and open to the world



today was grand jury duty.


and today i lied and called in sick because i just felt too tender to go and listen and see


so i stayed home.

i stayed inside.

(the irony of lying regarding jury duty did not escape me)

i listened to the birds, and read, & meditated, made a phone call & wrote some emails trying to forward a project i’ve been working on since 2011, ate food, drank hot water, listened to the 3 saved astrology cd’s, baked muffins, and threw out all of my old journals.


they were in a box marked to be burned in the case of death, so, why was i waiting?


(blue flax is one of my favorite perennials)

today, a friend & shiatsu mentor since 1995 called – it was so nice to catch up.

and so nice to be able to tell her about the tender, raw-ness, & that she understood such things.

she gave her support for taking care of my Heart Protector, for the self-care i practiced today, & encouraged me to stay in Yin until i was ready to rise up again.

and while we are well into Spring, and while it’s the time of great rising energy


well, sometimes, you just gotta stay (y)inside.


and sometimes, you gotta write things that your friends say on your wrist.


on one of the cd’s, my teacher said: you’ve got to share the pain out into the world to heal it.

which, quite honestly, feels really naked-making, but i get the feeling that she’s right.

and so, this.


20 years ago, i moved to NYC to study shiatsu.

and while i don’t practice all that much any more, i am still learning about Heart Protector & Triple Heater.

but from the inside out, this time.


i don’t honestly know where all of this is headed, how things will unfold.

it remains to be seen.

i feel patient, though.

i hope it will be of benefit

this time, this composting time…

i guess only time will tell.





internet, loneliness, & rambling about missing my elder

okay i know i’m not supposed to say this


i don’t feel any less lonely than usual now that i have internet


(April 3rd, o yes)

perhaps this is a DUH sort of thing

i guess i had it in my head that something radical would shift once the internet was up and working


but the truth is

i kinda liked having to ask my elder to use his computer

i like being all braided up with others


i do

i need people.

for better or for worse, i do.

i feel at a loss without being braided up with others.

the loneliness gets too big without the connections.


i kinda liked not thinking about email, Facebook, etc. for a while.

i kinda liked going for a week between email checkings, only to find that i hadn’t missed any important emails (because i don’t really get that many important emails…)

i liked asking to use someone else’s computer… sharing.


sure, i got behind on reading blogs

and i was off of Facebook for a month


i wrote letters

i’ve been settling in to my new home


(passion flower was happy for the new window)

going for walks



been on Grand Jury duty

i don’t recommend it if you happen to not like watching crime drama in media…


i go each week and watch & listen to cases being presented in ways where i honestly just want to cover my face and stick my fingers in my ears and go LALALALALALALA


“it could be worse”

a mantra i learned from my elder


who i miss deeply


who i think of every day


she’s in every flower i see blooming


every twittering bird


in the outfits i wear



i do hope

to be so lucky

to love someone in such a way through time

that when the Time comes for them to go


that i’ll feel a sheet-sized tear in my heart


“we’re such lucky, lucky people”

(another anchor mantra)

the last day i saw her


she said to me to make sure i posted it

i don’t know what “it” was or is

so i’ll just keep posting things

it just wasn’t the time to say “what?”

it was just a time to say i love you

to say good bye

to say thank you


after Jury duty i go to the farm where i’m keeping a garden this season

and it’s so helpful.


from a spinning top i become calm, happy, content.

my elder would have wanted Blue Hubbard squash – so i’ll be planting that for sure.

even if she’s not around to eat it.


her memorial service was lovely

so much beauty




facets of her that i never knew about, revealed in the telling of story

such a generosity

lots of food






i think of elephants

their ways of mourning

we’re all not so different, really.



quilt, letting go, & allowing

this is a quilt


first one i ever made

in the early 90’s

you can see the many rips & tears in some of the fabric.

most of the white patches were once a rusty orange color – long since faded

…mudcloth given to me by a friend back in 1992

i was a senior in college

and began asking friends for old clothes or pieces of fabric they no longer wanted.

i remember taking the bus

or was it two buses?

in order to get to Sears

i wanted a sewing machine

because i wanted to make a quilt.

the top was completed in 1993


by then i had graduated and began working as a corps member in City Year

there are many memories in this quilt:

…the cloth given by a friend

…the shorts given by the aunt of an ex-boyfriend

…the shirt worn in the 2nd grade poetry recital

…a favorite flannel from a high school

…hem of the long pants from the City Year year

…leftover pieces from jeans-turned-shorts

…the pajamas i wore when Flecks was still alive

i’ve done some patching – but the truth is

i don’t want some of the reminders on the top layer

and recently learned about this garment recycling collection

which allowed for some space around this blanket

which is warm & which i love

but has been neglected – because some of the memories woven into this quilt

i just don’t want the reminders every time i look at it, or use it.

i tried – i tried to patch it

found some beautiful corduroy fabric

but no steam behind it

no heart.

so the other day – i cut off the top layer


leaving the Polarfleece bottom layer

(which mostly became the top layer because i didn’t want the confrontation of the top)

sure, there are memories in the fleece layer as well

…the man i bartered with in NYC from Malden Mills – Shiatsu for fabric scraps that became my second quilt

(then given to my Shiatsu teacher)

…my first long-term boyfriend who gifted me this fabric in 1994

(peace was made here – so, while complicated, i don’t mind this memory.)

i don’t like to waste things – feels bad to just “throw things away”

because there is no “away”

(and thus the beauty of composting)

i find that i also need to bring in some breathing room – i don’t need to drag memories around if they drag me down.


i’m allowing myself to begin again.

which feels like a luxury, in a way.

to start over

simple, perhaps, for most

but for whatever reason

it’s challenging to simply let go, start over, & allow myself to begin again, using materials.

i suppose i owe it to meditation practice helping with this.


one of the things i love about this retreat #2

one of the things i love about being on this particular retreat

is the community


the Sangha that weaves itself together

each person contributing to the whole

a living organism is created by the actions of each person

the sitting, the walking, the working, the silence

all movements a laying down of threads, creating a supportive blanket, a net, a web.


now at home

i see more clearly a sort of

ubiquitous, mundane burden of everyday life

…what i see as a flaw of this culture…

(more rice)

having to do so much of it oneself.

(rice. rice. rice.)

(not to say that i do it all myself

i certainly don’t

with a whoop of joy i proclaim my love & appreciation for the people of the plows pushing the snow by…)


it’s the little things

so many things to tend to…

food prep, laundry, hot water, etc.

yes i love my hot water

at the retreat, it was someone’s job to keep hot water in the urns


(split between two people… an a.m. shift, and a p.m. shift)

anyone could simply walk up and lift the lever and *minor miracle* hot water to drink.


here at home

i tend to the hot water

put it into the various thermoses

(what a word – thermoses)

which, in the grand scheme of things, thankfully, currently, is not difficult for me to do.

and i do very much enjoy the process of taking care of house…

still, there is laundry, food to prepare, dishes to do, general cleaning, etc., etc…


simply, there are many things to tend to.

what i love about this retreat

is the community.

each person participating

just enough, and not beyond ability.

it’s gentle.

each one contributing in some small way which supports the whole

(which supports each part of the whole)

like some imperfect perfect butcher-baker-candlestickmaker community

(or kitchen helper-cleaner-snow shoveler, hot-water-maker etc.)

like the ants working together.

or the paper mill

the gentle functional cohesion

that opens up the space for each one to practice, to sit.

i just love that part of it.

what if our world could actually be like this…?