Archive for the ‘Alison’s Deep Dish’ Category

the women we are

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

a(nother) week without internet access finds me catching up (again) after enjoying an all-too-short week-long mother/daughter trip to the beaches of hilton head island in south carolina. one of our most favorite spots on earth.


while there, we enjoyed a sunset supper and the full moon from the beach on nearby sea pines:



another night we took a sunset walk on the beach. okay, folks, i admit it: though i love being AT the beach, i do not like being ON the beach. don’t like it AT ALL. i just can’t STAND the feel of salt and sand. (imagine a long involuntary shudder here brought on just by writing about it.) looking at the beach, listening to beach sounds = beyond fabulous. feeling it on my person = not the teensiest bit of fun. if i did every negatively-inclined word in this paragraph in all caps, it wouldn’t be enough to convey just how much i DO NOT LIKE being ON the beach. that’s why this picture of my size 5.5’s ON THE BEACH will undoubtedly prove how much i love my daughter and doing things mother/daughter style. i mean, really.


sometimes it was hard to tell algae from sea critters, and thus we have another reason i do not like being ON the beach (did i mention that before?). though fun to look at something i just don’t see every day, i figure that’s what the zoom lens on the camera is for.


another day we boarded a boat and cruised to nearby savannah. don’t these grasses just BEG to be stitched?




at night we’d sit and stitch: alison knitting a purse to hold her money and key at the upcoming civil war reenactment she will attend, while i worked on alison’s deep dish, a piece that took a decided turn (partly of necessity = scarcity of resources/materials), detouring from the image that appeared to me several months ago into something related-but-different. sitting there stitching with alison those nights in hilton head, i felt compelled to stitch the names of our matriarchial lineage:



(since my freestyle stitched handwriting is barely readable, i opted to do a stitch-over. the marker i used is a fabric marker but not of the erasable variety, so those occasional pen marks that peep out from under the thread? we’ll just consider them “shadows”.)

all too soon, our mother/daughter week at the beach was over, and it was time to head home, a trip that took a mere 14 hours because my car threw a hissy fit on I-95 which meant waiting in front of the convenience-and-liquor store for 2 hours and 17 minutes on a tow truck. temperature in the mid 90s, lovebugs swarmed and proved (once again) their preference for silver cars and our hot, sweaty skin. (can anybody tell me exactly how those disgusting gelanous bugs benefit the big world of nature? i mean, really: what is their role?)

the tow truck driver got there (finally) and despite having been told twice that there would be 2 passengers accompanying the car, still seemed (unpleasantly) surprised to hear that we would be riding with him. he loaded miss T2 (my car) (stands for Miss T’EyeWanda, the word uttered by kathy bates’ character in the movie fried green tomatoes as she repeatedly rams the car belonging to the 2 rude, self-obsessed girls in the walmart packing lot), we hoisted ourselves up the two stories to the cab of his truck, and off we went. we’d scarcely left the parking lot when he announced that he had to go pick up another car. it was near the hospice, he said, but he had no idea where the hospice was. didn’t even know there was one.

because it was now 4:28 and knowing that the dealership and car rental place closed at 6 pm, i took charge: got him to get the address from his dispatcher, googled it on my phone, retrieved the phone number, and called for directions. because the driver seemed decidedly uninterested in the impending possibility that we would be stranded in the parking lot outside a locked car dealership for the next 18 or so hours, i became chatty cathy, encouraging him to talk about his (apparent) favorite topic: his 7 drag racing cars. chevrolets all, one has a $60,000.00 engine and 3 parachutes. all have 1-3 guns (best i can tell, each gun makes the car go faster), and, except for the block, which he subs-out, mike builds the cars all by himself.

he shows more than a bit of his propensity for speed on the ride to first the mechanic’s shop where he delivered the other vehicle then onto the dealership, where we squeaked in with about 27 minutes to spare.

which would have been enough if the young woman – the very one i’d talked to on the phone 4 times that very afternoon – hadn’t been on her way out for a smoking break as we entered. now i don’t know if (a) there was some memory-sucking agent in her cigarette, (b) it was almost quitting time on friday, (c) the end of a long, hard week or (d) all of the above, but in the 12 minutes that expired between her pointing to a table and assuring us that she’d be with us in just a few minutes and her coming back in (looking at us like she’d never seen us before in her life) to inquire if we’d been helped, she had obviously totally forgotten us. and the 9 other people who were clothes in dealership insignia are either blind or big on ignoring customers, because not a single one said so much as “howdoyoudo” as they swarmed around us, filling the “hospitality center” refrigerator (no, he didn’t offer us anything as he good-naturedly endured the ribbing of his coworkers who apparently have had to fill the fridge before); answering the phone: chatting about weekend plans; and (my personal favorite): watching the golf tournament on the big screen tv in the customer hospitality center.


the main thing is: we are safe. no small thing given what ailed miss t2. another adventure fetching miss t2: we got home around 12:30 a.m. (after seeing Les Miserables), napped till 2 a.m, then up and on the road for the 6 hour drive to get my 4-wheeled girl. turned in the rental car, picked up miss t2, and were home by 3 p.m. in time for alison’s voice students.

so that’s enough catching up for now. not much stitching going on this week or in the foreseeable future, really, given that daughter and i are renovating a house, but am hoping to stitch my way through this evening. or maybe i’ll spend my sitting time traipsing through my favorite stitching blogs, reconnecting with e-friends i’ve missed so much. if no stitching to share over the next few weeks, perhaps i’ll post snaps of freshly painted walls or newly-installed light fixtures . . .

glad to be back, i am. so very glad to be back.


out from under overcome

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

back in the day, somebody took a little vacation to japan and brought home a souvenir: a cutting from a vine they thought would take root at home here in the south. they were right: the vine is quite comfortable here in the south, spreading out and making itself right at home. the japanese call it kuzu; we call it kudzu, and though i have no reputable sources to support it and wasn’t even born when kudzu first arrived on the scene (though there are days it sure feels like i was), i often speculate that we added the “d” for dinner . . . as in this is the D*@@&% plant that ate the south for dinner. either that or somebody just can’t spell worth a lick.

now while it’s true that this plant is invasive and aggressive, it also has some often overlooked good qualities. livestock and some people, for example, eat the non-woody parts of it. others make jelly from it, and it can be shaped into the most attractive baskets and wreaths, if you like that kind of thing. it even has some medicinal value, including (but not at all limited to) being a surefire remedy for hangovers and alcohol cravings. i hasten to add that i have no firsthand experience with that, but i don’t break a sweat to imagine that its aggressive, invasive nature has driven more than one person to drink. (another reason for the “d”.) kudzu is also good at stemming erosion, and in the fall, the colorful leaves wash the countryside in brilliant colors.

kudzu can slap overtake the landscape, cloaking trees and shrubs, rendering them almost unrecognizable, and i’m here to tell you that the women on my tree sometimes have a tendency to let others overrun them. but like so many of my ancestors who can’t even spell japan but spent a goodly part of their life dealing with kudzu, my female ancestors are quite adept at turning trespassers into treasures and in playing the hand they are dealt right on into the winner’s circle. it’s just the way we are.



Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

chemical changes. waning chlorophyll production no longer produces enough green to mask and conceal the spectacular, bold, brilliant colors. it’s how we are, the women on my tree. it’s just how we are.


88 keys

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

grandmother and her black upright piano. mother and her cherry spinet. me and my baby grand. daughter and her electronic keyboard. four generations, each making our own music with our own set of 88 black and white keys.


leaves wordy of mention

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

most of the women on our family tree are bookworms. some regularly pour over recipe books; others prefer craft books. some like to linger over decorating books or craft magazines. some could fill libraries with books touted to make them better women. fiction occupies some female relatives; others devour biographies to see how other women lived and coped and thrived. a few even like to conjure words of their own to fill the leaves in blank books.



Thursday, August 14th, 2008

am back at work on alison’s deep dish after (yet another) slow turn out. the women before alison and me have cooked and fed – not just for nourishment, not just in the spirit of caregiving, not just in the sense of obligation or duty but as a gift. a creative, heartfelt gift.


if leaves could talk

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

you know i’ve been having trouble leafing out my tree, so this morning i got up early, whipped out my oh-isn’t-it-the-cutest-thing-why-don’t-i-try-using-it-for-something-other-than-a-fashion-accessory studio journal, and sketched me out some leaves. initially the plan was to do green leaves in different stitches. but when those colored pencils hit my hand, i came up with more biographical leaves. huh.



Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

when the call came, doris mager (commonly known in audubon circles as “the bird lady”) said yes and went to pick up the adorable baby owl who had recently survived a wing amputation. baby is now one year old and learning to talk. one night baby owl hears a dog, listens intently for a while, then begins to bark. but somehow that doesn’t feel quite right, so baby stops barking. next, baby owl listens to a nearby elder screech owl and mimics the hooting. but that doesn’t feel quite right either, so baby stops hooting. over and over it goes: baby hears a fetching sound and tries it on to see if it feels right, comfortable, native.

tonight we had the great fortune of stumbling into one of doris’ bird talks where we met e.t., the 25 year old gorgeous pet owl, a sparrow hawk who allowed himself to be paraded around while he showed us the gorgeous underside of his wings, a vulture that was surprisingly beautiful (if severely angular), and this baby owl with one-and-a-half wings who is currently learning to talk.

as i stitched leaves today, took them out and stitched again – and again and again and yet again – i couldn’t shake the notion that i’m on the verge. like the baby owl in search of his native language, i search for my stitching voice.

and i sure do hope it shows up soon ’cause this one teensy little ole’ piece is starting to make “slow cloth” look like the leader on the nascar circuit.


still working underground

Friday, August 1st, 2008

when nearly finished with roots, i decided i wasn’t happy with them. no matter how hard i tried, i couldn’t talk myself into liking the 3 colors. told myself that there are numerous shades of red clay. offered as how it created textural interest (or might to others, anyway). only got close to dissuading myself (translation: justifying convincingly) that there was no need to rip out all that stitching when i postured that the various shades might represent in-laws – and then only because the stitches were so intricately interwoven. they overlapped each other and wrapped around each other and scooted under each other so, that it was near impossible to disentangle and pluck them all out.




important infrastructure

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

working on roots now. the part of the tree that provides water and nutrients. the part of the tree that anchors it, grounds it. the part of the tree that is mostly beneath the surface. had root system finished last night, but alas: ’twas done all in shades of charcoal. sure, it might be visually accurate when viewing the trees providing a/c for our house, but we’re from georgia . . . so it all had to come ripping out because roots are that important. like jude (jude, do i remember correctly that you once said this or am i putting words – or in this case threads – in your mouth?), i am enjoying the backstitch. so easy to go where i want to go. so easy to curve and curl. so appropriate to go one step back to go forward.