Tuesday, December 13, 2016


From the looks of things, it appears I've tied last year's lame record for a sum total of fewer than a dozen posts in twelve months, a miserable effort upon which I hope to improve come 2017. Since I'm retired, I have no excuse not to sit down and write occasionally; however, as I move deeper into the space of not working, I find I am not one to stick to a schedule of any sort.  Hence, good intentions often fall along the wayside.  So it is here at Farmlandia.

2016....What a year it's been! Wonderful in many, many ways. Filled with beautiful flowers, trips to Chicago, Florida, Vermont, Montreal, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other neat places with family and good friends. It's been a year of good health and blessings for the core farm family (despite moments of reality checks and losses) , and there have been many a good visit and lots of laughter here. Everyone's thriving, including my mom, who just recently turned 98 years old!

We were all here for 24 hours (short time together, but I'll take it) on the evening of July 4th. Here's this year's photo of the kids. I'll have more once we all converge on Boone in a week or so.

Samuel was in from Chicago with his special girl, Caitlin, for an overnight in July.  Cait's a sweetheart, and likely one who'll join our family ranks in time if I'm reading the crystal ball / tea leaves correctly. Samuel's an associate editor at the Journal of the American Medical Association in Chicago; Cait works for DRW Trading as the company's event planner. Their happiness as a duo is contagious, and we all celebrate that. (Photo credit of those two goes to Harrison Fahrer.)

Likewise, Eliza's thriving with her fellow, Broderick (aka Beef). She moved to Burlington, VT, after finishing her MA degree at U-Cincinnati in August to begin her career as a cosmetic chemist (or formulation specialist, as her business card states.) with Twincraft Skincare, Inc. Beef's still in Cincinnati for the time being.  They manage to maintain a very functional and loving long-distance relationship between Ohio and Vermont.  I believe they're both wise souls who defy any notion of co-dependency.

As their mom, I am delighted with Samuel and Eliza's choices of significant others. I truly love Caitlin and Beef.

I'm into my second year of retirement and loving every minute of each day. The freedom to visit Mom once a month for a week or so and reconnect with friends in Boone, the ability to define my own schedule, and the joy of not having to work within a system that dictates one's life thrill me to no end. I do stay busy tending the flowers and critters at the farm, walking long distances several times a week, and putzing around the back acres. I laugh a lot and give huge thanks for all the blessings that flow my way from all directions. I play mah jong with an interesting group of women once a week, volunteer with the programming committee for the recently opened Peoples Bank Theatre, and chair the Esbenshade Series (an arts and humanities series) for Marietta College. I keep the knitting needles clicking, the paper vat sloshing with pulp (two shows for my work this year), and my camera poised for a perfect shot at any moment. One frequently finds me and the corgis out in the woods with my trusty binoculars, looking for whatever bird that's calling from a distant tree. I realize I spend more time with dogs than humans, so if I bark the next time I see you, don't be surprised. Mac, MerryBelle, and I are a tight pack.

Since I have been defriended and berated on Facebook by a small handful of the president-elect's supporters, I'll leave politics out of this post. Those who know me well will understand my very sincere concern about the current situation in our country, as well as my mantra that these days "complacency is NOT an option."

But most importantly, for all the friends and family who mean so much to me, I am extremely grateful.  I have no complaint about my life, and I hope I can share my delight in each day with all whom I so dearly love.

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays! Properous New Year!

May you thrive in joy and laughter!

Infinite love.....T.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


I have a lot of talented friends from all directions in my life.  One of the many is a high school friend - Debbie Autrey Warren. We hung out for four years on the girls' basketball team, and as I recall, we had one winning season. What I remember vividly about Debbie is that she was fast; she had a very accurate overhead shot; and, she had a quick wit and sharp sense of humor. Still does.

Anyways, Debbie's the person who made the sign LIFE'S BETTER ON THE FARM  that I'm using for my new blog look. It hangs in my house, and now introduces my musings and ramblings on my blog.

We reconnected last year as several of us from the Watauga High School Class of 1970 planned our 45th class reunion. And what a joy it's been to have her back in my life.  Along with fellow classmates, Terri Greene Langdon and Bill Rominger, we've formed a bond that's solid and hilarious.

Yep, life's better on the farm, and Debbie's a huge part of the joy and fun!


Life is better on the farm when the irises bloom.  It's been a rainy, rainy May.  Despite the deluges, farm irises have opened and greatly lessened the heaviness of gray skies and chilly temps with their beauty and subtle essence.
Some people I know don't tolerate irises because they're almost impossible to keep weeds from co-habiting their bed and because they require almost yearly thinning and replanting. Their beauty trumps both annoyances for me: I think they're spectacular.



This little, bright yellow iris is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, and this year, it opened in March. It came from the home of an older friend who passed away close to 20 years ago and has multiplied to the point where I have to dig and divide them every year.

Although this beauty has a pale blue cast, it's officially listed as a white species.

Subtle yellow -  one of my favorite colors

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Peaceful Kwan Yin reminds all of us at the farm to stay mellow.

Happy Dude reminds all of us at the farm to laugh and enjoy life, even if elements take their toll.

MerryBelle reminds all of us at the farm to keep an eye on the cows from a distance rather than risk stepping in soupy patties.

And Mac reminds all of us at the farm to hide our bones when no one's looking.


I am deeply grateful to the Riverside Artists Gallery in Marietta for asking me to be the featured exhibitor in the May exhibit, "Zen Garden," alongside gallery members Cathy Norosky (carved and painted gourds) and Betsy Cook (metal work). For one thing, I had to get off my duff and make some paper this spring so I'd have something to work with as I thought about what I wanted to present. The papermaking process itself felt very natural, but putting pieces together sorta filled me with a creatively void feeling in that it's been so long since I actually did something to be viewed by more than just the corgis and me. Second, my eye has been shifting toward assemblage work, especially with natural and primitive elements. I have a wealth of material that could be accurately described with both of those qualifiers in the old barn that sits right outside my porch. It was in the barn that I began to see things with which I could create assemblages to match with the paper.  I began to play with the images in my mind. And third, in the spirit of "zen," the materials I chose to use were both impermanent in their natural setting and places of lasting wisdom in their own right.
This piece entitled "Final word: Felicity" is .dedicated to my dear friend and mentor, Brian Dendle. Dendle passed to the spirit world almost two years ago, and one of the last things someone found in the last book he was readingwas the word "felicity" written in his hand. My thousands of memories of Brian are tied in the flat scroll that's wrapped with a dictionary entry of the word's definition placed on top of the memory scroll. I chose to mount it  on an a piece of barn wood that fell off the barn about the time Dendle died. The hinge clung to the wood. The entire piece is mounted on paper made from burdock and mullein. I needed some practice in hammering, so I added some nails from the barn, and in doing so, I solidified specific memories of Dendle in the wood. I miss his gruffy ways and off-the-wall, irreverent humor so much.
This journal is headed to a friend of a friend in California. I painted the onion skin-dyed paper while it was still wet and had everything from recycled handmade paper to onion paper in the vat. The internal pages are done in rather plain sheets of abaca fiber so that the recipient can write on it without feeling intimidated by marking on the handmade paper. (Some folks just can't bring themselves around to using the paper to carry messages of the heart.) The purple fiber adornment on the front is made of dyed fibers of possum hair.
Journal #2 is rather plain upon first sight, but as one flips through the pages, he/she can see a fairly extensive combination of handmade paper pages that add personality and pastel surfaces for chronicling whatever the owner cares to share on its pages. The exterior is colored with walnut hull dye, and the interior sheets are ones of mullein, tea, coffee, onion skin, and burdock with a little cotton thrown in for intrest.

This piece, "Rain from the North Shield," came together one afternoon when I sat upstairs and watched the rain pour in from the north, a rare occurrence here on the farm. It's mounted on barn wood, and consists of layers of handmade paper - walnut dyed, onion skin dyed, mullein dyed and cotton that was stained with rusty barbed wire. The rain sticks above the center are a seed pod and rusty nail, as is the earthy element below. 

The final piece I share here is another homage to the barn - scrolls and nails mounted on barn wood on paper on tin roofing from the barn. Actually from a distance, the tin could look like paper itself. The middle scroll piece has a beautiful piece of snakeskin that also came from the barn - another treasure from the old structure. I'm going to add two elements to the side of the wooden block once it comes back home - two nails that I found after I had the piece installed.
Scrolls keep popping up in most everything I make. I like the idea of some sort of message captured within the rolled sheets of paper.  Most of the time, I write a little snippet inside the ones I roll up - a thought, a quotation, a definition, etc. - so that the piece carries that along to its next residence. This is an early photo of this scroll.  It has evolved a bit with other adornments and a change of paper, in part. And I have to say, I like it on my wall.  It might have to stay with me.
I would imagine these pieces have many people shaking their heads in terms of wondering what the hell I was thinking as I put them together, but as a result of this first step, I have ideas running around in my head unlike ever before. I'm excited to keep at this process, not for public scrutiny or artistic recognition on any level.  I'm just happy to have my hands in the paper vat and subsequently, have the paper in my hands.
Indeed, life's better on the farm when I make paper: my heart's full and my soul's dancing when I slop in the messy pulp and smelly inclusions that produce a rather unique beauty.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


A good winter storm always takes me back to the mountains of North Carolina when every winter brought a least a couple, if not more, storms similar to this weekend's Winter Storm Jonas.(When did snowstorms take on names??) Those of you who were students at Appalachian Elementary will recall we didn't go to school for over a month during the winter of 1960.

Memories of snow cream (not tainted from air pollution), waxing the rudders of my sled for greater speed, Mom's hot chocolate made from scratch, and cold, burning fingers and toes from staying out way too long. Richard Randall and I played at his house on snow days; like siblings, we'd get on each others' nerves, and I'd break one of his crayons, only to be sent across the driveway by Aunt Lera to get my crayon of the same color as a replacement (which I would break in half and claim mine was broken, too.) But mostly, we played and tunneled in the snow and played some more.

I don't get bored or lonely when I'm snowed in.  As a career teacher, I can vouch for the fact that teachers always have their fingers crossed for a snow day at the sighting of the first flake.

Here are a few ways I keep myself busy when snowed in. (Notice that cleaning / organizing did not make the list.)

I've knit. This weekend I worked on teaching myself a couple new stitches I'd like to use in some upcoming projects. The hat below matches my new neck warmer, and the dishcloth served as my project to learn the berry stitch - quite simple, really. Recent research, verified by several article on Facebook, tell of the stress relief my favorite hobby brings, so on snowy days, I pull out the needles and keep them clicking.

I channel Miss Jane Hathaway (of The Beverly Hillbillies for you young'uns) and bird watch. I've observed pine siskins, mourning doves, blue jays, goldfinches, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, towhees, juncos, house finches, and others devour the oil seed I pushed through the knee-high snow to get to the feeders. PepĂ­n, the partially leucistic house finch who was here last winter has returned, much to my delight.

I watch TV - a couple of movies & documentaries, some basketball, ice skating, etc. 'Nuf said. PBS Series recommended. Most other TV, not worth the watch.

I listen to a lot of music and search for new artists who pique my listening ear. And, I tune in to a lot of NPR radio to fill in the gaps. I am aghast by the numbers of folks who take Donald Trump seriously. Likewise, Ted Cruz nauseates me, as does Sarah Palin. (My cousin recently reprimanded me for posting too much #feelthebern into on FB, but I'm "feeling the bern," so I don't care!)

My makeshift indoor greenhouse in my bathroom holds my orchids, and I piddle around with it,  cleaning and rearranging the plants housed therein. All my orchids are thriving - a contrast to the winters they've endured without sufficient protection from the too direct light and inconsistent temps. Since I can never remember the proper names for the orchids, I call this one the Dancing Russians Orchid - in glorious bloom and happy as a lark.

I'm also happy with the coleus I rooted from last summer's stock.  Nice colors on dreary days.


I hang out with two corgis and attempt to keep the house as free of their year-round shed as possible. They're not big fans of heavy snow falls since they get lost in the drifts. Mac tends to enjoy plowing through the snow with his nose; MerryBelle would just as soon stay inside.

Cleaning up the clutter and going through papers has yet to make the list. My entire house looks like my office used to look. There's a chaotic organization to my clutter, however, and I can live with that, especially when snow's on the ground and I can do all sorts of other things.

Finally, I layer up in a mountain of clothes and go out to play. Looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, I waddle through the snow, make a couple of snow angels, check out the barn, and do laps out the lane.

That's where I'm headed now.