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Month: July 2018

Complex Weaving When Life was Simpler

Complex Weaving When Life was Simpler

Undulating Twill with Tropical Fish

When I moved to the West coast in 1978, I had been weaving for twelve years, and was hoping to get some fresh inspiration from California weavers. The annual weaving conferences and availability of several guilds in the Bay Area provided more ideas and friendships than I ever expected.

At one of the conferences, I became acquainted with Mary Elizabeth Laughlin who had published a book called “More Than Four” in 1976. She was always urging weavers to join Complex Weavers, an international group that shares information and encouragement about weaving with more than four harnesses. I was a member for several years until I became a full time college student.

I was already using multiple harnesses on the first loom I bought which has twelve harnesses. I was designing garments and household linens using more than four. In 1980, I was making tapestries based on verses of scripture using the Moorman technique, which features a plain weave background while the tapestry is yarn laid-in on the top and held in place by very fine strong threads.

In 1983, while I was making the church tapestries, which I wrote about in the blog on January 31, 2018, I began to think about doing tapestry over a more complex base weaving for my entry in the guild conference booth.

I selected a nine-harness design from a book by Oelsner, “A Handbook of Weaves” originally

Detail of Weaving

published in 1915. This is an undulating twill that looks something like ripples in water.

Over this cotton and rayon base fabric, I added three tropical fish and a few strands of seaweed. I also used the rest of this warp to make a wedding gift for a dear friend.

Looking at the tapestry today, and the book where I found the pattern, I wonder how I did that 35 years ago. I guess life was less distracting then.

If you visit me, you can see it up close in the guest bathroom of my home in Stockton.

Catching Up on History

Catching Up on History

Old National Geographic Magazines

One of my impulsive “finds” at an estate sale a few years ago was a stash of National Geographic magazines. At the time, one of the members in my local mixed media art group was doing some interesting things with Nat Geo pages.

I go to estate sales on Sunday, when things are half-price, and I go at about 12:30 p.m. so I avoid the rush of all the folks who looked on Saturday and are back to grab their “must have.”  What’s left is the odd papers, rusty junk, fabric scraps, and home-made contraptions that nobody wants.

At this particular sale there must have been an entire collection of Geographics.

They were tumbling out of boxes on a small patio where people had been going through them. By this time, the women running the sale were having concerns about how they would dispose of them later in the day, and were encouraging people to just take what ever they wanted. They even provided bags for them.

So, I proceeded to fill up three or four bags of the ones that were easiest to reach. This was something I would get to “someday.” Since I didn’t have room for them in my house, I cleared space for them in the back of a cabinet in the garage. I stacked them neatly in order by the date of publication, which I noted was quite a while back.

When Robert moved into the apartment behind the garage, they were still there and I had other boxes of materials in front of them. Two years ago, when I reorganized the garage to give Robert more space for his photos, I moved the boxes, but left the magazines stacked up because he can’t reach that space anyway.

I hadn’t forgotten them, but this year when I started weeding my bookcases, and then began harvesting images from my magazine stash, I knew I needed to make a decision about this secret in the garage. Before Robert came back from Florida last month, I brought them into the house and installed them in some of the space I had cleared.

At the end of most evenings, I’m looking through one or two of these old magazines and cutting out images of interest. I’ve started with the oldest which was early in 1941 about the time my parents got married. I love seeing the old hand drawn ads. My boss at the printing company where I worked in 1964 drew like that.

I estimate I have about 138 of these magazines published between 1941 and 1960. I’ve never been

May 1942 – 2000 Ships

much interested in history, but suddenly I’m seeing photos of how the US is building 2000 ships in two years, how the women took over technical jobs and agricultural duties.

I’m looking forward to seeing what was happening in the world while I was a child. I’ll probably cut out things that catch my attention and do a project with those images.


The Feeling of Being Unconnected

The Feeling of Being Unconnected

Sunday morning, the Stockton Record’s front page story, of the one-year old Honduran boy’s court appearance before a judge in Phoenix, who was embarrassed to have to ask the child if he understands the proceedings, has compelled me to share my thoughts.

I generally don’t discuss political issues with friends or even family because I don’t have all the information about things, and I don’t know what is true and what is hype, among all the noise.

The article says the boy was silent and calm during his one hour wait and during the hearing, until he was handed off for a moment, from a worker he knew to another person, as they were preparing to leave the court, when he cried hysterically at the brief separation.

It is likely that the boy was separated from his mother when his father brought him to our border, separated from his father who has been sent back to Honduras, and separated again and again from employees who must meet his basic needs.

That feeling is like being in free-fall, with nothing familiar to grab onto. Some adults enjoy that feeling and engage in activities that produce it. But I think most people, and especially young babies, want to feel they are connected to others in some manner.

I was not physically separated from my mother, but there was an emotional separation due to my mother’s episode of depression late in my first year. The effect of this was not apparent to me as a child or young adult. I developed the habit of keeping busy which I continued after I was married. Short periods of having nothing to focus on, such as waiting in long lines at the grocery store, or at a medical appointment brought up feelings of anxiety. I started carrying a book with me everywhere.

After I had my first child, keeping busy was easy. When we moved from state to state for two years in the early 70’s I felt unconnected because I truly didn’t know anyone beyond acquaintance level. Then, in Virginia, the friendly south, I became close to a number of people.

Moving to California in August 1978, with it’s fenced in yards, was difficult, but I soon found weaving friends, and I kept busy. When I went to college at age 42, I didn’t feel close to anybody in classes, and lost time with my other friends, but I was very busy with two young teens, and a household to run, plus homework. In graduate school, I tried to discover what caused people to feel connected to others.

But the gut level feeling of being all alone hit me unexpectedly one day when I went to a funeral home to get information about a package deal my mother had made with them costing $900 a month, which she had no way of paying. I was told someone would see in a few minutes.

Sitting in the empty lobby, I had nothing to do. No magazines available. I had nothing with me I could write on. No one else was in the building but the one woman who had gone back into her office. My mind reeled. It had nothing to focus on. I felt like I could disappear and no one would know. This was before the I-phone. The wait seemed endless. I didn’t know that the person I needed to talk to was driving across town from their main office, until he walked in the door.

Some years later, while working at the University of the Pacific Library, I found information about Adult Attachment problems and came to understand that if a baby in that first year or two of life does not experience a secure bond with their mother or primary caregiver, they will have difficulty with feeling close to others throughout their life.

My concern is wider than just what is happening to this child in Phoenix and all the others caught up on this mess. Remember those pictures we used to see of a mother carrying her baby on her body until the child could walk? There was important bonding going on.

I am concerned about all the mothers and children already in this country who are so easily separated from each other for almost any small mistake. Are the children, now being protected, being set up for social and emotional difficulties they won’t understand throughout their lives?

What will our culture look like when the babies who have parents who are constantly focused on their phones, the internet, or working several jobs, grow up and do not feel a sense of closeness or connection to others? Will they join a gang to feel connected? Or, will they choose numbness with drugs, or even death?

What will our world be like when displaced people all over the earth have no feeling of belonging?


If you want to know more about my search for connection, my memoir “Looking for Connection” is available as an eBook on Amazon here.  

Checking Connection

Checking Connection

I made the unpleasant discovery last night that the blogs I had written and also appeared on my Facebook page the morning they post on my website have been LOST.

So lost that when I look at my timeline for years back nothing has been posted unless it was shared there from another I guess Facebook page such as my son’s page.

I have not found a way to repost the blogs to Facebook. I am writing this to see if it will post to Facebook.

If you would like to follow my blogs by having them sent to your email, you can scroll down on this page and enter your email address.

Perfect Timing

Perfect Timing

I’ve decided to post a day early this week because of tomorrow’s July 4th holiday. I want to share what happened the day after last week’s blog.

The back story: my best friend, Robert, left Stockton for Florida on April 19, and I expected him to return late last Wednesday or afternoon on Thursday. He had called Monday evening to tell me he and his driver were near Oklahoma City. I calculated they would get to Robert’s brother’s house in Hayward to drop off his driver by dinner time Wednesday.

You may recall, I wrote about what a mess my yard was in the blog that posted May 9, grousing about the amount of debris my huge sycamore tree was dumping all over the yard. The tree has continued to drop leaves, dead branches, and fuzz during the last two months, but it seems to be slowing down now. In addition to the leaf mess, I was seeing that most of my fruit trees needed to be trimmed soon before their summer growth got going. Several times I had actually said as I walked through the yard alone, “Lord, what am I going to do with these trees? How can I get them cut back soon?”

Wednesday, I worked in the yard, moving some dirt that my yard man had piled up last week, and I cleaned up the patio. I did all the odd jobs on my To Do List for the week, extending my day as I waited for Robert. At 2:30 a.m. I gave up the vigil and went to bed.

Thursday morning when I got up, sure enough, his van was in the driveway. As I was about to sit down to breakfast, I noticed out the window that the van door and ramp were open. I was surprised he was up so early and went out to greet him. Turns out that when he got here he was too tired to get out of the van so he lowered the back of the driver’s seat and slept there. I helped him get a few things out of the van, and I knew he was going to go back to sleep in his own bed.

I made a note of his arrival in my journal, saying I needed to eat breakfast—it was already 10:30. “Fun Day!” I added.

Since my breakfast was delayed, I was still eating and reading the newspaper when the door bell chimed. I well groomed man started telling me about the mistletoe in a tree in my front yard. I agreed it needed to be removed, but proceeded to walk him through my yard discussing each of my trees. The name of his company on his business card was one I had seen before. I knew he understood trees from the way he detailed what each tree needed and why. He had a crew in the area that day, and gave a reasonable estimate.

Sycamore tree in Marilyn’s yard, after trimming.

While the trimmers worked on the sycamore, I baked lemon bars, which was what I had planned to do first. The second item on the day’s list was to start cleaning up the yard mess. I laughed. This was such perfect timing. The tree trimming mess that is always left after the crew takes the big stuff, will be there when I get to each section, and I won’t have to clean up twice.

When the trimmer got to the smaller trees, I quickly realized that I needed to tell him what I wanted done on each tree besides the obvious problems. They also cleaned up my back-side roof where debris and branches had accumulated all winter and spring.

I worked with them picking up smaller branches that their rakes had left behind. They were out of here by 5 p.m. Robert slept through to Friday morning. I don’t think he even knew they were here until I told him.

One of the things Robert has said to me several times is, “You need to let things come to you.” I guess from his perspective he sees me trying to make things happen faster.

So, long story short, I asked God what to do about my trees, He sent the answer, and His timing was perfect.    Enjoy a safe Forth of July tomorrow.