Minimalism is Subtraction for the Sake of Focus



I purge.

I live on a white sheet.

The word ‘Free’ on a wall.

A book with blank pages. A pen that always has ink.

One wall is window, I  face this way.

My library is on a device.

Bleached bones, a shore line dragged clean.

One top, one skirt, one knife, one fork, one pair of shoes.


I saw that book. Everything from the house on the front lawn.

Twice I have sold my sewing machine and bought another.

I make things. They fill a shelf.

Sand mandalas made by the monks take days, they are admired and raked away.

Every possession a liability.

It is enough to kneel in the grass and watch an ant sip water.







Rose came like a murmuration, first distant then filling the air, settling on trees and the roof of the house. I knew her name immediately, Rose and then the stucco cottage, wood floors scattered with thin rugs. Her door opened to gardens, unkempt and wild. The stucco walls held old climbing roses with trellis barely visible under soft pink blooms. I felt this cottage was in England, a warm feeling. I saw a clothesline being swept hard by wind, pegged with tea towels, a filmy slip, a cotton dress and a green bed cover. Where exactly is this I wondered, the wind felt a permanent part of her life. The cotton dress, stirred a little something, like the aroma of a roast in the oven on a long slow Sunday.

More and more images, like going through an old album ignoring people; looking for art, furniture, a sink, a table set in the kitchen, a vase, a certain chair, a book left open, boots by the door. I gathered these reflections and began to feel things strongly. I felt she was near my age, perhaps 3 or four years younger and I knew she lived alone.

I have met women I immediately felt drawn to. It is a flirt of soul, a recognition. This was Rose. How could I know her unless I let her divulge herself, unless I let her speak.

So the Rose Stories. It was like starting a cold car. She struggled to speak and I wrote. She seemed feeble and when I read those first sentences I lost interest. She felt absent like she was caught in the ether. Mary felt better,solid.

I walked past the hutch, glimpsed the delicate tea set, buttercup yellow with a small bouquet of roses. They belonged to my maternal grandmother. Rose was stirred by the sun rose yellow, she heard colors not a verb. These colors live inside me, she said. No, these colors are mine.

Last night I could not sleep. Ferrets rooting, digging, sniffing out old memories. I woke morbid. Suitcases, trunks dumped and rummaged I thought I was rid of. I went back to Rose. She was making dinner for a man. There was a chicken in her sink, its wing marbled red, bruised, she was sick at this sight.

I felt her revulsion.



Rose Stories



She sat reading. Then this line, the sun rose yellow. She felt a warmth, it was rose and yellow, rose and yellow, as if a memory stirred. She waited, nothing, these colors must live inside me. I am Rose. I am Rose and the sun is yellow. This book is speaking to me. Her eyes moved to the window. I am never alone in these woods and there is little that draws me like this view. Rose her mother said, is the gift I gave you; you must find a way to flower. She planted her name along side the bluebells, delphiniums and larkspur, they flopped and tangled over her arbor, spent blossoms made a silky pink path. They grew on trellis nailed to the stucco cottage, thorns scraped her skin by the kitchen door sometimes catching her sweater. Dried bunches of pinks and reds hung on nails she hammered into the window frames, the crisp leaves gray, brittle. Glass jars held snapped off blooms, buds too small and tight to blossom. Not yet, she would say to the shriveling buds, drink and you will open. She carried leaves, black buds, fallen petals out to the garden where they belong. We must flourish she said aloud. We must open our faces to the sun and the wind.

Rose had her dogs. I’m not sure if I should have dogs with my gardens she said to Mary years ago. I would love the company, I love their fur and wet noses. Of course you should have dogs, Mary was so sure, if a garden can’t survive dogs its no garden. Mary arrived with Astor and Myrtle two weeks later. Corgi cross sisters. Rose wasn’t sure but they flourished.

The dogs slept by the fire. Rose held her wine glass. I love this time of night. The house is warm, I have a fire and my dogs, good red wine. The nights were colder and her roses looked sad. I can’t think about them I’m not God, they will die and I will die and the dogs will die, we will all die and then we will be fine. She took a long slow swallow and tasted a velvety bouquet of dark cherry. Mmmm. Death will be like this, a slow sweet descent, Rose smiled at her dogs. Don’t worry I won’t leave you.




Time Created

………………..to create.


Last night I woke at four. In my sleeplessness I held several dinner parties, long over due. I left no one out. My dear cousins were all together,  I cooked a vegetable dish, a whole salmon and peach cobbler. It was early on a Sunday, the weather was warm so we ate outside. At the last minute I invited the nieces, nephews and their little flock of babies. Even the dogs came and I was reminded of a Rosamunde Pilcher novel. They left early evening and I sat with a glass of wine by the river running little anecdotes over in my mind. I did the same with good friends and women I felt a connection with. The women wandered over early afternoon carrying bottles of wine and we sat by the river nibbling fruit and little sandwiches from plates covered with umbrella nets. We put wine bottles in the river to chill and sat barefoot on the rocks talking and laughing.

In the morning G and I sip coffee and listen to music. I tell him what I did while he slept. I was exhausted and pleased it was over. G continued to scrabble.

The following day is lite; I walk, play in the studio, read by the river. I think of Iceland. I remember knitting in the frozen air while sitting on a glacier and later steaming in a mud bath. This trip is vivid yet it was cancelled.

My natural state is a slow wander in the woods, an unruly disorder of time without commitments. Uninhabited, this word fills me with hope.


“Normality is

a paved road:

It’s comfortable

to walk,

but no Flamingos

grow on it.”

                                                                 — Vincent Van Gogh (almost)


I try to entertain at four in the morning, travel in my dreams.











Yolanda is a lovely long legged beauty who enjoys quiet contemplation and thoughts of world peace.


Although Yolanda is quite adept at yoga she prefers a good book and a bottle of wine.


She can often be found playing the Hokey Pokey with her friends. Here you can see Yolanda putting the ‘left leg in.’

Yolanda is now up for adoption and is incredibly nervous and hopeful.


A Name

Each blade of grass whispers to the other.  The name was ether borne. G held it. ‘Iolanthe’ he said one morning and I cocked my head. I didn’t know this word.  She was waiting in the studio naked.

Spell it.  I-O-L-A-N-T-H-E

Why did you say this. G, ‘Gilbert & Sullivan, the music’. It’s her name.


Iolanthe, Iolanthe, Iolanthe. She perks up.

I have delphiniums blooming in my garden dropped from a bird.  I stay open around Iolanthe. She floats her words like a bothersome mosquito. I find her asleep in a pile of silk. At night I dream her clothes.


Have I sewn a small thought out of linen. She has no bones, no wings. I want to leave her sleeping and forget all this. I could be propping up delphinium spears and drinking tea.

The garden is full of rabbits. I run and get G and they disappear. So I hold on to the hem of  this thought and get busy.


Iolanthe, I whisper, you are the seed the wind carried in my mind and left in the earth to germinate.


But why rabbit ears………….





She sits waiting. This is the mesmerizing part. She did not exist. Now she watches and waits. I can turn off the lights, walk through the garden, pass by the bird feeders, call the dog and walk up the stairs. I can eat dinner, watch a movie, drink wine and go to bed. Next morning I will unlock the studio door and she will be sitting looking at me. ‘I’m here, now what’, she says.

I’ve started something. I can’t go back. This is the out of control part of creation. She wants more and I know this.


Here she is in pieces. It’s the eyes. She can already picture herself. This stage has to be short. No breaks. ‘Flesh me out’, is all I hear. I get to work.


I take a deep breath and hear her sigh. Now we can work together. I tuck a delicate floral rayon under her chin. Nothing. Then I scrounge around in the tulle and bunch up black netting, mocking up a crinoline. Hmmm. Soft rumpled lace, palest pink. She just sits there. We are getting nowhere.

new-2We both take a nap.

I know what she needs. A little colour. Ah a little red wine. Diluted of course. She immediately sticks her face in it. My kind of girl.


Her legs were my idea.

Enough for today she says.



Any Old Day




I woke, had coffee, then sat on the deck,  planned my short day. I thought of winter. It is very hot. I thought of being inside with a short hike through the snow, spring being too wet and winter too cold and summer too hot and it’s still spring so nothing matters about the weather.

I have my mind full of flamingos. I am stuffing a head with the eyes staring at me. Why does this matter to anyone, this stuffing the head and the staring eyes. I could be chopping vegetables, pulling weeds or walking in the field. This head is just another head needing a body. I’m not fond of pink anymore.

Dinner will be eaten but I will still have this head. I am working listening to music by the river. I have lost sight of what counts. I could be passing coffee through a window to a stranger. He could be stuffing a flamingo for all I know.

I am proceeding with my day even though it means nothing. I have a list. I like striking things off. Some lyrics wedge inside me. ‘Be Something. Fuck the rest.’ I have two legs, two arms on my list. This list is useless to anyone else. Two arms, two legs. Who would understand it. I could write ‘Lie on the grass all day.’ Then strike it off and go have wine with G.

The punctuation is coffee to start, wine to end. In the middle is the list. My list populates my world with Flamingos. There is no killing or cruelty on my list. My list is just a suggestion to make me feel vital. Feed the dog is never on a list, water the plants is. I have starved a plant but never a dog.

A day is a block of time filled with light. I could leave it at that. I could put on my boots after coffee and head down the drive. I could walk all day and head back up the drive for wine. Only the flamingos would be missing.










A little rain. A mug of good coffee. Green view of morning. G across from me, the two fluffy cats and the small dog.

Then horrible news I can do nothing with. A van has driven into people, rampage killing. I hear this. I look out into the woods. The rain will stop and I will plant my dahlias. It is Sunday. I love Sundays. The Phoebes are singing with the Robins. A beautiful morning.

I hear we are becoming numb, hardened, desensitized, cold, unfeeling. A hummingbird hovers and dips into the petunias outside my window.

For breakfast I have thick slices of homemade bread toasted with cheddar and ginger marmalade. After John was killed I could not eat. I could only sleep.

Three acres holds me. Out there, well things happen here too. My old cat died. My sweet cousins boy died. My mom took her life.

I have ideas getting me all excited. Sewing ideas people will ‘get a kick out of.’ I want to get up in the morning. When I was sixteen our house was burned to the ground. A year later, after it was rebuilt, it was torched again. This killed our family a little.

Yesterday I stood on the yellow garden chair to peak at the Phoebe nest. Four birds crammed together exploded into flight, straight up into the cedars, fully fledged they joined their screaming parents.

I smile at people. I like to share myself this way. I notice I use the word love. I love the woods, I love this coffee, I love walking through the fields, I love the way we live, I love my little dog, I love sewing, I love books, I love my home.

Here is my Sunday. There is your Sunday. You cannot have my Sunday.


Too Green

Too Green

I’m in the small house on the river. I come here to sleep, watch the grass grow and chirp to the Phoebes. The rain is filling up the river and the green out the window is blinding.

I came all fired up with an armload of books and fabric. Now my mind stands waiting for direction, my body does nothing while my ears pull in bird sound and my eyes absorb colour.

On the table a tangle of lace. I drape it over an open glass door. Nothing comes to mind.

The window.

A robin hopping across the grass head cocked, stops, plunges, tug tug tugs out a worm; then peck, shake, drop it, peck again, shake it, hop away, hop back to peck, drop it, hop, hop hop away, then back to peck a severed piece and gulp, gulp head skyward, hop hop hop further away, back to gulp the rest, then fly up in a cedar.

The rain has a slant, lines of rice piercing the river. The cedars stand very still getting soaked, like a back rub you hope never ends. The rain straightens. The grass is willing to crouch under my feet.


Sometimes I need

only stand

wherever I am

to be blessed.

                                                                                                ….Mary Oliver

The Robin is back.