Monthly Archives: March 2011

Day 1 of setting up the exhibition

The wind has kicked up, the sun is beaming and I am happy to report that set up is going fine, just fine.
The problem of the poles has been solved. It’s a genius solution. So now my side kick Joel and I are sitting back and examining our hard work from the morning. The only things to be done are to put up the info board and wee vynil stickers. And that’s it!
Why was I freaking out earlier?
It’s fine, just fine.


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Filed under Newcastle upon Tyne

Final preps then off I go

As small work of a large building

Today is the day that I set sail, or set off down the road, which is a more accurate description.  I have lists pinned up on my boards to remind me of the many many things to not forget.  This morning has been spent updating the Flickr group page, Facebook pages, Twitter and crowdfunding page.  I seem to be scattered all over the place.  After I fill up my car with petrol (well, the tank, not the whole thing obviously) and top up the air in my tyres, I shall be scooting along to the Copyshop to collect my information boards.

All small works to sell at the show have been packaged and tucked safely into a box.  The sale of these works is to help fund the tour.  Although I did receive funding from Exeter Arts Council, Centre for Life and assistance from all those lovely people out there that donated through my crowdfunding page, this is a massive tour needing massive attention.  So.  It’s all part of the plan, which I laid out 18 months ago.

If you are able to celebrate the beginning of this crazy adventure by attending the Preview show at the Mushroom Works, please do take lots and lots of photos.  And if you feel so inclined, I would love for you to add them to my Group Pool found here on The Connecting Thread Flickr page.

Right.  I must dash.  My list is quite daunting and I must somehow get through it.


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Filed under Newcastle upon Tyne, the process

Wish you were here

Today I finished the US and Nebraska pillowcase in nice golden and deep yellow colours.  I handstitched each state with care and even marked out the territories in white thread, instead of black thread.  The boiler has been fixed and the smaller artworks are almost read for display.  As I’ve been working away into the late hours and then finding myself working in the early hours as well, there is a thought that started small and is now growing quite large.

The preview show is this Friday at the Mushroom Works in Newcastle upon Tyne.  I cannot wait to see my Newcastle friends again, the Newcastle Mafia girls, my former neighbours and my former haunts.  It will certainly be a celebration with friends.

But unfortunately, my family will not be there.  My Dad will be at home in McCook, continuing his efforts to replaster, repaper and repaint the house.  My step mom will be working away in her office at the church.  My mom will be gazing into a computer at one of the several gardening sites she manages and my step dad will be continuing to apply for part time work.  My sister will be in her music class at uni, my brother will be fighting fires or relaxing at the station, my sister-in-law will be studying and my cutie nephew will be playing.  And of course, my grandparents will be hanging out at the veterans cemetary just outside of North Platte, Nebraska.

The absence of friends will also be felt.  Friends from over two decades ago, friends from just down South and friends from Edinburgh.  I wish I could somehow scoop up all of these people and take them along with me to Newcastle.

So even though you cannot be there, just know that I am thinking about you and celebrating with you in my heart.


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Filed under Edinburgh, Nebraska, Newcastle upon Tyne

Not according to plan part 2

I was going to blog yesterday, but thought better of it.  Sometimes there can be just too many swear words in one post.

After a terrifically awful Saturday, I mistakenly thought that Sunday could only be better.  The patient was tucked up in bed, bemoaning his boredom but feeling lots better, and I was flitting around like a panicky butterfly.  Do butterflies panic?  Hm.  Well anyway, I put together the clothesline poles and stands and strings.  I clipped up the ship pillowcase and then the UK pillowcase.  Good so far.  When I flung over the Exeter sheet, the two poles on either side caved in.

And ********* did I completely lose it over the fact that that ************ didn’t stand.  I even set it up on solid ground and even that was too much for the ******* poles.

Mark saw my distress and tried to offer condolences/support/solutions but at this point, I was a bit inconsolable.  So I took Josey on a walk.  Up a hill.  And as a friend very recently stated, you can gain a lot of perspective by climbing to the top of a hill.

And the heating packed up.  And it takes 17 boiled kettles and 2 hours to fill a bathtub.

And the Preview Show is in 4 days.

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Filed under struggling here

Not according to plan

Showing off my Dad Skills

Today we went to A&E.  I want to clarify, that we did not go to A&E because of my own activities with saws, electric screw drivers and sandpaper.  No, we were visiting the hospital on account of my husband.

And how I made him suffer.

Last night I was summoned home early from a night of boozing (not really, just my after Samba pint).  Husband had suffered a chest injury.  How curious.  He seemed to be a bit unhappy and well, we all thought that perhaps in the morning everything would be much better.  Cue this morning and oh my God, apparently the pain had gotten worse.  Let me let you in on a little secret, Dear Reader.  I did think that my husband was being a bit of a wuss.  I mean, I had muscle spasms a few months ago and although excruciating, I somehow worked through the pain.  There was a lot of complaining, but I pressed on.  So here I was today, just days before my preview show and all I could really think was “Why can’t he just man up, truss himself up like a turkey and if he isn’t going to help, the least he could do is get out of my way.”

As the morning progressed, so did the pain.  And well, to A&E we went.  Apparently, he had torn is intercostal muscle and apparently, that is a very painful thing indeed.  He had first damaged it whilst snowboarding….a few weeks ago.  And yes, I did tell him to go see a GP about it.  Yesterday at work, he did the big damage just by merely slinging a bag over his shoulder.  And now I feel very bad for being, how can I put this, a bit bitchy.

So.  Well.  This weekend has not gone to plan.  The stress of that did reduce us both down to tears (his of pain, mine of complete and utter frustration).  Here’s to hoping that tomorrow is much better.  I did finish up the poles to the clothesline.  Maybe tomorrow I can string it all together, hang the sheets and see what I can see.

And of course, we all hope very much for Mark’s speedy recovery.


Filed under struggling here


On a trip to Liverpool...

This is my stunning and lovely friend, Adrienne.  We met about 4 months after I moved to Newcastle.  Up to that point, I did not have a single friend in my new city.  Go on.  Shed a tear.  It is indeed very sad to think that someone has no friends.  We had both attended a Big Knitting workshop at the Mushroom Works.  She heard my goofy accent, I heard hers and before you knew it, we were both talking about the states.  It just so happened that she lived just around the corner from me.  Not in the states (because that would be terrifically flukey), but in St Peters Basin.

So this is my American-British friend, born in the states, but parented by an English couple.  She often says she isn’t sure which nationality she feels like and now, after having lived in the UK for over 8 years, I understand that feeling of Place Undecided.

I’m writing about Adrienne in this blog as she is one of the very strong key figures in the life of my big art tour.  When I returned from Sweden, burbling with all sorts of plans to create artwork for walls, she was exceptionally supportive.  As I’ve told her about my plans for the art tour and as I’ve been updating her about changes, new ideas, re-visiting old ideas and requests for her opinion and advice, she has been a great listener and also a good reminder of perspective if I have somehow lost it along the way.  Just like Anna, she is very straight with me, which is a quality I very much admire.

So thank you, Adrienne, for your kindness, your support, your entertaining stories and your friendship.

Before I leave you to ponder the loveliness that is Adrienne, I want to conclude with this little story:

Two Thanksgivings ago, another American friend and I decided to join forces and create a Thanksgiving feast.  She had invited her family down from Dundee, her husband and his parents.  I invited Adrienne and Dave.  So there we were, all sitting at this table of turkey, stuffing, three different kinds of potatoes, candied yams and pies.

Me to the group:  Adrienne has recently returned from a trip to Madagascar.  She was there for three months, helping, volunteering, planting trees and building schools.  (This was my attempt to bring Adrienne into the conversation as she didn’t know everyone at the table).

Adrienne:  Oh!  Yes.  It was very interesting.  Uhm.  Oh yeah, this really weird thing happened when I was there.  We were in a truck, driving to the next site for work.  It was really weird because the people standing along the side of the road and in the fields would stare at us and then when we got closer, they would run!  They would just stand there looking a bit horrified and then they would run really far back into the fields.  And I was like, why is this happening?  Why do they keep running away?  And then the driver said that it was because of the truck…the red truck.  And then I asked, well, what is it about a red truck?  And then he said that people that lived here thought that people driving red trucks where there to harvest organs!  Hahahahahahahahahaha

*uncomfortable silence….then tentative laughing.

Thank you, Adrienne.  That story was brilliant.



Filed under a good story, Newcastle upon Tyne

Moving throughout Nebraska

So there I was, rooting through pages and pages of information on maps of the U.S. in the 1800s.  Why oh why didn’t I pay attention in school?  Why am I only just now interested in this?  It was fascinating to see how much the United States had changed within just a handful of years, from 1860 to 1890.  They were so quick to mark out solid boundaries between the newly settled states.

Nebraska became a state in 1867, a year before my family moved to the states.  It is my belief that they had caught wind of the free land for farmers that the government had promised, upped their sticks and sailed on their merry way.  I could be wrong, but this does seem the likeliest conclusion.  Although Joseph Green was a Master Hosier, his father was a farmer and I think his grandfather may have been as well.  So, his farming roots were a-callin’ and he could do nothing but follow that prompting.

I have been looking through my photographs again.  I knew that my grandfather was born in Edgar, Nebraska.  Joseph and Maria settled in Otoe County, Nebraska, which is on the stateline, along the Missouri River.  I am happy to see that Maria was able to find her way back to a river as she would have been used to this in her youth, settled beside the river in Ivybridge and Exeter.

The interesting bit for me was reading that Edward Moody Green (the 3 year old baby on the boat from England to America) settled much further into the state than his parents.  His farmstead was in Custer County, which is right in the middle of the state.  The photograph I have of the farmstead was taken in 1894.  From my reading, I found that Nebraska had suffered a devastating drought in that year.  I found an excerpt from The Great Nebraska Drouth of 1894 written by Everett Dick.  “Roads were crowded with long columns of people, as tens of thousands of Nebraskans hitched up their covered wagons and drove eastward.”  To think that the photo was taken during such a dire time in the history of my family is just incredible.

I found another bit of information on the Custer County Website

“By the year 1894, Custer County had more than a quarter million acres under cultivation, while assessment records showed there were 1,000,000 cattled and 75,000 hogs in its borders.  But that year also brought a severe drought.  Livestock sold for practically nothing and farms were almost given away, as hundreds of settlers evacuated.  Many of those who remained became Custer County’s most prosperous citizens in later years.”

I know that my grandfather’s father (the baby on the hip of the woman in the Farmstead photo) did not build his farm upon that land.  His farm was in Edgar, Nebraska, where my grandfather was born.  Edgar is towards south east corner of the state. However, I have photographs of Edward Moody Green’s headstone in Ansley, Nebraska, which is very much in the central part of the states.

It is one thing to know the dates and areas where the family lived, but context just makes it so much more interesting.


Filed under Nebraska