For Jo-Anne: colleague, mentor, friend, inspiration

I know many of you follow Jo-Anne’s fabulous museum and textile blog: Zho Zho’s Textile Adventures.  It’s been featured in my side bar for the last month.  It’s time to change it for my October feature, but right now I can’t.

Jo-Anne never mentioned it on her blog, or to any of her followers and online friends, but she has been fighting cancer for well over a decade.  She wanted her life, and her blog, to be about the things she loved, and enjoyed: fabric and history, colour and design, the wonderful minutiae of a thousand lives well lived in museum objects, and the joy of new creations.  She didn’t want it to be about her illness: the long slog, yet another test or treatment or trip to the doctor.  That wasn’t her life, that was something that was thrust on her.  Her life was her family and friends and art and fabric and discovery.

Jo was so full of life in herself, and had fought so long, and defied so many expectations, that I just thought she would keep miraculously winning every battle.  Not this time.  Jo is in the hospital under sedation, and she doesn’t have long left.

If you want to leave a message for Jo here or on her blog her son will try to read it for her.  I’m sure her family would appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

The photographs in this post are from a visit Jo-Anne in June.  We walked around the waterfront hill in Tauranga and watched the waves crash against the rocks, and the light break through the winter stormclouds.  She told me then about her health, and I think she tried to warn me then that she didn’t have much time, but so gently that it didn’t cast a shadow on our time together.  The last time I talked to her she told me not to worry about housework: better to have an untidy house and a gorgeous dress than a perfect house with no sewing!  That’s Jo through and through: facing reality, but focusing on the really important things: friends and family, creativity and creation, learning and discovery, all with a bit of humour.

I am so privileged to have known Jo, and so grateful for every moment I spent with her.  There are a thousand more things I could say about how she inspired me, and taught me in person and through her blog.  I wish I could have more time with her, more posts on her blog, more trips to see her, more photographs, more everything, but that’s not Jo: you have to enjoy what you have.  I am so blessed that I have had her in my life.


  1. Dear Leimomi,
    Please tell her that I have enjoyed her posts — all the details, the happy spirit in which they are written — very much. I’ve also enjoyed the blog comments we have shared and send her hugs from afar.

    Thank you for sharing such a kind and loving post.

    Very best,

  2. I find it an utter loss that I was unable to have found Jo’s blog sooner. It has only been a few months now that I have even known of its existence through the link on the right, however I will treasure what time I did have to see and learn new things. It’s an awful thing to have to think about, and I hope that somehow, perhaps, I can give my strenght to her so that she may take the time to say what she feels she need to say to those around her. I send my love to her, wherever she is right now…

    P.S. I love the violets, by the way.

  3. I wish I had found Jo’s blog much earlier. I spent an entire weekend enjoying her wonderful posts and the happiness she wrote with. I wish her all the comfort in the world and hope she knows there are people throughout the world who love her very much.


  4. Blessings on Jo-anne, her family and on you lovely lady. What an inspiration to live so determinedly and with such relish. The world is a better place for having her in it.

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