art, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, pinhole photography, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

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^^^Wouldn’t this make an interesting tapestry?

Finally, fall temperatures. We sat on the front porch yesterday morning, barefoot in t-shirts and shorts. This morning is a delicious 51 degrees F.

Last Saturday, Sandy and I went to the West Point on the Eno Park in Durham to take a pinhole camera workshop given by Durham Parks & Recreation. This is something that we plan to keep up and we need to get the supplies and set up a darkroom. Here they are hanging to dry and my best print.

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I am afraid of jinxing this, but I will go ahead and say it. My depression has lifted. My hope always is that it will be for good, but let’s just say that I hope it lasts a long long time. It is such a wonder the few times this has happened in my life that I am flabbergasted. This is how normal feels? I like it very much.

My therapist and I think that it could be due to the large amounts of Vitamin D that I started taking every day in mid-August. When I went to the orthopedic clinic for the injured bones in my foot, they put me on 5,000 mg per day, and said that I could stay on that dose with no worries. I had been taking 1,000 mg per day. So if you are struggling and you are already trying other things without success, you might try upping your Vitamin D. I hope that it is this simple for me. She had suggested transcranial magnetic stimulation because my depression was so chronic, but I started feeling so much better right around the time that she suggested it that I never pursued it. I am not quitting my anti-depressant though.

And if I could only sleep when my body needs sleep, my physical and mental health would be much, much better. During the week, I still struggle. On the weekend when I can get up when my body says it’s time, I feel like a champ. This is the main reason I look forward to retirement.

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I had the energy last Sunday and yesterday to really go after the mess that we live in. Sandy and I cleaned floors. SO. MUCH. CAT. HAIR. It amazes me that we have a mouse problem. We cleaned up the stack of boxes and old mail meant to be burned next to the woodstove that you got an eyeful of when you stepped in the front door, and burned the mail outside in the fire pit. There is still some work to be done in that area. There is lots of dust and since I have stopped taking anti-histamines and Sandy’s cough is so bad we really have to do better for our health’s sake. This house will be 100 years old next year and it generates its own dirt.

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Yesterday, I started seriously deep cleaning the kitchen, beyond washing dishes and wiping counters. I’m getting rid of a few items, and reorganizing some. For example I cleaned my coffee/tea/bar corner thoroughly, washed everything there, reappointed the vintage metal bread bin that I used to keep art supplies in to holding all the teas that we’ve gathered and been given, and filled the wooden shelves that my Daddy made for me with most of our small pottery cup collection instead of the tea. I also cleaned the shelves where the rest of the pottery plates and bowls and glasses and tumblers are. It felt so good to get all this cleaned up. I’m going to tackle the fridge, microwave, other counters, and food shelves today.

Daddy had just taken up woodworking before he got terminally ill with colon cancer. He made this shelf for me to display my glass paperweight collection. If I ever have to choose just a few things to take with me out of this house, this will always be one of them.

Hopefully this energy will transfer over to my art and garden at some point. One thing I regret is that in my cleaning frenzy I forgot to take my weavings to the frame shop.

Sandy and I finished watching The Kominsky Method and we loved it. I stretched it out as long as I could because I’m not a binger. When I enjoy something, I want it to last! Last night we watched Nomadland in absolute awe of its strange beauty and poignancy. I want to read that book now.

Speaking of books, I finished Elantris by Brandon Sanderson this week, and liked it a lot although I found it to be a little too frantic in action. The world and characters he created were fascinating. I plan to check out more of his books. Then I began Broken by Jenny Lawson, which is this great combination of hilarity and high speed nuttiness and anger and serious talk about her mental health and compassion.

My achilles tendinitis is back, so I bought a soft foot splint that I wore to bed last night. It was pretty comfortable, and once I get used to it and stop waking up to wonder what is on my foot it should help. I want to put off getting another steroid shot as long as possible. I learned with my wrist tendinitis that the doctors will only do the steroid shots a few times. The shot that he gave me in my heel did not hurt at all, which surprised me.

I also finally replaced my bras. After going so long hardly wearing a bra at all, it was tough to wear those worn out bras again, but I hate bra shopping almost as much as swimsuit shopping. I ordered them online through Kohls so I wouldn’t have to go in the store, and the shipment circled around between Charlotte and Virginia for over two weeks. Finally the routing was straightened out and I found them at my door early this morning. On a Sunday. Shipping is so weird these days. I also treated myself to a tunic and beret from Gudrun Sjoden and three more basic shirts. I have not bought any new clothing in so long, and I need to get rid of a lot of what I have that is worn out and stained. When you have a rack like mine it tends to catch a lot of drips.

Good news: we finally got our tax refund from 2019. It took a year and a half from the time we mailed it. We will never mail another tax return if we can at all help it. I immediately called the credit union for the payoff on the home equity loan and paid off the solar panels. Most of the refund was the tax credit we had been waiting on. I am totally debt-free at the moment!

North Carolina beaches, North Carolina Historic Sites

Oak Island Weekend

It took me a while to get around to this, but Sandy and I spent a much too short weekend at the beach on Oak Island, NC with friends. We ate a lot of great food and played games and made some fine new friends. The house was next to the Intracoastal Waterway on the sound side and the deck facing it was shady and comfortable. I could easily have spent all my time on that deck!

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I walked a little on the beach but my foot wasn’t happy about it. That’s okay. Another time.

Later Saturday afternoon, four of us drove to Fort Caswell, which is private now but they let us drive around for twenty minutes. Just down the road is the Oak Island Lighthouse and between it and the ocean was a boardwalk with informational signs about the flora and fauna of the area. Very nice. You can see Bald Head Island behind Sandy in the distance.

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We really really really really reaaaaaally hope that we get invited back to this spot with this group.

coffee pot posts, Food activism, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

It’s a beautiful fall morning, at last. Cool, but mild enough to wear a t-shirt and leggings on the front porch. I haven’t done a real coffee pot post in a while from here, because lately I was either elsewhere with other people, getting ready to go elsewhere, coming back from elsewhere, or just sleeping late because I could.

My next door neighbor just turned off his leaf blower, which he seems to have a love for. I plan to sweep the leaves off the sidewalk and rake the others into mulch piles or to take to the compost bin today. I don’t see the need to use electricity or gas for this task, but some people love their gadgets. There’s not a single leaf in his yard. Despite this, I do love these neighbors.  I know that they are good people who will help in a heartbeat if they see that someone needs it. We are so lucky to have them!

They are much better than the former out-of-state slumlord next door, who had to have a warning from the city before doing anything to their yard. Now that yard is clean as a whistle and there is a contract pending sticker on a real estate sign there. That house has sold four times in the 20 years since we sold it and it needs a lot of work. I hope that the new owner is a better neighbor than the last, who seemed to think that they could just collect rent without doing anything else.

My yard guy hasn’t been here in a while, and that’s okay. Last weekend he texted me to say that he was coming by Monday but he and his family had had covid. I counted the days since the date he said he had tested positive and then told him to wait since we were at the beach. We were really on the way home, but I didn’t want to fuss at him.

It’s not just the Trumpies who are refusing the vaccination. There are plenty of others who reject vaccines for “natural health” reasons. It’s very frustrating. I don’t know if he is one of these or not but I suspect so.

A lot of people tend to lump the anti-GMO folks and the anti-vaxxers together as anti-science fools, but as you know if you’ve read my blog for a long time, that is a generalization that is too simplistic. I oppose agricultural GMOs for the egregious and cynical power abuses from the corporations who developed them. I also know that these crops are developed to sustain high amounts of herbicides, which weeds adapt to and develop more robust strains of weeds so you need a more powerful herbicide, which the corporation also sells, and so on and so on. Soil microbes are important – we can’t keep killing them with more chemicals to fix problems that we created. We have to have healthy soil and water to survive.

As far as health reasons, I’m not as concerned about the actual genetically modified food technology as I am that the soil and food has been doused in poison. I have a niece who is a biotechnology scientist who is looking for cures to diseases. Biotech is not evil in itself. It’s the way it is used. If someone comes up with a beneficial biotech crop that doesn’t ruin the soil and water, and is freely available to the farmers without legal caveats, then I’m all for it.

Anyway, I am pro-science, just not pro-corporation lust for profit that puts scientific benefits beyond the accessibility of the people.

Technology seems to be a hassle in general, lately. For instance, I had to rewrite part of this post because it just went haywire for some reason. Now I’m being told I am offline when I am not. Facebook closed down for hours earlier this week, and although I am not so addicted to Facebook that it bothered me, I noticed it because I was trying to post an announcement on our work FB page. I turned over the TWS Facebook and Instagram accounts to someone else several months ago, and with the help of her son, she was able to figure out why some things were not working. It is much more complicated than it needs to be. Why? I’m glad to be letting go of some of this, but I have some work tech on the horizon that will fill in the gaps quickly. Retirement looks better to me every day, although I will have to come up with a schedule for most of my days so that I can turn my attention to art making instead of laying in bed reading and playing games.

Speaking of reading, I finished “Back When We Were Grownups” which was a typical Anne Tyler book. Comfort reading, nothing especially new if you have read Anne Tyler. I began “Elantris” by Brandon Sanderson and I’ve had a hard time putting it down. I look forward to reading more by him. Next on the list is “Broken” by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), which a friend lent to me. My therapist has suggested that I try transcranial magnetic stimulation, and Jenny has written about her experience. I don’t think that I’m going to do this yet since my depression is in regression right now.

I have other blog posts to write, but it felt good just to write whatever came into my head for a while this morning. Time to do some other stuff!

fiber art, Lake Waccamaw, Upcycling, weaving

Lake Waccamaw, September 2021, Part II

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The moon, the moon!

We saw a bald eagle dive for a fish while we were on the boat.

I finished off the sakiori and washcloths that were warped up on the rigid heddle loom toward the end of that wonderful week, and played tapestry with Rosie, my homemade industrial pipe loom. The sakiori pieces are intended to be book covers. Since we have a serious clothing waste problem on the planet, I’d like to weave more sakiori.

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coffee pot posts

Catching up

I’m doing fine – I just haven’t felt like writing. Maybe it’s because I’ve had more time than usual with friends, so I’ve done a LOT of talking, so that’s a good thing, I guess.

I have more photos from the lake from a couple of weeks ago and a whole new post about going to the beach and making some new friends, so I’ll edit those photos and post separate posts.

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^^^From Yum Yum, a hot dog and ice cream institution on UNCG’s campus.

We got out a bit and visited a hemp store in downtown Greensboro, where we bought several kinds of Delta 8 and have been sampling them since. It affects us in different ways. I wanted something to help me sleep. Sandy wanted to get high, legally. The edibles have been a disappointment for him – he seems to thoroughly metabolize the gummies and tincture. He bought a couple of big “joints” which do the trick but they are much too harsh on his lungs, which are compromised from his polymyositis. I don’t want to smoke anything at all and these stink up the house just like pot – I HATE THAT SMELL.  So that’s out. The edibles make me high and really all I want to do is go to sleep. I will try lower doses. I am amazed that this is legal in North Carolina.

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The same night we ate out on the patio at the Bourbon Bowl, with a rare mixed drink for Sandy. The motto “Eat Drink Roll” should have clued me in, but I guess I must have had sushi on my mind. Anyway, it turns out that there are six bowling lanes in the back. Next time I go I will sit at the bar, order a White Russian, and be on the lookout for Sam Elliott.

Food and drinks are so expensive now that even if we didn’t have to worry about getting sick we can’t afford to go out much. We’ve eaten on the patio at Cafe Europa a couple of times.

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^^^Our friend William Hicks was playing music at a private party outside a cool shop next door.

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Good news about my brother-in-law. His scan last week showed that the chemo is working to greatly reduce his abdominal tumors and the cancer has not spread. The doctors said that this treatment was only effective 15% of the time on this kind of cancer, so we had been braced for bad news.

I came to a firm decision to retire at 62 unless something significant changes. I don’t need a lot to live on, and my financial advisor at work says that it is doable. In anticipation of this, I started putting more into my Roth IRA so that I can both save for this goal and see if I can live on less. I am just too burnt out to continue here much longer. I may get a part time or temp job after I retire. My therapist agrees that it is a good decision. Sandy is talking about moving to Portugal again. We are definitely traveling to Portugal in May – that money is mostly spent.

And Sandy finally closed on selling the condo. He sold it cheap, as is, but at least it is done. He invested the money into his retirement account. I really believe that we will be fine. He also spent a little over $2000 in repairs on the 2007 Volvo. Turned out that it needed some major work, but we agreed that it would be cheaper to do the work than to make car payments, and we really do like the car.

Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, September, 2021

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I have been enjoying a very quiet week at the lake with a friend from long ago who reconnected with me pre-pandemic. This is her first time down here and it’s been fun and relaxing. We’ve spent most of our time at the house because we are both super paranoid about, well, you know. We have spent some time outside with my family, and it’s been very good for my head. I took the kayak out for just a little ride.

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Usually I stay at the house when friends go to see the state park and what-not, but this time I gave Beck the tour around the lake. We went to the end of the state park on one side where there is an old dam that marks the beginning of the Waccamaw River. This is an area that has been fixed up with a lovely boardwalk and trails. I think that I will come back here when the reptiles are hibernating for the winter and take a walk.

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The other end of the state park has a boardwalk from the campground to a pier with a swimming area. There was a couple of families there playing. The water was very shallow and clear, and the skies were big.

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art, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

The Lake Tapestry

I really finished this last weekend, and I was going to wait until I had it mounted and framed, or whatever display I decide on, but I couldn’t make up my mind about whether to back it in black or not, so I decided to go ahead and post it.

lake tapestry for web

Originally I was planning to name this “Lake Effects” but since it changed into a mystery place as I wove it I am renaming it after a comment my friend made: “A Place You’ve Never Been.”

99% naturally dyed silk threads for the weft and cotton seine twine for the warp. 4.75 x 6.75 inches.

What do you think? Should I use this black background and frame it? Or should I mount it to a cloth covered board with a lighter, neutral (beige or cream) color? (I can already see a cat hair, so I’ll have to re-photograph it!)

When I cut this tapestry off the loom, I also cut off a sweet little painted silk weft weaving that I began at Pam Patrie’s cabin long ago. I don’t think it can technically be called a tapestry since the weft is woven all the way across, but some people call any art fabric a tapestry. I’m a bit more picky in my labeling. I have no idea what I will name it, but it is inspired by the beach near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

painted weft tapestry for web

coffee pot posts, critters

Labor Day morning – the porch

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The snail is my souvenir from the gift shop at Trerice from our trip to Cornwall in 2017.

Pablocito being allowed to occupy the top bunk on the cat tree is a new development. Just the other day there was fur flying on the porch over it, and he did not seem to be winning.

I’ve had a good weekend, and almost finished painting the framework on the porch. According to my Facebook memories, I began this on Labor Day last year so today is a good day to finish it up. Sandy and I worked on purging and cleaning the laundry/junk/catbox room yesterday. I hope to fill up the garbage can to put on the curb on Thursday.

There’s petrichor in the air.

I used tomatoes and peppers from the container garden in my spaghetti sauce last night.

I didn’t wake up with a headache this morning.

I got a good solid night’s sleep last night.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I’ve been dealing with headaches every freaking morning this week, and today was no exception. I’m glad today was a day off because I don’t know if I would have made it to work. Wednesday morning I stayed home sick, but the other mornings I’ve managed to push through. When I get there, I am double masked except in my office with the door shut, which is where I stay 99% of the time. Not a great way to live and work, but it’s doable. It’s pure hell on my depression, though. I’m pretty sure that the headaches are my normal seasonal allergies, although stress and anxiety and depression probably contribute a lot.

Let’s see…news from this week. Work has been busy with spring semester schedule prep and entry. Hurricane Ida brought us some breezes and spittle and only one good rain storm, of  which we actually need more. It surprise pounded the northeast after traveling overland and the flooding and death toll is shocking. We took advantage of the cooling weather and ate on the patio at Cafe Europa on Tuesday evening. I’m worried that they are not going to make it. There was hardly anybody there. On Thursday evening we went over to Oden and ate mediocre food from the food truck while listening to great jazz from the music students at UNCG in their outside beer garden. So I have been out.

Last night, though, I was so depressed that I couldn’t eat or do anything. I just can’t get up the energy or motivation for anything. I spent some time on the porch reading the local paper from the past few days, played some games on my Kindle, then laid in bed trying to go to sleep. When that failed, I picked up the book “Elantris” and began it, then wandered out to the living room where Sandy was watching the old show “Stargate.” He was shocked that I hadn’t seen the movie so we watched half of that. I have to say that the young James Spader is awfully cute in that movie.

Of course, the legal events in Texas have been awful and I don’t know any women friends who are not horrified. The young people need to step up as much as they are able – our generation is getting older and we have to pass the torch to you.  Just, please, do it masked.

Depression is not sadness, it is an illness. Depression can include a lot of emotions, but mostly for me it expresses itself as a lack of happiness or motivation or hope for the future. You don’t understand it until you’ve experienced it. “Flat” is a good description. Activities or things that normally bring you joy don’t do it for you anymore. When people suggest that you get outside and garden, or walk, or do almost anything that you used to enjoy, it is difficult to impossible to motivate yourself to do it.

The fact that I am blogging is a good thing.

Sandy has expressed an interest in learning how to tie-dye, so I hauled out my box of dyes this morning. I might be playing with dyes this weekend on the porch. It’s been a while since I used Procion dyes so I’ll need to read up a bit on it. I figure I can use up a bunch of my old clothes that I’ve hoarded for dye experimentation, although his motivation is to learn a skill that he can make money at. My impulse is to dye some papers and scraps with natural dyes, but I definitely won’t let any dyepot leftovers go to waste.

My other two goals for this weekend, which take priority, is to finish the lake tapestry, which is almost there – it’s been cut off and the warp ends mainly twisted and stitched to the back. I promised myself not to post any more photos until this is done. Sandy did a drum roll when I cut it off the loom.

The other is to clean the rails on this porch and finish painting them. There’s not much left to go on this project either.

I think that it will make me feel better to actually accomplish a couple of things that have been on my to do list for a long time.

Next weekend I’ll probably check out the North Carolina Folk Festival downtown, then drive down to Lake Waccamaw and spend a week down there visiting family and having a personal retreat. I’ll have a couple of empty small tapestry looms to play with. On the last weekend I’m there, an old friend from my childhood and young adult years is going to join me. We were roommates off and on for a while and we were maid/matrons of honor at each other’s weddings. I expect that will bring my spirits up – gosh, I hope so. This blah feeling really sucks.

coffee pot posts

Sunday morning coffee pot post

The heat and humidity has finally arrived big time in North Carolina. We wait anxiously for the news of Hurricane Ida on the Gulf Coast. So many catastrophes are in motion.

I got out and did a bit of socializing this weekend. It made me nervous to do it, but I did it, because if I don’t, I create the danger of becoming agoraphobic again. Preventing it when you see the warning signs is much easier than getting it, believe me. My brain convinces me that it just feels more comfortable to stay at home, nothing to see here, move along. It’s tough when there really is danger out there that you can’t control other than masking and getting vaccinated.

This time I went to a department party outside at Oden late Friday afternoon, where we were drinking and eating so no masks. Then Sandy and I drove to Cedar Grove on Saturday afternoon and visited some friends. We spent some time inside and outside. They have a beautiful home on a lake, but they are both in precarious health situations, and I worry about unknowingly taking Co-vid 19 into their home. We didn’t wear masks because we are all vaccinated and careful.

Apparently there are a lot more breakthrough cases than reported.

When the state of the world is so fucked up that you hardly know where to turn your awareness to next, it’s pretty easy to get agoraphobic. Especially when we are lucky to have a home in a good neighborhood with power and clean water and comfy furniture and it’s paid off.

Today, however, I am staying home. The heat index is around 106 today, and there is a food truck festival downtown where a friend’s band is playing. Sandy wants to go. I am not going. Sorry, it is too damn hot.

Sandy now says that he doesn’t want to move overseas, but he wants to travel. This is disappointing, but it may be my reality.

I spent some time on Google maps and Rome2Rio and AirBNB and Booking.com this past week and it would be so tempting to go ahead and make all the reservations and buy all the travel tickets and tours but that would be too soon. I did jump on a couple of reservations that were inexpensive and cancellable that I was afraid might get away. People are making a lot of reservations for next year already.

I found a 19th century apartment in the old part of Tavira on the southern coast that I booked for five nights. It was $65 per night, plus the AirBNB service and cleaning fees, so I ended up paying less than $500 per night for a large apartment overlooking the river and town full of antiques with rave reviews. The only sticking point may be the two flights of stairs, but I showed the photos to Sandy and he said to go for it as long as we can cancel it.

Then I found a super cheap apartment near the river and downtown Porto that had excellent reviews for $34 per night plus fees, so I nabbed it for two nights.

The plan is that we’ll spend five nights in Lisbon, five nights in Porto and the north/central area, then five nights in the south. We spend the last night in Lisbon to be near the airport, then a short stay in a Dublin airport hotel to catch a nap on a short layover home. We might take a bus into Seville, Spain for one night while we are in the south. It’s not far from Tavira. From experience I suspect that we will have to take a day of rest every few days, so I’ve tried to look for places with good views.

Now I’m going to do some house cleaning and I should have some art to show in the next few days. My neighbor across the street who is a very successful painter sounds enthusiastic about including me in his next open studio sale, so I mostly need to get a few pieces finished and display ready or ready to hang. That is the hardest part – finishing! I especially tend to never finish a collage. All I have to do is drop some potential piece of material somewhere near a “finished” piece and off I go again. I have the Seth Apter embossing powders to play with now, too.

My friends in Cedar Grove gave us a lot of sweet grape tomatoes so I need to put most of them in the dehydrator. This is the first year in a long time that I have not had volunteer cherry tomatoes, and so I only bought one plant expecting the volunteers. These dehydrated tomatoes are so good in the winter when they add a big punch of flavor to sauces, soups, and chili.