Saint Patrick’s Day

1074Clare

Thinking about Ireland. Aching for it. I wish that I had the courage to throw everything to the wind and take a chance on trying to move there. Like, NOW. This is a photo that I took on the Burren in May, 2012.

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Since I last wrote, spring came and then left.

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When this weather system came roaring through, I had cluster migraines all day. I always feel concerned for the farmers when we have these false springs.

I read “Long Quiet Highway” by Natalie Goldberg this past week. It was time for me to read something about Buddhism. Do you ever wish that you could get back a feeling that you treasured and you don’t understand why you can’t? I don’t understand why I don’t care about certain things that I once cared about. It occurred to me months ago that maybe I should get out one of my many books on Buddhism or mindfulness or simplicity but I didn’t care enough to do it until this past week. I want to care. I want to care about cooking and gardening and even watching TV and movies again. I want to feel present again. I guess this is depression. I feel so lazy and blah. Anyway, Natalie’s book is excellent and it stirred something up that needed to surface. Let’s see if I can get moving forward.

The book also made me want to go to New Mexico. I think that Sandy and I will go there in September, if we have the money.

I meant to go see Natalie at her stop at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro on Sunday, but I started making a book and that took me into a time warp and I forgot.

It was the first book I have made in many moons. I didn’t have a real plan. My sewing machine was in the shop and so I got out the denim paper that I made last spring and a piece of the recycled denim woven cloth to make a cover. A couple of scraps of old pajama pants decorate the front. This one is for me to experiment with stitching on paper. The paper is very soft so if I make another book with it I will need to reinforce the signatures where the pages are folded and stitched to the cover.

Ragged denim book

Ragged denim book

Ragged denim book

I just picked up my sewing machine and I look forward to some frustration-free sewing this weekend.

Disengaged

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I guess it was inevitable that I would get burned out on outrage. I’m still keeping up with news until I get my mojo back though. Another bad cold did not help matters, but I got over this one fairly quickly. The next major political action I intend to take is the People’s Climate Mobilization in D.C. on April 29, 2017. I’m taking Amtrak up there early in the morning and a friend will meet me there, then I’m coming back on Amtrak late that afternoon. No overnight stay this time.

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Work is busy, and a lot seems to be going on at high levels behind the scenes, which is disturbing for us who actually implement the policies. I’m grateful for my job, and I love my work. I hope that I will be able to keep it until I am at least 60 years old, when I will be able to receive most of my state pension if I leave the university. I would like to retire there, but not if I am not in the same department, which is one of the best places to work in the university. Unfortunately a lot depends on state politics here.

Craving studio time. Weekends are the only time I’ve made it over here so far this year. Right now I am weaving together more subtle checkerboard squares to mount shirt pockets on, for the blanket. Also I’m sewing random bits together to make new cloth, with no real plan on how to use them. Maybe they will go on the back of the blanket. It is curious that my passion has moved to sewing, considering the mental blocks I had to overcome. I wish very much that I could sew by hand, but at some point I accepted that my tendinitis is just not going to allow it except in very small amounts.

My problem is definitely not artist’s block now. It is time management and energy flow. I have a billion ideas. I want to get back to making paper and books again. And plant my garden. And plant a garden here at the studio house. Too many things!!!

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The weather was beautiful week before last and I moved the Shannock loom out to the front porch for one day. Looking forward to weaving on the porch more often now that I have it screened with a ceiling fan and electricity. Susanne, Marianne, and I enjoyed the porch at the studio house too.

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Registration for Focus on Book Arts opens tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. PST. Susanne and I definitely plan to go, and I think that Judy will come for part of it. This will be our third time going to this conference at Pacific University in Forest Grove. We’ll stay on campus because neither of us will have a lot of spare cash since we both are going to Europe on separate trips this spring. I have a voucher from Southwest from volunteering to give up my seat last September that will pay for my airfare or I wouldn’t even be able to consider it. The dilemma is what class(es) to take during the first three days? I know that I want Leighanna Light’s class on the weekend. I had thought to take a more technical class on leather binding for the first three days, but my heart says no. I thought about Jill Berry’s class, but I’d like to take at least one class from someone I haven’t studied (or played, depending on how you look at it!) with before. Now I’m thinking about the Chinese thread book class. That seems interesting.

Now, for your amusement, this is Diego versus the rug. Trust me, it went on much, much longer than these few seconds. Click through for the video.

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I guess the rug won this round.

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So be it

So much for doing a little each day. It just ain’t happening. At the end of the weekday for most of the past three weeks I’ve been either Facebooking, reading the Poldark series (starting on book four soon!), drinking beer, playing solitaire, hanging out on the front porch with the boys, or going to bed early. I spent a couple of good weekends at the studio, though.

Yesterday I got serious about cleaning up the house and yard and while it is still a hot mess, the kitchen is clean, the front porch is mostly clean, and some of the yard is cleaned up. I bought a lettuce seed mix and green peas and sugar snap peas to plant, as well as a few other seeds for later. Since the next door neighbor absentee landlord finally came through and cut down the jungle in the front, I might have a sunny patch for a while on the south side of the front yard and I’m considering adding an herb garden there, at least until they let it grow up and block the sun again. (Who called the city? Not me, I swear. I don’t do that, but my neighbors down the street have done it to others so I suspect that they did.) Susanne and I plan to put it a garden in the back yard of the studio house also.

I’m going to try to get it together about eating healthy again. I actually got down to 179.8 on the scale a couple of weeks ago, stepped off, did a double take and rechecked it. I haven’t seen the south side of 180 for a long, long time. Then I went on a food and drinking binge, partly because of my birthday but mostly because I didn’t want to think about reality, and gained a few pounds back. I don’t care about my weight so much but the cholesterol is something I have to get under control because I’m getting pressure to go on statins. It may be that I won’t be able to get it under control, but I’m going to stay on the niacin until June, and then if it hasn’t made a difference I’ll do the statins for a little while to get it down. Trying to do better about my vitamins too, since I have a D deficiency.

Bright spots: the weather has been wonderful. Sunny weekends with high in the 70s. I love my new hair cut. I bought a new mattress and I am sleeping much better. Sandy took me out to Blue Moon Oyster Bar and I ate some of the best scallops I’ve ever eaten. I’ve had some fun times with friends.

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The cats are loving the front porch. Miss Penny from across the street most definitely does NOT approve. She considers all the porches on this street her territory, and it was bad enough that we blocked her access by screening it, but now there are TOMCATS on it. She stalks around growling, howling, yowling, and attacking the screen. Diego, the alpha cat, is terrified of her. Pablocito, my puppy cat, is curious but staying the hell away.

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(click through to see the video on Flickr)

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Theo, my old geezer who is constantly bullied by the younger two cats actually stepped up to the plate and took her on (although with a screen in between; I wouldn’t have allowed it otherwise). Then he went after Diego! I wrote this from Theo’s point of view.

Theo to Pablocito and Diego: “Step aside, children. You think I’m an old geezer but I haz combat skills you can’t imagine. I did time in the muthafuckin’ shelter. I got the ears to prove it. Go hide, you pussies. I got this.”

Theo, badass feline, goes head to head with Penny and her attack fails. She runs off in evil shame.

Of course, there was a screen between them.

Theo to Diego: “You still wanna piece of me, son? It’s go time.”

There is no screen between them.

Diego runs.

Unfortunately it was back to business as usual with the cats this morning.

Susanne is here in the studio and I’m ready to get started. I did have some artistic progress in the last few weeks and here’s some proof.

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Since I don’t seem to be getting around to updating the blog very often, I’ll mention that my 12th blogiversary is coming up soon. Maybe I’ll get a post up, but I wrote about the history of the blog a couple of posts ago, so maybe I’ll skip it this year.

Trying to do a little each day

Sub-title: Getting my shit together, but with a lot of self-care

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I signed up for this online 100 Day Project, in which you are supposed to make a commitment and post online about what you do on a project of your choice each day. I have a bad habit of doing things like this and not following up. It’s one reason why I don’t do online classes unless I can download them to do them on my own time frame. Even then I wander away…even when I love them, love the artist, love the teacher… Anyway, I committed to weaving on “Cathedral” for at least 5 minutes per day for 100 days. Then I started the project a week late, because, hey, at least I started. And I don’t think that I’ll post my progress on their site because what I do is sooooooo slow. However, I decided to post on my Instagram account daily and I’ll post here from time to time.

Five minutes isn’t much, but beginning is the hard thing for me. If I start weaving or playing with thread or cloth or paper for five minutes, it will very likely turn to ten minutes, or thirty minutes, or “Oh my God, I just realized I’ve been at this for hours and my back is locked up and I’m starving.” But if it is only for five minutes, that’s great too.

The photo at the top and the next one is what I’m working on at the other studio on the weekends. I have three projects going on at once there. This is the one repurposing my husband’s shirts and khakis into a blanket. I LOVE THIS PROJECT.

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Here’s my progress with “Cathedral” (at home on the tapestry loom) the first couple of days this week:

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And in other news, I changed offices at work. This one is quieter and smaller, on the other end of the hall from the office suite I was in. It’s taking a bit of getting used to, but I like it.

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No ranting and raving today. Got to go weave for five minutes.

What shapes me

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I’m at the studio, looking out the kitchen window at the bird feeder, the cardinal couple and chickadees and sparrows and what I think is some kind of thrush. They are flitting around but not eating. I look to the side and the orange cat from next door, Ralph, is napping nearby in the leaves, eyes almost but not quite shut. He’s lucky that there’s not a mockingbird around.

Today as I left the house, there was a crow with one white tail feather in my neighbor’s yard.

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I’ve decided that it’s time to start writing again, whether here or in my journal. This blog has gone through several transformations since I began it in February 2005. First, it was almost completely about my back yard garden and permaculture. Then things got a little crazy at work and it became a place for therapy. (Later during the difficult transfer from GoDaddy to WordPress I did not transfer a lot of the early, more personal posts.) I talked about depression, anxiety, and panic disorder, and my experiences as a recovering agoraphobic. Mostly my focus was on simple living, organic/local cooking, and food issues, particularly honest labeling.

As I moved forward (step by step, inch by inch) in my healing I was able to do some of the traveling that I had dreamed about all my life. Then I suffered major volunteerism burn-out with the food and environmental organizations. Other writers in the area were blogging about local food and I felt like I had said what I wanted to say, so I pretty much stopped writing about food and wrote more about my personal life and travel.

I made the switch to writing about mostly my artwork and travel as my focus shifted there. The two are interlinked. I stopped writing so much personal stuff. I started feeling weird and preachy about politics. I lost most of my readers to other social media, and I stopped reading many blogs as I got addicted to Facebook.

And you know, that’s a good thing.

I’m a grown-ass woman, and my mama is not around any more to complain about what she hears from people at church about my writing on the Internet.

So I’m going to write about whatever I want, in my voice, which means if I want to say that something is fucked up, I’m not going back to edit it. In real life, I curse like a sailor. If it offends anyone, perhaps this is your chance to move on.

For those of you who don’t know me in real life, this is what shapes me.

My politics are unapologetically leftist. I am not a Democrat. I am not a Communist, and I might be a Democratic Socialist if I have to fall in with a party, which I do not plan to do in the near future. I love Bernie Sanders with all my heart.

I was brought up in a Southern Baptist church that my parents were heavily active in, a church that was somewhat moderate before a hard right turn in the mid-eighties. Now I am unaffiliated in religion as well, although I joined a very progressive Presbyterian USA congregation about the same time that I started the blog that really helped my outlook on life. In actuality, I’m probably an atheist. Or a Quaker. Or a druid, although I dislike the magic part. I’m too logical to be a pagan. I am fascinated with Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. I’m an ordained Priestess in the Church of the Latter Day Dude.

I’ve stopped labeling myself with what I do for a paycheck. However, although my official job title is “Administrative Support Associate” I refer to my job as “Secretary.” I honor my mother and my aunt that way. I don’t like it when people take perfectly good words and make them pejorative. It makes me stubbornly cling to them.

When people ask me what kind of artist I am, I really struggle with that. I think that almost any endeavor can be art if done with the right spirit. I will call myself an artist, though. That’s progress from the first half of my life.

It should go without saying that I am a feminist, but many feminists annoy the crap out of me.

I am quite pissed off at the protests that dilute their focus by┬átrying to please everybody, because I know it’s impossible. I’m not pleased with people who get hung up on semantics. I believe in courtesy, and listening, but I’m not paying attention to those who think that I’m not doing the right thing or that I’m not doing enough or that I don’t care about their passion or issue because I’m not talking about it. Once they get into scolding, I’m out.

There’s not enough room in my head for all that.

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Last night I dreamed that I was walking to my childhood home, about five miles away. I was exhausted and I called my mother and asked her to come get me.

“I can’t,” she said.

“But I’m so tired,” I cried.

“Go pick up your niece. She needs you.”

“I can’t,” I whimpered. “My car has broken down.”

I called my niece at her college about a four hour drive away. “I am coming for you in about four hours. I don’t know how, but be ready.”

My niece: “Sure, great? Who are you?”

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I’m doing the best I can.

I’ll keep doing the best I can.

I hope that you will too, whatever that means for you.