Saturday morning coffee pot post

I don’t think that there will be photos in this post. I’m just going to sip coffee and write about random stuff for a little while.

My birthday is tomorrow and I will be 58. Maybe it is because my job requires me to plan one year ahead but I’ve been thinking that I am 58 for several months now. I guess this year I will be thinking that I am 59. Retirement has been on both Sandy and my minds for quite some time. He is probably going to retire this year. I will see if I can retire at 62 so that we can do some retirement stuff together before he gets too much older. I will probably work part time or get temp jobs. We are lucky that I “should” be able to do this because I will have a pension and insurance from being a state employee. We’ll see as the time gets closer.

It baffles me that I am this old. Maybe everyone feels this way. I never had children and for years I was the youngest one in any group I hung out in (still am in some groups). I don’t generally feel the social constraints that I might feel if I was a parent or grandparent. But as I’ve said before, I have never felt that I really belonged here anyway. I feel at home with my artist friends but I seldom get to see them. They are either too busy with work or family or they live far away. Or I cocoon myself away to protect myself from hurt and bolster my energy and don’t make the effort I should to be a good friend. Introvert behavior in an extrovert world.

Low spirits this week with nightmares, an anniversary of a tragic event, and a political world emergency. My blood work came back and my cholesterol levels are the highest ever. I have to get my butt in gear or very likely have to give in to taking statins. At least for a little while. I’m going to try an Ayurvedic supplement called triphala in the next three months and pay attention to my diet again. Pescetarianism suits me pretty well, and I am a tofu/tempeh fan.

I also unfollowed and left a couple of liberal prepper groups on Facebook. I find them useful sources of information, but there is a lot of serious negativity and some wayout alarmist posts as well. I am sufficiently alarmed at humanity’s prospects already and don’t really need to uptick the anxiety.

The solar panels do make me feel like I am doing what I can in our little corner of the world. I refinanced them with my local credit union this week, along with an unexpected expense (new water heater). This is more expensive per month than what I had but it will force me to pay it off quicker and I feel more in control. The other financing was way too complicated – it turned out that the 0% for 18 months only applied to 2/3 of the loan. I was irritated about this misunderstanding and emailed the company about it. The owner of the company called me and sent me a check for 3% of the loan for the trouble I’ve gone to in setting up the first financing (a protracted, complicated pain in the ass) and refinancing. That was pretty damn impressive, and so I am again very happy with them. Duke Energy says they will be sending me a rebate check for 14% of the loan in the next few weeks, then I should get a 30% tax credit.

This weekend is a rainy one. I have not started any seeds yet! Today I am weaving and this afternoon will go to Gate City Yarns for the Tunisian crochet class and learn a couple more kinds of stitches.

Okay, back to weaving! Maybe I will post with photos tomorrow if I get around to taking any.

Tunisian crochet

When I am not weaving the twill gamp curtain panels, and by the way, I’ve started the second one, I have taken up crocheting. This is a slippery slope for me. I have always loved to crochet but every time I begin doing it I get obsessed with it and I don’t quit soon enough. The house can be absolutely quiet and I will lose hours while crocheting. This is probably the closest I ever get to meditation.

I mentioned that I am taking a class at Gate City Yarns. I have also mined Ravelry and Interweave Press website and the Interwebz in general in search of free patterns, not only in Tunisian crochet but any crochet. When I quit smoking 24 years ago (and I think that yesterday was my anniversary for that!) I crocheted many snowflakes and Christmas ornaments. Even though I am not a lacy kind of gal, I hooked up a lot of doilies and delicate filet crochet thingies. A lady came to my house and bought most of my ornaments right off my tree. After that, my tendinitis cranked up, and I got rid of my crochet thread and itty bitty hooks, and vowed to never do it again. That wasn’t the first time I made that vow.

WELL. BUT…this is TUNISIAN crochet! It might be different! And I have SO MUCH YARN.

So, I decided to do this weather scarf. I got out a bunch of colors of Tahki Cotton Classic that I bought years ago from Earth Guild, and similar cotton yarns I have on cones. I assigned colors to a range of temperatures like this:

Then I looked up the high temperatures for each day on Weather Underground and made a chart with the corresponding colors. Then I started stitching one row for every day. Yesterday I caught up to the current day and it is not enough! So I also have a regular crochet project in which I am making dishcloths and produce bags with the long yarn waste from my current weaving project.

My buddy the Fabulous Zha K gave me a bunch of interesting boxes and tins on her way outta North Carolina and this wooden wine gift box turned out to be the perfect container to keep my current crochet projects together.

I hope that this will work out and I can be wise about it. I am weaving standing up and when I need a break from that I sit down and crochet. In the meantime, nothing else is getting done, unfortunately. These seeds aren’t going to plant themselves.

How it is with me

Better. Much better.

I am able to make myself do the things that have to be done. And do the things that my soul craves as well.

During the last weekend in January, Sandy and I got out and cleaned up the back yard and took the remaining tatters of the cloth roof off the gazebo, AKA the outdoor studio. The idea is to move it more toward the middle of the yard and away from the trees, and from there it will be mostly up to Sandy what he wants to do with it. I am not moving it or the many pavers that I put down when I set it up long ago. It nearly handicapped me then. But it was a great place to paint and make paper and read and journal until the trees behind starting dropping branches on it and the vines began ripping through the screened walls. A big limb came down on our back house a few weeks ago and so Sandy is cutting away at it and burning it. He is such a firebug.

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Saturday somebody told him that he looks like Captain Kangaroo.

Between that weekend and this weekend we moved the greenhouse closer to the house where I think that it might get a little more morning sun. This will be a warm week and I will start some seeds.

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Last weekend Sandy took me to a country restaurant called Hillbilly Hide-a-way that we have been curious about for a long time. They bring you out some of everything that is on the menu that night and then you can order more of whatever you want, all you can eat. I guess if you are a huge eater it is a great deal. People wrote all over the walls for years so we added our names. It is a very popular place. I doubt we will go back though.

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On Thursday, we went to see Gaelic Storm at the Blind Tiger here in Greensboro. I saw them in 2016 and they put on a great show. I’m kind of surprised I didn’t write a post about it then because I took photos then. They have a new fiddler this year but here is a photo from last year when they ended the show up on the bar.

Gaelic Storm at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC

Then on Saturday, I took a Tunisian crochet class at Gate City Yarns, and afterward we ate at Pier Oyster Bar and Grille, both in downtown Greensboro. This was our second time at Pier, and man, is it good. I had ahi poke tacos and the shells were crispy fried wontons. This is the first time I have found poke with the same flavorings that I found in Oregon in 2017. YUM.

I really like Tunisian crochet. We have two more classes, and here is the start of the sampler…will post the final product later. I like the look of it and it is much easier on my right hand.

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As for Amanda and Gate City Yarns, I think that I have already proclaimed my love for Amanda here. I took the spinning wheel that belonged to Ida Eisemann to her. I had bought it in an antique store in Saratoga, Florida around 2002, I think. She was so beautiful that I could not leave it in the store. However, I felt strongly that she needs to go to a spinner so Amanda is going to look into getting her restored (she needs a flywheel) and either buy or sell her for me. She was lonely at my house. I believe this is an object with a soul.

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Yes, I am still weaving! I am making a mess of the hemstitching on the first curtain panel now.

Solar Energy Rocks!

Solar panels at the back of the house.Okay, I am giving my new setup with the Kindle and Bluetooth keyboard another try this weekend. The last time I tried I lost a long post at the very end of writing it. It is very very very slow. Maybe that’s appropriate? Teaching me patience? Anyway, if you are reading this, it worked!

We finally accomplished two major life goals this month. We paid off the mortgage on the house, and the solar panels are finally in energy production! I monitor the production every day in an app and so far on a sunny day they produce about 12.7 kHw per day and growing as the days grow longer. We could have placed them for more efficiency but historic district rules stated that they have to be as invisible as possible, so they had to go in two rows at the back of the house. The electrician said that it made little difference anyway.

The company is NC Solar Now and if you are in North Carolina and decide to use them please give me name, Laurie O’Neill, as a reference. I will get a referral fee that I will put back into the payments on the system.

This is not an off grid system. I wish that we could afford that, but I’m not even sure they would allow it where we are if we could. The power we produce feeds back into the grid and we are credited for the amount on our bill. We still have to pay Duke Energy a meter fee, and I imagine that the GOP in power will figure out more ways to squeeze more money from us for Duke shareholders. Still, this system should provide almost all the energy we need. I will be writing and updating about it all year.

As the days grow longer and hotter, we should generate more energy so hopefully it will balance out. Our furnace and water heater runs on natural gas.

I have always been very frugal about energy use and this is making both of us more conscientious about ways we can go further.

Now that I’ve managed to do a life update, I’m heading back to the loom.

The Macomber twill gamp

The Macomber loom is up and weaving. The warp that I measured for it beginning 5-6 years ago was a nightmare, though. At that time I decided, as I do and often regret, that I would measure a warp as long as possible to avoid having to warp it again for a long time. I don’t know why I don’t learn from experience, but this was before the Shannock warping fiasco. I had begun the project just before we adopted Diego and Pablocito, and I began having neck and shoulder problems, so those two factors influenced me to put it away for a long time.

When I brought the warp bundles back out, they were insanely long and I had twice as many as I needed because apparently my plan had been to do doubleweave rugs. I dropped that plan and got out my pattern weaving books and threaded a twill gamp. (A gamp is a sampler of weaving patterns.) The bundles were tangled at the end and I ran out of warp sticks for the back beam, so I cut off about seven feet of warp. It is a good thing I didn’t go ahead with the double weave, because I made a few mistakes in threading the reed and the slots where I threaded two warps stuck badly. I went through three cycles of weaving, unweaving, untying, rethreading, and tying. My skills are rusty, but all in all I was very pleased in how it turned out. When I got frustrated, I walked away for a few days. I am not in a hurry.

As you might guess, I have a large amount of this cotton yarn that I bought as mill ends on large cones a long time ago. So it shows up a lot. I’d like to use it up. I am crocheting the warps that I cut off into dishcloths.

I am aiming for this fabric to become curtain panels, since we need curtains. The colors don’t match our sofa or wall color, but whatever. If I can’t bear to weave these for that long because of tension problems, they might become bath towels or kitchen towels. I plan to cut off each one as I finish it and re-tension and re-tie the warp, because I can see the problems on the back beam already.

Most of the time I am weaving standing up, and that’s a good thing since I generally sit all day.

So far my favorite patterns have emerged on the green stripe. I’m glad I chose a contrasting color for the weft.