political activism

My Body My Words My Choice

Photos from a Pro-Roe rally in downtown Greensboro today. There were speakers of several genders, sexual orientations, races, and ages, including our U.S. representative, Kathy Manning. It was organized by a handful of young activists. I was seated near the front so there were many more people behind me, especially considering the time and day.

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I shared an abstract portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsberg today on Facebook with the quote: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

This is something that these organizers need to think carefully about and take to heart.

God knows I have a habit of letting the fucks fly, especially when I am angry. And I have morphed over the years into a solid atheist, although I have a lot of respect for the teachings of Jesus and follow several Christian ministers and writers who pay attention to what he taught, not to what will make them and their churches richer or more powerful. My mother was a devout Christian who was compassionate and advocated for peace and helping the poor and the immigrants. I have friends and relatives who are Christians and run the political spectrum, most of them progressive. But wherever these people are on the political scale, nothing good will come from by running them down or making jokes about their religious beliefs.

If your cause is about human rights, make your words about that. Choose your words carefully. I had a lot of good photo ops that I chose not to take because someone positioned a sign with offensive language behind the speakers. There were several news cameras there. What video do you think that they will choose to promote? What photos? Whether you support that person’s freedom of expression or not, or believe it was vulgar or not, it did not help further the cause that we were all there for.

This woman could have chosen other words to say what she meant on her sign. She could have carried that sign in a less prominent place. Another speaker’s joke about a certain Christian religious belief only had the purpose of her trying for a laugh. It wasn’t necessary.

By all means, express yourselves, but have some common sense about what helps and what hurts. Figure out your goals and tailor your language toward that goal. In this case, we need to unite people toward regaining our human rights and not losing more of them. It might seem that Christians are your target, but there were many Christians in that crowd that support abortion rights. There are Republican women who support abortion rights. Save your fucks and your religious jokes for your own circle of friends.

I also heard that the earlier rally this weekend turned a lot of people off when a speaker(s) urged everyone not to vote because it was useless. I’m not saying that you can’t voice your opinion, but consider your audience and what you want to accomplish. Do you want to express anger and despair or do you want to rally people to action? That is a choice too.

There are plenty of words to choose from to get your point across – think about your listeners and readers before your words leave your head.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety

Saturday Mid-day Coffee Pot Post

Warning: much angst in the following post.

Well. It’s hard to know how to begin this morning. I was advised to stop reading the news on Tuesday because I am “fragile.” That obviously did not happen. How can I not read or watch the news? I am an INTJ, an Enneagram One, the planner, the mastermind. I naturally focus on what needs to be done and form contingency plans for when plans A, B, C, etc. go awry. That is what I do. But I’ve been advised to focus on what I can control, which I know is good advice, so I’m doing the best I can, considering the realities of my situation.

I was already crying at my desk at work yesterday morning when the news popped up on my screen from two different state newspapers. I need to figure out how to cut those off. It’s not like it was a surprise, but I guess that I hoped that two out of the five justices would come to their senses. Find some compassion.

I was crying because I am overwhelmed. I don’t have a plan, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I can’t know what is going to happen. Nothing makes sense any more. I am a logical person. I am woman. I am human. All humans are affected by this. Pandora’s box has been opened in the United States.

I was already crying because I am deeply depressed and anxious. I have big decisions to make. Whether I can retire a year from now. Whether I can move out of the country. Whether my husband is willing to come with me, which is not in my control. And he doesn’t want to do it. He doesn’t even want to go back to Portugal on vacation. I tried to remind him that he was in pain from day one and that colored his view of it. That he had options other than Portuguese style food.

I met with an HR retirement benefits staff member on Thursday to discuss my options and get some hard numbers. He was very helpful and created a spreadsheet for me in which I could change dates, etc., to see how it affects my monthly pension when I retire. Hopefully I will get a bigger raise this coming year, but that is now up in the air since our state legislature is again making noises about not passing a budget.

The bottom line is that I could retire in a year, and it is likely that I will. I will have to be even more frugal and cut out some of the art travel stuff, maybe get a part-time job. I can’t move to Portugal unless I take my Social Security early, and I’m going to try to wait as long as I can for that. We’d have to sell the house, or clean it out and arrange to rent it, and as long as Sandy is against moving, that won’t happen anyway.

The good news is that I would pay the same for my health insurance as I do now until I qualify for Medicare. Assuming that that isn’t taken away from us by then. I’d pay the same for my dental for 18 months under COBRA. Dental insurance is pretty much a requirement for me, since I was born with crappy teeth and have a mouth full of old dental work. The endodontist said that she was surprised that I didn’t need to have more root canals earlier because that you start having root canals that your other teeth tend to start pinging off so I have to keep that in mind. So far I’ve had two, and I am not going to wait in pain for months to do it the next time. I was waiting for my upgraded insurance to kick in then – not a good idea.

I am anxious about training my co-worker to do my job and I need to get over that. She is really smart and competent and can learn it. It’s just that I do so many different things and the rules and processes change constantly. I will have to stay positive about that. No good can come of me transferring my negative attitude to her.

The other possibility that made my head spin is that the HR guy said that it is possible for me to work from home. That it is not forbidden by the university, as I was told, but could be authorized by my department on a temporary basis, and by the department and higher offices on a permanent basis. He showed me the policy online. But after talking to my office manager, who is also one of my best friends and truly has my best interests at heart, this is not doable. That UNCG leadership says that we have to have the office open in person. Anyway, she is going to think about it, but I’m not sure that I want to do it. Maybe over next summer, so that I could work from the lake and be with my sister more. I did that before with no issues. I hardly ever see a student any more and when I do it’s always something that could have been handled over email or the phone.

Part of what I decided to do, and I’m already having second thoughts about, is downsizing my studio to just book arts and my small Mirrix tapestry loom and selling my big looms and most of my yarn. Get rid of all the fabric that I’ve hoarded. But I also love weaving cloth strips together. Sandy says that I should keep my big floor loom because I will want it after I retire. All my stuff is overwhelming me – there is too much. I have filled up the studio and half of my bedroom.

People talk about how their art saves their sanity at times like this. I wish that was so for me. I shut down. But I am beginning the purging process again a box at a time, mostly old books. A lot of the fabric and natural objects will have to go. I’ll work on finishing the big tapestry now that I bought a new lamp this week so that I can see the true colors again, and I’ll sell the Shannock loom and much of my weaving yarn stash. I’ll consider selling the Macomber loom since it is the biggest space hog. At least book arts will not take up so much room, and there are so many directions that books can take.

I finished the end bands on the papyrus book that I started last summer in Dan’s class, and now I can glue those covers together and it will be finished. I took apart the Pocosin book from my first book class down there to rebind it, and then realized my error – I had glued together all the page blocks so I’ll have to rebind the whole thing as single sheets. In a way, that is fine. It will give me a minor challenge and I can finish the pages that I wanted to put windows into.

art retreats, book arts, National Wildlife Refuges, North Carolina, Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft

Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft

20220612_194148This week I attended Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft to study again with Daniel Essig. This class was a second repeat of a class that I’ve taken with him before about wooden covers and mica pages. Every class has been a bit different though, with different tools available. I always learn new information. Too much information!

I’m going to post photos of my works in progress here, but later when the weather is not calling me to go outside (it is a rare cool breezy morning here) I will post photos of the finished books and some of the pages inside. Maybe a video if I can get it set up correctly.

Columbia is a tiny, beautiful little riverside town on the banks of the Scuppornong River, which empties into the nearby Albemarle Sound. If you keep going a little farther east on Highway 64 it will take you to Manteo and then the Outer Banks. It is home to the headquarters of the Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge and a red wolf reintroduction and education center. There were at least two bear sightings while I was there and one was on the boardwalk that I walked on my first evening there on Sunday.

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Monday morning we began class and we were able to use several power tools and hand tools in Pocosin’s wood shop. I pushed myself to get past the fear of the power tools, although I am pretty comfortable with a drill. I was more nervous about getting the diagonal angle on the spine edge of the wooden covers right. Turned out that I was pretty good at it after a little bit of practice. We also had access to some great woodburning tips that Dan brought with him. Dan provided milk paint in ten different colors, and we painted over our distressed and burned covers with layers of milk paint, then sanded and polished them.

Much of the class was spent on preparing the mica covered pages, but I concentrated more on getting some other wood covers that I had bought from Dan in the past beveled on the sander and drilled. My mica covered pages were pretty simple affairs, and I will photograph them best I can later for the blog. They are shiny.

My work area did not stay this neat:

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Pretty papers to choose from:

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Covers before binding, and spine bound before the endbands were added.

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The original idea was that I would nail the mica windows down with tiny nails. It makes a really elegant finish and I was excited about it. However, when I tapped in the last nail at the top of the window, the board cracked. Dan repaired it for me with wood glue, but it meant no more hammering on the cover. So I changed the mica window to a thicker piece at his advice, and anchored it down with double-sided tape and blue Lofta paper. I will probably rework this cover because I have some other ideas now. I did get the end bands on it, although I need more practice.

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The first book we made was paperback with a small concertina fold to sew and glue the pages onto. Later we attached light wooden covers. 20220619_092540

When I had spare moments, I worked on the covers for the next book, which I am pretty excited about. I didn’t really have a plan for it except that I knew that I wanted to sew this piece of dried greenbriar vine to it. On the back in a mica window is half of either a hickory nut or a butternut that I found washed up on the shore of Lake Waccamaw. My plan is to leaf print handmade paper pages for this one, but I’m also tempted to make some mica encased page blocks that are thick enough to hold some of the tiny treasures that I collect at the lake. I could do both.

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coffee pot posts

Saturday Morning Coffee Pot Post

I feel so lazy. Sandy and I talked about all the things we want and need to do today but my urge to drink coffee on the porch instead is strong.

This has been a rough week. Not for work…that is light in June. My brother-in-law had a great cancer scan two months ago and that gave us all a lot of hope and he got a reprieve from chemo. Now it’s back and he has to do heavy chemo again. We both think of him as our brother and we love him very much.

I talked with a university sponsored financial advisor who strongly advised me not to retire at 62. He said that there would be a worsening recession and if I lived a long time my money would run out. However, I didn’t have Sandy’s financial information and I don’t think this guy understood how frugally we live. I have an appointment with a university HR person in a couple of weeks who will be able to give me more exact figures and help me understand my choices. It may be that I will search for another job and try to put off taking Social Security a little while longer. I heard that this employee helped another staff member find more retirement funding so that she could retire earlier.

My main focus is that I am leaving tomorrow for a book class with Dan Essig for a week at Pocosin Arts School in the tiny town of Columbia, NC near the Outer Banks. I’m gathering up a bunch of book art and collage supplies and I’m really going to try to focus. A friend talked me into doing another weekend class with Leslie Marsh in October at Topsail Beach. Having these in person classes to look forward to has lifted my spirits. Then of course I am still flying out to Oregon in July with my friend Susan. If I hadn’t paid for that Portugal trip beginning in 2019 I’d be in debt, but I am not. It may not seem that I am frugal, but I save and prioritize travel and art classes over car payments and new clothes and furniture. It helps that I don’t have children.

The weather is still nice today so I might get a little more yard work done. The guy who mowed my yard told me that he was interested in helping me with my garden, so I have hope that this will work out. Last weekend I did a lot of pruning and I think that I got into fire ants. I have a lot of bites on the back of my neck and trailing down to my boob. At first I thought spider bites but there are too many. I joked on Facebook about a vampire bite because of two on the side of my neck. Hydrocortisone has taken care of the itching so far so I hope to be over that soon.

Now I need to take a home Covid test, because Pocosin requires proof of vaccination and a booster and an honors based Covid test. I’m happy about this. It will make me feel much safer.

Lisbon, Portugal

Tavira to Lisbon, May 25

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^^^Bye street.

Today was the day I had sort of dreaded – the day that we would have to get our Covid tests to meet the “day before” or 24 hour time limit before leaving for the United States. It ended up being easy, thanks to our host who arranged the appointments for us at a clinic in Tavira. Afterwards we hung out for a while at Pastelaria & Padaria Venezuela and had pastries and orange juice, then sat at the train stop a couple of blocks away.

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This train trip was uneventful except that I had filled a water bottle with tea and put it in the side pocket of my backpack. Sandy put my backpack up on the rack, the cap to the bottle came off, and tea poured and sprayed all over the place, including on some of the passengers. So we got some paper towels and cleaned the mess up best that we could.  Damn Americans!

I was not monkeying around with walks uphill any more so when we got to Lisboa-Oriente station, I got a taxi to take us a short but steep uphill walk to our next place. It was a converted over-garage studio apartment in a cute neighborhood and was one of the cheapest and most comfortable places we stayed. When we headed downhill to find a place to eat dinner, Sandy asked a passerby her advice. It turned out that she was the cousin of our landlord and she recommended nearby Restaurante Alegria and walked along with us, showing us walking paths that were shortcuts. So friendly and helpful!

Here’s where I talk about the wildflowers in Lisbon – what many people would call weeds. I was so pleased to see an appreciation for letting them grow everywhere. Most of the time I saw them growing in the cracks of the streets, on walls, and on roofs. This lovely path took us through a small meadow of grasses and wildflowers Most people in the U.S. would have seen this as an overgrown vacant lot.

20220525_203816Alegria was a small rock music themed restaurant – they used 33 rpm records for placemats. Sandy had a beef dish and because I was not very hungry, I decided to try the fried codfish balls that you see in snack bars everywhere. I didn’t particularly like them, but what I loved was the rice and beans that they served with them. I could have eaten just that side dish and bread and have been perfectly happy.

We got our negative results through email and hit the sack early during our last night in Portugal.

And the less said about the trip home the next day and the next the better. Let’s just say that we made it home to Greensboro via Dublin and Boston and Newark by Friday night. So many flights were delayed and canceled that we were lucky to get home as soon as we did. I wrote a bit about it here: https://slowlysheturned.net/2022/05/28/saturday-morning-post-portugal-coffee-pot-post/

We both eventually got our checked luggage. Whew!

And that concludes the story of our 2022 trip to Portugal.

Portugal, Tavira

Tavira, Tuesday, May 24

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This was our last full day in Tavira.  We considered going back to a different beach on the back side of the island, but instead we had lunch at an Indian restaurant across the river and then went to a couple of museums.  We talked to the people seated around us – two were sisters from Newfoundland, although one of them lived in Texas. The other couple talked to Sandy about the health care system in Portugal and the process of applying for the D7 visa.20220524_150708

We spent part of the day at the Museu Municipal de Tavira, which included the Palácio da Galeria and the Museu Islamico. We were able to see more of the Phoenician archeology sites that were under the palace that had been converted to the art museum. They were ritual pits, and you viewed them from glass panels over the floor.

Gabriela Albergaria was the featured artist in the contemporary art exhibit named “A Natureza Detesta Linhas Rectas” (“Nature Abhors a Straight Line”), and I adored her work with and about trees.

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There was an exhibit about the Mediterranean Diet in Portugal, which I’ve come to understand through experience is quite different and complex. The Portuguese are known for their cuisine, and it varies from region to region in this small country. Language varies in different regions too. For example, I tried to interpret “prego,” which I assumed meant sandwich, on a menu in Évora. It translated to “nail.” Nowhere in my two Portuguese to English dictionaries did it list this word, even in Rick Steves’ food lists.

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^^^Now I know what pigeon holes are. I think that there were pigeons in every hole in this wall.

When Sandy was taking a nap in the late afternoon, I walked around by myself and did a bit of shopping. Then I wandered up the hill to check out the walk to the clinic where we had covid tests scheduled for the next morning, and the train station nearby. I loved this solitude, and I discovered some streets off the tourist track. This is when I thought, yes, if we could find a quiet place we could afford away from the tourists, I could see living in this area.

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^^^An antique and a view from our living room window.

I bought a handwoven bag at a local gift shop, and I was conflicted about giving up my old bag. I loved the outside pockets on it, but because it had a black interior, everything that went inside was hard to find. I called it “the black hole.” Then I remembered that I had brought a sewing kit with me, so I cut the outside panel with the pockets away from the black hole and stitched it to the new bag, all while polishing off a bottle of wine. As you might guess, I was pretty hammered by the time I finished.

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Around 9:30 we walked to a corner restaurant/bar where there was live music. There we had appetizers of bruschetta with cheese and honey and dried fruit outside. It was the perfect last dinner in Tavira.

Portugal, Tavira

Tavira, Monday, May 23

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20220523_131503After strolling around a few streets, we ate sushi and Japanese food on a balcony over the river that I had been ogling from our terrace for several days. That’s one shrimp inside that fried wrap – so good! We enjoyed watching all the fish swimming in the river below us.

The museums were closed on Monday, but the castle and its garden was open, so we enjoyed the views and the trees and flowers there. I finally found out the name of the tree with the gorgeous purple flowers we had seen everywhere in Portugal – jacaranda. A lot of bougainvillea flowered everywhere as well. Ongoing archeological digs have found that the base of the castle walls go back to Phoenician settlers.

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That night we ate at Zeca da Bica, where the tables wrapped through the alley and around the corner outside. I decided to have another kind of grilled fish – golden bream this time. The cheese that we bought as a side was outstanding. We drank a pitcher of sangria and talked to the couple beside us, who were from Germany.

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Portugal, Tavira

Tavira, Saturday, May 21

This was the day that we had originally planned to take a bus to Seville, Spain and spend one night there. I did not regret canceling this side trip. We slept late after not sleeping much the night before.

Sandy went for a Thai massage. His back felt better after that and I wish that he had done something like that earlier in the trip.

I love the way that these clouds mirrored the rows of roofing tiles below.

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Yep, these stairs weren’t nearly so bad as the first place in Lisbon!

Across the river there was an old marketplace building and a small craft fair was going on outside of it. I bought a hand painted stone magnet from an artist there.

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We ate at a very simple place inside for lunch, and the older woman inside did not understand English at all. So I tried to order a “tosta de queirjo” (grilled cheese sandwich). She popped open a cerveja (beer) and handed it to me. We both eventually got toasted ham and cheese sandwiches but I found it funny.

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Sandy sampled the porter that I bought at the craft beer bar downstairs and we decided to sit at the bar and have one together. He went upstairs for something and while I waited for him at the door on the street, the bar started playing YMCA. I started doing the YMCA dance, then I noticed several other women doing it as they walked down our street. Then I looked to my left and a little girl was watching me and doing it too. So I kept smiling and dancing with the little girl until the song ended. Later we ran into each other again and pointed at each other and did a little YMCA again. It was one of the sweetest experiences that I had.

I may be an introvert, but I definitely am not shy.

There was an Irish bar and restaurant with tables beside the river that we decided to try called the Black Anchor. It had a variety of cuisines, so I had chicken satay with peanut sauce and enjoyed it.

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I didn’t eat these, but this uncleared table on a sidewalk on the way back captured my attention, as much for the snail shells as for the pattern that the wet glass made on the paper.

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