Back Forty, coffee pot posts, papermaking

Saturday morning coffee pot post

There is a light rain outside that I’m happy about, because it will keep me inside where I need to knock out the taxes. We need money to bolster the Irish economy in May!

This was my last really heavy duty work week for a while. Now it will be a more normal load, as several of my deadlines and major duties passed at the end of March. That’s the way it is in my job – really busy sometimes, and really slow sometimes. I don’t mind that. The long peaceful summer when I can take time off without getting behind and work on projects that aren’t driven by time is very nice. Another month of serious work days remains before that, but at least I’ll feel like I can go out for a lunch break more often. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? I love my co-workers. I really love nearly every little part of it, except sometimes the inevitable bureaucracy of working for a large organization where people in other offices decide things for you without knowing what you do or how things work best, or how they work at all, gets on my nerves a bit. But I get over it.

So, Susanne and I hauled back a big load of iris leaves and a couple of big buckets of horsetail from Goat Lady Dairy last Sunday. She is going to lend me her Critter to make paper pulp here at my house! This is a very expensive piece of equipment that makes exquisite pulp for papermaking. Susanne has a big Hollander beater at her house for making large quantities of paper pulp, so she only needs the small Critter for travel. I am psyched about this since I will be able to make some real cotton and linen rag paper from fabric scraps and yarns leftover from weaving and stitching. I love to recycle all that I can. I don’t know why it gives me such joy but I love nothing better that to make something useful out of something that would have been thrown “away.”

I put quotes there because of course “away” is that fantasy place where trash disappears because it is out of our sight and we don’t think about it any more.

Yes, see. I am still interested in sustainability and simple living and environmentalism. I know it doesn’t seem that way any more but I got tired of writing about it. I still care about local food and Slow Food, but for some reason the LAST thing in the world that I want to do these days is cook. When I do cook, it is usually uninspired and done with a bit of resentment because I would really rather do anything else. I go through periods of this and this one has lasted a long time. Sometimes I wonder if it is that I don’t really like my kitchen. I can’t tell you why I don’t like my kitchen because I can’t put my finger on it myself. I thought I would grow to like it but I still miss my little crowded kitchen from the house next door.

And the gardening thing, well, the pain in my hands and the critters stealing all the fruits and tomatoes and squash and peppers pretty much took the joy out of that, but I do plan to plant butterbeans and field peas again since those do well. I’m going to try some indigo as well, although I was supposed to start the plants inside a couple of weeks ago and that hasn’t happened. I don’t have a good place to start seeds anymore because I no longer have a “cat-free” room since Theo came to live with us. If I shut that room off now there would be no end to the yowling and crying and scratching at the door.

The Back Forty is starting to look beautiful again without much help from me, though. I bought a new canvas roof and mosquito netting curtains for the gazebo in the back, which I need to replace soon before the skeeters hatch out. That is usually in May, but we have had such an extremely warm winter here it wouldn’t surprise me to see them even now. I made green-colored recycled paper back there after work on Monday and it made me very happy and content. It could be that I will need to switch over to papermaking from stitching since my tendinitis seems to be calling the shots despite the surgery.

I realize that I have a short window of opportunity to do solar printing while it is warm and the mosquitoes are not around, so I may get some cloth ready to do that tomorrow when the forecast is mostly sunny.

coffee pot posts, critters, Greensboro North Carolina, whining

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Yesterday was so peaceful. I painted lovely mindless color-washed pages for blank journals – a page for just about any mood, including a few stormy ones. But now I’m ready to make some book covers and it just ain’t happening. I started doing it anyway yesterday and hopefully something good will pop out. Sometimes you just gotta do da work. Now is the time to go to my photo collection for inspiration – maybe the texture photos? Hmmmm.

Susanne and I are riding out to Goat Lady Dairy this afternoon to pick up iris leaves for papermaking. I should have some cotton and abaca pulp thawed out by this afternoon so if the storms let up I might get some papermaking in. I have a lot of colored papers from the office that I save for recycled sheets. I find that the recycled pulp is much stronger when added to cotton or abaca. I like to use shredded transcripts and blue book covers in these papers – I call it “graduate student sweat paper.”

If this sounds like my hands are much better, I’m afraid that is not the case. However, my doctor assures me that I will be better and he can give me a couple of injections in my thumb if I continue to have problems. My physical therapist shakes her head at me and tells me to only stitch for fifteen minutes at a time – which I usually do anyway – but sometimes time falls away when I’m doing these things, which I guess is why I do them in the first place. I am left wondering just why the hell I had this surgery to begin with, but I am trying to have faith that time is the answer, and I don’t do as much as I would ordinarily in the spring, so I’m being as good as I can be. I’m trying not to complain but it has been depressing. I was trying to get off my anti-depressants but I started them back up on a regular basis and I do feel better now. I gave up beer for Lent, which was major, and I’ve fallen off the wagon twice. So considering how crazy-making work has been, I think that I’m doing rather well, actually. Art and good books and thinking about Ireland have all been part of that mood enhancement.

I haven’t done much gardening other than clean-up from last year and pruning back the fig tree rather viciously. I planted a lettuce mix and Danvers carrots from High Mowing Seeds in the beds that don’t get as much sun. The violets are taking over again and they are so pretty this time of year I can’t say that I really mind it.

Theo had to go back to the vet – he really has the worst allergies that I have ever seen in a cat. How did they ever survive in the wild? He wouldn’t last six months as a feral cat. So the vet thinks that if I get him a steroid shot every six months, keep him on daily antihistamines, and vigilant flea medication, that should work for him.

Meanwhile, Guido goes to the vet every six weeks for the same shot, except this one controls his cancer. He freaks out worse that any animal I’ve ever taken to the vet. I dreaded taking him yesterday because Sandy said that when he took him in early February he nearly had a heart attack and he’d never seen him so stressed out. So I gave him a pain pill before we went, popped him into the cat carrier, and he pooped all over it and himself before I even got him to the car. Ugh. It was a major mess. The good news is that he finally gained weight, .6 lb since the last time, and he behaved reasonably well enough for them to get him mostly cleaned up. There was concern about inflamed teeth (he doesn’t have hardly any left) the last time and Dr. Hunt did not see that problem this time. The steroid shot made him super hyper and he ran around and cried most of the night. This morning he seems better.

Lucy’s asthma and coughing is finally much better. I put a vaporizer in our bedroom near where she sleeps and I think it helped all of us.

Hopefully I will have some photos to show of the Magic Hands flag soon. I am not rushing it at all. I’ve also been working on a denim blanket constructed mostly of woven cloth strip squares on the sewing machine. I am way behind on Jude’s online class because I find it frustrating to have all that inspiration and the competing admonition of my brain saying, “Slow down. Slow down.”

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of one of my favorite hangouts – M’Coul’s Pub in downtown Greensboro, NC.