Uncategorized

Unweaving

20220123_104658[1]After a good day of weaving and also lazing around yesterday, I woke up this morning with the realization that I needed to unweave a section of the tapestry. Fortunately, this section had fairly clean edges and didn’t intersect much with the areas on either side, or honestly, I would have let it go. I let another complicated section go that I grew unhappy with. I’m not telling which one.

The funny thing is that the entire time I was weaving it, I was patting myself on the back for making such subtle color changes so that the section, although simple, wasn’t entirely flat, but it still melted into the background and gave the eye a place to rest. And when I started weaving this section, I thought it would be much smaller because at that time I had decided to stop weaving at that pen line on the cartoon behind the weaving. I think the section would have been fine if I had stopped weaving at that point.

As the section of green grew larger I started thinking about that sharp line at the bottom of it and how it represented the edge of a branch in the background and how I really needed to indicate, even if it meant lazy lines or a very light color shift, the top edge of that branch. Once I got that in my head, I knew that I wouldn’t be happy with the finished tapestry unless I changed it.

I don’t think that anybody likes to undo work, but if it is something in a piece that you have dedicated many, many hours to, and you can do it without taking a huge area apart, I think that it is worth the time. This is a lesson that I learn over years of practice. Maybe no one else notices or can tell the difference, but if it bothers you, you’ll never unsee it.

The best way for me to do it is to unweave it first thing in the morning, then walk away for a few hours. Come back and see it with fresh eyes and understand that it is something new instead of a mistake undone. Right now I feel pretty eager to get back to it, but normally I would not feel that way.

Because my mind tends to see metaphors, I am considering the way that I am about to unweave my life here in the United States or at least in North Carolina. There are times that I think of this with great relief, and then I think of the enormous energy and patience it will take to do it, and I’m filled with anxiety. My hope is that my husband and I will agree on most of which will need to be done. Those who know us are probably laughing at that statement. I’ll probably want to get rid of everything except the art supplies and art and start over. My husband probably will want to ship all our hoard overseas. And honestly, some compromise of that will probably happen eventually, but not without a lot of arguing. It would be the easier option, and probably cost about the same as buying a lot of new furnishings.

The thought of starting over from scratch is so intriguing to me, though. I have watched a couple of friends do it. A near-total fresh start. That is so appealing to me. The thought of becoming an immigrant is daunting but the idea that it could lead to European citizenship is exhilarating. Not having to worry about being able to afford health care as we age. Travel to new places, new cultures. I have been in love with Europe ever since we went to Italy in 2006, but I never anticipated that I might actually be able to live there until recently.

It won’t be as easy for us as it might have been when we were younger, but we would not have been able to do it then. I just hope and pray that by the time I can retire Portugal does not raise the income requirement or change the immigration rules too much. I’m willing to look at other countries but Portugal has the climate, beauty, public transport, and large English-speaking communities that we would need to be happy.

Honestly, even though this is a very, very complicated section of my life, I think that I want to unweave it anyway. If I let it go, I think that I will always regret it.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, Rants

Saturday morning snow post

20220122_101328[1]

Not much snow, the way I like it. REALLY cold for North Carolina, though. 24 degrees F at 10:50 a.m. What is notable about this snow is that this year I see many tracks that I suspect are fox tracks. Critters really love to live under that building, and in the space between the ceiling and the roof. Sandy and I are talking about cleaning it out to use for studio space again. I’m not sure that I have the energy for that, but it will need to be cleaned out before we move anyway. I’ll have to find the energy from somewhere!

Here’s what I plan to work on this weekend:

20220122_102621[1]20220122_102651[1]

Anyway, not much has happened in my life other than work. It’s been really busy at work with several big areas of my job needing attention at once. That’s the way my job is – really busy then not much at all to do. I spread out the work as much as I can. The good thing is that I enjoy the work I am doing right now, which is mostly schedule planning and graduate student admissions. Later this semester it will be forms, forms, forms.

I complained (okay, ranted) on Facebook about people who do not read emails from me that are clearly marked URGENT and/or IMPORTANT. This is mostly a problem with students but faculty and instructors are sometimes guilty also. It has been bad for the last decade but the problem has quadrupled with the stress of covid brain. I work hard on these emails to make them as clear and detailed as they can possibly be. I keep templates of the ones that come up regularly and revise them as needed, so I know that people have understood them just fine in the past. Then to have three people ask me a week after they miss an important deadline that I do not set…that they don’t know what the date is…they seem to remember me sending something out…I mean, literally, all I do is copy and paste my answer from the email to their questions. Sometimes the answer is right below their question. And in this case, and most cases, it’s not hard stuff. “How do I do this?” “Click the link in the email that I sent where I wrote, click this link for instructions.” I don’t know how to help these students who ignore my help!

Then there are the students who need repeated confirmation. This seems to be a newish thing too. “Just to confirm, did you really mean this?” Yes, I did, just like I meant it when we also talked about it a week ago.

I’ve never had a lot of patience, but I do try very hard to swallow the irritation and be compassionate. My brain ain’t so great either these days. I will, however, search my computer, email, and the university website before I ask someone else for information I have lost. I hear a lot from the faculty who are struggling as well. What do you do when you are stressed to the limit but your students are too? I read articles online about how universities who are concerned about their budgets and student retention tend to ignore the stress of their employees, offering little other than online “how to cope” workshops, as if our stress does not affect the students. It’s a big problem on a national level, but in states like North Carolina where the ultra-conservative Republicans in charge dismiss us as either a drain on state funds or fomenters of dangerous liberal radicalism (especially in history), it is getting to a crisis point. As my therapist and others said, our bodies are not built to deal with this kind of sustained stress.

One of the latest issues where I work is that the college has decided to reduce the number of semesters students have to take in foreign language without notifying or involving the department of languages in their decision. Now, I tend to be on the side of reducing the semesters because it is a lot compared to our peers, but not to confer with the department of languages is incredibly disrespectful.

It feels very cutthroat where I work right now, but at least I feel that my co-workers and I are safe from budget cuts at this time. The delay in telling us what exactly those cuts will be is bothersome. The communication between administration and academic departments is terrible.

“As a service to you, take this workshop that Human Resources bought from an outside vendor on how to do more with less. Here’s some required training about how you can provide mental health care to students. We’re sure that you can fix yourselves and your students through the magic of the Internet. Oh, your job doesn’t include counseling? You’re extremely depressed, yourself? You think you should be paid more for taking on more responsibility? Feel lucky that you are employed at all.”

It’s gotten where the satire on McSweeney’s is more and more on the mark.

Pablocito sez, “Get that camera away from me!”

20220118_113910[1]

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Studio talk

Sunday morning snow post

20220116_094026[1]

I started to take a snow picture, but nah. It is pretty and now it has turned to sleet. Ice is what is usually on the menu in North Carolina.

Sandy and I went over to the art center and I brought back my paints and mediums and glues, but left some stuff behind. The heat was back to normal and Jay was there. I was ambiguous about whether I would stay in the print co-op, but I told him it was likely that I’d drop out and come back later. We went to Deep Roots and this time I did not see a single unmasked customer inside. I bought a lot of fresh produce and I hope that I won’t wiggle out of making soup and lasagne today.

I’ve noticed that I spend more time reorganizing my art supplies than I do making art. You know, maybe that’s okay. I’ve been trying to nail down what I actually enjoy doing rather than what I feel like I SHOULD enjoy doing. Anyway, I need to reduce this stash by at least half. What you see here is only about a fourth of what I have. The looms are on the opposite side of the room. I have other bookshelves and chests of drawers full of cloth, collage materials, yarns, tools, and supplies. It’s a pretty big hoard, and I live in a very small house.

The hunt for rectangular baskets and cigar and wooden boxes for my supplies is a lot of fun. I bought a lot of the wire baskets from Office Depot during the pandemic and most of them contain my cones of yarn. The big bag of rice is for weighing down collages that I glue to panels, especially ones with more textural and 3D parts glued to them. It’s a tip that I got from Crystal Neubauer.

My idea for collage packets on Etsy – maybe I should do some categories where people can mix and match? If you’re really into maps, you could get a packet with just travel related stuff and maps. If you love dictionaries, I have lots of dictionary pages. I have music pages. I have foreign languages. I have encyclopedias. I have children’s books. I have textbooks. I have LOADS of cloth and yarns.

What I need to figure out first is what the shipping cost will be for a standard manila envelope, then the many changes that have happened in the Etsy platform since I last used it. Or maybe I’ll just set up a sales page here with a Paypal button. That might work.

I set up the big chair in the living room today with a blanket and table and reading lamp. If we lose power, the wood is indoors now. I’m determined not to let myself retreat into my bedroom until it is time for me to go to sleep. This morning, I was amazed that I woke up fairly early feeling refreshed. That is rare, and I was up in the middle of the night.

I’m so glad that I have Monday off! My guess is that the university will probably open late on Tuesday if this storm continues as predicted. The problem with that is that we don’t get a choice whether to go into the office or work at home. So ridiculous that after a long period of successful remote work that they do this. Disrespectful too, as if they don’t really believe that we are getting our work done, because God forbid they judge their employees or departments on individual bases. Everything these days has to be homogenized and across the board treatment of wildly diverse situations. We joke a lot about our employee performance plans and evaluations, because we know that nobody ever looks at them beyond our department head (and maybe not him).

I see that Portugal’s elections are skewing toward the Socialist party again. YAY.

Time for another coffee pot and some tapestry weaving.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Our county commissioners, God bless ’em, reinstated a mask mandate for the entire county on Thursday night. At first they excluded the two main cities. I guess that they thought that the cities’ leadership would do the right thing. But they weaseled out, and so the county health department took charge.

It’s hard to come up with stuff to write about right now…we don’t really go anywhere. Sandy went shopping a couple of places with his N95 mask on. There’s a winter storm coming, about which the forecasters are wildly divergent in predicting the severity. This morning the forecast for here doesn’t seem as bad, but it doesn’t take a lot of freezing rain to be a bad storm here. I need to go out and buy some ingredients for lasagna and soup, as well as beer and my favorite sparkling water. My expectation is that there will be shortages, so I will adjust accordingly.

I’ve dropped a few pounds, but I don’t recommend the anxiety diet. It’s nice that anxiety has one perk, though.

Recently several old friends from the 80s and 90s have gotten in touch. It’s been a little weird. I find it touching that they want to reconnect, but I don’t feel like I am at all the same person that I was back then. I have the same twisted sense of humor, but I have zero tolerance for any behavior that I find uncomfortable, including heavy partying. Have I mentioned that I used to regularly close down a dive bar, and drink until I blacked out on occasion? My guess is that these folks have had to cut back way back as well, because our aging livers can’t take it any more. So it’s probably fine. We can’t go out and meet each other anyway. At least, I won’t.

It’s a relief that I am not an alcoholic. I worried that I was for years because it runs in my family, as my mother used to warn me. Now one beer at the end of a work day is enough. And I don’t always do that. This is another way that anti-depressants saved my life.

I guess I’ll run over to the arts center and pack up some more stuff. I need to clear out some space for it first. Maybe I should get going on those collage packets that I keep saying I’ll make for sale or for giving away? I still will need to store them though. I’ve decided that I will probably ship the Macomber loom and my yarns and other fiber supplies to Portugal when we move, but I can pick up collage material anywhere. That’s part of the magic of it.

Focus on Book Arts published their schedule yesterday and as usual it is really hard to choose, especially since I’ve not taken a class with any of the instructors. Some of the ones that I gravitate to are offered on the same days, of course. Maybe I will have to pin the schedule to a bulletin board and throw darts at it. The last time I went I took a two day workshop, took one day off, then took another two day workshop. It was pretty nice to have that break, but I have a feeling that I won’t be able to resist filling up every day of the retreat. We’ll probably stay in the dorms this time since they now let us use the air conditioned dorms and the AirBNB that we loved doubled its price. The last time we stayed on the top floor of a dorm without AC it was 95-100 degrees. Tough weather these days in the Pacific Northwest. We’re used to having AC in the South, but their weather has more extreme heat that ours does!

Okay, time to get out of here before the ice starts, if it starts, tonight. I gathered up some kindling and a few of the driest logs I could find in case we lose power and put them on the front porch, but – knock wood – we seldom lose power here. It’s one of the excellent virtues of this house. Then I’ll focus on weaving tapestry and clearing out some collage material over the three day weekend. If the weather is bad, I may have some nice ice photos later.

Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, Nature printing

Thursday

Continuing with the prints on cement. I didn’t arrange this. I think that the squirrels did. Under the black walnut tree. This is a fairly new parking lot, and since it is under a black walnut tree and a hickory tree and a pecan tree, it has stained to a dark color very quickly.

20220112_080921

It is difficult to manage my anxiety unless I block out the news completely. It seems to me that the whole planet is in chaos and at least half of Americans have lost their damn minds. The Co-vid rules where I work and in my city are insufficient to say the least. There is no way we should be here when we could have started remotely until this big surge is over. At least I have a box of N95 masks to wear – not that my employer has provided them.

The state of this country’s politics makes me feel that it is more urgent than ever to move forward with our plan to move to Portugal. I am nervous that we will miss our opportunity. After I retire we will have to get our house cleaned out and ready to sell, or find a rental management company to rent it. Either way, a lot of work will have to be done.

I really miss going out to eat and to the brewery for a pint.  In a way it might be good because I have cut down on my drinking so much and I’m saving money, but going out to eat was one of my favorite things to do.  I wish that I could jump forward in time!

I’m thinking about this for my next tapestry:

lake tapestry idea

I’ve been working on the most challenging part of my job for the past two weeks. I told a faculty member that it is like working on a puzzle that constantly has pieces taken away and new pieces added. Putting together the puzzle is actually quite satisfying, but the long process of tweaking it gets a bit tiresome. And frustrating when some of the rules and demands are unhelpful or illogical. Now that I am a year and a half away from my planned retirement, I’m starting to look at all the things I do and I’m getting pretty nervous about training the next person. It’s a lot to learn. I’ve pulled all this together over 18 years and take a lot for granted. But I need to focus on my future and not let this idea add to my stress.

Diego has started throwing up again (on my bed, damn him) and he and Pablocito turned down their Greenie dental treats this morning. They weren’t happy about the canned cat food yesterday. Why, I ask them, WHY do you prefer plastic? But giving them the pill pockets a few hours after they eat dinner seems to be working.

A three-day weekend is coming up and there is a pretty high likelihood for a big winter storm, which is not unusual for this time of year here. My guess is that whatever bread and milk that was on the grocery shelves is gone by now!

agoraphobia, depression/anxiety, Nature printing, Studio talk

Monday

I’m not doing a lot of photography these days, but I am fascinated with the shadows that leaves cast on the sidewalk  early in the morning. This is a ginkgo branch, and while I don’t have the patience or skills to make the shadow any darker because of the mottled sidewalk, I thought that it was cool the way its shadow morphed into a caterpillar. It has made me consider relearning the caterpillar stitch in bookbinding.

20220104_081651

I put this one up on my Facebook page: if you are a beginner at natural dyeing and leaf printing and don’t know what leaves might have pigment, here’s a tip. On your walks, notice what leaves leave a print on freshly laid or recently laid (within a few years) cement. Also, any tree that bears nuts should be a good choice.

20220108_163641

Yesterday I went to the print studio at the arts center, and although it was nice to have it by myself, I couldn’t bear the heat. It must have been in the upper 80s in that room. I peeled away as many clothes as I could, and fortunately I wore a t-shirt under it all, because the last time I had been there it was roasting hot. I found what looked like a room thermostat, but it didn’t have a temperature and it was set in the middle. I turned it all the way down after I broke into a sweat. No difference. I wonder what it felt like this morning because I forgot to turn it back. My bet is that it is either broken or not the thermostat or the heat is controlled by a central office. Since I am of a certain age, I never know if this intolerance to heat is just me.

I took advantage of the paint drying really fast to paint some panels and old book boards with black gesso. I ditched my plan to iron some fabrics and weave cloth strips. I packed up some of my stuff and brought it home. I can’t handle that kind of heat. So I’m going to call them and see if it really is a technical problem, and cancel my membership if it is an ongoing winter thing. Bring home my stuff and consider rejoining in June after I come back from Portugal.

Update: It is an HVAC problem, not a hormone problem. I’m not the only one roasting. A work order was placed the week after Christmas when I first noticed it. I told her that I’ll go back on Sunday, and if it hasn’t been fixed, I’ll bring my stuff home for a while.

Sandy suggested that I turn the back building into my studio again. The only problem is that we’d have to clean it out and I’ll probably have to buy other window AC unit. Also, the door and the steps need repair. It’s something to consider. A space heater heats it fairly well. I’m sure that the critters nesting in the crawl space above the ceiling would like that.

Yesterday I got it together and cooked again – bacon and eggs for brunch, beef stew for dinner. On Saturday I wove about a half-inch on my tapestry. That doesn’t sound like much but it took a couple of hours. Got laundry done and put away. After I left the studio I went to Deep Roots for a quick grocery run. Cricket was there in the parking lot with the Boomerang Bookshop bus so I went in and talked with him. Maybe I should get up a box of books to donate or trade for credit with him. I love his shop, and once when he was getting very depressed and burned out I volunteered to help him with it. But he didn’t want help. I don’t blame him, and honestly, do I want to learn how to drive a bus?

Anyway, I felt better this weekend. A little more energy. This is the first week of classes for the spring semester. We shall see how things unfold.

agoraphobia, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, depression/anxiety, Obsession, old couple

Saturday afternoon coffee pot post

In which I am settled in near the wood stove with the last of the coffee. There is no fire in the wood stove, though. Allergies in the house has stopped its use unless there is a heating emergency. I need to buy some clean firewood instead of the rotten moldy stuff in the back yard stack. I pulled out an electric radiator style heater to help with warmth during this cold spell.

I definitely started feeling agoraphobic again this week. On Wednesday morning I must have breathed in some saliva in my sleep because I woke up not able to breathe. I coughed for an hour and the stress gave me a migraine. Then I felt totally freaked out because it was so difficult for me to go to work. I called my therapist and she got me out the door, then I had an appointment with her the following day.

I told her my motto for the year was “I guess we’ll see” and she suggested that my word for the year be “Unfolding.” I like that. A strange part of the session which I will talk about with her again next week is that agoraphobia is an evolutionary response to danger, and she seems to be suggesting that at this particular time it is a reasonable one.  I suspect that she is trying to get my anxiety down and to stop being so hard on myself. It’s difficult for me to tell if I am overreacting sometimes. She also reminded me that irritability is caused by my depression.

When I told her that I had watched “Just Look Up” and it was terrifying, she said to me, mid-sentence, “Don’t watch that!” Which is very strange because the main premise of the movie is to pay attention to what is really happening and doing otherwise will kill us all. I mean, seriously, the baddies in the movie countered the slogan “Just Look Up” with “Don’t Look Up.”

I know that I need to prioritize my mental health but ignoring what is going on in the world doesn’t seem to be, I don’t know, responsible?

Critter report: Diego was just sneezing but he is much better. His meds are insanely expensive, so another thing on the list is loratidine to alternate (or substitute) with the Apoquil. After he started throwing it up again, I went back to the EN prescription cat food, and started giving him his pill pocket around 9 p.m. This seems to be working out, because at $4.50 per dose those pills are too costly to vomit up. I also went to Petsmart and took a chance on buying a case of Fancy Feast Turkey and Giblets pate. So far, so good. The Greenie dental chews are a hit as well. I stopped the nose drops but I’m going to try again tonight and have Sandy hold his head still. The other sign that Diego is better is that he is starting to bully Pablocito again.

The trip planning for Portugal has been bugging me. Everything has changed so much since I first bought these Aer Lingus plane tickets from Boston to Dublin. At first I was going to use my Southwest points to get to Boston, so that part was free, then I was taking American home. Since then we changed the tickets to Boston to Lisbon, which simplified that part of the trip, but the plane tickets to Boston and back have doubled. My Southwest points won’t cover the trip and I don’t want to spend any more money with them anyway – I hate their politics, I don’t trust them, and I want to be done with them.

The plane trip back is going to be rough with leaving Lisbon late at night and an 8 hour layover in Dublin – hardly enough time to be worth getting a hotel room at 1:30 a.m. and getting up in time to go through all that security again early in the morning. So I started following United flights out of Greensboro and doing a cost analysis of whether it would be worth it to ditch the previous plan and make the whole plane trip simpler and shorter, without having to pay for parking, and without having to change airlines and doing multiple Covid tests.

To make this plan work, however, I would have to get my 60,000 miles credit from the new United credit card I was just approved for. I probably won’t get those until April at least. Cutting it a bit too short. At least I will have them for my trip to Oregon in July.

This is the kind of shit I obsess over, and quite honestly, I enjoy the hunt. I read articles on the best ways to save money on travel and get the best plane ticket prices and follow Rick Steves among other travel gurus. I started telling Sandy about what I was researching last night and he doesn’t understand how complicated the plane ticketing process is. He brought up Google Flights and told me that flights to Boston weren’t that expensive. He was looking at today’s date and not looking at the different times at all. Then he told me that we could stay in a Boston hotel. I asked him if he had looked at the cost of Boston hotels. Then he said that I was lucky because other women’s husbands would have taken their credit cards away. A jaw-dropping sexist comment from my feminist husband. That got him cussed out. He immediately saw his error, and I didn’t carry that anger too long, mainly because I cussed him out so thoroughly, and also because I realized that we are products of a sexist and racist culture and generation, and both of us still carry these biases that will inevitably rear their ugly heads from time to time.

This morning I apologized for saying “FUCK YOU” and he said that he deserved it for being an asshole. This was a very rare occurrence for each of us in our marriage. This is also a good time to say that I firmly believe that one of the reasons we have been married for 34 plus years is that since Year Two we have kept separate financial accounts and instead assigned certain bills to either of us so that it worked out about equal. We are both extremely frugal and at the moment we don’t carry any debt. At all. No mortgage, no home equity loan, no car payments. If my credit card bill is over what I can pay per month, I have enough in my money market account that I pay it off from there. Then I work on getting that money back into my money market account.

In other words, I am fucking amazing at managing my money. And so is he, although we have different approaches to what we think is best. And today all is well.

I’m going to try to stay out of my bedroom and cook and weave tapestry and read in the front room, not in my bed. I’m going to do the exercise videos again – they are mostly dancing, and if my heel starts hurting too much I can do them sitting down. I don’t know whether I will go to the studio tomorrow. At least the city has mandated masks in city facilities again, but so many people who DO wear masks don’t wear the right kind or wear them correctly. I’ll probably be alone in the room if I go in at 1 p.m. though.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Sunday coffee pot post

20220101_135001

Usually I write a post on New Year’s Day of what I hope will happen in the coming year, but I just couldn’t do it yesterday. If I have to choose a motto for 2022, it will be “I guess we’ll see.”

I spend a good bit of time between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s morning reading over past yearly wrap-ups, and although mentions of my chronic depression continued to pop up, they were much more positive in the earlier years of this blog. Even the years when I know that I was in a terrible, terrible mental state, my yearly wrap-ups didn’t mention or barely mentioned the events that drove me into the hole. I’m trying to decide if this is a good or bad thing. Or a gray thing. This is my journal, and I want to write honestly, even when it is public. I don’t have to, and I don’t, tell everything. All the writers that I admire let their vulnerability show. I suppose that I will continue to wing it, but I regret both the negativity I feel and the false positivity that I sometimes project.

Yesterday, I did move forward. I took a walk and looked for different oak leaves. Then I wove a lot on my tapestry throughout the day. Sandy and I did an exercise video and we ate vegetarian. Canned field peas and collards, with a big salad.

I succumbed to a Facebook ad and subscribed to Body Groove. I like the attitude of the instructor and the different videos. Dancing is one thing I can do standing or sitting.

Look at these oak Siamese twins, then some of the other leaves follow. I found at least a dozen different ones so far.

The reason that I decided to weave farther on Cathedral is because I wanted to include more of the blue skies peeking through the shadows on the north side of the tree. This was a particularly tough section to weave, but maybe the most gratifying. All those verticals! I used a lot of weft blending and crosshatching.

20220101_135017

I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that I have to return to the office tomorrow even though we are at a height of the pandemic. I am fortunate that I can isolate with my door closed, but it infuriates me that our administration will not let those who are high risk or have high risk family members work from home, especially since we proved that we could do it efficiently last year. I heard that an office worker with an excellent reputation in another department was terminated when she tried and failed to get permission to work from home because of health reasons. Yet our “leadership” is so proud of “getting back to normal.”

Anyway, I guess we’ll see if it all turns out okay.

So, for the coming year, here are my hopes and plans. In May, Sandy and I will adventure for 17 days in Portugal. He and I will be more physically fit by that time, with less pain, more stamina, and less fat to carry around. My brother-in-law will continue to improve. In early June, there is the Tapestry Weavers South retreat in Elkin. In mid-July, I have to choose between Convergence in Knoxville, Tennessee, a drive-able distance away, or across the country to Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon. Susanne and I plan to go to Focus on Book Arts. It’s a shame because Convergence doesn’t often happen within driving distance of Greensboro, and my tapestry guild will be involved, but that is how it shakes out. It would be nice to find a place to go in September – maybe check off another national park on our bucket list?

Other than that, lake trips, the usual purging, and a resolve to go to the print studio at least once a week, even though it might not be for printmaking or collage or painting. I’m going to have a tapestry to finish trimming, hemming, blocking, and mounting.

yearly wrap-ups

2021 Yearly Wrap-Up

According to WordPress, this is my 1600th published post. While that is a bit hard to believe, the number is actually higher because I deleted a lot of posts when I transferred the blog from GoDaddy to WordPress.com. How long can I keep going? I guess we’ll see.

Reading over my blog posts from the past year was an excellent sleep aid. Normally I go month by month in these annual wrap-up posts. This year I’m going to begin with a summary of January through May.

Everybody knows about the political situation on January 6 that is still scaring the majority of Americans to death nearly one year later. I don’t need to go into that. In January we were still trying to get a diagnosis of my husband’s mysterious muscle weakness, which had become severe around late November and caused him to fall several times and even have a hard time getting out of bed or a chair. He would get out of breath walking from the car to the house. In February, he was diagnosed with shingles, and he was in terrible, terrible pain, but it did not explain why he could barely lift his feet for the prior three months. And I turned 60 years old, and unusually, I had a very hard time with this birthday. We were focused on getting vaccinations for Covid-19. Amazingly, I was able to get one on March 13 because I work in education. Sandy got his in May.

20210312_160900

This period of time was dominated by a struggle with getting a firm diagnosis of Sandy’s underlying disease and my deepening depression. I wrote a lot about weaving on Cathedral but in fact, I got very little artwork done. I was extremely unhappy with the administration at work and came to hate Zoom meetings with a fiery passion, but I did prefer working from home, which I did Monday-Thursday. Sandy had a muscle biopsy on April 1 and it revealed a diagnosis of polymyositis, but due to a communication fiasco between different technology systems, we couldn’t get the results until May 15. By that time, Sandy had starting feeling better and began water exercise classes and getting massage therapy. He was prescribed heavy doses of steroids. I started seeing my therapist again in May.

April 2021: Liz the parakeet died in January, and an amazing thing happened a couple of months later. A farmer friend discovered a small green parakeet in her chicken coop! We didn’t want to get into the cycle of having parakeets since we plan to emigrate in a couple of years, but Bernie needed a friend. So we adopted Freda. Who also hates us now that she lives with Bernie.

174055935_10224545212399188_6074383000534600523_n

Gardening: I gave up gardening and yard work in general because of a worsening foot problem, and hired someone to clean up the pile of logs and the overgrown vines and shrubs in the back yard. Best money that I spent this year! The foot problem ended up to be a bone spur aggravating my Achilles tendon. Unfortunately, not an easy fix at all. The cyst that I worried about on the other foot that didn’t cause me pain is no worry at all. I couldn’t get the yard guy to keep coming back to maintain the yard, so eventually I found someone else, although lately he has disappeared. My gardening was done in containers this year, and I got very good tomatoes and peppers.

20210517_115007

Lake Waccamaw days: Because I was still able to work remotely until the end of June, I got in some lake time. In April, I spent a cold week with my sister in the lake house while she was getting her house renovated. I went back in June with a few friends and we had a lovely time, then did it again in July with the ones who couldn’t make the trip in June and then with one of my friends of 50-some years in September.

20210426_15033820210616_20172320210915_130113

20210803_200542I didn’t take photos or write much about the July trip. We were reeling about a devastating cancer diagnosis for my brother-in-law but we still did the lake party. I took a bad tumble into the lake and cracked the top of my foot, same foot with the bone spur. It swelled up and turned an amazing number of dark colors from purple to green to yellow to rust red. But I could walk on it so it seemed like it would heal up. A couple of weeks later in early August I went to the beach and was on my feet a lot with topless sandals on (I couldn’t bear shoes yet) and walked in the sand. A few days later I was getting x-rayed again. They put me in a tall boot and suggested that I probably had a stress fracture that would not show on the x-ray, and told me that I might want to re-think that European trip in September. The one that I had obsessed over all year.

 

I could only take that boot for about ten days. It was supposed to be on for 5-6 weeks. God help me if I ever have to do it again. It was agonizing to my hip and back. But my foot healed anyway. I rebooked the September Ireland/Portugal trip for May 2022, this time only to Portugal. Given the Delta variant and the possibility of Europe closing down again on top of a foot injury, it seemed like the best decision.

And, by the way, since I am not writing in a linear way and I’m jumping all over the place, my brother-in-law’s chemo treatment has reduced his tumors and he is very much better, although he will have to continue chemo for the rest of his life. He is on a lower dose now. And Sandy’s latest blood work showed a normal range on his inflammation (CK) score and so he will go on a lower dose of meds now too. His lungs are still messed up and his joints and muscles hurt but he moves much better now. We are both trying to get more exercise.

So, back to the summer, when I had two lovely workshops before the euphoria of us thinking that the vaccinations would probably get us all back to normal and protect us ended.

20210607_131141

In early June, I went to the Tapestry Weavers South retreat and annual members’ exhibit opening in Elkin, NC, right up the road about an hour’s drive west. I didn’t have a weaving in this show because I couldn’t get the lake tapestry finished in time, but it was a beautiful small show in the gallery at the Foothills Arts Center. Upstairs in the Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center, where we gathered and I was able to take that tapestry design workshop with Tommye Scanlin that I had tried to take a couple of times before.

Then in early August, the Dan Essig workshop that had been cancelled in 2020 took place at Leslie Marsh’s lovely Topsail Beach home. Dan is one of my favorite and most influential teachers – the first bookbinding workshop I ever took was from him. And honestly that was supposed to be a fling into something different for one time, but it sent me on a long journey that I am still enjoying thoroughly. I have taken more classes from Dan than any other art teacher.

20210801_172508

Sandy went with me on this trip, and we stayed in a very inexpensive AirBnB in Surf City which turned out to have two of the kindest hosts I’ve ever experienced. Since our Honda Fit mostly sat during 2020-21, we had gotten used to driving the “Mom” car, the 1996 Chevy Lumina everywhere. It was a much more comfortable ride, and I thought that it was in better shape than the Honda. Boy, was I wrong. The old girl died the night that we arrived at Surf City, and we couldn’t even get anyone to look at it until that Monday morning. When they did, the damage was so bad and expensive that we ended up leaving her there for junk. Then there was the problem of our getting around for the weekend. My workshop was about 7 miles away on the other end of the island. Sandy couldn’t walk long distances and there wasn’t much around to interest him. There were no rental cars available anywhere. On the first morning, Leslie drove to pick me up for the workshop. Then our hosts lent us their car for the weekend. Then my sister and brother-in-law, GOD HOW I LOVE THEM, had just bought a new car and both of them drove down to the beach and brought us one of their old cars to borrow. An old car that was nicer than any car we ever owned. We ended up driving it back to Greensboro.

Then my sister and brother-in-law GAVE us the 2007 Volvo that they had planned to donate or sell.

20210815_163656

It still makes me want to cry in gratitude. Buying a used car right now would be a nightmare. We found a reputable auto shop with a Volvo certified mechanic instead of the assholes that I used to take our cars to, and told them to do everything that needed to be done to it to get it in good shape and running well. Now they have our Honda Fit in the shop doing the same thing. It has cost us a few thousand dollars, but it is still much better than trying to buy a car for a reasonable price right now and then making car payments.

Some good news came out of my foot injury – the orthopedic PA put me on 5000 mg of Vitamin D daily, and my depression lifted. I had been Vitamin D deficient for quite some time and then had recently gotten it to normal levels, but I honestly think that this higher dose may have made the difference in my brain chemistry. My therapist had even recommended that I consider transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy but I kept getting better and I was set free in October. (I think that I need to go back now, but it is still way better.)

Another beautiful weekend trip in October: in a house on the sound at Oak Island with some of the friends who had gone to the lake with us and a couple of new friends that we liked very, very much. With a deck that looked out over the sound and great food and games. We both hope that we will be invited back.

20211002_123051

Also, just before the first of October, Sandy sold the condo. Not for a lot, and the whole process was much longer and unnecessarily stressful and almost ended with him pressing charges against the buyer, but it happened. That is a huge monkey off our backs. The rent was honestly not worth the hassle.

We both took a pinhole photography class in October, but we haven’t done anything with it. I had hoped that Sandy may have found a hobby that he enjoyed.

20211009_153951

I went to an artist get-together at a print co-op at the downtown Arts Center and ended up joining it. For 40 bucks a month it is worth it to have a big work table and storage for my art supplies. Mostly I have been doing collage and painted papers for collage.

20211114_110321[1]

20211121_160121

20211229_143600

We went back to the lake a final time in 2021 for Thanksgiving with my sister and brother-in-law.

IMG_20211125_171742_585

As for the end of this year, and it has been a doozy, I am pretty down about December, a month when not much good happened: shitty politics, my cat is sick, I’m anxious and agoraphobic about the Omicron variant, the crazy wildfires in Colorado close to my cousin’s house, and since Sandy just told me that Betty White died, I’m going to go process that, although I know that she had an amazing and wonderful life.

Tomorrow will be a better day. It will. I know it will.

collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, Nature printing

New Year’s Eve Eve

20211228_162639

I am about to undertake my yearly wrap-up post, in which I pretty much read my blog posts from the whole year and pick one or two from each month to highlight. Ugh. 2021 was so boring. And depressing. There were a few fun events though, mostly later in the year. Maybe I’ll feel better about it once I get to June.

Yesterday, after my rant here, I went to the print studio and Jay was there. Jay is there every day the art center is open from 9-6 except for Sundays, when I usually go. He is an elderly gentleman, well versed in art history and printmaking, and a very pleasant person. He didn’t have on a mask, but I just sat away from him – he doesn’t go anywhere else much and he is usually careful, from what he’s told me. I wore mine, though. We talked some about the maskholes in Greensboro. He coughed and excused himself, and said that he was coming down with a cold. I suggested that he get checked, since “a lot of people are sick now.” Then he must have realized that he didn’t have his mask on and put it on. I finished up and left soon after, mainly because it was really hot in that room, and I decided not to go back today or tomorrow. Then it is closed for three days. Oh well. I hope that Jay is okay.

Then I went to Deep Roots where there was an unmasked customer who seemed stoned out of his gourd walking around. I ranted on Facebook and let that shit go. I am so thankful that I do not have to deal with this kind of bullshit at work. My heart is with the public facing workers.

I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to mount one collage on a wooden panel and do another collage. Believe me, I will try my best to make sure the hanging mechanism holds when I put it on.

I had been printing a lot of monoprints with leaves a while back for using in collage, and I decided that I also wanted to use the leaves I printed with. The shapes of oak leaves are fascinating to me. I bet that I could go out on my street and find about ten different kinds of oak leaves.

 

20211229_143600

I am at that squeamish point when I don’t know whether to leave this one alone or not. I think that I’ll print it out in color and play with a sepia colored pen on the light side on the printed copy and see if that helps me decide. That way I’m not committed to it. I guess I should brush some matte gel medium over it to preserve the leaves.

That text page is from the 1896 agriculture book that I’ve been mining for years.

Here is the beginning of the next one. It will probably be mostly covered with another layers by the time I’m through with it, but it’s nice to have a before photo sometimes.

20211229_143625

Today, I wove on Cathedral. I am not going to make my goal of cutting it off the loom by the end of the year, mainly because I’ve decided to try for another inch or two or three. There is a section in it that I’d really like to extend if I can because it was an important part of the design to me. But if the tension gets too crazy, I’ll call it done and weave a hem. I’m trying to weave across the whole thing now to keep it fairly even across the top in height instead of weaving sections so that I can do that.

I managed to watch “Just Look Up” – half yesterday and half today. I found it very depressing, but well done satire. I love the way it skewered the media because I’m pretty disgusted with most of the media these days too. I’ve been spending too much time on Twitter.

Now I’m going back to reading “The Overstory” and hopefully Pablocito will not wake me up at 3:30 a.m. again tonight or I might have to kill him. Diego is doing fairly well, and taking his nose drops like a champ.