bloggy stuff, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, Obsession, Reading

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

I start out every blog post I write with a rant about the new WordPress block format, and how tired I am of having to learn new tech and software when the way I did it before was perfectly fine. Sometimes I mess around until I find a way to go back to something similar that they had before, but I never know how to find that way again. Then I usually delete the paragraph. So THIS TIME, I have figured it out and I’m documenting it. I saved the draft of this post, then when I opened all posts to work on it again, when you hover over the name of the post, links appear beneath it and one of them is “classic editor.” Whew!

Last weekend I had a lot of fun in Leighanna Light’s “Layered Faces” Zoom class. It is definitely not my style but it was a lot of fun and got me out of my head. Here are the photos from my piece after day one and at the end. I got a wild feline feel from the face as it was developing so I went with that. Sandy was all blah about it until I finished and then he was saying “Don’t do another thing to it! It’s perfect!” LOL. I won one of Leighanna’s faces in a random drawing on the second day, so my luck was with me this week.

I’ve mainly been concentrating on work, cleaning up the garden, cooking, and today, cleaning house, so I don’t have anything exciting to report. I voted in person on Wednesday with a friend, and I didn’t have to wait long. No funny business going on. Paper ballots, but no straight ticket options. I painted another section of the front porch yesterday, but a cold front came in last night and it is about 25 degrees chillier and rainy today.

Some fall shots from my yard and my walk around the block:

Reading: I finished “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. At first it was a bit of a slog only because it is dystopian and my emotions are on edge. It ended up being very good with a complex plot and several different points of view. Now I am reading “The Good Lord Bird,” and had I known that it would be this funny (I mean, it’s about John Brown, what a surprise!) I would have started it long ago.

My fixation on traveling to Portugal with the idea of scouting out places to live is back, and I almost booked tickets to go in June, but the fricking searches were confusing, and then I figured out that to get my Aer Lingus travel credit I have to go through Orbitz, who is charging $100 more per ticket than going straight through Aer Lingus. I got disgusted and decided to start over again this coming week. I have until the end of November to book Aer Lingus tickets to get my credit for my cancelled flight this past June, and their prices went way up.

This year my sister and brother-in-law are going to travel with us. This should be interesting to see if we get sick of each other. We have not traveled together before – just stayed in one familiar place like the beach or the lake. Of the four of us, only Sandy has a lot of patience, so he will be fine. I have been looking forward to traveling with my sister for a long time but they haven’t been able to do it for eldercare and other family reasons. All four of us are interested in emigrating to Portugal, although that’s might change after the election. I’m ready to go regardless, but for financial reasons I need to either wait 2.5 years or get permission to work remotely from there.

We’ll spend a couple of days in Dublin since they haven’t been to Ireland before. It’s cheaper to fly to Dublin from Raleigh and then catch TAP or Ryanair to Lisbon from there.

This also means that I will not be going to the art retreat in west Ireland or FOBA this summer. I hate like hell to miss these, but this is more than just a vacation – it is also a scouting trip. It’s important to do it soon, and I promised Sandy that we would go in 2021 before we knew that my trips would be canceled this year. We need to spend enough time in Portugal to explore different areas to see where might be the best fit for us. I am reading a lot of ex-pat advice.

Of course, all bets are off if there isn’t a vaccine by then.

coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles

Saturday Morning Coffee Pot Post

Woke up today to the lovely sounds of roofers across the street. I’m grateful for ear plugs and the ability to catch up on my sleep these days. One thing about working from home is that if insomnia keeps me awake until 3 a.m., I can generally shift my schedule to accommodate it since I don’t have office hours from 8-5 on Monday through Thursday. That’s crucial for managing my panic disorder. Next week will be different because I am administering tests through email to PhD students beginning at 9 a.m. every morning for a couple of weeks. Still much better than having my butt in my office at 8 a.m. every day! So there are some silver linings, and I try to focus on that most of the time.

My anxiety is more about the election than anything else. Sandy voted in person on the first morning of early voting and I had planned to go with him. I mean, that is the whole reason that I didn’t vote by absentee ballot. But I had work meetings that day and he was determined to go on the first day, so I will go vote during a lunch break next week when it is less busy.

This afternoon and tomorrow afternoon I am taking a Zoom workshop with Leighanna Light, one of my favorite people. I hope that the Zoom format in person will help me stay on track, instead of like the many online video workshops I have bought and abandoned over the last few years. I also bought a video workshop from Sharon Payne Bolton. It is a workshop that I’ve done in person with her before, but the price was relatively cheap and it will be a good jumpstart for when I need it, I hope.

This week I finished up a collage that I began several weeks ago on my mountain vacation retreat. I got very good feedback from Crystal Neubauer’s Facebook group and that helped me over the finish line. The branch, root, and duck feather are from Lake Waccamaw. I repurposed the piece with the word Inspire from a cardboard pin I was given by a classmate in one of Sharon’s classes at Art-is-You, because I knew it wouldn’t be long before I put it in the washing machine by mistake. (If you are reading, thanks, Maria!) I replaced the blue button that was on it with a tiny spiral shell I picked up at Topsail Beach. The music is from an old booklet titled “Gospel Pearls.” The background book cover I found in a free box of old books outside a used book store.  The panel and the bit in the top right corner is from an old book I took apart.

This is one big reason that I love collage – especially the ones in which I gather things that have meaning to me. Each element has its own story, like chapters in a book, that pull together to make their own story together.

I had problems getting this saved and published and had to rewrite some of it. Now I need to get ready for my class at 2 p.m. Hopefully I will have more to share later!

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Okay, it is afternoon now. I just spent an hour writing a private grief filled post, so I got that out of my system. My guess is that I will go back to it and use it as a private diary. I want to share more here, and I know that as a writer it is vital to open up and have that vulnerability, but right now I don’t have a lot to give others, and I certainly need an outlet.

I finally finished moving the Tapestry Weavers South web site to the WordPress.com platform. The site itself is not finished but at least I have the main parts in place.

Anyway, we came home from the mountains a little over a week ago, with a stop in Mt. Airy on the way. It was a scary place – we happened to hit it on the first day of “Mayberry Days.” Around here the Andy Griffith Show is sacred and Mayberry was based on his hometown of Mt. Airy, which is not far away from Pilot Mountain (Mt. Pilot on the show). It is also an extremely politically red place. So not only were there crowds of maskless people and character impersonators like Barney Fife on Main St., there was a lot of Trumpy campaign stuff on the sidewalks and inside stores and on windows. The Snappy Lunch was packed.

Most of the time signs about masks and social distancing rules are for show and not enforced, but we did find one antique mall in the center of Main St. that was strict, even telling someone to leave who came in without a mask. I wish I had made note of the name of it.

Just off Main St. there was a safe, really good Japanese restaurant called Kazoku where we had a very late lunch. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend the sushi.

Since then, I have been working hard on the class schedule for Spring 2021, which due to budget cuts and a lot of uncertainty in the administration about what to do in the face of the pandemic, has been difficult. The way it is here, if classes go totally online, UNCG loses a lot of revenue from parking, dining, and residence halls. This, during a time when we had already been asked to make budget cuts because of a shortfall last year. So, it will come down to whether to cut the budget further, meaning salaries and staff, or make our campus safer and try to push on. So far, UNCG has been pretty safe as far as we can tell. When you drive through campus, most of the students are even wearing their masks outside.

Our main office suite was closed last week because of a Covid-19 exposure. So far, everyone who was in the room with the person has tested negative, and we will get back to “normal” this coming week.

I picked loads of “beautiful beans” last weekend, along with a few butterbeans that I didn’t even remember planting. The “beautiful beans” are actually heirloom field peas that my recently departed friend Pat Bush found in the bottom of a freezer in a farmhouse she rented. She started planting and developing the seed stock and gave me some. These peas are real winners – tasty and make a good broth, and the snaps (immature green pods) are good as well. I will have plenty of seed stock and I am giving away beans to some of our mutual friends for them to start their own seed stocks.

Also, I am going to give up my last UNCG garden plot once I am done with these.

I will miss Pat. She and I worked together in Slow Food and in the local food movement, and I loved her. I bought many of my plants and herbs from her. Almost a year ago when she made it to the School Climate Strike rally, she was feeling very optimistic about getting better and wanted to get more involved with the permaculture guild as a teaching elder. But one thing after another befell her until her body was overwhelmed. She was sick for about five years after she fell and broke her knee.

There are a lot of people who I care for who are very sick right now. I remember Mama talking about the worst part of getting old is seeing your friends get sick and die.

Anyway, back to the garden. Here are photos of my carrot and squash, yes, singular, from this year. However, our figs had an abundant second crop and I have frozen a lot of them. Right now I am pulling up all the peppermint that I can and drying it for tea or whatever.

Hopefully I will get it together enough to raise some food next year. Might have to be all onions and garlic and mint, since those are the only plants so far that the groundhogs won’t eat. Fencing and cages will need to be made this winter.

Okay, time for a very late lunch. Chicken clam corn chowder, sort of.

art, collage

Collage this week

My muse was waiting for me in the mountains. The collage with the stick and feather was started at Lake Waccamaw. The one with the creek stones is in progress, and the rocks have a bit of mica/pyrite/gold glitter in them. That one and the blue green collage are based on lyrics from Stairway to Heaven.

National Parks and Monuments, North Carolina mountains, North Carolina State Parks

Wild Hare Retreat

After RBG died, I decided that we really did have to get away. I had waffled until the last minute, but I found a place that we could afford that met our criteria during the week this week, an airBnB place called Wild Hare Historic Farmhouse Retreat right on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta and Stone Mountain State Park, only about an hour and a half drive away. The first night we “glamped” in a 1968 Avion travel trailer parked on the property, and then we moved inside to a room with a private bathroom and a Jacuzzi tub. There is a creek with rapids and a small beach on the property, which was my main criteria. I wanted to get next to running water over rocks.

Now I am sitting at the dining room table of the BnB and the only other person in the house this week is one of the owners, Cara, who is very friendly.

Today is a rainy day, but other than being quite chilly the first night, the weather has been lovely.

On the way up here, we stopped at Stone Mountain State Park for a couple of hours, and I have to wonder why it is that we haven’t been up here in over twenty years. It is a pretty short drive and a really lovely park. We hiked a little and hung out beside a pretty creek with a little whirlpool at the top of the rapids.

Then we went into Sparta and ate inside (!!!!!) at a pizzeria but the tables were well spaced out and the staff and most of the customers were masked.

Then I got a major migraine and so I can’t give you a good description of staying in the travel trailer that night. I will say that the sleeping arrangements were comfortable and it was well equipped enough that we could have stayed in there for the week as we originally planned.

The next day I explored the property and the creek, and we drove to Galax, Virginia and had lunch (inside again!) at a combination antique store and cafe called Briar Patch Marketplace and Cafe on Main Street. The sandwiches and soup were very good (oh my God, that pimento cheese!!!) and they were doing all the covid precautions right. It was 2:15 p.m. by that time and there weren’t many people there.

We moseyed around the antique part and it was one of those consignment malls with a lot of different booths. I found a treasure trove of old books for very cheap that were amazing for the kind of collage that I do. I knew that I was in serious danger so I left after picking out three books in five minutes. I do NOT have room for more books. As it is I have started stacking them on the floor. Unfortunately when I went up to pay THAT person was not masked. I handed him my credit card and stepped back in a hurry. Then down the street the music store we wanted to go into had three guys without masks just inside the front door. So we headed back to Sparta.

We visited a local potter’s studio and then hit the Food Lion to get me some Allegra and some snacks. That night I don’t think Sandy ate anything but I munched on Goat Lady Dairy marinated goat cheese and crackers and was happy. We sat beside the fire pit and Cara joined us and brought marshmallows to roast under the stars. Then we enjoyed the Jacuzzi in our bathroom and it was a great one!

Wednesday was warm enough that I waded in the creek and collected a few rocks. Sandy started a drawing for a watercolor of the springhouse. I sat on the back porch listening to the water down below and lo and behold, my muse came back, finally! Next post.

That night we went early to a nice restaurant in Sparta called Crave, and our meals, chicken marsala and spaghetti with Italian sausage, were excellent. We both had desserts that were amazing – tiramisu and Italian cheesecake. We were going to visit the local brewery but had to waddle back to the car and so we came back and spent a quiet night reading and watching TV.

I would be content staying here at the retreat the whole time, actually. There is delicious water straight from the spring, cats, and chickens, flowers and herbs, the sound of water over rocks. I am more relaxed than I’ve been for a long time. I suspect that I will come back. They are not open all the time though, because they are heading to their other job as captains on a catamaran that hosts three couples in Florida! So Scott is already down there getting ready for that gig.

This morning I have been playing with collage. See the next post.

Tomorrow we go back to Greensboro.