Back Forty, fiber art, Mixed media art

August. Yuk.

I really dislike the month of August. The heat, the humidity, the sudden ratcheting up of my “real” job. Too much to do at home and too hot to do most of it. Lately, like today, I have been outrunning the severe thunderstorms home from work. So far I have made it ahead of the rain.

We have been getting some very intense storms lately, like this one with quarter-inch sized hail. Excuse my camera work. One day I’ll learn not to move it around. By the way, the car did not have any new dents that I could see, and my garden is okay even though this went on for 15 minutes!

Yesterday we had high wind and I eyed the maple tree covered with wild grapevines with some trepidation. I noticed that the top of it snapped off a few weeks ago and it must be lying on top of the vines up there somewhere. It is becoming obvious that I will have to pay somebody to do something about the vines. The good news is that one of the new tenants next door loves to do yard work and has already taken a slingblade to the pokeweed forest between our houses. He has offered to help me on my side of the yard for $12 an hour. I told him that was too low and I’d pay $15.

Boy, you can tell that I’m a Bernie girl, huh?

I had already arranged for Armando, the guy who takes care of my absentee next door neighbor’s yard on the other side of our house, to help me with the yard. He mowed on Tuesday afternoon and will come back to help with pruning, etc. next week. This is such a relief! But it will be helpful for Cory, who lives on the other side of those vines, to hit it from his and my side of the jungle, since a lot of them are rooted on both sides of the property line.

Honestly, between the wild grapevine and the fucking wisteria, I don’t know which is worse. We’ve got both, and I let it get away from us when my neck was hurt. Now I have vertigo when I look up. Sandy’s no use on this issue. It’s time to spend the money on help.

Did I mention I hate wisteria? Boy, do I hate wisteria. I don’t even want to hear about people who like wisteria, or plant wisteria, or think that it is pretty. After 32 years of fighting wisteria, I consider it barely below poison ivy on my list of despised plants. Wild grapevine is third on the list.

The Roma tomatoes are almost done, but we are still harvesting lots of cherry tomatoes, figs, and a few big tomatoes. I have a new crop of raspberries. Not many, but this is encouraging that the one plant has produced twice. I sliced some more lemon cucumbers for the dehydrator and ran it a few hours longer this time. The slices with the seeds were crispy but the slices from the edges without the seeds still have the texture of soft paper.

I mailed my tapestry for the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition going up at the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center in Elkin, NC. I’m sending “Dingle Cliff Walk,” which does not have perfect selvedges, but I love it and it’s time to put it out there. I thought it would be good for the theme, which is “Point of View.” This is it on the loom just before I finished it, and shows why its upper selvedges drew in. I was trying to make use of that leftover warp. I won’t make this mistake again, but at the time I started it, I didn’t think it would turn out to be one of my favorite weavings.

Still sewing my little puzzle pieces. I’m working on an idea that takes inspiration from feathers. Maybe attaching feathers?

My spirits took a dive this week. I’m trying very hard to keep away from the hole. Part of it is insomnia, and the news. I’ll have to take a news break. It makes me feel like a terrible citizen, but I don’t do anybody or myself or anything else any good from the bottom of the hole.

Back Forty, butterbeans, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, More gardening, Rebel stitching

Here we go again

(Note: I forgot to click Publish when I wrote this on Monday night.)

The week before fall semester classes begin is always a huge adjustment. It feels like going from 0 to 60 suddenly. Gone are the quiet days with few people on the hallway. Now I get to meet about 30 new people and do some public speaking. I’ve come to think of this as my “Sanity Box,” a little box of magic that I can take out during a lunch or other break and just hem squares or stitch them together. No major thought is going into this. Just doing.

A lot of veggies and figs have to be dealt with also. I am much better this year than I have been most Augusts. I attribute this to adding fish oil and vitamin D to my daily supplements. My therapist had suggested the fish oil, and I was vitamin D deficient for a long time. I feel better physically and mentally, although I still tire very quickly. The muggy heat doesn’t help. Yesterday evening I picked tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplants, and figs, then cooked for a couple of hours. I still have a lot of cucumbers and figs to do something with. I don’t want to get out the canning equipment – it just seems like too much for too little, and I am not a huge pickle or jelly fan – but I don’t want them to go to waste. This weekend I put some cucumber slices in with my tomatoes and peppers in the electric dehydrator. They came out wispy and delicate, like soft thin leaves. I might experiment with this more. Sandy and I are planning a repeat of making fig newtons this weekend. Last year he made some good ones, but he baked them on the wrong kind of pan. The filling was great, though.

The butterbeans are overwhelming at the UNCG garden. Very tall and thickly planted. There was a lot of Japanese beetle damage at first but I outplanted them, I think. Hardly any beans, though. I think that the intense heat wave in July stopped them from flowering. I hope they will produce soon so I can get some bean in the freezer before a heavy frost happens. I pulled up most of the eggplants and the lemon cucumber vines. I was tired of them and the eggplants were buried by the bermuda grass and peppermint that I lost control of very early on. Once the Roma tomatoes and one zephyr squash plant are done, which should be before the end of the month, I am abandoning that plot. However, I do think that the grass and mint may have helped hold in moisture during the dry spell when I was traveling.

Sandy and I walked downtown on First Friday, heard music with friends on Saturday, and went to the Greensboro Science Center and out to dinner with a dear out-of-town friend on Sunday. So we had a busy social time. This poodle at Gate City Yarns agrees that Sandy is great and tried to lick him clean.

Lord, I just want to sleep and play in the studio. Daydreaming about going to Ireland. All the books I want to read. Weaving with cloth strips keeps nagging at me to come back to it. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. How do people get bored at home?

art, art retreats, bloggy stuff, fiber art, Rebel stitching, Slow cloth, Upcycling, weaving

Latest news from moi

Suddenly I feel like Miss Piggy today. Couldn’t tell you why.

A lot of things have happened since I last posted. I stopped paying to have my blog ad-free and the ads are pretty disgusting, so I may break down and upgrade to a paid account. I hate to do it, because between that and paying for my photos to be hosted on Flickr, that adds up to over $100 per year. I can’t really let the Flickr account go because I have linked most of my photos to that account. That would be an enormous amount of work to correct that. Plus, I really am attached to my domain name. I’ve had it since 2005. The thought of letting it go has become more intolerable to me.

I am going to convert this over to more of an artist website, and my postings to Facebook and Instagram should appear on the sidebar. But that will take a while. Maybe over the winter break. I’ll have made a decision about whether the cost is worth it by October.

^^^Pablocito, studio assistant, and the reason why there is aluminum foil everywhere. (He doesn’t like it.)

I took a week’s vacation at home in late July because it was slow at work and I have a lot of vacation time built up. It was marvelous. Really, I almost preferred it to traveling.

The first thing on my agenda was to warp up this “new” Beka rigid heddle loom for a sakiori workshop later that week. It was not anywhere near as simple as I thought it would be, and by the time I rewarped it and got the tension right, it took three days and some help from a friend! However, now I know some things I should and shouldn’t do with this type of loom. For one thing, I doubt that I will put three yards of warp on it again.

This patchwork from Jude Hill’s online class (see below) really scratches an itch for me. I love that it is portable. The only problem is my hands can’t take as much hand sewing as I would like to do. My sewing machines (plural) are a constant pain in my ass to keep running and maintained, but I did abuse them pretty badly when I was doing the denim and t-shirt quilt projects. It still amazes me that you can buy a new cheap machine for as much as it is to repair one.

Anyway, bitching aside, I LOVE making these little “puzzle pieces” and putting them together in different ways. It reminds me of my favorite toy growing up, which I think was sold by Tupperware. It was like Legos, but with tiny little pegged pieces in different shapes that could be pushed into a plastic grid. I constantly played with it sitting on the den floor, and I still have a box with the pieces somewhere. It drove my father nuts because he was always stepping on them.

Later that week when I felt like dealing with warping a loom again I caught up on the Rebecca Mezoff/Sarah Swett “Fringeless” online class that I began LAST SUMMER, and by the end of the week, I had this Mirrix loom warped and ready to go. The warping method produces a four selvedge tapestry that is ready when it comes off the loom, no sewing in ends or hemming edges required. To be honest, it was pretty easy once I got the hang of it.

Then on Saturday, I went to the sakiori class that was taught by Dawn Hummer of Saori Song Weaving in Chapel Hill, and sponsored by the Triangle Weavers Guild in a great space that they rent on an ongoing basis in an old school near Durham. I didn’t really learn that much, and I don’t need any encouragement to cut loose and play, but it is always good to hear how and why other artists do what they do. I got to see Saori looms and how they work, and that was really cool. It was fun and that was the whole point. I decided to make some pieces to use as book covers. Here is the first one. There is room on the warp for many more.

In other news, I’ve had to learn how to live without air conditioning for a few days. I hope it won’t be much longer. It is good for me to be reminded not to take this for granted. Work is revving back up with the fall semester classes beginning in only two weeks. The Tapestry Weavers South retreat is in nearby Elkin, NC on Labor Day weekend, so I have that to look forward to. After that, I doubt I will be able to afford any other art retreats or workshops because I am going to have to dip into my savings to pay for the Ireland trip before January, and to be responsible I will pay my savings back. It will be totally worth it to go back to Ireland, where I belong.

Back Forty, Blather, bloggy stuff, whatever

just ramblin’

Next week I’m taking a staycation and I have a lot of projects in mind and a couple of events to attend, including seeing Gordon Lightfoot in concert at the Carolina Theater in Greensboro – a great venue for a great artist.

Today, I’m considering my priorities in what I want to accomplish and what I need to get done. I’m taking a small weaving workshop on sakiori (Japanese rag weaving technique) that is not far away, so first on the list is to assemble and warp my new-to-me Beka rigid heddle loom, and cut/tear half-inch strips of rags for this workshop next Saturday. This is mainly an exercise in creativity and fun, and usually no matter what the subject is, I learn something from a new teacher.

Secondly, I am going to spend some time catching up on the online courses I signed up for LAST YEAR and this year, with the priority being to warp up my new-to-me Mirrix loom in the four-selvedge technique I’ve learned in Rebecca Mezoff and Sarah Swett’s “Fringeless” online course. I hope that this will lead to me weaving small tapestries for book covers and even pages. Making a tapestry book has long been a goal for me.

Other priorities are preparing “puzzle piece” squares for Jude Hill’s current online course as a traveling project. I’d like to do some more cloth strip weaving and make some bags like the ones I made in India Flint’s “Bagstories” course last year.

Another prep project is to make the components for several books, covers and pages, to have them ready to bind. I want to bind at least one book with some of the signatures I made in Leighanna’s workshop at FOBA, and it is mostly ready.

Also, I just finished the first season of “Stranger Things.” As usual, I am behind on popular shows and normally I can’t handle horror shows or flicks – I tend to have nightmares – but this struck me more as a combination of “Freaks and Geeks” and Stephen King. I will probably finish watching the series next week.

I will need to get my battery replaced in the car. We jumped it off after some difficulty after it sat for a while and I drove it to the mechanic’s shop, then made the unwise decision to drive it back home and see if it cranked in the morning. Now it won’t even click when we try to jump it. If we can get it charged again, I will leave it at the mechanic’s shop and let them replace the battery and check out the rest of the electrical system. Fortunately I walk to work and we can get by with one car most of the time, but it limits what I can do during weekdays when Sandy is working unless I get up at 6:30 and drive him to work and pick him up at 4 p.m. I don’t really want to do that.

Once the heat wave settles down, which according to the forecast should happen around Tuesday, I am going to fire up the electric dehydrator and dry a bunch of cherry tomatoes, which are beginning to produce a lot more than we can eat. The UNCG garden is producing plenty of lemon cucumbers, which I have mostly given away, some zephyr squash, and the Roma tomatoes are beginning to ripen. The pole lima beans are now healthy looking after a Japanese beetle attack, but it has been so hot that they have not blossomed, so I hope for a fall harvest. I’ve harvested and eaten onions – the first onions I’ve ever grown from seed. The garlic bulbs did not separate into cloves so I’ll have to figure out what went wrong. We have had a few peppers of various kinds, mainly Italian frying peppers.

Other than that, I am daydreaming about my plans to go to Ireland next June, probably by myself!!! and Sandy has applied for Social Security, so he can retire at any point he wants to now. Since we can’t retire to Ireland, I want to try to come up with ways to go there fairly often. I have an app on my phone called Hopper that is good at alerting you to price drops and rises in airfare on certain routes and days, and I’ve found quite a few AirBNBs that are very inexpensive. If you reserve way ahead of time, you can usually find good prices. Also, I learned on the recent trip to Oregon that I do just fine with a loaf of good bread, sharp cheese, fresh fruit, and nuts for my meals. I’ll be at an art retreat for a week but I want to spend another week walking on the coast.

Yes, I am trying to maintain my mental health during a time of political horror in my own country. At least the racism is out in the open now, but these fascists are scary. My father fought in World War II. What would he say if he were alive? It’s hard to imagine that we are in this place of meltdown, and I will probably end up writing about my helpless feelings about the fall of our civilization at some point. What do you do when people refuse to believe the truth? It is beyond my comprehension.

Honestly, “Stranger Things” is much less scary and a whole lot more believable.

I will add a statement on the sidebar about the appearance of ads on my blog beginning July 28. It is part of my expense cutting to push my money toward retirement, travel, and art expenses. I won’t see them or have any control over them, but I’m not spending any more money on this blog, and that is when my bill is due to prevent ads. Please, just ignore them. Don’t click on them. I hate advertisements and I do not choose the content.