Oregon, Portland

Portland, July 17, 2022

After a leisurely Sunday morning, we took an Uber to Cargo, a fun import store on Yamhill St. Cargo has a mix of antiques, gifty stuff, art supplies, clothing, and Japanese food. Right after I discovered this cabinet of old Japanese books and papers, I had to sit down. I was blown away. We decided to go get lunch and come back.

Around the block was a highly rated restaurant named Shalom Y’all. I was intrigued with how they might combine Mediterranean and U.S. Southern cuisine, but that wasn’t the deal at all. We ordered takeout and it was brought to us at a covered picnic table on the street. It was one of the best meals we had, and it was vegetarian. Roasted beet tahina spread, hot puffy pita bread, fried cauliflower atop a salad with hazelnuts, olives, and fresh mint tea. If I ever go back, I will definitely go here again.

I realized the potential for me to go completely nuts over these Japanese papers so I limited myself to a $30 budget. I picked out three small books, and two of them had bookworm holes and tunnels, which made me ecstatically happy. The holes in the accordion book looked like snowflake or paper doll cutting. The open book on the right bottom is full of illustrations and maps on very thin paper with lots of fold-outs.

We noshed on the leftover olives and Japanese snacks with ciders in the side garden that afternoon, then wandered back over to Mississippi Ave. to figure out where to eat our last meal in that area, since we’d be leaving for the Crystal Hotel across the river in the morning. During our wandering, we happened on Mama & Hapa’s Zero Waste Shop. I am fascinated with the idea of zero waste, although I’ve given up on the effort to achieve it personally. Our local food coop is working toward the goal of bulk bins with zero waste. Anyway, I could not leave without buying something so I bought this dental floss and two refills.

Dinner that night was inside for a change, but we felt safe enough. We had a small pizza and a green risotto at Lovely Fifty Fifty and I swear to you, the vegetarian food last few days in Portland made me seriously consider going pescetarian. I won’t give up seafood until it is unavailable to me but I could eat a lot more vegetables and be happy. Then we decided to share one scoop of salted caramel ice cream, and that scoop was grand. I wish I could remember what was in the risotto. Basil and umami, for sure.

art, Oregon, Portland

Portland, July 16, 2022

After we arrived in Portland, Susan and I decided to see if there were spaces available in Jill Berry’s Layers and Lines workshop at her studio there. We didn’t expect there to be, since there was a limit of 6, but there were! So on Saturday morning, we got a Blue Star Donut and then called an Uber to take us to Jill’s house.

I had taken a very satisfying three day workshop with Jill at FOBA in 2015, so this made up a little for missing out on our art retreat.

One other student joined us, and we had a lot of fun playing with mark-making and Golden acrylic paints. Jill mixed the heavy body Golden acrylics with methylcellulose to use on Arches text wove paper. This mixture made the paint bond with the paper fibers better, allowing many layers to be painted and best of all, it dried fast without stickiness!

Jill’s renovated house and gardens were filled with artwork, flowers, herbs, vegetables, recycled materials, great style, and a cute little dog named Poppy. She served us a delicious salad with bread, cheese, cookies, and fresh fruit.

Okay, here are the photos of the workshop, then my finished papers.

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Here are most of my finished papers. We did three other exercises as well.

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The one on the left was stamped with silk flowers and leaves in my gloved hand (until I absentmindedly removed my glove and then got acrylic paint all over my hand). The one on the right had salt sprinkled on it and brushed off.

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The one on the left had my original marks in black gesso. The one on the right was a ghost print of the one on the left. Then the paints were added.

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My intention for all of these are for collage and book covers and pages, but Sandy wants me to frame the one above. I don’t know. We have a whole stack of artwork on a chair that we need to find places on a wall to hang.

Jill graciously drove us back “home” and we got take out sushi from a place a few blocks away, ate it in the garden, and called it a good day.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety

Sunday sweep

Just a quick update to say that my migraines are gone and my ankle is much better, although I am still babying it today. The ant situation is much, much better now too. Only a few confused ones are still showing up for dinner, and finding Terro on the plate.

Watched the first episode of Ted Lasso last night, and I can see why everyone likes it. T-Mobile gave us a year of Apple TV free and we had yet to use it.

Other than weaving a bit of the hem on Cathedral, doing laundry, and making a pitcher of peach tea with honey and mint, I’ve been extremely lazy and I’m fine with that. My mental health is stabilizing and I’m able to focus on reading and watching TV for a longer period of time. I’m finally beginning to accept that we probably won’t move out of the country. Note the word “probably” and not “definitely” though! This was a difficult thing to let go, since I had become obsessed with the idea.

My therapist floated the idea that I may be ADD, and as crazy and surprising as that sounded at first, I sort of see her point now.

I hope to go down to Lake Waccamaw for a long weekend next month or in September, and I signed up for a workshop with Leslie Marsh in late October at her studio in Topsail Beach, but that is the only travel on my agenda right now, and it’s all in-state.

Oregon, Portland

Portland, July 15, 2022

Do forgive me, because I know how much I preach about consumerism and slow living, but I went a little crazy shopping in Portland. I did, however, manage with difficulty to refrain from buying the black truffle salt and bergamot bitters at The Meadow, although I bought a packet of hot dark chocolate mix that made our following mornings with coffee special. Photos are of a few shelves in the shop. There were tasters for the bitters and I have to say that I was very, very tempted.

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We started the morning at Blue Star Donuts, and hobbled our way up and down Mississippi Avenue for a few blocks in each direction. The Meadow was the first stop. We drifted through GiftyKitty which was as cute as and a bit more artsy and twisted than the name implies. At PDXchange, we both bought rings and I bought this absolutely awesome coffee mug, even though I had sworn a solemn oath not to buy any more coffee mugs. I had planned to buy a new ring in Portugal and didn’t, so that was my excuse to buy this beautiful silver labradorite ring.

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A few doors down, Flutter was aptly named because its mix of new and vintage definitely made my heart twitch. I was very good here, only buying a long length of lace from a $10 basket, a little of it shown here hanging down around the light bulbs that I bought at Sunlan the day before. Susan was also very good, because she really really really wanted this parasol, and it was SO SUSAN, but she left it behind. It was awesome inside and out.

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We then hit Rock Paper Scissors, a stationery and card shop with some art supplies, and Susan bought a few pencils and I bought a couple of felt pens and a few sheets of printed lokta paper.

At this point, we were D.O.N.E. So we ate a margerhita pizza at Tartuca at a streetside table. Nearly everywhere we ate had outdoor seating, extremely helpful when a particularly contagious Covid strain is making the rounds. This was one of several vegetarian meals that were amazing.

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We collapsed for several hours and then walked up N. Williams Ave. in search of banh mi. The restaurant that we were looking for didn’t sell banh mi anymore, so we kept walking and discovered Dick’s Primal Burger, and Susan ordered a wild boar burger and mine was venison, goat cheese, and mushrooms. It was the best burger I have ever eaten.

The next day we would be getting our art on at a day workshop in Jill Berry’s studio.

coffee pot posts, Reading

Saturday afternoon coffee pot post

Finished off the coffee, though.

Today will probably be a wash. My bone spur is punishing me now and I’ve had cluster migraines since I got back from Portland. I feel sure that it is weather-related because I didn’t have a single headache that I remember in Oregon. Yesterday I had an ocular migraine which doesn’t happen often. It’s so weird and hard to describe. Sort of like I’m looking into a pool of water that is being stirred, but no pain. Thankfully, it was short and the headaches don’t last more than a couple of hours, generally.

Anyway, I’d planned on getting a lot of house cleaning done this weekend, but now I know that I’ve got to rest this angry ankle. It is in the high 90s today so I have an excuse to stay inside, at least. Sandy just went out to get us lunch and a few basic groceries because not only is there not much food in the house, we’ve had a major invasion of ants, the worst I’ve ever seen. So I have little squares of Terro set around the kitchen where the cats can’t get to it, and the bread will have to go into the fridge when he gets back. The cats are being kept off the front porch because they freak out if the door is closed, and we need to keep the house cool. I am so grateful for air conditioning and count my blessings in that respect.

I can sit down to weave the hem on the Cathedral tapestry, so I’ll work on that this weekend. Maybe I’ll have a cutoff party when the time comes. At the very least I will have Sandy video it. I’ve also joined a collaborative postcard tapestry project with Tapestry Weavers South in which we each weave a 4×6 inch tapestry with a letter on it. The tapestries all together will spell “Follow the Thread,” which is the name of our exhibition at the Folk Art Center next year. I chose the letter O. I was awake several hours last night because I could not turn my brain off with ideas for this! I need to sit down with pencil and paint and do some sketches.

We have been watching “The Last Kingdom,” which is a lot of fun, not least because at some point in exploring my family tree on familysearch.org I have found both Uhtred the Bold and Alfred the Great as ancestors. Now, I do take all this with a grain of salt, but it is exciting to find famous people in my tree, whether the research is correct or not! From what I understand, the Mormons are pretty good at genealogy though.

Not only that, but I’m reading “The Grove of Eagles” by Winston Graham (author of the Poldark books) and it turns out that my direct relatives the Arundells are characters in it. It could be the most boring book in the world and I wouldn’t know it because I keep stopping to look up a character in my family tree.

That’s the news from Greensboro, and I’ll get back to blogging my Portland trip, which was so much fun and exactly what I needed, despite what my foot says.

Go west, Oregon, Portland

Portland, Oregon: July 13-14, 2022

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Focus on Book Arts was canceled in May. I cried. It was probably the last time I would have gone, since I’m planning to retire within the next year. I suspect it was probably because they raised the prices of the classes so much, but my guess is that they raised prices because they had no choice. They weren’t trying to make a profit. Regardless of the reason, they canceled it for low enrollment.

Not only that, but I chose to attend Focus on Book Arts instead of Convergence in Knoxville, Tennessee, which my tapestry guild was heavily involved in and it was a driveable distance away. Not to mention the art retreat in Ireland that I had laid down a deposit for in 2020, but I would not have been able to do Portugal and Ireland in one year anyway. All scheduled at the same time this year.

The three of us, although we bought travel insurance, had non-refundable plane tickets. Travel insurance didn’t cover the cancellation of an event. One of us was able to get a travel credit to use in the next six months, which was good because she unexpectedly got a new job. The other two musketeers, Susan and I, went to Portland anyway. We had the refund from FOBA and we used it to rent an AirBNB in Portland and have a good time.

The plane trip went incredibly smoothly. I guess I used up all my bad luck on the Portugal plane trip. On the flight between Chicago and Portland, we got lucky and sat next to a woman whose job was to transport puppies from the seller to the owner. That’s how we got to cuddle with Miss Bonnie as we flew west. She was so soft and so gentle and quiet…and didn’t pee on us once!

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^^^Miss Bonnie sleeping on Susan’s heart.

We rode the Metro and a bus most of the way to our AirBNB, which was between Mississippi Avenue and Williams Avenue in NE Portland, within a short walking distance of both streets with their restaurants and shops and the bus stop. Our place was in the basement of a Craftsman bungalow, cute but so, so cold. We closed the vents and made the best of it. We spent time in a sweet little garden on the side of the house, because the weather was absolutely gorgeous the entire time we were there.

Susan and I were both mobility challenged. She has a partial knee replacement coming up and I have my bone spur pressing against my Achilles tendon. We took a lot of breaks from walking but we did fairly well, considering. We ate out for every meal. On the first evening, we ate fish tacos at a bar called The Rambler, and drank local ciders and ales. They asked to see our vaccination cards before we could sit at the bar inside. Luckily I had taken a photo of mine and had it on my phone, because it wasn’t the only place in Portland that required proof of vaccination. Then we went “home” and crashed. We were still on East Coast time.

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The next morning we went to Gravy for breakfast and I was surprised that it was not crowded and we were able to get a table right away. Susan got a fried egg sandwich and I got smoked salmon hash and eggs and hashbrowns, not knowing that I would be served about five pounds of food. The waitress brought us a takeout box so for some reason I thought it was a good idea to take the leftovers back. The leftover salmon hash in the fridge became a running joke until I tossed it in the compost bin (as instructed!) on the day we left.

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^^^The infamous smoked salmon hash.

On our way back, we stopped at a very unusual light bulb and lighting store, Sunlan. I picked up a couple of very cool light bulbs for my antique floor lamp.

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Then we walked to the bus stop and took the Metro to Washington Park, where we got on the park shuttle to visit the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Gardens.

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This was my third time at the Portland Japanese Gardens so I tried to focus on being in the moment instead of taking lots of photos. If you want to see past photos of the gardens, I blogged them here and here. I also looked up a lot this time at the reflections of light through leaves as well as the shadows on the ground. My favorite photo this time was of the shadows that the water bugs cast on the bottom of the pools as they walked on the surface.

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We had tea and appetizers at the Umami Cafe. This fruit and nut cake was so delicious!

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After a break at “home” we went to a Thai place on Mississippi Avenue, split a bottle of vinho verde, and ate more appetizers. A little bit of Portugal on the U.S. West Coast. We bought a few non-alcoholic drinks and a 12-pack of assorted ciders to have during our stay at “home.” That night we sat out in the side garden, told stories of our lives from way back when, and laughed a whole lot.

That’s the first two days of our trip!

art, coffee pot posts, critters, dyeing, Nature printing, tapestry, weaving

Sunday Rainy Morning Coffee Pot Post

While Portugal and other places in the world burns, we have a sweet reprieve from the oppressive heat since a cold front with rain came through last night. Diego and I are sitting on the front porch. The rain is pattering and gurgling, wind is wafting, a cardinal is chirping, and a train horn is blowing. Now a mockingbird sings. We have many mockingbirds in the area.

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This weekend so far I have not left the house except to pick a couple of hot peppers for our chili last night. An ancho and a poblano. They didn’t seem so hot after I did a test nibble, but after I minced and seeded them, soap and water did not clean my hands and I wiped my itchy face with my hand. I remembered a tip from my sister and dabbed some sour cream on the stinging areas. (Cream cheese works too.) It worked and the chili turned out perfect.

I’ve been concentrating on finishing “Cathedral.” I know that I have been saying that for years. But I actually have the top edge of the left side finished and it’s a matter of weaving up the right side and middle to match it, then weaving a hem. When it is cut off, I’ll ask Sandy to make a video. Standing at this loom is not good for my body and I will probably sell the Shannock loom when I finish Cathedral. I have many looms to choose from, mostly small tapestry looms. I have reworked the section on the right of the top photo several times. It is time to let it go now. I’m content with it.

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Last weekend I needed to do something that was easy on the brain and would give me a dopamine hit, so Susanne and I did a couple of natural dye pots and rolled up paper with various leaves on copper pipes to make prints. This time we dipped the paper in an alum/water solution first. I experimented with three different papers and I had no expectations. We didn’t have much in this particular dyepot other than some rusty iron bits and a few old pecans with hulls that I found. It was also still dirty from the same time I used it. Susanne also did a dyepot with avocado pits but I haven’t seen her results from that one.

The first papers were Susanne’s handmade “dream” paper, speckled with herbs. It didn’t hold the leaf prints as well but I think that the yarrow leaves that I put in one of the bundles dyed everything a brilliant yellow. The texture is very nice.20220709_114441

The second paper bundle was a thin commercial paper that may have been too delicate for the dyepot, but I was experimenting. I did get prints and one section near the top of the bundle that was torn is so pretty that I’ll do something with it. This paper will be good for collage.

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The last set of papers just floored me. I was so pleased and surprised when they came off the pipe bundle. These were heavy cream colored watercolor papers that I had torn down to make book signatures with. They turned out so beautiful and vibrant that they will have to go on covers, I think.

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Leaves used were sweet gum (called liquidambar in the rest of the world, I think), black walnut, pecan, redbud, oak, willow oak, swamp bay, and the black/purple areas were from dried petals of black hollyhock flowers. I grew one several years ago and it didn’t do well, but I dried and saved the petals. There are a few strawberry and rose leaves in there too.

People always ask about the lines. Those are the string marks from tying the paper bundle tightly. It is on the outside of the bundle so that part picks up the dye in the dyepot – in this case, the iron bits and probably residue from the last time I dyed with black walnuts.

Dreams

Dream of Kali

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Early this morning, I dreamed a vivid dream of performance art. I was in school and painted a large image of Kali on a clay slab, but I couldn’t find a place to hang it. Finally I placed it in the middle of a dirt road going through a field, and I scooped out the sandy soil to create basins and mounds around it, with some ancient symbols of Ireland drawn into the mounds. A path led you into it and out, with the painting of Kali on the ground inside.

I heard a couple of teachers complaining about the ugly structure that had appeared overnight in the field, so I led all the students and teachers in a line to walk through it. I didn’t explain. I marched like a soldier about ten feet ahead of the line, and I may have been dressed like a general.

After leading the way through I went back to the school without stopping, without explaining the installation, did whatever, then I walked into the lobby of the building, where the people who were in line were drifting in. There was a table with a sign with a petition to remove my art installation, and a couple of sour faced women standing to the side of it. Underneath the petition to remove it, someone had added an area to sign in support of it. The signatures in that area slightly outnumbered the signatures who wanted to remove it. All were women.

I said to the women, did you realize that it is only sand and clay and after a couple of hard rainstorms nature will destroy it for you? They stood like stone.

I had gone to sleep thinking of chaos. Of the many consequences of the reversal of Roe vs. Wade, including the news that some pharmacists are refusing to prescribe methotrexate because it can be used to induce abortion. Methotrexate is one of the few known effective treatments for my husband’s rare auto-immune disease, polymyositis, and it is prescribed for other auto-immune diseases as well. It works well for him and it is keeping this incurable muscle disease in check.

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.