art, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, collage, consumerism, Coronavirus Chronicles, Mixed media art, Reading, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

And, OH! This coffee is so good. I put a big scoop of Trader Joe’s salted caramel hot cocoa mix in it. Divine. I’d really like to go back to Trader Joe’s today and buy more of this and a bunch of frozen dinners to take to work, but I considered what it would be like to go to TJ’s on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I think I’ll wait on that. I’m pretty new to Trader Joe’s since my first grocery shops were always the farmers’ market then Deep Roots then a local grocery. We listened to a story about Trader Joe’s on NPR and were fished in…it was a lovely experience. It’s good that it is on the other side of town.

The other place we shopped heavily during the pandemic was Costco, and we had a lot delivered. Once vaccines became widely available I stopped doing grocery delivery, realizing that between the mark-up on the products and the tip that I gave the shopper, I wasn’t saving any money. Sandy and I are – gasp, I’ll say it – hoarders and we got ahead on groceries at some point several years ago and our closets are generally full enough that we can get by for a few months if needed. I also have water stored in sterilized glass apple juice bottles. At first it was prepping in case of civil war or some other calamity. Little did we know how useful this would become so soon. I have to remember to rotate out the food, though. I donated some to the graduate student food drive for the food pantry this week.

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I have most of my grocery shopping for Thanksgiving already done so I’ll go to Deep Roots for my coffee, bread, yogurt, etc. today. My sister provides the turkey and cornbread dressing and dessert and lots of casseroles since she is the primo chef in the family, and retired, and enjoys it. I’ll bring my asparagus/mushroom/almond casserole and marinated goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy and butterbeans from Smith Farms. We have our assignments and that has always been mine. Usually I grow the butterbeans, but I let that go this year.

One thing that we WON’T do is go shopping. I’ve celebrated Buy Nothing Day for years now, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving. It blows my mind that anybody actually enjoys that frenzy. We stopped giving physical Christmas gifts a long time ago. We still give each other presents, but they are not tied to any one day or obligation. It happens by whim when we see something that we know that someone would enjoy. I strongly believe that is the way gift giving should work.

Frugality is much on my mind, as I spin toward the goal of early retirement. I never thought that there was a chance that I might be able to do it, until my financial advisor at work told me that if I could live on 11% less, I could. Well, I have cut out a lot of fat during the past twenty years, but there is still 11% that I can cut. One thing that I did was I started putting a lot more in my retirement account. So now I know that I can live on what’s left.

I just don’t know how people can rent these days. We are so lucky (and smart) that we bought our house in a decent neighborhood at a good price and paid the mortgage off. Sandy rented his condo out so much more cheaply than the surrounding apartments. He said that he always remembered that when we first moved to this street the landlord said that he wanted to provide young people with an affordable place to live. I really liked that guy and it sounded really noble but we also had leaks and a hole in the bathroom floor. It wasn’t totally altruistic – he didn’t want to fix the problems. Then he sold us the house really cheap! Still, rents are insane these days and I don’t think that I could afford to rent an apartment on my salary if I had to do it.

Yesterday I broke down and decided that I had to take some allergy meds. I had stopped them when I realized that they were triggering my restless leg syndrome. It has been rough. Sleep was weird for the past 24 hours. I slept well on Friday night and late on Saturday, took the 24 hour Allegra-D, then Sandy and I went out for lunch and checked out Jerry’s Artarama. I came back and sat down on the sofa looking at my Kindle, and each cat settled down on each side of me and purred. I was so content and relaxed, I didn’t have a headache, and I could breathe! Then out of the blue I got really sleepy and took a three hour nap. The kind where you lay your head down and don’t move for three hours. These two things totally screwed up my sleep last night, so I spent from 1-4 a.m. stretching my feet and legs and back and cracking my toes and knuckles. At some point I turned on the light and started reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and wow. That was hard to put down. So it was another late sleep this morning. I’ll try to make it through the day without meds and a nap until bedtime tonight.

Jerry’s Artarama, which I didn’t even know was in Greensboro, y’all. It’s in a part of town where I never go any more. I need a source of inexpensive framing supplies for my artwork that I plan to sell, so I joined it. I bought a cool little device that you pour acrylic paint into and it has a marker tip – I chose the inch wide one. I hope that it will work well with stencils. I also bought a cheap stand-up easel for Sandy, black gesso, and a clip on glass panel for a matted print that we had bought from Ireland back in 2012.

One thing that I learned from this trip and the Dick Blick catalog, is that I need to get away from the 8×8″ size work. I bought a lot of wood panels in that size and I can make those hang-able, but there isn’t much choice in pre-made mats or frames in that size. When I make my prints this winter, I’m going to pay attention and cut my papers to standard sizes before I print them. I want to mat or frame my collages and prints and paintings for sale, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. I’ll use a local frame shop for the ones that I want to keep or put in a show.

I spent in the wee hours of the morning thinking about what I’m going to do with this…thing…I made last weekend. And, as often happens, my inspiration took off when thinking about Lake Waccamaw. This is going to be the base for a real mixed media piece, with painting and leaf printed cloth and driftwood and maybe bones?

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I worked on this collage some last week and I like it. It will probably be part of a book, though.

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art, coffee pot posts, collage, Printmaking

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I’ll head to the studio after lunch, but in the meantime, I’ll do a catch-up post from this week. Which ain’t much, but this is my journal written to my future self to read.

Last Sunday afternoon when I went to the studio I decided to do much of the same thing – gelli plate printing – but on dictionary pages and with leaves that I found tucked into the dictionary. Thank you, past Laurie. It didn’t go as well as I expected, but the idea here is that I’m going to go to the studio at least weekly and do something, no matter what. Then I spilled a bottle of Golden raw sienna paint and so I spent the rest of my time painting everything in reach with raw sienna because I can’t stand to waste paint, especially Golden paint!

I pretty much ruined a lot of what I had done, but I picked up this monoprint from the mess on bookboard from an old book I had stripped down for parts and it reminds me of a weaver. There was one sheet with leaf prints that was pretty good.

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I’ve pronounced this collage finished before but since its inspiration began with a song and then the death of our parakeet Liz, I started feeling like Liz would not actually enjoy eating bugs in heaven and had the bright idea of gluing down pearled barley over the bugs at the bottom. Well, that did not work out at all. So I scratched off the pearled barley and painted acrylic glass bead gel over the bugs to blur them out with something sparkly. I’m happy with it and I’m leaving it alone now.

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Man, my brain and body this week – hoo boy. It’s hard for me to even write this post. I typed it’s when I meant its previously and that is one of my biggest grammar annoyances. I hope that I continue to catch them all. Yesterday when I went to the studio I had a persistent headache just bad enough to keep me from thinking clearly so I spent a couple of hours just painting bookboard and wooden panels for later use. I’m not sure what I’ll do later today.

I came home on Wednesday afternoon so exhausted that I lay down and took a three hour nap, got up for three hours, and then slept hard for another eight hours. When I got up for work I was STILL fatigued so I called in sick and got a covid test that afternoon. It was negative, as I expected because I am pretty feckin careful, but my co-workers encouraged me to get it. These allergies are getting to me and I know that I should go get a blood panel done soon. However, it’s not that unusual for me for my battery to suddenly run out of juice and have to recharge for a day or so. I have to get a new doctor soon because my doctor is retiring and I dread that. So far I feel fine today and I have definitely had enough sleep for once.

We went to the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market yesterday morning for the first time in a long time. I was able to snag a jar of marinated goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy, which is usually one of my contributions to Thanksgiving weekend if I can get it. I bought some bath salts from Carol at Mimi’s Soaps because it is cool enough for me to enjoy my old clawfoot tub again, and I bought shelled butterbeans and zucchini from Smith Farms, and a pound of jumbo shrimp from whats-his-name – damn, I cannot remember. Then I went to Deep Roots twice because I forgot all I needed the first time. We had our favorite dish last night – shrimp with broccoli and onions and garlic and basil with a light cream/feta/parmesan sauce over fettucine. We have bought a ton of food in the past two weeks so I hope that we are stocked for a while.

I was talking to Jim (another artist in the print co-op) about my past local food activism yesterday and it reminded me that even though in the two big local battles I was on the winning side, I am very glad to let that go and concentrate on art now. It is interesting watching the global food supply bottlenecks – which prove the point that local foodies were trying to make all along. We need to strengthen our local food systems here and all over the world instead of relying on global trade for products that we could make here. (I just wish we could produce coffee here.)

It’s noon, time to quit writing, although I have more to say later.

art, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, pinhole photography, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

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^^^Wouldn’t this make an interesting tapestry?

Finally, fall temperatures. We sat on the front porch yesterday morning, barefoot in t-shirts and shorts. This morning is a delicious 51 degrees F.

Last Saturday, Sandy and I went to the West Point on the Eno Park in Durham to take a pinhole camera workshop given by Durham Parks & Recreation. This is something that we plan to keep up and we need to get the supplies and set up a darkroom. Here they are hanging to dry and my best print.

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I am afraid of jinxing this, but I will go ahead and say it. My depression has lifted. My hope always is that it will be for good, but let’s just say that I hope it lasts a long long time. It is such a wonder the few times this has happened in my life that I am flabbergasted. This is how normal feels? I like it very much.

My therapist and I think that it could be due to the large amounts of Vitamin D that I started taking every day in mid-August. When I went to the orthopedic clinic for the injured bones in my foot, they put me on 5,000 mg per day, and said that I could stay on that dose with no worries. I had been taking 1,000 mg per day. So if you are struggling and you are already trying other things without success, you might try upping your Vitamin D. I hope that it is this simple for me. She had suggested transcranial magnetic stimulation because my depression was so chronic, but I started feeling so much better right around the time that she suggested it that I never pursued it. I am not quitting my anti-depressant though.

And if I could only sleep when my body needs sleep, my physical and mental health would be much, much better. During the week, I still struggle. On the weekend when I can get up when my body says it’s time, I feel like a champ. This is the main reason I look forward to retirement.

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I had the energy last Sunday and yesterday to really go after the mess that we live in. Sandy and I cleaned floors. SO. MUCH. CAT. HAIR. It amazes me that we have a mouse problem. We cleaned up the stack of boxes and old mail meant to be burned next to the woodstove that you got an eyeful of when you stepped in the front door, and burned the mail outside in the fire pit. There is still some work to be done in that area. There is lots of dust and since I have stopped taking anti-histamines and Sandy’s cough is so bad we really have to do better for our health’s sake. This house will be 100 years old next year and it generates its own dirt.

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Yesterday, I started seriously deep cleaning the kitchen, beyond washing dishes and wiping counters. I’m getting rid of a few items, and reorganizing some. For example I cleaned my coffee/tea/bar corner thoroughly, washed everything there, reappointed the vintage metal bread bin that I used to keep art supplies in to holding all the teas that we’ve gathered and been given, and filled the wooden shelves that my Daddy made for me with most of our small pottery cup collection instead of the tea. I also cleaned the shelves where the rest of the pottery plates and bowls and glasses and tumblers are. It felt so good to get all this cleaned up. I’m going to tackle the fridge, microwave, other counters, and food shelves today.

Daddy had just taken up woodworking before he got terminally ill with colon cancer. He made this shelf for me to display my glass paperweight collection. If I ever have to choose just a few things to take with me out of this house, this will always be one of them.

Hopefully this energy will transfer over to my art and garden at some point. One thing I regret is that in my cleaning frenzy I forgot to take my weavings to the frame shop.

Sandy and I finished watching The Kominsky Method and we loved it. I stretched it out as long as I could because I’m not a binger. When I enjoy something, I want it to last! Last night we watched Nomadland in absolute awe of its strange beauty and poignancy. I want to read that book now.

Speaking of books, I finished Elantris by Brandon Sanderson this week, and liked it a lot although I found it to be a little too frantic in action. The world and characters he created were fascinating. I plan to check out more of his books. Then I began Broken by Jenny Lawson, which is this great combination of hilarity and high speed nuttiness and anger and serious talk about her mental health and compassion.

My achilles tendinitis is back, so I bought a soft foot splint that I wore to bed last night. It was pretty comfortable, and once I get used to it and stop waking up to wonder what is on my foot it should help. I want to put off getting another steroid shot as long as possible. I learned with my wrist tendinitis that the doctors will only do the steroid shots a few times. The shot that he gave me in my heel did not hurt at all, which surprised me.

I also finally replaced my bras. After going so long hardly wearing a bra at all, it was tough to wear those worn out bras again, but I hate bra shopping almost as much as swimsuit shopping. I ordered them online through Kohls so I wouldn’t have to go in the store, and the shipment circled around between Charlotte and Virginia for over two weeks. Finally the routing was straightened out and I found them at my door early this morning. On a Sunday. Shipping is so weird these days. I also treated myself to a tunic and beret from Gudrun Sjoden and three more basic shirts. I have not bought any new clothing in so long, and I need to get rid of a lot of what I have that is worn out and stained. When you have a rack like mine it tends to catch a lot of drips.

Good news: we finally got our tax refund from 2019. It took a year and a half from the time we mailed it. We will never mail another tax return if we can at all help it. I immediately called the credit union for the payoff on the home equity loan and paid off the solar panels. Most of the refund was the tax credit we had been waiting on. I am totally debt-free at the moment!

art, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

The Lake Tapestry

I really finished this last weekend, and I was going to wait until I had it mounted and framed, or whatever display I decide on, but I couldn’t make up my mind about whether to back it in black or not, so I decided to go ahead and post it.

lake tapestry for web

Originally I was planning to name this “Lake Effects” but since it changed into a mystery place as I wove it I am renaming it after a comment my friend made: “A Place You’ve Never Been.”

99% naturally dyed silk threads for the weft and cotton seine twine for the warp. 4.75 x 6.75 inches.

What do you think? Should I use this black background and frame it? Or should I mount it to a cloth covered board with a lighter, neutral (beige or cream) color? (I can already see a cat hair, so I’ll have to re-photograph it!)

When I cut this tapestry off the loom, I also cut off a sweet little painted silk weft weaving that I began at Pam Patrie’s cabin long ago. I don’t think it can technically be called a tapestry since the weft is woven all the way across, but some people call any art fabric a tapestry. I’m a bit more picky in my labeling. I have no idea what I will name it, but it is inspired by the beach near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

painted weft tapestry for web

art, book arts

Painted Papyrus Book Workshop

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20210731_132327_0720210801_162246The reason I was at the beach: Dan Essig‘s rescheduled Painted Papyrus Book workshop at the home of Leslie Marsh in Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

We made two books: one with the papyrus showing on the cover, which is finished and I’m happy with, and one with the papyrus as a base.  We covered the one with papyrus as a base with crumpled Cave paper, then painted with several layers of milk paint, then sanded or rubbed off top layers in places, then buffed it with shoe polish. The smell reminded me of my daddy on Sunday mornings.

I didn’t finish the second one because I was NOT happy with the endband binding. It was a hard technique to learn anyway and then I was having vision problems. I’m going to take what I did out now that I got the hang of it toward the end and redo the bottom, add the endband at the top, then glue and stitch the covers together.

Of course, since it is Dan’s workshop, we received pieces of mica to include in our books. I was lucky to get a piece with some great black and rust inclusions so it will be featured on the front cover of the second book.

Leslie’s studio, which has been featured in the magazine What Women Create, is the inspiration that made me start ditching my plastic bins in favor of old cigar boxes and baskets.

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art, coffee pot posts

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Well, let’s pretend that it is still morning. Technically I began this post at 11:55. But I am still finishing the coffee pot.

Above is my latest collage, which I began working on last fall. That seems to work best for me with collages, to let them percolate a while before finishing up. I still need to trim it a bit but it is mounted on a cradled wood panel painted white. The final element came when I attached one of Liz’s tail feathers.  (Liz is our late parakeet.)

Last weekend we went back down to Lake Waccamaw and four friends joined us. We ate a lot of good food and unhealthy food and played games. We didn’t go anywhere this time other than quick trips to the grocery store with masks on – I am not feeling good about going out down there right now. That county has a low vaccination rate. One couple brought a strategy game called Quirkle Cubes and I want to buy that one. We also played Sequence. The weather was hot and muggy some of the time but the breeze was up on Saturday night and we sat out in the yard looking out at the lake and drank mixed drinks and cider.

Tim and Lisa mainly did stuff on their own – they have ongoing renovations at their house and Tim was recovering from surgery nine days before, but on Sunday, he attempted to give our friends a ride on the pontoon boat. Once he got it off the lift into the water, it wouldn’t crank. So he got into the water (it is only about knee deep) and was trying to keep it from bashing into the pier next door. I had on my bathing suit so I tried to hurry into the water to help him, and wiped out on the bottom slick step of the pier and whacked the top of my right foot and shin on the steps. It is fortunate that I crashed into the water instead of hard ground or it would have been very bad. As it was, I was able to walk over and help him push the boat back onto the lift. It’s kind of amazing how easy it is to push a large boat in the water, but he should not have been doing it.

Anyway, after I walked out of the lake and rinsed off the cut on my foot, my sister doctored it up and we sat on the pier and enjoyed conversation for about an hour. I had my leg iced and elevated but it swelled up like crazy. My cut never got infected though and that was my main concern.

Anyway, I’ve spent most of the week working from home and elevating my foot. Tuesday was bad because I didn’t take care of it, because we had to pack and clean up the house on Monday. Sandy can’t do it all these days. The swelling started going down on Wednesday and I decided that I didn’t need to go to the doctor. Friday I was able to put on my shoes and walk to work and back, and I soaked in Epsom salts last night. Today I was greeted with a multi-colored foot and leg that could easily belong to a zombie – I am fascinated with the colors. Greenish yellow, blue, deep purple, brownish red. The only normal color is a circle around the cut. I’ve never had an injury like this and it amazes me that I’m not in severe pain!

So the idea was that we were going to make paste papers at the lake, but none of us were in the mood for it considering everything that was happening, or not happening since we were all TOO relaxed. On Wednesday evening three of us made paste papers at Susanne’s house, and I brought home the leftover paint and used it all up. So I now have a lot of background and collage papers to use, along with a few pieces nice enough to use for book covers.

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I am not very confident about the safety of going back to a normal schedule at work once the semester begins. The administration seems to be determined to make everything as normal as possible, which I understand, but I also understand that there are a LOT of young people out there who for whatever reason have not gotten vaccinated. Fortunately, most of our employees have, according to a survey. I am nervous because I’m not so trusting of the J&J’s effectiveness against the Delta variant. We need to go ahead and get Sandy an antibody test this weekend.

Oh well, the problem with waiting so long to post is that there is too much catch-up to do. I didn’t take any lake photos. I don’t know why – usually I take so many but I didn’t even think about it this time! I will try to post again tomorrow, because I have plenty to write about.

art, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Progress on the lake tapestry

The lake tapestry has taken an unexpected turn as I inched (millimetered?) my way to the finish line. I decided to weave a strip of the brown/grey threads at the top for a hem, and started on the right side and took a break.

When I went back to it, it seems that my lake needs a cliff jutting out into the water in the background. Which means it is no longer Lake Waccamaw, which is round.

Yet, this weaving was abstracted anyway. It began with a very quiet photograph of raindrops on the lake and the blue sky just beginning to poke through the clouds and reflect on the tea-colored waters of Lake Waccamaw. I cropped the photo down to a small area and increased the size. I added the movement of the water on top and below the surface, and it became much more animated. The raindrops would not have really looked this way on the surface if the water had been moving.

Now it seems to me that the raindrops in the tapestry have transformed into boulders and rocks in the water. There are no boulders and rocks in the swampy sandy waters of eastern North Carolina. Not naturally placed ones, anyway.

What do you think? I need to make a decision.

art, collage, North Carolina

Looking back at the TWS retreat and class

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 ^^^Signpost in downtown Elkin, North Carolina

During the TWS retreat I was so anxious that I babbled for the first two days, then started calming down by Tommye’s class on the 3rd and 4th days, a class that I’ve been trying to take in one form or another for a couple of years.. But I was still anxious and burst into tears twice, once from hurtful behavior that I overreacted to, and the second time from sheer kindness that was showed to me. (I was probably a bit cranked up on steroids too.) I got some good ideas for design work though. The design exercises weren’t new to me, but getting Tommye’s perspective of what works in tapestry was valuable. And it was fun to just play with pieces of paper. Maybe once I finish the lake tapestry I will do some of these at a larger sett with larger yarns.

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I really enjoyed having a meal at Southern on Main and at the Angry Troll Brewery on Main St., and I even considered renting a studio space in the Chatham Mill that Foothills Art Center is renovating, right there next to the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center on the second floor. It was so tempting, but I know that I won’t have the time or energy to drive a little over an hour to Elkin even once a week. If I lived 30 minutes away, I would be all over it. Elkin is a cool little town near Stone Mountain State Park, and it is drawing more artists and foodies and nature loving types. In Mayberry land, from the Andy Griffith Show (note the sign that points to Pilot Mountain in the top photo).

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.

art, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, tapestry, weaving

Afternoon in the studio

^Detail, “Cathedral”

I have managed to get started in the studio again – there’s nothing that I am over excited about happening BUT I have actually started weaving on Cathedral again and glued some stuff down for collage and doodled a pretty good page during a long Zoom meeting.

As far as Cathedral goes, I finally worked out why I couldn’t weave it for so long. The tension is terrible…so uneven and I tried warping and rewarping this sucker for a solid month before I finally said fuck it and started weaving it anyway. So, after all this time and work I became terrified because it is definitely going to have puckers and and crazy tension problems when it comes off the loom, and I just couldn’t bear to think about it. I was already suffering from severe depression and that just added to the pain.

But all that work and time is wasted if I DON’T finish weaving it, and once I get it off the loom I can warp it with a much shorter warp (at the time I was warping for multiple tapestries – big mistake) and begin another weaving. Now the plan is to be less persnickety about the details and get it to a place that is even on the top and finish it as a smaller tapestry.

^Lighting makes a big difference in how we perceive color. I chose the cool lighting on the left.

Today we are getting some remnants of Hurricane Laura moving through but it’s not bad at all. Sandy and I have decided to go to Haw River State Park tomorrow for our adventure since the weather report is a bit better and I don’t want to stop the studio energy.

I do need to remember to take frequent breaks for my back and neck and shoulders. Yesterday my massage therapy studio emailed to say that they will be re-opening soon for existing customers and I hope that my therapist will continue to work there. I have been seeing her for about four years almost every month until after January. I canceled my February appointment due to bad allergies and at the time we didn’t know that they would be shut down so long.

The good thing about working from home most of the time is that my physical problems are much much better, which leads me to believe that I don’t get up and move enough when I am in my office. Here I can take my laptop to the porch, or to the sofa, or to the bedroom, or answer email on my phone. I get up and play with the cats, take breaks lying down if my back or neck hurts. Teleworking has been good for me.

Not doing too well mentally, though. I brood a lot in my bedroom, play games to numb my brain. Read a little. I can’t watch TV or videos for long – I wish I knew why. It would help to have that distraction and to be able to focus on online workshops.

Okay, break over. Back to Cathedral. I am accepting that it won’t be getting into any shows for technical skill, but it is worth finishing, puckers and all. Who knows, maybe I will be surprised.