augggghhhh, critters, Family, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, North Carolina beaches, train trips

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I’ve had plenty of stuff to write about in the past month, but no motivation to do it.

I know what’s happening. As long as I keep my brain occupied by games of logic, I won’t think about what is happening to my brother-in-law, and by extension, my sister. He is suffering. She is suffering. It is a tough, tough situation right at the holiday season, so I feel less jolly than usual, thank you very much. But you can still tell me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever…kind words are always appreciated.

The thing is, I absolutely have to get these tapestries ready for the exhibition at the Folk Art Center and I’ve done hardly anything about it except to commit myself by sending in the paperwork.

I rejoined the print co-op in August, moved stuff back and forth, because I can’t make myself leave the house to go over there. There’s always something to do on the weekend and I don’t want to go after dark. I’ve been there a total of TWO times. I either need to use the space or leave. Is agoraphobia reentering my life? Could be. Most of my supplies are here after I picked up supplies for my book workshop in OCTOBER.

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Pablocito is sitting in his spot behind my laptop under antique desk lamp. I like to think of it as his tanning salon. Diego becomes more needy and cuddly every day, which worries me a bit. Does he feel okay? He often has the hiccups and I give him a quarter of a famotidine tablet. I’ve been taking them too. Acid reflux has become a part of my life. Neither cat is happy with any kind of food I give them and I stopped feeding them canned food because they throw it up then leave it untouched in the bowl and cry. They both do better with the Purina Gastrointestinal Natural EN prescription food, and since that prescription renewal is coming up, I have to take Diego to the vet anyway. Pablocito hasn’t been in years. He has been very playful and fun. His latest game is “Magic Carpet Ride” when I pull a rug around on the hardwood floor while he lays on it and kicks it.

Since I last wrote here, Sandy turned seventy years old. We are both in shock about it, I think. I took him out to eat and a couple of our friends joined us as a surprise. We had a great time and the owner came by with a bottle of tequila, lemon slice, and salt shaker and offered him a shot for his birthday, but said he had to take it straight from the bottle and tell him when to stop with a thumbs up. He then poured it straight into Sandy’s upturned mouth and didn’t see Sandy’s thumbs up quickly so Sandy got a double shot. Of course we filmed it and posted it to Facebook and everybody knows what a badass Sandy is now.

The weekend after his birthday we took Amtrak to Charlotte. I don’t know exactly what kind of deal we got because I phoned it in, but it only cost $68 for us both round-trip. We would have spent more on gas and parking. Sandy had gout that weekend but it wasn’t so severe that it was a wasted trip. We got up Saturday, walked to the uptown farmers’ market, went to the Bechler Museum, brunched at Mariposa, then explored the Mint Museum. (I’m going to make a separate post with photos about this part of the trip.) After that, the day was pretty shot for us in a physical and financial sense, so we went to the Whole Foods Market close to our hotel and had dinner and appetizers and soup in our room while watching TV. The next morning he hurt badly enough that I changed our tickets to the 10:30 train and we headed back. Then something really weird happened.

About 30 minutes away from Greensboro, Sandy decided to get up and find the dining car to get some water. I had drunk a bottle of water and we had snacks from the night before. He headed up to the front of the car, and there was a jolt and he stumbled. I remember thinking this is like turbulence on a plane. It wasn’t that bad though. He almost opened the door and then decided the car must be behind us and turned around. That is when the train decoupled and the rest of the train moved ahead of us and our part of the train came to a halt.

Sandy was so close to stepping through that door when the train decoupled. In this photo it is open to give us ventilation on the train, and the front half of the train is up ahead.

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Somehow, a piece of tree trunk was on the tracks. It must have been between the rails. It ripped out the cables and hoses under the cars. I have to applaud the conductors. They got up under the train and repaired it enough that we were able to reattach and move on about an hour and a half later. In the meantime, my bladder had to hold on to that water because they didn’t want us to use the bathrooms, although if it was an emergency we could have. We were near a railroad crossing so some people who were getting off at High Point called people to pick them up and got off the train.

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I have to wonder if some sick puppy put that tree trunk on the track. And I’m further pissed off, after seeing those railroad workers on the job in this situation, knowing that private corporations do not respect them enough to give them sick leave. Anyway, we didn’t derail, Sandy didn’t step out into space and get run over by a train, and I made it to the Greensboro depot bathroom.

Then on Wednesday, we went to Lake Waccamaw for Thanksgiving with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and grand-nephew. (Post with LW photos later.) The food was great, as usual, and I didn’t cook a thing for it. It was all my sister. We had a good time until my b-i-l ate a bit too much solid food and got sick. This week he went in for draining the fluid that the tumors cause out of his abdomen, and a test to see if he could have surgery for a bypass on his upper intestine. Well, he got sick again, but they scheduled surgery for this week. He can hardly eat anything at all and it is devastating to see him basically starving to death. Our hope is that he can at least be able to eat again with this surgery, but he might not survive it. As it is, he can’t survive the way it’s going and he is miserable and suffering, so it is a little bit of hope we didn’t have before. No one would do this surgery at first. This kind of cancer is rare and doesn’t respond to any kind of treatment, so he is no longer on chemo.

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On Saturday afternoon while they were resting, Sandy and I drove to Holden Beach, which is about 40 minutes away, in search of sea biscuits and shark’s teeth. I had intel from a shelling group on Facebook that dredging early in 2022 had uprooted a huge fossil bed and hundreds of thousands of sea biscuits. We found no teeth, and there were many fossil hunters and shellers on the beach, and we were not there at the prime time to find anything, but I did find a couple of whole sea biscuits, other fossils, olives (the shells, not the fruit), and several broken sea biscuits. It was fun and a bit of good exercise, and the weather was pleasant. It was a better haul that I expected. I might do it again.

Sea biscuits are a type of sea urchin and look like the related sand dollar, but they are rounded with a flat bottom. I was told that these fossils are between 65 and 145 million years old. There’s a good list of shells that can be found in the area here.

So now. We did our holiday socializing this week, with a bit of drinking at Old Town with some faculty and at a new place, The Abbey Tavern, with some graduate students, on Thursday night, then at our department Christmas party on Saturday night.

Now I’m waiting to hear if my sister needs me to go cat-sit at Lake Waccamaw while my b-i-l is in the hospital this week. The traveling back and forth is exhausting them, and the cats at the lake don’t really get along with the cat and dog in Chapel Hill (my niece lives there), although they do usually travel with them back and forth. I can work online from the lake. The wifi is good and I’d be able to birdwatch from my sister’s glassed in porch. If this happens, I might use our lake house as a studio and work on my tapestries over there. Get ’em done. I have to get ’em done and ready to hang!

And I have to make some kind of decision about the print studio at the Arts Center. Move out or use it, but I have to figure out my storage capabilities here, Again, purging is in order, but mostly I just need to clean up the big pile of crap that has accumulated on my work table.

 

 

 

augggghhhh, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, Rants

Is it Wednesday?

Hard to remember any more. I have to use a calendar these days to keep track of days. Now that Sandy is retired he has particular problems with not having a steady schedule, and I’ve encouraged him to start keeping a digital calendar, although any kind would do as long as he looks at it every morning.

Warning – long rant ahead. I might have to write two blog posts today.

Monday Diego went back to the vet and it was expensive and I had to leave him, which I do not like to do, especially these days. He didn’t produce enough urine for a urinalysis even after they pumped him with fluids so they didn’t charge for the urinalysis BUT I paid almost $40 for the fluids. So far I’ve spent about $800 on Diego this month, not including special foods and pill pockets. And it will most likely continue because he is on a very expensive anti-histamine now. Doc says that after this week I can alternate them with Claritin to bring the expense down. I am giving him nose drops, one in each nostril. This is fun. I’m putting this off because DREAD but as soon as I finish my coffee I will do it again. I have to get my technique down because I wasted a lot of it yesterday.

He is STILL stuffy, but it is better.

One thing that the vet suggested which has me reeling is the possibility that we have black mold in our house. This is very, very possible. All you have to do is look at the stains on the ceiling tiles in my bedroom to understand. The leak was fixed years ago, but…  to take care of that mold, my friends, would eat up my retirement plans and money. And, wow, I just killed a winged ant. Is it a termite?

So I am not well pleased today.

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I also was furious at the vet’s office when first I had to ask the staff member at the front who showed us to an exam room to put on her mask, then later a vet tech returned Diego to me after his blood panel and the vet tech did not have on a mask. When the vet, who IS always masked as far as I’ve been able to tell, told me that I needed to leave Diego and pick him up later, I asked her to make sure that the vet techs wore masks around him, SINCE HE CAN’T WEAR A MASK, and he is asthmatic! She looked surprised and said that everyone wore masks in the back, and I informed her that this tech did not.

(In case you are not a cat person and don’t know, cats can contract Covid-19 and die from it.)

Then later, as I waited in an exam room for him to be returned to me, I could see through the window in the door to the back area. Very clearly I saw this same tech handling another cat without a mask on, assisting the vet. So she is either lying, or she is totally oblivious to the humans around her. The latter is a possibility, but I doubt it. I stood there for 15 minutes, becoming angrier by the minute, watching this tech walk back and forth, maskless, interacting with other staff and animals.

Finally when he brought Diego in his carrier to me at the front desk, he had on a mask. I said, “I hope you had on that mask when you handled my cat.”

This maskhole said, “Of course!”

“Because I watched you in the back room handling other cats and you did not wear a mask,” I spat out, grabbed up my poor kitty, and marched out.

I really cannot abide a fucking liar.

I barely slept that night because I was so pissed off and conflicted. Then my phone woke me and it was the vet. She sounded so kind and concerned and helpful that suddenly I felt no anger. Obviously I’ve not let go of it because here I am ranting over it, but I do not want to change vet practices again if I can help it. What do I do? She has a great reputation, but her staff sucks. I left this practice once, and then they worked Diego in during an emergency when another practice would not see him. And veterinary workers are burning out in great numbers from the stress. I know, partially because I have a friend who is a vet that works at an emergency clinic. So maybe she has to be tolerant to be able to continue her practice.

What makes all this even more strange is that they went way over what they needed to do last year. Granted, the staff seemed pretty clueless in late March 2020 when I overheard one of them say as I walked out, “Did you hear what she said? She knows someone whose husband died of Covid!” Then when I went back in early April, everyone had on masks, they were selling masks, and then later they changed to pick-up/drop-off in the parking lot only.

Now, this attitude.

I’m looking for gluten-free canned food that Diego will eat. Today and yesterday, Fancy Feast Turkey and Giblets pate was a hit. Tomorrow, who knows. These cats usually wait for me to buy more than two cans of anything before they decide that, no thanks, they’d rather eat plastic. They love the Pill Pockets so far, crossing fingers, but I looked at the ingredients and you guessed it – wheat gluten. The vet recommended them though – I’m confused. My friends are suggesting homemade chicken and rice, including chicken organ meats that a farmer friend says that she can help with this spring.

Okay, time for the nose drops. Hopefully I won’t have to do this for more than a week.

augggghhhh, Coronavirus Chronicles, Rants

Monday mope

Well, it was…a rough week and a busy social weekend and it’s only Monday and I’m exhausted. I look at what everyone else does and it amazes me that I’m exhausted when I do so much less than they do, yet they keep on truckin’.

Good news: this weekend I reconnected with weavers from our local guild, and got out to see and shop a couple of craft shows, including one at Providence Farm, where I’ve been meaning to go for a long time now. I ate at three great restaurants, INSIDE (ackkkkkk, so nerve wracking), and others paid for my meals! Sandy repaired our dryer and so I was able to get caught up on laundry. Not much else happened as far as art or house cleaning. I did some cooking and had a little more energy. The Christmas break is much anticipated.

Not so good news: I finally took Diego to the vet. He has asthma. He needs dental work. It will be expensive, again. His prescription food was changed and so far they both like it (knocking wood). A week ago Sandy tried to go to his doctor for a med check and about multiple problems like his persistent cough that keeps getting worse, probably polymyositis related, but it needs evaluating. They sent him away to get a Co-vid test so he couldn’t go back for an appointment until late today. (It wasn’t Co-vid. He’s had this cough for years.)

Embarrassing news: Today I was looking forward to seeing the video that was posted on YouTube about the exhibition my collage was in this summer. I got treated to about a full minute (out of about 8 minutes!) of it falling down and the installation team repairing my hanging wire and sighing and saying, “When an exhibition says that the art has to be ready to hang…this is why your art has to be ready to hang.” Well, it hung on my wall; what can I say. I’m not posting the link to it because now I am embarrassed and I don’t understand why they included all that in the film when I didn’t even know that it happened. At least they blurred out my name on the back, but instead of being excited now I have tears in my eyes. Gah. It’s a nice documentary other than that. A small glitch in the scheme of things, but I’m not having a good week and I’m hurt that they didn’t consider my feelings.

Terrible news: a vivacious friend of ours who lives in Japan died suddenly this week. We missed him anyway, but he usually came back to town during the holidays and visited friends, and now we will never see him again. He was a major extrovert and entertainer so he had many, many friends and acquaintances who loved him. More terrible news: a PhD student died this week also. Four people I knew died within one month. The other two deaths weren’t surprises, but the unexpected ones made me dwell a bit on this quote from The Lord of the Rings.

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'”

We would never have thought back when we read these books that this quote would so directly relate to us toward the ends of our lives.

And how will we decide what to do, when to do it, and how to do it? How will we manage our health related problems within a health system that only works for the rich? In a country where the working class often has to choose between rent, medication, insurance premiums, childcare, and food? And what do you do when violent people are able to act with impunity, and are encouraged by those in power to attack those who disagree with them? What do you do when governments and corporations with the ability to help the environmental problems refuse to acknowledge that there are problems they have to address for human civilization to continue on this planet?

I had terrible nightmares early this morning and had a full-on panic attack from the first one, heart pounding, heavy breathing from the running I was doing in my dream. I can barely think about the fascism that is being embraced by a minority in this country and who seem to be succeeding in taking power.

I think that I’m going to have to go back to therapy. Hopefully I’ll be able to stay off the anxiety meds.

 

augggghhhh

I’m back, without my car

Wow, what a roll this week has been. As soon as we unloaded at our AirBNB in Surf City last Thursday night, we headed out for dinner and my Chevy Lumina just stopped, and then would not crank back up. Some would say that we should have known better than to drive a 25 year old car several hours away, but I thought that it was in better shape than the Honda, it had a working radio, it is a more comfortable ride, and it had just been inspected and checked out by my mechanic. Or SO I THOUGHT.

I won’t go into it in much more detail, except to say that by Monday afternoon, we gave up on the Chevy and exchanged it for the work already done, as junk. This was more emotional than you might think, because my mother loved this car and I bought it from her because it was hard for her to sell it. And I am angry at my mechanic because the mechanic at the beach said that the car had never been maintained. I counted on my mechanic to check it and do what it needed every time I took it in, and I assumed that he had done so. Yet the spark plugs and wires were the originals, the fuel filter had never been changed, and I found that the coolant and oil was low.

Our AirBNB hosts were extraordinarily generous and they handed over the keys to one of their cars for the weekend. Then my sister called and said that they had just bought a new car this weekend, and she and my brother-in-law drove to Topsail Beach and left their old car with me on Sunday afternoon on a detour on their way to Lake Waccamaw.

So, even though the plan was for one of us to follow the Chevy to Chapel Hill and drop off my sister’s car on the way home, my sister’s car is sitting in our driveway, and we need to start shopping for another car.

Car prices are shocking to us since we have not shopped for a car in 13 years, but I knew that they would be. Sandy and I seldom need both cars though, and so we may save up for a larger down payment for a few months. I can’t drive right now anyway because…

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My foot began hurting more when I was at the beach – I was standing and walking more, a couple of times in loose sand – and when I came back to work on Tuesday, I couldn’t stand to keep my shoe on. Then I started getting stabbing pains, so Sandy took me to an orthopedic urgent care on Tuesday night, where they put my right leg in a tall boot for six weeks.

The x-rays did not show a break, so I was surprised at the concern. The PA said that it was either bone contusions on three bones on the top of my foot just before my toes (I can’t remember the medical terms) or a stress fracture. So they are treating it like a stress fracture. I get x-rayed again in two weeks.

My Europe trip is scheduled five weeks from now.

Will post photos from the workshop and the beach in the next posts.

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

Saturday noon coffee pot post

The church bells are chiming out twelve rings as I begin writing this post. Now they are playing hymns, which never ceases to annoy me but not quite as much as it used to. I know the words to many of these hymns and I am prone to hymn earworms, and a lot of them remind me of the loss of my parents, which makes me sad.

This has been a rough week, no lie. I have been trying not to whine and complain, especially on Facebook. I have written a little here, and a lot more privately. So be warned, this is going to be a long whining post.

Sandy went to see his GP on Monday, and she immediately diagnosed him with shingles. She said that it was good that he finally came in, because it was getting to the point where it couldn’t be treated? I put a question mark there because I was getting a lot of information from him second hand, and even in normal times he is terrible with remembering details correctly. She didn’t pay attention much to the story of his muscle weakness and attributed everything, including his respiratory issues, to shingles. She sent him off with prescriptions for an anti-viral and Tramadol. We were relieved to at least have a diagnosis, since we both suspected a staph infection, which could have been worse. I think that we leapt to that idea because we have relatives who have been critically ill with staph infections, one of which came from a cat scratch and Sandy had a very light scratch near the rash.

The Tramadol didn’t do much to help his pain so I began doing research, started him taking acetaminophen along with it, and reached out to my friend Missy, who is the queen of pain. I don’t say that lightly. Missy has Type I diabetes and “stiff person syndrome,” which is about the most painful disease that you could imagine. She also has a PhD and knows a lot about medicine. She powers through every day and still exercises and runs as much as she is able. I trust her opinion more than most doctors. She said that Tramadol was not the right kind of pain medicine to relieve the nerve pain of shingles and that he needed to take gabapentin. Then I reached out to another friend who has had shingles FOUR times. He said that Lyrica, which is similar to gabapentin but with more side effects, was the only medicine that helped his pain.

Yet, I could not get Sandy to call the doctor’s office back and request gabapentin. I did find him some alternative pain relievers that helped a little more. By Friday morning, I was done with this reluctance to call. I try very hard not to manage Sandy’s health issues, but something had to be done. So he gave me permission to call his doctor’s office, and they called in gabapentin and I picked it up from the pharmacy. Then he had an audio doctor’s visit with the nurse practitioner that he usually sees and likes a lot. I sat in on that so that I could provide information and timelines (his biggest problem is time perception) and we talked to the NP about his muscle weakness, when it began, and what he should do.

I asked him if it was possible that muscle weakness from shingles could begin so far in advance of the rash, and he said that would be very, very weird. So Sandy is going in for lab work on Monday, and if they can’t find some diagnosis from that, he will be referred to a neurologist and maybe physical therapy. Thank GOD.

Of course, we still have to get him vaccinated! And me, but my workplace is going to take care of that in March, hopefully.

Work has been ridiculous. I mean nutso. This is always my busiest time of the entire year, but the university decided to move up the deadline to enter the fall 2021 schedule in the database system, basically saying that they expected things to be back to normal in fall and they want students in the classrooms as much as possible. Then, late Wednesday afternoon, we were given new directives for Co-vid protocols, which meant that we had to go back to the faculty, talk to them, and then move about half of our classes to online or hybrid. In addition, I discovered that most of the new classroom capacities will not fit our mid-size classes at the limits that the provost gave us. Even some of the hybrids, after being split in thirds or half, are going to have problems with finding rooms large enough. So I expect to have to revisit this again.

In the meantime I feel like I am crying in the wilderness, with nobody listening about the classroom problem. I’m having problems getting the decision makers to make all the decisions that need to be made.

The deadline was supposed to be Monday at 5 p.m. They moved it ahead two days to Wednesday, which would be doable on my end if others do what they need to do.

And that is only PART of the work craziness. There’s another work issue that kept me awake last night.

Most of the schedule entry is done, though, so now that I’ve written about it I’m going to try to put it out of my head for the weekend. I will be SO GLAD to retire from this job.

In the middle of all this, I turned sixty years old. I made us a shrimp/broccoli/feta pasta dish on Valentine’s Day and a huge pan of lasagna for my birthday that we’ve been eating for three days. Talenti gelato for dessert. That has worked out. When we get on the other side of this thing, we’ll go out to Full Moon Oyster Bar for a seafood feast.

What I really, really, really want to do is sleep through every bit of this, but I am doing my best to keep on keeping on. Now that I’ve turned sixty, insurance will cover my shingles vaccination and I plan to get that ASAP. I also know that if shit really hits the fan, and I have to be a caretaker or have a nervous breakdown or just finally give up on the logic of administrative bureaucrats and say FUCK IT, I could get 85% of my pension and still get my health insurance. I can’t afford to retire until I can add Social Security on to that, but I could attempt to find another job. At 60. In a pandemic. HAH.

I finished Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim last night and now back to the denser The Silver Swan. I highly recommend Paper Wife, especially right now when you may have monkey mind and are feeling down. It is an easy, fast read.

I should also say that I have been absolutely overwhelmed with emails, and ones that I normally read with joy are getting deleted unread, sometimes over a hundred at a time. I don’t want to unsubscribe to newsletters or unfollow my friends’ blogs but I can’t manage reading the newsletters and blogs that I normally do right now. Also, if I have promised to send you “beautiful beans” or other things, I am really sorry for the delay but I do still plan to send them before it is time to plant.

I got caught up on some household tasks this morning, including cleaning Bernie’s water bowls. One was particularly nasty because it sits on the floor of the cage and is shaped like a boat with a mirror on it. My guess is that it is supposed to be a bird bath. Someone in my dreams last night told me to make sure that the animals had water, especially Bernie. So that is done. I’m going to drink a lot more water today also, take a walk, and do some weaving.

augggghhhh, cloth weaving, coffee pot posts

Sunday afternoon coffee pot post

At this point, I really should switch to herbal tea. In fact, I have been drinking hot herbal tea in the late afternoon and evening lately. I guess it was all that reading about life in Wales that made me want hot tea. Last night I drank real tea and I was awake until 2:30, but part of that is that I can’t turn my brain off. In the morning, I sleep like the dead. If I am left to sleep on my own schedule, I sleep for 9-10 hours.

The first thing I did was to move over the photos from Jan. 2018, and I remembered why I suddenly loaded so many photos to Flickr again in 2018. I discovered a setting where my photos would automatically save to Flickr, and went crazy with it. In a way, I’m glad. Even though it is making more work for me now, I enjoy seeing the photos again and if that encouraged me to blog more, it is worth it. I’ll get it done before the end of the year. It took me 45 minutes just to do January 2018!

Looking at the photos of my cloth weaving makes me want to return to it. I wore a sewing machine slam out doing the denim blanket, but I also enjoy hand sewing the small squares and as long as I don’t get obsessive over it it is a nice portable project. I took out the panels that I sewed for Sandy’s shirt/trouser blanket and I think that this is a UFO that needs to be finished over Christmas break.

One of the things that kept me awake last night was that I think that I figured out at least one of my foot issues – Leddenhose Disease, a type of plantar fibromatosis. When I was diagnosed with Dupuytren contracture in my hand in 2012, the surgeon asked me at that time had I noticed any nodules in my feet. Apparently the two often happen together. I had a nodule appear on the bottom of my foot below my big toe under my arch about the size of a pea this summer. Now it is the size of a marble, but it is far enough under my arch that it doesn’t hurt when I walk. So my other pain issues may stem from this. Dupuytren contracture runs in my family – both of my parents had it and my sister has it. I had surgery on mine only because I was already having surgery for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis in the same wrist. It didn’t hurt but eventually it would have made my fingers curl up. It looked more ropelike than a round nodule like this one so I didn’t make the connection. I figured that it was some kind of ganglion cyst.

I found some more Futuro arch supports that I like online and they have helped with my nighttime pain a lot. I can wear them with and without shoes, so I don’t have to wear shoes in the house now. Here is a link to the Amazon page. Walgreen’s stopped carrying them, so I had to go with Amazon.

Obviously I will need to see a podiatrist at some point but not now. It can wait.

My artist neighbor across the street just knocked on the door and left a framed collage of his and a bottle of wine on our porch! He is a successful artist with an established art clientele, although his main business is faux finish painting interiors. We talked again about doing an art studio sale together when the pandemic calms down, which is very exciting. He has been very encouraging about my collage work. This gave me quite a lift. I do love my neighbors here.

Update: Just dusted the molding and walls over the closet door and door and transom window in my bedroom. Those places you don’t see the dust collecting until it is choking you. Wow. It was bad. Those are the kind of tasks that I am concentrating on – the places you don’t notice any more.

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

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Again, I stayed up way too late and got up early to feed the little monsters, then went back to bed and slept way too long. My dreams were vivid and not necessarily good, but I still wanted to remain within them rather than join reality today. I was brutally honest on a Facebook post yesterday: “I am a bitter, angry person.”

However, last night I was up because I was caught up in reading “The Last Days of Dogtown” by Anita Diamant. It is a thin volume and I had been warned off by the words “not as good as The Red Tent” but I am enjoying it immensely.

Orbitz finally responded to my third follow-up email in which I said that if I didn’t get a response by Nov. 30, the original date of my flight credit’s expiration, I would go higher and go to social media. I hate having to threaten to go to social media, even when I do it nicely, but it seems to be effective. They granted me the same credit that they had in August, with the same conditions, but I have to book before Dec. 31 now.

I immediately went into some kind of frantic angry brain-fogged research and decided that the airfares were now too high for the credit to be worth flying on Aer Lingus again. I filled out a customer service survey that I now regret. Somebody, please, help me get control of my brain back.

Because when I calmed down and thought about it, I looked at my Southwest account and found a lot of miles had been refunded from that trip. Which reminded me that on the original trip, I used those miles to fly to Boston, and booked Aer Lingus through Orbitz from Boston-Dublin-Boston. Well, that is an entirely different scenario. Flights are much, much cheaper to Ireland from Boston. So the current plan is to fly by myself the same way that I planned to this past summer, and the other three in our vacation party can fly together from Raleigh on United. We’ll meet up in Dublin. I don’t mind flying by myself. The only issue left is dates.

Vaccination against Co-vid 19 is naturally the key. If it becomes available as expected, I will not be in the first groups to get it. I’ll turn 60 in February and fortunately in pretty good health. The other three are over 65 and will likely be able to get it in time for summer travel. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see, but as an INTJ, contingency planning is “my thing” and this much uncertainty is driving me a bit bonkers, considering that my planning (with wasted money on travel insurance) didn’t mean much this year.

I remember pronouncing, “I’m going to Ireland even if I have to swim there!” HA! I’m not that strong a swimmer.

Anyway, I am bitter and angry, mostly about politics, but also circumstances that I won’t mention here. Let’s just say that I am very disappointed in a few people and leave it at that. I should store that up for the Airing of the Grievances on Festivus. And I am SO TIRED of all the cheery gratitude and sappy Christmas songs and I’m gonna stop here before I regret that too.

I talked to my sister for about an hour on the phone on Thanksgiving Day. Usually we spend this holiday together, and it is the only holiday that I actually celebrate and enjoy any more. Our personalities have a lot in common, even though our personal styles could not be more different. I love and miss her deeply, but I’m not sure that we could live together without making each other crazy. We have talked about doing that as we get older, and maybe we will both move to Portugal. It could happen, but she will be doing all the interior design and decorating, and I will just try not to embarrass her with my total lack of care about fashion and style trends. She would probably be good for me, but I’m not sure that I’d be good for her.

Just looked at my last few posts and realized that I am obsessing and repeating myself. But whatever. At least there has been progress.

The turkey dinner from Deep Roots was pretty good. The only thing we really did not like was the brussels sprouts – they were tough. But the cornbread dressing was delicious, as was the bacon/swiss quiche and cherry pie. It’s been really nice to have plenty for turkey sandwiches and leftovers. I think that I’ll make turkey tetrazinni today or tomorrow.

I haven’t sewed up my masks yet. I found that 2013 was a very photo-heavy year for me on this blog, in part because I took up a visual journal project. So I got obsessed with trying to get this blog/photo project done and it is taking up a LOT of time. It is also dredging up some unhappy memories and I expect that is part of my current malaise.

The man is up and about, complaining about it being too hot in there and turning off the heat. It’s really funny because we have switched in this respect. Now he is the one who is always too hot, and I get spells where I am so cold I wrap up in blankets and shiver. He used to be the cold one, always wearing sweaters and wrapping up while I was getting ice packs out of the freezer and turning off the heat. We keep the thermostat at 68 F and that hasn’t changed.

Time to finish up 2013 and begin 2014, which was a very, very tough year and I’d like to get that one over with.

augggghhhh, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety

An anxiety interlude

I skipped a day blogging. Every day brings its own set of hellish news, but yesterday’s news struck very close to home. For the first time, I am really nervous about losing my job to budget cuts. I am worried about MANY people I know losing their jobs and (because we’re “‘Murica!”) health insurance to budget cuts. In a PANDEMIC that is rocketing.

PW Exclusive: UNC System Exploring Worst Case Scenario Budget Cuts of Up to 50%

The hit to our economy from these budget cuts would be massive at 25%.

Yesterday morning my main concern was when my work laptop would be available because my personal one is so rickety slow, and whether I would be able to avoid the bathrooms when I go back to work.

Late yesterday I sent a form to HR with permission for us to hire a staff member to teach a class for us. He has done it before and I see this form as a big waste of time but, whatever. He waited a few weeks to send it to me. HR sent me an email last night that there is a personnel hiring freeze. There wasn’t one three weeks ago. His online class is full, and we accounted for it in our budget.

Ominous.

My reaction to anything since Twitler was elected has been pretty numb. Yes, I’ve been to protests and spoken up, and contacted my congressional reps (knowing that it was pointless). But the atrocity waves of 2020 are wearing me down. The main reason I am at the lake is to get my mental health back to a more functional place. I cannot shut down.

From now on I will save the rest of my vacation days in case I lose my job. If I can manage to keep my job until Feb. 17, 2021, I believe that I can retire with my pension at 85% and hopefully keep my health benefits. The health insurance is key. Thank God Sandy is on Social Security and Medicare.

Of course, who know what might happen with all that, with an increasingly authoritarian government who gets away with doing almost anything they want, and voter suppression active and in the open.

Down here at Lake Waccamaw, where people held a 100 boat flotilla parade flying Twitler/Putz flags on July 4 on a STATE PARK lake, where few people wear masks inside the local grocery store, I am for the first time more afraid of these fanatics than I am of the natural predators. I backed in my car so that my Bernie bumper stickers can’t be seen from the road. This is why I could never live down here in rural eastern NC again.

augggghhhh, Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Saturday morning coffee pot post

It hasn’t sunk in yet, else I might be curled up in the bed with a panic attack. It occurred to me that I’d best ration out my Xanax for the much tougher times to come. We are probably prepared more than many people but both of us, Sandy especially, are at risk and his way of coping tends toward denial. Neither of us are particularly nurturing types either. He came from a childhood of neglect and when he gets sick he hides away. Since that is how he handles his own sickness, he assumes that when I am sick or hurt I want to be left alone. I am more nurturing than that since I was cared for as a child and I have the background to know what to do for someone, but I am selfish with my energy. We might have to do better for each other.

My posts will probably not be very entertaining and more than likely be quite whiny for some time while I adjust to the new reality. I will continue to make most of them public anyway.

Wednesday I got the email saying that the art retreat in Ireland has been rescheduled for next June, at the same time as the Focus on Book Arts Conference. So there has been no offer of a refund. I understand that it is wrecking small businesses everywhere, but I don’t know what to do. One of my Irish friends sent me a link to an Irish government web site that plainly says that I am entitled to a refund, but I will wait a little longer before deciding whether to ask for one. My travel insurance will not cover the expense.

I haven’t canceled any of my hotel rooms or my flight. Boy, I hate to give up that good deal on the flight – $541 RT to Dublin. It seems probable that I won’t have a choice since it is predicted now to go on for months instead of weeks.

There is also the matter of the Handweavers Guild of America conference in late July. I have paid for that in advance and have two workshops booked. I have reservations but not prepaid for the hotel.

The other two workshops are with Leslie Marsh at her studio in Topsail Beach, one in mid May and one at the beginning of August. They would be small groups, but I could see good reasons for Leslie to cancel. Some beaches are closing to non-residents too – it is easy for N.C. islands to restrict cars because most have to be reached by bridge or ferry.

The toughest part of this has been that I have obsessively focused on these trips, especially to Ireland, place of my heart, in order to cope with the election year and climate change and heartless actions of our government. Now most of that is stripped away and I am vulnerable to some massive hurting.

I am definitely trying to focus on the positive aspects of where I live and how Sandy and I are prepared. It is helping a lot. For example, I am sitting on my screened front porch with my cats, listening to the birds sing and the Yoshina cherry trees are in full bloom. My neighbors are the kind that help each other and I am watching them do so across the street as I type. We are close to good hospitals, although they are already getting overwhelmed. My new next door neighbor, Datus, is here and his wife Katie and their child are flying back from Bangkok today where she has been working. I was worried about them all getting back here. This is a wonderful street to live on.

Yesterday I planted lettuce, carrots, radishes, and parsley since my parsley is on its second year. There is too much mint growing, of course, but I am stocked for tea! Feverfew is self-seeding and there are a couple of asparagus spears coming up. I meant to plant more this winter, oh well. The raspberry cane is looking healthy. Roma and Brandywine tomato seedlings are poking up their heads under the grow light, and so is bright calendula. Other seeds planted under the grow light are arnica, coreopsis, and a huge variety of peppers. Enough to share. My eucalyptus tree made it through the winter this time. I am well set for herbs and medicinal plants. I have walking onions from last year and a few more leeks.

The tough part is that my garden space is a restaurant for critters. I haven’t seen the groundhog family yet, but that doesn’t mean they are not around. A big rabbit who probably has a family is here, whoa, there he goes as I type this, but in my experience they prefer to eat the violets in the yard. I have the little greenhouse for the heat loving plants and will see what I can do for critter protection with wire fencing cages and hoops.

Yesterday I pulled up eight big leeks and one big green elephant garlic, washed and sliced them, cooked them, and put them in small containers in the freezer. Earlier this week I cooked rice, chicken, onion, garlic, beef, carrots, and potatoes in a variety of combinations and put those in small containers in the freezer. The idea is that we can make quick soups or other concoctions in the microwave if neither of us feels well, and it won’t be the same thing every time.

To think that I almost recycled all those Talenti containers that I saved! For once my hoarding was a good thing. (However, they are NOT microwavable.)

They are still hosting food trucks at Oden Brewing across the railroad tracks so we got dinner from the Succotash Durham truck (SHRIMP PLATES, y’all) and take-out beer from the outside window. Expensive, but we are supporting local businesses while we can and the “crowlers” are 19.2 oz. each.

Chewy shipped another bag of prescription cat food to us yesterday. I figure that Diego will still have his dental surgery on Tuesday, unless we hear otherwise. Sandy is rightly concerned about the cat litter situation but I think that we have enough for two weeks if he scoops it out and doesn’t dump it all out. He stocked up on bird seed earlier this week. I don’t want him to go to the stores right now, although I can’t stop him if he is stubborn about it.

Fortunately he bought a large pack of sanitizer wipes for his CPAP machine and I had stocked up on rubbing alcohol a while back. We have healthy aloe plants.

I am grateful we do not have children or grandchildren or parents to care for. I’m not sure that I could do it. Thank God Sandy is on social security and Medicare now.

I do have to work in the middle of all this. But I am so lucky that I will have a job and that I can do it in isolation from home. I have never been so thankful for having a good job as I am now. It will give me something beyond survival to focus on.

I am glad I wrote all this. I feel better now. I really am where I need to be.

There is a plethora of free art workshops to do online now. I hope that somewhere in the middle of preparing my garden and working from home I will have something arty to share tomorrow and next week.

augggghhhh, collage

Collage from this weekend

Collage from this weekend and chronicling…

I like that word – CHRONICLE. Especially for this pandemic time: “The Coronavirus Chronicles”

I think that I am done with the first collage. It’s called “The Choice.”

Still working on this next one, called “Illustrated Question Box.” They are related.

Then this one is at the beginning stages. I found a battered, nearly illegible voter registration card in the parking lot of the Chapel Hill Library. The graphic in the middle is from an 1886 political booklet, “Hood’s Political Points.” It interspersed advertisements for Hood’s Sarsaparilla with facts and figures about the candidates for president and vice-president in 1886 and a few other charts about congressional pay but most of it is really about the sarsaparilla, baby. This working title is “100 Doses, One Dollar.” I think it will be the beginning of the Coronavirus Chronicles. Thinking as I write now.

I have lots of 19th century magazines and maybe it is time to get them out of my mother’s cedar hope chest and do something interesting with them.

At work we are all scurrying about uploading files to the cloud and getting prepared in case we have to start working from home.

It’s pretty weird. I would be paralyzed with worry if it didn’t seem so surreal.

My friend’s husband’s condition hasn’t changed much. He is still in critical but stable condition. She’s still in quarantine.

I listen to what the local nurses say, and they say that it is here but not being tested. They have seen it in the ERs and tested for flu and it wasn’t flu. Hopefully testing will ratchet up soon and boy howdy then we’ll see the numbers go up.

The soup that was on order didn’t get here. I got an email on Sunday night saying that it was damaged in transit and I would get a refund. Of course, it is not available to reorder now. Guess I will make some chicken soup and freeze it in small containers. I still have a couple of cartons of chicken stock.

I guess I’m not surprised at this government’s response since the people in control think that everything is about business, and NOT preparation for disasters or long-term planning or helping sick people, but executive orders don’t mean shit to a virus.

Wondering whether we should go to the lake Easter weekend. My brother-in-law has a heart problem.

Maybe I should get a refill on my Xanax.

Too bad this coincides with major allergy season. Nobody knows what to think about their dry cough and sore throat. I get this every March.

Gah.