Back Forty, coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles

Sunday Coffee Pot Post

I needed some way to kickstart my art practice, and it wasn’t happening at home. So I am back at the lake house, a bit earlier than planned, but right now is probably the best time as far as the amount of work I have to do for the real job. I will be teleworking from here some days. I need to decide what days to mark off as shut off the work email and concentrate on art vacation days. Originally I had scheduled about a week’s worth of vacation time in late July, but those plans fell into the black hole of COVID. I have lots of vacation time – I may not get many pay raises from the state of North Carolina, but they give a lot of time off instead. I have much saved up from earlier years of receiving “bonus” time rather than raises, time that I saved in case I needed it for my mother’s care. Now that is sadly not an issue, although I am relieved that she is not here to go through this pandemic in a nursing home. She would have been miserable beyond belief.

This post is to catch up a bit on the days between my last stay down here, and to set up a blogging (journaling) practice every day while I’m here rather than do it all when I get back. I am by myself, and I’ve got time.

First, here is some of the finished collage work that I mounted on wooden panels over the past few weeks. There is nothing really new here except that I worked into some of them with ink and pencil and pens. Many thanks to my online collage teachers: Crystal Neubauer, Melinda Tidwell, and Roxanne Stout.

^”Visitor” 4×4″

^”Monkey Mind” 4×4″

^”Handmade” 4×4″

^”Warrior Woman” 4×4″

“Illustrated Question Box” 8×8″

Without a doubt I have spent the most time on “Illustrated Question Box.” It has so many layers and has changed meaning for me as it has evolved. Included materials are a 1931 newspaper from Oroville, Colorado and an illustration from a book on eugenics around the same time period, and materials gleaned from paperback and hardback books that I rescued.

Here is the one that is in progress right now:

“Shimmering Light” – working title, 8×8″

As a Dudeist priestess, I realize that I am supposed to hate the fucking Eagles, man, but the lyrics to “Hotel California” resonate for me right now. The image is a copy of my grandmother’s wedding photo. She died of a sinus infection in the 1930s, so I never met her.

And I love the fucking Eagles and I don’t smoke pot, so maybe I should switch religions to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and become a Pastafarian.

The image at the top of the post is my back yard in bloom with evening primrose, feverfew, and purple coneflower (since I can’t spell echinacea right now). I think that I’ll put it into the rotating banner or in the background.

The next photos are from the front garden. It isn’t blooming much this time of year, but I had requests on Facebook to post photos of it. I recognize that the diversity of greens, textures, smells, and shapes of foliage are quite wonderful, but I didn’t think that it would translate to photography. Often I sit on my screened porch and people walking by don’t see me. They lean down and stroke the herbs for their smells and the lambs ears for texture. I’ve been told that it is a green oasis on a hot day. So here is a walk past my house.

Now I’m going to check out a few free online workshop previews to see if I want to buy them. Not that I don’t have enough online art stuff going on already! Hopefully, if my mental health doesn’t take a dip, there will be at least one post per day, if not more.

Back Forty, Coronavirus Chronicles, More gardening, Solar energy

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I’m finishing up my coffee before I go for a social distanced walk with a friend.

The Covid-19 news just keeps getting worse. Looks like we will have to be isolated for a very long time, mainly because of a bunch of yahoos that think they’re invincible and we are disposable. At least I can work from home or isolate in my office, although I don’t think that I will want to use the bathroom after classes begin. My prediction is that there will be a much worse second wave at the end of summer and classes will go online again. We haven’t hit the peak of the first wave here yet.

It’s tiresome, to say the least.

In other news, we have highs in the 80s now so I planted my tomatoes, etc. The Romas and squash don’t look so happy. The Better Boys and volunteer tomatoes (I hope that they are Cherokee Purple) are doing fine. Knock wood – even though the peppermint and feverfew are a pain to deal with, they seems to be keeping the groundhogs at bay so far. I took before photos that I hope will improve later:

The front hugelkultur/herb garden is looking good. Still need to plant my basil. I did not hear from the guy who I hoped to hire to help me in the garden. It is very frustrating trying to hire help and there is so much that I need help with because of tendinitis. I wonder if we will have to abandon this home for a condo or townhouse eventually. I hope not. Sandy can’t handle it all even if he was willing. (Rant deleted.)

First radish is always mine.

Positive note: For the first time in several months we produced more solar energy than we consumed. I changed most of our light bulbs to LEDs and I’ve been drying most of my clothes on racks instead of using the dryer and washing dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher.

Sourdough was not as much of a success this week, and of course I had offered a loaf to my next-door neighbor before it came out of the oven. I jinxed it. Halving the recipe seems to make it more manageable. Next time I will let it rise longer. It didn’t rise in the oven at all.

I received my order from Dick Blick yesterday with LOTS of small cradled wood panels. My neighbor across the street who is an accomplished artist said that I could participate in his studio sale in the Fall. We’ll see if that happens, but it did light a fire in me. He has always been meh about my fiber art but he was enthusiastic about my collages. So even though I sound depressed right now I am actually kind of excited. I am going to bring a work table onto the porch and gesso some panels today.

Not much reading happening since I finished Bridge of Sighs. It’s hard to get going on a new book and I don’t want anything very depressing. I’m reading The Juniper Tree, a compilation of Grimm fairy tales illustrated by Maurice Sendak right now. Wonderful illustrations – I am tempted to cut some pages out and frame them.

TV – Ozark and Doc Martin right now. Sandy binged through Ozark. I just can’t watch TV for that long, so I’m at the end of the first season. At first I didn’t think that I could watch it but I powered through and became hooked on the plot and the excellent writing. Doc Martin for Cornwall and comic relief, although the soundtrack is making me crazy by sticking in my head.

From my walk with Susanne last Sunday:

Also, it was our 33rd anniversary yesterday. Hard to believe! So many travel memories from this time of year too. Vacillating between feeling sad and enjoying the photos.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Saturday morning-slash-afternoon coffee pot post

Equal Exchange Mind, Body, and Soul. Whole bean coffee. Deep Roots Market volunteers shopped for me today, and I got almost all I needed: mostly a lot of fresh produce and dairy. I was going to get delivery, but driving the car a mile away seems like a pleasure trip now so we picked it up curbside. Co-operatives rock, when they work for their owners, as ours is now doing that as hard as it can! We are good on most supplies, having prepped for possible disaster long ago, and we did a Costco delivery for the things I couldn’t get at Deep Roots a couple of weeks ago. Our freezers and pantry are mostly full, but we were nearly out of fresh food.

I read back through my posts for the last few weeks and they are really boring. Even I couldn’t get through some of them. The main purpose here is to sweep out my brain, though.

Work cranked up big time this week and I’ve had plenty to do. My ergonomic situation and inability to get massage therapy requires that I take a lot of long breaks. My original plan was to strictly separate my work hours and my off hours, like I do normally. However, I am considering catching up on some work this weekend, since I sent out a buttload of emails yesterday that are drawing responses today. I did not go to the office to get my chair. I suspect that I am sliding into agoraphobia again so Sandy and I took a walk around the neighborhood yesterday evening. It felt good, and I will do more of it. Let’s see if I can muster up the will to go get my chair.

My seed starting indoors has been very, very disappointing. I obviously am doing something wrong. The only seedlings that are doing well are the one luffa gourd seedling and the cucumbers. I think that part of the problem is that I am not watering from below like I did before. I just cut down the big new seedling tray so that it fits better into the tray below and am beginning to do that. As soon as the few tomato and pepper seedlings that are growing get their second set of true leaves, I am going to transplant them into larger containers.

There were a couple of evenings this week when I couldn’t get my mind off regrets, and my anger at the idiots who continue to destroy this democracy. It seems that this virus might take out some of the most stubborn reality deniers, with their insistence that a certain percentage of deaths is okay and that the most important thing is for them to go and do whatever they please. The problem is that they are going to take a lot of innocent people with them. This bit about older and the most vulnerable being expendable is horrifying and I feel like we are moving closer to Nazi America every day.

Which is why I want to stay home where I feel safe.

My refunds for my Ireland trip and book workshop/anniversary weekend at Topsail Beach are rolling in bit by bit. I paid for much of my travel ahead of time this year – took it out of my savings. So it is going back to the money market account in the hope that I will repay it and go back to Ireland next year. I just emailed with Lora at Essence of Mulranny Studio and she is putting the non-refundable deposit down for a mixed media encaustic workshop in late May/early June. A few refunds are still outstanding – some from Hotels.com and I have not canceled my plane ticket yet because it was through Orbitz and they are asking to wait until closer to the flight times. I think that my flight insurance will cover the plane tickets because I bought it separately through Orbitz at the same time that I booked the flight. Or maybe I will be able to rebook for next year without losing much. We will see, I guess. Boy do I hate to give up that sweet round trip deal – altogether it is about $700. May is a beautiful time in Ireland with the wildflowers in bloom – however, I have not been there any other time of year, so my bet is that anytime in Ireland is beautiful.

This has raised my spirits. Investing in the idea that I might be able to return.

My other planned trip this year is to the Handweavers Guild of America Convergence in Knoxville, Tennessee in late July. I am registered for two tapestry workshops with Tommye Scanlin and Molly Elkind. I made a hotel reservation but I didn’t pay for it. I expect that Convergence will probably be canceled and that I will get a partial refund. That decision will be made soon, and in a way I hope that it will be canceled and it will be settled, even though I will be sad about the missed workshops. Our tapestry guild is heavily involved in this Convergence. Also, it is in driving distance for a change which is nice. Sandy is going to go with me if it happens. The government of Tennessee hasn’t been very responsible about stay-at-home orders, so they may have a late spike, and that is why I am pretty much already over it.

Which leaves the Dan Essig workshop at the beginning of August at Leslie Marsh’s studio in Topsail Beach. I am resigned to the idea that it too may be canceled. Hopefully Lake Waccamaw will open up to non-residents by mid-summer and we will be able to go to the lake house and see my sister for a while. I miss her.

We got the stimulus direct deposit and I immediately used all mine to pay for Diego’s dental bill. It is gone! Boy, I was glad to get it, considering so many people have not.

Now. I can’t believe that I have gone back to this post since this morning and edited and now it is 3:00 p.m.! The whole day has gone pffft!!! It amazes me the way time moves during this time. I thought it would move so slowly, but for me, it is gone in a flash.

Books: Finished The Tiger’s Wife and The Secret Chord this week. Geraldine Brooks and Annie Proulx have to write more fiction because I have read all their novels and short stories. I will look for Inland by Téa Obreht. I also need to pull my RSV Bible off the shelf and reread Kings to refresh my memory about what the Old Testament says about David. What a bloody history!

Which book shall I start next? I have so many!

Diego: his last visit went well, and they did not have to take out his stitches.

I think that I will use the last of the warp on my rigid heddle loom to play with wedge weave. Seems like a rigid heddle is perfect for packing down the wefts on an angle. Photos later.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters

Good Friday

I did a search for Good Friday on my blog looking for this photo and boy, have I had a lot of “good” Fridays!

I always think of Mama on Good Friday. That was usually the day that she planted her garden, and she had a big one that she planted until she hit her late 80s and began having serious spinal pain. This was taken in 2009, when she was 84. Of course I miss her, and would love nothing more in this world than to be able to talk with her right now. She would be 96. I usually visited her on Easter weekend.

This whole thing has been pretty weird for me in that I haven’t reacted to it the way I would have expected. Instead of freaking out I still feel very numb. It shows in the way that I am not very interested in doing anything that requires much critical thinking. I feel lazy and tired and my allergies are bugging the shit out of me, so I got some Allegra D at the pharmacy drive thru yesterday and I hope that will get me back outside gardening again. Right now all I want to do, and I mean badly, almost irresistibly, is to stay in my bedroom and play games on my Kindle.

On Monday, I am going back to my office (I hear that only a couple of people are ever in the building) and get my office chair, my ergonomic keyboard, and maybe the student files. If we end up having to work from home much longer I’m going to be hurting pretty bad, beyond what ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and heat/ice packs can take care of. I have to start stretching or yoga and get out of the house to exercise and walk.

And I am sick, so sick, of email and videos. I think that I will unsubscribe to every email newsletter that I can.

Also tired of salad already, but I hate to waste my homegrown lettuce from the UNCG garden plot. It looks like it is about to bolt with the up and down temperatures. It was in the mid 80s several times in the last week or so. Today it is 49 degrees at 12:30 p.m. I must have watered my squash seedlings too much. I have the hardest time with over watering. I swore that I would change that this year, but they look so dry to me! However, when I pulled out the sad little dying seedlings I could feel that the soil was probably too moist. The tromboncino squash are the only ones that died, so I still have some redemption time. The tomato, pepper, and calendula seedlings are growing so slowly under the grow light.

Radish, lettuce (new crop), parsley and carrot seeds are coming up on the front steps.

Last night when we went to the pharmacy we also got Greek take-out from Mythos Grill. You order on the phone and they bring it to your car window in the parking lot. Boy, it was good!

Finishing up another scrap yarn washcloth on the rigid heddle loom. I was doing this on the front porch before the pollen storm. Hope to get back out there again.

Diego had his post-surgery check-up on Tuesday. They have definitely ramped up the Co-vid safety procedures since his surgery 17 days ago. Now I read this morning that cats are definitely contracting and getting lung damage from Co-vid 19, so they are doing vaccine trials on them. This actually broke me and made me cry this morning. Anyway, he is allowed to eat dry food again, which the vet hopes will break loose those remaining stitches. If not, next week she will put him under briefly and take the stitches out.

My sister and brother-in-law updated their will and asked me to be executor and take care of their cats if they both die, just as I asked her to do when we made our will. I cannot imagine her cats and my cats getting along, so we all have to survive.

Whew.

Here I thought that I would write about losing the trip to Ireland today but I don’t think I can do that yet. I will try to write about it later this weekend. I think that I will have a processing day today, since I am not working. I really want to make some collages and books, and yes, make masks, but I am stuck.

I hope that all is well with my readers out there. I’m sorry if I am not commenting on blogs right now. I can’t seem to do much of that these days, but I do believe that things will get better.

Back Forty, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, Upcycling, weaving

Mindless weaving

This morning I got up at the usual time to feed the cats. They are insufferable now that they are getting canned food. Odd, because they would not touch it for a very long time. I guess it is a texture thing, because Pablocito turns his nose up at the formerly loved dry food that I have ground up with a blender in case Diego decides that is what he wants.

Then I went back to bed, slept hard, and when I awoke I was shocked to see that it was afternoon. I guess I needed it.

I don’t watch a lot of TV or movies or videos – I don’t know why. It just doesn’t appeal to me after an hour at most. Reading books is much more my thing. It’s been that way since I was a child. I don’t remember ever not being able to read – according to my family I shocked them as a toddler when I picked up a newspaper and started reading out loud to them. When the library bookmobile came to my little community every two weeks, the librarians had a hard time stocking enough books for me that I had not read. I would finish my stack within a week. So I read the World Book encyclopedia and the classics we had at home over and over again. I especially loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. My mother easily got me to whitewash our fence by referencing Tom Sawyer.

You’d think that I’d be smarter, but I guess I burned out a lot of those brain cells from age 15 to 40, when I was self-medicating for anxiety and depression.

Anyway, I need something to do with my hands while watching TV and I haven’t been feeling the love for what I normally do, which was stitch or crochet. Last night I suddenly realized what I could do with all these cotton warps that are going to go to waste when I cut my abandoned project off the loom. I set my “new” rigid heddle loom on a table in front of the TV that I had warped for a Saori style workshop and started weaving washcloths and dishcloths.

I got through two episodes of “Better Call Saul!” My favorite show.

Sandy keeps recommending shows to me, but he really loves horror and war movies. I can’t go there, too prone to nightmares. I guess I will finish “Star Trek: Picard,” then subscribe to HBO again so I can watch Westworld’s new season.

We are enjoying front porch sitting and listening to the family next door with their five year old son. He is so smart and so cute. They play charades on their porch every evening.

Tromboncino squash seeds started coming up today.

Squirrels were digging in my planters on the wall next to the steps so I stuck plastic forks and jagged pieces of plastic that I cut from a sour cream container. I don’t mind sharing some with the critters, but there aren’t any nuts buried there, gang.

Diego is doing okay. He follows me from room to room. Anyone who thinks all cats are aloof never met my spoiled kitties. I had laid off the pain injections but I might give him one when he is asleep.