art, Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I am spending a few minutes at a time tying on a new warp. Maybe I will get these curtains finished before the end of the year!

Looking back to yesterday. I did garden clean up, threw down some fertilizer, and put in a small area to plant peas with metal hoops and the screen fabric I saved from when we took down the gazebo roof and screening. Inside I planted Zephyr squash, tromboncino squash, and some kind of cucumber seed that I got at a seed swap and no longer know what it is. One luffa gourd seed. Gosh, maybe I should be crazy and plant two, ya think? They might come in handier than I expect one day.

One thing about being a papermaker is that I can always make my own damn toilet paper, thank you very much.

Since I will be doing a lot of collage, I inventoried and found that the only thing I am short on is PVA glue so I ordered that from Amazon. As long as I was doing that I ordered some Equal Exchange hot cocoa mix and coffee beans.

My main goal today is to get some more yard/garden work done, and prepare for some online classes. I need some easy projects to pick up between phone calls and emails and breaks from work that don’t require a lot of brain power too, so I’ll put together some stitching projects.

I have a Coronavirus Chronicles art journal going, from a book I made in a class with Traci Bunkers eleven years ago. I have a bunch of postcard sized junk mail and I’m going to sand and gesso them for a junk mail journal and collage.

I got out the Nature Journal I did in Roxanne Stout’s Mixed Media Nature Journaling class from Art-is-You Petaluma 2014 and found that it is mostly done as a photo and sketch album of the trip, with many photos from Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California. I can do backgrounds for these pages since many of the photos are barely attached and sew in the photos. Fun!

Roxanne is offering this workshop free online (without the trip to Cornerstone Gardens, of course) on her website under workshops. Check out all her workshops. I love her style.

Other free art stuff: as always, Jude Hill’s web site is a treasure box. Please send her a donation.

Karen Abend is offering a free workshop called Sketchbook Revival that begins on Wednesday.

Many art communities are revving up on Facebook. Seth Apter and Crystal Neubauer are two that I love for collage and mixed media. Oh gosh, I cannot possibly name all the inspiring artists on the web and Facebook.

Of course there are literally thousands of online classes available for a fee. Support your artist teacher community at a time when they are reeling from their workshops being canceled. Personally, I don’t like learning through video for some reason. I don’t even like watching movies and TV that much for very long. I much prefer books. But I have taken quite a few classes online and I’ve learned a lot and had some fun. I just take a whole lot longer to finish them.

My next-door neighbors got home last night from Thailand. Whew! I was worried about them, and I still am considering that they just flew halfway across the world in airplanes. It’s good to have a child growing up on the street again.

Here is Pablocito to say that every little thing is gonna be all right.

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.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, More gardening, Permaculture

Sunday morning coffee pot post

The garden is beginning to rot. So much rain! I weeded out a lot of ageratum and tomato plants that were done late Friday afternoon, and harvested basil for freezing in an ice cube tray yesterday. I found a few little potatoes in the planter. This yield was a bit disappointing but it was free, other than the bags of potting soil and compost I used. I will plant some more in it and see what happens.

So much of life now is a matter of wait and see what happens. I have always been a bit of a control freak, a trait that I have worked very hard to change for the last twenty years. Much of my art has changed as I have let go this and that “rule” or convention. My gardening is unconventional by most standards but controlled when you compare it to enthusiastic permaculturist standards.

Permaculture requires observation and reaction to the space and natural forces working within that space. My approach to the groundhog problem was to plant things that the groundhogs don’t like, such as alliums and smelly plants like peppermint and feverfew around the edges. They didn’t care for the ageratum either. Either it worked pretty well or somebody else took care of the problem. We’ve always had rabbits, but they don’t do that much damage.

I don’t think the high temperature got above 70 yesterday. That was how far the temps plunged with this last line of storms. It is still cool today so I am going to my UNCG garden plots and clean out the rest of the one that I am giving up. I will take some newspapers and a bag of good soil/compost to get the plot where I pulled out the cucumbers ready for fall planting. I hope that there will be some butterbeans ready to pick.

It doesn’t need to be said that everyone who is paying attention to the news is horrified right now. I haven’t taken a complete news break but I have avoided the hole. It helps to remember what I can and cannot control.

It is SO NICE to turn off the AC and hang out on the front porch with the cats again. I think that I will do that for a while first while I finish my coffee pot.

Why is my cat eating cobwebs? Seriously. I guess I will need to clean out here a bit too before Mr. Brilliant gets a spider bite in his mouth.

Back Forty, fiber art, Mixed media art

August. Yuk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here we go again

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

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

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

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

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

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