Back Forty, Blather, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading

A cold rainy day

Here it is Wednesday, with icy cold rain falling outside. Fortunately the ice is not sticking here, but it has rained a LOT and that means water flowing through the Back Forty from two directions, which culminates in a pond in my next door neighbor’s back yard. This, despite an effort to redirect the water to a large burrow under that garden bed. It’s not a big problem for us any more, but I feel sorry for the next door neighbors. They are not there right now, though.

In the middle of a big rain, that curving path looks like a stream. I have considered the idea of digging a trench and filling it with lovely river rocks to make a rain garden and help with the drainage, but since we plan to sell the house in a couple of years, I won’t do it. I used to mulch this path and others throughout the Back Forty with wood chips, only to find them all deposited at the side of the house after a hard rain.

I am now working on 2016 – finished the big train trip to Glacier and Oregon. That was a marvelous memory to relive. That also means I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the Flickr project!

The continuing uncertainty about travel and the vaccine is making me cranky. I miss my art retreats. They truly are sanity savers, and doing them online is just not the same.

Work was busy and frustrating yesterday and this morning. It shouldn’t be this hectic in mid-December. I’ve transferred my ranting about work to a private post, but it was good to get it out of my system.

I am now totally committed to reading How Green Was My Valley and stayed up way too late last night because I lost track of time. Also, I had forgotten what a witty and well-written book Harriet the Spy was! Thoroughly enjoyable adult re-read. Started The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix and I am trying not to binge it.

My life feels so boring right now. I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way. But it is better for it to be boring than being in the middle of a civil war or dealing with serious illness, so I’ll try to keep that in mind.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, GTFO, Reading

Saturday schmatterday coffee pot post

I am up to May 2015 on the blog project, so I need to get a move on to check it off my list.

This week I was fatigued and sleep-deprived. Yesterday was my office day and I left at lunch, took a three hour nap, worked a couple more hours from home, and then slept from midnight to 11 a.m.!!! Sandy has been feeling weak and fatigued also. He does a low-impact aerobic video for as long as he can every day. I’ve had foot problems that wake me at night, so I’ve laid off the exercise other than some light walks.

Sandy is making us waffles right now and they are really good! We use Klondike Power Cakes Flapjack and Waffle Mix, which we bought in bulk at Costco a while back. It is the best commercial mix that I have tasted, especially for a whole wheat mix.

Considering physical problems now and in the future, we moved the litterbox up on a table in the back room where we can deal with it easier. This means that some major cleaning has to take place today, as one of the cats didn’t get the message or forgot. Diego is good with it now, not sure about Pablocito yet and he is the dumber of the two – not saying that Diego is smart.

So this goes on the list of things that we want/need to do to the house when we are ready to let contractors/repairpeople into the house:

-Replace laminate floor in back room with linoleum.
-Figure out and fix the ongoing plumbing problems in the sewer line
-Fix the leak in the bathroom sink
-Put knobs/handles on the kitchen cabinets.
-Fix the kitchen drawer and panel under the sink.
-Pull out trays in the bottom kitchen cabinets.
-Replace the ceiling fan in the kitchen to something simple and easy to clean.
-Change the closet sliding doors in my bedroom from metal to wood, make them open and close easily and quietly.
-Strip and refurbish the antique door I bought and put pressed or stained glass in the windows, and replace the hollow ranch style door that is there now.

I am going to hire a landscaping contractor to clean up the back forty, take the rest of the maple tree down that has been broken halfway by invasive vines, and keep the yard in shape for when we put this place up for sale. I will keep my little garden plot, but I am finally giving in to Sandy as far as making the rest of it a more “normal” yard. We can’t deal with it and I can’t find anyone reliable to help. The permaculture guy who said he was coming back stopped returning my texts, and the guy next door broke his finger splitting wood for us. The guy who cleans the yard on the other side mowed our tiny little bit of grass for $20, then came back to say that his price had gone up to $50 for at least two hours work at a time. And he really doesn’t know plants – he called the cypresses that he planted next door pine trees. And I didn’t ask him to make a special trip or cut our grass, just to spend an extra hour cleaning up along our side of the property line for $20, which was his asking price at the time.

One way or another, I am going to GTFO of this country, and that means getting rid of our junk, our collections, and getting the property in shape to sell it after the pandemic is “over” and I reach social security age.

My hope is that by next week my work will have settled down as faculty and admin staff start taking off for the holidays and I can relax and just respond to a few calls and emails a day. Do some art. Do some garden clean-up and clutter disposal.

I finished watching “In the Dark” and will start “The Queen’s Gambit” next. Sandy and I watch an episode of “Schitt’s Creek” together every day. In reading, I finally finished the second book of Octavia Butler’s Patternist series: “Mind of My Mind.” I will move on to the third, but first I am re-reading “Harriet the Spy” which I was able to borrow from archive.org. What a hoot. It and “My Side of the Mountain” were my absolute favorite books growing up. I also loved the Three Investigators series.

I can’t do politics right now. I am so disgusted with half of the American people and their willingness to destroy everything that we built in order to get their way no matter what, or willingness to be silent about it, and this election won’t change that. It’s not even about the political leadership any more. It’s about the people who allow this travesty, these crimes, to happen with no consequences. It’s about people who see cruelty and crime happen right in front of their eyes and claim that it isn’t true. So, I am not on Facebook much any more. It might be up in the background, but I don’t look at much of it.

Back Forty, bloggy stuff, political activism

A little talk about the past and present

I’ve distracted myself from the distress of the U.S. Election by spending a lot of time updating my blog from years ago – going through each post quickly to find photos that are hosted on Flickr, downloading them, and uploading them to WordPress and changing the link. This is going to work. I worried that I might not have enough room for all my photos on WordPress, so I began with the big travel blog posts and then started at the beginning.

This week has been 2007-2008, a particularly emotionally volatile time in my life. I was severely depressed in 2007, lost several friends, a cat that I handfed as a feral baby, Squirt, and his mother and sister, Mama Kitty and Miss Peanut. My husband’s work situation was awful. And I managed to squeak out finishing my M.A. in Liberal Studies in the midst of it. There are clues to my misery in the posts that I transferred over from when I hosted this blog on GoDaddy, but I noticed that I left out dozens of posts that I wrote. They are gone forever now. I can’t say that I am sorry that I made that choice, but I am glad that I left the clues.

I am amazed at the photos of the Back Forty. WOW. It was beautiful. I worked SO HARD on it. There was a lot of food produced, pre-groundhog days. I mean, LOOK>

Also, my God, the energy I had! I complained a lot about the same old physical stuff, but I got shit done. I was involved in the community. I finished a degree and started back on the Studio Art BA degree that I had abandoned in the late 80s.

2008 was also an election year and I suspect that I left out a lot of political posts as well. I was happy that Obama won, then disappointed in his food policy, which was my big focus at the time. I would leave the Democratic Party soon after.

What a difference 12 years later when Obama seems like a dream President, witty and intelligent. I have been a Bernie girl since long before he ran for President in 2016, but I have come to believe that this country needs a centrist president. My personal political opinions skew much farther left, but I am a realist above all else. We can’t waste time trying for the impossible when we can at least get the direction pointed away from total disaster.

I have hope for getting the pandemic under control and progress on reducing the effects of climate change, although, again, I am a realist. That point tipped several years ago. There is no reverse.

So yes, I am happy about Biden and Harris, and I hope that we get to Inauguration Day without a civil war and white domestic terrorism unleashed. I am not yet, nor likely to be, filled with glee. My main concern, getting an insane criminal out of the White House, seems likely to be accomplished. That is enough for right now.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Okay, it is afternoon now. I just spent an hour writing a private grief filled post, so I got that out of my system. My guess is that I will go back to it and use it as a private diary. I want to share more here, and I know that as a writer it is vital to open up and have that vulnerability, but right now I don’t have a lot to give others, and I certainly need an outlet.

I finally finished moving the Tapestry Weavers South web site to the WordPress.com platform. The site itself is not finished but at least I have the main parts in place.

Anyway, we came home from the mountains a little over a week ago, with a stop in Mt. Airy on the way. It was a scary place – we happened to hit it on the first day of “Mayberry Days.” Around here the Andy Griffith Show is sacred and Mayberry was based on his hometown of Mt. Airy, which is not far away from Pilot Mountain (Mt. Pilot on the show). It is also an extremely politically red place. So not only were there crowds of maskless people and character impersonators like Barney Fife on Main St., there was a lot of Trumpy campaign stuff on the sidewalks and inside stores and on windows. The Snappy Lunch was packed.

Most of the time signs about masks and social distancing rules are for show and not enforced, but we did find one antique mall in the center of Main St. that was strict, even telling someone to leave who came in without a mask. I wish I had made note of the name of it.

Just off Main St. there was a safe, really good Japanese restaurant called Kazoku where we had a very late lunch. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend the sushi.

Since then, I have been working hard on the class schedule for Spring 2021, which due to budget cuts and a lot of uncertainty in the administration about what to do in the face of the pandemic, has been difficult. The way it is here, if classes go totally online, UNCG loses a lot of revenue from parking, dining, and residence halls. This, during a time when we had already been asked to make budget cuts because of a shortfall last year. So, it will come down to whether to cut the budget further, meaning salaries and staff, or make our campus safer and try to push on. So far, UNCG has been pretty safe as far as we can tell. When you drive through campus, most of the students are even wearing their masks outside.

Our main office suite was closed last week because of a Covid-19 exposure. So far, everyone who was in the room with the person has tested negative, and we will get back to “normal” this coming week.

I picked loads of “beautiful beans” last weekend, along with a few butterbeans that I didn’t even remember planting. The “beautiful beans” are actually heirloom field peas that my recently departed friend Pat Bush found in the bottom of a freezer in a farmhouse she rented. She started planting and developing the seed stock and gave me some. These peas are real winners – tasty and make a good broth, and the snaps (immature green pods) are good as well. I will have plenty of seed stock and I am giving away beans to some of our mutual friends for them to start their own seed stocks.

Also, I am going to give up my last UNCG garden plot once I am done with these.

I will miss Pat. She and I worked together in Slow Food and in the local food movement, and I loved her. I bought many of my plants and herbs from her. Almost a year ago when she made it to the School Climate Strike rally, she was feeling very optimistic about getting better and wanted to get more involved with the permaculture guild as a teaching elder. But one thing after another befell her until her body was overwhelmed. She was sick for about five years after she fell and broke her knee.

There are a lot of people who I care for who are very sick right now. I remember Mama talking about the worst part of getting old is seeing your friends get sick and die.

Anyway, back to the garden. Here are photos of my carrot and squash, yes, singular, from this year. However, our figs had an abundant second crop and I have frozen a lot of them. Right now I am pulling up all the peppermint that I can and drying it for tea or whatever.

Hopefully I will get it together enough to raise some food next year. Might have to be all onions and garlic and mint, since those are the only plants so far that the groundhogs won’t eat. Fencing and cages will need to be made this winter.

Okay, time for a very late lunch. Chicken clam corn chowder, sort of.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, Lake Waccamaw, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

So much for my daily blogging routine. Poof! Oh well. I realized at some point in the last two weeks that if I didn’t stop pushing myself with all these “shoulds” my anxiety would never stop increasing. It is a problem very deep in my core that I nearly always feel like I should be doing something else. I am also by nature a very low energy, lazy person. Between the overwhelming anxiety and the guilt I feel, it is a perfect storm for shutting me down completely. August is traditionally a time of high anxiety for me anyway, with the new semester beginning and new students coming in.

I reminded myself that I am not an artist for a living. I do have a job that pays my bills. Art is for my pleasure and I have had artist blocks before. I always get my mojo back at some point but I always have to let it go first. Truly let it go, not try to get it back on a schedule. Hopefully my mojo will be back from vacation soon, but sometimes it travels far before I see it again.

For the past couple of weeks I have rearranged the studio room so that one table serves as my work office and there is nothing art-related to distract me on that table. UNCG finally got my new work laptop ready and it is a dream – very small and fast and works better than my desktop computer at work. Now I have this clunky laptop back for what I originally bought it for – blogging and photo editing and personal computer stuff. It couldn’t handle all that extra work stuff. The microphone died and the video cut in and out. Now that Zoom is my new reality, that was a problem.

It would be helpful if I could get into watching TV and movies but I just can’t do it for long. It has to be an incredibly gripping plot. Sandy will binge a whole series in a week or less. We both gave up on “How to Get Away with Murder” though. There is such a thing as overdoing it. I’m considering subscribing to HBO again for a while.

The heat wave here was so long and oppressively humid that there is NO gardening going on. I’ve gotten a few tomatoes and I always have my trusty little volunteer cherry tomatoes. The potatoes have been disappointing – low yield and bitter. I started picking figs and for the first time ever, encountered Japanese beetles on my tree. It is a huge tree and there will still be enough figs for me and the beetles but it was quite a shock the first time they burst out around my head in a swarm when I disturbed their feeding. If I ever make it to a hardware/gardening place where I feel safe I will buy some traps. And of course that fat groundhog is still munching its way through my yard. I have not visited my UNCG plots since early summer. I can’t seem to bring myself to do it.

Trying to decide if it is worth planting a fall garden. I would need to do it now, and it will have to be protected from furry critters. If I have to grow my own food, we just might starve to death, because the challenges are much greater than they were when I started the Back Forty in 2002.

Right now my main focus is keeping the jungle from taking over. I really need to find some help, but I’ve had such terrible luck with it that I keep putting it off.

Our tax refund is lost in limbo, and it’s the one with the big rebate payment for our solar panels. If we ever get it, I plan to pay off that loan. However, it is impossible to get anybody on the phone, and the online system says it doesn’t exist. This was the first time in years that we mailed it in, and we did it in early April. Probably the worst decision of the year.

I also need to call Orbitz about my plane ticket to Ireland. They were supposed to get back to me about the amount of time I have to redeem the credit from Aer Lingus. I’m afraid that by the time I can go back the airfare will be 3x as much as my credit is, since I got such a good deal.

I’m going to copy this part about reading “The Luminaries” directly from Facebook, but with an update that I am now on page 447. I have a hard time NOT finishing a book. It’s an OCD rule.

“So, you know how you buy a book that received awards but mixed reviews but you bought it anyway because it seemed like something you’d like and just as you thought about ditching it it got a tad more interesting and so you figured you would keep on reading even though you couldn’t read more than ten minutes at a time before laying it down because you are so bored and now you are 393 pages in and weeks have gone by and it seems like an investment at this point but the book is 830 pages long and you wonder about the meaning of life and then put it down to reread a book by Annie Proulx that you loved when you read it in the 90s but you drank so much back then that you killed the brain cells that remembered the plot so that all you remember is an accordion and a spider and you’re not sure about the spider and so it seems like you never read it? Well. That’s me right now.”

Back to dreaming and wishing and porch sitting in front of the fan. Here are the last photos from Lake Waccamaw that I never got around to posting. They are from sunrise on one of my last days there. I ended up staying for two weeks.