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.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I was up at the usual time this morning because the cats think that they are being starved.

Yesterday was a busy work from home day because I’m trying to get as much as done possible “just in case.” My expectation is that next week is going to be very busy for me because of work stuff that I can’t really talk about yet. Gah!

Last night I got a bad headache and sore throat and felt slightly feverish, then of course I went into an anxiety attack. This morning I feel fine. It’s hard not knowing what is allergies, hot flashes, anxiety chest pressure, and what is not. I keep reminding myself that historically I have a difficult time with all of the above this time of year anyway.

I finished “Forever Amber” and I am having a hard time deciding what to read next. On my Kindle I have a lot of books, including the “Patternist” fantasy series by Octavia Butler. I checked out “The Secret Chord” by Geraldine Brooks from the online library (Overdrive app) and I think that is the only one of hers that I have not read, so I’ll probably pick that one. I don’t want to read my Irish collection now because it will make me sad. In hard copy, I have so many to choose from, but I think that I’ll try “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht.

The governor finally issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state beginning Monday and lasting through April. I fully support it. It will be the first Easter in a long time that I haven’t gone to Lake Waccamaw. My sister and brother-in-law decided to stay there instead of their home in Chapel Hill. The hospital near the lake is crap, and I thought that maybe they would stay in the Triangle to be near the great hospitals there, since my brother-in-law has major health issues. Their reasoning was that they would be less exposed to the virus at the lake, and their social circle is much tighter there, so I get that. Plus, if they run out of food they can fish or throw a gator tail on the grill. (Just kidding about the gator.)

Crystal had another live workshop on Facebook yesterday and we did three five minute 4×4 collages. We could add contrast to one of the neutral ones, and the other neutral one we are supposed to keep for the next lesson. I am pleased with these and they were so much fun to let intuition rule and not stop to analyze the design. I want to do more of these exercises on my own.

I think that I am going to have to give up this weaving project in which I am tying on a new warp. It’s good that I stopped and tested how easy it would be to pull the knots through the reed. It will be a terrible mess and even though I think that it is doable, I don’t need the aggravation right now. I am going to warp up something simpler and smaller on the horizontal floor loom, and maybe move the Shannock tapestry loom onto the front porch and see how far I get on “Cathedral” this year.

Ah, there is so much art stuff that I could do!

Diego is doing fine as far as I can tell. He is not happy with the pain injections any more and he knows what I’m up to when I lift that skin flap on his shoulders. It’s nice to have him at my side in the “office.”

Lots of different peppers are emerging now, along with a few cucumbers. This grow light might end up being worth it. I had been afraid that the cats would mess it all up but they have not been interested at all. I got an email from UNCG saying that it was okay to go to the UNCG garden plots as long as we stayed far apart from each other and there were only two or three people there. I’ve never seen more than one other person there at the same time as me, so I think that I will go down there and plant some green beans. It is supposed to get up to 85 degrees today!

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.