Blather, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Sunday noon coffee pot post

This time I’m posting at noon not because I slept late (although I did go back to bed for a little while) but because I’ve been trying to get laundry done. Because the plumbing is backed up again, I have to monitor the outflow and when the pipe fills divert the washing machine hose to some buckets that I have next to the washer. Then I dump the buckets outside. We have a lot of laundry right now.

Better than having to haul laundry down to the river or use a washboard in the tub, I guess. Actually I thought I might be prepared because I bought an antique washing machine, basically a tub on wheels with a wringer, for papermaking several years ago, and at first the plan was to use it if the power went out, and so I thought that I’d just dump the water in there. Not so fast, though, the drain stopper is missing and the corks I tried to substitute keep popping out. Who ever knew that a washing machine used so much water!!!

The next time, I am buying a cheap mechanical washing machine. No more of these computerized Samsungs. I want something that I can control.

I was drying our clothes on clothes racks, but I found that using the dryer helps a lot as far as getting the cat hair out. So we’ve gone back to that again. I would love to move everything out of this house, clean it from floor to ceiling, clean the HVAC ducts, clean all the furniture and stuff, and then move half of it back in and give the rest away. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!!!

Just fed the man a bowl of hot oatmeal with brown sugar and blueberries. He is in bed again, this time with a headache. He wants to walk outside and have me come pick him up in the car at a certain point. I convinced him to walk around the house a few times to get some sunshine and have me with him in case he falls.

Yesterday we ordered delivery from our local pizzeria, Slices by Tony, which does a lot more than pizza, and I guess that was worth paying the Door Dash fee, although I don’t like doing that. Sandy had a chicken philly sub and a connolli and I had a veggie calzone, and it was enough for two meals. I couldn’t eat last night so I still have 2/3 of a calzone and leftover lasagna for tonight.

I am about ready for some good Chinese or Vietnamese or Japanese food. I love Italian and Mediterranean but I’m tired of it. If I can get it together I will make a big stir-fry tonight.

I didn’t get any weaving or the chores (such as laundry) done yesterday because I had a migraine mid- afternoon. But I’m going to try again today. Vacuuming and laundry take precedence right now. I’ve been in bed too much because it is the place where I feel comforted.

The nice things that happened: I got on a Zoom meeting with the Women Over 50 Moving to Portugal Friendship Facebook group and was able to see the faces and listen to these women I have been chatting with online for the last several months. They are a good group – all the nasty attitudes and anti-maskers and Co-vid deniers get weeded out fast. You don’t get to act ugly or sarcastic to someone in the group more than once, generally. You are called out and removed by three able admins who live in Portugal. They have great advice and infinite patience, although if you search this group out, I advise you to search through the posts to see if your questions have been addressed. There are almost daily posts about bringing pets to Portugal, luggage and shipping recommendations, and D-7 Visa processes. Also lots of jokes and memes and NSFW language.

I talked for a long time to my friend JQ who now lives in New York state on Friday night and to Susanne yesterday. It helped to confide in my friends and let them know what is going on. It was so good to hear their voices! Susanne and I are going to try to get together to walk in a couple of weeks.

I feel like I could handle this a lot better if I was not so depressed and on the verge of agoraphobia.
This really is a “Coronavirus Chronicles” post because if we weren’t in a pandemic, Sandy might have been given a proper medical screening in December, I would have gotten a shingles vaccine this weekend with no problems, and we would have had a plumber in here months ago.

Once we can get vaccinated and Sandy is not so sick, I am going to the lake.

Blather, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, whatever

Looking ahead in 2021

Well, this is certainly a crap shoot, isn’t it? But I will take a stab at it. I can at least visualize what I hope for.

I actually started writing this post several days ago just in case I got a case of the blues and couldn’t do it. But I woke up fairly bright and sassy this morning, after a shower, under clean sheets, with clean leggings and shirt on, which is a step up in my world! I made coffee and oatmeal, and put on earrings. I haven’t worn earrings in months, and my ear holes were starting to close up. So in went my beautiful earrings that I bought in Santa Fe at the market in the plaza. We will eat some field peas and collards at some point today for luck in money.

Tapestry Weavers South plans to have a retreat and exhibition at the same time as the Blue Ridge Fiber Fest. Tapestry Weavers South has its “headquarters” at Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center in Elkin, NC, and the Blue Ridge Fiber Fest takes place in Sparta, NC, about a thirty minute drive from Elkin. The plan is early June. All this is within a couple of hours’ drive for me.

Whether I’ll have a tapestry to exhibit remains to be seen. I’d like to finish the lake rain tapestry that I started with my naturally dyed silk threads.

We hope to visit Portugal for two weeks in September, with a stopover in Dublin on the way for a couple of days, since we will fly through there anyway and my sister wants to see Dublin. Some of this may depend on our health. My husband’s health is particularly troubling right now, but we all have issues of some kind. I booked my one plane ticket to get my refund from Orbitz so I’ll be flying on my own and will meet the others in Dublin. I also reserved a couple of rooms in the B&B in Howth where we stayed before, just to make me feel good.

This means that I definitely won’t be doing the art retreat in western Ireland next summer, and maybe not at all.

I anticipate that I will be working from home except for Fridays again through the spring semester depending on how the vaccine gets distributed. I’m not sure how I am going to adjust to going back to work in the office full time. It will be tough, considering how this feeds my agoraphobia, and how my sleep pattern has changed, and how my physical pain has been better working from home.

Yesterday, the state government changed the vaccine schedule so that I am actually in phase 1b group 2, and my family members with serious health risks are in phase 2! This is due to me being educational support staff. I assume that universities are included. If not, I’ll be heading to the back of the line again. I was not particularly happy about this change, due to my intense worry about my family, and that I can actually do my job well from home, but as Sandy said, they can’t really micromanage this to that level. Teachers are essential frontline workers, and so are the housekeepers and other support staff that can’t do their jobs from home.

Hopefully I won’t have to attend any protests, although the state government is probably in worse shape than it was pre-election. Thank God we have Democrats for governor and attorney general, at least.

My main focus is probably going to be downsizing, and getting some house repairs and improvements done once it is safer to let people in the house. However, my expectations are lower about actually being able to move away from here. For one thing, I see how much rent is in places in the US where I’d like to live. Good God. We can’t afford that. It is more than our house payments were! Portugal is still my hope but I’m not sure that I will be able to get the house sold and packed up if Sandy’s health issues do not get resolved or worsen. (And Sandy needs to raise the rent on his condo for sure!)

I’m not going to waste effort on food gardening. Other people can feed the groundhogs.

I’d like to get back to weaving strips of cloth since that seems to be the most relaxing and satisfying thing that I could do. Make some books and use up a lot of my supplies. Get my Etsy shop up and running again. Sell collage packs. I wonder if I can sell old copies of Handwoven and Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts magazines on Etsy? I’ll have to check. If not, maybe on Ebay.

I hope that Leslie Marsh will do some more workshops at her home/studio at Topsail Beach. I bought her online class for making a tiny book necklace with metal covers, but I have a hard time following through on online classes. I ordered some supplies for soldering. I’m nervous about this one because of my klutziness, but it will be a good skill to master. The book that I made in Leslie’s in person class is one of the nicest books I ever made.

Maybe Kevin will invite me to participate in his home studio show next year. He likes my collage work.

Most of all, I desperately want to get over my artist’s block. To have all this time at home and feel so frozen is incredibly frustrating. I made a couple more masks yesterday, and I’m going to finish up the others today so that I can move on to something else. I have so many online classes on deck that it is crazy. I don’t even remember how many, so I am working on a list. I will need to add one more…after watching MaryBeth Shaw do a live Facebook art journaling session last night, I bought another one called 21 Secrets. And then I remembered that I bought an online class from MaryBeth this summer that I never finished! This is getting out of control.

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.

Blather, bloggy stuff, Studio talk

Update – I’m still here

January was a busy month and February will be too, so you’re unlikely to see a lot from me. As far as this blog goes, I am, perhaps unduly, concerned about hosting my photos on Flickr. For one thing, they doubled their price since selling it, and for the other, their automation sends me erroneous billing messages which annoys me. I’m a curmudgeon, it’s true, but I am thoroughly sick and tired of software taking the place of human contact. I should become a hermit, I guess. Anyway, it has led me to spend some time transferring some of my most important photos to WordPress. It wouldn’t be a problem but I have to go into EACH POST and change the link to Flickr! OY.

The Italy trip is done now and in 2020 I will concentrate on one big travel series at a time, then the posts in between. Then I will set up some gallery pages for my art. When January 2021 rolls around again I will consider dropping my Flickr Pro account if I have finished up the link changes, but considering that I have been hosting my photos and linking to them on Flickr here since 2006, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes me two years to accomplish this without wrecking my blog. I feel like I am being held hostage to Flickr.

I finally ordered a refurbished laptop from Dell.com only to find that it came with Windows 10 in Spanish only and could not be changed to English. So I returned that after a lot of phone time and confusing emails and ordered a Lenovo off eBay. I won’t be doing business with Dell again. I just received it, it seems to work fine, and it will be easier for me to post once I finish setting it up. I also have the Tapestry Weavers South website to update, and that will move to the front burner now that I have a laptop at home.

My other tech update will be when I either have my phone repaired or buy a new one. Then I will get back to taking a lot of photos, which will make me quite happy!

We moved my studio space to the room that I suppose should be the dining room and the (parlor/TV room/family room/den/living room ???? what to call this room?) TV, sofa, etc. to the front room where it is dark and cozy. The studio room has much better light. This meant that I purged a lot more stuff in January – looms, yarns, books, knick-knacks – about twelve boxes worth! In return we have some actual space in both rooms, and the cats are delighted with the new racetrack from the front room to the back, complete with throw rugs to slide across on the studio and the kitchen hardwood floors.

I completed the caterpillar four selvedge tapestry, but the top and bottom selvedges bother me and the choice of those little areas of kelly green appall me. What was I thinking? It is still a good piece so I am going to hem it heavily at top and bottom and take care of both of those things.

Oh, and I paid off my last installment on this art retreat on the west coast of Ireland. Ireland, my love. And an increasing interest in collage and book arts.

Back Forty, Blather, bloggy stuff, whatever

just ramblin’

Next week I’m taking a staycation and I have a lot of projects in mind and a couple of events to attend, including seeing Gordon Lightfoot in concert at the Carolina Theater in Greensboro – a great venue for a great artist.

Today, I’m considering my priorities in what I want to accomplish and what I need to get done. I’m taking a small weaving workshop on sakiori (Japanese rag weaving technique) that is not far away, so first on the list is to assemble and warp my new-to-me Beka rigid heddle loom, and cut/tear half-inch strips of rags for this workshop next Saturday. This is mainly an exercise in creativity and fun, and usually no matter what the subject is, I learn something from a new teacher.

Secondly, I am going to spend some time catching up on the online courses I signed up for LAST YEAR and this year, with the priority being to warp up my new-to-me Mirrix loom in the four-selvedge technique I’ve learned in Rebecca Mezoff and Sarah Swett’s “Fringeless” online course. I hope that this will lead to me weaving small tapestries for book covers and even pages. Making a tapestry book has long been a goal for me.

Other priorities are preparing “puzzle piece” squares for Jude Hill’s current online course as a traveling project. I’d like to do some more cloth strip weaving and make some bags like the ones I made in India Flint’s “Bagstories” course last year.

Another prep project is to make the components for several books, covers and pages, to have them ready to bind. I want to bind at least one book with some of the signatures I made in Leighanna’s workshop at FOBA, and it is mostly ready.

Also, I just finished the first season of “Stranger Things.” As usual, I am behind on popular shows and normally I can’t handle horror shows or flicks – I tend to have nightmares – but this struck me more as a combination of “Freaks and Geeks” and Stephen King. I will probably finish watching the series next week.

I will need to get my battery replaced in the car. We jumped it off after some difficulty after it sat for a while and I drove it to the mechanic’s shop, then made the unwise decision to drive it back home and see if it cranked in the morning. Now it won’t even click when we try to jump it. If we can get it charged again, I will leave it at the mechanic’s shop and let them replace the battery and check out the rest of the electrical system. Fortunately I walk to work and we can get by with one car most of the time, but it limits what I can do during weekdays when Sandy is working unless I get up at 6:30 and drive him to work and pick him up at 4 p.m. I don’t really want to do that.

Once the heat wave settles down, which according to the forecast should happen around Tuesday, I am going to fire up the electric dehydrator and dry a bunch of cherry tomatoes, which are beginning to produce a lot more than we can eat. The UNCG garden is producing plenty of lemon cucumbers, which I have mostly given away, some zephyr squash, and the Roma tomatoes are beginning to ripen. The pole lima beans are now healthy looking after a Japanese beetle attack, but it has been so hot that they have not blossomed, so I hope for a fall harvest. I’ve harvested and eaten onions – the first onions I’ve ever grown from seed. The garlic bulbs did not separate into cloves so I’ll have to figure out what went wrong. We have had a few peppers of various kinds, mainly Italian frying peppers.

Other than that, I am daydreaming about my plans to go to Ireland next June, probably by myself!!! and Sandy has applied for Social Security, so he can retire at any point he wants to now. Since we can’t retire to Ireland, I want to try to come up with ways to go there fairly often. I have an app on my phone called Hopper that is good at alerting you to price drops and rises in airfare on certain routes and days, and I’ve found quite a few AirBNBs that are very inexpensive. If you reserve way ahead of time, you can usually find good prices. Also, I learned on the recent trip to Oregon that I do just fine with a loaf of good bread, sharp cheese, fresh fruit, and nuts for my meals. I’ll be at an art retreat for a week but I want to spend another week walking on the coast.

Yes, I am trying to maintain my mental health during a time of political horror in my own country. At least the racism is out in the open now, but these fascists are scary. My father fought in World War II. What would he say if he were alive? It’s hard to imagine that we are in this place of meltdown, and I will probably end up writing about my helpless feelings about the fall of our civilization at some point. What do you do when people refuse to believe the truth? It is beyond my comprehension.

Honestly, “Stranger Things” is much less scary and a whole lot more believable.

I will add a statement on the sidebar about the appearance of ads on my blog beginning July 28. It is part of my expense cutting to push my money toward retirement, travel, and art expenses. I won’t see them or have any control over them, but I’m not spending any more money on this blog, and that is when my bill is due to prevent ads. Please, just ignore them. Don’t click on them. I hate advertisements and I do not choose the content.

Blather, crocheting, depression/anxiety, Obsession

Underwater

Rain, rain, rain. Puddles everywhere. That’s how we roll in North Carolina – drought or drowning, seldom in between. For years I have remembered my birthday as being in the season of mud, so it must be usual for February. We sandbagged the basement entrance again.

I am in an odd mood this week. Probably because I am not drinking and I started a diet yesterday. An actual diet plan, with an app, not my usual hey, I know how to eat healthy and I’ll just do that. I do know how to eat healthy, but it is not helping my weight and cholesterol issues. I kept seeing an ad for Noom, and decided to try it.

So now I’m eating SUPER DUPER healthy. With a calorie counter and a pedometer. And I am hungry and miss my cheese and peanut butter! Ah well. It must be done.

Underwater. That’s how I feel.

The weaving project is going well. I’m still plugging away at it and I hope to have the second curtain panel done by the end of the weekend, since the forecast is MORE RAIN. It is great to be able to weave standing up at my Macomber loom. I’m very glad that I decided to keep it. I should sell my Baby Wolf, though. It is just collecting junk on top. Once I get that tapestry off the Shannock loom (don’t ask an ETA for that, please) I will consider selling or trading it also.

I ripped out the entire 2019 Tunisian crochet weather scarf, charted all the high temperature data for Greensboro (the airport) for 2018, redid my color scheme a bit, and started over with a 2018 scarf. It goes more smoothly than doing a day at a time. I was very surprised that our highest temperature for last year was 95. That cut out two colors from my scheme so I shifted them all down one and rearranged a couple of other colors that made more design sense to me. The results are more pleasing and logical to me, and you know, logic is a prime concern for me. It will be interesting to me to compare the 2018 and 2019 scarves. This project punches all my OCD buttons so I have to make myself take breaks. Thank God for work or my hands would be aching by now!

Even though I have avoided the greenhouse, I started some arnica, calendula, and a variety of lettuce seeds indoors a few days ago. I bought a little pot of parsley at a grocery store about a month ago and it had probably two dozen seedlings crammed in there, so I separated the strongest ones and replanted them in the planter by the front steps.

There are too many things that I want to do, too many books to read, too many places where I want to travel.

There is a faint dread underlying my days, and I am trying to keep it from bubbling up. Perhaps re-engaging in political discussion and reading has not been the best decision. But how can I not? And there has been a few bright spots, although these bright spots often are relief that something awful is being undone, when it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I have no trust in anything any more since the 2016 election. I know that anything can happen, no matter how crazy and illogical. It is a surreal world, and I feel underwater.

art retreats, Blather, depression/anxiety

Art retreat and class mania

I must remember to talk to my therapist this week about how crazy it makes me to see all the art retreat workshops scheduled for the following year that I cannot attend! Seriously, this is what I opened our first session with. I think I know what she will say but I need to hear it, repeatedly.

There are three that are definitely on my schedule: the Leslie Marsh/Kim Beller book workshop “Ancient Wisdom” that Susanne and I switched to March after Hurricane Florence caused so much damage and ongoing pollution from the flooding coming downstream on Topsail Island, and Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon, which happens every two years and I will manage to attend it one way or another even if I have to have a car wash and a bake sale on the street every weekend. (That won’t happen, HA! I barely cook for us, and any sweets coming out of my kitchen will get gobbled up before ever making it out the door. And, have you seen my car? Not good advertising.) We also plan to have a retreat for Tapestry Weavers South in Elkin, North Carolina, next September but that is well within driving distance and shouldn’t cost too much.

I suppose that there will not be time or money for any other art retreats. Sandy doesn’t care to come to these (although I think he would enjoy taking a class) and we need to do a trip together or it is not fair to him. Plus, I really enjoy our trips together. We travel together well and it is great for our marriage and will give us memories to talk about when we are in the nursing home.

Here’s another development. I get approached occasionally to teach a workshop or class and I nearly always turn it down. I am not confident enough to teach and my people skills are raggedly for sure. My past experience in teaching made me miserable. I couldn’t figure out how to balance the needs of those who wanted to move faster and those who needed almost constant confirmation of what they were doing and re-explanations. I did these for free to lower my anxiety and make sure these folks were getting their money’s worth in the sense that I was using them for guinea pigs in trying to decide what the timing should be and what worked and didn’t work.

Each time I never offered the class again, and I swore to myself I would not teach again. Then, because I craved the same kind of group experience at home that I travel to art retreats for, I tried hosting a tapestry “play group” in which I emphasized that I would not be teaching but I could offer guidance. What happened was that some people showed up with incredible ideas and work and self-initiative and others showed up with unfeasible ideas that would not work for a beginning weaver, or looms that they wanted to use that I was not familiar with and were not good choices for the kind of tapestry they wanted to do. It was not their fault – they were trying to do it on their own as I asked but it made me very anxious. One guy showed up with an advanced design that I would be challenged by myself, no loom, and followed me around with his cell phone talking about it while I tried to help others. I didn’t get to play with tapestry myself, which was the WHOLE PURPOSE of the group. So I ditched that idea.

My friend Amanda, who owns our local downtown yarn and fiber supply shop, Gate City Yarns, is putting together more classes for the coming months/year with a group of fiber teachers and asked me to participate. Because I really like this group of folks, who tend to be on the funky/edgy spectrum, I went to the meeting last Sunday afternoon, even in the throes of intense anxiety, and was part of the discussion. What I may do, if I can get my shit together and test this idea out BEFORE I do it, is do a two-part workshop where we weave a small tapestry to use as/on a book cover and make a planner for the coming year. If I do it, it will probably be the weekend after Christmas, since I have the whole week off beforehand to make myself crazy worrying about it. But the difference is that Amanda would support me – I would not be on my own – and she is very sympathetic to my situation. I’d be more inclined at this point to do something with books or fabric, but it needs to tie in with what Amanda has to sell, understandably.

Gosh, I think that I might adore Amanda.

I’m thinking that I will provide signatures printed with a light dot-grid pattern and have them punched and ready to stitch, and then the students do a simple long-stitch binding with old book covers or bookboard in class. Then we could attach the tapestry to the book covers and embellish or weave on the spine binding. People could get started on the tapestry in the first class and we could bind the book. Then they could finish weaving the tapestry at home, and we could cut it off at the next class, finish the edgings, and attach it to the book cover(s), then play with a closure and weaving on the spine, if there was time.

It’s crucial that I figure out the timing of this and leave it open enough that if someone can’t finish in class they know enough to finish it at home. Also, I’d probably need to provide some of the supplies such as frame or foamcore board looms and awls and needles and waxed linen for the book part.

You might ask, “Laurie, why do you continually return to an idea that you obviously do not enjoy?”

And I would say, “Retirement, my friend. I am staring at the possibility of retirement in the next ten years and it would be good to have developed some kind of way that I could make a little cash for groceries and supplies and travel and enjoy it. If I practice and learn instead of giving up, maybe I WILL enjoy it. Who can say until I try? I have a studio art degree. I’ve taken more workshops and classes than I can count at this point. If I push through this, my choices might open up into a world of delight. If not, then I haven’t really lost anything.”

Plus, I have a very good job that exhausts me mentally. This is not the fault of my department. It is the fault of being employed by a large organization that is ultimately controlled by politicians who think that education should be run like a business, with people in the higher levels making decisions without understanding or caring about the consequences at the lower levels. At one time, I swore that I would not work for a large org again. However, there is a security issue that can’t be denied, especially for someone with my anxiety problems. I daydream about early retirement constantly but it is unlikely that I’ll be able to do it. Our hope continues to depend on the lottery!

Amanda has a stitch and bitch style gathering that meets on Friday nights but I am usually so wrung out by Friday evening (or half-drunk from beers with faculty after a late afternoon department meeting) that I come home and crash for the night. I think that I will make an effort to put these nights as a definite recurring requirement for my schedule from now on and try not to make excuses not to attend. Often the anxiety build-up at the end of the weekday gives me a headache and I use it as an excuse to crash and burn at night. This is why I only get stuff done on the weekends, for the most part.

Tomorrow afternoon I am going to a Triangle Book Arts gathering in Raleigh. I am going. I am going to this group event. I know that it will be fun. It is an open studio, and I am going to work on a prototype for the book part of this class for Gate City Yarns. Also, I’ve been reading about dot journaling and I want one for myself.

I get this way EVERY YEAR when art retreat announcements begin coming out. CRAZEEEEEEEE. Oh well. Time for another cup of coffee and I’m going to work on printing out these dot grid papers.

art, Blather, fiber art, Wildflowers

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I’ve been in my busiest time at work in the last two weeks, leaving me little desire to get on my laptop at home. I need to do taxes this weekend, I have sworn to myself that I will get the taxes done this weekend, I WILL GET THE TAXES DONE THIS WEEKEND. I will do it today.

Much thought has gone into how I can make my art a sustainable practice. I ditched the tapestry diary for over a week now. This studio is much too crowded. Past experience finally whispered in my ear and asked, “What are you doing right now just because you feel like you should be doing it, and what are you doing that you enjoy? What is it that you think you want to do, but when you do it you feel unhappy about the reality of doing it? What is it about that activity that bugs you?”

I put aside the idea of making any money from my artwork a few years ago. That by itself made a huge difference. It wasn’t doing anything to sustain me financially and my artwork suffered for it. At best, the money I made covered my membership fee in the co-op I exhibited in and bought a few art supplies. But now, I have an extensive palette of tapestry yarn, a huge stash of fabric and recycled garments, my mother’s thread and sewing supplies and paints and inks and plenty of paper and bookboard for bookmaking. My main focus has been to reuse and recycle what I have instead of buying anything unnecessary, and even though I have broken that vow three times this year, it’s been for small things.

So I got down to thinking about the answers to those questions. I am not enjoying the tapestry diary any more. But I made the rules for it, so I get to change or ditch them altogether. Nobody is making me do this. It is an obligation I set for myself. Some would call it discipline. I’m calling it a pain in my ass right now and setting it aside.

I am enjoying stitching the projects for India Flint’s class the most I have enjoyed anything for a long time. Sewing is very satisfying to me. Jude Hill is starting another online class soon and I’ll participate in that. However, I have to be aware of my physical problems because the pain usually shows up after the activity that causes it. I’d like to get back to sewing my patchwork t-shirt blanket too. That won’t be so hard on my arms and hands, but I need to make room in here and set up a design board.

I want to set up my Macomber loom for that double weave rug project. The warp is measured and chained. Again, I need to make room in the studio because I have boxes stacked around it.

Finally, “what is it that you think you want to do, but when you do it you feel unhappy about the reality of doing it? What is it about that activity that bugs you?”

This same question came up when I was doing ceramics. I loved the idea of doing ceramics, but finally I had to admit that having my hands in the clay for hours drove me crazy. Same with paint – I can only tolerate so much before my OCD kicks in. Collage is intellectually fascinating to me, and I love doing it to a certain extent, but I fucking HATE GLUE, and that is a problem. Fiber and fabric art, for the most part, present me with little to set off my anxiety about sticky and difficult messes. My head says, “you should have no problem with this. What’s wrong with you?” But that is not the kind of inner criticism I need right now.

So the solution that I see is that I am going to get rid of my collage stash. I’ll keep the handmade paper because I enjoy that activity. But the boxes of travel materials, maps, old music books, dictionaries…to Reconsidered Goods they will go. I’ll have a bit more room to maneuver in the studio and if I want to do collage I’d do it with fabric. If any of my local friends want to come by the house and get some of this, you are welcome to do so. Just do it soon, okay?

I will feel better once this hoard is gone. I know that I will.

There will be another post about my current project. I have a lot more to write about. AFTER I DO THE TAXES. Which I will do. I will do the taxes TODAY. In the meantime, here are some photos from the front shade garden.

Back Forty, Blather, coffee pot posts, Uncategorized

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This really will be random.

Last night, for the first time since surgery, I could turn over in bed without my insides feeling like they are rolling around! Sometimes the absence of a thing feels like a real thing. So I’m pretty happy this morning. Haven’t even taken a Tylenol yet, although I will.

I think I’ll go to the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market and buy broccoli and some combo of locally raised beef and pork and chicken. They have wonderful lean brats and
sausages there too. I always see a lot of great people there. Back when I was agoraphobic it was one of the first places where I felt comfortable as I was healing.

My field peas are about done but my butterbeans are having a big end of season run. I picked twice this week and shelled, blanched, and froze them. My tomatoes are about done too and I’m going to dehydrate my last batch this weekend.

The California fires are nightmares and my heart hurts so much for the terror and trauma and loss of the people there. Fire is a particular dread of mine and I’ve lost some loved ones to it.

I went to two Art-is-You retreats in Petaluma and one of my classes with Roxanne Stout went to beautiful Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma to sketch and take photos. I hope they survive this. What beautiful country it is there. It’s little wonder so many people have moved there to retire. It seems from the news reports that many of the elderly residents could not escape in time. So horrible.

I’ve been fantasizing about moving west again despite all this. I keep thinking about a co-housing community near Forest Grove, Oregon. We met one of the residents at a bluegrass jam in a tiny brewery there, and he asked us out to a cookout there the day we were leaving. Even offered to pick us up. Unfortunately it was 100 degrees that day and Susanne had to get on down the road to Eugene to meet her boyfriend and turn in the rental car, so we couldn’t go. I looked it up online yesterday. I would really love to live in that area. I think Sandy would like it too.

I picked the glue out of my belly button and I’m so glad about that. It was driving me crazy. The little things, you know. Also, I never thought I’d be typing that sentence.

Also on my mind: if given the opportunity to sell my part of my cousin’s lake house, will I do it? Anyone who has read this blog for long or knows me well knows of my intense attachment to it. I don’t consider it partly mine because my cousin’s wife has lifetime rights but she can’t tear down the house or sell the property, so apparently it IS partly mine. I don’t pay a cent in taxes or expenses for it but she encourages me to go down there and stay as much as I want. I hear that she is considering making us an offer, which I’m sure means that the house will come down. The lot is what is valuable.

I could use the money for retirement, or buy a nice camper and go where I please.

Ay yi yi. Probably won’t happen but it set my brain in motion. And I’m still smarting over selling my mother’s house.

Okay, better get to the farmer’s market. Time has run away from me. I’ve signed up to do this, which I pretty much do all the time anyway.

Blather, fiber art, Quilting, Slow cloth, Studio talk, Upcycling

Happy Kwanzaa and Boxing Day!

Well, I’m about holidayed out and I haven’t even celebrated much of anything! That’s typical for me, though. I started losing my holiday spirit when I worked in retail and then the many years of Christmas without my father and now my mother pretty much did it in. If I had chosen to have children, I’m sure it would have been different. I’m grateful that I’m in a place and time in my life where my friends and family understand and don’t judge or try to force me to be merry.

This Christmas we had my brother-in-law over for dinner on Christmas Eve and then watched westerns and A Christmas Story on Christmas Day by ourselves. We had a couple of good meals, one of which was collaborative between Sandy and me and it ended up much better than I would have ever guessed, but also may not ever be able to be replicated! It was linguine with shrimp and smoked beef kielbasa from the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, along with broccoli, red peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, lime juice, and feta cheese. Then yesterday I slow cooked a small pastured pork picnic ham in my crock pot with sweet potatoes, red potatoes, apple juice, water, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce. I cooked it just a tad too long but it was still tender and tasty. I foresee more barbecue in the future. (In North Carolina, barbecue is a noun and it refers only to pork. We do not barbecue. We cook or grill out.)

Right now I am at my studio on Wharton St. where I am working on ironing a light interfacing to the backs of old t-shirt logos and designs in preparation for a t-shirt quilt. I’m taking an online Craftsy class from Winnie Fleming called “The Ultimate T-Shirt Quilt.” (Today classes on Craftsy are less than $20, not affiliated, just sayin’.) So far it is perfect for me – I needed something to kick me into action that would be fun and not too taxing on my brain. Although I donated several of my better t-shirts to charity in my purges this past year, I saved some of my favorite for a project like this. Many of them are twenty years old and very worn out. I’m going to either draw, paint, or stitch over the designs that are worn out.

A little later Sandy and I are going to see Arrival at the movie theater. It’s hard to get me to go to a theater because I don’t like sitting in a crowd. But I like to see a sci-fi film on the big screen and Sandy loves loves loves going to the movies.

Then I’ll have the rest of the week all to myself when Sandy goes back to work. I’ll try to get over here in the morning and spend most of each day here, except for tomorrow when I need to get the painting around the front porch door finished so Sandy can hang the door back up.

It will feel a little like retirement!