bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, critters, More gardening, Reading, Wildflowers

Good Friday 2021

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^^^My favorite flowers are multiplying well.

I dislike this new WP block editing mess. I have fooled around with pressing different buttons and got the text editor bar to appear, but I’m not sure that I could find it again. It is under Options/Visual Editor/Block and I unclicked all the buttons except Classic. Now I can’t find that again. Good luck, friends, who also relied on the classic editor, that is the best hint that I can give you. I suppose that I will figure it out eventually. I switched the Tapestry Weavers South site over to WordPress because I liked the interface here, grrr. Now, at a time when I am stressed out over having to learn too many new software platforms at work, WordPress throws its hat in the stress ring. Anyway, I guess it was inevitable and I will get used to it.

Mama always planted her garden on Good Friday. I planned to plant a few lettuce and borage seeds today, nothing major, but we had a hard freeze early this morning and will have another tonight, so I’m going to wait. They will go into the containers in the front so that I can protect them from being eaten by critters.

Here are some of my favorite flowers from the front garden: bloodroot, grape hyacinth, and dandelion. There are lots of Lenten roses also, but I am not so fond of them anymore. They reseed like crazy and I think that I’m going to have to dig up a lot of them.

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The groundhog is definitely back and I haven’t seen Robbie Rabbit lately. I would not be surprised if Robbie became dinner for a fox family, since there have been many red fox sightings in the neighborhood. Robbie was never very careful.

Sandy had his muscle biopsy yesterday and he is sleeping right now. I imagine by now the numbing medication that the surgeon put into the incision has worn off and I haven’t spoken to him yet this morning. He has a two inch incision that they closed with waterproof super glue! We are amused that his surgeon’s name is Dr. Martin. I hope that we get some answers from this and that it is not super expensive, since there was anesthesia involved. Sandy was in fine spirits yesterday, very alert on leaving the hospital, and focused on eating, as usual. He is taking some good pain meds, but he doesn’t like to take meds. I mean, if this condition turns out to be toxicity from taking statins for years, who could blame him. However, he is still convinced that it is all due to his shingles. I am anxious to get the results of the biopsy.

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^^^I want this shrub. It was blooming at the hospital.

A big front came through and blew a lot of the cherry blossoms into drifts. Last weekend, with the help of our neighbors, we got the Honda Fit battery charged up and running. I am going to clean the inside soon and see if I can get the musty smell out of the carpet with enzyme shampoo.

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See that brick wall? That is where I plant my lettuce. The old bird cage keeps the birds and squirrels out. When we get the steps rebuilt, I guess that will need to be rebuilt as well. It certainly needs a good cleaning and paint job, but I will wait. You can see how close the houses are in this neighborhood. My neighbor is back from Tanzania and his wife and son will be back from Thailand very soon. They are good neighbors and it is fun to watch his son play.

In the meantime, we received our 2020 tax refund and it included the $600 stimulus for both of us. We are still waiting for the big 2019 tax refund and the latest stimulus checks. I went ahead and booked the rest of my flight and saw that I could get a decent deal on the same flights for Sandy, and then went ahead and bought him tickets too.

I think that I’ll save this chat about the trip to Ireland for a separate post. It’s exciting.

Reading: “Holy Fools” by Joanne Harris. So far I am intrigued by 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.

bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Well, lookathere, it’s now Saturday afternoon. Time has been all whacked out during the pandemic. You would think that it would go more slowly, being mostly stuck at home, but instead it races.

I’ve been avoiding politics as much as I can make myself do it, and since hospitalizations are at a high with not many (or any) ICU beds available it has become time to really hunker down again. When I went to work yesterday I mostly closed my office door and had little contact with anybody, even at a masked distance. I plan to keep it that way for a while. I don’t think that we are going to do Thanksgiving, even. My brother-in-law is having heart surgery soon, and they need to be extra careful. I am still considering going down to the lake house but Sandy doesn’t want to go.

Twitler and Mikie and the Ratlickers have been hitting North Carolina hard this week and last, bringing more Covid to our state. North Carolina has always been a purple state. It’s been gerrymandered badly during the past decade so it has been a tough slog at the state level. We have a Dem governor and attorney general and a deeply red state legislature. The GOP is not even embarrassed at what they do to suppress the vote and get their people into power by any means necessary any more. So I am looking forward to getting my Social Security and getting the hell out of Dodge at age 62. Hopefully we can wait that long, and we will survive in good health that long. I spend a lot of time on ex-pat Portugal Facebook pages these days. It’s doable, but it’s gonna be rough on my anxiety and the cats.

On Election Night I am doing a Zoom meeting with some artist friends connected through Leighanna Light’s Facebook page, where we will all have some kind of creative work that we are individually doing and some emotional support. I expect that unless it is a landslide we will not know who won that night. Certainly it was a devastating surprise in the 2016 election the following day.

Anyway, another hurricane remnant came through this week: Tropical Storm Zeta. This one was fast and strong and blew out a lot of power in central/western NC. We had no problems. We seldom lose power in this house.

The other thing that happened was that I did an online chat with an Orbitz rep to ask some questions about my Aer Lingus credit, and it was good that I did, because they told me that it expired at the end of June and was surprised that someone from Orbitz told me differently. Fortunately I had enough misgivings that I had not booked our flight. Now it has been passed up another level and I might get a refund since I have documentation of the Orbitz rep saying that I had until Nov. 30.

That would be splendid if I get the money back.

On the tax refund front, however, we are still stuck with nobody to help. I think that when Kathy Manning gets elected to Congress and we actually have a Rep who might help us we will call her office. I highly doubt that Tea Party Ted could be bothered to help out a Dem/Independent couple. I would at least like to know if we should re-submit our tax return.

Still working on moving the Flickr photos over to WordPress and changing the links in my blog posts. That is a pretty tough job considering this blog has moved three times and I’ve been posting since 2005. However, on the second move I lost a LOT of posts because it was so boogered up on GoDaddy that I moved a lot of it manually, and in doing so I skipped a lot of the more mundane entries. I lost the links to a lot of my photos too. In the noughts I wrote a lot, often daily. I have been working on this project for a little more than a year, and plan to not pay Flickr anything come 2021. They became too expensive and I’d rather pay WordPress to host my photos. Then I ended up dealing with moving the Tapestry Weavers South mess of a web site and I lost a lot of time. At least it is on WordPress.com now where I can deal with both of them in much the same way.

Sandy has been doing a lot of handyman work around the house and it has been a very good thing. I got some more of the front porch painted but it was stormy this week and I have dealt with my mental health by spending a lot of time in bed, unfortunately.

Okay. Back to cleaning and a bit of art work. I finished The Good Lord Bird this week and it is a great book. Amazing that the subject of John Brown could be made so entertaining and funny. I want to read more James McBride. Right now I am sticking with mid-19th century U.S. historical fiction and starting Lincoln in the Bardo.

bloggy stuff, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, Obsession, Reading

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

I start out every blog post I write with a rant about the new WordPress block format, and how tired I am of having to learn new tech and software when the way I did it before was perfectly fine. Sometimes I mess around until I find a way to go back to something similar that they had before, but I never know how to find that way again. Then I usually delete the paragraph. So THIS TIME, I have figured it out and I’m documenting it. I saved the draft of this post, then when I opened all posts to work on it again, when you hover over the name of the post, links appear beneath it and one of them is “classic editor.” Whew!

Last weekend I had a lot of fun in Leighanna Light’s “Layered Faces” Zoom class. It is definitely not my style but it was a lot of fun and got me out of my head. Here are the photos from my piece after day one and at the end. I got a wild feline feel from the face as it was developing so I went with that. Sandy was all blah about it until I finished and then he was saying “Don’t do another thing to it! It’s perfect!” LOL. I won one of Leighanna’s faces in a random drawing on the second day, so my luck was with me this week.

I’ve mainly been concentrating on work, cleaning up the garden, cooking, and today, cleaning house, so I don’t have anything exciting to report. I voted in person on Wednesday with a friend, and I didn’t have to wait long. No funny business going on. Paper ballots, but no straight ticket options. I painted another section of the front porch yesterday, but a cold front came in last night and it is about 25 degrees chillier and rainy today.

Some fall shots from my yard and my walk around the block:

Reading: I finished “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. At first it was a bit of a slog only because it is dystopian and my emotions are on edge. It ended up being very good with a complex plot and several different points of view. Now I am reading “The Good Lord Bird,” and had I known that it would be this funny (I mean, it’s about John Brown, what a surprise!) I would have started it long ago.

My fixation on traveling to Portugal with the idea of scouting out places to live is back, and I almost booked tickets to go in June, but the fricking searches were confusing, and then I figured out that to get my Aer Lingus travel credit I have to go through Orbitz, who is charging $100 more per ticket than going straight through Aer Lingus. I got disgusted and decided to start over again this coming week. I have until the end of November to book Aer Lingus tickets to get my credit for my cancelled flight this past June, and their prices went way up.

This year my sister and brother-in-law are going to travel with us. This should be interesting to see if we get sick of each other. We have not traveled together before – just stayed in one familiar place like the beach or the lake. Of the four of us, only Sandy has a lot of patience, so he will be fine. I have been looking forward to traveling with my sister for a long time but they haven’t been able to do it for eldercare and other family reasons. All four of us are interested in emigrating to Portugal, although that’s might change after the election. I’m ready to go regardless, but for financial reasons I need to either wait 2.5 years or get permission to work remotely from there.

We’ll spend a couple of days in Dublin since they haven’t been to Ireland before. It’s cheaper to fly to Dublin from Raleigh and then catch TAP or Ryanair to Lisbon from there.

This also means that I will not be going to the art retreat in west Ireland or FOBA this summer. I hate like hell to miss these, but this is more than just a vacation – it is also a scouting trip. It’s important to do it soon, and I promised Sandy that we would go in 2021 before we knew that my trips would be canceled this year. We need to spend enough time in Portugal to explore different areas to see where might be the best fit for us. I am reading a lot of ex-pat advice.

Of course, all bets are off if there isn’t a vaccine by then.

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.

art, art retreats, bloggy stuff, fiber art, Rebel stitching, Slow cloth, Upcycling, weaving

Latest news from moi

Suddenly I feel like Miss Piggy today. Couldn’t tell you why.

A lot of things have happened since I last posted. I stopped paying to have my blog ad-free and the ads are pretty disgusting, so I may break down and upgrade to a paid account. I hate to do it, because between that and paying for my photos to be hosted on Flickr, that adds up to over $100 per year. I can’t really let the Flickr account go because I have linked most of my photos to that account. That would be an enormous amount of work to correct that. Plus, I really am attached to my domain name. I’ve had it since 2005. The thought of letting it go has become more intolerable to me.

I am going to convert this over to more of an artist website, and my postings to Facebook and Instagram should appear on the sidebar. But that will take a while. Maybe over the winter break. I’ll have made a decision about whether the cost is worth it by October.

^^^Pablocito, studio assistant, and the reason why there is aluminum foil everywhere. (He doesn’t like it.)

I took a week’s vacation at home in late July because it was slow at work and I have a lot of vacation time built up. It was marvelous. Really, I almost preferred it to traveling.

The first thing on my agenda was to warp up this “new” Beka rigid heddle loom for a sakiori workshop later that week. It was not anywhere near as simple as I thought it would be, and by the time I rewarped it and got the tension right, it took three days and some help from a friend! However, now I know some things I should and shouldn’t do with this type of loom. For one thing, I doubt that I will put three yards of warp on it again.

This patchwork from Jude Hill’s online class (see below) really scratches an itch for me. I love that it is portable. The only problem is my hands can’t take as much hand sewing as I would like to do. My sewing machines (plural) are a constant pain in my ass to keep running and maintained, but I did abuse them pretty badly when I was doing the denim and t-shirt quilt projects. It still amazes me that you can buy a new cheap machine for as much as it is to repair one.

Anyway, bitching aside, I LOVE making these little “puzzle pieces” and putting them together in different ways. It reminds me of my favorite toy growing up, which I think was sold by Tupperware. It was like Legos, but with tiny little pegged pieces in different shapes that could be pushed into a plastic grid. I constantly played with it sitting on the den floor, and I still have a box with the pieces somewhere. It drove my father nuts because he was always stepping on them.

Later that week when I felt like dealing with warping a loom again I caught up on the Rebecca Mezoff/Sarah Swett “Fringeless” online class that I began LAST SUMMER, and by the end of the week, I had this Mirrix loom warped and ready to go. The warping method produces a four selvedge tapestry that is ready when it comes off the loom, no sewing in ends or hemming edges required. To be honest, it was pretty easy once I got the hang of it.

Then on Saturday, I went to the sakiori class that was taught by Dawn Hummer of Saori Song Weaving in Chapel Hill, and sponsored by the Triangle Weavers Guild in a great space that they rent on an ongoing basis in an old school near Durham. I didn’t really learn that much, and I don’t need any encouragement to cut loose and play, but it is always good to hear how and why other artists do what they do. I got to see Saori looms and how they work, and that was really cool. It was fun and that was the whole point. I decided to make some pieces to use as book covers. Here is the first one. There is room on the warp for many more.

In other news, I’ve had to learn how to live without air conditioning for a few days. I hope it won’t be much longer. It is good for me to be reminded not to take this for granted. Work is revving back up with the fall semester classes beginning in only two weeks. The Tapestry Weavers South retreat is in nearby Elkin, NC on Labor Day weekend, so I have that to look forward to. After that, I doubt I will be able to afford any other art retreats or workshops because I am going to have to dip into my savings to pay for the Ireland trip before January, and to be responsible I will pay my savings back. It will be totally worth it to go back to Ireland, where I belong.

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.

bloggy stuff

Changes

As I am in a life transition of sorts, I think that I’m going to change this blog, drop the domain name, and add a gallery. Most people are on Instagram or Facebook these days anyway. Plus, there is a truly repugnant blog out there now called slowly she turned dot com where this man mocks his unfortunate wife’s journey through menopause. He seems to think he is funny. There’s nothing I can do about it. I should have bought that domain name too, but who knew that would happen? I didn’t want a dot com domain name because I wasn’t selling anything. I liked using dot net because of my connection to fiber arts and my focus on the web of the world around us.

So, beginning September 1, 2019, my URL will likely become slowturnstudio.wordpress.com and I will develop more pages. I’ll still blog, but there might be ads. I’m currently paying $30 per year to keep ads off this blog. I am cutting my budget in many ways and the expense of this blog is one small cut, but it all adds up. I truly hate the ads, especially since I have no control over the content, so we’ll see if or how long I can stand it.

We will all need to transition to the new world, so I know I am not alone. We will all need to find what it is important and let go of what is not. I plan to retire at 62 and travel as much as possible and live frugally as I can. Hopefully there will be plenty of art and gardening and front porch sitting. Who knows what might be ahead? It doesn’t look pretty from here, but I’m going to grab as much beauty from it as I can.

I may begin selling books and fiber art again, but it will probably be through here or Facebook. This will be how I will raise money for travel. Lots of ideas are percolating. Stay tuned.

bloggy stuff

tech woes

My old Kindle connects to the wifi but no longer connects to the Bluetooth keyboard.

My new Kindle connects to the Bluetooth keyboard but not to the wifi.

My laptop does not connect to the wifi any more.

Suffice it to say, I am very frustrated. Hopefully I will get back to blogging soon.