art, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, collage, consumerism, Coronavirus Chronicles, Mixed media art, Reading, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

And, OH! This coffee is so good. I put a big scoop of Trader Joe’s salted caramel hot cocoa mix in it. Divine. I’d really like to go back to Trader Joe’s today and buy more of this and a bunch of frozen dinners to take to work, but I considered what it would be like to go to TJ’s on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I think I’ll wait on that. I’m pretty new to Trader Joe’s since my first grocery shops were always the farmers’ market then Deep Roots then a local grocery. We listened to a story about Trader Joe’s on NPR and were fished in…it was a lovely experience. It’s good that it is on the other side of town.

The other place we shopped heavily during the pandemic was Costco, and we had a lot delivered. Once vaccines became widely available I stopped doing grocery delivery, realizing that between the mark-up on the products and the tip that I gave the shopper, I wasn’t saving any money. Sandy and I are – gasp, I’ll say it – hoarders and we got ahead on groceries at some point several years ago and our closets are generally full enough that we can get by for a few months if needed. I also have water stored in sterilized glass apple juice bottles. At first it was prepping in case of civil war or some other calamity. Little did we know how useful this would become so soon. I have to remember to rotate out the food, though. I donated some to the graduate student food drive for the food pantry this week.

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I have most of my grocery shopping for Thanksgiving already done so I’ll go to Deep Roots for my coffee, bread, yogurt, etc. today. My sister provides the turkey and cornbread dressing and dessert and lots of casseroles since she is the primo chef in the family, and retired, and enjoys it. I’ll bring my asparagus/mushroom/almond casserole and marinated goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy and butterbeans from Smith Farms. We have our assignments and that has always been mine. Usually I grow the butterbeans, but I let that go this year.

One thing that we WON’T do is go shopping. I’ve celebrated Buy Nothing Day for years now, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving. It blows my mind that anybody actually enjoys that frenzy. We stopped giving physical Christmas gifts a long time ago. We still give each other presents, but they are not tied to any one day or obligation. It happens by whim when we see something that we know that someone would enjoy. I strongly believe that is the way gift giving should work.

Frugality is much on my mind, as I spin toward the goal of early retirement. I never thought that there was a chance that I might be able to do it, until my financial advisor at work told me that if I could live on 11% less, I could. Well, I have cut out a lot of fat during the past twenty years, but there is still 11% that I can cut. One thing that I did was I started putting a lot more in my retirement account. So now I know that I can live on what’s left.

I just don’t know how people can rent these days. We are so lucky (and smart) that we bought our house in a decent neighborhood at a good price and paid the mortgage off. Sandy rented his condo out so much more cheaply than the surrounding apartments. He said that he always remembered that when we first moved to this street the landlord said that he wanted to provide young people with an affordable place to live. I really liked that guy and it sounded really noble but we also had leaks and a hole in the bathroom floor. It wasn’t totally altruistic – he didn’t want to fix the problems. Then he sold us the house really cheap! Still, rents are insane these days and I don’t think that I could afford to rent an apartment on my salary if I had to do it.

Yesterday I broke down and decided that I had to take some allergy meds. I had stopped them when I realized that they were triggering my restless leg syndrome. It has been rough. Sleep was weird for the past 24 hours. I slept well on Friday night and late on Saturday, took the 24 hour Allegra-D, then Sandy and I went out for lunch and checked out Jerry’s Artarama. I came back and sat down on the sofa looking at my Kindle, and each cat settled down on each side of me and purred. I was so content and relaxed, I didn’t have a headache, and I could breathe! Then out of the blue I got really sleepy and took a three hour nap. The kind where you lay your head down and don’t move for three hours. These two things totally screwed up my sleep last night, so I spent from 1-4 a.m. stretching my feet and legs and back and cracking my toes and knuckles. At some point I turned on the light and started reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and wow. That was hard to put down. So it was another late sleep this morning. I’ll try to make it through the day without meds and a nap until bedtime tonight.

Jerry’s Artarama, which I didn’t even know was in Greensboro, y’all. It’s in a part of town where I never go any more. I need a source of inexpensive framing supplies for my artwork that I plan to sell, so I joined it. I bought a cool little device that you pour acrylic paint into and it has a marker tip – I chose the inch wide one. I hope that it will work well with stencils. I also bought a cheap stand-up easel for Sandy, black gesso, and a clip on glass panel for a matted print that we had bought from Ireland back in 2012.

One thing that I learned from this trip and the Dick Blick catalog, is that I need to get away from the 8×8″ size work. I bought a lot of wood panels in that size and I can make those hang-able, but there isn’t much choice in pre-made mats or frames in that size. When I make my prints this winter, I’m going to pay attention and cut my papers to standard sizes before I print them. I want to mat or frame my collages and prints and paintings for sale, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. I’ll use a local frame shop for the ones that I want to keep or put in a show.

I spent in the wee hours of the morning thinking about what I’m going to do with this…thing…I made last weekend. And, as often happens, my inspiration took off when thinking about Lake Waccamaw. This is going to be the base for a real mixed media piece, with painting and leaf printed cloth and driftwood and maybe bones?

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I worked on this collage some last week and I like it. It will probably be part of a book, though.

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art, coffee pot posts, collage, Printmaking

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I’ll head to the studio after lunch, but in the meantime, I’ll do a catch-up post from this week. Which ain’t much, but this is my journal written to my future self to read.

Last Sunday afternoon when I went to the studio I decided to do much of the same thing – gelli plate printing – but on dictionary pages and with leaves that I found tucked into the dictionary. Thank you, past Laurie. It didn’t go as well as I expected, but the idea here is that I’m going to go to the studio at least weekly and do something, no matter what. Then I spilled a bottle of Golden raw sienna paint and so I spent the rest of my time painting everything in reach with raw sienna because I can’t stand to waste paint, especially Golden paint!

I pretty much ruined a lot of what I had done, but I picked up this monoprint from the mess on bookboard from an old book I had stripped down for parts and it reminds me of a weaver. There was one sheet with leaf prints that was pretty good.

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I’ve pronounced this collage finished before but since its inspiration began with a song and then the death of our parakeet Liz, I started feeling like Liz would not actually enjoy eating bugs in heaven and had the bright idea of gluing down pearled barley over the bugs at the bottom. Well, that did not work out at all. So I scratched off the pearled barley and painted acrylic glass bead gel over the bugs to blur them out with something sparkly. I’m happy with it and I’m leaving it alone now.

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Man, my brain and body this week – hoo boy. It’s hard for me to even write this post. I typed it’s when I meant its previously and that is one of my biggest grammar annoyances. I hope that I continue to catch them all. Yesterday when I went to the studio I had a persistent headache just bad enough to keep me from thinking clearly so I spent a couple of hours just painting bookboard and wooden panels for later use. I’m not sure what I’ll do later today.

I came home on Wednesday afternoon so exhausted that I lay down and took a three hour nap, got up for three hours, and then slept hard for another eight hours. When I got up for work I was STILL fatigued so I called in sick and got a covid test that afternoon. It was negative, as I expected because I am pretty feckin careful, but my co-workers encouraged me to get it. These allergies are getting to me and I know that I should go get a blood panel done soon. However, it’s not that unusual for me for my battery to suddenly run out of juice and have to recharge for a day or so. I have to get a new doctor soon because my doctor is retiring and I dread that. So far I feel fine today and I have definitely had enough sleep for once.

We went to the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market yesterday morning for the first time in a long time. I was able to snag a jar of marinated goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy, which is usually one of my contributions to Thanksgiving weekend if I can get it. I bought some bath salts from Carol at Mimi’s Soaps because it is cool enough for me to enjoy my old clawfoot tub again, and I bought shelled butterbeans and zucchini from Smith Farms, and a pound of jumbo shrimp from whats-his-name – damn, I cannot remember. Then I went to Deep Roots twice because I forgot all I needed the first time. We had our favorite dish last night – shrimp with broccoli and onions and garlic and basil with a light cream/feta/parmesan sauce over fettucine. We have bought a ton of food in the past two weeks so I hope that we are stocked for a while.

I was talking to Jim (another artist in the print co-op) about my past local food activism yesterday and it reminded me that even though in the two big local battles I was on the winning side, I am very glad to let that go and concentrate on art now. It is interesting watching the global food supply bottlenecks – which prove the point that local foodies were trying to make all along. We need to strengthen our local food systems here and all over the world instead of relying on global trade for products that we could make here. (I just wish we could produce coffee here.)

It’s noon, time to quit writing, although I have more to say later.

coffee pot posts, collage, Mixed media art, Printmaking

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I stayed up way too late last night. In my defense, I discovered that you can borrow e-books from Internet Archive for one hour at a time. I’m not talking about just public domain books – library books from all over. Every now and then I shoot them a few dollars as a donation because what they do is incredibly valuable for the planet.

After I blogged yesterday I went to the print studio and played with printing on old book pages on the gelli plate. The best paper was from a 1954 paperback on how to sight read music. After I had starting printing on it, I realized that it was a really good reference for learning (re-learning) to read music, and I regretted tearing it apart a little. It’s astounding how little I retained about reading music from all my younger years of piano and percussion and saxophone lessons, but honestly, I never had a knack for it. Can’t say that I didn’t try, though! I saved a page on identifying the notes on the page and kept on printing. We have an electric piano among the many unused musical instruments in our house that my husband has collected.

I took photos at the end of my session, which wasn’t very long because I had other things to do, such as jumping off the dead battery in the Honda and a trip to Costco, which was kind of a nightmare. I have only been there once during the pandemic, and the number of people who whipped off their masks or wore them under their noses or on their chins was shocking to me. You could see the smirk on the young guy’s face in front of me in line. He had on a t-shirt with an upside down flag declaring his love for God, country, family, and freedom and a cross around his neck. It was more offensive than I am describing. I tried to stay back from him, although the woman with him was masked and friendly. It was crowded. We bought a lot of food for the pantry and the freezer, as we finally worked through the last bit of hoarded food from last year.

They had a good deal on socks so I bought two packs and I’m taking some down to the Interactive Resource Center.  Since I have become more frugal than usual these days, although not to the point where I’m shopping at Dollar General or Dollar Tree for food, I’ve been thinking about the needs of women who are really poor.  Spartan Pantry is right around the corner and it serves the students and staff of UNCG. (Isn’t it sad that UNCG staff is included in this distribution center? You’d like to think that we would all earn a living wage.)  So new underwear, socks, deodorant, baby wipes, menstrual supplies…I’m trying to think of things that people need but they have a hard time finding at donation centers. Sandy and I were talking about how we didn’t know how people made it with rents being so high. Our house payments were less than most people’s rent these days.

Anyway, here are photos of the monoprints I made yesterday.  I will keep a couple as is and use the others for backgrounds or collage fodder. I like the “Gospel Pearls” page and a couple more of the music pages. The one that is smaller and looks solid is a page from a 1894 book on agriculture. It was interesting to see how differently it took the paint than the others. It was more fragile, too.

Most of the stencils I used were bought from Mary Beth Shaw at Stencil Girl. Her stencils are high quality and she provides so many free videos on You Tube for instruction and inspiration. She is also a delight, seriously.

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I also have a few little collages on hand down there to work on as the inspiration hits. I didn’t like these much so they are works in progress. As some point I plan to use Seth Apter’s embossing powders on them, but since this studio doesn’t have a ventilation system or windows that will open I will bring them back home for that. I think that I’m done with the one on the top right.

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coffee pot posts

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This is my second post this morning, and I am just putting off going to the studio until after my coffee and maybe lunch here, maybe a cup of soup at Cafe Europa, which is in the same building. I miss going to the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, but I crave my relaxed sleeping late Saturday mornings more. Sometimes it seems like this obsession over sleep is taking over my life. This afternoon and/or tomorrow afternoon I think that I’m going to play with monoprinting and stencils on my gelli plate. Just something to get me going that is fun and not intimidating. I’ll try to remember to take photos at the studio.

Work has been dull but the stress has been down. My depression/anxiety has been better. We still haven’t heard about where the university budget cuts will be and the state legislature has not passed a budget yet. The Democrat governor and the GOP legislature are haggling over state employee and teacher raises, which is infuriating considering that we haven’t had a raise in three years and the last one was small. It would be nice, since there is a budget SURPLUS, if they chose a raise that keeps up with inflation instead of tax cuts, but that is unlikely. I honestly would support a strike if that happened. It’s amazing that anyone chooses to be a teacher in North Carolina any more.

I’m pretty disgusted with both major parties, as usual. At least Biden is attempting to do the right thing with vaccination mandates.

It’s funny that I had an ugly comment a while back – which you won’t see because I deleted it immediately because I won’t be insulted or lectured about what I write about on my own blog – that criticized my “love for Biden” and my political rants. Boy, if I wrote even one tenth of the rants that are in my head on this blog nobody from either party would ever read it again! I like Obama’s and Biden’s personalities, and some of their policies, but I left the Democrats during their administration. As for the part about me being a Dudeist priestess: Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. LOL

Greensboro lost a friend to many this week with the passing of Brooke Neal. She was a “character” and an artist and lived an incredible life. I knew her mainly on Facebook. We had mutual friends and I last talked to her at our artist group gathering a couple of months ago. Whatever got her worked fast. I didn’t even know she was in hospice. Her final comment to me on Facebook was “Retire.” Her friends said that she seemed at peace with dying.

The way things are going I’ve been thinking a lot more about retiring to Portugal, and our trip to see it in May. As the planning stands now, everything but getting to Boston and back is arranged and mostly paid for. We’d need to pay for train and bus tickets and meals and any tours and admission fees, but that is mostly it, and I can save up for that. The itinerary is Boston-Dublin-Lisbon-Porto-Evora-Tavira-Sevilla-Tavira-Lisbon-Dublin-Boston. (Dublin is just a stopover both ways, and Sevilla, Spain is a side trip for one night.) We have to leave from Boston because my original tickets were Southwest to Boston, then Aer Lingus to Dublin in June, 2020. This trip has gone through several changes since then! Hopefully I can use all the voucher points from my Southwest canceled flights to cover the flight from RDU to Boston and back, but the way they have been canceling flights lately it makes me a bit anxious.

Anyway, the green tomatoes and the peppers and basil have been picked, and winter is coming at last. I can’t say that I’m sorry. Daylight Savings Time ends tomorrow, and I wish that it would never come back. My body never adjusted from the change in spring! Here’s an article about its history and present.

art, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, pinhole photography, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

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^^^Wouldn’t this make an interesting tapestry?

Finally, fall temperatures. We sat on the front porch yesterday morning, barefoot in t-shirts and shorts. This morning is a delicious 51 degrees F.

Last Saturday, Sandy and I went to the West Point on the Eno Park in Durham to take a pinhole camera workshop given by Durham Parks & Recreation. This is something that we plan to keep up and we need to get the supplies and set up a darkroom. Here they are hanging to dry and my best print.

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I am afraid of jinxing this, but I will go ahead and say it. My depression has lifted. My hope always is that it will be for good, but let’s just say that I hope it lasts a long long time. It is such a wonder the few times this has happened in my life that I am flabbergasted. This is how normal feels? I like it very much.

My therapist and I think that it could be due to the large amounts of Vitamin D that I started taking every day in mid-August. When I went to the orthopedic clinic for the injured bones in my foot, they put me on 5,000 mg per day, and said that I could stay on that dose with no worries. I had been taking 1,000 mg per day. So if you are struggling and you are already trying other things without success, you might try upping your Vitamin D. I hope that it is this simple for me. She had suggested transcranial magnetic stimulation because my depression was so chronic, but I started feeling so much better right around the time that she suggested it that I never pursued it. I am not quitting my anti-depressant though.

And if I could only sleep when my body needs sleep, my physical and mental health would be much, much better. During the week, I still struggle. On the weekend when I can get up when my body says it’s time, I feel like a champ. This is the main reason I look forward to retirement.

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I had the energy last Sunday and yesterday to really go after the mess that we live in. Sandy and I cleaned floors. SO. MUCH. CAT. HAIR. It amazes me that we have a mouse problem. We cleaned up the stack of boxes and old mail meant to be burned next to the woodstove that you got an eyeful of when you stepped in the front door, and burned the mail outside in the fire pit. There is still some work to be done in that area. There is lots of dust and since I have stopped taking anti-histamines and Sandy’s cough is so bad we really have to do better for our health’s sake. This house will be 100 years old next year and it generates its own dirt.

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Yesterday, I started seriously deep cleaning the kitchen, beyond washing dishes and wiping counters. I’m getting rid of a few items, and reorganizing some. For example I cleaned my coffee/tea/bar corner thoroughly, washed everything there, reappointed the vintage metal bread bin that I used to keep art supplies in to holding all the teas that we’ve gathered and been given, and filled the wooden shelves that my Daddy made for me with most of our small pottery cup collection instead of the tea. I also cleaned the shelves where the rest of the pottery plates and bowls and glasses and tumblers are. It felt so good to get all this cleaned up. I’m going to tackle the fridge, microwave, other counters, and food shelves today.

Daddy had just taken up woodworking before he got terminally ill with colon cancer. He made this shelf for me to display my glass paperweight collection. If I ever have to choose just a few things to take with me out of this house, this will always be one of them.

Hopefully this energy will transfer over to my art and garden at some point. One thing I regret is that in my cleaning frenzy I forgot to take my weavings to the frame shop.

Sandy and I finished watching The Kominsky Method and we loved it. I stretched it out as long as I could because I’m not a binger. When I enjoy something, I want it to last! Last night we watched Nomadland in absolute awe of its strange beauty and poignancy. I want to read that book now.

Speaking of books, I finished Elantris by Brandon Sanderson this week, and liked it a lot although I found it to be a little too frantic in action. The world and characters he created were fascinating. I plan to check out more of his books. Then I began Broken by Jenny Lawson, which is this great combination of hilarity and high speed nuttiness and anger and serious talk about her mental health and compassion.

My achilles tendinitis is back, so I bought a soft foot splint that I wore to bed last night. It was pretty comfortable, and once I get used to it and stop waking up to wonder what is on my foot it should help. I want to put off getting another steroid shot as long as possible. I learned with my wrist tendinitis that the doctors will only do the steroid shots a few times. The shot that he gave me in my heel did not hurt at all, which surprised me.

I also finally replaced my bras. After going so long hardly wearing a bra at all, it was tough to wear those worn out bras again, but I hate bra shopping almost as much as swimsuit shopping. I ordered them online through Kohls so I wouldn’t have to go in the store, and the shipment circled around between Charlotte and Virginia for over two weeks. Finally the routing was straightened out and I found them at my door early this morning. On a Sunday. Shipping is so weird these days. I also treated myself to a tunic and beret from Gudrun Sjoden and three more basic shirts. I have not bought any new clothing in so long, and I need to get rid of a lot of what I have that is worn out and stained. When you have a rack like mine it tends to catch a lot of drips.

Good news: we finally got our tax refund from 2019. It took a year and a half from the time we mailed it. We will never mail another tax return if we can at all help it. I immediately called the credit union for the payoff on the home equity loan and paid off the solar panels. Most of the refund was the tax credit we had been waiting on. I am totally debt-free at the moment!

coffee pot posts, Food activism, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

It’s a beautiful fall morning, at last. Cool, but mild enough to wear a t-shirt and leggings on the front porch. I haven’t done a real coffee pot post in a while from here, because lately I was either elsewhere with other people, getting ready to go elsewhere, coming back from elsewhere, or just sleeping late because I could.

My next door neighbor just turned off his leaf blower, which he seems to have a love for. I plan to sweep the leaves off the sidewalk and rake the others into mulch piles or to take to the compost bin today. I don’t see the need to use electricity or gas for this task, but some people love their gadgets. There’s not a single leaf in his yard. Despite this, I do love these neighbors.  I know that they are good people who will help in a heartbeat if they see that someone needs it. We are so lucky to have them!

They are much better than the former out-of-state slumlord next door, who had to have a warning from the city before doing anything to their yard. Now that yard is clean as a whistle and there is a contract pending sticker on a real estate sign there. That house has sold four times in the 20 years since we sold it and it needs a lot of work. I hope that the new owner is a better neighbor than the last, who seemed to think that they could just collect rent without doing anything else.

My yard guy hasn’t been here in a while, and that’s okay. Last weekend he texted me to say that he was coming by Monday but he and his family had had covid. I counted the days since the date he said he had tested positive and then told him to wait since we were at the beach. We were really on the way home, but I didn’t want to fuss at him.

It’s not just the Trumpies who are refusing the vaccination. There are plenty of others who reject vaccines for “natural health” reasons. It’s very frustrating. I don’t know if he is one of these or not but I suspect so.

A lot of people tend to lump the anti-GMO folks and the anti-vaxxers together as anti-science fools, but as you know if you’ve read my blog for a long time, that is a generalization that is too simplistic. I oppose agricultural GMOs for the egregious and cynical power abuses from the corporations who developed them. I also know that these crops are developed to sustain high amounts of herbicides, which weeds adapt to and develop more robust strains of weeds so you need a more powerful herbicide, which the corporation also sells, and so on and so on. Soil microbes are important – we can’t keep killing them with more chemicals to fix problems that we created. We have to have healthy soil and water to survive.

As far as health reasons, I’m not as concerned about the actual genetically modified food technology as I am that the soil and food has been doused in poison. I have a niece who is a biotechnology scientist who is looking for cures to diseases. Biotech is not evil in itself. It’s the way it is used. If someone comes up with a beneficial biotech crop that doesn’t ruin the soil and water, and is freely available to the farmers without legal caveats, then I’m all for it.

Anyway, I am pro-science, just not pro-corporation lust for profit that puts scientific benefits beyond the accessibility of the people.

Technology seems to be a hassle in general, lately. For instance, I had to rewrite part of this post because it just went haywire for some reason. Now I’m being told I am offline when I am not. Facebook closed down for hours earlier this week, and although I am not so addicted to Facebook that it bothered me, I noticed it because I was trying to post an announcement on our work FB page. I turned over the TWS Facebook and Instagram accounts to someone else several months ago, and with the help of her son, she was able to figure out why some things were not working. It is much more complicated than it needs to be. Why? I’m glad to be letting go of some of this, but I have some work tech on the horizon that will fill in the gaps quickly. Retirement looks better to me every day, although I will have to come up with a schedule for most of my days so that I can turn my attention to art making instead of laying in bed reading and playing games.

Speaking of reading, I finished “Back When We Were Grownups” which was a typical Anne Tyler book. Comfort reading, nothing especially new if you have read Anne Tyler. I began “Elantris” by Brandon Sanderson and I’ve had a hard time putting it down. I look forward to reading more by him. Next on the list is “Broken” by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), which a friend lent to me. My therapist has suggested that I try transcranial magnetic stimulation, and Jenny has written about her experience. I don’t think that I’m going to do this yet since my depression is in regression right now.

I have other blog posts to write, but it felt good just to write whatever came into my head for a while this morning. Time to do some other stuff!

coffee pot posts

Catching up

I’m doing fine – I just haven’t felt like writing. Maybe it’s because I’ve had more time than usual with friends, so I’ve done a LOT of talking, so that’s a good thing, I guess.

I have more photos from the lake from a couple of weeks ago and a whole new post about going to the beach and making some new friends, so I’ll edit those photos and post separate posts.

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^^^From Yum Yum, a hot dog and ice cream institution on UNCG’s campus.

We got out a bit and visited a hemp store in downtown Greensboro, where we bought several kinds of Delta 8 and have been sampling them since. It affects us in different ways. I wanted something to help me sleep. Sandy wanted to get high, legally. The edibles have been a disappointment for him – he seems to thoroughly metabolize the gummies and tincture. He bought a couple of big “joints” which do the trick but they are much too harsh on his lungs, which are compromised from his polymyositis. I don’t want to smoke anything at all and these stink up the house just like pot – I HATE THAT SMELL.  So that’s out. The edibles make me high and really all I want to do is go to sleep. I will try lower doses. I am amazed that this is legal in North Carolina.

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The same night we ate out on the patio at the Bourbon Bowl, with a rare mixed drink for Sandy. The motto “Eat Drink Roll” should have clued me in, but I guess I must have had sushi on my mind. Anyway, it turns out that there are six bowling lanes in the back. Next time I go I will sit at the bar, order a White Russian, and be on the lookout for Sam Elliott.

Food and drinks are so expensive now that even if we didn’t have to worry about getting sick we can’t afford to go out much. We’ve eaten on the patio at Cafe Europa a couple of times.

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^^^Our friend William Hicks was playing music at a private party outside a cool shop next door.

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Good news about my brother-in-law. His scan last week showed that the chemo is working to greatly reduce his abdominal tumors and the cancer has not spread. The doctors said that this treatment was only effective 15% of the time on this kind of cancer, so we had been braced for bad news.

I came to a firm decision to retire at 62 unless something significant changes. I don’t need a lot to live on, and my financial advisor at work says that it is doable. In anticipation of this, I started putting more into my Roth IRA so that I can both save for this goal and see if I can live on less. I am just too burnt out to continue here much longer. I may get a part time or temp job after I retire. My therapist agrees that it is a good decision. Sandy is talking about moving to Portugal again. We are definitely traveling to Portugal in May – that money is mostly spent.

And Sandy finally closed on selling the condo. He sold it cheap, as is, but at least it is done. He invested the money into his retirement account. I really believe that we will be fine. He also spent a little over $2000 in repairs on the 2007 Volvo. Turned out that it needed some major work, but we agreed that it would be cheaper to do the work than to make car payments, and we really do like the car.

coffee pot posts, critters

Labor Day morning – the porch

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The snail is my souvenir from the gift shop at Trerice from our trip to Cornwall in 2017.

Pablocito being allowed to occupy the top bunk on the cat tree is a new development. Just the other day there was fur flying on the porch over it, and he did not seem to be winning.

I’ve had a good weekend, and almost finished painting the framework on the porch. According to my Facebook memories, I began this on Labor Day last year so today is a good day to finish it up. Sandy and I worked on purging and cleaning the laundry/junk/catbox room yesterday. I hope to fill up the garbage can to put on the curb on Thursday.

There’s petrichor in the air.

I used tomatoes and peppers from the container garden in my spaghetti sauce last night.

I didn’t wake up with a headache this morning.

I got a good solid night’s sleep last night.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I’ve been dealing with headaches every freaking morning this week, and today was no exception. I’m glad today was a day off because I don’t know if I would have made it to work. Wednesday morning I stayed home sick, but the other mornings I’ve managed to push through. When I get there, I am double masked except in my office with the door shut, which is where I stay 99% of the time. Not a great way to live and work, but it’s doable. It’s pure hell on my depression, though. I’m pretty sure that the headaches are my normal seasonal allergies, although stress and anxiety and depression probably contribute a lot.

Let’s see…news from this week. Work has been busy with spring semester schedule prep and entry. Hurricane Ida brought us some breezes and spittle and only one good rain storm, of  which we actually need more. It surprise pounded the northeast after traveling overland and the flooding and death toll is shocking. We took advantage of the cooling weather and ate on the patio at Cafe Europa on Tuesday evening. I’m worried that they are not going to make it. There was hardly anybody there. On Thursday evening we went over to Oden and ate mediocre food from the food truck while listening to great jazz from the music students at UNCG in their outside beer garden. So I have been out.

Last night, though, I was so depressed that I couldn’t eat or do anything. I just can’t get up the energy or motivation for anything. I spent some time on the porch reading the local paper from the past few days, played some games on my Kindle, then laid in bed trying to go to sleep. When that failed, I picked up the book “Elantris” and began it, then wandered out to the living room where Sandy was watching the old show “Stargate.” He was shocked that I hadn’t seen the movie so we watched half of that. I have to say that the young James Spader is awfully cute in that movie.

Of course, the legal events in Texas have been awful and I don’t know any women friends who are not horrified. The young people need to step up as much as they are able – our generation is getting older and we have to pass the torch to you.  Just, please, do it masked.

Depression is not sadness, it is an illness. Depression can include a lot of emotions, but mostly for me it expresses itself as a lack of happiness or motivation or hope for the future. You don’t understand it until you’ve experienced it. “Flat” is a good description. Activities or things that normally bring you joy don’t do it for you anymore. When people suggest that you get outside and garden, or walk, or do almost anything that you used to enjoy, it is difficult to impossible to motivate yourself to do it.

The fact that I am blogging is a good thing.

Sandy has expressed an interest in learning how to tie-dye, so I hauled out my box of dyes this morning. I might be playing with dyes this weekend on the porch. It’s been a while since I used Procion dyes so I’ll need to read up a bit on it. I figure I can use up a bunch of my old clothes that I’ve hoarded for dye experimentation, although his motivation is to learn a skill that he can make money at. My impulse is to dye some papers and scraps with natural dyes, but I definitely won’t let any dyepot leftovers go to waste.

My other two goals for this weekend, which take priority, is to finish the lake tapestry, which is almost there – it’s been cut off and the warp ends mainly twisted and stitched to the back. I promised myself not to post any more photos until this is done. Sandy did a drum roll when I cut it off the loom.

The other is to clean the rails on this porch and finish painting them. There’s not much left to go on this project either.

I think that it will make me feel better to actually accomplish a couple of things that have been on my to do list for a long time.

Next weekend I’ll probably check out the North Carolina Folk Festival downtown, then drive down to Lake Waccamaw and spend a week down there visiting family and having a personal retreat. I’ll have a couple of empty small tapestry looms to play with. On the last weekend I’m there, an old friend from my childhood and young adult years is going to join me. We were roommates off and on for a while and we were maid/matrons of honor at each other’s weddings. I expect that will bring my spirits up – gosh, I hope so. This blah feeling really sucks.

coffee pot posts

Sunday morning coffee pot post

The heat and humidity has finally arrived big time in North Carolina. We wait anxiously for the news of Hurricane Ida on the Gulf Coast. So many catastrophes are in motion.

I got out and did a bit of socializing this weekend. It made me nervous to do it, but I did it, because if I don’t, I create the danger of becoming agoraphobic again. Preventing it when you see the warning signs is much easier than getting it, believe me. My brain convinces me that it just feels more comfortable to stay at home, nothing to see here, move along. It’s tough when there really is danger out there that you can’t control other than masking and getting vaccinated.

This time I went to a department party outside at Oden late Friday afternoon, where we were drinking and eating so no masks. Then Sandy and I drove to Cedar Grove on Saturday afternoon and visited some friends. We spent some time inside and outside. They have a beautiful home on a lake, but they are both in precarious health situations, and I worry about unknowingly taking Co-vid 19 into their home. We didn’t wear masks because we are all vaccinated and careful.

Apparently there are a lot more breakthrough cases than reported.

When the state of the world is so fucked up that you hardly know where to turn your awareness to next, it’s pretty easy to get agoraphobic. Especially when we are lucky to have a home in a good neighborhood with power and clean water and comfy furniture and it’s paid off.

Today, however, I am staying home. The heat index is around 106 today, and there is a food truck festival downtown where a friend’s band is playing. Sandy wants to go. I am not going. Sorry, it is too damn hot.

Sandy now says that he doesn’t want to move overseas, but he wants to travel. This is disappointing, but it may be my reality.

I spent some time on Google maps and Rome2Rio and AirBNB and Booking.com this past week and it would be so tempting to go ahead and make all the reservations and buy all the travel tickets and tours but that would be too soon. I did jump on a couple of reservations that were inexpensive and cancellable that I was afraid might get away. People are making a lot of reservations for next year already.

I found a 19th century apartment in the old part of Tavira on the southern coast that I booked for five nights. It was $65 per night, plus the AirBNB service and cleaning fees, so I ended up paying less than $500 per night for a large apartment overlooking the river and town full of antiques with rave reviews. The only sticking point may be the two flights of stairs, but I showed the photos to Sandy and he said to go for it as long as we can cancel it.

Then I found a super cheap apartment near the river and downtown Porto that had excellent reviews for $34 per night plus fees, so I nabbed it for two nights.

The plan is that we’ll spend five nights in Lisbon, five nights in Porto and the north/central area, then five nights in the south. We spend the last night in Lisbon to be near the airport, then a short stay in a Dublin airport hotel to catch a nap on a short layover home. We might take a bus into Seville, Spain for one night while we are in the south. It’s not far from Tavira. From experience I suspect that we will have to take a day of rest every few days, so I’ve tried to look for places with good views.

Now I’m going to do some house cleaning and I should have some art to show in the next few days. My neighbor across the street who is a very successful painter sounds enthusiastic about including me in his next open studio sale, so I mostly need to get a few pieces finished and display ready or ready to hang. That is the hardest part – finishing! I especially tend to never finish a collage. All I have to do is drop some potential piece of material somewhere near a “finished” piece and off I go again. I have the Seth Apter embossing powders to play with now, too.

My friends in Cedar Grove gave us a lot of sweet grape tomatoes so I need to put most of them in the dehydrator. This is the first year in a long time that I have not had volunteer cherry tomatoes, and so I only bought one plant expecting the volunteers. These dehydrated tomatoes are so good in the winter when they add a big punch of flavor to sauces, soups, and chili.