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

Saturday morning coffee pot post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

art, Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I am spending a few minutes at a time tying on a new warp. Maybe I will get these curtains finished before the end of the year!

Looking back to yesterday. I did garden clean up, threw down some fertilizer, and put in a small area to plant peas with metal hoops and the screen fabric I saved from when we took down the gazebo roof and screening. Inside I planted Zephyr squash, tromboncino squash, and some kind of cucumber seed that I got at a seed swap and no longer know what it is. One luffa gourd seed. Gosh, maybe I should be crazy and plant two, ya think? They might come in handier than I expect one day.

One thing about being a papermaker is that I can always make my own damn toilet paper, thank you very much.

Since I will be doing a lot of collage, I inventoried and found that the only thing I am short on is PVA glue so I ordered that from Amazon. As long as I was doing that I ordered some Equal Exchange hot cocoa mix and coffee beans.

My main goal today is to get some more yard/garden work done, and prepare for some online classes. I need some easy projects to pick up between phone calls and emails and breaks from work that don’t require a lot of brain power too, so I’ll put together some stitching projects.

I have a Coronavirus Chronicles art journal going, from a book I made in a class with Traci Bunkers eleven years ago. I have a bunch of postcard sized junk mail and I’m going to sand and gesso them for a junk mail journal and collage.

I got out the Nature Journal I did in Roxanne Stout’s Mixed Media Nature Journaling class from Art-is-You Petaluma 2014 and found that it is mostly done as a photo and sketch album of the trip, with many photos from Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California. I can do backgrounds for these pages since many of the photos are barely attached and sew in the photos. Fun!

Roxanne is offering this workshop free online (without the trip to Cornerstone Gardens, of course) on her website under workshops. Check out all her workshops. I love her style.

Other free art stuff: as always, Jude Hill’s web site is a treasure box. Please send her a donation.

Karen Abend is offering a free workshop called Sketchbook Revival that begins on Wednesday.

Many art communities are revving up on Facebook. Seth Apter and Crystal Neubauer are two that I love for collage and mixed media. Oh gosh, I cannot possibly name all the inspiring artists on the web and Facebook.

Of course there are literally thousands of online classes available for a fee. Support your artist teacher community at a time when they are reeling from their workshops being canceled. Personally, I don’t like learning through video for some reason. I don’t even like watching movies and TV that much for very long. I much prefer books. But I have taken quite a few classes online and I’ve learned a lot and had some fun. I just take a whole lot longer to finish them.

My next-door neighbors got home last night from Thailand. Whew! I was worried about them, and I still am considering that they just flew halfway across the world in airplanes. It’s good to have a child growing up on the street again.

Here is Pablocito to say that every little thing is gonna be all right.

augggghhhh, Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Saturday morning coffee pot post

It hasn’t sunk in yet, else I might be curled up in the bed with a panic attack. It occurred to me that I’d best ration out my Xanax for the much tougher times to come. We are probably prepared more than many people but both of us, Sandy especially, are at risk and his way of coping tends toward denial. Neither of us are particularly nurturing types either. He came from a childhood of neglect and when he gets sick he hides away. Since that is how he handles his own sickness, he assumes that when I am sick or hurt I want to be left alone. I am more nurturing than that since I was cared for as a child and I have the background to know what to do for someone, but I am selfish with my energy. We might have to do better for each other.

My posts will probably not be very entertaining and more than likely be quite whiny for some time while I adjust to the new reality. I will continue to make most of them public anyway.

Wednesday I got the email saying that the art retreat in Ireland has been rescheduled for next June, at the same time as the Focus on Book Arts Conference. So there has been no offer of a refund. I understand that it is wrecking small businesses everywhere, but I don’t know what to do. One of my Irish friends sent me a link to an Irish government web site that plainly says that I am entitled to a refund, but I will wait a little longer before deciding whether to ask for one. My travel insurance will not cover the expense.

I haven’t canceled any of my hotel rooms or my flight. Boy, I hate to give up that good deal on the flight – $541 RT to Dublin. It seems probable that I won’t have a choice since it is predicted now to go on for months instead of weeks.

There is also the matter of the Handweavers Guild of America conference in late July. I have paid for that in advance and have two workshops booked. I have reservations but not prepaid for the hotel.

The other two workshops are with Leslie Marsh at her studio in Topsail Beach, one in mid May and one at the beginning of August. They would be small groups, but I could see good reasons for Leslie to cancel. Some beaches are closing to non-residents too – it is easy for N.C. islands to restrict cars because most have to be reached by bridge or ferry.

The toughest part of this has been that I have obsessively focused on these trips, especially to Ireland, place of my heart, in order to cope with the election year and climate change and heartless actions of our government. Now most of that is stripped away and I am vulnerable to some massive hurting.

I am definitely trying to focus on the positive aspects of where I live and how Sandy and I are prepared. It is helping a lot. For example, I am sitting on my screened front porch with my cats, listening to the birds sing and the Yoshina cherry trees are in full bloom. My neighbors are the kind that help each other and I am watching them do so across the street as I type. We are close to good hospitals, although they are already getting overwhelmed. My new next door neighbor, Datus, is here and his wife Katie and their child are flying back from Bangkok today where she has been working. I was worried about them all getting back here. This is a wonderful street to live on.

Yesterday I planted lettuce, carrots, radishes, and parsley since my parsley is on its second year. There is too much mint growing, of course, but I am stocked for tea! Feverfew is self-seeding and there are a couple of asparagus spears coming up. I meant to plant more this winter, oh well. The raspberry cane is looking healthy. Roma and Brandywine tomato seedlings are poking up their heads under the grow light, and so is bright calendula. Other seeds planted under the grow light are arnica, coreopsis, and a huge variety of peppers. Enough to share. My eucalyptus tree made it through the winter this time. I am well set for herbs and medicinal plants. I have walking onions from last year and a few more leeks.

The tough part is that my garden space is a restaurant for critters. I haven’t seen the groundhog family yet, but that doesn’t mean they are not around. A big rabbit who probably has a family is here, whoa, there he goes as I type this, but in my experience they prefer to eat the violets in the yard. I have the little greenhouse for the heat loving plants and will see what I can do for critter protection with wire fencing cages and hoops.

Yesterday I pulled up eight big leeks and one big green elephant garlic, washed and sliced them, cooked them, and put them in small containers in the freezer. Earlier this week I cooked rice, chicken, onion, garlic, beef, carrots, and potatoes in a variety of combinations and put those in small containers in the freezer. The idea is that we can make quick soups or other concoctions in the microwave if neither of us feels well, and it won’t be the same thing every time.

To think that I almost recycled all those Talenti containers that I saved! For once my hoarding was a good thing. (However, they are NOT microwavable.)

They are still hosting food trucks at Oden Brewing across the railroad tracks so we got dinner from the Succotash Durham truck (SHRIMP PLATES, y’all) and take-out beer from the outside window. Expensive, but we are supporting local businesses while we can and the “crowlers” are 19.2 oz. each.

Chewy shipped another bag of prescription cat food to us yesterday. I figure that Diego will still have his dental surgery on Tuesday, unless we hear otherwise. Sandy is rightly concerned about the cat litter situation but I think that we have enough for two weeks if he scoops it out and doesn’t dump it all out. He stocked up on bird seed earlier this week. I don’t want him to go to the stores right now, although I can’t stop him if he is stubborn about it.

Fortunately he bought a large pack of sanitizer wipes for his CPAP machine and I had stocked up on rubbing alcohol a while back. We have healthy aloe plants.

I am grateful we do not have children or grandchildren or parents to care for. I’m not sure that I could do it. Thank God Sandy is on social security and Medicare now.

I do have to work in the middle of all this. But I am so lucky that I will have a job and that I can do it in isolation from home. I have never been so thankful for having a good job as I am now. It will give me something beyond survival to focus on.

I am glad I wrote all this. I feel better now. I really am where I need to be.

There is a plethora of free art workshops to do online now. I hope that somewhere in the middle of preparing my garden and working from home I will have something arty to share tomorrow and next week.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Sunday morning coffee post

Yesterday and today I woke up very late. Yesterday I think that I was just mentally exhausted. Then last night I didn’t get to sleep until after 2 a.m. despite taking a xanax. Once I do get to sleep, I have all my typical anxiety dreams.

We went to the Greensboro Curb Farmers’ Market late yesterday morning. They probably had about half of the vendors and they were set up outside in the parking lot. The leadership of the market is handling this beautifully. They were spread out and customers were asked to only pick up items they intended to buy. There was a handwashing and sanitizing station set up outside. The weather was perfect and apparently they had great sales. By the time we got there many vendors had sold out and the crowds were gone. We still got the things that we went there for, mainly soap from my friend Carol (Mimi’s Soaps). Sandy snagged one of the last two tomatoes. I bought baba ganoush from Anna and some candied walnuts for a good fruit salad. It is important to support the small vendors and businesses right now – they may not be able to set up later, for all we know. Right now, they are encouraging the vendors to set up again next week, because the business is great.

Then we stopped by Deep Roots Market, and I have never seen it so crowded. The employees were working hard to get the shelves replenished. Hats off to Nicole Villano, the manager. There was still mostly everything that I normally buy on the shelves, but, yes, the toilet paper was gone. I am so glad that we bought a huge package of it about three weeks ago at Costco, before this panic began. Normally I say that we don’t have room, but occasionally I give in and so we still have enough to last us a few weeks. If not, I have a bathtub with a hand sprayer next to the toilet, and we have plenty of old towels to cut up for rags.

I was ready to pack it in for social distancing at this point but there was an Irish duo named Jig Street playing at Oden Brewing from 2-4, the new place just across the railroad at the end of our street. We decided to check it out and they had outdoor seating and the garage style doors thrown open. The listeners were able to spread out and the air was fresh, so we enjoyed them. It is too bad that they aren’t local because I would follow them around here. We enjoyed swapping Ireland travel stories with one of the musician’s grandfather.

It gave me an excuse to wear this t-shirt that I bought at the Dublin airport in 2017. It’s the first time I’ve worn it in public, but there could not be a better occasion than early St. Pat’s celebration and pandemic combined.

We enjoyed it so much that we said that we would go back for the second band at 7:30 but by that time I got with the program and decided we needed to pack it in. Sandy is at risk for his age and underlying health issues, and my dry cough from my allergies is scaring the hell out of everybody.

Last night I cooked. I sauteed onions and celery and garlic and boiled chicken tenders and froze different combinations of them in small containers for the freezer. I cooked brown rice and a pot of beef, carrot, onion, potato, and garlic soup with mushroom broth. Today I am baking a turkey tenderloin roll (???) that I picked up at a local grocery store when I was searching for chicken. I will make turkey tetrazinni and freeze some for sandwiches later. Normally I don’t buy meat or poultry that is processed into unusual shapes and/or isn’t verified humanely raised, but this time I made an exception since it appeared that there was also a run on chicken. I was able to find chicken at Deep Roots later, though.

This is a situation which we were almost prepared for. We have been backstocking our pantry items since Twitler was elected, but recently we have been rotating the oldest items out (eating them) and I had not replaced a lot of them. When Jeanne’s husband got sick with Covid-19 at the end of February, I started taking it seriously before most people did. I hustled to get the pantry restocked, my beloved La Croix water piled up (it still probably won’t be enough, I am addicted), bottled orange juice, the freezer full of meat and cheese, and my prescriptions filled. Just before my insurance announced that it would pay for refills early, I went ahead and paid for an extra 90 days of my anti-depressant, since I really cannot go without that. The generic was not that expensive, surprisingly. We already had rubbing alcohol, and pain and cold medications on hand.

Last week I paid for travel insurance on the non-refundable expenses of my Ireland trip, which were considerable and I had to wire transfer the money from my saving account. At the time I thought, okay, I’m lending money to myself and I will pay myself back as if I was paying off my credit card. In the end it will save me money. Now I wish that it could have been put on my credit card. I could not get the “covered for any reason” insurance but if I or a family member have an emergency, such as getting sick, it covers that. The trip is in the last half of June, so there is three months of uncertainty to go.

Mostly, I worry about Sandy, and if I will be able to care for him if he gets sick.

I realize this is an anxiety brain dump…that’s okay, that was the original purpose of this blog back in 2005!

Later I hope to post some artwork. As it is now, I am expected to go to work this week. Things might change because I am set up so that I can do almost all of my work from home.

coffee pot posts, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I figure I will write until I am out of coffee, eat some oatmeal, then head to Chapel Hill for my monthly collage group meeting.

The coffee is a gift from my next-door neighbor, who will be a permanent resident soon. Right now he travels back and forth from Tanzania and Bangkok, where his wife teaches. The coffee is from Tanzania, grown on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. We think that they are going to be great neighbors.

Of course we are all starting to get sick…of the constant news about novel coronavirus. But it is important for us to be prepared, especially since I work at a university where a lot of students are coming back from spring break travel. I am an INTJ, which means my biggest talent is contingency planning. We had let our pantry supplies dwindle down as I was saving for Ireland, so we stocked up on a lot of soup and La Croix and V-8 and orange juice and chicken stock. I don’t consider this hoarding. We do this anyway – this was just a reminder that we had not replenished our stash. I still have lots of rice and pasta and canned and frozen food and tea so we will be fine in a quarantine. I gotta have my La Croix water. Will stock up the coffee this weekend, and I’ve decided not to buy beer for a while – try to lose some weight.

I have said that I am going to Ireland if I have to fucking swim there, and I am keeping that mindset because to lose this trip would be devastating to my mental health. I have travel insurance now. But it is happening. I am going to Ireland. Don’t tell me that I might not be able to go.

Our taxes are almost ready and we get the solar panel tax credit this year, which will go straight to the home equity loan. I’m going to focus on getting that paid off once all my travel expenses for the year are paid. I’ve paid for most of these in advance.

I haven’t been writing every day because this is the kind of stuff that I would write about. Boring and anxious crap. Repetitive noise in my head. I don’t want to write about politics because I am sick of it. I haven’t been doing art because I come home from work with a headache or depression and go to my bedroom and fall asleep early or read and play games on my Kindle. Not healthy, but it is what it is. Budget cuts loom at work, and the stock market is killing my retirement savings. I don’t want to think about it, but I knew all along that I probably would not be able to retire early.

Escapist reading: I laughed when I found a free copy of Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, remembering my glee in reading it during my high school years, and the torrid book covers of the 70s and 80s with Fabio. I even suggested the name to one of my friends when she got pregnant and she named her baby Amber! This copy was from the 60s, and it was written in 1944, one of the first so-called bodice rippers. I promptly tore off the cover and glued it down for a substrate for collage. Then I started reading it out of curiosity and got hooked on it. It is a fun adventure in Restoration England, the sex scenes are hardly there at all despite my memory, and takes my mind off my present reality.

I have been switching back and forth between this and The Milagro Beanfield War. As I get closer to my trip, I think that I will pick up another Tana French mystery. I have been reading Yeats off and on, but I need something a bit lighter.

When I’ve been on the computer, I have been moving my photos from my big travel posts from Flickr to WordPress and updating the links. I am working on the ones from our 2017 trip to England now. Some of these posts had an enormous amount of photos and so I split them into thirds. They still have a lot of photos and probably take forever to download, but I am generally the only person who reads them anyway. The Ireland posts are finished and I am so glad for these memories!

Once that huge blog project is done, I’ll be making some gallery pages.

Okay, done with coffee. Time to move on with my day!