coffee pot posts

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I haven’t written since I cut Cathedral off the loom. I haven’t done anything to it yet either – just put it in my backpack where the cats can’t get to it. It’s quite amazing how many likes and follows I got from the video (“reel”) I posted on Instagram. They are still coming in and I wonder how this happens. I started weaving the O tapestry, although I’ve been pretty worthless art-wise the past couple of weeks.

Last weekend I had headaches all weekend, then on Sunday, I went to the flea market at the farmers’ market, went to a street festival that I didn’t want to go to, had a panic attack in the middle of a book reading (my guess is that previously being in the crowd outside triggered it), and ended up not going to my studio at the arts center for the second week in a row.

I picked up a few cool things at the flea market – another wooden box, a small vase that matched an heirloom tea set that I gave to my niece, and an old Nancy Drew book for a dollar that I plan to deconstruct and reuse in collage. I was looking for a cheap old electric frying pan or griddle that I could use for encaustic, but had no luck with that.

Occasionally I look at a video for one of the many online classes that I paid for and never finished. Turns out that getting the supplies for encaustic, even though I have a few of them, is quite expensive. So I may let that go until later and shop at secondhand stores for a while to gather them.

I’ve been able to watch more TV. I know that sounds like NOT a big deal at all, but it has been a big part of my problem that I have not been able to focus on videos or TV shows or movies. I still don’t sit in front of the TV and the most I’ve been able to do was two hours one night, but it’s nice to have shows to watch with Sandy. He can binge and I cannot. I still can’t get through an entire movie.

I bought some new clothes and new glasses – a very bright blue pair that I’m quite pleased with.

Work has been quiet other than entering the class schedule and the occasional question in hiring or student process. This is the season when I am usually waiting for others to send me stuff so that I can move on with what I need to do. I usually take off on vacation in mid-September as these items are trickling in, but this September I am not taking off until this coming week, when I’m going to the lake and cat-sitting my feline niece and nephew and possibly getting the house ready for a hurricane hit. I plan to take the two weavings and the book that I’ve been working on.

For the most part I have been bored. I’m trying to be okay with being bored sometimes – flipping the switch to being alone with my thoughts instead of feeling that I have to fill my brain with something. Turns out that this is very, very, very difficult for me, and it is one reason I have a hard time falling asleep. I am absolutely bored at work. So, so bored. I don’t think I could be returned to being a worker willing to go the extra mile the way that I was for a very long time.

Listening to Radio Paradise on the Internet has helped me get through it. I have been surprised at what I’ve learned of famous musicians that I like that I’ve never connected the names with the music. Lots of Americana. Suzanne Vega. Beck. Coldplay. Even Led Zeppelin. Turns out I love Led Zeppelin now but in the 70s I couldn’t care less about them. So many artists who are new to me, often because I heard their music but didn’t know their names. I spent the 90s and 00s listening to public radio and lots of new age and classic rock and certain singers like Lyle Lovett and kd lang. In a way this makes me feel old, but then again, I’ve not able to keep up with popular music since the 70s when I was growing up.

I think a lot about retirement, and what I might do to make some money for fun stuff, and what part time or temp jobs I might apply for. I don’t think that I will stop working. This has calmed me down, which surprises me, but we’ll see if that lasts once I grind into the last few months of my job.

My neighbors have supplied me with five gallons of black walnuts in the hulls, which I’ve stashed in the freezer. There will be more. I’m considering making ink for sale, as well as using them for natural dye pots, of course. I bought a course on making organic inks over two years ago at the beginning of the pandemic, when it seemed that I’d have all the mental energy in the world to LEARN ALL THE THINGS. I don’t think I looked at one lesson and don’t know if I can even find it again.

Now I am stopping for brunch, and I think I will head over to the arts center. The weather is breezy and beautiful. I discovered a great combination for a sandwich – almond butter and spicy red pepper jelly. I’m reading “Telegraph Avenue” and the “Oxford History of Britain.” I want to understand the history of my ancestry, and unlike some people, I’m not afraid of looking at the ugly parts that make me uncomfortable. And boy, do I come from oppressors – I often look in the mirror and notice the genetics of a predator race reflected back at me. There’s no guilt here. Just awareness and a desire to make the world a better place.

book arts, coffee pot posts, critters, Reading, tapestry, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

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Here’s Diego looking all sexy for you.

I missed writing my weekly blog post last weekend, but we did get a lot of things done. Our focus was on cleaning the front porch and everything on it. I never knew that window screens could get so dirty. It is mostly done, and the cobwebs are already back. Pablocito likes to eat the cobwebs for some reason. This weekend began with a heavy rain and the forecast shows rain for the next three days. It’s unfortunate because our city’s big outdoor event, the North Carolina Folk Festival, is happening. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic is supposed to play tonight. Sandy still wants to go downtown to see the arts and crafts, but I don’t feel enthusiastic about wandering around in the rain. Sandy and I have to sit down a lot and I don’t think he minds having a wet butt, but I do. So he has asked me to drop him off downtown.

This means that I have to decide if it is worth it to go to the studio at the Cultural Arts Center. I could take an Uber and not have to deal with the parking, although I wonder how many people will still come now that it is raining so hard. Last Sunday I continued with my idea for redoing the cover on the book I made in Dan Essig’s class in June. This is a bit tricky, because these tiny washers are made from mica, and mica and glue don’t usually work together well. Mica is made from hundreds of tiny layers and glue will pull off the layer next to it. So what I tried to do is encase them in acrylic gel medium. I’ll see how well they will stick when I get back to the studio. I also prepared several more illustrations to go into the pages.

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I guess I’m back into dots and circles these days.

The event that disrupted most of my plans for Labor Day was this little fellow. As I sat down to eat dinner on Sunday night I heard a loud cry and fluttering from behind our fireplace insert, which I thought was a bird. When Sandy detached the woodstove pipe and cover to the fireplace, he found two dead squirrels, a nest, and this guy, apparently unhurt.

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We ran around all panicky trying to figure out what to do, and of course ended up doing some things that we shouldn’t have done, but I posted on Facebook and tagged a couple of people who have done wildlife rehab or knew people who did, and was reminded that my friend Leslie who owns the Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center in Elkin, a little over an hour away, had successfully rehabbed a baby squirrel and released it to the wild this spring. She still had supplies such as two cages and the formula needed and volunteered to take him. Susan rode with me to Elkin in the pouring rain and we made the transfer. He was a little dehydrated but a day later he was drinking formula and seemed to be doing fine. She named him Archie after Archie Brennan!

I may be seeing him again about a month from now when Tapestry Weavers South has its retreat in Elkin.

Fortunately, the guy we use for chimney cleaning had a cancellation on Tuesday, and he cleaned out the dead squirrels and the nest material and inspected the chimney with a camera. Unfortunately, he says that the old terra cotta flue lining is cracked where there has been a past chimney fire and says that it is unsafe to use. He recommends a stainless steel lining which would cost $4000. I don’t think that we need the wood stove for that much money so I might get a kerosene heater for emergencies. For that kind of money I’d rather get a few more solar panels and one of those electric heaters that looks like a fireplace. He will come back in October to critter proof our chimney caps.

Speaking of that – why the hell does anybody manufacture a chimney cap that critters can get into? I spent a lot of money repairing and rechinking the mortar on these three chimneys and putting metal caps on them in 2011. Grrr.

Earlier on Labor Day, Susan and Jerry and Sandy and I went to Oscar Oglethorpe, where I picked out new glasses and got my old frames repaired. Then we went to Natty Greene’s for lunch. I’m looking forward to my new eyeglasses – they are bright blue.

Today I’ll work on getting this “O” postcard sized tapestry underway. I ordered this artist’s backpack from Amazon after seeing a tapestry weaver recommend it on Facebook. It is the perfect size for my frame looms and some yarn, and I use the front pockets to carry my lunch and drinks to work and back. My co-workers say that I look like I’m going backpacking with my hiking shoes on, but I don’t care. It is convenient to store the loom and yarns in the backpack, and I don’t get cat hair in it.

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Reading: I finished “The Known World” by Edward P. Jones. It is one of those books that makes it difficult to decide what to read next because it was so good. I’ve finally settled on “Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Reading, Watching

Sunday noon coffee pot post

wp-1661701149227I think that I figured out what the problem with WordPress was yesterday, and with the post before that. I like to use the Classic WordPress editor, and WordPress would reaaaallly like for me to move on to block editing puleeze thank yew ma’am, and okay fine then, we’ll make you convert your post to blocks before you can edit or publish it, nyah nyah. We’ll see after I write this one.

Anyway, here’s what is going on with me. I am about to twine the top of the Cathedral tapestry and cut it off the loom! Then I need to warp up the Mirrix or my other small frame loom for the postcard sized tapestry for the collaborative work for the Tapestry Weavers South show. Those two things are priority one and two.

Yesterday we went to the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market for the first time in a while. We had stopped at the Berry Patch on the way home from the lake on Monday and it increased my desire for more fresh veggies. I bought my usual soaps from Mimi’s Soaps, corn and onions from Rudd Farms, okra, Roma tomatoes, and one prepared food vendor was selling everything for half price, so we bought quite a bit from them. This meant that yesterday we ate salad and a chicken dish that was like chicken pot pie but with a cracker crust on top and no vegetables within. Basically chicken in a thick creamy gravy. It was rich and salty and delicious but not something that we could eat on a regular basis, for sure. I also bought a sheet cake with a mocha frosting, and a meat lasagna to put in the freezer.

We’ve done some house cleaning, and I pulled a few more weeds, invasive ageratum mostly, in the asparagus bed in the back. I found four ripe figs within reaching distance and then I had to call it quits. It was so humid I was soaked through. The raspberry canes that I moved out from under the enormous fig tree are beginning to grow well and one has a few berries on it. Once I get some supports under these I hope that the briars will keep the groundhogs away – don’t know about the birds! The groundhogs are staying away from the asparagus so far, although the tomato plants are completely gone. I hope that we will have a lot of asparagus next year.

After one o’clock I have an appointment with the print studio. I might take my small loom to warp it there so that I won’t be distracted. When I cut off “Cathedral,” I will get Sandy to video it. I thought that I might have a cut-off party, but I honestly don’t think I can make myself wait that long. Maybe when I get it mounted and ready for display. Now THAT will be a milestone because that is the hardest part for me.

Work is distressing, again, not because of my department, but decisions at higher levels that are solidifying my decision to retire. Also because I’m beginning to have the same physical issues that I had pre-pandemic before I worked from home most of the time for a year and a half. I have to schedule a chiropractic appointment and start getting up from my chair and walking more. I also have to schedule a colonoscopy, ewwww, because I am a year past due and with my family history I need to do it every five years.

Reading: The Known World by Edward P. Jones. Watching: just started season 4 of The Last Kingdom, still in Season 1 of Ted Lasso, and just signed up for Peacock Premium so we can stream Resident Alien. We first saw it on the airplane coming back from Europe and finally decided that it was worth signing up for one more service. Alan Tudyk is one of my favorite actors.

As usual, I am obsessed with getting enough sleep, and I honestly think that if I could sleep as late as I needed to in order to get the rest I need, I wouldn’t need to retire. I could probably push through it for a couple of more years. But that is very unlikely to happen. People see it as laziness, but I see it as necessary health care. That being said, except for a few nights this past month, sleep has been better. I am taking meloxicam at night for the pain and magnesium for RLS. Occasional melatonin, but I’ve realized that I have to take this much earlier and not wait until I am tossing and turning at midnight. My depression is still much better, although my mood and attitude is not the greatest.

coffee pot posts, Cyanotypes, Printmaking

Sunday morning coffee pot post

It has been a weekend of absolutely fabulous weather. Low humidity, highs in the lower 80s. The kind of weather that makes me wish I had gotten up earlier this morning. Of course, sleepy me would have disagreed – she wasn’t thinking about the weather; she was dreaming about hanging paintings on the wall. My husband’s paintings. That was a sweet dream. We had a room of blank walls and a whole stack of paintings, both mine and his. Almost as good as the reoccurring one of my tapestry weavings, in which I am cranking big ones out in a day, and weaving on unusual looms that I warp and weave in all kinds of crazy ways.

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Yesterday afternoon Sandy and I took a free cyanotype workshop from Thea Clark, who is doing an art residency at the City Arts Center. It was fun and got us outside some and Sandy enjoyed it a lot. We’re going to get some supplies and take them to the lake. It will be an easy art project and we both have a lot of ideas. The only issue that we’ll have is the wind, but we’ll figure that out. I think that Sandy’s first cyanotype is frameable. He made it with a silk flower and money plant seed pods and bird feathers. On the second set of photos, I had less spectacular results on my first cyanotype because of having to move it around more, and the breeze blowing away some of the elements, but on the last one I piled on a lot of different objects and fibers and was able to leave it alone in the sun.

Days like these don’t lend themselves well to doing art inside, but I’ll go to the print studio for a couple of hours this afternoon, as I’ve promised myself I would do. I’ll spend some time on the hem of my tapestry.

I did some weeding in the back yard yesterday, but by this time the task is overwhelming and I’ll need some help. Maybe I’ll let it go until after the first frost because of the mosquitoes. I harvested some figs, which have been infested by Japanese beetles, but it is such a huge tree that there are plenty for the birds and bugs and humans. I noticed that a lot of the overripe and half-eaten ones are gone. I pulled up the rest of the evening primroses that had big stalks. I guess I’ll need to dig the new ones up. They are beautiful but too invasive if I can’t work enough back there to keep them under control. The guy who mows our “lawn” is interested in working more in my garden and at some point I’ll talk to him about what needs to be done.

Pablocito caught another mouse this weekend. He caught one about a week ago too, but my husband rescued that one from him and put it outside at the back of the lot. I wonder if it was the same one. I’m glad that Pablocito is a mouser, but we always feel for the little critters. Diego looks on with interest, but he was found in a ditch when he was about a week old so he never learned to hunt. We’d probably be overrun by mice if we didn’t always have at least one cat that was a mouser.

We’ve eaten outside a few times in the past couple of weeks, and it is nice to take advantage of the outdoor spaces. Yesterday we went to the Taco Bros. food truck at Oden and listened to The Mighty Fairlanes, a great blues band that has been around for decades. I noticed this on the back of the Taco Bros truck and knew I had to have a photo.

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coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Saturday morning coffee pot post

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Cloud porn.

This week was not so bad, but it felt very, very long. The weather is hot and humid, like it is so many places in the world, but it is not as hot here as it is in the north, where people aren’t prepared for it like we are in North Carolina. I will rue the day that we ever have to give up air conditioning. My philosophy about the climate crisis is that of the Deep Adaptation folks…it’s here and irreversible and the best we can do is to make humanity’s descent into oblivion kinder and gentler and less painful for us all.

I’m also making a huge effort to forgive myself when I do not do all the “right” things as an environmentalist. Right now I have to deal with our physical limitations and health with the tools that I have at the moment.

We have figs, and I should be out back picking them right now, but the weeds and invasive plants are so tall around that tree that I dread stirring up the mosquitoes. At some point I’ll throw on some long sleeves and pants and tackle it. We also have peppers in my container garden. Not enough to have leftovers to freeze, but enough for us to enjoy with meals.

We shopped at Trader Joe’s last weekend and I bought plenty of food that was either already seasoned and prepared or cut up to be plopped into a stirfry or a baking sheet to roast. So I’ve been able to cook some healthy meals this week without a lot of standing at the stove or counter. I’m making more of an effort now to cut back on meat, mainly because I really do like eating vegetarian and so there’s no reason not to if I don’t have to chop vegetables.

When I went to my gynecologist on Monday, a long delayed visit, I had my tits squeezed in a vise and my cervix scraped and my bones scanned. I had lost some weight, not a huge amount but made it to a manageable weight that puts me under the obesity line on the BMI. I’m almost the same height, and I have osteopenia in my hips, which is no surprise – that’s been developing for decades. He said that my spine was actually a bit better, which I ascribe to the extra calcium, fish oil, and Vitamin D that I’ve been taking for the last two years.

On the art front, not much this week. I can’t even weave the hem on the tapestry for very long. Sitting and leaning forward aggravates my back, and standing aggravates my feet. So a slow process is much slower. However, if I keep plugging away a little at a time, it should be finished long before my deadline to send it to the Tapestry Weavers South exhibit scheduled at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville in January. As part of this exhibit, I am also weaving a postcard sized tapestry to be part of a collaboration. Each weaver is weaving a letter in the phrase “Follow the thread.” I’m weaving an O, and I made the design for it this week. Because I can weave this on one of my small looms, I should be able to do it sitting and without pain.

I rejoined the Print Co-op at the City Arts Center. I figure that as long as the temperature is managed in that room, paying $40 a month is worth it to have a large work table in a room without distractions. I’ll take my collage and bookbinding work back to there. If it gets roasting hot again, I’ll leave again.

I finished “The Grove of Eagles,” which I thought was great. Winston Graham knows how to write characters with complex desires and vices and virtues and still make the reader feel compassion for them. I started re-reading “The Shipping News,” which so far is every bit as wonderful as it was the first time when I discovered Annie Proulx’s amazing use of similes and names.

At work I am resisting the calls to go to in-person meetings. Too many people are not wearing masks, and unless they say that masks are required, I have to protect myself. Our department is still smart about it. Other administrative departments say that “we are trying to get back to normal” or nothing at all when I ask if they will have Zoom available. This boggles my mind since Covid cases are on the rise at almost certainly a higher number than reported because many people with mild cases are self testing. Another tic in the “yes” column for early retirement – the refusal of our leadership to protect its employees.

I plan to head down to Lake Waccamaw again for a weekend about two weeks from now. It will be nice, even if it is hot, to look out on the lake and see my family. Another reason I am very, very careful about masking and not being in maskless crowds indoors. It would be wonderful if this pandemic was over, but to behave as if it is not is reckless and encourages variants to develop even if it is treatable now.

agoraphobia, coffee pot posts, Reading, whining

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Really, really trying to stay positive. I was in a great mood on Tuesday. I resolved (knocking wood) a sticky problem at work that took WAY too many emails to too many people. My foot finally felt better and I walked home from work, which felt great despite the stifling heat and humidity. Sandy fixed the leak in the kitchen sink, which required breaking off a part that had been glued on, and so I was extremely wary of this effort. The number of ants still appearing are down to less than 10 a day, when they were swarming the kitchen a week ago.

I am working on NOT retreating to my bedroom when I get home from work. This is part of my agoraphobic tendencies and it is a very hard habit to break. My bedroom is my little nest of comfort and safety from the room. But I have been well aware that spending so much time in bed reading and online, even propped up sitting, has been a big factor in my sleep issues. It is difficult, but I’m making my own little “spot” in the living room and bringing my books and Kindle and laptop there.

Today we are going to the paperback book sale at St. Francis Episcopal Church which is always great. Not that I need more books, but it looks like we probably won’t move anyway. Tomorrow I’ll go do some art playtime with friends. I wanted to do a serious deep clean of our kitchen and my bedroom, but it looks like that is not going to happen.

“The Grove of Eagles” by Winston Graham is really great and if you liked the Poldark books you would enjoy this too. I am even enjoying the long descriptions of a sea battle and attack on Cadiz, Spain. We are still watching “The Last Kingdom” together and I am still watching “Mom” and now the latest version of “The Kids in the Hall.”

Sandy started going back to his water exercise classes early in the morning at the aquatic center, so he’s been giving me rides to work and home when I need it. And I’ve needed it. Not only has the steroid shot worn off on my right ankle, my LEFT ankle and foot is now painful. Thursday night I was awakened by what felt like a yellowjacket sting between my ankle and my heel, and it continued to sting me at intervals of about 70 seconds for an hour. When I realized that it was not going to stop, I got up, took a meloxicam, wrapped it in a soft brace, and iced it.  The meloxicam does not last 24 hours.

So now I’m hobbling on both feet, and I switched back to my worn out Brooks sneakers (in case the pain is due to the new Merrill Moab2s, which I don’t believe is the case). I made an appointment with my podiatrist two weeks from now. I think it is my very high arches, since I stopped wearing uncomfortable shoes with no support many years ago. I do love to go barefoot, and this is also a very hard transition to make as far as being at home. I’m doing the best I can to wear shoes inside, except for getting up in the night to go to the bathroom or for other reasons. One of the things I plan to do today is visit The Shoe Market where they have an employee who makes custom orthotic inserts.

I’m beginning to understand the dilemmas that disabled people face. Being overweight has a huge impact on your body, but when your body is in pain, it is nearly impossible to get the exercise that will help you lose weight or at least not to gain weight. If you don’t look disabled to the rest of society, they are going to judge you for being overweight and suggest that you go for a walk or to the gym. If you’re depressed, as many disabled people are, you don’t have the motivation to exercise anyway, and exercise is proven to help depression. It’s a tough spiral.

I’m doing chair yoga exercises and that is about as far as I can go.

Since I’ve walk to work since 2004, I may have to buy a parking permit now and get a handicapped placard for my mirror. And here’s my other complaint and then I’ll stop. I’ve long thought that it is a slap in the face to charge exorbitant parking rates for employees to park on UNCG’s own parking lots. It would do a lot for employee morale to provide free parking at UNCG, yet when it is brought up all you hear is excuses why it can’t be done. It can be done. They just don’t want to lose the revenue. Before this job, I never had to pay for parking at my own job. It’s ridiculous. People are leaving in droves and they better come up with some reasons for their employees to stay because it’s about to get bad.

Now, onward. The new academic year begins soon, and I will be training my successor, because I can’t see that the advantage in waiting to retire is that great. I’ll get 91% of my pension and the same deal on my medical insurance. I’ll try to wait to take my Social Security for as long as I can, but I’ll be eligible to take it early if I need to. Next year at this time, I’ll be retired and looking for either a part time or temp job or recovering from foot surgery or in an artist residency or looking for something else to fill my days. It will be an exciting transition, but I hope not TOO exciting if you know what I mean.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety

Sunday sweep

Just a quick update to say that my migraines are gone and my ankle is much better, although I am still babying it today. The ant situation is much, much better now too. Only a few confused ones are still showing up for dinner, and finding Terro on the plate.

Watched the first episode of Ted Lasso last night, and I can see why everyone likes it. T-Mobile gave us a year of Apple TV free and we had yet to use it.

Other than weaving a bit of the hem on Cathedral, doing laundry, and making a pitcher of peach tea with honey and mint, I’ve been extremely lazy and I’m fine with that. My mental health is stabilizing and I’m able to focus on reading and watching TV for a longer period of time. I’m finally beginning to accept that we probably won’t move out of the country. Note the word “probably” and not “definitely” though! This was a difficult thing to let go, since I had become obsessed with the idea.

My therapist floated the idea that I may be ADD, and as crazy and surprising as that sounded at first, I sort of see her point now.

I hope to go down to Lake Waccamaw for a long weekend next month or in September, and I signed up for a workshop with Leslie Marsh in late October at her studio in Topsail Beach, but that is the only travel on my agenda right now, and it’s all in-state.

coffee pot posts, Reading

Saturday afternoon coffee pot post

Finished off the coffee, though.

Today will probably be a wash. My bone spur is punishing me now and I’ve had cluster migraines since I got back from Portland. I feel sure that it is weather-related because I didn’t have a single headache that I remember in Oregon. Yesterday I had an ocular migraine which doesn’t happen often. It’s so weird and hard to describe. Sort of like I’m looking into a pool of water that is being stirred, but no pain. Thankfully, it was short and the headaches don’t last more than a couple of hours, generally.

Anyway, I’d planned on getting a lot of house cleaning done this weekend, but now I know that I’ve got to rest this angry ankle. It is in the high 90s today so I have an excuse to stay inside, at least. Sandy just went out to get us lunch and a few basic groceries because not only is there not much food in the house, we’ve had a major invasion of ants, the worst I’ve ever seen. So I have little squares of Terro set around the kitchen where the cats can’t get to it, and the bread will have to go into the fridge when he gets back. The cats are being kept off the front porch because they freak out if the door is closed, and we need to keep the house cool. I am so grateful for air conditioning and count my blessings in that respect.

I can sit down to weave the hem on the Cathedral tapestry, so I’ll work on that this weekend. Maybe I’ll have a cutoff party when the time comes. At the very least I will have Sandy video it. I’ve also joined a collaborative postcard tapestry project with Tapestry Weavers South in which we each weave a 4×6 inch tapestry with a letter on it. The tapestries all together will spell “Follow the Thread,” which is the name of our exhibition at the Folk Art Center next year. I chose the letter O. I was awake several hours last night because I could not turn my brain off with ideas for this! I need to sit down with pencil and paint and do some sketches.

We have been watching “The Last Kingdom,” which is a lot of fun, not least because at some point in exploring my family tree on familysearch.org I have found both Uhtred the Bold and Alfred the Great as ancestors. Now, I do take all this with a grain of salt, but it is exciting to find famous people in my tree, whether the research is correct or not! From what I understand, the Mormons are pretty good at genealogy though.

Not only that, but I’m reading “The Grove of Eagles” by Winston Graham (author of the Poldark books) and it turns out that my direct relatives the Arundells are characters in it. It could be the most boring book in the world and I wouldn’t know it because I keep stopping to look up a character in my family tree.

That’s the news from Greensboro, and I’ll get back to blogging my Portland trip, which was so much fun and exactly what I needed, despite what my foot says.

art, coffee pot posts, critters, dyeing, Nature printing, tapestry, weaving

Sunday Rainy Morning Coffee Pot Post

While Portugal and other places in the world burns, we have a sweet reprieve from the oppressive heat since a cold front with rain came through last night. Diego and I are sitting on the front porch. The rain is pattering and gurgling, wind is wafting, a cardinal is chirping, and a train horn is blowing. Now a mockingbird sings. We have many mockingbirds in the area.

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This weekend so far I have not left the house except to pick a couple of hot peppers for our chili last night. An ancho and a poblano. They didn’t seem so hot after I did a test nibble, but after I minced and seeded them, soap and water did not clean my hands and I wiped my itchy face with my hand. I remembered a tip from my sister and dabbed some sour cream on the stinging areas. (Cream cheese works too.) It worked and the chili turned out perfect.

I’ve been concentrating on finishing “Cathedral.” I know that I have been saying that for years. But I actually have the top edge of the left side finished and it’s a matter of weaving up the right side and middle to match it, then weaving a hem. When it is cut off, I’ll ask Sandy to make a video. Standing at this loom is not good for my body and I will probably sell the Shannock loom when I finish Cathedral. I have many looms to choose from, mostly small tapestry looms. I have reworked the section on the right of the top photo several times. It is time to let it go now. I’m content with it.

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Last weekend I needed to do something that was easy on the brain and would give me a dopamine hit, so Susanne and I did a couple of natural dye pots and rolled up paper with various leaves on copper pipes to make prints. This time we dipped the paper in an alum/water solution first. I experimented with three different papers and I had no expectations. We didn’t have much in this particular dyepot other than some rusty iron bits and a few old pecans with hulls that I found. It was also still dirty from the same time I used it. Susanne also did a dyepot with avocado pits but I haven’t seen her results from that one.

The first papers were Susanne’s handmade “dream” paper, speckled with herbs. It didn’t hold the leaf prints as well but I think that the yarrow leaves that I put in one of the bundles dyed everything a brilliant yellow. The texture is very nice.20220709_114441

The second paper bundle was a thin commercial paper that may have been too delicate for the dyepot, but I was experimenting. I did get prints and one section near the top of the bundle that was torn is so pretty that I’ll do something with it. This paper will be good for collage.

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The last set of papers just floored me. I was so pleased and surprised when they came off the pipe bundle. These were heavy cream colored watercolor papers that I had torn down to make book signatures with. They turned out so beautiful and vibrant that they will have to go on covers, I think.

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Leaves used were sweet gum (called liquidambar in the rest of the world, I think), black walnut, pecan, redbud, oak, willow oak, swamp bay, and the black/purple areas were from dried petals of black hollyhock flowers. I grew one several years ago and it didn’t do well, but I dried and saved the petals. There are a few strawberry and rose leaves in there too.

People always ask about the lines. Those are the string marks from tying the paper bundle tightly. It is on the outside of the bundle so that part picks up the dye in the dyepot – in this case, the iron bits and probably residue from the last time I dyed with black walnuts.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety

Saturday Mid-day Coffee Pot Post

Warning: much angst in the following post.

Well. It’s hard to know how to begin this morning. I was advised to stop reading the news on Tuesday because I am “fragile.” That obviously did not happen. How can I not read or watch the news? I am an INTJ, an Enneagram One, the planner, the mastermind. I naturally focus on what needs to be done and form contingency plans for when plans A, B, C, etc. go awry. That is what I do. But I’ve been advised to focus on what I can control, which I know is good advice, so I’m doing the best I can, considering the realities of my situation.

I was already crying at my desk at work yesterday morning when the news popped up on my screen from two different state newspapers. I need to figure out how to cut those off. It’s not like it was a surprise, but I guess that I hoped that two out of the five justices would come to their senses. Find some compassion.

I was crying because I am overwhelmed. I don’t have a plan, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I can’t know what is going to happen. Nothing makes sense any more. I am a logical person. I am woman. I am human. All humans are affected by this. Pandora’s box has been opened in the United States.

I was already crying because I am deeply depressed and anxious. I have big decisions to make. Whether I can retire a year from now. Whether I can move out of the country. Whether my husband is willing to come with me, which is not in my control. And he doesn’t want to do it. He doesn’t even want to go back to Portugal on vacation. I tried to remind him that he was in pain from day one and that colored his view of it. That he had options other than Portuguese style food.

I met with an HR retirement benefits staff member on Thursday to discuss my options and get some hard numbers. He was very helpful and created a spreadsheet for me in which I could change dates, etc., to see how it affects my monthly pension when I retire. Hopefully I will get a bigger raise this coming year, but that is now up in the air since our state legislature is again making noises about not passing a budget.

The bottom line is that I could retire in a year, and it is likely that I will. I will have to be even more frugal and cut out some of the art travel stuff, maybe get a part-time job. I can’t move to Portugal unless I take my Social Security early, and I’m going to try to wait as long as I can for that. We’d have to sell the house, or clean it out and arrange to rent it, and as long as Sandy is against moving, that won’t happen anyway.

The good news is that I would pay the same for my health insurance as I do now until I qualify for Medicare. Assuming that that isn’t taken away from us by then. I’d pay the same for my dental for 18 months under COBRA. Dental insurance is pretty much a requirement for me, since I was born with crappy teeth and have a mouth full of old dental work. The endodontist said that she was surprised that I didn’t need to have more root canals earlier because that you start having root canals that your other teeth tend to start pinging off so I have to keep that in mind. So far I’ve had two, and I am not going to wait in pain for months to do it the next time. I was waiting for my upgraded insurance to kick in then – not a good idea.

I am anxious about training my co-worker to do my job and I need to get over that. She is really smart and competent and can learn it. It’s just that I do so many different things and the rules and processes change constantly. I will have to stay positive about that. No good can come of me transferring my negative attitude to her.

The other possibility that made my head spin is that the HR guy said that it is possible for me to work from home. That it is not forbidden by the university, as I was told, but could be authorized by my department on a temporary basis, and by the department and higher offices on a permanent basis. He showed me the policy online. But after talking to my office manager, who is also one of my best friends and truly has my best interests at heart, this is not doable. That UNCG leadership says that we have to have the office open in person. Anyway, she is going to think about it, but I’m not sure that I want to do it. Maybe over next summer, so that I could work from the lake and be with my sister more. I did that before with no issues. I hardly ever see a student any more and when I do it’s always something that could have been handled over email or the phone.

Part of what I decided to do, and I’m already having second thoughts about, is downsizing my studio to just book arts and my small Mirrix tapestry loom and selling my big looms and most of my yarn. Get rid of all the fabric that I’ve hoarded. But I also love weaving cloth strips together. Sandy says that I should keep my big floor loom because I will want it after I retire. All my stuff is overwhelming me – there is too much. I have filled up the studio and half of my bedroom.

People talk about how their art saves their sanity at times like this. I wish that was so for me. I shut down. But I am beginning the purging process again a box at a time, mostly old books. A lot of the fabric and natural objects will have to go. I’ll work on finishing the big tapestry now that I bought a new lamp this week so that I can see the true colors again, and I’ll sell the Shannock loom and much of my weaving yarn stash. I’ll consider selling the Macomber loom since it is the biggest space hog. At least book arts will not take up so much room, and there are so many directions that books can take.

I finished the end bands on the papyrus book that I started last summer in Dan’s class, and now I can glue those covers together and it will be finished. I took apart the Pocosin book from my first book class down there to rebind it, and then realized my error – I had glued together all the page blocks so I’ll have to rebind the whole thing as single sheets. In a way, that is fine. It will give me a minor challenge and I can finish the pages that I wanted to put windows into.