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 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.


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.



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.



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.


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.

coffee pot posts

Saturday Morning Coffee Pot Post

I feel so lazy. Sandy and I talked about all the things we want and need to do today but my urge to drink coffee on the porch instead is strong.

This has been a rough week. Not for work…that is light in June. My brother-in-law had a great cancer scan two months ago and that gave us all a lot of hope and he got a reprieve from chemo. Now it’s back and he has to do heavy chemo again. We both think of him as our brother and we love him very much.

I talked with a university sponsored financial advisor who strongly advised me not to retire at 62. He said that there would be a worsening recession and if I lived a long time my money would run out. However, I didn’t have Sandy’s financial information and I don’t think this guy understood how frugally we live. I have an appointment with a university HR person in a couple of weeks who will be able to give me more exact figures and help me understand my choices. It may be that I will search for another job and try to put off taking Social Security a little while longer. I heard that this employee helped another staff member find more retirement funding so that she could retire earlier.

My main focus is that I am leaving tomorrow for a book class with Dan Essig for a week at Pocosin Arts School in the tiny town of Columbia, NC near the Outer Banks. I’m gathering up a bunch of book art and collage supplies and I’m really going to try to focus. A friend talked me into doing another weekend class with Leslie Marsh in October at Topsail Beach. Having these in person classes to look forward to has lifted my spirits. Then of course I am still flying out to Oregon in July with my friend Susan. If I hadn’t paid for that Portugal trip beginning in 2019 I’d be in debt, but I am not. It may not seem that I am frugal, but I save and prioritize travel and art classes over car payments and new clothes and furniture. It helps that I don’t have children.

The weather is still nice today so I might get a little more yard work done. The guy who mowed my yard told me that he was interested in helping me with my garden, so I have hope that this will work out. Last weekend I did a lot of pruning and I think that I got into fire ants. I have a lot of bites on the back of my neck and trailing down to my boob. At first I thought spider bites but there are too many. I joked on Facebook about a vampire bite because of two on the side of my neck. Hydrocortisone has taken care of the itching so far so I hope to be over that soon.

Now I need to take a home Covid test, because Pocosin requires proof of vaccination and a booster and an honors based Covid test. I’m happy about this. It will make me feel much safer.

coffee pot posts

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I still have a few blog posts to do about the Portugal trip, but it is time for a coffee pot post.

It is an absolutely beautiful day, a rare day in the low 80s with low humidity. I’m going to do some yard work. It’s a mess in the back. It grew lush while we were gone, and our yard guy was waiting for us to get back. Then he got Covid. Hopefully he will be able to mow on Tuesday, but meanwhile, my fig tree has exploded and the branches are covering my elderberry bush and raspberry canes, and the blueberry bush (not that the birds ever leave any ripe ones!) is covered in ornamental grapevine and pokeberries have grown up huge and stout. So I will try to take care of those issues. I think that I need to move the elderberry and raspberry.

Just heard some good news from one of my neighbors. There is a huge old loblolly pine tree in front of his house that by now has to be one of the oldest trees in the neighborhood. It must be at least one hundred years old. It has survived all kinds of hurricanes, microbursts, and tornadic windstorms when most of the other trees on the street did not. They have been pressured by some of their other neighbors to take it down because people around here don’t know the difference between a loblolly and white pine and they are terrified of a pine’s potential to fall on their house. So they finally applied to the city to take it down. The College Hill Historic District Association turned it down.

Way back when I first started this blog, I was livid when my next door neighbor cut down all the beautiful loblolly pines in her back yard. I did not get the city notice in time to oppose it. The city arborist misidentified them as white pines and admitted that he didn’t know much about pines (!!!). We used to own that property and I had a real attachment to those pines, and they shaded the house that I moved into. Once I watched one of them bend nearly in half during a tornadic storm and it popped back with no damage! This is the sister of those pines. It would have to be a really strong tornado to take this old girl down. I had considered looking for one of her seedlings to plant. Maybe I will still do that.

Sandy wants to go to the Parisian Promenade at a lovely park in Greensboro today, and usually I would want to, but we would have to ride a shuttle to get there and people around here have mostly abandoned wearing masks, even at our co-op. The main reason is that after the hell we went through in Portugal with him needing to sit down every five minutes or less, I’m not anticipating any pleasure in accompanying him through a long afternoon where seating will be scarce. We have folding chairs, but they are too heavy to carry far and there won’t be parking at the park.

So, this is a segue into the mood that I’ve been in this past week. Sandy is flat out saying that he did not like Portugal now.  I know that he enjoyed the interactions that he had with people other than me – he loves meeting new people and we did a lot of that. But he was in a lot of pain from DAY ONE, and I think that colored everything from then on out. He bitched about the food almost daily. I think that there may have been about six meals that he didn’t complain about during the whole 17 days, and four of those were not at Portuguese restaurants. I usually tasted a bite of his food, and except for the pink spaghetti travesty, there was never anything wrong with it.  I honestly think that it was his pain speaking, but after all the time I put into planning this trip, to say that it was a disappointment is an understatement. And that was not because of Portugal.

I have been moving back and forth between denial and sorrow and anger and deep, deep depression since we have been home, and I’ll be glad to go to therapy on Tuesday. This may be another of my big dreams killed and with the downward spiral of civilization and the rise of fascism in the United States, I don’t know what we’ll do. He is a very sick man, even though he is in denial about it. Everyone keeps asking me how it was and when we’ll move to Portugal, and I don’t know what to say. I have to have him on board for this move because we will have to get rid of most of our stuff and sell the house. I liked Portugal very, very much and I really want to leave the United States soon while we still can. If we have to stay here, it will not be terrible though. Greensboro is a great town, we live on a great street, and I love this front porch.

The cancellation of Focus on Book Arts while I was gone was another huge disappointment because it was probably the last chance I had to go. I was also pissed off because I don’t understand why they didn’t send out emails to their list warning people that they may have to cancel it for low enrollment unless people who planned to go registered right away. We had bought non-refundable plane tickets with travel insurance, but insurance doesn’t cover cancellation of an event. So one of us is not going and Susan and I are still going to go play in Portland for six days. There are other art retreats. FOBA had doubled its prices anyway.

The refund from FOBA pays for my AirBNB in Portland and a bit more, so I remembered that Dan Essig was teaching his wooden/mica book class again at Pocosin Arts, about a five hour drive from here near the Outer Banks. I’ve taken it before, but that actually makes it perfect. I’m going to tell him that I’d like to concentrate on doing wooden and mica covers – I can always bind them at home. I signed up for it and the cheapest accommodation (a shared room with four bunk beds) and I’m going to do what we had planned to do at FOBA for meals: buy good bread, cheese, fruit, almond butter, and beer. and make my own meals in the kitchen there. Eat some seafood in a restaurant outside and get Mexican take-out now and then. And spend a glorious week on my own, just concentrating on making books and not worrying about anybody else or travel glitches or decision making that involves others. There is not much to do at work in June, which is why I usually take a lot of vacation from May-July.

Next year at this time, if all goes well, I will be retired from UNCG. I may go out and get a part-time job somewhere, but that is still the plan. Or I may run away and disappear into the wilderness, become a cave woman or a deer child. Time will tell.

coffee pot posts

Saturday morning post-Portugal coffee pot post

Here we are, back in Greensboro, North Carolina after a very, very long trip home! This is mostly an organizational brain dump post. I worked on several posts from the early days of our trip about a week ago and I’ll edit and release those today. We also have to grocery shop today, but I have some very nice lettuce growing and it will be nice to have a fresh salad after airport food and snacks for two days.

The weather here while we were gone was crazy, from what I understand. Extreme heat and humidity and storms. I can tell from my solar production reports how up and down it was for sun and rain. When I thanked my neighbor for sweeping the front porch and steps, he said that it was windswept from Thursday night. This storm system was part of why it was difficult to get home yesterday. The other reason was that we missed our connection to Greensboro in Newark because a young man in front of us on the plane in Boston had a severe seizure that looked very much like a stroke…it was a serious medical emergency and fortunately it happened when we were still at the gate and a paramedic was on board. Then a paramedic team came on board and took him to a hospital.

Something like that happens in front of you and it makes you understand how fragile life and health is, and helps you reassess what is important.

The rest of the flights to Greensboro were canceled, but the United personnel were so helpful and we managed to get the last two standby seats on the next flight to Raleigh Durham. So it worked out well that we left our car in Chapel Hill! A passenger who had sat near us on the plane from Boston happened to be going to Greensboro too, so we were going to try to stick together and give him a ride to Greensboro, but there were only two seats and he was so kind to give us his seat so that we could fly together. We were kind to him, and he responded with kindness. During a time of great distress in this country, this was uplifting.

So we are home, but our two bags with most of our stuff are not. Mine was lost somewhere between Lisbon and Boston on Aer Lingus, and a United employee told Sandy that he would send his bag on to the Greensboro airport because it was not at all sure that we could get on a flight to RDU. So we didn’t check the baggage claim because we also thought that there was no way that it could be transferred in time. Whoops, I think that Sandy’s bag is at RDU. We will have to check on this and maybe drive back. My bag will be shipped to me if they find it because Aer Lingus doesn’t have service in North Carolina. All my flea market finds, my souvenir magnets, and some of my favorite clothes are in my bag. 😦 However, it means that I have very little unpacking and laundry to do today.

We came home to cats who were well cared for, but happy to see us, and a verdant and very wet garden. The weather is beautiful and the birds are singing. I am very aware that even though I loved the birds in Portugal, there were not many songbirds around. Most places there were only pigeons and swallows and seagulls, although I appreciated them very much too.

Once I have gotten settled and bags located, I will have a lot more to say about Portugal. In the meantime, the posts from the days in Lisbon will be released as I check them over.

Bom dia!

coffee pot posts, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

There won’t be anything interesting here today – this is a brain dump and an organizing post for me.

Things to do today:

1. Vote. Local elections and primaries are just as important as national elections. We sure learned that the hard way in North Carolina. Vigilance in all elections is vital.

2. Get the tapestry stitched onto the mat board, put it in the frame, and pack it to ship to Leslie before Friday.

3. Laundry. House cleaning and studio and porch cleaned up.

Tomorrow: Susanne will come over to talk about pet sitting.

I’ve already started packing for our trip simply because my nerves are shot. I want to see if I can get everything into my backpack luggage, which is carry-on sized but I will check it. We have a long trip ahead and a couple of our places have washing machines, but Portugal for the most part does not have dryers in homes because of the utility expense. I have no problem wearing clothes several times if they are reasonably clean, but if we wash anything, we will have to be aware that it might take a couple of days to dry depending on the weather. It will require planning.

Also, we will be traveling a lot by train and bus and getting to destinations hours before we can check in. Packing light is essential, and a wheeled suitcase on cobblestones is not a good idea anyway – it is just going to get wrecked. Originally I was going to pack an empty carry-on within a larger wheeled suitcase for whatever goodies we bring back. Now I’m thinking that we will just adjust to that situation if it happens that we need an extra bag. I’m beginning to recall the difficulties with luggage during our Ireland/England trip. We cannot pack those backpacks so heavy this time!

I got everything planted and I’d like to do a little more clean-up in the front yard. The aphids are just going to party on – I don’t have the time or energy for that. Sandy hired another guy to mow the yard for half the price that the person who kept standing us up charged. I may still hire him now and then for larger harder jobs, because I like that he has an organic philosophy and knows his plants. However, I’m done with the ghosting behavior. I find it disrespectful, even though he may not see it that way. He is probably just really disorganized, but when I bought a bunch of plants because he told me he was coming to work at my place that day and he forgot, that was pretty much the third (or fourth) strike.

Anyway, I got the cortisone shot in my ankle (the bursa) and since Tuesday I have had no pain whatsoever. The podiatrist said that as long as they continue to work for me for such a long period I can continue getting them with no worries.

It’s gonna be a busy week and somewhere in there I’ve got to figure out when to do our Covid tests for the trip. It will have to be either a PCR test on Friday morning or a rapid antigen test on Saturday morning. Maybe we’ll do the PCR and see if the results come in on time for our flight leaving on Sunday afternoon, and if not, do a RAT in Boston. Friday is also commencement day at work so it will be a challenge. Of course I did not think of all this when I re-booked the trip in August.

Reading: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. How did I miss this one? It was published 11 years ago! Also, it was a Netflix series? Really? I am so out of touch.

I just finished the fourth Louise Penny mystery. I’m not much into these “cozy cottage” murder mysteries set into quaint villages, but I do really like the characters and the complex backgrounds she created for them. It is the entirely unlikely complicated murders that bother my Vulcan sensibilities, but I needed something light after I finally finished Baltasar and Blimunda by José Saramago. I wanted to read at least one novel by a Portuguese writer before I left, and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature for this one. Well, it was a real slog, but I did it. It was worth it in the end, but it was NOT light reading. I now know a lot more about early 18th century Portuguese history and culture, though.

TV: We just started watching Outer Range, with Josh Brolin. I’m hooked after two episodes. The new season of Better Call Saul is out, but I’ll have to buy it since we don’t get AMC. The second half of the last season of Ozark just dropped too.


coffee pot posts, Lake Waccamaw

Saturday morning coffee pot post

20220416_111330[1]Lake Waccamaw edition. We are here for Easter weekend, and it is a good thing that I love my sister and bro-in-law so much because so far this Saturday morning is a bust. I had a tough night’s sleep from indigestion from our usual indulgence of fried seafood at Dale’s last night, but we were lucky to get tables on the screened porch because the mayflies on the screens apparently turn the other diners off. We did not want to eat inside – this part of the country is heavily Trumpy and anti-vax and anti-mask. But the fried seafood at Dale’s is heavenly.

Inspector Loud Outdoor Gadget has been mowing and weedwhacking his dozen blades of grass two doors down since 8:30 a.m. This is the dude that was jackhammering cement the last time I was here. I wonder if he is OCD. And the wind is wafting the lovely sulfurous smells of the paper plant across the back yard, and radar shows a big storm system about to hit, which will at least bring a merciful end to the noise of Detective Monk down the road.


But I still love the lake house, and the view, and every now and then I can hear birdsong when Mr. Motor relaxes his hand on the gas leaf blower or the pressure washer on the spotless white slab of cement that covers half of his small yard. I raise my cup of coffee to my lips and enjoy the sound of my living husband snoring loudly in the next room. “I don’t feel like I’m dying!” he proclaimed to the therapist when we went together last Monday. I’m glad, actually. I get frustrated about his denial about his health challenges, but on the other hand, we are all dying, so we better get a good handle on living until the time comes to die. Maybe his way of thinking is best.

It’s family time, and we’ll enjoy hanging out with them, then I will go back home, take Monday off, take some big deep breaths, and then dive into the emails that I see are already piling up on my work account, over a HOLIDAY weekend, on Tuesday morning. I made sure to keep my promise not to open any. Why some people cannot stop themselves from working on a holiday, I do not know.

This is why I need more than one full day at the lake – to fully relax. April is the cruelest month in my job and these April Easter weekends are much needed. Early retirement is much needed, and a little over a year away if things go well.

The new T-Mobile service on the phones is great. Much, much better. This was the test, bringing them down here where the service is often spotty for all cell phones.

Now, the birdsong is back. I’ll go out on the screened porch, watch the ducks and herons, walk along the canal and look for the Easter Gator, and hope that the wind has shifted for the day. I have two good books and some slow stitching supplies…which may or may not get used but it is a comfort to have the choice.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters

Saturday morning coffee pot post


Here I am, in all my “just out of bed” glory! I think it might be time to cut my hair.

Let’s see how much I can write before the Great Sandino gets up and wants to go to the Farmers’ Market.


Pablocito is crying as if somebody is beating him, but he is just bored. He slept on my pillow beside my head last night and got his whiskers in my nose. Now he is behind me on this chair, head butting the back of my head. I’m just waiting for the love bite to the scalp. He’s a pain in the ass, but I adore him. Diego is doing fine. He got lots of attention this morning and I combed a lot of his undercoat out.

I think a little too much about the complications of moving these guys to Portugal with us. I mean, one of the reasons we moved into this house (next door from our old house) was because I couldn’t bear to leave my feral cats behind.

This week – oof. It was a tough one. Fortunately I was very busy at work, so that kept my mind occupied for the most part. That’s the way it is this time of year. Thomas did come and work on my yard last Sunday, so it looks pretty good. He says that he will continue working for me this year. His fee has gone up, so I might need to call him less frequently, but since that the main mess was cleared out last year, that should be okay. The asparagus is coming up, and I will have to resist the urge to pick it for a year so that it will become established.



I decided to switch our phone service from Credo to T-Mobile this week, after getting feedback from my Portugal Friends group about the service in Europe. One flight attendant said that she uses it. One of the most stressful things about our last trip to Europe (Ireland and England) was that we were told that my phone would work and then it didn’t. We had luggage, faced a long steep hill, and couldn’t get a cab. We thought Sandy was going to have a heart attack at one point and left him sitting on the sidewalk halfway there, and when I got to our B&B to find no one there, I sat down and cried in the rain. I AM NOT DOING THAT AGAIN, PEOPLE.

So T-Mobile it is, and we will try to switch our phones over this weekend. Nowadays, with all the multi-factor authorization I have to do multiple times a day with my personal phone just to do my job, this is no small deal. They said that we could move over our old phone numbers, but didn’t seem entirely confident and said that we might have to go to a T-Mobile store to finish up. However, we are getting so much more data for so much less and a free tablet with phone and internet service that in the end I think it will be worth it. Sandy has already said that he gets so many scam and spam calls that he doesn’t mind losing his old number, but I hate to tell him that probably won’t change!

I registered for Focus on Book Arts this week along with my friends who are going with me. It’s gonna be a artsy hen party, y’all. We are all so excited. Mostly we are taking different classes, but we are staying together in an AirBnB house and then a dormitory suite at Pacific University. This time it will have air conditioning, thank God! The last two times we went there was a heat wave and it was tough without AC. It was hotter than North Carolina both times.

Today, I have an appointment for my second Co-vid 19 booster, and Sandy will get his at some point soon. He was waiting to get his doctor appointments over with this week, and that was the biggest stressor of the week. I looked at the results of his echocardiogram and asked to go to his cardiologist appointment with him on Wednesday because it was scary. Turns out that I had a reason to be worried during that 2017 trip to Ireland/England. The man was in heart failure back  then, and I didn’t know it, and he says that he didn’t know it. What the fuck. I don’t know how to process this so I’m hauling his ass to therapy with me on Monday afternoon. He had a CAT scan on his lungs on Friday to make sure that his respiratory problems are not from something other than the polymyositis. He is sick and tired of going to doctors. We were told that he has to go on a strict no/low sodium diet. No eating out. This is not going to happen. We will be in Portugal one month from now. Our moods are not good.

Portugal will be a trip full of fascinating, very hilly streets. I have to be able to call Ubers or taxis. Fortunately it is very safe in Portugal so if he needs to rest a lot I will feel comfortable going out on my own, although I definitely need a lot of downtime too. For most of the trip we plan to take trains and buses.

Last night we went down to the corner bar for a drink and had some good conversation. A couple brought a bunch of produce that they said Harris Teeter was throwing out that was still good, and put it in a booth for anyone to take. We picked up a cantaloupe, watermelon, and grapes. Now it’s time to go to the Farmers’ Market to get some more fresh produce, since we will be cooking at home a lot more, if we can make ourselves do it.







coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Sunday morning coffee pot post

A two-fer blog day, since I just posted a back forty update from several days ago.

It’s been a good week. We got fantastic news about my brother-in-law’s cancer scan. Miracles do happen, y’all. They didn’t see ANY cancer in the scan, although the oncologist says that there is still cancer there. BUT, given the original diagnosis, this is quite amazing! He is much healthier and will be able to greatly reduce his chemo sessions. We’ll be doing our normal Easter weekend at the lake again this year, and this time a couple of friends will go with us. Easter is late enough this year that the weather should be excellent.

We are going to get our second boosters in the next day or so. Never in my life did I ever think that I would get excited about a shot. I am not afraid of needles any more since I learned to control my breathing so that my vasovagal syncope doesn’t kick in. I was more afraid of passing out than I was about the injection. I’m also looking forward to getting that steroid shot in my heel in four weeks. It might sound painful, but the first one did not hurt at all.

Thursday night we sat outside in the beer garden at Oden and ate really good food from the West Coast Wanderer food truck and listened to live jazz. The students from UNCG come there every Thursday night and play. Then last night we went over there with a couple of friends for a stand-up comedy show that was really mixed in funny-ness and got much bluer as the night progressed. We were tucked away in a little space under the stairs near the front and the last comic targeted us and proclaimed that we looked like we grew pot, but sold cabbage at the farmers’ market, especially Jerry with his hat and Susan with her pigtails. She had us laughing pretty hard. It made me want to develop a stand up set. It was a dream of mine many years ago. Watching Mrs. Maisel has made me fantasize about this more.

Yesterday Sandy and I met a friend for lunch and then went to a great quilt show where there was also a silent auction and a yard sale…oh my god it was so dangerous. I bought some linen, a bag of sewing stuff mainly because there were two vintage packages that I wanted for collage and some trim for a book, a drop cloth, two great books on art quilt design, and a clear two foot ruler for $4.00!!! Robin got a big bag full of great fabric for $7.00. Man, if I wasn’t downsizing…oof. I could have gotten totally out of control. Then I went back to check on the silent auction because there was a small piece with recycled denim and khaki (17″x24″) that I bid on and it was getting close to the end. I won it, asked for the artist’s name, and it turned out that it was made by a friend of mine, Judi Bastion!


So I’m feeling pretty lucky today. Thomas is supposed to come back to work on basic yard maintenance, but he hasn’t texted yet so who knows? I don’t have to be here for that, though. I’m going over to Susanne’s this afternoon and hang out a bit while she marbles paper. Instead of having Jerry’s Artarama frame my tapestry I picked out a piece of matboard and a frame, and I’m stitching the tapestry to the matboard and framing it myself, because it fits perfectly into a 8″x10″ frame. I am learning to size work that I want to frame into standard sizes. So I’ll work on that and have it ready to send to the TWS show, since I’ll need to do that before we leave for Portugal.

Portugal is only five weeks away! EEEEEEEeeeeeeee. I need to brush up on my Portuguese for real now. Especially my numbers, since I tend to mix them up with French, Spanish, and Italian. So I not only need to learn my Portuguese, I also need to forget some numbers in other languages. Bom dia!