coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Saturday morning coffee pot post


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 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.