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

Saturday morning coffee pot post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Sunday morning coffee post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

coffee pot posts, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

coffee pot posts, collage

Saturday afternoon after voting post

I really struggled at the end on who to vote for in the presidential primary. The rest was pretty easy. I’ve been a Sanders Sister for years, even before he ever ran the first time. But I really really really like Elizabeth Warren. I could not decide right up to filling in the ballot, and then my pen automatically went to Bernie Sanders. So there my decision was made. I hope that Liz is his VP, or he is her VP.

Because of this heavy thinking on my part, I found it very hard to stomach all the vitriol aimed at Bernie’s supporters. Also because most of my friends were struggling with the very same decision. I haven’t seen any cult-like or ugly behavior in person, and it pisses me off to be lumped in with a few loud assholes on the Internet. (There are a few loud assholes in any given group, especially on the Internet.) My guess is that about half of my friends and family will vote for Sanders and the other half for Warren. And I am absolutely fine with any vote other than Twitler or Bloomberg, although if it came down to it in the general election, I would choose a sane person over an insane person instead of a third party or write-in or not voting at all.

I am not a Democrat any more and frankly, I despise both parties, but I vote Democrat because I am practical. I think that we need bold solutions fast but I don’t see how other parties or independents have a chance here in the states for the short time we have left to act. In fact, I think that our time is already up but that’s me being negative again. So for me, progressive politics is actually the middle ground.

Now that that is taken care of, I have a wild collage in progress on the work table. I wanted to play and push myself by starting with some colors that I don’t like. I may end up making this into a book cover – I think that would be fun.

I got rid of a bunch of books this week but brought home twice as many from a free pile outside of Pages Past used bookstore. Old books are an addiction, but in this case I was looking for old cloth covered battered ones that nobody wants that can be torn apart for collage. I will give about half of them to the collage group members. Of course, after I picked them out based on color and damage and material, I brought them home and got interested in them, like these…

Two books by the author of Beau Geste, Mary Renault, saucy political books from the 20s-40s. “The Nine Old Men” is about the Supreme Court.

A preachy patriarchal book published in 1914 about how to raise your children, “Life’s Golden Ladder from the Cradle to the Throne for The Young and the Old,” is a delight.

My other project this weekend is to set up the four foot wide grow light. I actually have it out of the box and a space set up for it, so it might really happen! I told the director of UNCG Gardens that I didn’t think that I would be physically able to handle cleaning up my plots to garden there again this year, and so the students in the garden club cleaned them up and put down new soil! She said that they loved the work and would help me more if I came out to direct them the Wednesday after spring break. That really did my heart good, so I’m starting seeds. Once it gets out of the 20s and low 30s at night I will move them out to the little greenhouse.

And I am doing better physically. I think this is the first February in a long time that I have not gotten sick, and my neck and elbow and shoulder is better. My major issue is anxiety right now, to the extent that I nearly had a panic attack for the first time in ages on Thursday. Fortunately, work stuff is about to slow down just a tad, and with Spring Break (shouldn’t they call it Late Winter Break?) next week it will be much quieter.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Well, first off, I thought that I had made the last post here private, so if you read it, :::::sigh::::: my first impulse is to apologize, but I won’t. I needed to get some stuff out of my head and to do so I addressed it to the world. Posting it made me feel better, and now it is private, so if you don’t know what I am talking about, good!

Anyway, this week one of my friends that I rarely see on social occasions any more told me that I should find my own drinking buddies. It was kinder than it sounds…I won’t go into the reasons why the two of us aren’t drinking buddies any more but they are wise, necessary, and mutual. The problem is that most of my friends my age either don’t drink beer, don’t or can’t go out at night, or spend most of their spare time with their partners. One of my very best friends moved to New York. My younger friends tend to be ruled by family obligations – either babies, young’uns, or old’uns. So that is frustrating sometimes because I really love going to breweries and taprooms and trying new beers. And it looks and feels weird to do it by myself. It looks terrible if I go out with a male friend, although I never used to think twice about that. Sandy will go with me but often I sense that he is bored and would rather be somewhere else.

After work I was out with a few co-workers and ran into one of my old “drinking buddies” and she came over and hugged me and we will get back together sometime soon. Maybe she read the post? And Wednesday night Sandy and I went to Oden Brewing which is practically just down the street, played rummy, ate fries from a food truck, and listened to live music. That was fun and helped pull my mood into a better direction.

The fact is, I have cut way down on my drinking except for this week when I took a deep dip in spirits, and it is a trend that I need to continue. Drinking and depression do not mix well although it did help my anxiety! Politics, work issues, and weather made a perfect storm this week. I am horrified at the state of our government, as are most people I know. I can barely even think about it without crashing. This is also the anniversary of a tragedy that took the lives of two friends.

Last night Sandy made our signature seafood pasta dish with very little help from me. I sat in the studio/keeping room and answered questions, played with Pablocito, and got my new phone activated. HOORAY! I have a working refurbished phone with an unbroken camera lens for the first time since May 2018. I wish I had done it earlier, but I thought that I would be able to get a free phone at the end of my contract. Turns out that they don’t do that anymore.

I can be quite a miser when it comes to being able to finance my art retreat and travel addiction.

So. Today. I am going to go to the farmer’s market with Sandy, then go to Leon’s Beauty School and get my hair cut. I am tired of it. I am prepared for it to look a lot grayer, but I’m not going to dye it yet. I bought a phone and a laptop this month and I like to keep my credit card paid off. When and if I do dye it, I will do some kind of fun color.

I will attempt to get some artwork done. I dreamed about weaving on a loom last night. The looms and weaving methods in my dreams are always so strange and fascinating. In this one, though, I was struggling to add on to a warp in a weird way because I didn’t have enough of the right colors, but I was determined and I had worked on it for ages. Then a friend of mine walked over with a big pair of scissors and like a flash cut the whole thing off at the front beam. I was shocked and he explained that it was never going to work and he was doing me a favor. Then I was relieved that I wasn’t going to be dealing with it any more.

Tomorrow I need to do some cleanup on the UNCG garden plots and decide if I am going to rent them again this year, as I was sent an invoice for them yesterday. I probably will. I have a massage scheduled for late afternoon.

Monday is my birthday, and we MIGHT go out for oysters that night at Full Moon Oyster Bar. I’ll see how I feel at the end of the day.

Tuesday, I get together with my buddies from the Tiny Pricks Project, which has morphed into a monthly meeting of really cool fiber artists/crafters at our homes. A lot of these artists are also musicians or have partners who are musicians.

I’m still working a couple of hours a week on shifting my photos from Flickr to this platform, which also means changing links. My routine is down, so it is faster. This past week I shifted over the Alaska cruise from 2009. This week I started working on the Ireland 2012 trip. Wow, did we look younger!

I think that I will post this jewel from our Alaska trip in honor of the late great Terry Jones.

So things are better, but my mood swings are fairly severe. I’m going to try to journal here more, but you may not see it. As much as I want to put my mental illness out into the world, sometimes it is a bit too hard. I do think that it is important that we talk openly about it. It helps people like me get help. I wish that I hadn’t waited so long to get medicated. It made such a huge difference in my life, and I might not even be here now if it hadn’t been for that.

Photos will ratchet up from here on out too.