coffee pot posts, critters

Tuesday morning


Time to get the dehydrator out for the cherry tomatoes.

Much better spirits this week, all the way around. I’m working from home this morning but I don’t have much to do other than social media and email answering. I have an eye doctor appointment right after lunch and then a therapist appointment. I need the eye appointment, the therapy not so much today, but I’ll go anyway just to stay on track.

I had a real breakthrough on my bird phobia! Bernie got out of the cage and he was trying to get  in on the back side of the cage beside the wall. He had pretty much worn himself out and I went into the room and said to Sandy, “I think that I can catch him.” And without thinking about it much, I did, bare-handed. He nipped me the first time and I lost my grasp on him, mainly because I was holding him more loosely that I realized, and then he flew behind the computer monitor and I caught him again. This time he drew blood and held on and I had to disengage his claws from the computer wires, but I didn’t let go and I got him back into the cage. After this, I won’t be afraid if I have to hold him again. It was painful, but nothing that I can’t get over quickly.

We are going down to the lake this weekend and a few friends are going. My sister and brother-in-law should be there too. He’s out of the hospital and feeling pretty good. They are both making plans and a bucket list, and right now they just want to have some fun. Friends are cooking and bringing supplies to make paste papers and I’m bringing my stash of stencils so I should come home with a nice stack of decorative papers for bookmaking. Making paste papers is just plain fun and calming…I spent three days doing pretty much nothing but paste papers with Albie Smith on my 50th birthday at An Artful Journey.

I finished reading A Game of Thrones and it whetted my appetite for more fantasy/sci-fi, so it’s hard to go back to my reading list as it stands now. What I’ve been trying to do is read the books on my shelves and then putting them in the local little free libraries in an effort to downsize. Sandy took a huge box to the used bookstore for credit, but they give us so little in return that it is hardly worth the effort. I took a big bag to my favorite indy bookseller who sells out of a refurbished school bus and donated them. Right now I am trying to read The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash but I need something lighter. I found a signed first edition in a LFL and in my old life I would keep it but I’m trying to get out of book collecting. It’s a tough thing to leave behind!

We are almost at the end of the first season of Sweet Tooth on Netflix and I am enjoying that despite the apocalyptic nature of it cutting a bit too close to the bone.

I moved most of my home office back to my real office since we have returned to a semi-normal schedule. It’s nice to have some room back in my studio.

The mini-calla lily bloomed but I had to prop it up.


coffee pot posts

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This has been a rough week. I’m talking one of those days when you realize that your life and the lives of others that you love are truly going to change in a major way. This is what this kind of morning is like for a vivid dreamer: you wake up and try to make some sense out of the world that you just left, and how it might attach to the real world. Then you remember what is happening in the real world, and you wonder for a few moments if the real world is a nightmare.

Sandy’s diagnosis was weighing heavy on me this week. I joined a support group on Facebook for myositis caregivers, thinking that would help me process it and prepare, and then the links that they provided for information about polymyositis almost undid me. I felt so overwhelmed with negative possibilities, and really feeling our ages. It’s a good thing that I am in therapy, and I hope that Sandy will go with me on Tuesday.

Then came the bomb. My brother-in-law’s surgery to remove a blockage in his colon revealed extensive, inoperable, incurable cancer on his sub-abdominal wall. That’s why they couldn’t find it in the colonoscopy. It was outside his colon. The surgeon built a bypass in his colon so that he can eat somewhat normally and closed him up. The plan will be for him to do chemo in Wilmington, so that he can still live at the lake.

I love my brother-in-law – I absolutely adore him. He is one of the top beloved people in my life. He is more of a brother to me than my brother ever has been. Sandy feels the same way about him. And my sister – oh my God – those two are inseparable. Best friends.

I haven’t talked to him yet. I’ve talked to my sister several times and she thought I should wait a couple of days. He is still recovering in the hospital and on pain meds. But he should be going home soon and I might see them at the lake next weekend. None of us are people who want visitors in the hospital. Unless someone asks for visitors, we view hospitals as places to just heal.

My sister pulled an Aurora Greenway on the staff there when they asked him if he had suicidal thoughts twenty minutes after being told his prognosis. I mean, there he was, just out of surgery and doped up and had just been told that he is dying. What human would not have suicidal thoughts? He said that he supposed so, and so they said that they had to put someone in his room overnight on a suicide watch. So my sister forbade it, ran them out of there, and spent the night with him. When they came back with their clipboard the next day, she forbade them to ask him the question again. She is Mama Bear. Don’t mess with my sister. (I am the same way.)

I mean, can you imagine having some stranger watching you all night the first time you have been given terrible news? That was clearly a bureaucratic cover-your-ass situation, and I would have been furious if it had been me. What a horrible invasion of privacy.

So, the only real help that I could be to my sister was to call my brother, who neither of us have spoken to in almost two years. I controlled my temper on the call, barely, and I warned him at the beginning of it that I was very angry about the situation. Of course, he told me that he and his wife were not vaccinated, and proceeded to state some concerns that were straight from Tucker Carlson’s bullshit about the vaccine, and how the government might force them to be vaccinated. I have zero tolerance for this kind of garbage thinking and while I tried to not totally lose my shit on him, I explained to him that Sandy and my brother-in-law are on immune-suppressant medicine and while the government would not force them to be vaccinated, he would not be welcome to visit unless he was vaccinated. There was more to the conversation but suffice it to say that by the time I disconnected (almost wrote “hung up”) I was in a rage. There is good reason that my brother and I haven’t communicated.

I am so sick of political thinking about EVERYTHING.

I am tired of human beings being treated like numbers and objects and boxes to be checked off a form.

There is a homeless woman named Sarah that we met about a year ago, who walks through this neighborhood a lot and lives on the porch of her friend’s house. She chooses to sleep outside in a sleeping bag in all seasons. She carries a baritone ukelele and the first time we met her she played us a song. I gave her some money which she tried very hard to refuse, but I insisted on it. We’ve seen her several times since then but this morning I was sitting here on the front porch writing this post and I invited her up for a cup of coffee. She asked for water instead and Sandy was fixing lunch and shared his lunch with her.

Talking with Sarah grounded me. She has a much different perspective on life and I don’t expect that I will ever understand all the things that she has experienced. She is somewhat vague about her life other than it has been traumatic and that she “has problems.” We spent a good two hours talking about some very complex issues and emotions and even though she said that she had sworn that she was going to stop talking to people, I think that we both benefited from the conversation.

In the end, we talked about hope. I am a bit conflicted about hope, having read Buddhist teachings  that make me wonder if it is a source of suffering. It’s something that maybe I need to bring up in my therapy session because it seems to me that it will be necessary for everyone’s survival on an individual basis, everyone in the entire world, not just me and my family. At the same time, I fear false hope is stopping the world’s powers-that-be and those who put them in power from doing what is necessary for humanity to survive on this planet. It’s a conundrum, to be sure.

coffee pot posts

Sunday afternoon



It’s still cool enough to sit in front of the fan on the front porch – not something I expected at 5 pm. I’m drinking a Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer in a can, feet propped up. Just took a walk and so far so good, although if I am going to get in good enough shape to walk those hills in Lisbon, I need to step it up. Maybe when I am at work I will walk up and down the stairs several times a day.

After a day away from looking at the tapestry, I decided that the black drops are fine and I wove further along on it. It is a challenge for me to weave something that I am pretty much designing as I go along. It is not like painting, for sure! Maybe I’ll get it done by the end of the summer. I have an appointment with a new eye doctor on July 13.


We had massages by students at a massage school yesterday. Great deal to get an hour long massage for $25! I was concerned when I asked the student who worked on me if he had been vaccinated and he said no. I choked back the urge to castigate him, put my mask back on, and enjoyed the massage. He wore a mask. My hope is that he had not been vaccinated because he already had the virus.

But why? Why? Why? Vaccines are plentiful here. We are so lucky! Most of the rest of the world is still working on getting to the level of vaccination that we are because they haven’t been able to get the vaccines quickly enough.  Why are people in health related professions even allowed to see patients/clients without being vaccinated? Why aren’t students required to be vaccinated for Covid when they are required to be vaccinated for other diseases? I am baffled.

We could have been at the end of this thing by now if people weren’t so goddamned stupid about it. I follow a page called Safe Communities Portugal and they posted today that they are hoping to have 70% vaccinated by some time in September so that bodes well. In the United States, 100% of the people who can be vaccinated could be vaccinated if they weren’t brainwashed and stubborn.

Oh, don’t think that because I am not writing about all the disasters that are happening worldwide that I am not intensely aware of them. I just don’t see the need to when others do it so much better.

I’m not sure why I did not listen to Spotify for so long. The playlists that are offered up nowadays are great! I’ve been listening to a lot of early-mid 20th century music, and today WFDD offered up a playlist with the theme of I-95 South from Roanoke Rapids to Lumberton.

I am not an audio person, generally, but I might have to turn into one so that I can rest my eyes other than when I am sleeping.

Reading: switched to A Game of Thrones from Emerald Germs of Ireland.  Yes, I watched the first season of “Game of Thrones,” and the last two seasons, because the costumes, scenery, and dragons were awesome. The first season was a little tough for me to stomach. I tend to take violent content into my dreams at night.  I find the book to be more palatable, and there are no surprises here, which is not especially great, but I’ve always enjoyed reading a book more than seeing the movie or TV show. I even stopped watching Poldark when I took up reading the series of books, even though I found Aiden Turner to be quite yummy. I know what comes after where I stopped watching the series, and I don’t particularly care to see it acted out.

TV: I started watching “The Good Place” and “Doc Martin” again. I’m also giving “Sweet Tooth” a try.

I booked a hotel room for the night in Dublin between when we arrive from Portugal and get on a train to Westport the next day. It is over near Christchurch Cathedral so maybe we’ll have a little bit of time to see something in Dublin that morning, but I suspect that we will be worn out. I’m thinking that I’d like to have lunch at the Brazen Head and combine some history with my food. So I only have one hotel room night to book for our big trip now – the last night before we get on the plane for home from Dublin. Here’s hoping that Ireland is open for business by then!

coffee pot posts, critters

Saturday afternoon

Hydrangeas on my walk to work

I’m getting more used to this new WordPress editor system – I don’t think that it is very intuitive but by experimenting and doing a lot of drafts I’m beginning to get the hang of it. What I really dislike is that when I go back to edit a page often it gives me “block error” messages and I have no idea what it means. I keep reopening the edit page in different ways and eventually I get it to load. I’ve been working on the Tapestry Weavers South website and making artist pages for the members as they send in information and photos. In doing so, I found the slideshow block so I’m playing with that for my page now.

Today I got up to feed the cats and went back to bed. When I woke up it was 10:40 and Sandy and I hustled to get to the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market before it closed at 11:30. We have not been there in a long time. I bought from three different vendors: Zephyr squash, white potatoes, and flat green beans. I meant to buy shrimp but the market was closing down and I had a headache from rushing out without my coffee. I’ve had my caffeine and acetaminophen now but I’m not quite over it.

In the past year, too often have I bought fresh produce and then let it rot in the fridge. The cooking muse not only left me, I wonder if she died of Covid. I wonder if she is ever coming back. Pretty weird for a blogger who used to focus on fresh and local food, huh?

I did a little bit of weaving on the lake tapestry though.

I have since added another black spot and wonder if I should take them out and tone them down a bit. Funny because in my brain I was excited about these three little black spots. I will sit with this one for another day or so. It is really hard for me to unweave given that it takes me so long to weave anything these days.

Thursday was my last day working from home because of the pandemic, if all goes well. My coworkers will take vacation days in July so I will be in the office without much to do for a while. I am going to take two long weekends, one to return to Lake Waccamaw and another to go to Topsail Beach for a book workshop with Dan Essig at Leslie Marsh’s studio.

Sandy and I have gotten out and about this week. He is still going to his water exercise classes every morning. I have been walking more and interacting with my neighbors more. We had delicious jambalaya and shrimp and grits at Elm St. Grill Wednesday night, and sat outside at Oden Brewing eating sloppy Chinese dumplings from Chirba Chirba Dumpling truck and listening to music. Last Sunday we went to the Artists Over 50 potluck at the former site of Healing Ground, now known as Penns Grove Retreat. I showed my tapestry of the labyrinth there and my lake tapestry in progress and said a few words about them. This is the group that we joined a few months before everything shut down. I hope to show some of my collage work in their shows.


This afternoon Sandy scheduled massages with the students at Kneaded Energy for both of us. I texted my former massage therapist, and sadly, that is over. Her studio (A to Zen) shut down and I am not sure if she is going back to massage.

Pablocito relaxes on the front porch
Diego being extra cuddly one evening.
Back Forty, Blather, coffee pot posts

Thursday lunch post


I just edited a whole bunch of photos and wrote a post about going to Dunleath Porchfest on June 12, because my work ethic is to get the easy quick projects out of the way first. It works for me.

Today is such a light workday. It is so refreshing to have these days after the work crunch of spring semester, and such a shock when the world returns to semi-normal in August. I’ve only had one visitor to the office, and one phone call. One faculty member is here in her office. All the classes are online. I caught up on everything that built up during my vacation on Tuesday.

The front and back gardens are looking lovely – but the other parts of the yard are getting grown up with pokeweed and English ivy and poison ivy and ground ivy. I posted a recommendation request on the Next Door app and got loads of messages back. So I knuckled down and made the phone calls. I hate making phone calls worse than almost anything in the world. I like public speaking better. I like eating liver better. I like listening to Garth Brooks better. The responses are beginning to come in.

This is the pretty part:


I got shit done yesterday and today though. I went to Leon’s Beauty School and had half of my hair whacked off. I did a couple of loads of laundry and got completely frustrated with the plumbing situation, so a plumber was called and is coming tomorrow afternoon. I have managed to put this off for at least a year. Sandy and I went to lunch at Lindley Filling Station and I ordered a healthy salad. We got one car inspected. I filled out the form to make an eye appointment in mid-July – I had hoped for sooner, so we’ll see whether I stick with them. I ordered a few colors of Golden paint that I’ve been wanting.

And I spent money. I bought plane tickets for Dublin to Lisbon. I don’t feel very secure about it, and not only because of Covid concerns. TAP, the Portuguese airline, was really the best choice as far as the length of the trip (2 hr 45 min) and the time of departure because we needed a morning flight. It was the best price for a flight that allowed checked baggage. But their website was a nightmare and had conflicting/confusing information about whether we could get a voucher or refund if the flight was cancelled. So I called a couple of times and I couldn’t get anyone to answer after listening to hold music for way too long. Then I checked out their Facebook page AFTER I booked the flight (I do have 24 hours to cancel, I know that) and saw many complaints with very unsatisfactory responses from TAP. This morning I took another look at my choices and I am sticking with TAP and hoping for the best. Hoo boy.

The fact is, I feel compelled to move forward with this trip. I had to tweak our plans. For one thing, my sister and brother-in-law are definitely not coming with us. They want to wait, and I can’t blame them for that. My sister says that she knows someone with an auto-immune disease who found out that she had no antibodies after she was vaccinated. We’ll buy a couple of antibody tests at Walgreens and see. Maybe Sandy will need a more robust mask to wear.

We also realized that there was a logistical problem with spending the weekend in Dublin. We have to have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of getting on the plane to Portugal. We could probably get a fast test in Dublin, but, we’d have to do that right away and we’ll be tired.  By the time we land in Lisbon, we will have been on planes or in airports for over 24 hours. We are going to be exhausted so Friday night in Lisbon will probably be a waste while we rest. And I can tell you from the past long wait in Dublin airport that it is not a comfy place to hang out. But the TAP flight after a six hour layover in Dublin was the only nonstop flight that left in a reasonable time frame. If all goes well, we’ll be in Lisbon early Friday afternoon, after leaving Raleigh on Thursday morning.

But hey! It gives us more time in Portugal! Winning! I changed our AirBNB apartment to a smaller one that costs about the same for the longer amount of time – good reviews, super cheap, and right next to the big Lisbon flea market, which will thrill both of us. Close to the main historic part of Lisbon and most importantly, a short walk to the train station. Flea market and exploring Lisbon on Saturday, then we plan to take at least a couple of day trips on the train or bus tours to other parts of Portugal, then another day or two in Lisbon.

Sandy really wanted to spend the whole trip in Portugal, and I considered that. We are seriously talking about emigrating there when I retire, and we need to check it out. But I really want to take that art class with Lora Murphy and chill out on the western beaches of Ireland, so the compromise was made. He will be happy in Ireland too.

Okay, back to work.


coffee pot posts

Wednesday morning coffee pot post

This is a brain dump.

Considering that the left and southwest part of the country is under a massive heat wave, the temperature is pretty amazing here – the high is supposed to be 77 F. I’m working on the front porch this morning. Soon I will be back in the office every day, so I’m enjoying the privilege of being able to do this most days until July 6. Last week and Monday we were at the lake, and I took vacation days this time. I needed a break from email and the computer, although it didn’t stop me from posting on Facebook and playing games on my Kindle. I have so many photos to edit and blog posts to write, but this morning while Sandy is at his water exercise class, I’m taking advantage of a light work day and the quiet to write a little catch-up.

There has been a loss – my friend Jess Usher, who got his MA and PhD in history at UNCG. He was working in south Georgia, so our friendship was virtual for the past few years. He was one of the only people who regularly whipped my ass at Words with Friends and now I am sad every time I open it. We played one or two turns a day, and when he missed a day, I worried. This time my worry was valid. He was a warrior for justice, especially for Latinx immigrants, and had a wicked sense of humor.

My anxiety level was sky high the week that I went to Elkin for the tapestry retreat, to the point that I was embarrassed. I thought I might have to go back on the anxiety meds. But after three days at the lake, I calmed down quite a bit.

Mainly I’m thinking about our trip to Ireland and Portugal. A misunderstanding caused me to suggest to Sandy that we spend the whole trip in Portugal, which he is eager to do. Now that the misunderstanding has been cleared up, I want to go back to the plan of leaving for Lisbon as soon as we land in Dublin, flying back to Dublin after a week, taking the train to Westport in western Ireland, then spending the remainder of our trip in an AirBNB apartment in Mulranny, a beach town near Achill Island. I know, based on how we both feel now, that we will be exhausted after a week in Portugal.

I haven’t gotten much exercise yet. I spent the week at the lake mostly sitting on my butt on the back porch. I did a little swimming one day. I decided to stop taking the meloxicam while I was there so I could be freer with my food and alcohol intake. Turned out that I didn’t drink much at all, but I did eat some good food. And some junk food. My appetite is pretty low these days, for some reason. Too lazy to fix food? I need to start walking every day. Yesterday I walked to work and boy, did my hips ache.

I have so many things that I need to do today/soon. Car inspection. Get someone to clean up our yard. Call a plumber. Go to the drugstore. Go to the grocery store. Laundry. Call for an eye appointment. I definitely have to do that because my eyesight is interfering with finishing the lake tapestry. Get my hair cut, because someone mistook me for a person who I dislike pretty intensely at Dunleath Porchfest a couple of weeks ago. As much as I wanted to deny it, the mirror told me that there was a resemblance. Weight loss and a change of wardrobe is required as well. It’s time for a change anyway.

The garden is lovely right now and the tomatoes are ripening, although the first couple of bigger ones had blossom end rot. I’ll need to add some epsom salts to the pots.

I will have a lake post and hopefully a post backdated to the Elkin retreat with lots of photos, but I just don’t have time to do the photo editing right now. There are about 200 photos to go through. Maybe tomorrow.

coffee pot posts, Reading

A cool Sunday in the front room

20210530_124641Our house is 99 years old this year.

Sandy has rearranged the front “living” room, which is a long narrow room stretching across the whole front of the house. In other Craftsman bungalows this room is divided into two small rooms. It’s always been hard to decide how to arrange this room, with the wood stove on one side and the cable connections on the other. It is 11 feet wide on this end and about 13 feet wide on the fireplace side, and I’m guessing about 30 feet long. There used to be French doors leading into the “dining room.” We have usually tended to divide it up like two spaces. For a while I put room dividers of books and art supplies and made this part my studio, but it was always too dark and crowded. I like it right now – cozy with the big sofa and big chair, art books beside me, ottoman to put my feet up, cat tree between the sofa and chair, soft lighting. My mother’s little reading floor lamp is in the corner, with a watercolor paper shade that she punched and snipped a design into. Yes, the plaster needs repair!

And that front door – oof. One day.


When we first moved in here, we were so used to living in a tiny space and so intimidated about what to do with this room that we left it empty for months.

Anyway, I am happy about the change and I suspect it will get me out of the bedroom more often, although I prefer it without the TV on.

One thing that I regret is that there are no photos of any rooms from my childhood home other than the living room, where we seldom spent any time, or a few dining room shots that only show the counter with food on it. So I’m trying to resolve that with this home. One thing that I love about the digital age is that you can take lots of photos and not worrying about the expense of wasting film!

I figure that if we ever get around to remodeling the bedrooms and Sandy’s man cave, and boy, do they need it, we can sleep in this spot. The floor and ceiling and sliding closet doors and walls need to be redone in the small bedroom where I sleep. The old ceiling tiles in there are stained and bulging from old roof leaks and the wallpaper is the only thing holding the cracked plaster in the walls together. The sliding closet doors are metal and difficult and noisy to open and close. The whole house tilts to the south. We did fix the foundation years ago, at least.

When we go into our neighbors’ houses, it is always interesting to see how they have dealt with this similar layout. Most of them knocked out the wall that made this room two rooms. One has a tiny foyer because they put in stairs and built a second story.

These things will have to wait, but luckily I am not the sort who has to have everything just right. However, I did always think that I would have these repairs done long before now, and we can’t just let the house fall apart. We have spent a lot of money on this house on the more basic stuff – electrical repair, new HVAC system, roof, new chimneys. I admit that the solar panels were a bit over the top – they will never pay themselves off, probably, because Duke Energy is going to keep raising their fee to connect them to the net metering system unless politicians have the will to stop them. (The unfairness of this kept me awake a couple of nights this week, until I convinced myself not to worry about something that I have no control over.) I do like that I am producing renewable energy on my rooftop. I probably should have spent the money on something else, though, in hindsight. I never regret spending money on travel.

I have been reading a book that surprised me – The Master, by Colm Toibin, a fictional biography of the author Henry James. I picked it up a couple of times and gave up after the first chapter. I was disappointed because I had picked it because I am focused on Irish writers and this was not about Ireland. Once I managed to get into it, though, I was entranced with the complexity of the characters and I felt as though I had met a twin soul, as far as his introversion and inner turmoil. In particular, the women caught my heart. It made realize that I had never read Henry James, or seen the movies based on his books. So I downloaded “The Portrait of a Lady” and I am watching it on Amazon Prime right now.

I took my last prednisolone this morning and I am looking forward to Sandy being off of his steroid doses, as his are much stronger and more frequent that mine were. It suppresses your immune system so it has made me more anxious about catching a variant of Covid-19. My heel is somewhat better but I haven’t really put it to the test yet. I will be on meloxicam for another three weeks, so I stopped drinking. I haven’t forgotten what strong anti-inflammatories did to my gut years ago. The fridge has lots of good ales in it, and I haven’t touched one in a week. It is very tempting, but I will try to save them to take to the lake in a couple of weeks.

Now there is beef stew in the crock pot. A few carrot tops that had sprouted were planted in one of the containers at the front. I haven’t done this before so we will see if they take root or if they become snacks for the squirrels. I hear our neighbor across the street playing cornhole with his grandkids. We are about to go out and do some shopping (with our masks on) and later if the light and temperature is good on the porch, I’ll weave a little bit on the lake tapestry. That will be for tomorrow’s post.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts

Saturday on the front porch

20210529_115738I haven’t done much lately, trying to heal this heel. Heal, heel! I puttered around the garden this morning, but my Achilles tendon doesn’t care much for squatting, so here I am back on the front porch. Fortunately the heat lifted with the rain last night and it is expected to be cool tomorrow in the upper 60s!

Sandy is in the back, burning pieces of an old rotten pallet in the fire pit. It was once part of a compost heap that is long gone. Porfirio says that he might be able to come back to work in the yard on Tuesday. If he can’t, I will look for someone else to hire. We both reached the point where we agree that help is needed.

I haven’t planted anything new in the Back Forty this year, so far. Everything has gone into the front garden, mostly into pots. The feverfew is just beginning to flower and the evening primrose will be bursting into blooms very soon. The fig tree is huge and will have to be cut down by at least two-thirds this winter.


In the front, we have green tomatoes, a few peppers, and coreopsis providing a welcome burst of yellow.


The foxgloves are winding down. The azalea blossoms have turned brown. Every year I am tempted to remove these white azaleas. I didn’t plant them and I don’t particularly like them.  Note a calla lily that is emerging in the center of the photo below. It was given to me as a potted plant twenty years ago and I planted it just to see what would happen. I always forget about it until it surprises me each year. Hopefully I will get a bloom this year.


One of the best things about the front porch and how we are so close to the street is the interaction with our neighbors and people who are walking, often with their dogs. There is a certain corner of our yard that I have dubbed the Dogs Community Board because every dog stops to sniff it. This morning I heard again that our yard is a green oasis on their daily walk. That makes me feel good. Consider that when we bought this house, this was just a small patch of grass and the white azaleas, with many electrical lines crossing above.

This is how I repurposed the original bird cage that Bernie and Liz lived in. Squirrels loved to dig in this plant box. Usually I grow lettuce here but this summer I am growing basil.


coffee pot posts

Wednesday afternoon

I went to the podiatrist on Monday afternoon, and they x-rayed my right foot and found a bone spur right where my achilles tendon attaches to the back of my heel. So it turns out that it was achilles tendinitis after all, but caused by this bone spur. That is not easily resolved, but the doctor gave me a steroid shot in the heel, which surprisingly did not hurt at all, and put me on meloxicam and a prednisolone pack. The goal is to get me walking and hiking again this summer, lose some weight, and be ready to walk in Ireland and Portugal come September. I am happy to take the meds because it should also help me with the tendinitis that has reemerged in my left wrist, just in time for the tapestry retreat and workshop in less than two weeks from now.

The plan in September is to fly to Ireland and stay in Dublin a few days, take a side trip to Lisbon for four days, then fly back to Dublin and take the train to Westport, where we will stay in an AirBNB in a little beach town near Achill Island (just noticed that name – ha!) called Mulranny for a week and chill. It is next to the Great Western Greenway for walking and biking. The current plan is that I will take an art class next door and use her studio for a couple of days to learn and play with encaustic mixed media. We’ll take some side trips, but I think that after that first busy week, we’ll need the downtime.

Except for Dublin, I found really cheap housing for this trip by booking early this year, and choosing only places that let me cancel without financial penalty up to a week before our trip. I have reserved a room in the same B&B where we stayed in Howth, Dublin, which is inexpensive in a lovely area, but I am toying with spending the money to stay in central Dublin instead, where it will be easy and quick to take the DART train and taxis where we would like to go. I was warned by several locals NOT to take the DART on the north side of Dublin, because it apparently goes through some rough areas. In 2012, we took the bus from the airport to Dublin, then got off at the wrong stop. We ended up walking a long way with our luggage. The next time we took a long meandering bus ride to the Sutton DART stop and then the DART from Sutton to Howth, but I am still uncomfortable with using the bus system, simply because everyone seems to be in a hurry and I feel like I am holding things up by asking basic questions that everyone else knows. So, in a nutshell, I feel dumb and anxious on a bus. And it would be so easy to take the DART all the way from Howth to Dublin. Maybe this time I’ll be able to understand it a little better. Or maybe I’ll just take a fecking cab and be done with it.

The AirBNB I found in Lisbon is cute as a button and near the waterfront in an arty district near the museums. Supposedly it is noisy there, but considering that here I hear fireworks, gunshots, and racing motorcycles and cars late at night more and more in the past couple of years, that is not likely to bother either of us much.

This past Sunday, we hung around outside in the Oden Brewing beer garden and listened to open mic night. I was just up there to buy delicious bulgogi cheesesteaks from the Urban Street Grill food truck, when I spotted a friend, Lisa Woods, who I was just beginning to get acquainted with before the pandemic shutdown. She was played washboard with Michael Blind-Dog Gatewood. We sat at a picnic table with them and their friends/partners and enjoyed the music. I really love the old blues and music from the early 20th century. Now that we are friends with so many musicians, I guess that there will be a lot of live music in our future.

I feel like both of us are embracing the future more positively now, and more realistically.  Things can turn on a dime – for example, one of my favorite family members is not doing well right now and this summer could end up being rough. But I feel like I have the strength to handle changes right now, good and bad. Aging happens, along with all the stuff that comes along with it, and you know, it’s ride or die. I guess we are ready to ride.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, depression/anxiety, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post


^Statue on the corner of Walker and Elam Avenues, Greensboro, NC

It’s still comfortably cool on the front porch, but according to the weather forecast it will be turning to summer temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s soon. Dry, too, with some drought concerns beginning to pop up. When I was at the lake last time, the water was already pretty low.

Both of us have been in better spirits this week. Sandy is going to the Aquatic Center for water exercise classes and swimming laps, and he started the steroids on Thursday. He will be on them for a month and then the doctor switches him to something else.

I’m kind of craving a steroid shot in my wrist again since of course I have overdone it with the yard work and otherwise usually holding a book, Kindle, or phone in my hand until my Dequervain’s tendinitis in my left wrist has flared up and my carpal tunnel has flared up in my right wrist. So I’m typing this with two different kinds of wrist braces on, and will try to hold back on the gardening and weeding this weekend. However, this pain is old news to me and even though it is distressing (I had surgery on the left wrist 8 years ago) I don’t struggle with it as much mentally as I used to.

I bought some more tomato and pepper plants at Deep Roots Market on Sunday afternoon and planted them into the pots: Pink Brandywine tomatoes, hot banana peppers, and jalapenos. Then when we popped into the Bestway for a couple of things I noticed that they had a small pot of sweet basil with lots of seedlings crammed into it for $2.99. They are not particularly happy now that I’ve pulled them apart and planted them, but I didn’t really expect them to be. If I get two healthy ones out of the dozen or so that are in there, I win.

We both had massages Monday night and the therapist, who teaches it at the local community college so knows her stuff, basically said that I needed more work that one hour could handle. Ha.

Late Tuesday afternoon I saw my therapist for the first time since November, 2018, when the election results helped calm me down for a while. I told her that I was seeing her on my best day in at least two years and I couldn’t make the appointment to get help earlier because I was too depressed to do it. Such a vicious cycle, depression and agoraphobia. I really like her and was happy that I started it up again. There was also a nice surprise – my insurance doesn’t even charge a co-pay now. I don’t know how long that lasts, but yay.

Anyway, the point is that Sandy and I are both busy getting our shit together and back to living the best life possible. I have a podiatrist appointment on Monday, too, so new shoes will probably be in my future. We both need to do a bit of clothes shopping.

We are planning our summer – in two weeks we go up the road to Elkin, NC, for my Tapestry Weavers South retreat. I’ll be taking a tapestry design course from Tommye Scanlin on that Monday and Tuesday.

Speaking of Tommye, I set up a Bookshop of my own and right now I am featuring tapestry design books. I get a small commission, and a book wholesaler, Ingram, hosts the sites. It’s a way to support local bookstores and publishers online without going through Amazon. You can buy Tommye’s book “The Nature of Things: Essays by a Tapestry Weaver” or pre-order her upcoming book “Tapestry Design Basics and Beyond” there. The link is on my sidebar and also here: Slow Turn Books. I ordered “The Nature of Things” from my shop and it arrived within a week – what a lovely book! I have ordered from Boomerang Bookshop as well, and the entire Bookshop website is fun to search.  You can order from many independent bookstores there.

I will be adding more book lists as the summer goes on – probably focused on the fiber art/mixed media/collage artists who I’ve taken courses from and love the most. I’m not trying to compete with any bookstores or make any money off this – just promote the books and art that I love and have some fun. I miss my bookstore days, but I don’t miss the poverty wages.

Here’s a wildlife shot: The mighty cougar stalks his prey.