coffee pot posts, collage

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Note: This post began on Tuesday morning and I saved it as a draft and forgot to post it.

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I can’t say enough how much I am grateful to my sister and bro-in-law for giving us their 2007 Volvo wagon. Even though it has some wear and tear after 189K miles it is still an awesome vehicle. We are going to be good to this one, which means we are going to find a Volvo certified mechanic and/or take it to a Volvo dealer for service regularly. In the meantime, we will save for and shop for a car to replace the 2008 Honda Fit.

We drove to Chapel Hill to pick up the car and only visited with my niece very briefly. Their tabby rescue kitten, Milo, dashed out to meet me and what a cutie he is! Lisa and Tim found him in the parking lot of the strip mall in Lake Waccamaw. My niece says that he is a little psychopath and bites hard. He didn’t bite me, though. I’ve never had an issue where I had to train a kitten not to bite, at least, not more than the normal play bites. I never could get my boys to understand that they can’t flex their claws into my skin, though.

Then, even though we tried to time it so that we didn’t drive in a storm, Sandy drove the “new” car back in a bad thunderstorm with lots of water on the road. It was a little tense, but he did well. At least we drove a back road halfway home. Sure wish we could send some of this rain west.

Margaret Atwood is speaking at the auditorium close to my house, but wow, the cheapest tickets for us would be $60! I’m becoming one of those old people who bitch about how much everything costs nowadays, blah blah blah. Maybe I’ll hang out by the back door and say hey to her. I know that building pretty intimately from my theater major days.

On Saturday, I cleaned up my studio and divided the work spaces into a wet work space for glue and paint and a dry work space. I cut out the wonky endband on the book that I made in Dan’s class and added those pieces of thread to some small collages I made last year that still needed a little something. I think I’m done with the “handmade” one but the other two still bug me and maybe I’ll just paint over them and start over. I’m thinking about what I will put in the Artists Over 50 show in Greensboro next month.

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Saturday update: I watched Seth Apter do a live demo with a couple of his embossing powders on Wednesday and that inspired me to order most of them, so maybe I will experiment with them on these two collages that are too busy for me. Two of the powders create a faux-encaustic look which is really cool.

I continue to fool around with this collage, which was inspired by the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven.” At first I was focused on “and you know sometimes words have two meanings.” But as I added to it, the line “on a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird who sings” pushed the other line aside and it became an homage to Liz, our white parakeet who died this past year, and imagining her free. I think that I might layer some millet seeds there on the bottom where the bugs are, since those would be what Liz would prefer.

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The other news from this week, since Tuesday, is that I went back to get my injured foot checked and x-rayed and the PA who saw me doesn’t think it is broken now. The swelling went down and I was nearly painless. I told her that I could no longer wear the boot because it was causing me more harm than good. So I am no longer in the boot, but I have to be careful and remember not to bounce around as if I am healed, because I am not. I proved that right away by using the stairs this week and paying for it later in renewed pain. However, it has been good to be able to walk to work again. My hips and back need the exercise badly. I just wish that I could do more. I see my other podiatrist on Sept. 1, the one that I started with in June about my bone spur and tendinitis in the same foot.

It’s good to be on the front porch this morning, but I am terribly bored and itching to travel. Sandy was able to get a booster vac on Monday. He had tried to get in touch with his rheumatologist, but couldn’t, so when he went in to get his meds refilled, he asked the pharmacy manager about the booster shot. She looks at his meds, said that he qualified, and gave him one right then. So I am happy for him, but I am still too anxious to get out among people, and I want to be sure that I don’t carry the virus back to Tim when I see him in a few weeks. According to the new guidelines, I would be able to get a booster in mid-November if I had gotten the Pfizer or Moderna, BUT I got the J&J, which continues to be a source of frustration for me. Tim is much more frustrated because he has not been able to get the booster even though he is in chemo, but his medical situation is very complicated.

I have been working on my gratitude and my attitude, but this week has been a tough one mentally and physically, with headaches, sleep deprivation, depression, and anxiety. Therapy has been good for me. I wish that Sandy would go out and do some things without me. He needs the interaction with people. I don’t want him to eat inside restaurants yet until his booster settles in, but I feel like I am holding him back by wanting to stay home.

art, collage, North Carolina

Looking back at the TWS retreat and class

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 ^^^Signpost in downtown Elkin, North Carolina

During the TWS retreat I was so anxious that I babbled for the first two days, then started calming down by Tommye’s class on the 3rd and 4th days, a class that I’ve been trying to take in one form or another for a couple of years.. But I was still anxious and burst into tears twice, once from hurtful behavior that I overreacted to, and the second time from sheer kindness that was showed to me. (I was probably a bit cranked up on steroids too.) I got some good ideas for design work though. The design exercises weren’t new to me, but getting Tommye’s perspective of what works in tapestry was valuable. And it was fun to just play with pieces of paper. Maybe once I finish the lake tapestry I will do some of these at a larger sett with larger yarns.

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I really enjoyed having a meal at Southern on Main and at the Angry Troll Brewery on Main St., and I even considered renting a studio space in the Chatham Mill that Foothills Art Center is renovating, right there next to the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center on the second floor. It was so tempting, but I know that I won’t have the time or energy to drive a little over an hour to Elkin even once a week. If I lived 30 minutes away, I would be all over it. Elkin is a cool little town near Stone Mountain State Park, and it is drawing more artists and foodies and nature loving types. In Mayberry land, from the Andy Griffith Show (note the sign that points to Pilot Mountain in the top photo).

bloggy stuff, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, Obsession, Reading

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

I start out every blog post I write with a rant about the new WordPress block format, and how tired I am of having to learn new tech and software when the way I did it before was perfectly fine. Sometimes I mess around until I find a way to go back to something similar that they had before, but I never know how to find that way again. Then I usually delete the paragraph. So THIS TIME, I have figured it out and I’m documenting it. I saved the draft of this post, then when I opened all posts to work on it again, when you hover over the name of the post, links appear beneath it and one of them is “classic editor.” Whew!

Last weekend I had a lot of fun in Leighanna Light’s “Layered Faces” Zoom class. It is definitely not my style but it was a lot of fun and got me out of my head. Here are the photos from my piece after day one and at the end. I got a wild feline feel from the face as it was developing so I went with that. Sandy was all blah about it until I finished and then he was saying “Don’t do another thing to it! It’s perfect!” LOL. I won one of Leighanna’s faces in a random drawing on the second day, so my luck was with me this week.

I’ve mainly been concentrating on work, cleaning up the garden, cooking, and today, cleaning house, so I don’t have anything exciting to report. I voted in person on Wednesday with a friend, and I didn’t have to wait long. No funny business going on. Paper ballots, but no straight ticket options. I painted another section of the front porch yesterday, but a cold front came in last night and it is about 25 degrees chillier and rainy today.

Some fall shots from my yard and my walk around the block:

Reading: I finished “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. At first it was a bit of a slog only because it is dystopian and my emotions are on edge. It ended up being very good with a complex plot and several different points of view. Now I am reading “The Good Lord Bird,” and had I known that it would be this funny (I mean, it’s about John Brown, what a surprise!) I would have started it long ago.

My fixation on traveling to Portugal with the idea of scouting out places to live is back, and I almost booked tickets to go in June, but the fricking searches were confusing, and then I figured out that to get my Aer Lingus travel credit I have to go through Orbitz, who is charging $100 more per ticket than going straight through Aer Lingus. I got disgusted and decided to start over again this coming week. I have until the end of November to book Aer Lingus tickets to get my credit for my cancelled flight this past June, and their prices went way up.

This year my sister and brother-in-law are going to travel with us. This should be interesting to see if we get sick of each other. We have not traveled together before – just stayed in one familiar place like the beach or the lake. Of the four of us, only Sandy has a lot of patience, so he will be fine. I have been looking forward to traveling with my sister for a long time but they haven’t been able to do it for eldercare and other family reasons. All four of us are interested in emigrating to Portugal, although that’s might change after the election. I’m ready to go regardless, but for financial reasons I need to either wait 2.5 years or get permission to work remotely from there.

We’ll spend a couple of days in Dublin since they haven’t been to Ireland before. It’s cheaper to fly to Dublin from Raleigh and then catch TAP or Ryanair to Lisbon from there.

This also means that I will not be going to the art retreat in west Ireland or FOBA this summer. I hate like hell to miss these, but this is more than just a vacation – it is also a scouting trip. It’s important to do it soon, and I promised Sandy that we would go in 2021 before we knew that my trips would be canceled this year. We need to spend enough time in Portugal to explore different areas to see where might be the best fit for us. I am reading a lot of ex-pat advice.

Of course, all bets are off if there isn’t a vaccine by then.

coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles

Saturday Morning Coffee Pot Post

Woke up today to the lovely sounds of roofers across the street. I’m grateful for ear plugs and the ability to catch up on my sleep these days. One thing about working from home is that if insomnia keeps me awake until 3 a.m., I can generally shift my schedule to accommodate it since I don’t have office hours from 8-5 on Monday through Thursday. That’s crucial for managing my panic disorder. Next week will be different because I am administering tests through email to PhD students beginning at 9 a.m. every morning for a couple of weeks. Still much better than having my butt in my office at 8 a.m. every day! So there are some silver linings, and I try to focus on that most of the time.

My anxiety is more about the election than anything else. Sandy voted in person on the first morning of early voting and I had planned to go with him. I mean, that is the whole reason that I didn’t vote by absentee ballot. But I had work meetings that day and he was determined to go on the first day, so I will go vote during a lunch break next week when it is less busy.

This afternoon and tomorrow afternoon I am taking a Zoom workshop with Leighanna Light, one of my favorite people. I hope that the Zoom format in person will help me stay on track, instead of like the many online video workshops I have bought and abandoned over the last few years. I also bought a video workshop from Sharon Payne Bolton. It is a workshop that I’ve done in person with her before, but the price was relatively cheap and it will be a good jumpstart for when I need it, I hope.

This week I finished up a collage that I began several weeks ago on my mountain vacation retreat. I got very good feedback from Crystal Neubauer’s Facebook group and that helped me over the finish line. The branch, root, and duck feather are from Lake Waccamaw. I repurposed the piece with the word Inspire from a cardboard pin I was given by a classmate in one of Sharon’s classes at Art-is-You, because I knew it wouldn’t be long before I put it in the washing machine by mistake. (If you are reading, thanks, Maria!) I replaced the blue button that was on it with a tiny spiral shell I picked up at Topsail Beach. The music is from an old booklet titled “Gospel Pearls.” The background book cover I found in a free box of old books outside a used book store.  The panel and the bit in the top right corner is from an old book I took apart.

This is one big reason that I love collage – especially the ones in which I gather things that have meaning to me. Each element has its own story, like chapters in a book, that pull together to make their own story together.

I had problems getting this saved and published and had to rewrite some of it. Now I need to get ready for my class at 2 p.m. Hopefully I will have more to share later!

art, collage

Collage this week

My muse was waiting for me in the mountains. The collage with the stick and feather was started at Lake Waccamaw. The one with the creek stones is in progress, and the rocks have a bit of mica/pyrite/gold glitter in them. That one and the blue green collage are based on lyrics from Stairway to Heaven.

art, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, tapestry, weaving

Afternoon in the studio

^Detail, “Cathedral”

I have managed to get started in the studio again – there’s nothing that I am over excited about happening BUT I have actually started weaving on Cathedral again and glued some stuff down for collage and doodled a pretty good page during a long Zoom meeting.

As far as Cathedral goes, I finally worked out why I couldn’t weave it for so long. The tension is terrible…so uneven and I tried warping and rewarping this sucker for a solid month before I finally said fuck it and started weaving it anyway. So, after all this time and work I became terrified because it is definitely going to have puckers and and crazy tension problems when it comes off the loom, and I just couldn’t bear to think about it. I was already suffering from severe depression and that just added to the pain.

But all that work and time is wasted if I DON’T finish weaving it, and once I get it off the loom I can warp it with a much shorter warp (at the time I was warping for multiple tapestries – big mistake) and begin another weaving. Now the plan is to be less persnickety about the details and get it to a place that is even on the top and finish it as a smaller tapestry.

^Lighting makes a big difference in how we perceive color. I chose the cool lighting on the left.

Today we are getting some remnants of Hurricane Laura moving through but it’s not bad at all. Sandy and I have decided to go to Haw River State Park tomorrow for our adventure since the weather report is a bit better and I don’t want to stop the studio energy.

I do need to remember to take frequent breaks for my back and neck and shoulders. Yesterday my massage therapy studio emailed to say that they will be re-opening soon for existing customers and I hope that my therapist will continue to work there. I have been seeing her for about four years almost every month until after January. I canceled my February appointment due to bad allergies and at the time we didn’t know that they would be shut down so long.

The good thing about working from home most of the time is that my physical problems are much much better, which leads me to believe that I don’t get up and move enough when I am in my office. Here I can take my laptop to the porch, or to the sofa, or to the bedroom, or answer email on my phone. I get up and play with the cats, take breaks lying down if my back or neck hurts. Teleworking has been good for me.

Not doing too well mentally, though. I brood a lot in my bedroom, play games to numb my brain. Read a little. I can’t watch TV or videos for long – I wish I knew why. It would help to have that distraction and to be able to focus on online workshops.

Okay, break over. Back to Cathedral. I am accepting that it won’t be getting into any shows for technical skill, but it is worth finishing, puckers and all. Who knows, maybe I will be surprised.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles

Sunday Coffee Pot Post

I needed some way to kickstart my art practice, and it wasn’t happening at home. So I am back at the lake house, a bit earlier than planned, but right now is probably the best time as far as the amount of work I have to do for the real job. I will be teleworking from here some days. I need to decide what days to mark off as shut off the work email and concentrate on art vacation days. Originally I had scheduled about a week’s worth of vacation time in late July, but those plans fell into the black hole of COVID. I have lots of vacation time – I may not get many pay raises from the state of North Carolina, but they give a lot of time off instead. I have much saved up from earlier years of receiving “bonus” time rather than raises, time that I saved in case I needed it for my mother’s care. Now that is sadly not an issue, although I am relieved that she is not here to go through this pandemic in a nursing home. She would have been miserable beyond belief.

This post is to catch up a bit on the days between my last stay down here, and to set up a blogging (journaling) practice every day while I’m here rather than do it all when I get back. I am by myself, and I’ve got time.

First, here is some of the finished collage work that I mounted on wooden panels over the past few weeks. There is nothing really new here except that I worked into some of them with ink and pencil and pens. Many thanks to my online collage teachers: Crystal Neubauer, Melinda Tidwell, and Roxanne Stout.

^”Visitor” 4×4″

^”Monkey Mind” 4×4″

^”Handmade” 4×4″

^”Warrior Woman” 4×4″

“Illustrated Question Box” 8×8″

Without a doubt I have spent the most time on “Illustrated Question Box.” It has so many layers and has changed meaning for me as it has evolved. Included materials are a 1931 newspaper from Oroville, Colorado and an illustration from a book on eugenics around the same time period, and materials gleaned from paperback and hardback books that I rescued.

Here is the one that is in progress right now:

“Shimmering Light” – working title, 8×8″

As a Dudeist priestess, I realize that I am supposed to hate the fucking Eagles, man, but the lyrics to “Hotel California” resonate for me right now. The image is a copy of my grandmother’s wedding photo. She died of a sinus infection in the 1930s, so I never met her.

And I love the fucking Eagles and I don’t smoke pot, so maybe I should switch religions to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and become a Pastafarian.

The image at the top of the post is my back yard in bloom with evening primrose, feverfew, and purple coneflower (since I can’t spell echinacea right now). I think that I’ll put it into the rotating banner or in the background.

The next photos are from the front garden. It isn’t blooming much this time of year, but I had requests on Facebook to post photos of it. I recognize that the diversity of greens, textures, smells, and shapes of foliage are quite wonderful, but I didn’t think that it would translate to photography. Often I sit on my screened porch and people walking by don’t see me. They lean down and stroke the herbs for their smells and the lambs ears for texture. I’ve been told that it is a green oasis on a hot day. So here is a walk past my house.

Now I’m going to check out a few free online workshop previews to see if I want to buy them. Not that I don’t have enough online art stuff going on already! Hopefully, if my mental health doesn’t take a dip, there will be at least one post per day, if not more.

art, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, crocheting, depression/anxiety

Catching up with some art

Although I am sunk pretty badly, I am not in the hole so I’ve been able to laugh from time to time and do a little bit of art-making. Between Crystal Neubauer and Roxanne Stout’s online classes, I’ve been encouraged to doodle and follow my intuition. I would like to do more but I have almost accepted that my brain is gonna do what it’s gonna do, or not do anything at all. The main thing I’ve been able to do is work on this Tunisian crocheted weather scarf while we watch Doc Martin. Combining Tunisian knit and purl stitches has kept it from rolling up, but the edges are pretty awful. Practice makes perfect, I guess, and I’ll go around the whole thing with a slip stitch or something to firm up those edges.

For Roxanne’s “Notebook Journeys” class, I needed a spiral bound watercolor paper book, but all my watercolor paper is in pads. I do have quite a few spiral bound sketch books, so I am using a 9×12 landscape book and folding and pasting the pages to make them heavier and convert it to a 9×6 portrait oriented book. I’m trying very hard to use up what I have before buying more supplies. This studio space is still bursting at the seams.

It’s been fun to doodle in, especially with ink washes and Pitt brush pens. I’m going to do some sewing and writing, maybe a little more collage. Cutting some pages and seeing how they interact with the pages before and after is an interesting exercise.

As for the collage – well – my plan to make one 4×4 collage per day fell apart 3 days in. I love collage but I don’t love glue. I mixed up some Yes paste and Golden acrylic satin glaze according to Crystal’s method and I hope that will help with the papers curling so badly. The consistency is very thick and I might have to mess around with it some more.

When I am awake at 3 a.m. I keep thinking about cloth. So eventually I will be playing with that again. I could not explain to you why I am not doing it right this minute.

coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, More gardening, Slow Food

Saturday Coffee Pot Post

In which I can drink coffee in the afternoon, thank you very much.

The official word is that I will be teleworking from home at least until May 22. I can still go to my office if I really need to, but my employer’s policy is for me to work at home. Right now I don’t see any reason to go in unless I absolutely have to scan something or I lose Internet connection.

I broke through some of my lethargy this week. Susanne and I took a walk last Sunday and I planted “beautiful beans” in the UNCG plot, a local heirloom crowder pea that Pat Bush gave me a couple of years ago that I planted and saved last year. I picked the last of the Rouge d’Hiver lettuce that didn’t begin to bolt in the warm weather.

Gave up on the seed starting totally. Everything is dead now. So I supported a local farmer, John Handler at Weatherhand Farms, and bought Roma, Better Boy, pepper, squash, eggplant, and snapdragon plants from the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market drive through market this morning. They are under the grow light inside for a few days until this polar vortex clears out. Also bought a pound of shrimp from George (NC Seafood) so there will be good eatin’ tonight.

Greg gave me some milkweed seed balls and I planted them on Wednesday in the herb/flower garden in the front.

I finally baked two large sourdough bread loaves from Carol’s starter and it turned out great! It didn’t kill my hands and wrists to knead it either. Next time I will divide this into four small loaves so I can give some away. I don’t have a big enough bowl to make more at one time.

I finished two matching face coverings for Sandy and I. This one has a filter inside and I can breathe through it, or maybe my allergies have gotten a lot better. (See top photo.) Now that I am comfortable with this I will make a few more and definitely play with my sewing machine more. Make some of the pleated styles.

The thing that really picked me up was the day I returned to these collages and finished them. Then I ordered a bunch of wood panels and mats from Dick Blick, along with some acrylic glazing liquid and Yes paste, which Crystal Neubauer recommends for an adhesive that doesn’t make the collage paper curl up, which is my biggest problem. Between her workshop and Melinda Tidwell’s workshop, which I did as a remote group with Triangle Book Arts, I am learning a lot about collage, and also gaining more confidence about not necessarily following the “rules.” Crystal refers to her style as intuitive collage, and I relate to that much more strongly. I am looking forward to mounting some of these collages and making a couple of gallery pages for this site in the next few months.

I cut up “Illustrated Question Box” and made it smaller. Pulled the story together.

The other one is called “100 Doses One Dollar” and I did most of it at the beginning of March. It directly relates to the Covid-19 pandemic and our country’s response to it. The saving grace, I think, was adding three small shark’s teeth that I found at North Topsail Beach several years ago. They look a little like hearts, don’t they? They are deceptive.

Oh, I am angry. Make no mistake about it. But I am moving into acceptance about the things we must do to survive the pandemic, with anger about the people who are misleading citizens, profiteering, destroying our constitutional checks and balances, suppressing votes, and literally killing. There must be anger, and action, and resistance against domestic terrorism and this fascist authoritarian regime.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I was up at the usual time this morning because the cats think that they are being starved.

Yesterday was a busy work from home day because I’m trying to get as much as done possible “just in case.” My expectation is that next week is going to be very busy for me because of work stuff that I can’t really talk about yet. Gah!

Last night I got a bad headache and sore throat and felt slightly feverish, then of course I went into an anxiety attack. This morning I feel fine. It’s hard not knowing what is allergies, hot flashes, anxiety chest pressure, and what is not. I keep reminding myself that historically I have a difficult time with all of the above this time of year anyway.

I finished “Forever Amber” and I am having a hard time deciding what to read next. On my Kindle I have a lot of books, including the “Patternist” fantasy series by Octavia Butler. I checked out “The Secret Chord” by Geraldine Brooks from the online library (Overdrive app) and I think that is the only one of hers that I have not read, so I’ll probably pick that one. I don’t want to read my Irish collection now because it will make me sad. In hard copy, I have so many to choose from, but I think that I’ll try “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht.

The governor finally issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state beginning Monday and lasting through April. I fully support it. It will be the first Easter in a long time that I haven’t gone to Lake Waccamaw. My sister and brother-in-law decided to stay there instead of their home in Chapel Hill. The hospital near the lake is crap, and I thought that maybe they would stay in the Triangle to be near the great hospitals there, since my brother-in-law has major health issues. Their reasoning was that they would be less exposed to the virus at the lake, and their social circle is much tighter there, so I get that. Plus, if they run out of food they can fish or throw a gator tail on the grill. (Just kidding about the gator.)

Crystal had another live workshop on Facebook yesterday and we did three five minute 4×4 collages. We could add contrast to one of the neutral ones, and the other neutral one we are supposed to keep for the next lesson. I am pleased with these and they were so much fun to let intuition rule and not stop to analyze the design. I want to do more of these exercises on my own.

I think that I am going to have to give up this weaving project in which I am tying on a new warp. It’s good that I stopped and tested how easy it would be to pull the knots through the reed. It will be a terrible mess and even though I think that it is doable, I don’t need the aggravation right now. I am going to warp up something simpler and smaller on the horizontal floor loom, and maybe move the Shannock tapestry loom onto the front porch and see how far I get on “Cathedral” this year.

Ah, there is so much art stuff that I could do!

Diego is doing fine as far as I can tell. He is not happy with the pain injections any more and he knows what I’m up to when I lift that skin flap on his shoulders. It’s nice to have him at my side in the “office.”

Lots of different peppers are emerging now, along with a few cucumbers. This grow light might end up being worth it. I had been afraid that the cats would mess it all up but they have not been interested at all. I got an email from UNCG saying that it was okay to go to the UNCG garden plots as long as we stayed far apart from each other and there were only two or three people there. I’ve never seen more than one other person there at the same time as me, so I think that I will go down there and plant some green beans. It is supposed to get up to 85 degrees today!