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!

collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters

Week one working from home – check

Although, honestly, I am surprised that it is Thursday. Feels like Tuesday. I guess that is because I haven’t had a lot of work to do. I have cooked a lot more, and Diego had major dental surgery on Tuesday so needs feline nursing care. I’ve done it so much by now with Squirt, Jazz, Theo, Guido, and Lucy that it feels pretty easy.

I decided that doing more than one online workshop at a time is too much for my monkey mind, and I’ve spent most of my time reading and playing games and cat nursing. Not great, but it has kept me from freaking out. Tying the new warp onto the loom a couple of inches at a time is good activity too. I can listen to music or audio but still be able to concentrate just enough to make sure those weaver’s knots will hold under pressure. I chose the workshop that Crystal Neubauer is doing live on Facebook for now, because it is closest to what I’m already doing with collage, and I love her work and her book, The Art of Expressive Collage. Most importantly, she and I share the same kind of art philosophy.

Here is a photo of the 5-minute collage I did in her live workshop yesterday (it might have taken 6 or 7 minutes, shhh). I’m going to try to do a few more tonight. I’ve also been slapping some gesso on junk mail pages so that is the background underneath.

Art journaling. Well. I don’t know. A lot of my favorite pens are dried out so I ordered some more from Jet Pens today. Maybe that will motivate me to write more. I received my PVA glue from Amazon yesterday, so I’m good for a while with that. We have LOTS of other supplies.

Diego is recovering well. I can’t imagine the kind of pain he must have been in, and I regret that I waited as long as I did to get him scheduled for the dental appointment. He had terrible abscesses and rot. Six teeth removed and a bone graft. The surgery took twice as long as expected. It makes me wonder what Pablocito’s mouth is like.

I am giving him opioid pain injections three times a day and he got his final oral medication this morning. Fortunately they were able to give him a long lasting antibiotic injection the day of the surgery. I would have hated to struggle with him to get oral meds down a mouth full of sutures. Luckily he is eating just fine and not throwing it up. I have to get to the store to pick up more canned cat food. They hate the prescription canned cat food I ordered from Chewy. Of course they loved it until I ordered a whole case of it. I have tried to stretch it out by putting it under the sensitive stomach canned food I bought from PetSmart. They love that, and if I can get them going, they will continue to eat the food on the bottom.

Guilford County is on a stay-at-home order from tomorrow at 5 until April 15. It seems like you can go out to do anything that is necessary so it’s not an onerous restriction. We are trying to limit ourselves to our house and yard. I tried out the online shopping and curbside service that volunteers are doing at Deep Root Market on Tuesday. It works pretty well. Any glitches were because I was feeling frantic about Diego that day and couldn’t think straight.

It means that I will be working from home for a very long time. I don’t like it as much as I thought I might. The Internet here is so slow. The laptop is not ergonomic like my office is set up.

It’s been chilly and rainy for the last few days, so no yard work. The weekend forecast is beautiful, so I will get out and plant peas, etc. Some of the hot pepper mix seedlings are coming up under the grow light. I love the surprise of these pepper mixes.

I have a Zoom meeting at 11 so signing off here. New world and all that.