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!

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.

augggghhhh, collage

Collage from this weekend

Collage from this weekend and chronicling…

I like that word – CHRONICLE. Especially for this pandemic time: “The Coronavirus Chronicles”

I think that I am done with the first collage. It’s called “The Choice.”

Still working on this next one, called “Illustrated Question Box.” They are related.

Then this one is at the beginning stages. I found a battered, nearly illegible voter registration card in the parking lot of the Chapel Hill Library. The graphic in the middle is from an 1886 political booklet, “Hood’s Political Points.” It interspersed advertisements for Hood’s Sarsaparilla with facts and figures about the candidates for president and vice-president in 1886 and a few other charts about congressional pay but most of it is really about the sarsaparilla, baby. This working title is “100 Doses, One Dollar.” I think it will be the beginning of the Coronavirus Chronicles. Thinking as I write now.

I have lots of 19th century magazines and maybe it is time to get them out of my mother’s cedar hope chest and do something interesting with them.

At work we are all scurrying about uploading files to the cloud and getting prepared in case we have to start working from home.

It’s pretty weird. I would be paralyzed with worry if it didn’t seem so surreal.

My friend’s husband’s condition hasn’t changed much. He is still in critical but stable condition. She’s still in quarantine.

I listen to what the local nurses say, and they say that it is here but not being tested. They have seen it in the ERs and tested for flu and it wasn’t flu. Hopefully testing will ratchet up soon and boy howdy then we’ll see the numbers go up.

The soup that was on order didn’t get here. I got an email on Sunday night saying that it was damaged in transit and I would get a refund. Of course, it is not available to reorder now. Guess I will make some chicken soup and freeze it in small containers. I still have a couple of cartons of chicken stock.

I guess I’m not surprised at this government’s response since the people in control think that everything is about business, and NOT preparation for disasters or long-term planning or helping sick people, but executive orders don’t mean shit to a virus.

Wondering whether we should go to the lake Easter weekend. My brother-in-law has a heart problem.

Maybe I should get a refill on my Xanax.

Too bad this coincides with major allergy season. Nobody knows what to think about their dry cough and sore throat. I get this every March.

Gah.