consumerism, Coronavirus Chronicles, Greensboro North Carolina, Reading

Saturday afternoon Smithwick’s post

I was supposed to be in Howth, Ireland tonight. I was going to go to the Cock Tavern for some craic and eat some great seafood down on the harbour..

Anyway, the front porch is absolutely delightful this afternoon. The temperature is perfect, with low humidity and a small breeze. I would like to thank Mother Nature for providing this weather for the first day of my vacation. I haven’t done much differently, other than not check my work email. I painted some of the wooden panels to mount my small collages on, and glued an 8×8″ one down. It is weighted down with books and I hope that the glue is going to work well.

We went downtown to Scuppernong Books this afternoon to pick up a copy of the Instant Pot Bible so I can learn to use this damn thing. Sandy and I are not ordering anything from Amazon these days because we are supporting local businesses. However, we are lucky that we have choices – many people in this country don’t have the luxury of avoiding Amazon or Walmart or Dollar General because they have run all the local stores out of business. As a former country girl, I saw three of our local small towns decimated and people could not understand the damage that they had done by driving thirty miles to Walmart (and spending that money on gas!) until it was too late and the choices were no longer there.

So now people buy their groceries at Dollar General or Family Dollar instead of the grocery store when they can’t take the time to drive to Walmart, because the IGA and the Piggly Wiggly are closed. The local pharmacy is closed too. The local doctor has moved to a bigger town. The movie theater. The local bank branches and car dealerships. Closed. The swimming pool got filled in when it became clear that it couldn’t be restricted to whites only any more.

I don’t miss living down there at all.

Since I am on vacation, Sandy and I picked out some used books to take to the lake with us later. Not that we needed extra books – we literally have hundreds of books in our house and half are probably unread. I am trying to download “The Lathe of Heaven” from the library for my Kindle. So many people are making clueless posts on Facebook about race and how it shouldn’t matter and why can’t we all just ignore race and live in harmony la la la la la that I am ready to scream. It reminded me of this book so I want to re-read it. And I am trying to be patient as well, because so many people are trying to learn. I know that I used to think this way.

Magical thinking. It’s the American way. The white American way, anyway.

Here’s my latest array of books:

We got to see some of the great protest art that went up on the boarded up windows of the businesses on Elm St. I would have liked to have taken a walk while we were there, but very few others were wearing masks. I don’t have a problem with people walking outside without masks when they have one around their neck just in case, and there are not many other people to cross paths with. That was not the case in downtown Greensboro. The folks at Scuppernong had it right though. Required masks, required hand sanitizer as soon as you walked in, and limited to 10 people inside. I felt safe there.

I have walked over to Oden Brewing a couple of times in the past month to buy a six pack of their beer, and I cross over the railroad through a hole someone cut in a chain link fence to get there. It is at the end of our street. I am fascinated with the wildness around the railroad tracks – the wildflowers, the vines, the old rails over to the side, the trash, the broken bottles and bricks and bric-a-brac.

The bee balm is flowering in my front hugelkultur bed and boy did it turn out pretty:

I painted a rough sign to put in our yard. It matches our across the street neighbor and our next door neighbor’s signs. I do love this neighborhood. If there is one good thing that has come out of this pandemic mess, it is that we have actually met a few more of our neighbors on our walks around the block.

Okay, that’s enough for tonight. This Smithwick’s ale won’t pour down my throat on its own.

coffee pot posts, consumerism, Coronavirus Chronicles

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I haven’t done much other than work from home, cook, and sleep the last few days. I am not going to check my work email this weekend unless somebody types “urgent” in the subject line. I will have to set my limits if I am to work from home.

I whacked my head really hard on a corner of the upper kitchen cabinets last night. The pain brought me to my knees and I cried, but I didn’t get concussed. Just an achy lump on top of my head. Fortunately I don’t have to brush my hair for a while. It was a reminder that we have to be far more careful than usual – going to urgent care or the ER is NOT a good idea right now.

It reminds me of this conversation from my past when I used to work at a bookstore and we processed the books coming in underneath a solid wooden table that I used to bash my head on regularly. After one of these times, I said to my boss, “I’ve been going through a klutzy phase recently.”

He said, “Let me know when it is over so I can tell the difference.”

I still think that is one of the funniest comebacks I’ve ever heard. But I like a good burn.

Anyway, despite this lingering mild headache I will try to do the following this weekend: catch up on Crystal Neubauer’s online class and play with collages. Weave some more on the rigid heddle loom as I remove the dog (weaving lingo for abandoned project) on the big loom. Work in the garden here – mainly weeding since I don’t have any seedlings close to ready to put out. It has been chilly this week but warmed up for the weekend. I’ll go to my garden at UNCG and harvest some more lettuce and water.

Sandy has been hard at work doing a deep clean of the kitchen. I have never seen the stove this clean since we first bought it!

Diego worried me a bit yesterday, not eating and acting pooky. Last night he threw up the biggest hairball I’ve ever seen, and that was a relief considering that he is ten days out from major dental surgery and infection.

The Costco online shopping was a really positive experience. I was able to get some items through ordering delivery from my local store that I wasn’t able to get through costco dot com. Big pack of sponges (my husband is on a cleaning binge and I will oblige him cheerfully!), some canned items that Deep Roots doesn’t carry, yogurt, bread, hamburger, chicken stock. Stuff that I normally buy from them mostly and a few more items to make it worth the delivery trip. The person shopping texted me about substitutions. I set the time of delivery at 4 p.m. and he was here on the dot. I tipped him on the app. I was very impressed, and happy to support Costco workers who are treated much better than Amazon workers. A couple of hours later, I read an article in the Washington Post about an attempted strike by Instacart, Amazon, and Whole Foods warehouse and delivery workers. That rang a bell because I had seen Instacart on the online shopping cart app I was using. I just thought it was a name that Costco was using. The delivery person worked for Instacart in conjunction with Costco. Damn!

I will use Deep Roots Market delivery or pick-up from now on. I don’t need enough items soon enough to do it this weekend.

Everything is connected. Everything, whether you can see it or not. It is the huge lesson the world is starting to learn.

Here is one of the poems I keep on my office door. It is comforting to me in an odd way.

There Will Come Soft Rains
Sara Teasdale – 1884-1933

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

consumerism, Upcycling, voluntary simplicity

The Year of Going Deeper

A lot of articles and posts came out in the past few years about people who have decided to drastically cut spending for a year. Pledges have run the gamut of the obsessive compulsive buy absolutely nothing, create no waste, grow all food and barter plans to more moderate plans to cut down and purge. And then, of course, there are those whose poverty leaves them no choice.

I became an advocate of voluntary simplicity in the late 80s, when I really couldn’t afford much extra anyway. For several years I wove on frame looms (still do) with rags and bought the cheapest yarn I could find at yarn outlets. I crocheted a lot. I worked at a bookstore that carried a lot of remainders and I was able buy samples from book buyers very cheaply and so book buying was my biggest addiction. When I came into a small inheritance from my aunt I spent it on a Harrisville floor loom kit, which I got at a wholesale price from a friend who had a weaving supply store.

We didn’t travel much or far. Both of us had low-wage jobs that gave little vacation time and no sick time at all. We would toss a tent and the dog in the back of our little pick-up truck on the rare weekend we had off at the same time, decided what direction to head, and went that way. We went to Lake Waccamaw a lot because it was free.

My life has accumulated a lot of stuff since those days, as we both got better, more stable jobs, a small house, and we absorbed the belongings of our parents that we couldn’t bear to part with. The book addiction is deeply rooted in both of us. I LOVE COLLECTING BOOKS of ALL kinds. Novels, art books, old musty books with Art Nouveau covers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, nature books, old textbooks, secretarial manuals…it’s bad in my house. The hoarding is bad. Bad, even though I regularly purge these books boxes at a time. At one time I justified it as wanting to open a used book store one day. I sold books on Amazon for a few years. Now I justify the hoarding as supplies for my book/mixed media/collage creations.

So this year, no purchasing of books or art supplies or knick-knacks that we do not need. I like the way David, the author of Go Deeper, Not Wider, approaches this idea. It puts a positive spin on using what we already have to enrich our lives. I’m not going without, I’m going deeper.

It’s already hard for me. I see a recommendation for a magazine, or a particular kind of scissors, and I look it up online. I know that if I buy an e-book or digital issue of a magazine it will most likely be forgotten without reading it. That has been proven. Online classes are bought and abandoned halfway through or sooner than that.

However, I mentioned that I bought the Blurb PDF of India Flint’s “Bagstories” and I have joined the private Facebook group where she is going to guide the buyers of her wee book in a project. This, so far, has already been worth the price for the connections I’ve made to other North Carolina artists on the Facebook group! This fabric may be a tad too stretchy for the bag projects, but I finally sacrificed my batik pants from the late 80s/early 90s that I loved so much and started cutting them up to reinvent them for a new use. I’ve almost finished measuring the warp for that rag rug project I began several years ago.

I’ve hoarded fabrics the way I’ve hoarded books – it’s time to go deeper into them as well.


coffee pot posts, consumerism

Merry Christmas!

I’m having a quiet Christmas day with coffee, cats, book, and tapestry weaving. We’ll drive to my sister’s house tonight (not far away) for dinner and some family love.

Last night Sandy and I exchanged gifts, which we don’t always do. I declared Christmas to be a no obligation zone years ago, although I’ve yet to completely enforce that internally. I much prefer to give and receive on the heart’s schedule rather than obey the social demands of a day on the calendar. This blog has long advocated Buy Nothing Day and Buy Nothing Christmas. Sandy, however, has never really been on board with my anti-consumerist holiday philosophy, and this year I gave it a pass.

I bought Sandy a present because I saw something I knew he would like and be surprised by. (It was a Flexcut wood carving tool set.) He bought us two bodhrans! Now we can really annoy the neighbors. He nailed the perfect gift, something that we could do together. We will need to learn the techniques of playing these drums.


Normally I do a Festivus post, but I’ve been really sick for almost a week and didn’t feel up to it. Still sick as far as my intestinal health, but my energy began returning last night and I actually got out of bed and did laundry. I feel better today than I have in weeks so who knows how long my body has been fighting this off? If I’m not okay after eating Christmas dinner at my sister’s house tonight, I suppose that I’ll go to the doctor, but at least I had a colonoscopy last year so have no worries there. Maybe it is related to my gallbladder removal almost three months ago.

Sandy volunteered to work today and since no one else is in the building and he expects no calls, I noticed that he took his violin. He used to do that when he worked third shift. Maybe I should get out my woodrow and tune it. We are both wishful musicians without the drive to actually practice, and it is shameful how many unused instruments are in our house. I learned early on that my creative gifts are in areas other than music. I took music lessons for most of my childhood and teenage years, including singing, piano, percussion, saxophone, and music theory. At some point you have to appreciate that you tried and the path is not yours. It made my life richer in the effort, and high school band was the bright spot in my dark teenage years.

A friend and I plan to hand deliver my tapestry “98% Water” to the Folk Art Center for the Tapestry Weavers South show later this week. It will be nice to have a road trip with a friend.

Now I’m going to make myself eat something and finish The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan before giving sitting at the loom a try. The one good thing about getting sick is that I’m back to my pre-gallbladder surgery weight, but it’s not a diet that I recommend. It feels bizarre to have no appetite at all for three days.

consumerism, Deep Roots Market, Food activism, Local food, Slow Food

New studio space and Deep Roots news


Slow Turn Studio

The studio is all moved in to the house on Wharton St., except for odds and ends that will probably always float back and forth between there and home. I spent a good part of this past weekend there, and I think that Susanne and I will both be happy with the situation. I feel comfortable.

We both are joining a few other fiber artists from Greensboro in an exhibition called “The Fabric of Our Lives” at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. The show will be up from mid-January through Mid-March. I won’t have anything new to show, but I’m dusting off a few framed tapestries and fabric works and mounting the “Flag of Me” for the exhibition. More details later.

I’ve spent some energy in the last few months with an owner group from Deep Roots cooperative to convince the board of directors that there were some serious problems they were not addressing, as well as that they were taking the cooperative in a direction that was miscommunicated to the owners. We had some satisfaction in the last couple of months. The general manager resigned and five of the board members (from 2015 and before) announced that they would leave at the end of the year. They could not compromise with the newly elected members and our group was going to the meetings, emailing, speaking up, and holding them accountable.

The financial situation is still a bit murky and a whole lot dire, but at least the digging of the hole has stopped and we hope that with the 2016 elected members and their new appointees we will see a change for the better. Certainly there is a sense of relief in the store itself. There should be fewer closed meetings (a.k.a. “executive sessions”) and much more transparency and outreach to the owners of the cooperative. Democratic governance is a cooperative value that cannot be dismissed, and the remaining board members understand that.

I hope to see the store change its food policy back to one consistent with our original sustainable, ethical values, but whatever happens, I feel confident that the owners will have a say in it this time. I can live with that. Hopefully the most egregious of the food-like and factory-farmed products, like Hormel canned ham and Armour Vienna sausages, will be removed from the store. It’s highly embarrassing for a “health” food store and killing our brand that we built for 40 years. Patience is not one of my virtues but I’m going to try to have faith in the process. I know Joel and Betsy will be good guides for us.

Now counting the days until I am off for the winter break. We don’t plan to do much for Christmas, but we have decorated the front porch for the first time. I’ll have a lot of days to relax and do art and read. I really don’t want to do much of anything. Our family got together at Lake Waccamaw for Thanksgiving.

Reading right now: “Down All the Days” by Christy Brown, of “My Left Foot” fame. Wow.