Coronavirus Chronicles

01-04-2021

Yesterday I wrote my 1500th post, and that doesn’t include all the ones I’ve deleted over the years!

I finished sewing the last four masks yesterday, and put away my sewing machine for a little while. Not for long, but I wanted to be able to get to stuff on the shelves behind it.

Started telework again today, but there is not much to be done right now, knock wood, because I’d like to ease into the semester. Late January through April is my busiest time at work. Right now I’m working on planning next year’s class schedule, which is tricky because the university totally revamped their general education requirements, and we don’t know how that is going to affect our enrollments. Graduate student application season is starting this month, with Jan. 15 as the deadline for PhD students and Feb. 1 for MA students. I’ve learned that there is not much point in dealing with these before the deadlines, since so many people submit on the very last day.

Even though my work is busy this time of year, it is work that I enjoy.

Last night it seemed like I was going to fall asleep before midnight, and I tried counting down from 50 and visualizing going down steps that ended in a beautiful relaxing place. I was getting there but somehow my brain then decided it was a good time to begin writing my autobiography. I went over my earliest memories, then how much I remembered from elementary school. (Lots from 1st and 4th grades, almost nothing from 2nd and 3rd grades.) I was baffled that some years seem so blank to me. I don’t even remember what bedroom I slept in when my grandparents moved in with us. Was that when we turned the garage into an apartment? Did they sleep out there? Later, after my grandfather went to live with my uncle, I shared a bedroom with my grandmother and my brother slept in the garage. I adored her.

I wish that I had taken photos of the insides of both of my grandparents’ houses and my parents’ house. I tried to remember the details of the rooms. I could not turn off the flow of memories. And for once, Pablocito slept in the front room all night and didn’t bother me once. What a wasted opportunity! Finally I took a Xanax at 2 a.m. Honestly, I am trying! I got up early, fed the cats, made coffee, checked my work emails, dealt with a few of them, then took a nap. So happy not to be at the office on days like today!

Today is supposed to be my last day on Flickr Pro. It will be interesting to see what happens.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, GTFO

01-03-21

Last night was not a success. I discovered that I was out of melatonin. I read a book until 1 a.m. – a real book in print – “This Must Be the Place” by Maggie O’Farrell. I recommend it. There was heavy rain and it sounded soothing, but at 2 a.m. I took a Xanax. At 3 a.m. I got up and fixed myself a cup of chamomile/lavender tea. By the time it cooled down on my bedside table, I was asleep. In the meantime, my husband exercised to his video at 3 a.m.! This household schedule is absolutely fucked up.

I do understand that sleeping with cats is a huge part of the problem. However, if I close the door to keep them out, there would be howling and scratching at the door most of the night, and that is worse than them disrupting my sleep in bed. Maybe I need to give them sleeping pills.

Yes, I am talking about YOU, Mr. Pain-in-the-Ass.

The supplement that I started taking is Source Naturals Sleep Science Night Rest with Melatonin. It also has GABA and magnesium. It works pretty well most of the time so I will order some more. I can’t take anything with Benedryl as an ingredient because it sets off restless leg syndrome. I don’t want to take Ambien or other prescription drugs because I have a history of sleep walking that extended well into my 30s.

There are few things more frightening than waking up in a panic and not knowing where you are. It was worst in my early 20s. Once I tried to go out the front door and when I found it locked, woke up as I started to go out a window. Another time I pulled down a bookshelf with lots of heavy stuff on it – it was a miracle that I didn’t get hurt. Those are the two dramatic times that I remember. Most of the time I only knew that I was sleep walking because I would wake up with my head at the foot of the bed, or I’d wake up confused in the dark somewhere inside.

Dreams. For once I had school dreams that ended well this morning! In my recurring dream life, I am a formerly gifted student who has gone back to school/community college and I am sinking fast. I don’t understand any math or science or foreign language and I have to pass these classes to finish my degree. I fail them over and over until my GPA has gone from all As to “fail one more class and you are cooked.” Some, of course, I simply didn’t attend or do the work required. I constantly lose my textbooks so I can’t study. This morning, I had a teacher who I adored look up my grades for me and I had all As, even in the classes in which I had failed multiple tests. She praised my work and uplifted my spirits. So that was a nice feeling to start the day with.

Sandy is still struggling. I worry about him.

I think that I figured out an itinerary for Portugal. Dublin-Porto-Lisbon-Tavira-Dublin. 3-4 days in Dublin, Porto, and Tavira, and 4-5 days in Lisbon, and the second Dublin visit will only be at an airport hotel to catch a flight back the next morning. I realize that I have to schedule in travel time, but some of it will be on trains where we can look at the countryside and towns that we pass through. Portugal is actually 73% the size of North Carolina, the state I live in. It’s hard for us Americans to remember how small the countries in Europe are. I think that September will be a nice time to visit, although it means that I will have a pile of work waiting for me when I get back.

Almost finished with the masks! I have four more to sew the elastic into, and I am done with masks, maybe forever!

Coronavirus Chronicles

01-02-2021

I am going to try to continue to write or post a photo every day, even if I make my post private. The other day I wrote for an hour and then deleted the whole thing. It still made me feel better to write it.

I was a diary and book making kid – I loved making autograph books of paper stapled together, and I had various hide-outs where I went to write in my diaries. One was in the crook of a large white oak tree at the edge of our property – boards were nailed to the side to get to it. I had a couple of lean-tos in woods on other people’s property that I built – one from logs and branches chinked with mud, and one from scrap wood I gathered from a trash pile. There was an abandoned old schoolhouse in that patch of woods where a farmer had stored hay for a while where I hung out. My father probably went to elementary school in that old wooden building. It finally burned down when I was an adult. I was visiting Mama at the time and I wept to see the big flames go up. And there was a spot beyond the “No Trespassing” and “Danger” signs on the dam at Page’s Millpond where I retreated as a teenager with my sketchbook and a pack of Salem Lights.

Yesterday was pretty much wasted. I have to get my sleep back on schedule. I will take melatonin tonight and a Xanax if I have to. I was awake until 4:30 a.m. this morning, not for lack of trying to sleep, but it was one of those nights that I was constantly on the edge of sleep and then the parakeets would begin to squawk, or the cat would jump on my pillow, and more often, I felt like I had to crack my knuckles or stretch my back. I thought a lot about Portugal, so I can’t spend time looking at AirBNB before I go to bed. So I was too sleepy to make the judgement to take the pills to get me over the brink. Tonight I will go ahead and do it. I have to start getting up for work on Monday morning, even though it will be from home.

I did make a few masks, and I’ll finish up the rest that I cut out this summer today. Then I’m going to begin weaving together cloth strips again.

Like many people, especially around here where, ironically, our billionaire saboteur of the Postal Service lives, I have packages waiting to be delivered that have been at the distribution center in our city for two weeks. I wish that I could just drive over and pick them up myself. I am going to try using sewing clips instead of pins once I get that package. I also ordered a wool ironing mat from the same company after a friend mentioned online how much they liked theirs.

I also will have art supplies from Rio Grande and Dick Blick waiting, I guess. I didn’t think about that when I ordered, but I think it is important to support the post office right now.

At some point this weekend, when it dries out a little, I need to go clean up my garden plot at UNCG so that someone else can have it. It will be a messy job with lots of pea and bean vines to pull out. Then I’ll have to decide whether I need to keep those wire supports or to donate them to someone else. I’ll probably give them away.

Blather, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, whatever

Looking ahead in 2021

Well, this is certainly a crap shoot, isn’t it? But I will take a stab at it. I can at least visualize what I hope for.

I actually started writing this post several days ago just in case I got a case of the blues and couldn’t do it. But I woke up fairly bright and sassy this morning, after a shower, under clean sheets, with clean leggings and shirt on, which is a step up in my world! I made coffee and oatmeal, and put on earrings. I haven’t worn earrings in months, and my ear holes were starting to close up. So in went my beautiful earrings that I bought in Santa Fe at the market in the plaza. We will eat some field peas and collards at some point today for luck in money.

Tapestry Weavers South plans to have a retreat and exhibition at the same time as the Blue Ridge Fiber Fest. Tapestry Weavers South has its “headquarters” at Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center in Elkin, NC, and the Blue Ridge Fiber Fest takes place in Sparta, NC, about a thirty minute drive from Elkin. The plan is early June. All this is within a couple of hours’ drive for me.

Whether I’ll have a tapestry to exhibit remains to be seen. I’d like to finish the lake rain tapestry that I started with my naturally dyed silk threads.

We hope to visit Portugal for two weeks in September, with a stopover in Dublin on the way for a couple of days, since we will fly through there anyway and my sister wants to see Dublin. Some of this may depend on our health. My husband’s health is particularly troubling right now, but we all have issues of some kind. I booked my one plane ticket to get my refund from Orbitz so I’ll be flying on my own and will meet the others in Dublin. I also reserved a couple of rooms in the B&B in Howth where we stayed before, just to make me feel good.

This means that I definitely won’t be doing the art retreat in western Ireland next summer, and maybe not at all.

I anticipate that I will be working from home except for Fridays again through the spring semester depending on how the vaccine gets distributed. I’m not sure how I am going to adjust to going back to work in the office full time. It will be tough, considering how this feeds my agoraphobia, and how my sleep pattern has changed, and how my physical pain has been better working from home.

Yesterday, the state government changed the vaccine schedule so that I am actually in phase 1b group 2, and my family members with serious health risks are in phase 2! This is due to me being educational support staff. I assume that universities are included. If not, I’ll be heading to the back of the line again. I was not particularly happy about this change, due to my intense worry about my family, and that I can actually do my job well from home, but as Sandy said, they can’t really micromanage this to that level. Teachers are essential frontline workers, and so are the housekeepers and other support staff that can’t do their jobs from home.

Hopefully I won’t have to attend any protests, although the state government is probably in worse shape than it was pre-election. Thank God we have Democrats for governor and attorney general, at least.

My main focus is probably going to be downsizing, and getting some house repairs and improvements done once it is safer to let people in the house. However, my expectations are lower about actually being able to move away from here. For one thing, I see how much rent is in places in the US where I’d like to live. Good God. We can’t afford that. It is more than our house payments were! Portugal is still my hope but I’m not sure that I will be able to get the house sold and packed up if Sandy’s health issues do not get resolved or worsen. (And Sandy needs to raise the rent on his condo for sure!)

I’m not going to waste effort on food gardening. Other people can feed the groundhogs.

I’d like to get back to weaving strips of cloth since that seems to be the most relaxing and satisfying thing that I could do. Make some books and use up a lot of my supplies. Get my Etsy shop up and running again. Sell collage packs. I wonder if I can sell old copies of Handwoven and Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts magazines on Etsy? I’ll have to check. If not, maybe on Ebay.

I hope that Leslie Marsh will do some more workshops at her home/studio at Topsail Beach. I bought her online class for making a tiny book necklace with metal covers, but I have a hard time following through on online classes. I ordered some supplies for soldering. I’m nervous about this one because of my klutziness, but it will be a good skill to master. The book that I made in Leslie’s in person class is one of the nicest books I ever made.

Maybe Kevin will invite me to participate in his home studio show next year. He likes my collage work.

Most of all, I desperately want to get over my artist’s block. To have all this time at home and feel so frozen is incredibly frustrating. I made a couple more masks yesterday, and I’m going to finish up the others today so that I can move on to something else. I have so many online classes on deck that it is crazy. I don’t even remember how many, so I am working on a list. I will need to add one more…after watching MaryBeth Shaw do a live Facebook art journaling session last night, I bought another one called 21 Secrets. And then I remembered that I bought an online class from MaryBeth this summer that I never finished! This is getting out of control.

Coronavirus Chronicles, yearly wrap-ups

2020 Wrap up

Well, there won’t be anything exciting in this post, as you might guess. But it is a tradition for me.

In January, I only posted once, on New Year’s Day, with my aspirations for the year ahead. Of course, nobody could see what was coming. Sandy retired on Dec. 31, so this was his first year of retirement. I moved my studio from the front room to the dining room and bedroom, and the front room became our living room again. This meant that I purged a lot of stuff, but of course, it has still not been enough.

In February, I posted a lot! I was really into collage, and was traveling to Chapel Hill to meet with a small group from the Triangle Book Arts group who were doing an online class with Melinda Tidwell. I was also working on a caterpillar tapestry for the ATA Renditions exhibition, an unjuried small format tapestry exhibition done in conjunction with the Handweavers Guild of America’s Convergence every two years. I was getting together with new friends that I made through the Tiny Pricks Project. I was also very depressed, but that’s nothing new, especially in an election year. We saw Gordon Lightfoot in concert. We voted for Bernie. I got a haircut in February, and unfortunately rescheduled my massage appointment because I felt sick. I haven’t had either since. My friend Jeanne expressed concern on Facebook about her husband getting pneumonia. It turned out to be Co-vid.

March 2020: The shutdown. I finished the caterpillar tapestry and was still going strong on the collage. We went to our last social outings for a long time: a seafood dinner at Full Moon Oyster Bar and an Irish band at Oden Brewing. Then UNCG and the state of North Carolina shut down for several weeks to allow the health system to catch up before the full brunt of the virus got ahead of their capabilities. I started working from home on March 19. Diego had major dental surgery. I was trying to start seeds inside. At that point I still hoped that I’d go to Ireland even though the retreat had been rescheduled to 2021. The Topsail Beach workshops and Convergence in Knoxville were still on. I thought that I’d be able to get a lot of artwork done and did some online Facebook activities with Crystal Neubauer.

Jeanne’s husband did not make it. His death from Co-vid made me understand secondhand how terrible this disease was, both on the person and on their loved ones.

April 2020: Gave up on seed starting under the grow light. I started sewing some masks. I tried to tie on the next set of warp threads to the previous threading on the Macomber loom, but had too much trouble with the knots going through the heddles and pulled it all out. I noodled around on my Beka rigid heddle loom, using the warp threads to weave useful things like dish towels, but also wild Saori style stuff. One day, maybe this weekend, I will cut them all off.

May 2020: Reality bites. Bought plants from Weatherhand Farm at the drive through farmers’ market. Spent a lot of time on the front porch and moping. Started baking sourdough bread like everybody else was doing. I eventually let this go.

June 2020 began with posting about the George Floyd murder and protests. We spent a week at Lake Waccamaw during the time I was to go to Ireland. It was good to be with my sister and her husband. I did some of Roxanne Stout’s Notebook Journeys class, and some more collages with Crystal, but my artwork pretty much ground to a halt after this. Fireworks going off nearby in the middle of the night every damn night. I am glad that we don’t have a dog.

In July, I finally finished this collage, “Illustrated Question Box”. See the top photo for the beginning of this one. I mounted it on a wooden panel and I’m very pleased with it. I decided to work from the lake house for two weeks since the wi-fi there is actually better than the wi-fi here, and it helped me to have some solitude and to see my sister. And boy, did I have a lot of work to do, with our history class schedule going almost completely online or in hybrid format.

In August, I began working in my office on Fridays. I set up my workspace at home ergonomically and actually starting feeling better physically than I have in years, as far as my back and neck and hands go. Sandy and I took a road trip to Town Creek Indian Mound, which was reconstructed under the supervision of my grand-nephew’s grandfather, Joeffre Lanning Coe. I enjoyed taking photos on a hike through the woods there.

Went back to the lake in September, then a few days at an AirBnB near Sparta, North Carolina. We went to Stone Mountain State Park on the way. We were either brave or foolish enough to eat inside a few restaurants during this month. At the time that area didn’t have a lot of infections. It was an extremely red area and there were lots of Trump signs.

We hunkered down in October. My friend Pat Bush died. She had been sick with various ailments for so long. I harvested the “beautiful beans” that she gave me the seed for. I finished another collage, and did a fun collage workshop with Leighanna Light online. And I began writing about my fixation on moving to Portugal.

In November, I was all about Portugal and finishing moving the photos from Flickr to WordPress. I was obsessed. It was easier than thinking about what was happening in this country. I signed up for three more online workshops, all of which I took in person from the artist in some form, and I’ve barely looked at them. Susanne and I got together on the deck outside her studio and dyed and leaf printed some papers to go into our books. I made more masks for gifts. We ordered a take out Thanksgiving dinner from Deep Roots Market. No family gatherings this holiday season.

I’m not even sure that I need to recap December, as it was mostly about me finishing the Flickr move and worrying over Sandy’s health. More obsessing over Portugal. When will we be able to travel overseas again? Staying awake at night thinking about what I can get rid of, what I will try to take with me, how will the cats adjust…and will we even be able to do it by the time that I retire in May 2023?

It will be interesting to compare what I write tomorrow against the yearly wrap-up for 2021. Who knows what could happen? Nothing surprises me after this year.