coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Mask weekend

Since it looks like we will be wearing masks for a while longer, maybe forever, I am whipping up some new ones this weekend. It is rainy and icky outside so it’s a good activity. These are the ones that I cut out last Sunday.

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I love this fat quarter with the faces from Norman Rockwell’s “The Gossips” painting from 1948, but I could only get three out of it. You can see the original painting here.

I only finished two masks yesterday – Sandy and I are modeling them here. I may need more elastic. Masks don’t stay on my ears very well, so from the beginning I used elastic hair bands to tie them around the back of my head. Now I would do that regardless of the ear issue, because it is nice to be able to wear them around your neck and pull them up as needed. It also makes them fit nice and snug. The design of these masks makes those metal inserts across the nose less necessary, although I might put them in this batch.

Sandy and I are the Tiger Twins. The backing on his is dark and the backing on mine is light. Today I’ll do the Rockwell ones and hopefully some spiderweb ones, if I don’t go to the studio.

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I feel pretty good today because I got my bedroom really clean. The ceiling fan, the walls, the curtains, and the windows. I threw out the mini-blinds. They are not worth the effort to clean them and the cats had broken several slats anyway. I put up some lace curtains that I had tucked away in a closet and there is a lot more light in here. That’s a good thing. These window panes need to be replaced. I covered the outside of them with bubble wrap for insulation and privacy. Actually, I need to get a home equity loan and get all our windows repaired and have insulated glass put in. This is one of those things that is more expensive because you have to get the historic preservation people involved.

Hopefully this will be helpful for Lord Diego Snufflebutt’s asthma. It did a lot for my mood! He seems a little better today.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters

Saturday morning coffee pot post

It seems that I did jinx things somewhat about Diego last week, but not about the food. His nasal congestion has gotten much worse, so I finally took him back to the vet on Thursday. It had been two weeks since his last visit and so she (a different vet) gave him another injection of Convenia and a different steroid shot, the kind that Theo used to get. When I told her that I was surprised that he isn’t breathing out of his mouth, she told me that cats will not do that unless they absolutely have to. A new cat fact for you. He is still very stuffy this morning. He obviously wants to play, but he’s not up to it. I am worried. He has another appointment on Dec. 27.

Sandy, on the other hand, is doing much better. He saw the rheumatologist and his CK levels were way down into the normal range, after they were so high this past winter that the doctor nearly sent him to the ER. So his medicine is working and the doctor is lowering it with the goal of taking him off this spring. Since this suppresses his immune system, this is very, very good news.

We were just talking about hats, and I was reminded of this hat that we didn’t buy in London because the shop owner wouldn’t get off the phone. I guess he didn’t think we were serious, but we were. We even went back and he still wouldn’t get off the phone and seems like I remember that he turned his back to us. So this photo is all we have of the amazing red hat. Didn’t he rock it? I told him that he should buy a new hat when we go to Portugal.

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Work has slowed to a trickle. I hope to get some new masks sewn up this weekend. Sandy and I were going to the farmers’ market but considering how high the Co-vid positivity rate is in NC with no mask mandate in the county, I talked him out of it. We are going to work on cleaning ceiling fans and dusting today. Isn’t “dusting” a funny word? Shouldn’t it be “undusting”? One of those weird English words that also means the opposite.

The Honda Fit is finally in the shop. We jumped it off and took it over on Thursday afternoon, where they told us that it might be 2022 before they could get to it. We left it anyway. I mean, it was just sitting in our driveway so it might as well sit in their parking lot. I’m going to spend what I need to to get it running properly, get it cleaned up, and consider selling it.

I bought plane tickets for Susanne and I to go to Portland in July for the Focus on Book Arts conference because I found a good deal on United, but then I started feeling anxious about the pandemic and canceled them the same day. We still plan to go, but I’m going to get their credit card so that I can get some perks such as free checked bags and hopefully the refundable tickets will still be at a good price. Then I’ll be looking at United again for our tickets to Boston in May, to connect with the Aer Lingus flight to Lisbon. Gah, this Portugal trip got so complicated, but it is a little bit better than it was when it also included TAP from Dublin to Lisbon. I get nervous thinking about the testing. What if one of us is asymptomatic and test positive before we leave on either side of the Atlantic? We will have to be very, very careful.

I hit the jackpot at one of our little free libraries in the neighborhood – three Louise Penny novels, ones written just after her first one, Still Life. This is significant because one of my “rules” is that I don’t read books or watch TV shows out of order. I left six books in their place, so I’m still ahead in my purging.

We are planning to spend Festivus with friends watching the latest Matrix movie at their house. There has been no mention of when the airing of the grievances or the feats of strength will begin. As for Christmas, I think that we will be spending it at home eating Chinese take-out. Then I have the whole week off!

Hopefully I will have photos of masks to show later this week. I cut them out last Sunday in the studio (see my Instagram @slowturnstudio, or on the right sidebar). I plan to weave more on Cathedral, with the goal of cutting it off the loom by the end of 2021.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

A better Wednesday

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^^^Cochineal dyed wool socks from Laura Frazier of FarmGirl Arts

Whew. I starting feeling better yesterday. I put The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel soundtrack on at work and at home and reveled in the music. Peggy Lee has become my new favorite. When I thought about my disappointment about that video, in my brain I substituted the theme from the Benny Hill show (“Yakety Sax” by Boots Randolph) for the part that highlighted my framing fuck-up and made fart noises. That made me laugh and feel silly and now I am over it, but I’m still not sharing it. It’s a lovely short film, otherwise.

Good news: I have been approached several times over the years for the use of my photos that I post here and on my Flickr account. If it is for a for-profit venture, I ask for payment and they disappear. But if it is for a non-profit or a small business, I’ll usually say yes for free. Recently I was asked by a really great journal published by UNC Press and the Center for the Study of the American South if they could use my photos from a 2013 post about a natural dyeing workshop I took with Dede Styles for an article they are writing in the Spring issue. I took one look at the website Southern Cultures and immediately offered up high res photos. (I resized all the photos that I post here to save space, as well as discourage stealing.) I’ll be posting that link when the issue comes out.

Work has suddenly calmed down and I am in the mode of waiting. I am not a patient person. I wish I could go to the studio. Or stay home and weave on my tapestry and sew more masks. We need new masks and I have plenty of cotton fabric and supplies. I stopped making them because like most people I didn’t think we’d be looking at another year of wearing them. Our county did away with the mask mandate and even though my workplace and many other businesses that I support still require them inside, I’ve noticed an increase in people not wearing them or wearing them on their chins or below their noses so that they are “technically” wearing a useless mask.

I turned on the Christmas lights on the front porch. It was that easy because I never took them down. I think that I might put up the little artificial tree that we used to put in my mother-in-law’s nursing home room. I prefer the smell of a real tree, but the vet told me not to do it because of Diego’s asthma. That’s fine – many years we don’t do anything for Christmas. I actually prefer Hanukkah because: latkes. I also like the color blue. Since we stopped “doing” Christmas as an obligatory chore I have been much happier. Sandy doesn’t seem to care one way or the other, and when he was working he often volunteered to work on Christmas day so that others who did celebrate could do so. Thanksgiving is the only holiday that I really care about anymore.

There’s no wish here for others not to enjoy holidays. I just don’t care to have days designated for obligatory cheer. It took a long time for me to realize that I don’t have to participate, and not feel (very) guilty about it.

Still, when I look at the Christmas light balls hanging from the trees in the Sunset Hills neighborhood here, and when I look at the beautiful photos from Lisbon of the decorated city, I do feel the spirit.

Somehow I must find a way to get excited about cooking healthy (or reasonably healthy) food again. We both need to lose weight and Sandy gained an enormous amount of weight this year. He is not going to do it without help. He suggested to me last night that he might go on a diet of eating one apple, one banana, and one orange twice a day. I told him that was not healthy and later I tossed him a copy of The Diabetic Bible for him to look over for a well rounded diet. It is still sitting where I tossed it on the sofa. Even if I cook more whole healthy food, that doesn’t mean that he is going to stick to a diet or eat the food that I cook, but it will help me and hopefully he will get some residual benefit from it. At least it is soup season. I do love to make soup.

 

augggghhhh, Coronavirus Chronicles, Rants

Monday mope

Well, it was…a rough week and a busy social weekend and it’s only Monday and I’m exhausted. I look at what everyone else does and it amazes me that I’m exhausted when I do so much less than they do, yet they keep on truckin’.

Good news: this weekend I reconnected with weavers from our local guild, and got out to see and shop a couple of craft shows, including one at Providence Farm, where I’ve been meaning to go for a long time now. I ate at three great restaurants, INSIDE (ackkkkkk, so nerve wracking), and others paid for my meals! Sandy repaired our dryer and so I was able to get caught up on laundry. Not much else happened as far as art or house cleaning. I did some cooking and had a little more energy. The Christmas break is much anticipated.

Not so good news: I finally took Diego to the vet. He has asthma. He needs dental work. It will be expensive, again. His prescription food was changed and so far they both like it (knocking wood). A week ago Sandy tried to go to his doctor for a med check and about multiple problems like his persistent cough that keeps getting worse, probably polymyositis related, but it needs evaluating. They sent him away to get a Co-vid test so he couldn’t go back for an appointment until late today. (It wasn’t Co-vid. He’s had this cough for years.)

Embarrassing news: Today I was looking forward to seeing the video that was posted on YouTube about the exhibition my collage was in this summer. I got treated to about a full minute (out of about 8 minutes!) of it falling down and the installation team repairing my hanging wire and sighing and saying, “When an exhibition says that the art has to be ready to hang…this is why your art has to be ready to hang.” Well, it hung on my wall; what can I say. I’m not posting the link to it because now I am embarrassed and I don’t understand why they included all that in the film when I didn’t even know that it happened. At least they blurred out my name on the back, but instead of being excited now I have tears in my eyes. Gah. It’s a nice documentary other than that. A small glitch in the scheme of things, but I’m not having a good week and I’m hurt that they didn’t consider my feelings.

Terrible news: a vivacious friend of ours who lives in Japan died suddenly this week. We missed him anyway, but he usually came back to town during the holidays and visited friends, and now we will never see him again. He was a major extrovert and entertainer so he had many, many friends and acquaintances who loved him. More terrible news: a PhD student died this week also. Four people I knew died within one month. The other two deaths weren’t surprises, but the unexpected ones made me dwell a bit on this quote from The Lord of the Rings.

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'”

We would never have thought back when we read these books that this quote would so directly relate to us toward the ends of our lives.

And how will we decide what to do, when to do it, and how to do it? How will we manage our health related problems within a health system that only works for the rich? In a country where the working class often has to choose between rent, medication, insurance premiums, childcare, and food? And what do you do when violent people are able to act with impunity, and are encouraged by those in power to attack those who disagree with them? What do you do when governments and corporations with the ability to help the environmental problems refuse to acknowledge that there are problems they have to address for human civilization to continue on this planet?

I had terrible nightmares early this morning and had a full-on panic attack from the first one, heart pounding, heavy breathing from the running I was doing in my dream. I can barely think about the fascism that is being embraced by a minority in this country and who seem to be succeeding in taking power.

I think that I’m going to have to go back to therapy. Hopefully I’ll be able to stay off the anxiety meds.

 

art, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, collage, consumerism, Coronavirus Chronicles, Mixed media art, Reading, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

And, OH! This coffee is so good. I put a big scoop of Trader Joe’s salted caramel hot cocoa mix in it. Divine. I’d really like to go back to Trader Joe’s today and buy more of this and a bunch of frozen dinners to take to work, but I considered what it would be like to go to TJ’s on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I think I’ll wait on that. I’m pretty new to Trader Joe’s since my first grocery shops were always the farmers’ market then Deep Roots then a local grocery. We listened to a story about Trader Joe’s on NPR and were fished in…it was a lovely experience. It’s good that it is on the other side of town.

The other place we shopped heavily during the pandemic was Costco, and we had a lot delivered. Once vaccines became widely available I stopped doing grocery delivery, realizing that between the mark-up on the products and the tip that I gave the shopper, I wasn’t saving any money. Sandy and I are – gasp, I’ll say it – hoarders and we got ahead on groceries at some point several years ago and our closets are generally full enough that we can get by for a few months if needed. I also have water stored in sterilized glass apple juice bottles. At first it was prepping in case of civil war or some other calamity. Little did we know how useful this would become so soon. I have to remember to rotate out the food, though. I donated some to the graduate student food drive for the food pantry this week.

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I have most of my grocery shopping for Thanksgiving already done so I’ll go to Deep Roots for my coffee, bread, yogurt, etc. today. My sister provides the turkey and cornbread dressing and dessert and lots of casseroles since she is the primo chef in the family, and retired, and enjoys it. I’ll bring my asparagus/mushroom/almond casserole and marinated goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy and butterbeans from Smith Farms. We have our assignments and that has always been mine. Usually I grow the butterbeans, but I let that go this year.

One thing that we WON’T do is go shopping. I’ve celebrated Buy Nothing Day for years now, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving. It blows my mind that anybody actually enjoys that frenzy. We stopped giving physical Christmas gifts a long time ago. We still give each other presents, but they are not tied to any one day or obligation. It happens by whim when we see something that we know that someone would enjoy. I strongly believe that is the way gift giving should work.

Frugality is much on my mind, as I spin toward the goal of early retirement. I never thought that there was a chance that I might be able to do it, until my financial advisor at work told me that if I could live on 11% less, I could. Well, I have cut out a lot of fat during the past twenty years, but there is still 11% that I can cut. One thing that I did was I started putting a lot more in my retirement account. So now I know that I can live on what’s left.

I just don’t know how people can rent these days. We are so lucky (and smart) that we bought our house in a decent neighborhood at a good price and paid the mortgage off. Sandy rented his condo out so much more cheaply than the surrounding apartments. He said that he always remembered that when we first moved to this street the landlord said that he wanted to provide young people with an affordable place to live. I really liked that guy and it sounded really noble but we also had leaks and a hole in the bathroom floor. It wasn’t totally altruistic – he didn’t want to fix the problems. Then he sold us the house really cheap! Still, rents are insane these days and I don’t think that I could afford to rent an apartment on my salary if I had to do it.

Yesterday I broke down and decided that I had to take some allergy meds. I had stopped them when I realized that they were triggering my restless leg syndrome. It has been rough. Sleep was weird for the past 24 hours. I slept well on Friday night and late on Saturday, took the 24 hour Allegra-D, then Sandy and I went out for lunch and checked out Jerry’s Artarama. I came back and sat down on the sofa looking at my Kindle, and each cat settled down on each side of me and purred. I was so content and relaxed, I didn’t have a headache, and I could breathe! Then out of the blue I got really sleepy and took a three hour nap. The kind where you lay your head down and don’t move for three hours. These two things totally screwed up my sleep last night, so I spent from 1-4 a.m. stretching my feet and legs and back and cracking my toes and knuckles. At some point I turned on the light and started reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and wow. That was hard to put down. So it was another late sleep this morning. I’ll try to make it through the day without meds and a nap until bedtime tonight.

Jerry’s Artarama, which I didn’t even know was in Greensboro, y’all. It’s in a part of town where I never go any more. I need a source of inexpensive framing supplies for my artwork that I plan to sell, so I joined it. I bought a cool little device that you pour acrylic paint into and it has a marker tip – I chose the inch wide one. I hope that it will work well with stencils. I also bought a cheap stand-up easel for Sandy, black gesso, and a clip on glass panel for a matted print that we had bought from Ireland back in 2012.

One thing that I learned from this trip and the Dick Blick catalog, is that I need to get away from the 8×8″ size work. I bought a lot of wood panels in that size and I can make those hang-able, but there isn’t much choice in pre-made mats or frames in that size. When I make my prints this winter, I’m going to pay attention and cut my papers to standard sizes before I print them. I want to mat or frame my collages and prints and paintings for sale, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. I’ll use a local frame shop for the ones that I want to keep or put in a show.

I spent in the wee hours of the morning thinking about what I’m going to do with this…thing…I made last weekend. And, as often happens, my inspiration took off when thinking about Lake Waccamaw. This is going to be the base for a real mixed media piece, with painting and leaf printed cloth and driftwood and maybe bones?

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I worked on this collage some last week and I like it. It will probably be part of a book, though.

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Coronavirus Chronicles, Rants

Julia Sugarbaker

I love Julia Sugarbaker.

I went full Julia Sugarbaker on a housekeeping employee in the building yesterday. (At first I thought full “Karen,” but I feel sorry for the undeserving Karens of the world that got popped with this denigration of their names.) Every morning I see this man, working inside our building, with a mask hanging off his ear or on his chin, sometimes shouting at another employee on the next floor up or down the hall. Now that the semester is in full swing and the building is full of students, faculty, and staff, I decided to say something to him since obviously no one else had. Yesterday morning I walked in and he had on a plastic face shield and no mask. He said that his supervisor had told them that a face shield was enough.

Well. I tried. I explained to him that UNCG required all their employees and students to wear masks indoors, and it applies to housekeeping as well. I told him that I had two family members who are immuno-compromised so I was wearing a double mask or N-95 to work every day. He said that he understood, that he had three family members at risk. That’s when I started to lose my temper. “So you should be wearing a mask anyway!” I interrupted.

He said, “Well, everybody’s gotta do what they gotta do,” and that was exactly the response that bugs me more than anything in this world.

“No,” I said. “None of this ‘everybody’s gotta do’ stuff. We are employees at UNCG and UNCG requires us to wear masks inside. Period. It’s not a choice.” He then turned and walked into a small room with vending machines where a couple of students were seated.

I got on the elevator, and when I got off on my floor, our sweet housekeeper was wearing a face shield with her mask on her chin. I explained to her that she needs to wear her mask, and she said that she was told that the face shield was enough. I told her that was mistaken, and she wore her mask for the rest of the day.

My supervisor got on the phone and email with the higher ups in the facilities department and hopefully it has been straightened out, although I did not see the guy on the first floor this morning. I can count on our housekeeper to do what is right, as long as she is not misinformed. I think this is what makes me the maddest – that they put her in jeopardy. And the example for the students is terrible. Why some people think that rules do not apply to them baffles me. We are provided with free vaccinations, masks, sanitizer, and weekly testing on campus. We have health insurance. There’s a Walgreens one block away that gives free vaccinations. There are no excuses for our employees not to comply with the health rules here.

So I went down a “Designing Women” rabbit hole and rediscovered one of the best sitcoms of the 80s-90s.

I don’t remember what led up to this rant, but I think that they had been at a conference and there may have been a lot of gossip?

But this clip might be one of my favorites:

This is the monologue that most people remember, from very early in the series:

This one is from the pilot. This take-down comes back to bite her in the ass later on. It reminded me of a girls night out in my own life, when one of the women at our table told the guys that walked up to us, “I’m sorry, we don’t speak English.” They left very confused.

She had her times when she was wrong. This is the absolute angriest Julia rant that ever aired:

Well, this could go on all day, but here’s one I didn’t remember that is golden:

Here’s an interesting fact about Dixie Carter and proof of her brilliant acting and comedic chops: she was actually a conservative. Julia Sugarbaker was a loud and proud liberal and Dixie hated doing her political rants, but she loved to sing. Later she made a deal with the producers that for every liberal rant she had to do, she would get to sing a song on the show.

I’m not always proud of my Julia Sugarbaker moments, but I am glad that I do not have the personality to tolerate bullshit or lies, either. One time that I was glad that I had the JS gene was when I spoke before the board of directors at Deep Roots, during the dark time when they had a mean, incompetent store manager and the BOD changed the mission of the cooperative.  I was proud of that speech, and I burnt the hell out of that manager. Later the BOD finally understood what was happening to the financials and the manager was fired, only to be hired at another local coop that he ran out of business. Today, Deep Roots is strong and has a great manager who has stabilized it and set it on the path to growth again.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Listening to Nancy Griffith and the Cranberries this morning, but I won’t be on the front porch until this heat wave passes, which is supposed to happen tomorrow.

I’m closing in on two weeks of wearing this boot, and while I have no doubt that it is helping my foot heal, it is pure hell on my hip. I go see a new doctor on Tuesday to be evaluated with x-rays and maybe an MRI if they think it is needed. Not being able to take anti-inflammatory meds has made a difference in my pain level. I don’t know what to do – I feel like I need exercise, but even normal movement after a couple of days leaves me with hip pain. The boot is not as hot as I thought it might be, though, and I found a couple of old Danskos that level up my left foot to nearly the same height. I’m glad I didn’t purge them.

Yard guy is supposed to be here soon – thank God I got that lined up before all this happened.

I hope that Sandy will feel up to driving to Chapel Hill to exchange my sister’s 2012 Volvo, which they want to keep, for their 2007 Volvo, which they are giving to me. I am pretty excited about owning a Volvo. Even a 14 year old Volvo will be the nicest car I’ve ever had. We will use the money that we would have used for car payments to keep it maintained. Plus if I continue to have to wear this damn boot I want automatic transmission so I can try to drive with my left foot if I need to go somewhere. Sandy has been my chauffeur.

We mailed the notarized title to the Chevy to the auto shop in Holly Ridge on Monday and I’ve yet to hear that they have received it. This is annoying.

I’m worried about Sandy. His spirits seem really low and he usually doesn’t complain when he is in pain. He did say that his back suddenly stopped hurting the other day, but now he seems to be sleeping much of the time.

We rewatched “Master and Commander” last night. Normally I don’t care for war movies but what a great movie that was.

I can’t seem to get into reading anything right now. I’m back to the game obsession. The world is a terrifying place and it keeps my mind in check.

At work, we ended up having our new grad student orientation on Zoom and we didn’t have the party afterwards, since the plan had been to have it outside at Oden Brewing’s beer garden. The heat index was at 100 degrees so that didn’t seem like a good idea.

I’m getting a bit stir-crazy but at least I got in a couple of fun art workshops this summer.

The news that Sandy is authorized to get a booster was very good. My brother-in-law will qualify also. Our department head had a breakthrough infection and was sick for several days. He came into work, masked, because he assumed that it was allergies, as most of us do. His son was positive, but his wife and daughter were negative. Our office manager’s husband also had a breakthrough infection and nine of his unvaccinated co-workers were sick. One is not expected to make it. She and her daughter did not get sick, and she got the J&J vaccine also. Another co-worker with two toddlers was alarmed and took home tests, and she and her wife got false positives that scared them to death. She had given me a ride home one day, although we were masked. I am glad that no home tests are in stock at area Walgreens right now because they are not accurate.

So I have had two negative Covid-19 tests in the week since I came back from the beach!

Mask mandates are in effect again in our county and at my workplace. No working from home again for me, though. I have to go into the office, but I can isolate myself pretty well.

Oh, and there was a young grey fox in my backyard! I was sitting on my front porch and heard my across the street neighbor shout that he saw a fox running back there. So I went back and there it was, standing in the same space that goes under the back building where I used to see the groundhogs, staring at me. I talked to it and it remained there for several seconds. What a rush! I hope they have taken up residence here.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, depression/anxiety, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

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^Statue on the corner of Walker and Elam Avenues, Greensboro, NC

It’s still comfortably cool on the front porch, but according to the weather forecast it will be turning to summer temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s soon. Dry, too, with some drought concerns beginning to pop up. When I was at the lake last time, the water was already pretty low.

Both of us have been in better spirits this week. Sandy is going to the Aquatic Center for water exercise classes and swimming laps, and he started the steroids on Thursday. He will be on them for a month and then the doctor switches him to something else.

I’m kind of craving a steroid shot in my wrist again since of course I have overdone it with the yard work and otherwise usually holding a book, Kindle, or phone in my hand until my Dequervain’s tendinitis in my left wrist has flared up and my carpal tunnel has flared up in my right wrist. So I’m typing this with two different kinds of wrist braces on, and will try to hold back on the gardening and weeding this weekend. However, this pain is old news to me and even though it is distressing (I had surgery on the left wrist 8 years ago) I don’t struggle with it as much mentally as I used to.

I bought some more tomato and pepper plants at Deep Roots Market on Sunday afternoon and planted them into the pots: Pink Brandywine tomatoes, hot banana peppers, and jalapenos. Then when we popped into the Bestway for a couple of things I noticed that they had a small pot of sweet basil with lots of seedlings crammed into it for $2.99. They are not particularly happy now that I’ve pulled them apart and planted them, but I didn’t really expect them to be. If I get two healthy ones out of the dozen or so that are in there, I win.

We both had massages Monday night and the therapist, who teaches it at the local community college so knows her stuff, basically said that I needed more work that one hour could handle. Ha.

Late Tuesday afternoon I saw my therapist for the first time since November, 2018, when the election results helped calm me down for a while. I told her that I was seeing her on my best day in at least two years and I couldn’t make the appointment to get help earlier because I was too depressed to do it. Such a vicious cycle, depression and agoraphobia. I really like her and was happy that I started it up again. There was also a nice surprise – my insurance doesn’t even charge a co-pay now. I don’t know how long that lasts, but yay.

Anyway, the point is that Sandy and I are both busy getting our shit together and back to living the best life possible. I have a podiatrist appointment on Monday, too, so new shoes will probably be in my future. We both need to do a bit of clothes shopping.

We are planning our summer – in two weeks we go up the road to Elkin, NC, for my Tapestry Weavers South retreat. I’ll be taking a tapestry design course from Tommye Scanlin on that Monday and Tuesday.

Speaking of Tommye, I set up a Bookshop of my own and right now I am featuring tapestry design books. I get a small commission, and a book wholesaler, Ingram, hosts the sites. It’s a way to support local bookstores and publishers online without going through Amazon. You can buy Tommye’s book “The Nature of Things: Essays by a Tapestry Weaver” or pre-order her upcoming book “Tapestry Design Basics and Beyond” there. The link is on my sidebar and also here: Slow Turn Books. I ordered “The Nature of Things” from my shop and it arrived within a week – what a lovely book! I have ordered from Boomerang Bookshop as well, and the entire Bookshop website is fun to search.  You can order from many independent bookstores there.

I will be adding more book lists as the summer goes on – probably focused on the fiber art/mixed media/collage artists who I’ve taken courses from and love the most. I’m not trying to compete with any bookstores or make any money off this – just promote the books and art that I love and have some fun. I miss my bookstore days, but I don’t miss the poverty wages.

Here’s a wildlife shot: The mighty cougar stalks his prey.

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Back Forty, Coronavirus Chronicles

Monday morning

20210506_184420Writing on the front porch, working from home still. Soon, that too will be a memory. This is the climbing rose that is technically on my neighbor’s property. I saved it from the landscapers that plowed up everything else because they think that two foot strip is on our side of the property line. We are going to see if we can root some of it and plant some in the back forty. It has a lovely smell. And of course, there’s the daisy fleabane that I let grow each year as a backdrop.

Like most people, I have mixed feelings about the new CDC guidance on wearing masks. On the one hand, I am happy about it and tend to trust the scientists. On the other hand, there is no way to tell if an unmasked person is vaccinated or is being a maskhole, so I’ll continue to be cautious and wear a mask in inside spaces and in crowded situations, but mainly, I’ll avoid crowds and inside spaces the same way that I did before. Plus, I am not yet sure what we will need to do about masks with Sandy’s medical situation, although the doctor did say it should be fine to go to Europe in September.

However, Sandy and I did eat dinner inside the Green Valley Grill at the bar last night for our anniversary. I knew that they were a safe space, and they had spaced out their tables and put clear plastic dividers every 2-3 seats at the bar. I had the pecan crusted trout – I always have the pecan crusted trout, I should try something else but it is so good – and Sandy had the Athens pasta.

We toasted my friend and colleague, Karl Schleunes, a retired historian of the Holocaust who passed away yesterday. I already miss Karl. He was a kind and funny man, a good friend. When I first began at UNCG, he was the associate head and I was his admin, then he was interim head the next year and his admin was on maternity leave, so I had a great working relationship with him as well. I never, ever was made to feel that I was anything but his equal, and that was rare in professors of his generation. Since his retirement, he stopped by our offices to visit often, and took “the history girls” out to lunch once or twice a year. I miss his smile and deep soft voice and chuckle.

Yesterday I mainly rested my feet, but we went to Deep Roots for groceries and Sandy rearranged the “living room” to a cozier, less cluttered space. Well, it will be less cluttered. We are still working on that part. It is embarrassing for us to have anybody come inside.

Sandy is starting to sound enthusiastic about going to Europe so I think that our situation will turn out okay as long as Europe lets us in by September. If not, I’ll cancel everything and we’ll figure out something else.

On Saturday afternoon I did a lot of weeding and filling containers with potting soil and adding a big bag of raised bed soil that Sandy had bought last year to the new hugelkultur bed. I’m still not sure what I will plant there, considering I watched four little groundhogs playing in and out of the holes in that cement block wall in the background this morning. One climbed a tree. Maybe basil. I planted pink Brandywine tomatoes, hot banana peppers, and jalapeno peppers in the remaining containers. There is still a whole lot to do, including killing a healthy stand of poison ivy growing around the maple stump.

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coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Sunday Sweep

Preface: this is a Sunday Sweep post, in which I am clearing out a lot of anxious and depressed and just plain neurotic thoughts, so you might want to skip this one. I will be doing a couple of more posts with photos about more cheerful subjects.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but everything is fine. Not great, because we are still wondering about the results of Sandy’s muscle biopsy, but he is able to walk and lift his feet much higher, so he is improving quite a bit. His back and neck hurts a lot, so he saw my chiropractor and will see him again. A lot of the problem is that he was so sick for so long and could not walk for more than a very short distance, so he is trying to exercise more each day and strengthen his muscles.

I am quite pissed off at the surgeon and the rheumatologist for not getting back to us with the biopsy results. He has appointments with each of them later this month, but considering that it has now been a full month, I think this is inexcusable. If it was me, I would be raising hell and I have considered doing so anyway, but I try very hard to stay out of my husband’s personal decisions about his body, just as I expect him to do for me.

Anyway, last week I spent most of the week at Lake Waccamaw with my sister. I would have posted from there, but I didn’t bring a USB cord that would connect my phone to my laptop. That will be the next post, and then a garden post.

My spirits are much better, although I still have some deep dips into depression and part of my frustration is that I don’t understand why I get so weepy. Why am I having such a hard time? My life is pretty sweet compared to most people – we live modestly but with very little debt, we are financially stable, my job is pretty awesome, and we live on a wonderful street and our city is a great place to live. I am physically healthier than I have been in some time, except for being a bit fatter and some foot pain…I am not nearly experiencing the kind of back, neck, and hip pain that drove me to get monthly massages and lose sleep at night. Working from home has been a huge improvement for my body. Now that Sandy and I are fully vaccinated, I feel a huge weight lifted and we have been going out more, although I still draw the line at eating or drinking indoors.

Thursday I received a staff excellence award from the College of Arts and Sciences, which will bring me a little extra cash to spend in Ireland. I was honored in a Zoom ceremony, but unfortunately I was so appalled at the photo that was shown of me that I don’t remember much of what was said – basically it was brief and vaguely worded. I am going to ask K to let me read some of the nomination letters to make me feel better about it.

In the past at in person ceremonies the recipients of these awards went up on stage so I figured that they would show me in person. I fretted over this, but I found my makeup, set up a background in Zoom that didn’t show my mess behind me, and I made up my face to look pretty attractive, going back and forth to the mirror repeatedly to touch it up since I was in Zoom meetings all day. Then I didn’t appear at all – it was a PowerPoint presentation, and after a couple of professional head shots of the first two recipients, somebody had pulled a photo from one of our department newsletters five years ago of me in a staff uniform after a department graduation ceremony and cropped my other two co-workers out of the photo. I was so embarrassed, then I felt embarrassed about feeling so bad about something that was a good thing, and then I washed off my makeup and I cried for an hour. I wish that the college had asked me for a photo instead of mining our website for one. I wore a uniform for a couple of literal blue collar jobs in the past and I’ve always resented when I have to wear one in what I consider to be a step up in the world for me. I guess that’s hard to understand for someone who hasn’t lived my life. Generally I am not vain about my looks at all. I rarely wear makeup and wear the same clothes for years, often clothes that I’ve bought at a thrift shop, and I couldn’t care less about fashion. Why this bothered me so badly, I can’t say. I guess that I didn’t feel respected. This is nothing new about how I feel about the administration where I work. I know for certain that my department values and respects me greatly, and they nominated me, so I have come back to that, and I feel better. Really, I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with.

Sandy tried to make me feel better by saying that the photo was not so bad (it wasn’t – it just made me look like a janitor) and then took me out for a couple of Rogue Nut Brown ales on the patio of a local rib place. Friday I worked in the office, then on Saturday, we went to the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market and I bought some plants from Weatherhand Farm, pink grapefruit soap from Mimi’s Soaps, and a couple of seasoning packets from Cornerstone Farms. It was really good to get out there. We then stopped at a big yard sale on the way home that benefited Unity in Greensboro, where we got some great deals. We got a pair of hand weights, a cat carrier (one of ours was held together with bungie cords and is now in the garbage), a couple of nice curtain rods, and an almost new Pictionary game all for less than $10. I am looking forward to playing Pictionary on the front porch.

We came home and I worked in the yard a while, then we went to a local hardware/garden supply store to buy potting soil. We walked in and Sandy forgot to pull his mask up so I reminded him. One of the employees walked out without a mask and told me that he did not have to put a mask on, and I sharply said, “Yes he does, he has an auto-immune disease.” I was really not so worried, but it annoyed me that somebody would stick his nose in our business that way. The other employees were masked and polite.

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On the way home, we stopped downtown and went to a small outdoor festival with music and food trucks and some craft vendors at South End Brewing. We got a late lunch from the trucks and found a place to sit in the shade on the patio of South End. Both of us drank a blackberry wit which was pretty good.

I potted up and planted most of the plants I bought at the farmers’ market and I was pooped for the rest of the day. That was a lot of activity in one day for me, and I need more days like this.

Sandy has been pretty snappy with me since I’ve came home on Wednesday and right now he is gone to the used bookstore and I guess to lunch with his brother. I was invited but I declined. My guess is that it is the chronic pain that is loosening his will power to behave as loving and polite as he has been, and I don’t think that he is aware of how hurtful it is, but then again, it could be that I am truly annoying instead of trying to be helpful. I can be a bit of a bossypants. I can also be quite snappy myself. I have definitely been neurotic. Anyway, I wouldn’t mind having a few days alone right now. My emotions have been swinging so widely.

Bernie and Miss Freda have been singing to each other every day and we are going to put Miss Freda in the big cage with Bernie soon. I’m beginning to think that I was wrong about Bernie being male and now I think Bernie might be Bernice or Bernadette, which would actually be good. No mating.

The weather is perfect and I am happy on the front porch right now. Once I finish blogging, I will get back to weaving the tapestry I was working on at the lake. You can see this photo in the upcoming lake blog post. I need to do some photo editing first.