I’m down at the lake again for the three day weekend. My sister got the gift of shingles for her birthday, which is Monday. She is doing fairly well, though, because she went to the doctor and got meds for it at an early stage. It’s chilly, so we’ve pretty much been hanging out birdwatching in the sun room facing the lake. She cooked soup before I got here, and I cooked chicken tetrazini last night. We watched an 1981 movie last night, The Four Seasons, which I had forgotten about. It was a good movie to watch 40+ years later, after you’ve been married for decades and have seen your friends get divorces or drift away as your lives change, basically relating to the middle aged issues that I was too young to understand at the time.
I haven’t even been over to the house where I usually stay. At this time of year we keep the water cut off and the heat barely on over there. My sister’s house is lovely, warm, and comfortable. I’m happy here, even with our missing Tim. I worried over Lisa getting sick, but I was going to come here anyway because sometimes when you’re grieving, you just need someone to sit with you and listen and not try to fix anything. She is finally getting some sleep and that will help her more than anything.
The skies are almost always interesting here and that’s why I take so many photos. Maybe one day I’ll make an artist book of just my Lake Waccamaw water/sky photos.
This morning was interesting. The next door neighbor’s daughter got married on the dock in the photo above. We watched from the porch. It is windy and in the low 40s and we could see how cold everyone was!
I went to the local grocery store where an old man with a gold cross around his neck tried to engage me in a political conversation over the price of food and how the people in Washington did not care how it affected seniors. I told him that I knew exactly what he meant and moved on. Then the handsome young man at the checkout flirted with me. I’ve reached the point in my life that I appreciate this, if it is done right, and it was.
Sandy got the cardiologist approval for his thyroid surgery so I guess we’ll schedule that soon.
I registered for a book arts workshop near Volterra, Italy in September 2024, so I have that to look forward to and save money for. I should be retired by then. It is four classes led by four teachers doing one book project. A different teacher leads you every day. One of them is Laurie Doctor, who I’ve been aching to take a class from for a long time. I’m not super interested in calligraphy, but I love her work and her writing and her palette of colors. She is so inspirational.
Still musing over a trip to Scotland in May/June. I’m not sure about it just yet. There’s too much sickness going around and it’s making me nervous about planning five months out.
I’ve had plenty of stuff to write about in the past month, but no motivation to do it.
I know what’s happening. As long as I keep my brain occupied by games of logic, I won’t think about what is happening to my brother-in-law, and by extension, my sister. He is suffering. She is suffering. It is a tough, tough situation right at the holiday season, so I feel less jolly than usual, thank you very much. But you can still tell me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever…kind words are always appreciated.
The thing is, I absolutely have to get these tapestries ready for the exhibition at the Folk Art Center and I’ve done hardly anything about it except to commit myself by sending in the paperwork.
I rejoined the print co-op in August, moved stuff back and forth, because I can’t make myself leave the house to go over there. There’s always something to do on the weekend and I don’t want to go after dark. I’ve been there a total of TWO times. I either need to use the space or leave. Is agoraphobia reentering my life? Could be. Most of my supplies are here after I picked up supplies for my book workshop in OCTOBER.
Pablocito is sitting in his spot behind my laptop under antique desk lamp. I like to think of it as his tanning salon. Diego becomes more needy and cuddly every day, which worries me a bit. Does he feel okay? He often has the hiccups and I give him a quarter of a famotidine tablet. I’ve been taking them too. Acid reflux has become a part of my life. Neither cat is happy with any kind of food I give them and I stopped feeding them canned food because they throw it up then leave it untouched in the bowl and cry. They both do better with the Purina Gastrointestinal Natural EN prescription food, and since that prescription renewal is coming up, I have to take Diego to the vet anyway. Pablocito hasn’t been in years. He has been very playful and fun. His latest game is “Magic Carpet Ride” when I pull a rug around on the hardwood floor while he lays on it and kicks it.
Since I last wrote here, Sandy turned seventy years old. We are both in shock about it, I think. I took him out to eat and a couple of our friends joined us as a surprise. We had a great time and the owner came by with a bottle of tequila, lemon slice, and salt shaker and offered him a shot for his birthday, but said he had to take it straight from the bottle and tell him when to stop with a thumbs up. He then poured it straight into Sandy’s upturned mouth and didn’t see Sandy’s thumbs up quickly so Sandy got a double shot. Of course we filmed it and posted it to Facebook and everybody knows what a badass Sandy is now.
The weekend after his birthday we took Amtrak to Charlotte. I don’t know exactly what kind of deal we got because I phoned it in, but it only cost $68 for us both round-trip. We would have spent more on gas and parking. Sandy had gout that weekend but it wasn’t so severe that it was a wasted trip. We got up Saturday, walked to the uptown farmers’ market, went to the Bechler Museum, brunched at Mariposa, then explored the Mint Museum. (I’m going to make a separate post with photos about this part of the trip.) After that, the day was pretty shot for us in a physical and financial sense, so we went to the Whole Foods Market close to our hotel and had dinner and appetizers and soup in our room while watching TV. The next morning he hurt badly enough that I changed our tickets to the 10:30 train and we headed back. Then something really weird happened.
About 30 minutes away from Greensboro, Sandy decided to get up and find the dining car to get some water. I had drunk a bottle of water and we had snacks from the night before. He headed up to the front of the car, and there was a jolt and he stumbled. I remember thinking this is like turbulence on a plane. It wasn’t that bad though. He almost opened the door and then decided the car must be behind us and turned around. That is when the train decoupled and the rest of the train moved ahead of us and our part of the train came to a halt.
Sandy was so close to stepping through that door when the train decoupled. In this photo it is open to give us ventilation on the train, and the front half of the train is up ahead.
Somehow, a piece of tree trunk was on the tracks. It must have been between the rails. It ripped out the cables and hoses under the cars. I have to applaud the conductors. They got up under the train and repaired it enough that we were able to reattach and move on about an hour and a half later. In the meantime, my bladder had to hold on to that water because they didn’t want us to use the bathrooms, although if it was an emergency we could have. We were near a railroad crossing so some people who were getting off at High Point called people to pick them up and got off the train.
I have to wonder if some sick puppy put that tree trunk on the track. And I’m further pissed off, after seeing those railroad workers on the job in this situation, knowing that private corporations do not respect them enough to give them sick leave. Anyway, we didn’t derail, Sandy didn’t step out into space and get run over by a train, and I made it to the Greensboro depot bathroom.
Then on Wednesday, we went to Lake Waccamaw for Thanksgiving with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and grand-nephew. (Post with LW photos later.) The food was great, as usual, and I didn’t cook a thing for it. It was all my sister. We had a good time until my b-i-l ate a bit too much solid food and got sick. This week he went in for draining the fluid that the tumors cause out of his abdomen, and a test to see if he could have surgery for a bypass on his upper intestine. Well, he got sick again, but they scheduled surgery for this week. He can hardly eat anything at all and it is devastating to see him basically starving to death. Our hope is that he can at least be able to eat again with this surgery, but he might not survive it. As it is, he can’t survive the way it’s going and he is miserable and suffering, so it is a little bit of hope we didn’t have before. No one would do this surgery at first. This kind of cancer is rare and doesn’t respond to any kind of treatment, so he is no longer on chemo.
On Saturday afternoon while they were resting, Sandy and I drove to Holden Beach, which is about 40 minutes away, in search of sea biscuits and shark’s teeth. I had intel from a shelling group on Facebook that dredging early in 2022 had uprooted a huge fossil bed and hundreds of thousands of sea biscuits. We found no teeth, and there were many fossil hunters and shellers on the beach, and we were not there at the prime time to find anything, but I did find a couple of whole sea biscuits, other fossils, olives (the shells, not the fruit), and several broken sea biscuits. It was fun and a bit of good exercise, and the weather was pleasant. It was a better haul that I expected. I might do it again.
So now. We did our holiday socializing this week, with a bit of drinking at Old Town with some faculty and at a new place, The Abbey Tavern, with some graduate students, on Thursday night, then at our department Christmas party on Saturday night.
Now I’m waiting to hear if my sister needs me to go cat-sit at Lake Waccamaw while my b-i-l is in the hospital this week. The traveling back and forth is exhausting them, and the cats at the lake don’t really get along with the cat and dog in Chapel Hill (my niece lives there), although they do usually travel with them back and forth. I can work online from the lake. The wifi is good and I’d be able to birdwatch from my sister’s glassed in porch. If this happens, I might use our lake house as a studio and work on my tapestries over there. Get ’em done. I have to get ’em done and ready to hang!
And I have to make some kind of decision about the print studio at the Arts Center. Move out or use it, but I have to figure out my storage capabilities here, Again, purging is in order, but mostly I just need to clean up the big pile of crap that has accumulated on my work table.
I missed writing my weekly blog post last weekend, but we did get a lot of things done. Our focus was on cleaning the front porch and everything on it. I never knew that window screens could get so dirty. It is mostly done, and the cobwebs are already back. Pablocito likes to eat the cobwebs for some reason. This weekend began with a heavy rain and the forecast shows rain for the next three days. It’s unfortunate because our city’s big outdoor event, the North Carolina Folk Festival, is happening. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic is supposed to play tonight. Sandy still wants to go downtown to see the arts and crafts, but I don’t feel enthusiastic about wandering around in the rain. Sandy and I have to sit down a lot and I don’t think he minds having a wet butt, but I do. So he has asked me to drop him off downtown.
This means that I have to decide if it is worth it to go to the studio at the Cultural Arts Center. I could take an Uber and not have to deal with the parking, although I wonder how many people will still come now that it is raining so hard. Last Sunday I continued with my idea for redoing the cover on the book I made in Dan Essig’s class in June. This is a bit tricky, because these tiny washers are made from mica, and mica and glue don’t usually work together well. Mica is made from hundreds of tiny layers and glue will pull off the layer next to it. So what I tried to do is encase them in acrylic gel medium. I’ll see how well they will stick when I get back to the studio. I also prepared several more illustrations to go into the pages.
I guess I’m back into dots and circles these days.
The event that disrupted most of my plans for Labor Day was this little fellow. As I sat down to eat dinner on Sunday night I heard a loud cry and fluttering from behind our fireplace insert, which I thought was a bird. When Sandy detached the woodstove pipe and cover to the fireplace, he found two dead squirrels, a nest, and this guy, apparently unhurt.
We ran around all panicky trying to figure out what to do, and of course ended up doing some things that we shouldn’t have done, but I posted on Facebook and tagged a couple of people who have done wildlife rehab or knew people who did, and was reminded that my friend Leslie who owns the Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center in Elkin, a little over an hour away, had successfully rehabbed a baby squirrel and released it to the wild this spring. She still had supplies such as two cages and the formula needed and volunteered to take him. Susan rode with me to Elkin in the pouring rain and we made the transfer. He was a little dehydrated but a day later he was drinking formula and seemed to be doing fine. She named him Archie after Archie Brennan!
I may be seeing him again about a month from now when Tapestry Weavers South has its retreat in Elkin.
Fortunately, the guy we use for chimney cleaning had a cancellation on Tuesday, and he cleaned out the dead squirrels and the nest material and inspected the chimney with a camera. Unfortunately, he says that the old terra cotta flue lining is cracked where there has been a past chimney fire and says that it is unsafe to use. He recommends a stainless steel lining which would cost $4000. I don’t think that we need the wood stove for that much money so I might get a kerosene heater for emergencies. For that kind of money I’d rather get a few more solar panels and one of those electric heaters that looks like a fireplace. He will come back in October to critter proof our chimney caps.
Speaking of that – why the hell does anybody manufacture a chimney cap that critters can get into? I spent a lot of money repairing and rechinking the mortar on these three chimneys and putting metal caps on them in 2011. Grrr.
Earlier on Labor Day, Susan and Jerry and Sandy and I went to Oscar Oglethorpe, where I picked out new glasses and got my old frames repaired. Then we went to Natty Greene’s for lunch. I’m looking forward to my new eyeglasses – they are bright blue.
Today I’ll work on getting this “O” postcard sized tapestry underway. I ordered this artist’s backpack from Amazon after seeing a tapestry weaver recommend it on Facebook. It is the perfect size for my frame looms and some yarn, and I use the front pockets to carry my lunch and drinks to work and back. My co-workers say that I look like I’m going backpacking with my hiking shoes on, but I don’t care. It is convenient to store the loom and yarns in the backpack, and I don’t get cat hair in it.
Reading: I finished “The Known World” by Edward P. Jones. It is one of those books that makes it difficult to decide what to read next because it was so good. I’ve finally settled on “Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon.
While Portugal and other places in the world burns, we have a sweet reprieve from the oppressive heat since a cold front with rain came through last night. Diego and I are sitting on the front porch. The rain is pattering and gurgling, wind is wafting, a cardinal is chirping, and a train horn is blowing. Now a mockingbird sings. We have many mockingbirds in the area.
This weekend so far I have not left the house except to pick a couple of hot peppers for our chili last night. An ancho and a poblano. They didn’t seem so hot after I did a test nibble, but after I minced and seeded them, soap and water did not clean my hands and I wiped my itchy face with my hand. I remembered a tip from my sister and dabbed some sour cream on the stinging areas. (Cream cheese works too.) It worked and the chili turned out perfect.
I’ve been concentrating on finishing “Cathedral.” I know that I have been saying that for years. But I actually have the top edge of the left side finished and it’s a matter of weaving up the right side and middle to match it, then weaving a hem. When it is cut off, I’ll ask Sandy to make a video. Standing at this loom is not good for my body and I will probably sell the Shannock loom when I finish Cathedral. I have many looms to choose from, mostly small tapestry looms. I have reworked the section on the right of the top photo several times. It is time to let it go now. I’m content with it.
Last weekend I needed to do something that was easy on the brain and would give me a dopamine hit, so Susanne and I did a couple of natural dye pots and rolled up paper with various leaves on copper pipes to make prints. This time we dipped the paper in an alum/water solution first. I experimented with three different papers and I had no expectations. We didn’t have much in this particular dyepot other than some rusty iron bits and a few old pecans with hulls that I found. It was also still dirty from the same time I used it. Susanne also did a dyepot with avocado pits but I haven’t seen her results from that one.
The first papers were Susanne’s handmade “dream” paper, speckled with herbs. It didn’t hold the leaf prints as well but I think that the yarrow leaves that I put in one of the bundles dyed everything a brilliant yellow. The texture is very nice.
The second paper bundle was a thin commercial paper that may have been too delicate for the dyepot, but I was experimenting. I did get prints and one section near the top of the bundle that was torn is so pretty that I’ll do something with it. This paper will be good for collage.
The last set of papers just floored me. I was so pleased and surprised when they came off the pipe bundle. These were heavy cream colored watercolor papers that I had torn down to make book signatures with. They turned out so beautiful and vibrant that they will have to go on covers, I think.
Leaves used were sweet gum (called liquidambar in the rest of the world, I think), black walnut, pecan, redbud, oak, willow oak, swamp bay, and the black/purple areas were from dried petals of black hollyhock flowers. I grew one several years ago and it didn’t do well, but I dried and saved the petals. There are a few strawberry and rose leaves in there too.
People always ask about the lines. Those are the string marks from tying the paper bundle tightly. It is on the outside of the bundle so that part picks up the dye in the dyepot – in this case, the iron bits and probably residue from the last time I dyed with black walnuts.
Here I am, in all my “just out of bed” glory! I think it might be time to cut my hair.
Let’s see how much I can write before the Great Sandino gets up and wants to go to the Farmers’ Market.
Pablocito is crying as if somebody is beating him, but he is just bored. He slept on my pillow beside my head last night and got his whiskers in my nose. Now he is behind me on this chair, head butting the back of my head. I’m just waiting for the love bite to the scalp. He’s a pain in the ass, but I adore him. Diego is doing fine. He got lots of attention this morning and I combed a lot of his undercoat out.
I think a little too much about the complications of moving these guys to Portugal with us. I mean, one of the reasons we moved into this house (next door from our old house) was because I couldn’t bear to leave my feral cats behind.
This week – oof. It was a tough one. Fortunately I was very busy at work, so that kept my mind occupied for the most part. That’s the way it is this time of year. Thomas did come and work on my yard last Sunday, so it looks pretty good. He says that he will continue working for me this year. His fee has gone up, so I might need to call him less frequently, but since that the main mess was cleared out last year, that should be okay. The asparagus is coming up, and I will have to resist the urge to pick it for a year so that it will become established.
I decided to switch our phone service from Credo to T-Mobile this week, after getting feedback from my Portugal Friends group about the service in Europe. One flight attendant said that she uses it. One of the most stressful things about our last trip to Europe (Ireland and England) was that we were told that my phone would work and then it didn’t. We had luggage, faced a long steep hill, and couldn’t get a cab. We thought Sandy was going to have a heart attack at one point and left him sitting on the sidewalk halfway there, and when I got to our B&B to find no one there, I sat down and cried in the rain. I AM NOT DOING THAT AGAIN, PEOPLE.
So T-Mobile it is, and we will try to switch our phones over this weekend. Nowadays, with all the multi-factor authorization I have to do multiple times a day with my personal phone just to do my job, this is no small deal. They said that we could move over our old phone numbers, but didn’t seem entirely confident and said that we might have to go to a T-Mobile store to finish up. However, we are getting so much more data for so much less and a free tablet with phone and internet service that in the end I think it will be worth it. Sandy has already said that he gets so many scam and spam calls that he doesn’t mind losing his old number, but I hate to tell him that probably won’t change!
I registered for Focus on Book Arts this week along with my friends who are going with me. It’s gonna be a artsy hen party, y’all. We are all so excited. Mostly we are taking different classes, but we are staying together in an AirBnB house and then a dormitory suite at Pacific University. This time it will have air conditioning, thank God! The last two times we went there was a heat wave and it was tough without AC. It was hotter than North Carolina both times.
Today, I have an appointment for my second Co-vid 19 booster, and Sandy will get his at some point soon. He was waiting to get his doctor appointments over with this week, and that was the biggest stressor of the week. I looked at the results of his echocardiogram and asked to go to his cardiologist appointment with him on Wednesday because it was scary. Turns out that I had a reason to be worried during that 2017 trip to Ireland/England. The man was in heart failure back then, and I didn’t know it, and he says that he didn’t know it. What the fuck. I don’t know how to process this so I’m hauling his ass to therapy with me on Monday afternoon. He had a CAT scan on his lungs on Friday to make sure that his respiratory problems are not from something other than the polymyositis. He is sick and tired of going to doctors. We were told that he has to go on a strict no/low sodium diet. No eating out. This is not going to happen. We will be in Portugal one month from now. Our moods are not good.
Portugal will be a trip full of fascinating, very hilly streets. I have to be able to call Ubers or taxis. Fortunately it is very safe in Portugal so if he needs to rest a lot I will feel comfortable going out on my own, although I definitely need a lot of downtime too. For most of the trip we plan to take trains and buses.
Last night we went down to the corner bar for a drink and had some good conversation. A couple brought a bunch of produce that they said Harris Teeter was throwing out that was still good, and put it in a booth for anyone to take. We picked up a cantaloupe, watermelon, and grapes. Now it’s time to go to the Farmers’ Market to get some more fresh produce, since we will be cooking at home a lot more, if we can make ourselves do it.
Diego is sitting on the arm of my chair, wondering what happened to the mouse they chased last night. I disposed of the little body a few minutes ago. I grew up with mice in the house so I’ve never had disgust for them. While I am pleased that the cats are doing SOMEthing to earn their keep, I always feel sorry for the mice. If I can get to them in time I will rescue them and put them outside, but usually the shock kills them anyway. So I told the little mousie that I was sorry, and that I knew that she was just trying to feed herself and her family, and then out she went to the garbage.
After a helluva good run of mental health and a fantastic weekend last week, I feel like I walked into a wall last night, a brick wall that bonked me in the head and said, “Why aren’t you paying attention? Danger, danger!” I’m training my inner self to counter with the serenity prayer, etc., but my spidey senses feel panic on the street. Fear of the panic is as bad as the source of the fear. It comes back to the choice of staying informed and staying somewhat sane. I won’t go into Sandy’s personal stuff, but it hasn’t been good either.
We had a good week, however. I have been trying to get used to the new reality of many people around me going maskless. On St. Pat’s Day we took our great new folding rocking chairs over to Oden Brewing and enjoyed a couple of stouts and Mediterranean food from a food truck and a Celtic band named Banna outside in the beer garden. It was a lovely evening, and St. Patrick even paid a visit. I bought a t-shirt and a CD from the band. The world almost felt “normal” again.
So last night and this morning I am doing laundry and trying to pump myself up to do some cooking this weekend. It’s hard to describe just how much I do not want to cook this weekend, or nearly any time. I would rather go hungry than cook most of the time. I take my lunch to work, and it is usually a frozen dinner or crackers and cheese or chips and guac, and fruit and granola and yogurt. Not terrible nutrition but I could do a lot better.
What I want to do is weave and finish up my metal collage cards for the show and tell/critique part of my online class tomorrow. But it is also supposed to go up to 79 F (26 C) today, even though it is cloudy and cool right now. Since it has been raining this week it would be a good time to weed and get the garden bed ready for my asparagus roots that should be arriving today. I texted my yard guy and he says that he can come next week to help me, but I can’t count on that.
I have a stack of these musty raggedy nineteenth century magazines which I think came from the attic of my grandfather Parham’s house. They are in my mother’s hope chest where I keep family photos and other mementos. I had thought about including parts of them in the collage packs that I will sell if I ever get up the mental energy to get that project going. Right now I’m going to start using some in my collage. This one has aired out enough that it is okay for my allergies to work with, and I plan to seal it with matte medium once I use it. This issue is August 1876. There are a lot of Victorian fashion plates, advice for wives and mothers, and serial stories in these magazines, and of course they are all in black and white.
I can barely think about Portugal right now, but our trip is less than two months away. In a couple of weeks I will register for Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon in July. Last night all this seemed impossible. I have to change my inner narrative.
In which I am settled in near the wood stove with the last of the coffee. There is no fire in the wood stove, though. Allergies in the house has stopped its use unless there is a heating emergency. I need to buy some clean firewood instead of the rotten moldy stuff in the back yard stack. I pulled out an electric radiator style heater to help with warmth during this cold spell.
I definitely started feeling agoraphobic again this week. On Wednesday morning I must have breathed in some saliva in my sleep because I woke up not able to breathe. I coughed for an hour and the stress gave me a migraine. Then I felt totally freaked out because it was so difficult for me to go to work. I called my therapist and she got me out the door, then I had an appointment with her the following day.
I told her my motto for the year was “I guess we’ll see” and she suggested that my word for the year be “Unfolding.” I like that. A strange part of the session which I will talk about with her again next week is that agoraphobia is an evolutionary response to danger, and she seems to be suggesting that at this particular time it is a reasonable one. I suspect that she is trying to get my anxiety down and to stop being so hard on myself. It’s difficult for me to tell if I am overreacting sometimes. She also reminded me that irritability is caused by my depression.
When I told her that I had watched “Just Look Up” and it was terrifying, she said to me, mid-sentence, “Don’t watch that!” Which is very strange because the main premise of the movie is to pay attention to what is really happening and doing otherwise will kill us all. I mean, seriously, the baddies in the movie countered the slogan “Just Look Up” with “Don’t Look Up.”
I know that I need to prioritize my mental health but ignoring what is going on in the world doesn’t seem to be, I don’t know, responsible?
Critter report: Diego was just sneezing but he is much better. His meds are insanely expensive, so another thing on the list is loratidine to alternate (or substitute) with the Apoquil. After he started throwing it up again, I went back to the EN prescription cat food, and started giving him his pill pocket around 9 p.m. This seems to be working out, because at $4.50 per dose those pills are too costly to vomit up. I also went to Petsmart and took a chance on buying a case of Fancy Feast Turkey and Giblets pate. So far, so good. The Greenie dental chews are a hit as well. I stopped the nose drops but I’m going to try again tonight and have Sandy hold his head still. The other sign that Diego is better is that he is starting to bully Pablocito again.
The trip planning for Portugal has been bugging me. Everything has changed so much since I first bought these Aer Lingus plane tickets from Boston to Dublin. At first I was going to use my Southwest points to get to Boston, so that part was free, then I was taking American home. Since then we changed the tickets to Boston to Lisbon, which simplified that part of the trip, but the plane tickets to Boston and back have doubled. My Southwest points won’t cover the trip and I don’t want to spend any more money with them anyway – I hate their politics, I don’t trust them, and I want to be done with them.
The plane trip back is going to be rough with leaving Lisbon late at night and an 8 hour layover in Dublin – hardly enough time to be worth getting a hotel room at 1:30 a.m. and getting up in time to go through all that security again early in the morning. So I started following United flights out of Greensboro and doing a cost analysis of whether it would be worth it to ditch the previous plan and make the whole plane trip simpler and shorter, without having to pay for parking, and without having to change airlines and doing multiple Covid tests.
To make this plan work, however, I would have to get my 60,000 miles credit from the new United credit card I was just approved for. I probably won’t get those until April at least. Cutting it a bit too short. At least I will have them for my trip to Oregon in July.
This is the kind of shit I obsess over, and quite honestly, I enjoy the hunt. I read articles on the best ways to save money on travel and get the best plane ticket prices and follow Rick Steves among other travel gurus. I started telling Sandy about what I was researching last night and he doesn’t understand how complicated the plane ticketing process is. He brought up Google Flights and told me that flights to Boston weren’t that expensive. He was looking at today’s date and not looking at the different times at all. Then he told me that we could stay in a Boston hotel. I asked him if he had looked at the cost of Boston hotels. Then he said that I was lucky because other women’s husbands would have taken their credit cards away. A jaw-dropping sexist comment from my feminist husband. That got him cussed out. He immediately saw his error, and I didn’t carry that anger too long, mainly because I cussed him out so thoroughly, and also because I realized that we are products of a sexist and racist culture and generation, and both of us still carry these biases that will inevitably rear their ugly heads from time to time.
This morning I apologized for saying “FUCK YOU” and he said that he deserved it for being an asshole. This was a very rare occurrence for each of us in our marriage. This is also a good time to say that I firmly believe that one of the reasons we have been married for 34 plus years is that since Year Two we have kept separate financial accounts and instead assigned certain bills to either of us so that it worked out about equal. We are both extremely frugal and at the moment we don’t carry any debt. At all. No mortgage, no home equity loan, no car payments. If my credit card bill is over what I can pay per month, I have enough in my money market account that I pay it off from there. Then I work on getting that money back into my money market account.
In other words, I am fucking amazing at managing my money. And so is he, although we have different approaches to what we think is best. And today all is well.
I’m going to try to stay out of my bedroom and cook and weave tapestry and read in the front room, not in my bed. I’m going to do the exercise videos again – they are mostly dancing, and if my heel starts hurting too much I can do them sitting down. I don’t know whether I will go to the studio tomorrow. At least the city has mandated masks in city facilities again, but so many people who DO wear masks don’t wear the right kind or wear them correctly. I’ll probably be alone in the room if I go in at 1 p.m. though.
Hard to remember any more. I have to use a calendar these days to keep track of days. Now that Sandy is retired he has particular problems with not having a steady schedule, and I’ve encouraged him to start keeping a digital calendar, although any kind would do as long as he looks at it every morning.
Warning – long rant ahead. I might have to write two blog posts today.
Monday Diego went back to the vet and it was expensive and I had to leave him, which I do not like to do, especially these days. He didn’t produce enough urine for a urinalysis even after they pumped him with fluids so they didn’t charge for the urinalysis BUT I paid almost $40 for the fluids. So far I’ve spent about $800 on Diego this month, not including special foods and pill pockets. And it will most likely continue because he is on a very expensive anti-histamine now. Doc says that after this week I can alternate them with Claritin to bring the expense down. I am giving him nose drops, one in each nostril. This is fun. I’m putting this off because DREAD but as soon as I finish my coffee I will do it again. I have to get my technique down because I wasted a lot of it yesterday.
He is STILL stuffy, but it is better.
One thing that the vet suggested which has me reeling is the possibility that we have black mold in our house. This is very, very possible. All you have to do is look at the stains on the ceiling tiles in my bedroom to understand. The leak was fixed years ago, but… to take care of that mold, my friends, would eat up my retirement plans and money. And, wow, I just killed a winged ant. Is it a termite?
So I am not well pleased today.
I also was furious at the vet’s office when first I had to ask the staff member at the front who showed us to an exam room to put on her mask, then later a vet tech returned Diego to me after his blood panel and the vet tech did not have on a mask. When the vet, who IS always masked as far as I’ve been able to tell, told me that I needed to leave Diego and pick him up later, I asked her to make sure that the vet techs wore masks around him, SINCE HE CAN’T WEAR A MASK, and he is asthmatic! She looked surprised and said that everyone wore masks in the back, and I informed her that this tech did not.
(In case you are not a cat person and don’t know, cats can contract Covid-19 and die from it.)
Then later, as I waited in an exam room for him to be returned to me, I could see through the window in the door to the back area. Very clearly I saw this same tech handling another cat without a mask on, assisting the vet. So she is either lying, or she is totally oblivious to the humans around her. The latter is a possibility, but I doubt it. I stood there for 15 minutes, becoming angrier by the minute, watching this tech walk back and forth, maskless, interacting with other staff and animals.
Finally when he brought Diego in his carrier to me at the front desk, he had on a mask. I said, “I hope you had on that mask when you handled my cat.”
This maskhole said, “Of course!”
“Because I watched you in the back room handling other cats and you did not wear a mask,” I spat out, grabbed up my poor kitty, and marched out.
I really cannot abide a fucking liar.
I barely slept that night because I was so pissed off and conflicted. Then my phone woke me and it was the vet. She sounded so kind and concerned and helpful that suddenly I felt no anger. Obviously I’ve not let go of it because here I am ranting over it, but I do not want to change vet practices again if I can help it. What do I do? She has a great reputation, but her staff sucks. I left this practice once, and then they worked Diego in during an emergency when another practice would not see him. And veterinary workers are burning out in great numbers from the stress. I know, partially because I have a friend who is a vet that works at an emergency clinic. So maybe she has to be tolerant to be able to continue her practice.
What makes all this even more strange is that they went way over what they needed to do last year. Granted, the staff seemed pretty clueless in late March 2020 when I overheard one of them say as I walked out, “Did you hear what she said? She knows someone whose husband died of Covid!” Then when I went back in early April, everyone had on masks, they were selling masks, and then later they changed to pick-up/drop-off in the parking lot only.
Now, this attitude.
I’m looking for gluten-free canned food that Diego will eat. Today and yesterday, Fancy Feast Turkey and Giblets pate was a hit. Tomorrow, who knows. These cats usually wait for me to buy more than two cans of anything before they decide that, no thanks, they’d rather eat plastic. They love the Pill Pockets so far, crossing fingers, but I looked at the ingredients and you guessed it – wheat gluten. The vet recommended them though – I’m confused. My friends are suggesting homemade chicken and rice, including chicken organ meats that a farmer friend says that she can help with this spring.
Okay, time for the nose drops. Hopefully I won’t have to do this for more than a week.
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.
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.
Yesterday I mostly did laundry and cleaned and read, while Pablocito hung out on the damp warm porch until the storm system blew through that had spawned the terrible tornadoes in the Midwest the night before. I wonder if they have tornadoes in Portugal? Now it is winter weather again, in the 40s.
Diego is breathing much better and sneezing from time to time, which is a good thing because I don’t know how else to get that congestion out of him. I can’t teach him to blow his nose. They both love the new dry food, which I’ve mixed in with the old dry food for now. I hope that I haven’t jinxed this by saying so.
I spent a couple of hours, off and on, weaving the Cathedral tapestry. I turned the photo above so that you can see part of that top section as it will appear when hung. When I step back from it now I can see the form of the tree in the shadows more clearly so I think that this part of the design will still be effective even though I’m stopping about a foot shorter than planned.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy was a stunning, difficult, and wondrously worded read. I have a weakness for authors who create their own languages. This plot caused a lot of anxiety for me as it unraveled, because it is full of trauma and you know from the beginning that it is a tragedy. Yet the children are delightful and the stories behind the characters are rich and complex, so I am glad that I stuck with it. It amazes me that this is the author’s first novel.
Near the end, she quotes the lyrics from “Ruby Tuesday,” and I went to bed with this ringing like a chime in my brain. No wonder it was hard to fall asleep.
“There’s no time to lose, ” I heard her say Catch your dreams before they slip away Dying all the time Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind Ain’t life unkind?
Next up on the stack is The Overstory by Richard Powers, which I bought from Cricket on the Boomerang Bookshop bus. I’m really looking forward to this one.
It is good that I’m getting my focus and concentration back enough to read for more than a few minutes at a time. Maybe soon I’ll be able to watch a movie all the way through. Strange what an ongoing global crisis can do to your mind.
Portugal is calling. I hope we will be able to go. The photos coming from Lisbon of all the Christmas festivities make even an old Scrooge like me feel the spirit.
I have a date with the studio at 2:00ish and I am planning to keep it. Last Sunday I ended up collapsing at 3 p.m. I just couldn’t keep going. My problem now is that I have too many projects in my head and I need to choose one. I hope to spend a lot of time there during the week after Christmas.