Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina

Lake Waccamaw 2020, Part IV

My sister and I took a few walks beside the canal across the road from the houses on Canal Cove Rd. There are a lot of alligators in the canal these days, but I didn’t see any on the banks beside the road and none of them were huge. The lake residents don’t really think twice about them.

Lisa loves birds. There are many bird feeders around her house, and the variety of birds at Lake Waccamaw is astounding. At night you get to hear all kinds of sounds that I never hear anywhere else.

And my sister absolutely loves cats. Her two cats are like children to her, and they have great personalities, both very, very different. She can take Rascal outside and hold him, and he doesn’t try to get away. He will try to slip out the door, though, so you have to watch out for him. When you pick him up, he melts into your shoulder. Sissy, on the other hand, is tiny and shy. It takes a few days for her to accept you.

She, along with a few others, takes care of a feral cat colony down the road at a cabin that is seldom occupied. It used to host Friday night potlucks on the pier for the community, and a gardener continues to keep the plants blooming all over the pier. Now there are three mother cats and four kittens that we know of. Lisa found a home for one kitten that didn’t seem to belong to the colony, but the others are too wild.

There really is nothing like gaining the trust and friendship of a feral cat.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters

Good Friday

I did a search for Good Friday on my blog looking for this photo and boy, have I had a lot of “good” Fridays!

I always think of Mama on Good Friday. That was usually the day that she planted her garden, and she had a big one that she planted until she hit her late 80s and began having serious spinal pain. This was taken in 2009, when she was 84. Of course I miss her, and would love nothing more in this world than to be able to talk with her right now. She would be 96. I usually visited her on Easter weekend.

This whole thing has been pretty weird for me in that I haven’t reacted to it the way I would have expected. Instead of freaking out I still feel very numb. It shows in the way that I am not very interested in doing anything that requires much critical thinking. I feel lazy and tired and my allergies are bugging the shit out of me, so I got some Allegra D at the pharmacy drive thru yesterday and I hope that will get me back outside gardening again. Right now all I want to do, and I mean badly, almost irresistibly, is to stay in my bedroom and play games on my Kindle.

On Monday, I am going back to my office (I hear that only a couple of people are ever in the building) and get my office chair, my ergonomic keyboard, and maybe the student files. If we end up having to work from home much longer I’m going to be hurting pretty bad, beyond what ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and heat/ice packs can take care of. I have to start stretching or yoga and get out of the house to exercise and walk.

And I am sick, so sick, of email and videos. I think that I will unsubscribe to every email newsletter that I can.

Also tired of salad already, but I hate to waste my homegrown lettuce from the UNCG garden plot. It looks like it is about to bolt with the up and down temperatures. It was in the mid 80s several times in the last week or so. Today it is 49 degrees at 12:30 p.m. I must have watered my squash seedlings too much. I have the hardest time with over watering. I swore that I would change that this year, but they look so dry to me! However, when I pulled out the sad little dying seedlings I could feel that the soil was probably too moist. The tromboncino squash are the only ones that died, so I still have some redemption time. The tomato, pepper, and calendula seedlings are growing so slowly under the grow light.

Radish, lettuce (new crop), parsley and carrot seeds are coming up on the front steps.

Last night when we went to the pharmacy we also got Greek take-out from Mythos Grill. You order on the phone and they bring it to your car window in the parking lot. Boy, it was good!

Finishing up another scrap yarn washcloth on the rigid heddle loom. I was doing this on the front porch before the pollen storm. Hope to get back out there again.

Diego had his post-surgery check-up on Tuesday. They have definitely ramped up the Co-vid safety procedures since his surgery 17 days ago. Now I read this morning that cats are definitely contracting and getting lung damage from Co-vid 19, so they are doing vaccine trials on them. This actually broke me and made me cry this morning. Anyway, he is allowed to eat dry food again, which the vet hopes will break loose those remaining stitches. If not, next week she will put him under briefly and take the stitches out.

My sister and brother-in-law updated their will and asked me to be executor and take care of their cats if they both die, just as I asked her to do when we made our will. I cannot imagine her cats and my cats getting along, so we all have to survive.

Whew.

Here I thought that I would write about losing the trip to Ireland today but I don’t think I can do that yet. I will try to write about it later this weekend. I think that I will have a processing day today, since I am not working. I really want to make some collages and books, and yes, make masks, but I am stuck.

I hope that all is well with my readers out there. I’m sorry if I am not commenting on blogs right now. I can’t seem to do much of that these days, but I do believe that things will get better.

Back Forty, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, Upcycling, weaving

Mindless weaving

This morning I got up at the usual time to feed the cats. They are insufferable now that they are getting canned food. Odd, because they would not touch it for a very long time. I guess it is a texture thing, because Pablocito turns his nose up at the formerly loved dry food that I have ground up with a blender in case Diego decides that is what he wants.

Then I went back to bed, slept hard, and when I awoke I was shocked to see that it was afternoon. I guess I needed it.

I don’t watch a lot of TV or movies or videos – I don’t know why. It just doesn’t appeal to me after an hour at most. Reading books is much more my thing. It’s been that way since I was a child. I don’t remember ever not being able to read – according to my family I shocked them as a toddler when I picked up a newspaper and started reading out loud to them. When the library bookmobile came to my little community every two weeks, the librarians had a hard time stocking enough books for me that I had not read. I would finish my stack within a week. So I read the World Book encyclopedia and the classics we had at home over and over again. I especially loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. My mother easily got me to whitewash our fence by referencing Tom Sawyer.

You’d think that I’d be smarter, but I guess I burned out a lot of those brain cells from age 15 to 40, when I was self-medicating for anxiety and depression.

Anyway, I need something to do with my hands while watching TV and I haven’t been feeling the love for what I normally do, which was stitch or crochet. Last night I suddenly realized what I could do with all these cotton warps that are going to go to waste when I cut my abandoned project off the loom. I set my “new” rigid heddle loom on a table in front of the TV that I had warped for a Saori style workshop and started weaving washcloths and dishcloths.

I got through two episodes of “Better Call Saul!” My favorite show.

Sandy keeps recommending shows to me, but he really loves horror and war movies. I can’t go there, too prone to nightmares. I guess I will finish “Star Trek: Picard,” then subscribe to HBO again so I can watch Westworld’s new season.

We are enjoying front porch sitting and listening to the family next door with their five year old son. He is so smart and so cute. They play charades on their porch every evening.

Tromboncino squash seeds started coming up today.

Squirrels were digging in my planters on the wall next to the steps so I stuck plastic forks and jagged pieces of plastic that I cut from a sour cream container. I don’t mind sharing some with the critters, but there aren’t any nuts buried there, gang.

Diego is doing okay. He follows me from room to room. Anyone who thinks all cats are aloof never met my spoiled kitties. I had laid off the pain injections but I might give him one when he is asleep.

collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters

Week one working from home – check

Although, honestly, I am surprised that it is Thursday. Feels like Tuesday. I guess that is because I haven’t had a lot of work to do. I have cooked a lot more, and Diego had major dental surgery on Tuesday so needs feline nursing care. I’ve done it so much by now with Squirt, Jazz, Theo, Guido, and Lucy that it feels pretty easy.

I decided that doing more than one online workshop at a time is too much for my monkey mind, and I’ve spent most of my time reading and playing games and cat nursing. Not great, but it has kept me from freaking out. Tying the new warp onto the loom a couple of inches at a time is good activity too. I can listen to music or audio but still be able to concentrate just enough to make sure those weaver’s knots will hold under pressure. I chose the workshop that Crystal Neubauer is doing live on Facebook for now, because it is closest to what I’m already doing with collage, and I love her work and her book, The Art of Expressive Collage. Most importantly, she and I share the same kind of art philosophy.

Here is a photo of the 5-minute collage I did in her live workshop yesterday (it might have taken 6 or 7 minutes, shhh). I’m going to try to do a few more tonight. I’ve also been slapping some gesso on junk mail pages so that is the background underneath.

Art journaling. Well. I don’t know. A lot of my favorite pens are dried out so I ordered some more from Jet Pens today. Maybe that will motivate me to write more. I received my PVA glue from Amazon yesterday, so I’m good for a while with that. We have LOTS of other supplies.

Diego is recovering well. I can’t imagine the kind of pain he must have been in, and I regret that I waited as long as I did to get him scheduled for the dental appointment. He had terrible abscesses and rot. Six teeth removed and a bone graft. The surgery took twice as long as expected. It makes me wonder what Pablocito’s mouth is like.

I am giving him opioid pain injections three times a day and he got his final oral medication this morning. Fortunately they were able to give him a long lasting antibiotic injection the day of the surgery. I would have hated to struggle with him to get oral meds down a mouth full of sutures. Luckily he is eating just fine and not throwing it up. I have to get to the store to pick up more canned cat food. They hate the prescription canned cat food I ordered from Chewy. Of course they loved it until I ordered a whole case of it. I have tried to stretch it out by putting it under the sensitive stomach canned food I bought from PetSmart. They love that, and if I can get them going, they will continue to eat the food on the bottom.

Guilford County is on a stay-at-home order from tomorrow at 5 until April 15. It seems like you can go out to do anything that is necessary so it’s not an onerous restriction. We are trying to limit ourselves to our house and yard. I tried out the online shopping and curbside service that volunteers are doing at Deep Root Market on Tuesday. It works pretty well. Any glitches were because I was feeling frantic about Diego that day and couldn’t think straight.

It means that I will be working from home for a very long time. I don’t like it as much as I thought I might. The Internet here is so slow. The laptop is not ergonomic like my office is set up.

It’s been chilly and rainy for the last few days, so no yard work. The weekend forecast is beautiful, so I will get out and plant peas, etc. Some of the hot pepper mix seedlings are coming up under the grow light. I love the surprise of these pepper mixes.

I have a Zoom meeting at 11 so signing off here. New world and all that.

critters, whatever

Looking ahead

I haven’t been able to find this critter since I took this photo and I hope that it is literally hanging out in a chrysalis somewhere nearby. I believe this is a Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar.

Next week should be part bliss and part anxiety as Sandy and I are taking the week off. We’ll do a little bit of nearby traveling and other than that it will be an art staycation for me. We plan to go to Elkin, about a hour’s drive west, for the Tapestry Weavers South retreat and exhibition opening of “Point of View” at the Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center. We are also going to drive up to southern Virginia for a day to toodle around the Galax/Fancy Gap/Floyd area. At the end of the week the North Carolina Folk Festival will crank up in downtown Greensboro with Booker T. Jones headlining.

So far it looks like Hurricane Dorian will hit Florida instead of the Carolina coast, but as we know so well in the Southeastern US, hurricanes are unpredictable and can turn on a dime, circle back, sit over an area for days, or turn from Cat 1 to Cat 5 or vice versa within a day. Hurricane Hugo did an enormous amount of damage to Charlotte and the NC mountains even though they are a few hours inland. Flooding can be as damaging as wind. The most I would expect here is a lot of rain (knock on wood), which we’ve been getting anyway. It will be a good excuse to stay inside and weave or sew.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, More gardening, Permaculture

Sunday morning coffee pot post

The garden is beginning to rot. So much rain! I weeded out a lot of ageratum and tomato plants that were done late Friday afternoon, and harvested basil for freezing in an ice cube tray yesterday. I found a few little potatoes in the planter. This yield was a bit disappointing but it was free, other than the bags of potting soil and compost I used. I will plant some more in it and see what happens.

So much of life now is a matter of wait and see what happens. I have always been a bit of a control freak, a trait that I have worked very hard to change for the last twenty years. Much of my art has changed as I have let go this and that “rule” or convention. My gardening is unconventional by most standards but controlled when you compare it to enthusiastic permaculturist standards.

Permaculture requires observation and reaction to the space and natural forces working within that space. My approach to the groundhog problem was to plant things that the groundhogs don’t like, such as alliums and smelly plants like peppermint and feverfew around the edges. They didn’t care for the ageratum either. Either it worked pretty well or somebody else took care of the problem. We’ve always had rabbits, but they don’t do that much damage.

I don’t think the high temperature got above 70 yesterday. That was how far the temps plunged with this last line of storms. It is still cool today so I am going to my UNCG garden plots and clean out the rest of the one that I am giving up. I will take some newspapers and a bag of good soil/compost to get the plot where I pulled out the cucumbers ready for fall planting. I hope that there will be some butterbeans ready to pick.

It doesn’t need to be said that everyone who is paying attention to the news is horrified right now. I haven’t taken a complete news break but I have avoided the hole. It helps to remember what I can and cannot control.

It is SO NICE to turn off the AC and hang out on the front porch with the cats again. I think that I will do that for a while first while I finish my coffee pot.

Why is my cat eating cobwebs? Seriously. I guess I will need to clean out here a bit too before Mr. Brilliant gets a spider bite in his mouth.

critters, weaving

Two additions to the family and two additions to the studio

Meet Bernie and Liz.

Bernie is a scrappy little thing and he bit the shit out of Sandy twice when he moved them from their very small cage to the new one we bought for them on Saturday. He hung on like a snapping turtle too. Maybe we should have named him Snapper.

We love birds but we have never wanted pet birds. This spring and summer Sandy bought bird feeders and we have enjoyed watching them and learning to identify them from the front porch. To me, a bird in a cage is a tragedy. However, these birds needed rescuing from a sick relative who had them both crammed into a 13x13x10 inch cage and they had been neglected. We didn’t know about them until he called from the hospital to ask us to feed them. When Sandy went over there, he brought them home.

They are very stressed out and I was half convinced that they would die. Sandy was working a late shift late week and I have had a phobia of being attacked by birds since I was little, so I had a major panic attack before I settled into accepting it. Their cage was nasty and we don’t know a thing about caring for birds. But we are learning. Friends have been giving us advice on Facebook. I hope that we won’t need to take either of them to a vet for a while, because they understandably hate us.

Anyway, here is their new abode, on a sturdy shelf in Sandy’s man cave, where we can shut the door when we aren’t home to keep the cats away. The cats don’t seem interested at all, though. I hope that they become happy. We will try.

The week before, I snagged a Mirrix Little Sister loom at a local thrift/reuse store for only $8.00! It would have been a bargain at $80.00. It appears to have never been used. At the same time, I picked up an old Beka rigid heddle loom for $6.50. I’m looking forward to playing with these this summer.

On Saturday, Susanne and I will go to Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon for the fourth time! We love Forest Grove. I keep checking the real estate prices there, but compared to Greensboro, everywhere seems more expensive. We will spend a couple of days in Portland first. So there will be more travel and book art blogging in late June or July.

I am almost to the end of that long twill gamp that I will use for curtains. Then the plan was to tie the other half of the warp on and weave another set. Whew, that does not sound very appealing right now. I had planned for it to be double weave rugs, you see. Then when I started warping I realized that I had misjudged this warp. It stuck together in the reed so badly that I put half of it aside and switched gears completely. We need curtains. Of course, Diego and Pablocito will destroy them, but that’s life with cats.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, fiber art, Quilting, Reading

Say goodbye to vineland

2018-10-21_11-20-36

I got a lot accomplished on the t-shirt quilt yesterday despite not being able to get the tension adjusted just right on my sewing machine. I complain about this machine, but the truth is it has done a lot of very heavy duty work that it was not built to do, so I should probably show it some gratitude considering all the denim it sewed a couple of years ago. One thing is for sure – I am not going to attempt a project this large again unless I have the workspace and machine for it. Getting down and crawling around on the floor is not a great activity for my joints.

However, all the pieces are joined and I have one panel that I need to put the batting between, another that needs quilting (I’m just doing vertical lines) and the bindings and strips between the panels put in place. At this pace, Diego will be throwing up on this quilt on the bed by Christmas.

Diego was sick last night and kept me up for most of it, because he most wants to cuddle when he feels bad. He has a cranky stomach and I’ve switched them to grain-free food, which helped a lot. He and Pablocito both have a demented taste for plastic and who knows what leaf blown onto the porch he may have decided to munch on. Pablocito likes to eat spider webs but he is never sick. Diego was playing with Pablocito last night before he started puking and he seems better this morning so I don’t think I’ll need to take him to the vet. The two of them playing nicely is unusual too. Why do cats always get sick on weekends?

I am pretty sure that this is coincidence, but Diego smelled SO BAD last night. Like death, rot, shit, swamp, and skunk rolled together. Seriously the worst funk ever. This is not the first time he has smelled this way and when I mentioned it to the vet the last time I took him in she agreed that it was probably him expressing his anal glands. I had to take Theo to the vet twice a year for them to do his. To my huge surprise, this morning he does not smell at all. The pillowcase and pillow where he slept smells a little so I know it was not my imagination.

So I took the pillows off the bed except for mine and the one Pablocito was sleeping on last night. I woke up with Diego on Pablocito’s pillow and Pablocito sleeping on my pillow above my head. This drove me crazy when Theo did it but Pablocito is so still and quiet that it was pleasant to find him there. He likes to be close but he is definitely not a lap cat. In this sense he is more like Guido than any other cat that I’ve had, even though Diego looks like Guido. Right now he is winding around my legs meowing, marking every corner with the side of his head, and occasionally having to be yelled at for scratching on the t-shirt quilt. I have the panels draped over the loom and he has claimed that space for one of his many hidey-holes.

Reading “The Probable Future” by Alice Hoffman right now. I love Alice Hoffman, but I space her books out enough that I haven’t kept up with her writing, unlike some other authors I follow. This one has given me some bad dreams, but that seems to be the case with almost anything I read or watch these days.

I’ve asked Sandy not to watch TV or movies with a lot of screaming, explosions, and gunfire after I’ve gone to bed. He loves his horror, blood and gore. He was into zombies before zombies were a big fad.

Today I want to watch the season finale of “Better Call Saul,” which is my current favorite show. We are watching “3rd Rock From the Sun” again from the beginning – it is such a hoot. I’m a big fan of slapstick silly, which you may have guessed from the name of this blog.

It is very windy and chilly outside so I guess today is really the first day of autumn. We were planning to clean up the Back Forty this weekend but I doubt that will happen now. The cheese pumpkin and tromboncino squash vines nearly covered the whole back yard! Can you imagine what it might have been like if they had been fertilized? Well, my plan for this winter is to get the garden properly fertilized with compost and organic fertilizer for the spring. So all this mess, except for the perennial herbs and flowers, will come out soon. There will be many foxgloves and I will move the rest of the mint back here; anything that I’ve noticed that the groundhogs don’t like to eat. I hope that I will get enough sun in the afternoon to plant another bed in the area where the maple tree had cast shade.

critters, Idaho-Wyoming trip, Montana, National Parks and Monuments, Wonderfulness, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful Geyser Basin

I guess that I thought Old Faithful would be one solitary nature soul surrounded by humans looking at their phones. In a way, it was, but it was one feature in a large field of thermal pools, geysers, and bubbling springs called the Upper Geyser Basin. While we waited for it to erupt, Judy and I went for a walk around the basin and Sandy hung out at the Visitor’s Center, then saved us seats on the benches for the main event.

^^^Aurun and Anemone Geysers?

Beehive Geyser was one of a few major geysers we did not get to see erupt. It’s just bubbling here. After Old Faithful erupted, we could see a large geyser erupting beyond the trees. We think that may have been Riverside or Grand Geyser. We saw so many geysers – honestly, I had no idea.

^^^Click to see the video of Old Faithful erupting.

The inside of the Old Faithful Lodge was almost as impressive as the geysers.

^^^Critters on the way back to our cabin.

That night we decided to drive five miles to Gardiner, Montana, just outside the northern entrance to the park. We ate bison cheeseburgers at Wonderland Cafe, and they were excellent. I was able to text with my sister and get a wifi signal to check in back home where everyone was prepping for a major hurricane.

critters, Idaho, Idaho-Wyoming trip, Montana, National Parks and Monuments, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park

Wednesday: North to Yellowstone

We eased out of Driggs after breakfast and a handmade doughnut at Yeti’s Post and a quick visit to the kind folks at Teton Arts Council. Instead of going back through the parks, we chose highways 33 and 32 to enjoy the flowing hay and wheat fields and small towns in the Teton Valley on Idaho’s side of the range. Once we got to Ashton, the well traveled Hwy 20 took us into West Yellowstone, Montana, the home of the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park and the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, a non-profit rescue and education center for grizzlies, wolves, and birds of prey at the edge of town.

Our timing was lucky, because the grizzlies in the area that the public can view included Grant and Roosevelt, two brothers who wrestled in the pool. We learned a lot about wolves, although the wolves in the exhibit area were only interested in sleeping. I did catch one doing downward dog between changing nap spots, but not on camera. They are about to open a river otter section. All the animals and birds in this center cannot live in the wild on their own. Most were brought to the center as orphaned cubs or injured birds. Some had become habituated to eating human food and would have been destroyed if they had not been rescued.

Well, hey there, Miss Ground Squirrel.

Rolling into Yellowstone National Park, we saw anglers, elk, and bison in the Madison River. We turned toward our destination and stopped at the Norris Geyser Basin, hiking down to see Steamboat Geyser, which had become active early that morning. This is the world’s tallest active geyser, going up to 300 feet in a major eruption! There was a long boardwalk trail that led to many other geysers and hot springs in the basin. We did not go farther, but I did check out the Porcelain Basin before we left. Parking was a bit scarce, so I can’t imagine what it must be like in July or August on a weekend.

^^^Click to see the video of Steamboat Geyser erupt.

Can you imagine building the boardwalks that cross these thermal areas?

There was major road construction between Norris and Mammoth Hot Springs, where we were renting a cabin, so there were times that we sat in stopped traffic. We had our first up-close and personal view of a bison. One casually walked down the yellow line between the two lines of vehicles. The other munched at the side of our lane.

^^^Click the photo to see the video of the bison.

Once we got to Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace, there was a large herd of elk in the meadow between the parking lot and the terraces. We would learn that this herd hangs out around the hotel and headquarters complexes there, including in front of our cabin.

We checked in to our cabin, which was comfortable but had no bathroom, TV or wifi. I was becoming increasingly worried about the forecast for Hurricane Florence, and I did not have phone service. The front desk told us that one of the bartenders at the dining room bar was from North Carolina and to ask him to turn the TV to the Weather Channel. We did this, had a couple of drinks and ate huge appetizer plates at the bar for dinner. In the middle of the night we regretted the drinks, since we had to dress and go to a separate building outside to go to the restroom! It wasn’t that bad, though, I just haven’t had to do that in a long time. I’d stay there again. It was much more comfortable than camping, and not terribly expensive. I found out later that I could get on wifi at the Visitor’s Center for free, but the wifi in the whole park was unreliable and generally reserved for park operations. Understandable.

Next: More geysers, steam, bubbles and bloops.