art, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, crocheting, depression/anxiety

Catching up with some art

Although I am sunk pretty badly, I am not in the hole so I’ve been able to laugh from time to time and do a little bit of art-making. Between Crystal Neubauer and Roxanne Stout’s online classes, I’ve been encouraged to doodle and follow my intuition. I would like to do more but I have almost accepted that my brain is gonna do what it’s gonna do, or not do anything at all. The main thing I’ve been able to do is work on this Tunisian crocheted weather scarf while we watch Doc Martin. Combining Tunisian knit and purl stitches has kept it from rolling up, but the edges are pretty awful. Practice makes perfect, I guess, and I’ll go around the whole thing with a slip stitch or something to firm up those edges.

For Roxanne’s “Notebook Journeys” class, I needed a spiral bound watercolor paper book, but all my watercolor paper is in pads. I do have quite a few spiral bound sketch books, so I am using a 9×12 landscape book and folding and pasting the pages to make them heavier and convert it to a 9×6 portrait oriented book. I’m trying very hard to use up what I have before buying more supplies. This studio space is still bursting at the seams.

It’s been fun to doodle in, especially with ink washes and Pitt brush pens. I’m going to do some sewing and writing, maybe a little more collage. Cutting some pages and seeing how they interact with the pages before and after is an interesting exercise.

As for the collage – well – my plan to make one 4×4 collage per day fell apart 3 days in. I love collage but I don’t love glue. I mixed up some Yes paste and Golden acrylic satin glaze according to Crystal’s method and I hope that will help with the papers curling so badly. The consistency is very thick and I might have to mess around with it some more.

When I am awake at 3 a.m. I keep thinking about cloth. So eventually I will be playing with that again. I could not explain to you why I am not doing it right this minute.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, fiber art

Saturday Morning Coronavirus Chronicle Chapter

With coffee and hot cocoa mix.

Absolutely had an emotional meltdown last night. Part of my problem is that I am addicted to playing games when I am depressed. It keeps my mind occupied without the overwhelming reality of the world intruding. But it is wreaking havoc on my body – my right arm is burning, my muscles are turning to fat, my hips are begging to get out of bed. I want to sleep more than anything in the world now. Even if I was one of those lucky people (cue my husband) who can fall asleep as soon as they close their eyes, my body is preventing it because it is in pain.

After this blog post, which I’ve promised myself to write at least once a week, I am going to try to go offline and no games or e-books for two days. I’ll allow myself TV, but no news.

It is going to be a beautiful weekend outside and I am going to get out in the fresh air and put my hands in the dirt. I do have to be careful because this is the danger time each year when I get so happy in the garden that I overdo and really hurt myself. I don’t have my massage therapy available, although I could still go to a chiropractor. I transferred my sad little seedlings to pots mid-week, only to find them dug up by squirrels. Guess I will be buying my tomato and pepper plants this year, other than the volunteers that I found in the garden.

I am also going to drive someplace new and walk. Sandy wants to walk too, but he is having some kind of painful ankle issue. We have been walking around the block once a day. One of my neighbors built a little free library which she and her neighbor also stock with a few food items. We have enjoyed some good conversations with our neighbors on the other side of our block.

I made a prototype mask last week that worked pretty well. It has a pocket for an extra filter, and I found a pack of cheap masks in my art supplies so pulled the elastic off for other masks and tucked one in. I found that I couldn’t breathe well enough with the filter in though, maybe for a few minutes but after that I’d be in danger of passing out. Allergies, I guess. So I took it back out. I made the patterns for the next ones longer so that they will cover the chin more, and have room for Sandy’s beard.

That forked stick I am holding is one on which I’ve been weaving shells with holes in them. I’m calling it my magic stick.

The elastic for this one is a long hair band that never worked well for holding back my hair. I’m glad I kept them anyway with the shortage of elastic! It measured 19 inches and the instructions called for 11 inches on each side. No problem – a safety pin took care of it.

As for the rigid heddle weaving, it is too painful for my hands/arms right now so I am not going to finish the wedge weave. Sometimes you got to know when to quit. I am sick of those colors anyway.

I think it is time to get back to doing collage. Probably it is the easiest on my hands, since I have a lot of pieces already cut and torn up.

“Bridge of Sighs” by Richard Russo is a wonderful book.

It looks like I might be returning to work on May 8. Sandy says this is too soon, but in my circumstances I think it will be okay, and maybe better for my state of mind. I have my own office, and all the summer classes are online. Hardly anybody is in the building. I am tempted to take some vacation time later anyway if Lake Waccamaw opens to non-residents, and go down and do art at the lake house for a week. The problem would be getting someone to feed our cats for that long. Sandy does not want to try to take them with us. I think it would be okay. They would be too freaked out to try to escape.

Still longing for Ireland. Sandy says, think of all the good things you have here. That is true. I am lucky. I still long for Ireland. Travel in general, really. The anticipation of it has been my saving grace for almost twenty years now. Thinking of the awful circumstances of other people only worsens my depression – it is not a suffering contest and if it is I don’t want to win it.

Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, weaving

Yesterday

Earlier in the day I started over on the Macomber loom with the warps that I had not cut the cross on. I have enough to do another set of curtains, and I spent SO MUCH time winding that warp that I can't stand to see it go to waste. Besides, I am not in any hurry and I could use another straightforward pattern weaving project. I promise myself that I will never ever wind a warp this long again.

I had originally started tying this warp to the old warp so I wouldn't have to rethread, but the knots were not being cooperative as they were pulled through the reed and the heddles. I decided that it would be less of a pain to just rethread the whole thing.

And it will be something that I will have to concentrate on without thinking about other stuff.

Ready to finish up that collage video workshop now.

Allergies seem better today.

Later I spent several hours in my bedroom, door closed, dealing with the emotions that bubbled up as I missed my mother, then I started grieving for the situation as it stands now. My husband is driving me a little crazy at this point. He means well but I am used to having more solitude and not having my reading or writing or art making interrupted so often. Thus I finally closed my bedroom door after snapping at him. He has never understood how to deal with my depression, or with my grief. After my mother died was THE WORST. He was just awful. I finally ended up going to the lake house by myself for several days. I was so angry! I suppose that is what is starting up now. I will have to get out into the garden and pull some weeds. That is always good therapy for me.

I was meant to be a hermit, I think. The other day I told someone that if this had happened when I was a teenager living with my parents, I would have been out in the woods all the time. Probably riding the roads on my bike or in my old car too – we didn't have much to do where I came from. I had my secret places where I would take my journal, my sketchbook, and a pack of cigarettes. Multiple hideouts that I built out of logs and mud or scrap lumber that I found. One of the best was in an old schoolhouse back in the woods. Someone used it store hay in at one time and it was probably full of mice and rats but I never saw any. It burned down when I was an adult and I remembered all the teenagers who used to smoke in there around that old hay and I was sad but not surprised. Another was at Page's Mill Pond in Lake View, South Carolina. I would slip under the barrier that said no trespassing, DANGER, and sit on top of the dam out of sight of everyone. I was so invincible.

augggghhhh, Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Saturday morning coffee pot post

It hasn’t sunk in yet, else I might be curled up in the bed with a panic attack. It occurred to me that I’d best ration out my Xanax for the much tougher times to come. We are probably prepared more than many people but both of us, Sandy especially, are at risk and his way of coping tends toward denial. Neither of us are particularly nurturing types either. He came from a childhood of neglect and when he gets sick he hides away. Since that is how he handles his own sickness, he assumes that when I am sick or hurt I want to be left alone. I am more nurturing than that since I was cared for as a child and I have the background to know what to do for someone, but I am selfish with my energy. We might have to do better for each other.

My posts will probably not be very entertaining and more than likely be quite whiny for some time while I adjust to the new reality. I will continue to make most of them public anyway.

Wednesday I got the email saying that the art retreat in Ireland has been rescheduled for next June, at the same time as the Focus on Book Arts Conference. So there has been no offer of a refund. I understand that it is wrecking small businesses everywhere, but I don’t know what to do. One of my Irish friends sent me a link to an Irish government web site that plainly says that I am entitled to a refund, but I will wait a little longer before deciding whether to ask for one. My travel insurance will not cover the expense.

I haven’t canceled any of my hotel rooms or my flight. Boy, I hate to give up that good deal on the flight – $541 RT to Dublin. It seems probable that I won’t have a choice since it is predicted now to go on for months instead of weeks.

There is also the matter of the Handweavers Guild of America conference in late July. I have paid for that in advance and have two workshops booked. I have reservations but not prepaid for the hotel.

The other two workshops are with Leslie Marsh at her studio in Topsail Beach, one in mid May and one at the beginning of August. They would be small groups, but I could see good reasons for Leslie to cancel. Some beaches are closing to non-residents too – it is easy for N.C. islands to restrict cars because most have to be reached by bridge or ferry.

The toughest part of this has been that I have obsessively focused on these trips, especially to Ireland, place of my heart, in order to cope with the election year and climate change and heartless actions of our government. Now most of that is stripped away and I am vulnerable to some massive hurting.

I am definitely trying to focus on the positive aspects of where I live and how Sandy and I are prepared. It is helping a lot. For example, I am sitting on my screened front porch with my cats, listening to the birds sing and the Yoshina cherry trees are in full bloom. My neighbors are the kind that help each other and I am watching them do so across the street as I type. We are close to good hospitals, although they are already getting overwhelmed. My new next door neighbor, Datus, is here and his wife Katie and their child are flying back from Bangkok today where she has been working. I was worried about them all getting back here. This is a wonderful street to live on.

Yesterday I planted lettuce, carrots, radishes, and parsley since my parsley is on its second year. There is too much mint growing, of course, but I am stocked for tea! Feverfew is self-seeding and there are a couple of asparagus spears coming up. I meant to plant more this winter, oh well. The raspberry cane is looking healthy. Roma and Brandywine tomato seedlings are poking up their heads under the grow light, and so is bright calendula. Other seeds planted under the grow light are arnica, coreopsis, and a huge variety of peppers. Enough to share. My eucalyptus tree made it through the winter this time. I am well set for herbs and medicinal plants. I have walking onions from last year and a few more leeks.

The tough part is that my garden space is a restaurant for critters. I haven’t seen the groundhog family yet, but that doesn’t mean they are not around. A big rabbit who probably has a family is here, whoa, there he goes as I type this, but in my experience they prefer to eat the violets in the yard. I have the little greenhouse for the heat loving plants and will see what I can do for critter protection with wire fencing cages and hoops.

Yesterday I pulled up eight big leeks and one big green elephant garlic, washed and sliced them, cooked them, and put them in small containers in the freezer. Earlier this week I cooked rice, chicken, onion, garlic, beef, carrots, and potatoes in a variety of combinations and put those in small containers in the freezer. The idea is that we can make quick soups or other concoctions in the microwave if neither of us feels well, and it won’t be the same thing every time.

To think that I almost recycled all those Talenti containers that I saved! For once my hoarding was a good thing. (However, they are NOT microwavable.)

They are still hosting food trucks at Oden Brewing across the railroad tracks so we got dinner from the Succotash Durham truck (SHRIMP PLATES, y’all) and take-out beer from the outside window. Expensive, but we are supporting local businesses while we can and the “crowlers” are 19.2 oz. each.

Chewy shipped another bag of prescription cat food to us yesterday. I figure that Diego will still have his dental surgery on Tuesday, unless we hear otherwise. Sandy is rightly concerned about the cat litter situation but I think that we have enough for two weeks if he scoops it out and doesn’t dump it all out. He stocked up on bird seed earlier this week. I don’t want him to go to the stores right now, although I can’t stop him if he is stubborn about it.

Fortunately he bought a large pack of sanitizer wipes for his CPAP machine and I had stocked up on rubbing alcohol a while back. We have healthy aloe plants.

I am grateful we do not have children or grandchildren or parents to care for. I’m not sure that I could do it. Thank God Sandy is on social security and Medicare now.

I do have to work in the middle of all this. But I am so lucky that I will have a job and that I can do it in isolation from home. I have never been so thankful for having a good job as I am now. It will give me something beyond survival to focus on.

I am glad I wrote all this. I feel better now. I really am where I need to be.

There is a plethora of free art workshops to do online now. I hope that somewhere in the middle of preparing my garden and working from home I will have something arty to share tomorrow and next week.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Sunday morning coffee post

Yesterday and today I woke up very late. Yesterday I think that I was just mentally exhausted. Then last night I didn’t get to sleep until after 2 a.m. despite taking a xanax. Once I do get to sleep, I have all my typical anxiety dreams.

We went to the Greensboro Curb Farmers’ Market late yesterday morning. They probably had about half of the vendors and they were set up outside in the parking lot. The leadership of the market is handling this beautifully. They were spread out and customers were asked to only pick up items they intended to buy. There was a handwashing and sanitizing station set up outside. The weather was perfect and apparently they had great sales. By the time we got there many vendors had sold out and the crowds were gone. We still got the things that we went there for, mainly soap from my friend Carol (Mimi’s Soaps). Sandy snagged one of the last two tomatoes. I bought baba ganoush from Anna and some candied walnuts for a good fruit salad. It is important to support the small vendors and businesses right now – they may not be able to set up later, for all we know. Right now, they are encouraging the vendors to set up again next week, because the business is great.

Then we stopped by Deep Roots Market, and I have never seen it so crowded. The employees were working hard to get the shelves replenished. Hats off to Nicole Villano, the manager. There was still mostly everything that I normally buy on the shelves, but, yes, the toilet paper was gone. I am so glad that we bought a huge package of it about three weeks ago at Costco, before this panic began. Normally I say that we don’t have room, but occasionally I give in and so we still have enough to last us a few weeks. If not, I have a bathtub with a hand sprayer next to the toilet, and we have plenty of old towels to cut up for rags.

I was ready to pack it in for social distancing at this point but there was an Irish duo named Jig Street playing at Oden Brewing from 2-4, the new place just across the railroad at the end of our street. We decided to check it out and they had outdoor seating and the garage style doors thrown open. The listeners were able to spread out and the air was fresh, so we enjoyed them. It is too bad that they aren’t local because I would follow them around here. We enjoyed swapping Ireland travel stories with one of the musician’s grandfather.

It gave me an excuse to wear this t-shirt that I bought at the Dublin airport in 2017. It’s the first time I’ve worn it in public, but there could not be a better occasion than early St. Pat’s celebration and pandemic combined.

We enjoyed it so much that we said that we would go back for the second band at 7:30 but by that time I got with the program and decided we needed to pack it in. Sandy is at risk for his age and underlying health issues, and my dry cough from my allergies is scaring the hell out of everybody.

Last night I cooked. I sauteed onions and celery and garlic and boiled chicken tenders and froze different combinations of them in small containers for the freezer. I cooked brown rice and a pot of beef, carrot, onion, potato, and garlic soup with mushroom broth. Today I am baking a turkey tenderloin roll (???) that I picked up at a local grocery store when I was searching for chicken. I will make turkey tetrazinni and freeze some for sandwiches later. Normally I don’t buy meat or poultry that is processed into unusual shapes and/or isn’t verified humanely raised, but this time I made an exception since it appeared that there was also a run on chicken. I was able to find chicken at Deep Roots later, though.

This is a situation which we were almost prepared for. We have been backstocking our pantry items since Twitler was elected, but recently we have been rotating the oldest items out (eating them) and I had not replaced a lot of them. When Jeanne’s husband got sick with Covid-19 at the end of February, I started taking it seriously before most people did. I hustled to get the pantry restocked, my beloved La Croix water piled up (it still probably won’t be enough, I am addicted), bottled orange juice, the freezer full of meat and cheese, and my prescriptions filled. Just before my insurance announced that it would pay for refills early, I went ahead and paid for an extra 90 days of my anti-depressant, since I really cannot go without that. The generic was not that expensive, surprisingly. We already had rubbing alcohol, and pain and cold medications on hand.

Last week I paid for travel insurance on the non-refundable expenses of my Ireland trip, which were considerable and I had to wire transfer the money from my saving account. At the time I thought, okay, I’m lending money to myself and I will pay myself back as if I was paying off my credit card. In the end it will save me money. Now I wish that it could have been put on my credit card. I could not get the “covered for any reason” insurance but if I or a family member have an emergency, such as getting sick, it covers that. The trip is in the last half of June, so there is three months of uncertainty to go.

Mostly, I worry about Sandy, and if I will be able to care for him if he gets sick.

I realize this is an anxiety brain dump…that’s okay, that was the original purpose of this blog back in 2005!

Later I hope to post some artwork. As it is now, I am expected to go to work this week. Things might change because I am set up so that I can do almost all of my work from home.