consumerism, Coronavirus Chronicles, Greensboro North Carolina, Reading

Saturday afternoon Smithwick’s post

I was supposed to be in Howth, Ireland tonight. I was going to go to the Cock Tavern for some craic and eat some great seafood down on the harbour..

Anyway, the front porch is absolutely delightful this afternoon. The temperature is perfect, with low humidity and a small breeze. I would like to thank Mother Nature for providing this weather for the first day of my vacation. I haven’t done much differently, other than not check my work email. I painted some of the wooden panels to mount my small collages on, and glued an 8×8″ one down. It is weighted down with books and I hope that the glue is going to work well.

We went downtown to Scuppernong Books this afternoon to pick up a copy of the Instant Pot Bible so I can learn to use this damn thing. Sandy and I are not ordering anything from Amazon these days because we are supporting local businesses. However, we are lucky that we have choices – many people in this country don’t have the luxury of avoiding Amazon or Walmart or Dollar General because they have run all the local stores out of business. As a former country girl, I saw three of our local small towns decimated and people could not understand the damage that they had done by driving thirty miles to Walmart (and spending that money on gas!) until it was too late and the choices were no longer there.

So now people buy their groceries at Dollar General or Family Dollar instead of the grocery store when they can’t take the time to drive to Walmart, because the IGA and the Piggly Wiggly are closed. The local pharmacy is closed too. The local doctor has moved to a bigger town. The movie theater. The local bank branches and car dealerships. Closed. The swimming pool got filled in when it became clear that it couldn’t be restricted to whites only any more.

I don’t miss living down there at all.

Since I am on vacation, Sandy and I picked out some used books to take to the lake with us later. Not that we needed extra books – we literally have hundreds of books in our house and half are probably unread. I am trying to download “The Lathe of Heaven” from the library for my Kindle. So many people are making clueless posts on Facebook about race and how it shouldn’t matter and why can’t we all just ignore race and live in harmony la la la la la that I am ready to scream. It reminded me of this book so I want to re-read it. And I am trying to be patient as well, because so many people are trying to learn. I know that I used to think this way.

Magical thinking. It’s the American way. The white American way, anyway.

Here’s my latest array of books:

We got to see some of the great protest art that went up on the boarded up windows of the businesses on Elm St. I would have liked to have taken a walk while we were there, but very few others were wearing masks. I don’t have a problem with people walking outside without masks when they have one around their neck just in case, and there are not many other people to cross paths with. That was not the case in downtown Greensboro. The folks at Scuppernong had it right though. Required masks, required hand sanitizer as soon as you walked in, and limited to 10 people inside. I felt safe there.

I have walked over to Oden Brewing a couple of times in the past month to buy a six pack of their beer, and I cross over the railroad through a hole someone cut in a chain link fence to get there. It is at the end of our street. I am fascinated with the wildness around the railroad tracks – the wildflowers, the vines, the old rails over to the side, the trash, the broken bottles and bricks and bric-a-brac.

The bee balm is flowering in my front hugelkultur bed and boy did it turn out pretty:

I painted a rough sign to put in our yard. It matches our across the street neighbor and our next door neighbor’s signs. I do love this neighborhood. If there is one good thing that has come out of this pandemic mess, it is that we have actually met a few more of our neighbors on our walks around the block.

Okay, that’s enough for tonight. This Smithwick’s ale won’t pour down my throat on its own.

fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, political activism, Rebel stitching, Tiny Pricks Project

Tiny Pricks Project Greensboro

A while back several news articles began circulating on Facebook that got a lot of attention from me and my fiber artist friends. They were about Diana Weymar, an artist who created The Tiny Pricks Project, who says this about how it began on her website:

On Jan. 8th, 2018 I stitched ‘I am a very stable genius’ into a piece of my grandmother’s abandoned needlework from the 1960s. When I posted it on Instagram, the response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. Assuming he would become more presidential over time, with only the occasional ridiculous tweet, I decided to stitch one Trump quote a week. However, it quickly became a daily practice, as I tried to keep up with the outpouring of “unpresidential” text. Friends asked if I would host workshops so that they could join the project. Tiny Pricks Project has since become the largest textile Trump protest EVER with over 1100 Tiny Pricks and hundreds of participants globally. The series will go strong until Trump is out of office. The goal is to create 2020 Tiny Pricks by 2020!

One of my friends tagged a half dozen of us to see if we wanted to participate, and thus the Greensboro chapter of the Tiny Pricks Project began. We meet on Monday and Wednesday nights in a couple of different places to stitch the outrageous and surreal words of the man currently occupying the Oval Office on tea towels, doilies, and handkerchiefs that we pick up in various thrift/antique stores. One of us doesn’t stitch but has drawn and written designs for stitchers to pick up and work on. We started out at a local brewery but as fall progressed the lighting became too dim, so we now meet at our favorite local bookstore, Scuppernong Books, in downtown Greensboro on Mondays, and just moved our Wednesday night meeting to Leveneleven Brewing, a small brewpub across from the Greensboro Coliseum on Coliseum Boulevard.

We plan to do this for at least the next six weeks, after which we will have a small show of our work at Scuppernong before sending them to Diana Weymar for her project. You don’t have to come to the meetings to participate.

Last night we agreed that this project has been so therapeutic and fun that we will likely continue meeting as a group after the show.

Here are a few of the finished pieces. The top one is mine. If you are interested, please follow the Tiny Pricks Project Greensboro Instagram page.

Back Forty, butterbeans, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, More gardening, Rebel stitching

Here we go again

(Note: I forgot to click Publish when I wrote this on Monday night.)

The week before fall semester classes begin is always a huge adjustment. It feels like going from 0 to 60 suddenly. Gone are the quiet days with few people on the hallway. Now I get to meet about 30 new people and do some public speaking. I’ve come to think of this as my “Sanity Box,” a little box of magic that I can take out during a lunch or other break and just hem squares or stitch them together. No major thought is going into this. Just doing.

A lot of veggies and figs have to be dealt with also. I am much better this year than I have been most Augusts. I attribute this to adding fish oil and vitamin D to my daily supplements. My therapist had suggested the fish oil, and I was vitamin D deficient for a long time. I feel better physically and mentally, although I still tire very quickly. The muggy heat doesn’t help. Yesterday evening I picked tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplants, and figs, then cooked for a couple of hours. I still have a lot of cucumbers and figs to do something with. I don’t want to get out the canning equipment – it just seems like too much for too little, and I am not a huge pickle or jelly fan – but I don’t want them to go to waste. This weekend I put some cucumber slices in with my tomatoes and peppers in the electric dehydrator. They came out wispy and delicate, like soft thin leaves. I might experiment with this more. Sandy and I are planning a repeat of making fig newtons this weekend. Last year he made some good ones, but he baked them on the wrong kind of pan. The filling was great, though.

The butterbeans are overwhelming at the UNCG garden. Very tall and thickly planted. There was a lot of Japanese beetle damage at first but I outplanted them, I think. Hardly any beans, though. I think that the intense heat wave in July stopped them from flowering. I hope they will produce soon so I can get some bean in the freezer before a heavy frost happens. I pulled up most of the eggplants and the lemon cucumber vines. I was tired of them and the eggplants were buried by the bermuda grass and peppermint that I lost control of very early on. Once the Roma tomatoes and one zephyr squash plant are done, which should be before the end of the month, I am abandoning that plot. However, I do think that the grass and mint may have helped hold in moisture during the dry spell when I was traveling.

Sandy and I walked downtown on First Friday, heard music with friends on Saturday, and went to the Greensboro Science Center and out to dinner with a dear out-of-town friend on Sunday. So we had a busy social time. This poodle at Gate City Yarns agrees that Sandy is great and tried to lick him clean.

Lord, I just want to sleep and play in the studio. Daydreaming about going to Ireland. All the books I want to read. Weaving with cloth strips keeps nagging at me to come back to it. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. How do people get bored at home?

Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, critters, Greensboro North Carolina, Lake Waccamaw

Saturday Morning Coffee Pot post

Before I start the series of posts about our trip to Idaho and Wyoming, I need to sweep out my brain of the things unrelated to that first. So I made a second pot of coffee.


Looking at the remnants of Florence from the air.

First off, we were not affected here at my house in Greensboro by Hurricane Florence. There is some flooding in the Greensboro area, but our housesitter kindly put a tarp on our outside basement door and sandbagged it for us, as well as securing the stuff on the front porch and the yard. We have a damp basement but it did not flood, and not even many limbs down since we had the large maple tree taken down a few weeks ago. Good timing that, and one reason I wanted it done before hurricane season began.

Lake Waccamaw is a whole different story. It took a direct hit. We won’t know the full extent of the damage for a while yet because the houses that belong to our family are on Canal Cove Road where the lake has merged with the canal and swamp behind it. Not only does that mean that there is 2-4 feet of water inside those houses, but that there are trees down under the water and alligators and cottonmouths and mats of fire ants enjoying a new range. My sister and brother-in-law prepped as best they could for several days and evacuated to Chapel Hill, where fortunately they had not sold their house yet. They know that the pier may be wiped out and the pontoon boat came loose and has been floating around bashing into stuff. Her furniture including antiques from my mother’s house are almost certainly ruined. The pier is not insured. The house and boat are, although the boat is really old and not worth that much. Fred and Weezer’s house, where we love to stay and I have written about many, many times, is underwater, as it was during Hurricane Floyd.

I have not heard from my brother in Lumberton, but he is not on the side of town that floods. My cousins are. I talked to him on Friday and they were hunkered down. I think that the main concern for him will be the farm. It backs up to Ashpole Swamp which backs up to the Lumber River near Fair Bluff. He leases most of the acreage but raises a few cows. It is beloved place for him, as the lake is for me.

So. I will update when I know more. Waters were still rising down east the last time I checked, and hopefully they will crest and go down soon. After Floyd it took two weeks before the roads were passable and Florence was worse.

The tomatoes and basil were looking rough, and what figs ripened seem to have been eaten by birds and ants. I cut the basil back hard and will make pesto and freeze it in an ice tray for cubes of flavor during this winter. I harvested two huge trombincino squash and one is actually a little past its prime. We’ll see whether it is just as good with a good peeling. The cheese pumpkin doesn’t seem to have been attacked by critters (fingers crossed). The vines have taken over our small back yard and would be producing like crazy but the fruit is rotting on the vine at a very young stage. I suppose this is blossom rot and will amend the soil if I plant these again. I have a new small crop of butterbeans and some banana peppers. A monarch butterfly laid eggs on a variety of milkweed I planted and the caterpillars have eaten up the plants. I don’t know what they will do now. I hope that they eat other plants. I collected seeds and will replant more next year. (I didn’t even know that these flowers were a variety of milkweed!)

Our application to install solar panels on the roof has been approved. We are waiting to make an appointment for a site visit. I know that some extra rewiring will need to be done in the attic first, and I’m hoping the same company can do it.

We came back from our wonderful vacation and went straight to work the next day, so it took a while for me to catch up on work, laundry, groceries, garden, and personal emails. Sandy is working again today and so I will have uninterrupted time to blog about our trip, if you are fond of my travelogues.

Also, as usual, I hope to get back to weaving this weekend. I have a frame loom waiting to be warped for a fringeless tapestry, and loads of inspiration.

art, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, Mixed media art, Slow cloth, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018

Whoa Nelly, two posts in a day

WHOA IF TRUE! I’m so bad. Wonkette is the main source of my news these days. I can’t take much of anything else. Sheer burn out.

Which is partly why these coal carts evolved their way into my tapestry diary early this week for the end of January. There is more of a story here, but it began as a train in the night and was supposed to end with the blood moon. Sometimes what needs to come up comes up.

I’ll work on the rest of the week’s entry this weekend.

My other project this weekend, other than probably a token pick or two on “Cathedral,” is this lovely “Bagstories” project led by India Flint on Facebook this month for those who bought her book on Blurb last month. Much of my fabric is buried in boxes and I’ve yet to find the “eco-printed” samples I made in her class and elsewhere, but I’m not in a hurry and am happy to upcycle some of my favorite batik pants from the late 80s/early 90s that I outgrew but couldn’t let go of all these years.

I’ve got nine squares yet to cut and hem and then I get to sew them into a lovely bag with “horns.” I think that I will line the three larger bag pieces first to make the fabric stronger though. This is pretty lightweight and a bit on the stretchy side.

One of the pieces will look like this:

Once I finish measuring the warp for the future rag rug project and cutting and ironing the pieces for this bag project, I’ll be bringing the rest of the Wharton St. studio home. I’ve cleared out and boxed up more stuff, cleaned off the top of Mama’s sewing machine table, and feel much more comfortable with the extra lighting and changes we’ve made to the front room/studio. Now I just need to take these boxes of stuff around to the appropriate places to drop them off.

On Tuesday, I have a special treat for myself. I’m taking a day workshop from Seth Apter right here in Greensboro! I didn’t even know about this place when I saw his announcement about it on his Facebook page. It’s called 52 Card Pickup, and nyah nyah it is full, but I will post about it and take photos if I am not so completely enthralled in what I am doing to think about it. A workshop where I can take my new bag full of little bits to make collages with! YAY

It’s funny, because I was seriously considering driving to Kentucky to take a workshop from him when I discovered this one right here in my town.

Right after the workshop on Tuesday, I’ll be joining my husband and many others at the City Council meeting to demand to know why the control of Cafe Europa’s lease oversight was magically transferred from the city by one city staff member to the park’s board, a private corporation, and demand that our friend Jakub is fairly treated and the city take back management of the space.

If I’m gonna do all this, I better get cracking.

art, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, Mixed media art

Jan-Ru Wan and “Slow Art”

Last night I found a new artist crush at GreenHill gallery’s “Slow Art” exhibition in Greensboro, NC. My camera ran out of juice, but the photos didn’t do justice to the work anyway. For example, I am not posting the photos of the series that stopped me in my tracks, “The Efforts of Preserving Oneself.”

Her name is Jan-Ru Wan. See her website for more art and much better photos.

Go to GreenHill Center for NC Art to see the show, which runs through April 15. It features four artists, including Greensboro’s Setsuya Kotani, a legend around this parts whose story written by Ian McDowell is on the cover of this week’s Yes Weekly. I didn’t have the privilege of taking classes with Kotani, but I’ve had the luck being seated next to him at a dinner party and I can confirm that he is fascinating and charming. Jan-Ru Wan is doing an artist talk on March 18 and I’m putting it on my calendar. Kotani’s artist “dialogue” is schedule on March 28.

Detail:

Powerful stuff. Lit a fire under me this weekend. What’s funny is that I pretty much had to be dragged downtown by my husband last night. I didn’t go to the opening reception for the Triangle Book Arts show in Raleigh. It was cold and I didn’t want to be in a crowd. We had dinner at Cafe Europa afterwards, which is always a pleasure. This restaurant/bar in the Cultural Arts Center is in danger of losing their lease and there is quite an uproar about the unsavory circumstances in which it is happening. But more about that in another post.

Go see this show.

Greensboro North Carolina, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, weaving

Snow days

There is one thing that is true in the South about snowstorms. You can tell who is a Northern transplant by the state of their driveway and sidewalks. Southerners wait for the snow to melt. Northerners shovel.


Once the snow stopped, we got about eight inches here in my town, and a foot an hour east in the Triangle area. Which means I was off yesterday and today, and I got some weaving done. Not a whole lot, because I unwove some parts and rewove them with a color combination I liked better. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

It is so nice to get moving in the morning when I’m ready and not on someone else’s schedule. As state employees, we have to take personal leave days when the university is closed, though. Not really fair since they give us no choice to work, but we can make it up, and we’re doing what we can over email anyway. I’d whine more about it, but I’ve been in full-time jobs where I got no leave at all except a week of vacation once a year, and plenty where I had to go in regardless of the road conditions.

Sandy worked from home yesterday, which he does not like to do. This morning he managed to get the car out to the main road and drive to work. I get a chance to hear what he does for a living when he works from home, and I’m always impressed by his communication skills and patience with customers. It really is a talent. With me it is forced, pretty much. I hate to hear the phone ring.

After he got off work at 5 yesterday, we shuffled down the street to the corner bar where we seldom go anymore. It filled up with 20-somethings after I took this shot. I love bar dogs. We used to take Janet Planet to bars with us.

On Monday, I went to the other studio and ironed interfacing on the rest of my t shirt fabric for the t shirt quilt, then I resumed measuring warp for the rag rug project I started about 3-4 years ago. Why did I decide to make this warp so long? I must have been crazy. Well, once I get it on the loom I can either weave a really long doubleweave or double-width rug or weave several projects. I brought a few more boxes home and found places for the contents, so I’m happy about that.

Since I’m home another day, I have no excuse to avoid housework so I’ll do a little, but I’m going to turn up some music and concentrate on weaving Cathedral.

However, I am in India Flint’s Bagstories Facebook group, so I could dig through my box of dyed and printed fabrics and cut squares for that. If you are interested, it is available for those who buy her little book in any form from Blurb. India doesn’t teach online, she is not planning to do any U.S. classes any time soon, and her classes fill fast wherever she goes, so this is a good opportunity to work with her remotely for the low price of her book. If you are interested, here’s the link: https://prophet-of-bloom.blogspot.com.au/2018/01/celebrating-both-collaboration-and.html.

What I don’t want to do is waste any more of this time on the computer, so the next post you’ll probably see will be about the Women’s Rally in Raleigh, NC on Saturday morning.

coffee pot posts, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, Slow cloth, Uncategorized

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Did I catch a flying saucer in this photo?

My love/hate relationship with Daylight Saving Time continues. Even though I love that extra hour of sleep in the morning I do not love the earlier darkness at the end of the day. Then spring is so hard to adjust back! I have always had a very regulated body clock. My husband does not and can stay up all night and sleep most of the day on the weekend then switch back to an 8-5 weekday schedule. I envy that and his ability to fall asleep in less than 60 seconds, but I also believe that it affects his health negatively.

My spirits are better this week although it seemed like time dragged. Last Sunday I made myself go to the studio and then made myself sit down at my sewing machine just to play with tshirt scraps. I ended up with a block I liked and will do more in this vein.

Friday night Sandy and I took his little bongo drums to the drum circle that meets in Center City Park on First Friday nights. (They won’t meet again until March or April.) That was fun but I think I’d like to get a bodhran, which is an Irish drum. The vibration on my fingers is a little too much. Then we went to Little Brother Brewing, a new micro brewpub on South Elm, and listened to feminist poetry. An Asheville-like evening in downtown Greensboro.

I’ve been purging collage materials from my studios, trying to get ready to consolidate them if necessary. When I get blocked, I reorganize. I have a lot of pure junk paper that I am recycling, but I also have a lot of old dictionaries, textbooks, natural history books, music sheets, maps, and atlases. My plan is to make collage variety packs to sell at a very low cost because I know there are artists who would love them. I’ll include painted and handmade papers as well. I’ll probably get this going around Christmas when I have time off and sell them through here, my Facebook page, and Paypal.

I think that I’ll make paper and fabric garlands and prayer flags too.

Now, going to work on “First, the Seed” and “Flow” books for the Triangle Book Arts show if I can get my worktable cleared off!