Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw

Been too long, back at the lake

I have neglected to post here, but I have been doing a lot on my laptop for work and finishing up the new Tapestry Weavers South website. Transferring the files from the old site to the new was time consuming because of issues with the old design and a problem with getting into the dashboard of the hosting company, but I have FINALLY gotten them to acknowledge that I am who I say I am and now awaiting the information to transfer the domain. Not exactly what I wanted to do with my free time, but it’s almost done, hallelujah! WordPress.com will be much easier to work with since they will automatically do updates and I am already hosting this site here.

“Hallelujah” has been stuck in my brain for about a month now.

Sandy and I suddenly decided to come down to Lake Waccamaw after a call from my sister on Sunday, and I am so glad that we did. The weather is as perfect as it gets. Low humidity and high temps in the high 70s-80s. The water is cool for a change, and there is a bit of a breeze to keep the bugs off. The wifi is better here than it is at home; I guess because there are not so many people here working and taking classes online. I can work on the back porch facing the lake and listen to the waves and birds singing. Zoom meetings will be taking place late this afternoon and tomorrow. At one time when I did freelance work for Greensboro College, I didn’t like working from home, but these days when I can take my work with me, it is wonderful. I needed a change of scenery badly.

First time I have seen this kind of snail. She was a big one!

The plan was to leave tomorrow after the last Zoom meeting so that I can be in the office on Friday, my one designated office day per week. Tomorrow the forecast is for flooding rain from the remnants of Hurricane Sally moving northeast. So we have decided to leave late this afternoon. I don’t want to, but we don’t want to drive three hours in that, either. We will be packing and cleaning, after a take-out lunch from Dale’s.

Last night was a real treat! For the second time since mid-March, we sat down at a real restaurant and had dinner outside, with lots of spacing and beauty in one of our very favorite restaurants, Indochine, in Wilmington, NC. We went all the way, with appetizers, drinks, and dessert, and enough leftovers to eat another meal. If you love Thai and Asian food and you are ever in Wilmington, NC, I highly recommend it.

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

Saturday morning coffee pot post

So much for my daily blogging routine. Poof! Oh well. I realized at some point in the last two weeks that if I didn’t stop pushing myself with all these “shoulds” my anxiety would never stop increasing. It is a problem very deep in my core that I nearly always feel like I should be doing something else. I am also by nature a very low energy, lazy person. Between the overwhelming anxiety and the guilt I feel, it is a perfect storm for shutting me down completely. August is traditionally a time of high anxiety for me anyway, with the new semester beginning and new students coming in.

I reminded myself that I am not an artist for a living. I do have a job that pays my bills. Art is for my pleasure and I have had artist blocks before. I always get my mojo back at some point but I always have to let it go first. Truly let it go, not try to get it back on a schedule. Hopefully my mojo will be back from vacation soon, but sometimes it travels far before I see it again.

For the past couple of weeks I have rearranged the studio room so that one table serves as my work office and there is nothing art-related to distract me on that table. UNCG finally got my new work laptop ready and it is a dream – very small and fast and works better than my desktop computer at work. Now I have this clunky laptop back for what I originally bought it for – blogging and photo editing and personal computer stuff. It couldn’t handle all that extra work stuff. The microphone died and the video cut in and out. Now that Zoom is my new reality, that was a problem.

It would be helpful if I could get into watching TV and movies but I just can’t do it for long. It has to be an incredibly gripping plot. Sandy will binge a whole series in a week or less. We both gave up on “How to Get Away with Murder” though. There is such a thing as overdoing it. I’m considering subscribing to HBO again for a while.

The heat wave here was so long and oppressively humid that there is NO gardening going on. I’ve gotten a few tomatoes and I always have my trusty little volunteer cherry tomatoes. The potatoes have been disappointing – low yield and bitter. I started picking figs and for the first time ever, encountered Japanese beetles on my tree. It is a huge tree and there will still be enough figs for me and the beetles but it was quite a shock the first time they burst out around my head in a swarm when I disturbed their feeding. If I ever make it to a hardware/gardening place where I feel safe I will buy some traps. And of course that fat groundhog is still munching its way through my yard. I have not visited my UNCG plots since early summer. I can’t seem to bring myself to do it.

Trying to decide if it is worth planting a fall garden. I would need to do it now, and it will have to be protected from furry critters. If I have to grow my own food, we just might starve to death, because the challenges are much greater than they were when I started the Back Forty in 2002.

Right now my main focus is keeping the jungle from taking over. I really need to find some help, but I’ve had such terrible luck with it that I keep putting it off.

Our tax refund is lost in limbo, and it’s the one with the big rebate payment for our solar panels. If we ever get it, I plan to pay off that loan. However, it is impossible to get anybody on the phone, and the online system says it doesn’t exist. This was the first time in years that we mailed it in, and we did it in early April. Probably the worst decision of the year.

I also need to call Orbitz about my plane ticket to Ireland. They were supposed to get back to me about the amount of time I have to redeem the credit from Aer Lingus. I’m afraid that by the time I can go back the airfare will be 3x as much as my credit is, since I got such a good deal.

I’m going to copy this part about reading “The Luminaries” directly from Facebook, but with an update that I am now on page 447. I have a hard time NOT finishing a book. It’s an OCD rule.

“So, you know how you buy a book that received awards but mixed reviews but you bought it anyway because it seemed like something you’d like and just as you thought about ditching it it got a tad more interesting and so you figured you would keep on reading even though you couldn’t read more than ten minutes at a time before laying it down because you are so bored and now you are 393 pages in and weeks have gone by and it seems like an investment at this point but the book is 830 pages long and you wonder about the meaning of life and then put it down to reread a book by Annie Proulx that you loved when you read it in the 90s but you drank so much back then that you killed the brain cells that remembered the plot so that all you remember is an accordion and a spider and you’re not sure about the spider and so it seems like you never read it? Well. That’s me right now.”

Back to dreaming and wishing and porch sitting in front of the fan. Here are the last photos from Lake Waccamaw that I never got around to posting. They are from sunrise on one of my last days there. I ended up staying for two weeks.

Coronavirus Chronicles, fiber art, Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, Ch. 2, Days 8 & 9

Silly ducks.

Other than a visit from Lisa for a couple of hours, I spent Sunday alone and watched “How to Get Away with Murder” and read “The Luminaries.” Lisa helped me figure out how to wind the bobbin on my sixty year old Singer sewing machine, and then I got rolling with making masks again.

This one is reversible and is for Lisa. I like this design much better. It is form fitting to the face and it doesn’t take much longer to make it. Plus you can insert a filter inside the mask if you want. I was going to put the link here to the pattern, but that site has taken down the pattern and it is selling masks instead. When I get home, I will copy the template and instructions and put them up here.

Late this afternoon I made a similar one for myself. I think that I could get into doing more of these patchwork panels. I use one piece of cloth on the back.

For many, many years I did not see any alligators down here. They made a big comeback starting about 20 years ago, and now I see them in or beside the canal every day. Lisa and Tim have seen small ones in the lake, but I never have seen any in the lake, and hope I never do. It doesn’t stop them from getting in the water.

Our house is across the road from the canal and I often see gators from the kitchen window or the front door. Oh well, you don’t need to see another gator photo.

I came extremely close to going home yesterday, to the point that I packed up whatever craft/art supplies that could take the heat and put them in the car trunk, and packed the non-refrigerated food into bags. I could have cleaned up and left in an hour if I had chosen to. Having that option a bit more easily accomplished made me feel better, and I was not so overwhelmed by all the studio stuff I brought down.

Today I worked remotely and had a flurry of tasks to deal with as people have been returning from vacation. Fortunately I worked enough last week that it was not overwhelming. I checked the retirement website and I could indeed retire on my next birthday in February. I don’t want to, though, not yet. I’d like to be able to stick it out to age 62 at least. But it is nice to know that it is doable. Health insurance was my main concern.

I took Lisa and Tim their new masks, and they fed me crab cakes. That was a good deal. Their little cat Sissy is my lovey bear. She is very tiny and shy.

Talked to Sandy tonight and I may leave on Saturday, which would make two weeks down here. He seems to be doing fine, so I will try to stop worrying about him. I miss my babies, but it is very calming to listen to the waves at night instead of zombie movies in the next room.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, Ch. 2, Days 6 & 7

It feels like I’ve been here much longer.

Here is a short video of a gator in the canal across from my sister’s house. Thursday night I spent the night over there. Tim had gone back to Chapel Hill for a doctor’s appointment. We hung out on the pier with Rascal, one of her precious cats. He always has this intense expression on his face, but he is the most relaxed cat I have ever held. He melts into you. Rascal is an indoor cat but is allowed outside with supervision, because he is mostly very well-behaved.

I spent a short time sitting on the beach under the bald cypress tree on Friday afternoon. The ducks are almost tame. They were really about six feet away. There was a sandpiper on the beach at Lisa’s house. The ducks are so in love with her that every square inch of her beach is covered in duck footprints. She cares for the orphans and the injured ducks. I picked up a mallard feather with the iridescent blue/green color – the feather gathering here is wonderful.

I also poured some of the dark grey house paint into a small container and touched up some places that the painters missed. The paint went a long way, so I painted the bookboard that I brought with me. It is still tacky today, but I’m considering painting a door with the coral paint and making a lake house book. Stenciling it too.

Last night Tim came back and we ate barbecue and when I came home I listened to Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin’s Facebook Live concert.

My sleep schedule is back to normal – falling asleep around 11 p.m.-12 and waking around 8 a.m. I need to start waking an hour earlier if I can maintain the ability to fall asleep at an earlier time and not wake up all night. Not taking fish oil at night and eliminating my allergy meds has helped, although not with my allergies, of course. When the fall allergies come rolling back in I’ll have to see what I can do about those without triggering restless legs syndrome.

It is too hot and humid to do much outside, and the midges are out again this morning. But it is not less hot and humid in Greensboro, and so I can’t decide whether to go home tomorrow or not. I don’t have to. I miss Sandy and Diego and Pablocito. I wonder how my garden is doing.

I am pretty depressed and anxious and I think that I will spend the day alone in the quiet today. Also, I realize that I will probably be coming back here to the lake house a lot more often, just like I did when we couldn’t afford to go any place else. I appreciate that I have this escape to visit, and that I can actually work from here. I am lucky in many, many ways.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, Ch. 2, Day 5

Here is the new house color. You can’t see the door, but it is a bright coral that peeps out from behind the wooden screen door.

I ended up working some yesterday morning and then Lisa and Tim picked me up in their pontoon boat for a ride while the water was smooth. The second photo is from the boat coming in to the back of the house. Or the front of the house, as the lake residents say.

The wind picked up soon after and changed direction. One of the best things about being alone here is that I get to listen to the sounds of waves and owls and frogs and insects. I have barely turned on the TV and listened to very little music. The nature sounds are a big part of why I like coming down here, and when others are here there is always a lot of noise drowning it out.

I worked on masks and when I say “worked” I mean “struggled.” I was trying to make this mask more polished than I usually sew. And without elastic. This one is big because it is for Sandy and I want it to accommodate his beard. I sewed fabric loops that were too big, so I tied knots in them and attached hairbands and a safety pin. It works. I also sewed tucks in each side to deal with the side gaps after I took this photo.

The fabric is batik prints of grizzly bears and bison that I bought at a quilt shop on the Blackfeet Reservation when we went to Glacier National Park in 2016.

This morning the midges are covering the grass lakeside and I can smell the sulfurous odor of the paper plant. It will be a good day to stay inside.

I’m actually considering going home. My brain is going weird places here, and my allergies are scaring me. Sandy tends to keep my hypochrondia in check by joking and grounding me. Maybe I will relax again today.

Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, Ch. 2, Day 4

It feels like I have been here longer than four days. I had to work for a little while this morning – seems like something unexpected happens whenever I go on vacation – but that’s fine. At least I can do it from here!

Yesterday felt like somewhat of a waste because I went back into anxiety mode after being so relaxed on Monday. The painters came and painted the outside of the house a dark bluish grey. It looks so much better, although they didn’t do a great job. The front door will need another coat and a few touch-ups and trim fixes will have to be done. One of the guys did not wear a mask and the only time he made me nervous was when he painted the front door because he had it open. Also, I didn’t like it when he talked to my sister closer than six feet away. I pretty much holed up in my bedroom for most of the afternoon.

I am fascinated with these little burrows in the sand. My guess is that they are mollusks, but I have no idea.

I will take a photo of the house tomorrow morning when it is not in shadow so much.

Lisa came over late that morning and we sat by the lake for a little while when the breeze picked up. That evening I walked to her house where Tim grilled burgers and hot dogs and we sat together inside to eat. We went out to the end of the pier at twilight and visited in the cooler breeze over the water, Tim in the hammock and Lisa and I in rocking chairs. It is a lovely place to spend an evening.

Lisa just called and they are about to pick me up in the pontoon boat for a ride. It is super hot and humid so that will be a great way to get outside!

Hopefully I will be able to post photos of masks by tonight or tomorrow morning.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, Ch. 2, Day 3

The painters are here today. My sister arranged to have the outside of the house painted, and my cousin’s wife picked the color, which will be quite dark. I am chipping in with the refund I got from my cancelled events in July. The above is a before photo of the house. It hasn’t been painted in thirty years, and will look different than I’ve ever seen it, since my cousin would not change anything about the house. He didn’t even like for you to rearrange the bar stools or change the radio station. It was comforting in a strange way.

I put the paint cans out on the porch, told the painters that I had to isolate because of my husband, and shut the door. Let them make of that what they will – I figure that it will make them cautious around me. Afterwards I saw one of them with a mask on.

Above are some shots from the living room. Along with the ceiling fan that fell apart during the last trip down here. This is what all the inside walls look like – plywood. I often see images in the wood grain.

Last night I cut out fabric pieces for masks. I don’t have elastic, but I am using fabric ties and hairbands and safety pins to fasten them. I found a bunch of pieced strips that I sewed together last year. The brown masks are batik fabrics with buffalo and grizzly bear designs that I bought at a quilt shop on the Blackfeet Reservation when we went to Glacier National Park in 2016.

Late yesterday a strong thunderstorm blew in. Thankfully it didn’t have much rain. We’ve had quite enough here. You could see breakers on the lake all the way out, and it cooled down enough that I was able to throw the doors and windows open for a while and sit on the porch.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, Ch. 2, Day 2

Hallo!

From the (short) morning walk, I bring you flowers and gators.

I am working about half of the day, then I will take the rest of the week off as vacation time. Unless something crazy comes up, which is entirely possible these days.

Don’t worry, all the gator photos are cropped. One of the baby gators gave me a start when it splashed in, but I was not that close. Gators are fast, and although I am not afraid of walking along here any more, I am not stupid.

^^^The persistence of bald cypress tree knobs.

It is going to be a tough weather week. It was already dangerously hot and humid at 9:30 this morning. Right now at 11:30 it is 76% humidity and 102 degrees heat index, and no breeze.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, Chapter Two, Day One

I was pretty exhausted today from restless legs syndrome last night. Funny how it seems to hit after a really hard day when you are so tired you’re sure that you will sleep. I was up and down until 4 a.m. this morning and got up at 10 a.m. So I decided to be kind to myself and not try to schedule my day as planned.

The morning revealed a dead gar fish on the beach and yes, I did retrieve a couple of those jawbones. I will have to boil them at home but right now I hope that they will lose their mild stink in the sun. Given my love of symbols of sharp objects, I think that they will go well in a collage or a weaving. I will be picking up pieces of plastic from fireworks off the beach for a while. There were a few okay pieces of driftwood. This is a nice one.

I spent most of the day inside in the air conditioning because the heat index was something like 110 degrees with no breeze for the first part of the day. So humid. The water is very warm. I organized and set up a studio. I watched a few samples of mixed media/journaling videos to see if I wanted to pay for the yearlong bundle, but I think that I will pass for now, considering how many online classes I never finish. I watched an episode of “How to Get Away with Murder” and the first episode of “Dead to Me,” and crocheted my weather scarf. Spent too much time on Facebook and reading the news and ate a tomato sandwich for dinner. My nerves were so shot yesterday that I barely ate anything.

My sister came by and we talked across the room to each other about eight feet apart. Talking inside was probably a mistake. We are both very careful but I felt exposed by my mechanic on Friday when he drove my car out of the garage without a mask on, and she and her husband met with their tax guy and she didn’t feel good about that. We agreed to not spend much time together until later in the week.

An old friend of mine who happens to be my brother’s brother-in-law is in ICU with Covid. His cousin told me that he has just been taken off a ventilator. The little sister of a guy I dated in high school died of Covid. She was in the hospital for shoulder surgery and they think she caught it there. I found out that a friend of mine who thought she had a rare form of shingles back in February actually had Covid. It’s moved into the personal realm.

Being alone here is a good thing. Even though I am already missing Sandy a bit, I need time alone, and I mean real time alone, when nobody is going to pop in or interrupt my train of thought. I think that it will go far in healing my nerves.

Later the evening breeze came along with the sunset and I sat on the beach beside the waves until dark. When it got very dark, I walked out on my neighbor’s pier (he isn’t there) and looked for the comet. I couldn’t find it, but the stars were bright. I read that it might be just under the Big Dipper, but unfortunately that is over the trees in Cove Swamp across the street, not over the lake. So it may be that the trees were in the way. It was still a lovely experience. This is a wonderful place to starwatch.

I will look at my work email in the morning, do some website and schedule work, and then probably opt to go on vacation for the rest of this week, other than a staff Zoom meeting that I am volunteered to host because I need to learn how to do it before graduate student orientation.

Now, please, Lord, let this melatonin work tonight.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina

Lake Waccamaw, Part V

One evening we were invited to sit on the pier of some friends on the bluff side of the lake for some socially distanced drinks. This is the side of the lake that didn’t get flooded, but most of the piers were ruined. My sister and brother-in-law rented a house up here while they repaired their house from Hurricane Florence, and they almost sold the house on the water and bought a house on this side, where the bluff protects the houses. It is nerve wracking to worry about every big storm that comes in off the coast.

The whole lake is part of Lake Waccamaw State Park. The marsh grasses moving with the waves were lovely.

Sandy had supposed to return for jury duty, but the state postponed jury trials again due to the pandemic. So we stayed another day.

My plan is to come back for a week or so in late July during the time that we had planned to go to Knoxville for Convergence and to Topsail Beach. The wifi is actually better at the lake house than it is here, so I could work from there if I wanted. Late July can be really hot down there if there is no breeze, and I prefer to keep the windows open instead of turning on the air conditioning, so I might play it by ear.

So today is the last day of my two week vacation. It’s been good to be able to turn off the work email, although I did weigh in a couple of times. If I had not taken this time off, I probably would have been tied to this laptop all day every day, because of all the preparations for returning the students to campus for fall semester. Of course, the administration came up with an incredibly complicated way to deal with it, and my personal feeling was that it would have been less confusing to leave it the way it was and let the faculty members handle dividing up the class lectures. Fortunately, my department head told them that I was off for two weeks and that someone in the registrar’s office would need to handle the schedule changes. I need a mental health break and he knew it. As I’ve said many times, I work with an incredible group of people.

Tomorrow I am going to go back to my office for at least a few hours a day, isolated. I need to get back into a routine. Luckily my home is a 15 minute walk away, so I think I can manage this without having to use the public spaces much, such as bathrooms. If I needed to, I could easily do my whole job from home, really. I hope that it doesn’t come to that.