From a couple of weeks ago…1) one last photo of Bernie and Liz and the ducklings from Jerry. 2) In front of the Tipsy Toad Gallery at Cape Fear Winery, photo by Jerry. 3) Another photo by Jerry. I had to include this one because I was making a face in the first one. I cropped out my sister because she would not have liked this photo of her. 4) Peacock ain’t skeered, at Cape Fear Vineyards.
A couple of days before Easter weekend, we encouraged our friends Susan and Jerry to come down while the weather was still gorgeous. We enjoyed this outing with my sister to Cape Fear Winery for lunch and cocktails with Cape Fear Distillery liquors. I’m always fascinated with the art on the walls here…celebrity artists, photos, memorabilia, and master artists…everywhere. The owner owned a restaurant in Hollywood and had many celebrity friends. As a Joni Mitchell fan, I took this pic of a fairly recent addition to his collection.
But my real joy was seeing two paintings, with NO identification, by Donald Roller Wilson hanging in the gift shop. Not for sale, but on display. I fell in love with Donald Roller Wilson and his surreal Southern gothic stories and paintings in the 80s back in my bookselling days, when an artist book of his came through the store. I’ve seen his work in person one other time, in a Santa Fe gallery.
I bought some of Cape Fear’s really fine liquors, even though I’m not much of a liquor drinker. They are very good. Everybody was fond of a coconut cream rum mix called Beach Blast. The other night Sandy mixed it with almond milk and I thought it was tasty.
Whiteville, North Carolina, surprises me constantly. For most people it is maybe a stop on the way to the beach, and the county has some terrible politics. (I mean, they RE-ELECTED this guy.) But downtown Whiteville has some very good restaurants. My sister took me out for lunch at The Chef and The Frog, a French Asian fusion restaurant, on Tuesday, and then on Friday morning we went to Penn’s Grill for a great breakfast. We liked it so much that we went again for lunch on Saturday when our friends Robin and Don were there. Of course we went to Dale’s Seafood in Lake Waccamaw for lunch one day.
On the weekend the weather was rainy and cold and the mayflies were pretty awful. We are all game players so we played Ransom Notes and Quirkle Cubes for hours. The weather cleared on Sunday and a mayfly hitched a ride back with us to Greensboro. I named him Henry. Here’s a haiku about Henry.
Here’s where I spent the last part of March and the first part of April – at Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County, North Carolina. I took a photo of this wonderful map from 1915 (Field of Operations, Soil Map) at Penn’s Grill in Whiteville, where we liked our breakfast so much, we went back for lunch the next day.
I went to Lake Waccamaw for my brother-in-law’s memorial party. My sister did a great job arranging it all, renting a large AirBNB home that accommodated most of the out-of-town guests, although this was mostly meant for the community of Lake Waccamaw. She had not meant to have a large event, but people kept asking about it. Tim was very, very loved.
She included some of the music that he requested for it, including Lucky Man by ELP. She told a lot of funny anecdotes about Tim, two of his best friends from different eras in his life spoke about him, and then Brooke, his daughter, read a poem about him. There was a ton of great food and a bar on the porch. I’m sure that he would have been pleased.
A few days before that, a poetry reading was held in his honor in Whiteville. Many people did not know about Tim’s love of poetry and support for other poets. One day I’d like to print a handmade book of his poetry.
I hung out with my sister and watched Bernie and Liz, her favorite duck couple that she raised from ducklings, bring their first brood of sixteen ducklings to her back yard! We got to see the babies on their first day out, then the next day we saw them take their first swim, close enough that we could see their little webbed feet paddle under the water. We knew that it was likely that not even half of them would survive with all the predators about, and a few nights later, five of them were dead or missing. Lisa thinks it was an owl.
Lisa and I were very laid back. We relaxed and read and played games and ate mostly leftovers from the party. The weather was gorgeous. One afternoon, on the ducklings’ first day, I sat in a chair outside reading and watching them. That’s when I think that I was eaten up by fire ants. I didn’t notice the bites until later, about two dozen! Fortunately, my sister has some good meds for them and so after a week I was not itching any more.
The lake has its beauty and its sadness – the circle of life took Bernie and Liz a couple of days after we left. They simply disappeared. We assume they were protecting their babies from one of these guys, since Liz hatched her babies across the street in the canal:
The good news is that the eleven ducklings were still alive as of yesterday, and one of the mallard drakes who can’t fly because of a wing injury seems to have taken over their protective care. Lisa is feeding them, as she does all the ducks that come to her yard.
More beauty – no one has mowed the back yard of our family house:
I’m down at the lake again for the three day weekend. My sister got the gift of shingles for her birthday, which is Monday. She is doing fairly well, though, because she went to the doctor and got meds for it at an early stage. It’s chilly, so we’ve pretty much been hanging out birdwatching in the sun room facing the lake. She cooked soup before I got here, and I cooked chicken tetrazini last night. We watched an 1981 movie last night, The Four Seasons, which I had forgotten about. It was a good movie to watch 40+ years later, after you’ve been married for decades and have seen your friends get divorces or drift away as your lives change, basically relating to the middle aged issues that I was too young to understand at the time.
I haven’t even been over to the house where I usually stay. At this time of year we keep the water cut off and the heat barely on over there. My sister’s house is lovely, warm, and comfortable. I’m happy here, even with our missing Tim. I worried over Lisa getting sick, but I was going to come here anyway because sometimes when you’re grieving, you just need someone to sit with you and listen and not try to fix anything. She is finally getting some sleep and that will help her more than anything.
The skies are almost always interesting here and that’s why I take so many photos. Maybe one day I’ll make an artist book of just my Lake Waccamaw water/sky photos.
This morning was interesting. The next door neighbor’s daughter got married on the dock in the photo above. We watched from the porch. It is windy and in the low 40s and we could see how cold everyone was!
I went to the local grocery store where an old man with a gold cross around his neck tried to engage me in a political conversation over the price of food and how the people in Washington did not care how it affected seniors. I told him that I knew exactly what he meant and moved on. Then the handsome young man at the checkout flirted with me. I’ve reached the point in my life that I appreciate this, if it is done right, and it was.
Sandy got the cardiologist approval for his thyroid surgery so I guess we’ll schedule that soon.
I registered for a book arts workshop near Volterra, Italy in September 2024, so I have that to look forward to and save money for. I should be retired by then. It is four classes led by four teachers doing one book project. A different teacher leads you every day. One of them is Laurie Doctor, who I’ve been aching to take a class from for a long time. I’m not super interested in calligraphy, but I love her work and her writing and her palette of colors. She is so inspirational.
Still musing over a trip to Scotland in May/June. I’m not sure about it just yet. There’s too much sickness going around and it’s making me nervous about planning five months out.
I don’t think that I have been here before for New Year’s Eve. I expect a lot of fireworks and gunshots. That won’t be much different than Greensboro has been in the past few years though.
My priorities are to spend time with my sister, get the tapestries finished and ready for display, and do my end of the year post. The post may have to come later. We’ll see. For now I’ll be short and sweet.
Here’s a coffee pot post from Lake Waccamaw. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been here in December. The first day I was here the high was 77 degrees! Now it is more seasonable in the fifties. A couple of weeks ago it was warm enough that the gators and turtles in the canal were sunning themselves. Forgive the poor quality – these shots were from far away and cropped.
The leaves have fallen and the sun shines at a low angle on the lake. There are always a few different varieties of birds that pass through as they migrate and as the climate warms more are staying. I haven’t heard any loons yet, but a pair of Baltimore orioles are living at my sister’s house. The other night when it was warm and the windows were open I could hear the American coots “purring” out on the lake. There are at least a couple of thousand of them. Sometimes they string out in a very long line. Eagles take dives at them. Here’s a small group of them taking off.
We were here for Thanksgiving and then a couple of weeks later I came back by myself to cat-sit while my sister and brother-in-law did medical stuff in Chapel Hill. I’m working on trimming and hemming a couple of tapestries. Yes, I finally got started on them! It’s a lot of dull work that I was procrastinating about. Believe me, it was much “furrier” when I began yesterday afternoon.
^^^It’s rare that I am awake at sunrise, but this is the view I had when I opened my eyes one morning from my sister’s porch.
This one shows the roots from a tree that used to be here before my time on earth.
I’ve had plenty of stuff to write about in the past month, but no motivation to do it.
I know what’s happening. As long as I keep my brain occupied by games of logic, I won’t think about what is happening to my brother-in-law, and by extension, my sister. He is suffering. She is suffering. It is a tough, tough situation right at the holiday season, so I feel less jolly than usual, thank you very much. But you can still tell me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever…kind words are always appreciated.
The thing is, I absolutely have to get these tapestries ready for the exhibition at the Folk Art Center and I’ve done hardly anything about it except to commit myself by sending in the paperwork.
I rejoined the print co-op in August, moved stuff back and forth, because I can’t make myself leave the house to go over there. There’s always something to do on the weekend and I don’t want to go after dark. I’ve been there a total of TWO times. I either need to use the space or leave. Is agoraphobia reentering my life? Could be. Most of my supplies are here after I picked up supplies for my book workshop in OCTOBER.
Pablocito is sitting in his spot behind my laptop under antique desk lamp. I like to think of it as his tanning salon. Diego becomes more needy and cuddly every day, which worries me a bit. Does he feel okay? He often has the hiccups and I give him a quarter of a famotidine tablet. I’ve been taking them too. Acid reflux has become a part of my life. Neither cat is happy with any kind of food I give them and I stopped feeding them canned food because they throw it up then leave it untouched in the bowl and cry. They both do better with the Purina Gastrointestinal Natural EN prescription food, and since that prescription renewal is coming up, I have to take Diego to the vet anyway. Pablocito hasn’t been in years. He has been very playful and fun. His latest game is “Magic Carpet Ride” when I pull a rug around on the hardwood floor while he lays on it and kicks it.
Since I last wrote here, Sandy turned seventy years old. We are both in shock about it, I think. I took him out to eat and a couple of our friends joined us as a surprise. We had a great time and the owner came by with a bottle of tequila, lemon slice, and salt shaker and offered him a shot for his birthday, but said he had to take it straight from the bottle and tell him when to stop with a thumbs up. He then poured it straight into Sandy’s upturned mouth and didn’t see Sandy’s thumbs up quickly so Sandy got a double shot. Of course we filmed it and posted it to Facebook and everybody knows what a badass Sandy is now.
The weekend after his birthday we took Amtrak to Charlotte. I don’t know exactly what kind of deal we got because I phoned it in, but it only cost $68 for us both round-trip. We would have spent more on gas and parking. Sandy had gout that weekend but it wasn’t so severe that it was a wasted trip. We got up Saturday, walked to the uptown farmers’ market, went to the Bechler Museum, brunched at Mariposa, then explored the Mint Museum. (I’m going to make a separate post with photos about this part of the trip.) After that, the day was pretty shot for us in a physical and financial sense, so we went to the Whole Foods Market close to our hotel and had dinner and appetizers and soup in our room while watching TV. The next morning he hurt badly enough that I changed our tickets to the 10:30 train and we headed back. Then something really weird happened.
About 30 minutes away from Greensboro, Sandy decided to get up and find the dining car to get some water. I had drunk a bottle of water and we had snacks from the night before. He headed up to the front of the car, and there was a jolt and he stumbled. I remember thinking this is like turbulence on a plane. It wasn’t that bad though. He almost opened the door and then decided the car must be behind us and turned around. That is when the train decoupled and the rest of the train moved ahead of us and our part of the train came to a halt.
Sandy was so close to stepping through that door when the train decoupled. In this photo it is open to give us ventilation on the train, and the front half of the train is up ahead.
Somehow, a piece of tree trunk was on the tracks. It must have been between the rails. It ripped out the cables and hoses under the cars. I have to applaud the conductors. They got up under the train and repaired it enough that we were able to reattach and move on about an hour and a half later. In the meantime, my bladder had to hold on to that water because they didn’t want us to use the bathrooms, although if it was an emergency we could have. We were near a railroad crossing so some people who were getting off at High Point called people to pick them up and got off the train.
I have to wonder if some sick puppy put that tree trunk on the track. And I’m further pissed off, after seeing those railroad workers on the job in this situation, knowing that private corporations do not respect them enough to give them sick leave. Anyway, we didn’t derail, Sandy didn’t step out into space and get run over by a train, and I made it to the Greensboro depot bathroom.
Then on Wednesday, we went to Lake Waccamaw for Thanksgiving with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and grand-nephew. (Post with LW photos later.) The food was great, as usual, and I didn’t cook a thing for it. It was all my sister. We had a good time until my b-i-l ate a bit too much solid food and got sick. This week he went in for draining the fluid that the tumors cause out of his abdomen, and a test to see if he could have surgery for a bypass on his upper intestine. Well, he got sick again, but they scheduled surgery for this week. He can hardly eat anything at all and it is devastating to see him basically starving to death. Our hope is that he can at least be able to eat again with this surgery, but he might not survive it. As it is, he can’t survive the way it’s going and he is miserable and suffering, so it is a little bit of hope we didn’t have before. No one would do this surgery at first. This kind of cancer is rare and doesn’t respond to any kind of treatment, so he is no longer on chemo.
On Saturday afternoon while they were resting, Sandy and I drove to Holden Beach, which is about 40 minutes away, in search of sea biscuits and shark’s teeth. I had intel from a shelling group on Facebook that dredging early in 2022 had uprooted a huge fossil bed and hundreds of thousands of sea biscuits. We found no teeth, and there were many fossil hunters and shellers on the beach, and we were not there at the prime time to find anything, but I did find a couple of whole sea biscuits, other fossils, olives (the shells, not the fruit), and several broken sea biscuits. It was fun and a bit of good exercise, and the weather was pleasant. It was a better haul that I expected. I might do it again.
So now. We did our holiday socializing this week, with a bit of drinking at Old Town with some faculty and at a new place, The Abbey Tavern, with some graduate students, on Thursday night, then at our department Christmas party on Saturday night.
Now I’m waiting to hear if my sister needs me to go cat-sit at Lake Waccamaw while my b-i-l is in the hospital this week. The traveling back and forth is exhausting them, and the cats at the lake don’t really get along with the cat and dog in Chapel Hill (my niece lives there), although they do usually travel with them back and forth. I can work online from the lake. The wifi is good and I’d be able to birdwatch from my sister’s glassed in porch. If this happens, I might use our lake house as a studio and work on my tapestries over there. Get ’em done. I have to get ’em done and ready to hang!
And I have to make some kind of decision about the print studio at the Arts Center. Move out or use it, but I have to figure out my storage capabilities here, Again, purging is in order, but mostly I just need to clean up the big pile of crap that has accumulated on my work table.
Riding out the storm was scarier than I thought it would be. I can’t imagine riding out a hurricane, although Ian was on the fence between Tropical Storm and Category 1. It was the sustained winds that were freaky. Once they started, they didn’t end for hours. It felt like a switch had been flipped around 2 p.m., and they were strong enough that we didn’t venture over to Lisa’s until 7 p.m. The winds were still going then, but by that time it seemed that all the big stuff that was going to fall down had already done it.
At first it was exciting, because I love storms. Sandy is so indifferent to it. My sister and I, as farmer’s daughters, were raised to pay attention to the weather. In those pre-Internet, pre-cable times, one of us in the family was expected to watch the weather forecast at 6 p.m. on one of the two television stations we received and tell him about it when he came in from working at the farm. My sister is fairly traumatized from the destruction of Hurricane Florence a few years ago when we thought that we would lose both family homes from the flooding damage, but she was not too worried about this one. It still surprised her. It ended up coming onshore right at the South Carolina coastal area that she and Tim had just left the day before.
There was a big tree down on a house between the lake house and her house, and the old catalpa tree that my father planted in the 1950s snapped in our yard, but thankfully it fell over into an empty area into the lot next door. Mainly there was a covering of small and medium sized branches and Spanish moss and bald cypress needles all over the yard afterwards. We didn’t have any flooding. Our power went out for only a couple of hours. I was shocked (not literally) when it came back on in the middle of the storm.
This photo shows the layer of debris blown up to the back porch, and the variety of flora in the washtub is a nice collection of what is around in late September here.
Meanwhile, in central North Carolina, the power was out for over a day in many places, including Greensboro. Our house in Greensboro never lost power and there were no big limbs down.
I pushed it too far with picking up the debris at the lake house and strained a muscle in my back, which ended up putting me to bed on Monday afternoon and part of Tuesday. Sitting has been painful. Even though I left the yard needing a good raking, I still mounded up an impressive pile of branches. I wish I had photographed it, but by that time I was only thinking about the pain. It would have been a good opportunity to bring home a couple of garbage bags full of Spanish moss for mulch.
I also got bitten on the hand a couple of times by a fire ant – but Lisa had some medicine that helped a lot. It still itches from time to time, but I’m thankful that I didn’t get swarmed.
Anyway, I sat on Lisa’s pier and watched the big turtles Saturday afternoon and later we enjoyed a beach fire and drinks and dinner with Lisa and Tim.
On Sunday morning I was hurting bad, but as I came out of the bathroom I kicked a small round object on the floor. It turned out to be this little guy. At first I thought it was dead because its face and legs were covered in cobwebs. Then it moved its foot a bit and so I took it out to the lake, washed it off, and picked out the cobwebs with my long fingernails. (This was fortunate because I usually keep them short.) It had cobwebs all up into its shell. Once that was done, I waited to see if it would activate, and once it did, I took it out and put it on the edge of the water near some lake debris – some kind of plant that grows on the bottom out past the piers that washed up in big clumps. It chose to crawl into there and the next time I checked it was gone.
S/he was a yellow bellied slider, the prettiest turtle I have ever seen. It was very tempting to keep it as a pet, since I had pet turtles as a kid. I also killed those turtles from lack of care and the wrong care as a kid, so I hope I changed my karma by letting it go. I would not want to come back as some kid’s pet turtle, left to dehydrate forgotten in a terrarium in a utility room.
I cannot imagine the pain of the people whose homes are in ruins in Florida.
Sandy and I drove down on Tuesday morning, and I have kept a close eye on Hurricane Ian. Eastern North Carolina has had its share of flood events from hurricanes this time of year. We are not terribly concerned about it right now, but we have learned the hard way that hurricanes can trick you and punch your lights out just as you relax.
We’ve had very little breeze until this morning. On Tuesday it was warm enough to sit in the lake for a while, and we spent some time outside yesterday, but it was so still that the bugs were beginning to find me. Once a blackfly bit me, I hauled my butt inside. I’ve seen only one alligator in the canal, but a few turtles and two beautiful large herons. This is the time of year for large spiders to weave their webs. As I’ve taken my walks along the canal I’ve stopped to say hello to a couple of them. The abundance of spiders at the lake is the reason I don’t invite friends who I know are arachnophobes. Sandy and I have no issues with spiders as long as they are not bothering us.
Today the wind is gusting, and the rain is expected to move in tonight. Several inches are expected. Fortunately the lake is extremely low and it should be able to contain plenty of storm water, but the issue will probably be water standing on the ground.
I’ve been cat-sitting my feline niece and nephew while my sister and brother-in-law took a short trip to Murrell’s Inlet. My sister’s screened porch is filled and surrounded with flowers and birds. Rascal is rascally, Sissy is tiny. I adore both of them.
(I really hope I don’t have to rewrite this post again. Here goes the second version:)
Tuesday night we ate seafood at Dale’s in the screened porch with a view of the lake and the sunset. At first I said out loud that it looked like we wouldn’t get much color that evening, but the reds were some of the reddest reds I’ve ever seen. It was spectacular but I didn’t get a good photo. I made sure that I was on my sister’s pier the next night and the sunset was amazing; more pinks and purples this time.
I brought my postcard sized collaborative tapestry to weave for the Tapestry Weavers South show in January. Each of us was assigned (or chose) a letter and the only requirements are the overall size and the size and color of the letter. Well, I forgot to pack my black yarn, but I’ll weave up as far as I can without it. I’m enjoying the cheery primary colors.
Looks like we are going to stick it out here through the weekend. The worst should come tomorrow, with several inches of rain forecast. The lake is very low and should contain it, but I still expect that some water will come into the house. Hopefully the wind will stay at tropical storm level or less.
Last Friday night we drove down to Lake Waccamaw. Three friends joined us – one was recuperating from knee surgery and the other two from a death in her family. So we made it as stress free as possible, which isn’t hard to do at Lake Waccamaw. Saturday began threatening to rain but it turned out to be a good day. We had a lot of clouds but the sun started peeping in and out.
Saturday morning we pretty much had a rolling brunch and my sister and brother-in-law came over for lunch. Lisa brought delicious sliders. I have to get that recipe from her. Susan braided my hair and Don’s hair into pigtails. Don’s hair is extremely long because he hasn’t cut it since 1996 or so. He made this yummy tuna dip so we anointed him with the lake name “Tuna Dip Willie.” Robin took the kayak out and later that afternoon we sat in the lake and had drinks. Nobody wanted to cook so we ordered out seafood from Dale’s.
The afternoon was sunny enough that we experimented with a packet of pre-made cyanotype papers. At first we were very pernickety about process and used the bathroom as a darkroom but later we found that less effort gave us the same or almost the same results. Everybody made at least two prints and I’m going to make an accordion book with them later. The Spanish moss made great prints.
Sunday was a back porch day. The gliders are back! Another rolling brunch with people going in and out of the kitchen to eat English muffins and bacon and sandwiches and junk food. Robin and Don had to leave us in mid-afternoon. Then the rain came, and I thought the house might flood, but it didn’t. The next day the standing water was gone.
Late that afternoon we had appetizers and dinner at Lisa and Tim’s house, and watched the birds at their many feeders. It was a fun evening. These boiled peanuts were huge!
Then on Monday morning, we relaxed for a few hours before cleaning up and hitting the road. We had enough time to stop at The Berry Patch (a.k.a. “The Big Strawberry”) to eat huge ice cream cones and buy veggies.
I’d write more but this is the second time I’ve written this post. WordPress is giving me problems. Later, gator.
It’s a gorgeous day. Even yesterday with its rainstorm was great. We spent about an equal amount here at the lake house and at my sister’s house, visiting, eating good cheese and grilled chicken. This morning we could hear the birds sing, and the occasional car or truck on its way to and from Easter services or the boat ramp – you know you can find God in either place.
I did my usual poking around for natural objects that are attracted to me. Including the mayflies, which have to be the most harmless critters in the world.
That weird bone is why you should be careful when handling a catfish. They stick out from the sides of their head.
Sandy and I wandering along the canal looking for the Easter Gator. We finally found her trying to take a nap. She said to feck off, she is out of eggs.
Purty little purple wild asters haven’t been mowed down yet.
My sister has my grandmother’s high school diploma. She graduated from Welsh Neck High School in 1904.
Now I have to go make the deviled eggs. It is Easter in the U.S. South.