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.

Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina

Lake Waccamaw 2020, Part IV

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina

Lake Waccamaw 2020, Part III

My sister’s house is a short walk or swim away. They have a beautiful place with their two adorable cats and a pier and a pontoon boat. One morning they pulled up in front of our house to take us for a ride. It was the first time that all thoughts of the pandemic left my mind for a long time.

It rained almost every evening and one storm produced two rainbows. We could see the end of each rainbow. One faintly ended on top of the pier and it is hard to see here but I tried to capture it. It was so close!

The other developed a few minutes later and spanned the sky, ending in the lake past the piers. You could actually see the colors reflected on top of the water. I wonder what is down there?

I thought that the texture of the hard rain hitting the lake was striking, also.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina

Lake Waccamaw 2020, Part II

I believe that it was Saturday when Sandy and I spent time sitting in the lake and on the shore. The little fish kept nibbling at our legs and when one tried to go up my bathing suit I gave it up. I got a bit of sunburn despite sitting in the shade of the bald cypress trees. Every now and then I walked out in the water to the end of the pier next door to cool off. The water is high from all the rain right now, but it doesn’t get over your head for a long ways out.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina

Lake Waccamaw 2020, Part I

We are lucky that we still have the option of staying at the family house at Lake Waccamaw. Everyone thought that Hurricane Florence had finally done it in, but my cousin’s wife, who has lifetime rights to the property, sunk some money into fixing it back up. She replaced the appliances and the mattresses and the furniture, for the most part. It still has a problem with flooding, being that it sits directly upon a cement slab in the ground. In fact, there was minor flooding there a couple of weeks before we got there.

So, instead of going to Ireland, Sandy and I spent a week at the lake. We got to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law, which was fun and good for my soul. We brought a ton of food because I vowed not to shop at the local stores because of their lax co-vid attitude, and we got take-out from Dale’s twice. The rest of the time we ate at the house or my sister and brother-in-law fed us. Fed us extremely well!

I was delighted because the beach had not been cleaned up for a while after several big storms, so the driftwood picking was good. A turkey vulture must have had a fight, because I got a couple of really big feathers that are in good enough shape to make quills with. There was also a lot of plastic to be disposed of, sadly.

Unfortunately, I still could not break out of my artist block. I started to put together a collage, then the wind picked up on the porch and I put it away, never to bring it out again. The idea is still with me, though. I read a lot and took some really great photos. Sleep continued to be elusive for multiple reasons and I will take a mattress pad with me next time I go, which could be in a few weeks.

To be continued, with more photos.

Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina

Lake Waccamaw Spring 2019

Here’s a quickie post of our Easter weekend at Lake Waccamaw. It was very stormy on Friday with a couple of tornado warnings nearby. Of course the weather cleared up on the day we left. As usual, the birds amused me and I saw a pileated woodpecker. You can see some of the damage on the piers from Hurricane Florence last September. My sister’s house is repaired and livable again. As they began doing the repairs, they found less that needed to be done. That’s pretty unusual. The fact that the house is uninsulated helped – no moisture sitting in the walls to grow mold in. Still, it was a big repair job and much of the furniture was ruined. Now it is nice again.

My cousin’s house is still standing, but it needs to be torn down.