art, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, collage, consumerism, Coronavirus Chronicles, Mixed media art, Reading, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

And, OH! This coffee is so good. I put a big scoop of Trader Joe’s salted caramel hot cocoa mix in it. Divine. I’d really like to go back to Trader Joe’s today and buy more of this and a bunch of frozen dinners to take to work, but I considered what it would be like to go to TJ’s on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I think I’ll wait on that. I’m pretty new to Trader Joe’s since my first grocery shops were always the farmers’ market then Deep Roots then a local grocery. We listened to a story about Trader Joe’s on NPR and were fished in…it was a lovely experience. It’s good that it is on the other side of town.

The other place we shopped heavily during the pandemic was Costco, and we had a lot delivered. Once vaccines became widely available I stopped doing grocery delivery, realizing that between the mark-up on the products and the tip that I gave the shopper, I wasn’t saving any money. Sandy and I are – gasp, I’ll say it – hoarders and we got ahead on groceries at some point several years ago and our closets are generally full enough that we can get by for a few months if needed. I also have water stored in sterilized glass apple juice bottles. At first it was prepping in case of civil war or some other calamity. Little did we know how useful this would become so soon. I have to remember to rotate out the food, though. I donated some to the graduate student food drive for the food pantry this week.

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I have most of my grocery shopping for Thanksgiving already done so I’ll go to Deep Roots for my coffee, bread, yogurt, etc. today. My sister provides the turkey and cornbread dressing and dessert and lots of casseroles since she is the primo chef in the family, and retired, and enjoys it. I’ll bring my asparagus/mushroom/almond casserole and marinated goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy and butterbeans from Smith Farms. We have our assignments and that has always been mine. Usually I grow the butterbeans, but I let that go this year.

One thing that we WON’T do is go shopping. I’ve celebrated Buy Nothing Day for years now, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving. It blows my mind that anybody actually enjoys that frenzy. We stopped giving physical Christmas gifts a long time ago. We still give each other presents, but they are not tied to any one day or obligation. It happens by whim when we see something that we know that someone would enjoy. I strongly believe that is the way gift giving should work.

Frugality is much on my mind, as I spin toward the goal of early retirement. I never thought that there was a chance that I might be able to do it, until my financial advisor at work told me that if I could live on 11% less, I could. Well, I have cut out a lot of fat during the past twenty years, but there is still 11% that I can cut. One thing that I did was I started putting a lot more in my retirement account. So now I know that I can live on what’s left.

I just don’t know how people can rent these days. We are so lucky (and smart) that we bought our house in a decent neighborhood at a good price and paid the mortgage off. Sandy rented his condo out so much more cheaply than the surrounding apartments. He said that he always remembered that when we first moved to this street the landlord said that he wanted to provide young people with an affordable place to live. I really liked that guy and it sounded really noble but we also had leaks and a hole in the bathroom floor. It wasn’t totally altruistic – he didn’t want to fix the problems. Then he sold us the house really cheap! Still, rents are insane these days and I don’t think that I could afford to rent an apartment on my salary if I had to do it.

Yesterday I broke down and decided that I had to take some allergy meds. I had stopped them when I realized that they were triggering my restless leg syndrome. It has been rough. Sleep was weird for the past 24 hours. I slept well on Friday night and late on Saturday, took the 24 hour Allegra-D, then Sandy and I went out for lunch and checked out Jerry’s Artarama. I came back and sat down on the sofa looking at my Kindle, and each cat settled down on each side of me and purred. I was so content and relaxed, I didn’t have a headache, and I could breathe! Then out of the blue I got really sleepy and took a three hour nap. The kind where you lay your head down and don’t move for three hours. These two things totally screwed up my sleep last night, so I spent from 1-4 a.m. stretching my feet and legs and back and cracking my toes and knuckles. At some point I turned on the light and started reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and wow. That was hard to put down. So it was another late sleep this morning. I’ll try to make it through the day without meds and a nap until bedtime tonight.

Jerry’s Artarama, which I didn’t even know was in Greensboro, y’all. It’s in a part of town where I never go any more. I need a source of inexpensive framing supplies for my artwork that I plan to sell, so I joined it. I bought a cool little device that you pour acrylic paint into and it has a marker tip – I chose the inch wide one. I hope that it will work well with stencils. I also bought a cheap stand-up easel for Sandy, black gesso, and a clip on glass panel for a matted print that we had bought from Ireland back in 2012.

One thing that I learned from this trip and the Dick Blick catalog, is that I need to get away from the 8×8″ size work. I bought a lot of wood panels in that size and I can make those hang-able, but there isn’t much choice in pre-made mats or frames in that size. When I make my prints this winter, I’m going to pay attention and cut my papers to standard sizes before I print them. I want to mat or frame my collages and prints and paintings for sale, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. I’ll use a local frame shop for the ones that I want to keep or put in a show.

I spent in the wee hours of the morning thinking about what I’m going to do with this…thing…I made last weekend. And, as often happens, my inspiration took off when thinking about Lake Waccamaw. This is going to be the base for a real mixed media piece, with painting and leaf printed cloth and driftwood and maybe bones?

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I worked on this collage some last week and I like it. It will probably be part of a book, though.

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coffee pot posts, collage, Mixed media art, Printmaking

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I stayed up way too late last night. In my defense, I discovered that you can borrow e-books from Internet Archive for one hour at a time. I’m not talking about just public domain books – library books from all over. Every now and then I shoot them a few dollars as a donation because what they do is incredibly valuable for the planet.

After I blogged yesterday I went to the print studio and played with printing on old book pages on the gelli plate. The best paper was from a 1954 paperback on how to sight read music. After I had starting printing on it, I realized that it was a really good reference for learning (re-learning) to read music, and I regretted tearing it apart a little. It’s astounding how little I retained about reading music from all my younger years of piano and percussion and saxophone lessons, but honestly, I never had a knack for it. Can’t say that I didn’t try, though! I saved a page on identifying the notes on the page and kept on printing. We have an electric piano among the many unused musical instruments in our house that my husband has collected.

I took photos at the end of my session, which wasn’t very long because I had other things to do, such as jumping off the dead battery in the Honda and a trip to Costco, which was kind of a nightmare. I have only been there once during the pandemic, and the number of people who whipped off their masks or wore them under their noses or on their chins was shocking to me. You could see the smirk on the young guy’s face in front of me in line. He had on a t-shirt with an upside down flag declaring his love for God, country, family, and freedom and a cross around his neck. It was more offensive than I am describing. I tried to stay back from him, although the woman with him was masked and friendly. It was crowded. We bought a lot of food for the pantry and the freezer, as we finally worked through the last bit of hoarded food from last year.

They had a good deal on socks so I bought two packs and I’m taking some down to the Interactive Resource Center.  Since I have become more frugal than usual these days, although not to the point where I’m shopping at Dollar General or Dollar Tree for food, I’ve been thinking about the needs of women who are really poor.  Spartan Pantry is right around the corner and it serves the students and staff of UNCG. (Isn’t it sad that UNCG staff is included in this distribution center? You’d like to think that we would all earn a living wage.)  So new underwear, socks, deodorant, baby wipes, menstrual supplies…I’m trying to think of things that people need but they have a hard time finding at donation centers. Sandy and I were talking about how we didn’t know how people made it with rents being so high. Our house payments were less than most people’s rent these days.

Anyway, here are photos of the monoprints I made yesterday.  I will keep a couple as is and use the others for backgrounds or collage fodder. I like the “Gospel Pearls” page and a couple more of the music pages. The one that is smaller and looks solid is a page from a 1894 book on agriculture. It was interesting to see how differently it took the paint than the others. It was more fragile, too.

Most of the stencils I used were bought from Mary Beth Shaw at Stencil Girl. Her stencils are high quality and she provides so many free videos on You Tube for instruction and inspiration. She is also a delight, seriously.

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I also have a few little collages on hand down there to work on as the inspiration hits. I didn’t like these much so they are works in progress. As some point I plan to use Seth Apter’s embossing powders on them, but since this studio doesn’t have a ventilation system or windows that will open I will bring them back home for that. I think that I’m done with the one on the top right.

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Back Forty, fiber art, Mixed media art

August. Yuk.

I really dislike the month of August. The heat, the humidity, the sudden ratcheting up of my “real” job. Too much to do at home and too hot to do most of it. Lately, like today, I have been outrunning the severe thunderstorms home from work. So far I have made it ahead of the rain.

We have been getting some very intense storms lately, like this one with quarter-inch sized hail. Excuse my camera work. One day I’ll learn not to move it around. By the way, the car did not have any new dents that I could see, and my garden is okay even though this went on for 15 minutes!

Yesterday we had high wind and I eyed the maple tree covered with wild grapevines with some trepidation. I noticed that the top of it snapped off a few weeks ago and it must be lying on top of the vines up there somewhere. It is becoming obvious that I will have to pay somebody to do something about the vines. The good news is that one of the new tenants next door loves to do yard work and has already taken a slingblade to the pokeweed forest between our houses. He has offered to help me on my side of the yard for $12 an hour. I told him that was too low and I’d pay $15.

Boy, you can tell that I’m a Bernie girl, huh?

I had already arranged for Armando, the guy who takes care of my absentee next door neighbor’s yard on the other side of our house, to help me with the yard. He mowed on Tuesday afternoon and will come back to help with pruning, etc. next week. This is such a relief! But it will be helpful for Cory, who lives on the other side of those vines, to hit it from his and my side of the jungle, since a lot of them are rooted on both sides of the property line.

Honestly, between the wild grapevine and the fucking wisteria, I don’t know which is worse. We’ve got both, and I let it get away from us when my neck was hurt. Now I have vertigo when I look up. Sandy’s no use on this issue. It’s time to spend the money on help.

Did I mention I hate wisteria? Boy, do I hate wisteria. I don’t even want to hear about people who like wisteria, or plant wisteria, or think that it is pretty. After 32 years of fighting wisteria, I consider it barely below poison ivy on my list of despised plants. Wild grapevine is third on the list.

The Roma tomatoes are almost done, but we are still harvesting lots of cherry tomatoes, figs, and a few big tomatoes. I have a new crop of raspberries. Not many, but this is encouraging that the one plant has produced twice. I sliced some more lemon cucumbers for the dehydrator and ran it a few hours longer this time. The slices with the seeds were crispy but the slices from the edges without the seeds still have the texture of soft paper.

I mailed my tapestry for the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition going up at the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center in Elkin, NC. I’m sending “Dingle Cliff Walk,” which does not have perfect selvedges, but I love it and it’s time to put it out there. I thought it would be good for the theme, which is “Point of View.” This is it on the loom just before I finished it, and shows why its upper selvedges drew in. I was trying to make use of that leftover warp. I won’t make this mistake again, but at the time I started it, I didn’t think it would turn out to be one of my favorite weavings.

Still sewing my little puzzle pieces. I’m working on an idea that takes inspiration from feathers. Maybe attaching feathers?

My spirits took a dive this week. I’m trying very hard to keep away from the hole. Part of it is insomnia, and the news. I’ll have to take a news break. It makes me feel like a terrible citizen, but I don’t do anybody or myself or anything else any good from the bottom of the hole.

art retreats, book arts, dyeing, Mixed media art, North Carolina, North Carolina beaches

Ancient Wisdom


A couple of weekends ago, Susanne, Sandy, and I went to Topsail Beach for a long weekend. Sandy hung out by himself mostly while Susanne and I took a workshop with Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller called Ancient Wisdom. We stayed at the Jolly Roger Inn and Pier. The weather was a bit chilly and cloudy and it rained really hard one night but we got out on the beach a little. We had oceanfront rooms and that was nice.

We drove down on Thursday evening and ate dinner at the Beach Shop and Grill. With that name we expected hamburgers and hot dogs but it was a very expensive and wonderful restaurant. Sandy saved us by picking up the check. He had crab cakes that were divine. I am not sure that there was any bread in them at all. Susanne and I had shrimp and grits and I think that they might now be number one on my list of favorite shrimp and grits places.

In the morning, we indulged in doughnuts from the Fractured Prune. At this point I knew that there was no hope for my diet. When we went back to the hotel room, Susanne and I walked on the beach and picked up stuff, as you do, and after we went up to our rooms this guy showed up drawing fabulous runes on the beach in front of our hotel. Our own personal installation artist.

Friday afternoon was spent cutting our windows into bookboard and wrapping the covers with plaster gauze. They had to cure overnight.

When we got back to the hotel, the artist had finished.

Then we drove to Wilmington and ate dinner at one of our favorite places: Indochine. The rumors of its demise during Hurricane Florence are not true, thankfully.

The next day was dyeing day! Leslie had eight different natural dye pots going in her backyard and we spent most of the day dipping our book pages in them. What a great opportunity for overdyeing! I have never had access to so many colors at one time so I went nuts. I could not tell you the combinations on a lot of my pages, but I used indigo on most of them. Turmeric, avocado pits and skins, black walnut, and turmeric made good combinations too. Other dyepots held madder, yellow onion skins, red cabbage (which fades to light gray) and blueberries (also light-sensitive and fugitive). Honestly, I never guessed that you could get such beautiful natural dye results on paper.

We forced ourselves to stop and paint our plaster covers so that they would be dry by the time we bound our books the last day. I cut my mica too close to the edge because I was thinking that the plaster would be covering it. Stitching it that close to the edge ripped out through the sides so i improvised. Those sea oats were picked up off the road after the hurricane, by the way; no illegal picking of sea oats happened here. I scratched and stamped circles into the plaster to honor the art work I had seen on the beach – this is still a work in progress.

That night we ate at Sears Landing in Surf City near the bridge on the Intracoastal Waterway. This is a place where I will definitely return. All the weight I lost and more came back by the end of the night.

After dinner we went to Quarter Moon Books and Wine Bar  where the three of us and Pam, a friend we met at the workshops down here, had drinks and listened to some great acoustic music by The Doug McFarland One. (He is a hoot.)

On Sunday we bound our beautiful colorful signatures with longstitch (for using as warp for weaving later) and then put the whole shebang together with coptic stitch.

We didn’t have time to do the woven binding but I drilled holes in the back cover and I am working on embellishing this book further now.

Thanks, Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller for another exquisite workshop experience! Also to Bee Shay for spending her lunch teaching a few of us to wrap stones with macrame stitching for hanging. What a sweet weekend it was.

book arts, Mixed media art, Reading, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This was a busy week. First, here’s the tapestry diary as of last Sunday. I haven’t worked on it so far this week so it will be a simple narrow entry for the entire week and I’ll weave it as soon as I am done here.

On Tuesday, I went to Seth Apter’s 52 Card Pickup class at Betty’s Creative Studio here in Greensboro, NC. I had not known about Betty’s before I saw Seth’s announcement on his “The Altered Page” Facebook page, and that was a welcome surprise since I was trying to figure out how to go to Lexington, Kentucky to take a joint workshop with him and my favorite book arts teacher, Dan Essig. As usual, there are way too many things that I want to do and sometimes the knowledge of this is overwhelming, since of course I can’t afford it all or take the time off for it all, especially between January and April. And yes, he is as nice as you have heard.

This was a nice break from work, since it was fairly mindless and relaxing. We learned his process for making textured painted backgrounds on a deck of cards that had been painted back and front with black gesso, plus two slightly larger bookboard pieces to use for covers. Messy fun!

The idea was that you would collage one side of the card and journal on the other side. The cards are not bound so you’d pull out a collaged card to suit your journaling mood or subject for the week. We didn’t get around to much collage. I got a little overwhelmed with the free stuff that was being passed around to choose from, since I’m trying to use or purge this kind of thing from my studio. There are still so many boxes of random papers in there!

This is a method that I will reuse, although I think that the next batch of papers or cards will be less busy so they will be easier to write on.

I started out the gate with some serious sinus problems and so I stayed home from work on Monday. I’m pretty sure that cleaning out and trying to repair the vacuum cleaner was the main cause, because I am getting over it too fast for it to be a cold. All that diatomaceous earth from the carpet flea treatment sandpapered the inside of my head. I made it known publicly that I would not be offended by the gift of a new vacuum cleaner for Valentine’s Day. Sandy, however, is Mr. Fix-It in his imagination and sometimes he does actually accomplish some of these repairs that he says that he can do, so I’m giving it until I get my year-end kickback check from Costco and then if it is not fixed I am buying a new one. I can’t keep up by using the attachments on the hose!

The rest of week I had my head down catching up on work, dealing with a lot of grids and spreadsheets, so that will show up in the tapestry diary entry for the week.

Sandy ended up going to the City Council meeting without me and speaking, among others, in opposition to the way the city is treating Cafe Europa. Sadly, I don’t think that much will come of it, but there are some passionate people on Jakub’s side so I hope that my pessimism turns out to be wrong.

Last night I finished watching “Godless” on Netflix, which I highly recommend if you can take violence that serves a purpose in a very well-written story. I have been a big fan of Merritt Wever since watching her play Zoe on “Nurse Jackie” so it was great to see her play a badass on this one season Western series. I thought that it was a touching story of redemption, with the twist of a town full of very strong self-reliant women. Sandy found it very sad, but he liked it enough that he watched it again with me.

I finished “Run” by Ann Patchett and am now reading “Straight Man” by Richard Russo, which is pretty hysterical, especially if you have had the experience of working in a small college or a dysfunctional academic liberal arts department. Not that ours is that bad, but much of it rings true.

I was planning to cut back the fig tree hard, like by half, and set up my little greenhouse this weekend, but it appears that it is going to rain for four days. Oh well. As long as it is not flooding, I will not complain about rain. It is time to start seeds and I’m going to give that another try this year. We’ll see how the tomcats in the house behave. If I can get a few weeks of good behavior from them then I can set up the greenhouse and move some seedlings out there.

Tomorrow I hope to write about the project that I’m doing in India Flint’s Bagstories group. It has been such a joy.

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.

Mixed media art, weaving

Take it further challenge, February

The Take It Further Challenge for February had two options: a color combination and/or a concept prompt of “What are you old enough to remember?”

I wanted to do both, but blanked out on how to do it until yesterday. My concept had more to do with technology – the phone system, mimeographs instead of copiers, etc. I thought about collage and I might still work with this idea, since I have a great secretary’s manual from the 1930s to work with. (By the way, I’m a secretary, and I’m the daughter of a secretary.) But I ached to do some more with tapestry, so I began by pulling out yarns that were a close match to the color challenge.

I couldn’t find the shade of brown, and it irked me because I felt that it was so familiar that I must have it somewhere. I stopped and took a few moments to straighten up my studio, and there it was – my cardboard box that I used as a loom for the tapestry bag. I decided to incorporate a small cardboard loom into my project for the brown color, and I cut the box into small pieces. One piece had the UPS shipping sticker on it, and I thought, I remember when there wasn’t a bar code or number on every single thing that was sold or shipped, and you didn’t have a different password or ID number for every different purpose, and the technology that is supposed to make our lives more efficient has complicated our lives in many ways.

Then I realized that this was the piece that I would use for my loom.

The bar code is meant to look like the weft on that side, but I am so tempted to weave the whole thing. I’ll upload the finished object when it’s done.

(Later that evening…)

I wove a frame around the bar code. I’ll finish this tomorrow night. The weaving is done. And it was fun.