Coronavirus Chronicles, GTFO, Obsession

A little talk about the future

Today is my sweetheart’s 68th birthday! We won’t be going out to eat tonight because we are cautious, but I’ll cook him his favorite dish tonight.

Again, I spent a good bit of time this week transferring photos from Flickr to WordPress and updating links. It’s not a terrible task. Once I get into a groove it goes very quickly. However I still have almost nine years of blog posts to finish before my Flickr account renews in January, so I’ve had to make it a priority. The memories have been bittersweet for sure – posts about my mother, my beloved cats that have passed on. I just passed Sandy’s heart attack in April 2010 and am now on our trip to Colorado in June 2010.

Our goal is to move to Portugal in 2023. At that point, I’ll be able to get my social security early and most of my pension from my job. That should be enough for us to live on. We are frugal people anyway. But it really can’t be soon enough. Sandy will be 70 by then and he is getting less able to walk for more than short distances. Hopefully he will see a doctor soon about it. Neither of us are getting the exercise that we need but I have a feeling that this is something more. And the climate crisis is urgent. I truly do not think that we have a lot of quality time left.

It will take a lot of energy to downsize and pack up this house and sell it in the next 2-3 years, and I guarantee you that Sandy will want to wait until the last minute to do it. I have very low energy, myself.

There are services in Portugal that help ex-pats with the logistics of getting visas, residency paperwork, a place to live. I believe that you can ship two times to Portugal as an incoming resident before they hit you with tariffs big enough to make shipping a terrible option. Some people pack their stuff in a large 8×20 foot container and send it by container shipping. I think that would wreck my nerves, waiting almost a month for that much stuff. Although I do have trucker friends…

In the meantime, I think that I will get rid of a lot of these old books I have collected and raise a bit of money by putting together collage packs for sale here and maybe on Etsy. I still have an Etsy account but I haven’t used it for years.

And it sounds like it might be okay to book plane tickets to Portugal this summer! The vaccine news is good. I want to book the tickets by the end of the year to get the no change fee for United. I still haven’t heard back from Orbitz about the credit that I am due for Aer Lingus, but they have raised their prices so much that it probably won’t be worth using it, and I have to book the tickets with a flight originating in the U.S. It’s the principle of the thing. They said I had until the end of November to use the credit, and then they said it expired at the end of June. I am booking tickets for four people this time, so I need to get relatively cheap tickets for all of us instead of booking Aer Lingus again.

It’s exciting to be thinking about travel again! The hardest thing, after figuring out the dates, will be where to go. There is a lot to see and we are not up for any more whirlwind trips and checklists.

bloggy stuff, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, Obsession, Reading

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

I start out every blog post I write with a rant about the new WordPress block format, and how tired I am of having to learn new tech and software when the way I did it before was perfectly fine. Sometimes I mess around until I find a way to go back to something similar that they had before, but I never know how to find that way again. Then I usually delete the paragraph. So THIS TIME, I have figured it out and I’m documenting it. I saved the draft of this post, then when I opened all posts to work on it again, when you hover over the name of the post, links appear beneath it and one of them is “classic editor.” Whew!

Last weekend I had a lot of fun in Leighanna Light’s “Layered Faces” Zoom class. It is definitely not my style but it was a lot of fun and got me out of my head. Here are the photos from my piece after day one and at the end. I got a wild feline feel from the face as it was developing so I went with that. Sandy was all blah about it until I finished and then he was saying “Don’t do another thing to it! It’s perfect!” LOL. I won one of Leighanna’s faces in a random drawing on the second day, so my luck was with me this week.

I’ve mainly been concentrating on work, cleaning up the garden, cooking, and today, cleaning house, so I don’t have anything exciting to report. I voted in person on Wednesday with a friend, and I didn’t have to wait long. No funny business going on. Paper ballots, but no straight ticket options. I painted another section of the front porch yesterday, but a cold front came in last night and it is about 25 degrees chillier and rainy today.

Some fall shots from my yard and my walk around the block:

Reading: I finished “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. At first it was a bit of a slog only because it is dystopian and my emotions are on edge. It ended up being very good with a complex plot and several different points of view. Now I am reading “The Good Lord Bird,” and had I known that it would be this funny (I mean, it’s about John Brown, what a surprise!) I would have started it long ago.

My fixation on traveling to Portugal with the idea of scouting out places to live is back, and I almost booked tickets to go in June, but the fricking searches were confusing, and then I figured out that to get my Aer Lingus travel credit I have to go through Orbitz, who is charging $100 more per ticket than going straight through Aer Lingus. I got disgusted and decided to start over again this coming week. I have until the end of November to book Aer Lingus tickets to get my credit for my cancelled flight this past June, and their prices went way up.

This year my sister and brother-in-law are going to travel with us. This should be interesting to see if we get sick of each other. We have not traveled together before – just stayed in one familiar place like the beach or the lake. Of the four of us, only Sandy has a lot of patience, so he will be fine. I have been looking forward to traveling with my sister for a long time but they haven’t been able to do it for eldercare and other family reasons. All four of us are interested in emigrating to Portugal, although that’s might change after the election. I’m ready to go regardless, but for financial reasons I need to either wait 2.5 years or get permission to work remotely from there.

We’ll spend a couple of days in Dublin since they haven’t been to Ireland before. It’s cheaper to fly to Dublin from Raleigh and then catch TAP or Ryanair to Lisbon from there.

This also means that I will not be going to the art retreat in west Ireland or FOBA this summer. I hate like hell to miss these, but this is more than just a vacation – it is also a scouting trip. It’s important to do it soon, and I promised Sandy that we would go in 2021 before we knew that my trips would be canceled this year. We need to spend enough time in Portugal to explore different areas to see where might be the best fit for us. I am reading a lot of ex-pat advice.

Of course, all bets are off if there isn’t a vaccine by then.

depression/anxiety, Obsession, whatever

Self therapy session redux

These are some random thoughts around the theme of connection, which has been on my mind very much lately. Expect some curmudgeon-ish talk.

Last night I went to our Tiny Pricks Project gathering, and I was thirty years older than the other three women there. I enjoyed it thoroughly. There was even a baby photo and conversation about teething. And that put my thoughts to work: my angst right now is as much about aging as anything else.

For most of my life I have been the youngest in the crowd. I was a late-in-life surprise baby and my siblings are 8-9 years older than me. I dated boys and men who were older. I married a man who is nine years older than me. I have always preferred the company of older people. So here I am and my friends are increasingly younger. I feel the generation gap. The graduate students often see me as a mother or grandmother figure. Of course their experiences and concerns are different from mine, and if I let myself, I can enjoy listening to them and learn from that, and I will have to get over being shocked if they aren’t familiar with 70s bands and didn’t live in a pre-Internet world and have a definition of sexism that is far more sensitive than the blatant sexism and harassment I experienced. I am not the youngest in the crowd any more. OK Boomer!

I will probably never understand the obsession of some people with being connected to other people constantly on their phones. What’s with the earbuds that are permanent installations on some heads? When I worked for a call center I couldn’t wait to get off the phone so I can’t imagine being wired in during my personal life. Often I don’t answer the phone. If it’s important, they can leave a message or text or email. I don’t get helicopter parenting. It’s funny how those parents don’t see themselves that way. It is such a different world than the one in which I grew up.

My first forty years were cell phone free and somehow we managed not being constantly connected to everybody else. I resisted getting a smart phone until a few years ago and my main reason in finally getting one was for GPS and being able to upload photos. My other influence is my mother, who was more than willing to let her kids go and I doubt very much that we were on her mind every minute of the day. In fact, I am pretty sure that she probably went for hours not thinking about us. In return, she created three very independent adults.

Any kind of loss is very difficult for me, but I can be separated for a long time without anxiety. Friends have broken my heart much more often than lovers. About thirty years ago I decided not to chase after friends who had disengaged and let them come to me if they wished. Most of the time they didn’t, and I was better off. I recently reconnected with one of those friends.

I can also admit that I have been that friend who disengaged. And those who let me go were better off as well.

So I simply feel lost in this century with its constant distractions from what is directly in front of us. I am a victim of these distractions as much as anyone. I have to find a way back to the here and now of my life, and I need to find a way to connect with others without making myself crazy.

The joys of social media are real, and have added a positive dimension to my life that could not have come from anywhere else. Those few folks that don’t do it ask me, where do you find out about these workshops and retreats? Facebook. How did you find out about this artist? Instagram.

Where do I draw the line? Giving up Facebook and Instagram is not an option, not only because of the positive aspects, but because Facebook is part of my job.

I need to get outside more often and leave the phone and camera behind. I love photography but experiencing life through the lens of a camera or the potential shot is not fully connecting. I am very, very tired of technology right now.

Blather, crocheting, depression/anxiety, Obsession

Underwater

Rain, rain, rain. Puddles everywhere. That’s how we roll in North Carolina – drought or drowning, seldom in between. For years I have remembered my birthday as being in the season of mud, so it must be usual for February. We sandbagged the basement entrance again.

I am in an odd mood this week. Probably because I am not drinking and I started a diet yesterday. An actual diet plan, with an app, not my usual hey, I know how to eat healthy and I’ll just do that. I do know how to eat healthy, but it is not helping my weight and cholesterol issues. I kept seeing an ad for Noom, and decided to try it.

So now I’m eating SUPER DUPER healthy. With a calorie counter and a pedometer. And I am hungry and miss my cheese and peanut butter! Ah well. It must be done.

Underwater. That’s how I feel.

The weaving project is going well. I’m still plugging away at it and I hope to have the second curtain panel done by the end of the weekend, since the forecast is MORE RAIN. It is great to be able to weave standing up at my Macomber loom. I’m very glad that I decided to keep it. I should sell my Baby Wolf, though. It is just collecting junk on top. Once I get that tapestry off the Shannock loom (don’t ask an ETA for that, please) I will consider selling or trading it also.

I ripped out the entire 2019 Tunisian crochet weather scarf, charted all the high temperature data for Greensboro (the airport) for 2018, redid my color scheme a bit, and started over with a 2018 scarf. It goes more smoothly than doing a day at a time. I was very surprised that our highest temperature for last year was 95. That cut out two colors from my scheme so I shifted them all down one and rearranged a couple of other colors that made more design sense to me. The results are more pleasing and logical to me, and you know, logic is a prime concern for me. It will be interesting to me to compare the 2018 and 2019 scarves. This project punches all my OCD buttons so I have to make myself take breaks. Thank God for work or my hands would be aching by now!

Even though I have avoided the greenhouse, I started some arnica, calendula, and a variety of lettuce seeds indoors a few days ago. I bought a little pot of parsley at a grocery store about a month ago and it had probably two dozen seedlings crammed in there, so I separated the strongest ones and replanted them in the planter by the front steps.

There are too many things that I want to do, too many books to read, too many places where I want to travel.

There is a faint dread underlying my days, and I am trying to keep it from bubbling up. Perhaps re-engaging in political discussion and reading has not been the best decision. But how can I not? And there has been a few bright spots, although these bright spots often are relief that something awful is being undone, when it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I have no trust in anything any more since the 2016 election. I know that anything can happen, no matter how crazy and illogical. It is a surreal world, and I feel underwater.

agoraphobia, bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Obsession

Saturday Morning Coffee Post

This is day three of my week without social media or news. I suppose that some people would count blogging as social media but I have so little interaction with people here I generally think of it as an online journal and personal portal.

If you have followed me through the years you might know that I began this blog in early 2005 as a healing process for my depression, anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia. I am open about my mental health because I strongly believe that we must take away the stigma so that more people, like me, do not wait so long to get help. I am light years better than I was in 2003, which was probably my lowest point, but I still struggle. Much of my problem is physical…panic disorder and depression runs in my family. However agoraphobia is a behavioral response to anxiety so I decided to give behavioral therapy another try. And for the past few years, my biggest problem has been obsessive thoughts and behavior and it keeps getting worse. The political situation in this country has done some real damage to my brain.

Anyway, I’m not going to go into all the details of my therapy, but she gave me two assignments. One was to stay off social media and avoid the news for a week. The other ***GULP*** concerns my game playing. Perhaps it is significant that I waited to tell her that I play games A LOT until the end of our first session. Immediately she said, “Delete your games.”

To the social media break, I said, “Okay, that’s a good idea.” To the game break, I said, “D-delete my games?”

She said, “Ah, there’s the look.”

She nailed my addiction.

I have been playing games all my life, since I was little, to calm my mind. Before computers, since I can remember. I played solitaire and board games where I played both sides. I had a plastic grid with tiny pieces very much like Legos that I constantly made patterns on, sitting on the den floor in front of the TV. (It drove my daddy crazy.) I do puzzles. I am drawn to any game or puzzle that involves logic, strategy, or setting up patterns. Ever heard of nonograms? Candy Crush totally scratches that itch too.

So she backed off a bit when I told her that I didn’t think that I could do that. Instead I am limiting my game playing to a schedule and being aware of the amount of time I spend playing games. I would be embarrassed to tell you how much time I have wasted. It is my way to avoid thinking because my mind is engaged with strategy.

Sewing pieces of fabric together serves this same function, but my sewing machine has been wonky and my hands can’t deal with too much stitching. I cleaned my machine as best I could and the tension has straightened out. It costs about as much to repair this Brother as it costs to buy another, so I won’t be getting maintenance or repair on it again. Once it crashes again I’m going to switch to my mother’s old Singer which dates back to the 50s or 60s. The only reason I haven’t been using the Singer is due to lack of space in my studio. The Macomber loom takes up a lot of space and I need a work table. And I swear that I am going to warp up this Macomber this winter. The warp is measured and ready to go.

Right now I am concentrating on getting my t-shirt quilt finished. It’s beginning to get chilly and the garden is about done. I have never quilted anything (successfully) but this is just a bunch of old t-shirts and it’s not a work of art. I’m going to finish it and get the room back in my studio. I don’t care if the angles are correct or the stitches are even. It’s something to cuddle up with, not to hang in an exhibit. It will be good to get a big project finished.

Also, I finished the summer entries on my tapestry diary and now I’m mulling over how to weave September and October. A lot happened.

Tomorrow afternoon I plan to go down to Gate City Yarns and get a little social time in. Sandy is going to take me out for dinner and we will watch our friend Brad’s jazz band play in the park.

And next Sunday afternoon, I am going to drive to Raleigh for a book making party with the Triangle Book Arts group. I am not going to back out of this one. I have ideas.

In between, I’m going to go to work and get shit done. It’s likely that there will be more frequent blogging.

art, cloth weaving, depression/anxiety, fiber art, Obsession, Slow cloth, weaving

Mending

Mood swings. High highs, low lows, and blah in between. Not much liking my brain activity these days except when I’m in the studio. August is historically difficult for me. I’ll get through it. It’s harder when I have tendinitis (currently my right hand) and I know that if I use it I will progressively make it worse, but if I don’t use it I will get closer to the edge of the hole. And I don’t want to go into the hole. Tough decisions.

I felt euphoric at the progress I made with the denim blanket this weekend. My poor cheap little plastic sewing machine was groaning at the weight of the panels. I moved it to a bigger table so I could support the weight of the panels as they became heavier and bulkier. I expected back strain but I’m happy to say that it was temporary.

Next steps, once my carpal tunnel calms down, begin with reinforcing the colorful striped strips of fabric that join the panels with some lightweight fusable interfacing. I love this fabric, which I bought from Yadkin Fiber Room in June. The owner rescued an enormous amount of woven baby wraps that had been imported from Mexico that failed some kind of standard and so was destined for a dumpster. The cotton fabric is gorgeous, but the weave is pretty loose, so I’m worried about its strength. It unravels like crazy. Once I do that, I’ll stitch some heavy fabric over the seams on the back. This is a picnic blanket. I don’t want it to become too precious. I want to throw it on the ground, get it dirty, and toss it in the washing machine with no qualms about it.

Now for the NEXT one, I plan to do something similar, but to use for a coverlet and I will be playing with making it much more complex.

A lot of artists that I follow have been writing about finding that focus that makes them happy or satisfied, or making directional changes that fulfill their current inner needs. That is what I am feeling here. In this place and time, the cloth weaving is patching a place in my soul that is threadbare and in need of mending. I think that is why I become depressed when I have to stop. The repair is not finished yet.

Also, I am feeling the physical absence of kindred art souls to share my journey with, and it makes me lonely. Withdrawal from art retreats with my tribe(s).

Diego, a.k.a. Chunkybutt, claimed this cloth right away when I laid it out on the bed.


I found a couple more pairs of jeans, and a friend is bringing me a boxful tomorrow. Until then, the next project is replacing the denim panels on the design wall/window. Those denim panels were warm when I took them down so they did help absorb some of that heat coming in.

The next project will consist mostly of Sandy’s old shirts that are worn out or torn and will be more lightweight. The plan is to use panels of his khaki pants in this one. I collected these old clothes for years.

It’s a mess again. That’s okay.

bloggy stuff, Obsession

Transitioning

Welp. I came to a decision late last night, something that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time. I have such a love/hate relationship with Facebook. On one hand, it has connected me with old friends and new friends and artists all over the world who I would have never connected without it. But I found myself wasting an enormous amount of time and getting angry with politics and it just wasn’t healthy. I can’t simply get off Facebook. I admin on FB for work and I didn’t want to lose my artist page.

Today I spent several hours creating a new email account, a new Facebook account, adding my new account as admin, inviting my friends to my artist page, and joining the groups that I want to keep. Tomorrow I will deactivate or delete my old account.

Addiction, be gone.

Also, Sandy set up this old laptop for me and so far it is working pretty well. I hope to be blogging more after this and doing more artwork with my computer instead of playing games and arguing politics.

I’m not sure that I will be able to stay off Facebook as much as I’d like, but this is a good start in that direction.

There is a feed from this blog to my Facebook page, Slow Turn Studio. See the sidebar.

Now, off to the studio. I’ve been having great fun with my sewing machine.

bloggy stuff, depression/anxiety, Obsession, Reading

December blogging

I’ve decided to blog every day for the month of December. We’ll see how it goes. Usually this means that I’ll write it the night before I publish it, because of logistics I won’t go into. If nothing else, I’ll post a photo.

I’ve been posting on Instagram lately, and I’m going to pay more attention to my Slow Turn Studio Facebook page, where these posts appear through Networked Blogs. But I just can’t get into Twitter. I’ve tried. I’ll just have to be an occasional Twitter reader. I like the comedians.

Just went to my bi-annual doctor appointment yesterday. I gained a pound, but considering the timing just after Thanksgiving, I’m not very upset. I hope that my cholesterol and glucose readings are better. She gave me a couple of EKGs too to make sure that my occasional heart palpitations are “just” anxiety. I told her about the hellish six months I just went through, particularly with the neck spasms and the teeth grinding, and she asked, “Why didn’t you come in?” Well, what can I say? I wasn’t in a very rational frame of mind. I had it firmly set in my brain that it would be better to suffer through it until my next appointment and be tough than go to her and have to explain it. Thank God I feel more sane and much better physically now.

One thing I know is that I need to embrace is to live in my present instead of constantly daydreaming about moving away. North Carolina is a crappy political place but it is a wonderful place in so many other aspects. I live in a great city which is just the right size and I love my house and my neighborhood and my job. The fantasy that I will be cured of my depression if I move elsewhere is a lie. That doesn’t mean that I won’t move some day, but I need to stop obsessing over it and enjoy my life here and now.

Anyway, the plan for December is to write more, post more photos, and get some art on. Despite the holidays, December is a good month for me. A brief respite before the super busy spring semester begins. I might even listen to some Christmas music.

I’m in the middle of three books right now: Guests on Earth by Lee Smith, one of my very favorite authors, A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I don’t even know if I will finish, UGH, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. I’ve read several good novels this year since I discovered the Overdrive app, which allows you to check out ebooks and audiobooks from your local library. I liked The Goldfinch, The Dog Stars, and Station Eleven. My shelves are full of books that I bought at a big charity book sale here in Greensboro on the last day when you could fill up a bag for $10. If I never bought another book, I’d have plenty to read for the rest of my life.

art, Obsession

Retreat planning for 2010

My mind in on art retreats again. Actually, my mind is seldom NOT on art retreats, but I won’t go into the subject of obsession today.

So, I am planning to go spend a week in mid-June on Prince Edward Island, rent a little oceanfront cottage on the Northumberland Strait, hopefully sharing the rent with some nice papermakers, and spend at least half of those days making paper and attending workshops. The agenda has not been totally settled yet, but so far it sounds like a gathering to make paper with local materials and perhaps workshops including making kites, pulp painting, and printmaking on our handmade papers. I’m mainly interested in the retreat aspect – just getting away and focusing on art – but I’d do a couple of workshops. I also plan to rent a car and explore the island, including the Lucy Maud Montgomery sites. I’ll have to reread the rest of the Anne of Green Gables series or listen to them on audiobook. And beachcombing. Lots of beachcombing.

What is distressing is that the price of a round trip plane ticket to Charlottetown almost doubled since I checked it a week or so ago, and I have no clue why. That adds about $400 to the trip, and I already felt pushed about it. So I checked the prices for my trip to Port Townsend in October, and tickets to Seattle are still the same. I am not a seasoned air traveler, and I wonder if I should go ahead and buy my tickets now or wait. I have enough points on my miles card to pay for the Seattle trip, but I won’t if it jumps up in price.

I have already paid to go to Art & Soul in Hampton, Virginia in late May, and will just need to pay my roommate for my part of the hotel room. I definitely want to go back to Journalfest in Port Townsend, and that should definitely be doable by late October. The question is Prince Edward Island. I could save $500 by flying into Bangor, Maine and driving 6.5 hours, probably alone, through New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. I’m not sure what to do, but I’m leaning toward going there one way or another.