Bagstories, coffee pot posts, crocheting, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Weather has always been fascinating to me. As the daughter of a farmer in a pre-Internet time and no-cable TV house, I was expected to watch the weather forecast on one of our three TV stations and report to him in the evening when he came in, since a farmer’s work generally lasts sunrise to sunset and the news only came on at 6 and 11.

Sometimes I wish that I had studied meteorology in college, but I would have had so much science catch up to do. The only science I had in high school was biology, since one of the coaches “taught” my chemistry class (we never once went into the lab and he never lectured about chemistry), and I was always an arts and lit student. I learned a little bit in a college freshman earth science class.

Anyway, crocheting this weather scarf is making me more aware of the comparative weather of our year. The photo above is of the first two months in 2018, when we started with a polar vortex week. Other than that, our weather is really wild during the winter/early spring. It often changes 30-40 degrees in a single day. I’m sure that these big swings will be more extreme as our climate continues to change and the Arctic ice and permafrost melts.

March and April are just as wild, with many more color changes from day to day. Then suddenly, May was different. During the entire month of May, the high temperatures stayed between 76-90 F, often within 5 degrees for days at a time. The summer of 2018 was surprising. We did not have a single day with a high over 95. Now, I guarantee you that the humidity made most of those days feel well over 100 degrees.

The basic Tunisian crochet class ended yesterday. Actually it was intended to be a one-day class but it was Hilary’s first time teaching and she had a couple of students who didn’t have any or much experience in regular crochet, which she didn’t expect. She was kind to extend the class to two more Saturday afternoons, and it was leisurely paced with plenty of chat. I walked away feeling part of a tribe and Amanda’s hugs were wonderful.

They are doing a “Sophie’s Universe” crochet-along (a crazy fabulous free pattern, google it) on Saturday mornings at Gate City Yarns and I am going to join it weekend after next. This is what I need, a small comfortable group I can create with on a regular basis. I miss having a studio mate, even though I didn’t want to collaborate and basically just wanted a quiet companion to share energy and space.

The lettuce and calendula and arnica seeds are coming up! I planted leeks, onions, chive, monarda, and coreopsis a few days ago. I still have them inside the house since the temps are supposed to plunge to about 20 degrees mid-week. The rains have stopped from time to time to give us a short break before beginning again. As they are supposed to do today. It is definitely affecting my mood.

Current book: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. I am really disappointed with this one because I looked forward to reading it for so long. It’s been a real slog to get this far (about 70%) and I’m glad I didn’t buy it. I don’t like the main character. She is whiny and it is hugely depressing. I am from that rural farming poverty stricken conservative world, and I should be able to relate to it, but I don’t because I have had a mind of my own since childhood. I think that a lot of it could have been edited down and it would have been a better book. However, I want to see how she ends it and I am not skipping to it because that is cheating in my reading world.

Anyway, I am wrapping this up and getting back to the loom. I’ve got three more feet to weave on the twill gamp curtain panels. Oh! Almost forgot – I crocheted a bag with those long thrums from this project. I cut off about 8-9 feet of warp and couldn’t bear to see it go to waste. Result is below.

This week is spring break for UNCG and Susanne and Sandy and I are headed to Topsail Beach next weekend for a book workshop with Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller, so more good things are coming.

Oh, and this blog turned 14 this week. How about that?

Back Forty, Reading

Winter Storm Diego

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Click through if you’re interested in the video.

This is the quince tree in my next door neighbor’s yard. I’ve always gathered them, for the smell if nothing else, because nobody over there ever wanted them. I hope that will continue to be true once the new owners move in. Their contractor is talking about building an addition so it would be a shame if this old quince tree was cut down. It produced a bumper crop this year.

I’m going to make some quince chutney.

When I took this video an hour ago it had snowed eleven inches and it is still snowing, with wind. Icing on top expected tonight.

Finished “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty and starting on “Close Range” by Annie Proulx, one of my favorite writers. “What Alice Forgot” was pretty good. I was impatient with the first half. Everything came together and the characters became much more complex in the second half. I believe that was the point – how people see things differently from their own perspective, how people change in response to stress, how communication can break down when you’re too wrapped up in your own drama to understand that others are dealing with problems too. I’m childless by choice, so I didn’t relate to the whole infertility and busy soccer mom thing, but I did relate to how people deal with mental illness and grief on their own. I know how it is to lose a good friend. I know how it is to be dumped, or ignored because others are busy or don’t understand how to deal with you. I know how it is to be the person who dumps others because she can’t handle everything that is happening to herself and being with others is exhausting. So in the end, I recommend this book, even though I skipped parts of the first half.

Woodstove going, and we still have power.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, political activism, Quilting, Reading, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Election Day has come and gone with results slightly better than I expected, so my PTSD from 2016 is somewhat abated. I didn’t have high expectations for North Carolina because we are so atrociously gerrymandered it is ridiculous. They even admit it. And they get away with it even though it keeps getting struck down. They just submit another that is slightly less egregious and then howl that it is too close to primary or election day to fix it.

I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with eleven Republicans and two Democrats.” ~ North Carolina GOP state representative David Lewis, News and Observer, June 25, 2018

I try not to get too political here on the blog because I use my personal Facebook page for that. But as a left wing independent I am tired of having no representation in the U.S. Congress. I live in a very blue county that has been divided into pieces and combined with very red counties, so that my “representative” is an extreme right wing gun store owner. And I’m tired of the two parties playing tit-for-tat.

Sandy and I went to the rally to “protect Mueller” in downtown Greensboro on Thursday evening, but by the time we could get there it was winding down. I snagged a “Country Over Party” sign and put it in the front window of the house.

Okay, moving on. How about this sewing machine? It belonged to my mother and she sewed many of our clothes on it. She was an accomplished seamstress and also made some quilted patchwork, although her main artistic pursuit was watercolor.

It also bears the last lingering mark of my first large artistic installation. At the age of three, I rose before everyone else, gleefully grabbed a black felt tip marker from the table where my mother was working on a project, and drew a line around the entire inside of our house. The line went over walls, furniture, and curtains. I started early, folks.

Anyway, I finally got frustrated enough with the Brother’s tension problems that I moved around some stuff and released Old Faithful into the world again. It doesn’t like the quilted panels, and the stitch lever won’t go lower than 9, but the tension is so much better and it is all mechanical so I could actually get it fixed more easily and manually stitch with it if necessary. I have the manual and all the parts and brushes and oil so I need to get that out and study it. I was pleased that I could figure out how to thread it and wind a bobbin after all these years. It does just fine with sewing two normal pieces of fabric together, and that’s all I need.

With the quilted panels, at this point I’m just trying to get the layers basted together on the machine. This means that the quilting looks like a terrible mess, but honestly, this is a t-shirt quilt. I’m planning to cuddle up in it, not hang it in a show. There is a lot of freedom in that. And I can just about guarantee that I won’t be making another one.

Sewing is good therapy for me, and I wish I could do more hand sewing, but I’ve pretty much accepted that isn’t an option for very long. My hand goes numb after about five minutes. I’ll stitch on this quilt once it is together and take my time with it.

I’m still seeing an actual therapist, and it seems to be helping. She is very high on anti-inflammation, and so I have started taking fish oil again. Can’t hurt, I certainly have plenty of inflammation. Also working on getting my mind on a more positive outlook. I still just want to play games and sleep and read at the end of the day, and I sleep a lot on the weekend. She calls it hypersomnia. It is a hell of a lot better than insomnia, but I’d like to find a balance. I run out of spoons early in the day.

Positive developments: working on the t-shirt quilt and I got my flu shot. I went to the dentist and my teeth are fine. Now I need to go to the doctor to get my blood panel and see if there is something else responsible for my constant fatigue. I drove to Raleigh two weeks ago and got together with members of Triangle Book Arts. I haven’t managed to get to Gate City Yarns for their stitch and bitch night because Friday nights, oof. That’s a tough one for me even though it is close by. I had brunch with some friends at Lucky 32 last Sunday and that was good. I often feel quite lonely for friends, especially now that the Fabulous Zha K has fled North Carolina, and good for her, I have to say. I plan to do so at age 62, not even five years away. We might even end up in the same state again. However, much of my loneliness is chosen. I feel a strong urge to be alone most of the time. People exhaust me, even people I love.

I have a stack of books that was turning out to be quite depressing. So Little Bee went back into the stack and I’m reading The Risk Pool by Richard Russo. I just finished The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman, Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I miss my Poldark saga!

The electrician did a site visit and we have rolled the electrical work needed into the solar panel financing. Hopefully by this time next year we will get most of, if not all of, our electricity from the sun and just pay Duke Energy the meter fee. It’s kind of crazy since I am now fixated on leaving North Carolina, but it is a good investment for the house and my soul.

Now planning a trip to northern New Mexico in May with the Sandman, where we could possibly be joined by my cousin and her husband. We’ll scope it out to see if that might be a good place for retirement for us. I love planning trips!

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, fiber art, Quilting, Reading

Say goodbye to vineland

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I got a lot accomplished on the t-shirt quilt yesterday despite not being able to get the tension adjusted just right on my sewing machine. I complain about this machine, but the truth is it has done a lot of very heavy duty work that it was not built to do, so I should probably show it some gratitude considering all the denim it sewed a couple of years ago. One thing is for sure – I am not going to attempt a project this large again unless I have the workspace and machine for it. Getting down and crawling around on the floor is not a great activity for my joints.

However, all the pieces are joined and I have one panel that I need to put the batting between, another that needs quilting (I’m just doing vertical lines) and the bindings and strips between the panels put in place. At this pace, Diego will be throwing up on this quilt on the bed by Christmas.

Diego was sick last night and kept me up for most of it, because he most wants to cuddle when he feels bad. He has a cranky stomach and I’ve switched them to grain-free food, which helped a lot. He and Pablocito both have a demented taste for plastic and who knows what leaf blown onto the porch he may have decided to munch on. Pablocito likes to eat spider webs but he is never sick. Diego was playing with Pablocito last night before he started puking and he seems better this morning so I don’t think I’ll need to take him to the vet. The two of them playing nicely is unusual too. Why do cats always get sick on weekends?

I am pretty sure that this is coincidence, but Diego smelled SO BAD last night. Like death, rot, shit, swamp, and skunk rolled together. Seriously the worst funk ever. This is not the first time he has smelled this way and when I mentioned it to the vet the last time I took him in she agreed that it was probably him expressing his anal glands. I had to take Theo to the vet twice a year for them to do his. To my huge surprise, this morning he does not smell at all. The pillowcase and pillow where he slept smells a little so I know it was not my imagination.

So I took the pillows off the bed except for mine and the one Pablocito was sleeping on last night. I woke up with Diego on Pablocito’s pillow and Pablocito sleeping on my pillow above my head. This drove me crazy when Theo did it but Pablocito is so still and quiet that it was pleasant to find him there. He likes to be close but he is definitely not a lap cat. In this sense he is more like Guido than any other cat that I’ve had, even though Diego looks like Guido. Right now he is winding around my legs meowing, marking every corner with the side of his head, and occasionally having to be yelled at for scratching on the t-shirt quilt. I have the panels draped over the loom and he has claimed that space for one of his many hidey-holes.

Reading “The Probable Future” by Alice Hoffman right now. I love Alice Hoffman, but I space her books out enough that I haven’t kept up with her writing, unlike some other authors I follow. This one has given me some bad dreams, but that seems to be the case with almost anything I read or watch these days.

I’ve asked Sandy not to watch TV or movies with a lot of screaming, explosions, and gunfire after I’ve gone to bed. He loves his horror, blood and gore. He was into zombies before zombies were a big fad.

Today I want to watch the season finale of “Better Call Saul,” which is my current favorite show. We are watching “3rd Rock From the Sun” again from the beginning – it is such a hoot. I’m a big fan of slapstick silly, which you may have guessed from the name of this blog.

It is very windy and chilly outside so I guess today is really the first day of autumn. We were planning to clean up the Back Forty this weekend but I doubt that will happen now. The cheese pumpkin and tromboncino squash vines nearly covered the whole back yard! Can you imagine what it might have been like if they had been fertilized? Well, my plan for this winter is to get the garden properly fertilized with compost and organic fertilizer for the spring. So all this mess, except for the perennial herbs and flowers, will come out soon. There will be many foxgloves and I will move the rest of the mint back here; anything that I’ve noticed that the groundhogs don’t like to eat. I hope that I will get enough sun in the afternoon to plant another bed in the area where the maple tree had cast shade.

The cheese pumpkin vine monster has almost taken over the Back Forty at the end of the season.

Say goodbye to vineland.

Back Forty, bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Food activism, Local food, Reading, Slow Food, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I can’t upload to Flickr right now and I’ve been worried for a while about the change in ownership of the platform. I have so many photos on it – over 10K – and over the years I have linked here to my photos stored there. I would be wrecked if the platform changed its code or went bankrupt and dumped my photos. Anyway, I’ll just move along and deal with it later, since it is much too beautiful outside to fart around on the computer. I am writing this on the front porch on my laptop, but I will lose power soon.

One thing that I am trying to be more conscious about these days is my use of plastic. Once you start paying attention, it is stunning how much plastic is in almost everything we use. I don’t have time to avoid it completely. That would require me to commit to buying almost all my food directly from the farmer, and only certain ones at that. I’d almost certainly have to stop buying dairy and meat products. There are some packaged foods that don’t use plastic, but you kind of have to figure it out by buying them and keeping it in your head. Sandy and I decided to start eating vegetarian at home a couple of weeks ago once I cook what’s left in our freezer. However, I don’t think his resolve will last long. He’ll go out and buy something to eat if he doesn’t feel the urge to eat what I’ve cooked.

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Repository for Lost Souls

I really loved the look of Leslie Marsh’s studio when I went there for a book workshop earlier this summer, and my friend the fabulous Zha K was getting rid of most of her possessions to sell her house and get the hell out of North Carolina, so she gave me a lot of baskets and cigar and wine boxes and candy tins. I’ve slowly been transitioning my studio storage over to these boxes and baskets and, most importantly LABELING THEM, and I’ll give the plastic bins to Goodwill or Salvation Army or wherever. This is mostly an aesthetic feel-good action, but I’ll take my feel-good where I can get it these days.

My depression has lifted, THANK GOD, and I hope that I won’t see it again for a while. Or forever, but I’m pretty realistic about the fact that it’s probably something that I have to deal with for life. That’s not to say that there has been an absence of stress or sadness in my life, but depression is not about that. I can cope with stress and sadness when I am not depressed. People who have depression will understand this.

I’m going to work on my tapestry diary this afternoon on the porch. I finally came up with a simple design for June and July that reflected my main focus, although looking at it now makes me realize that I need to reduce the size. Otherwise it will overpower the rest of it. We removed the swing from the porch to make it less crowded. A front porch swing is lovely in concept, but we seldom used it and it divided the space. Now there will be more room for company on the rare occasion that we have more than one visitor.

The groundhogs are back now that the tree removal is over. I’m still getting plenty of tomatoes, especially the ones inside the wire cages. Figs are ripening on the tree, but the few that have ripened so far have been nabbed by the birds. Reflective tape and all. I’ve been buying bicolor corn from Rudd Farms every weekend, enough to eat some and freeze some. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, and some eggplants have gone in the dehydrator. The squash overtaking the back forty turned out to be tromboncino. I’ve got to start putting markers in the garden. These photos are from a week ago so the tromboncino is in the tomatoes now. I should pick the flowers and try cooking them. I’ve never done it.

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Soon we will hear if our solar panel installation will be approved by the Historic District Commission. I will be surprised if it is not, but usually there is some caveat that is expensive to add. For example, we have wanted to replace our front door for a long time and our certificate of appropriateness for that has expired because we haven’t been able to find a door that fits and satisfies both of us and the city staff that we can afford. So we still have this wretched hollow 50s ranch-style door.

If and when we get that approval, it will be hooked into the meter so that it should provide all our electricity and we will only have to pay a meter fee to Duke Energy. The cost is not much more that our current electric bill (we pay an average amount monthly on a budget plan). In a few years, if the price goes down for whole house batteries, I’d love to go off-grid totally.

I finished reading Salvage the Bones this weekend. A very difficult book, but I persevered through the uncomfortable content and was swept up in the story. At one point I did not think I would be able to finish it. I’m glad that I did because it is brilliantly written. I found her afterword about her experiences growing up and her experience going through Katrina to be helpful in my understanding of the culture and why she chose Medea of Greek mythology to be a touchstone throughout the book. It also reminded me a little bit of my childhood growing up in rural N.C. even though my black friends were not so poor, my best friend’s father was an alcoholic that raised his family in a falling down house with junk cars and stray dogs all over the yard. The black family I tried to hang out with (the parents on both sides were not pleased) had a Skeeter, and I was reminded of the disconnect between our cultures.

This was an accidental photo but I like it anyway.

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Okay, time to cook and freeze corn and weave tapestry on the porch.