Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, Lake Waccamaw, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

So much for my daily blogging routine. Poof! Oh well. I realized at some point in the last two weeks that if I didn’t stop pushing myself with all these “shoulds” my anxiety would never stop increasing. It is a problem very deep in my core that I nearly always feel like I should be doing something else. I am also by nature a very low energy, lazy person. Between the overwhelming anxiety and the guilt I feel, it is a perfect storm for shutting me down completely. August is traditionally a time of high anxiety for me anyway, with the new semester beginning and new students coming in.

I reminded myself that I am not an artist for a living. I do have a job that pays my bills. Art is for my pleasure and I have had artist blocks before. I always get my mojo back at some point but I always have to let it go first. Truly let it go, not try to get it back on a schedule. Hopefully my mojo will be back from vacation soon, but sometimes it travels far before I see it again.

For the past couple of weeks I have rearranged the studio room so that one table serves as my work office and there is nothing art-related to distract me on that table. UNCG finally got my new work laptop ready and it is a dream – very small and fast and works better than my desktop computer at work. Now I have this clunky laptop back for what I originally bought it for – blogging and photo editing and personal computer stuff. It couldn’t handle all that extra work stuff. The microphone died and the video cut in and out. Now that Zoom is my new reality, that was a problem.

It would be helpful if I could get into watching TV and movies but I just can’t do it for long. It has to be an incredibly gripping plot. Sandy will binge a whole series in a week or less. We both gave up on “How to Get Away with Murder” though. There is such a thing as overdoing it. I’m considering subscribing to HBO again for a while.

The heat wave here was so long and oppressively humid that there is NO gardening going on. I’ve gotten a few tomatoes and I always have my trusty little volunteer cherry tomatoes. The potatoes have been disappointing – low yield and bitter. I started picking figs and for the first time ever, encountered Japanese beetles on my tree. It is a huge tree and there will still be enough figs for me and the beetles but it was quite a shock the first time they burst out around my head in a swarm when I disturbed their feeding. If I ever make it to a hardware/gardening place where I feel safe I will buy some traps. And of course that fat groundhog is still munching its way through my yard. I have not visited my UNCG plots since early summer. I can’t seem to bring myself to do it.

Trying to decide if it is worth planting a fall garden. I would need to do it now, and it will have to be protected from furry critters. If I have to grow my own food, we just might starve to death, because the challenges are much greater than they were when I started the Back Forty in 2002.

Right now my main focus is keeping the jungle from taking over. I really need to find some help, but I’ve had such terrible luck with it that I keep putting it off.

Our tax refund is lost in limbo, and it’s the one with the big rebate payment for our solar panels. If we ever get it, I plan to pay off that loan. However, it is impossible to get anybody on the phone, and the online system says it doesn’t exist. This was the first time in years that we mailed it in, and we did it in early April. Probably the worst decision of the year.

I also need to call Orbitz about my plane ticket to Ireland. They were supposed to get back to me about the amount of time I have to redeem the credit from Aer Lingus. I’m afraid that by the time I can go back the airfare will be 3x as much as my credit is, since I got such a good deal.

I’m going to copy this part about reading “The Luminaries” directly from Facebook, but with an update that I am now on page 447. I have a hard time NOT finishing a book. It’s an OCD rule.

“So, you know how you buy a book that received awards but mixed reviews but you bought it anyway because it seemed like something you’d like and just as you thought about ditching it it got a tad more interesting and so you figured you would keep on reading even though you couldn’t read more than ten minutes at a time before laying it down because you are so bored and now you are 393 pages in and weeks have gone by and it seems like an investment at this point but the book is 830 pages long and you wonder about the meaning of life and then put it down to reread a book by Annie Proulx that you loved when you read it in the 90s but you drank so much back then that you killed the brain cells that remembered the plot so that all you remember is an accordion and a spider and you’re not sure about the spider and so it seems like you never read it? Well. That’s me right now.”

Back to dreaming and wishing and porch sitting in front of the fan. Here are the last photos from Lake Waccamaw that I never got around to posting. They are from sunrise on one of my last days there. I ended up staying for two weeks.

consumerism, Coronavirus Chronicles, Greensboro North Carolina, Reading

Saturday afternoon Smithwick’s post

I was supposed to be in Howth, Ireland tonight. I was going to go to the Cock Tavern for some craic and eat some great seafood down on the harbour..

Anyway, the front porch is absolutely delightful this afternoon. The temperature is perfect, with low humidity and a small breeze. I would like to thank Mother Nature for providing this weather for the first day of my vacation. I haven’t done much differently, other than not check my work email. I painted some of the wooden panels to mount my small collages on, and glued an 8×8″ one down. It is weighted down with books and I hope that the glue is going to work well.

We went downtown to Scuppernong Books this afternoon to pick up a copy of the Instant Pot Bible so I can learn to use this damn thing. Sandy and I are not ordering anything from Amazon these days because we are supporting local businesses. However, we are lucky that we have choices – many people in this country don’t have the luxury of avoiding Amazon or Walmart or Dollar General because they have run all the local stores out of business. As a former country girl, I saw three of our local small towns decimated and people could not understand the damage that they had done by driving thirty miles to Walmart (and spending that money on gas!) until it was too late and the choices were no longer there.

So now people buy their groceries at Dollar General or Family Dollar instead of the grocery store when they can’t take the time to drive to Walmart, because the IGA and the Piggly Wiggly are closed. The local pharmacy is closed too. The local doctor has moved to a bigger town. The movie theater. The local bank branches and car dealerships. Closed. The swimming pool got filled in when it became clear that it couldn’t be restricted to whites only any more.

I don’t miss living down there at all.

Since I am on vacation, Sandy and I picked out some used books to take to the lake with us later. Not that we needed extra books – we literally have hundreds of books in our house and half are probably unread. I am trying to download “The Lathe of Heaven” from the library for my Kindle. So many people are making clueless posts on Facebook about race and how it shouldn’t matter and why can’t we all just ignore race and live in harmony la la la la la that I am ready to scream. It reminded me of this book so I want to re-read it. And I am trying to be patient as well, because so many people are trying to learn. I know that I used to think this way.

Magical thinking. It’s the American way. The white American way, anyway.

Here’s my latest array of books:

We got to see some of the great protest art that went up on the boarded up windows of the businesses on Elm St. I would have liked to have taken a walk while we were there, but very few others were wearing masks. I don’t have a problem with people walking outside without masks when they have one around their neck just in case, and there are not many other people to cross paths with. That was not the case in downtown Greensboro. The folks at Scuppernong had it right though. Required masks, required hand sanitizer as soon as you walked in, and limited to 10 people inside. I felt safe there.

I have walked over to Oden Brewing a couple of times in the past month to buy a six pack of their beer, and I cross over the railroad through a hole someone cut in a chain link fence to get there. It is at the end of our street. I am fascinated with the wildness around the railroad tracks – the wildflowers, the vines, the old rails over to the side, the trash, the broken bottles and bricks and bric-a-brac.

The bee balm is flowering in my front hugelkultur bed and boy did it turn out pretty:

I painted a rough sign to put in our yard. It matches our across the street neighbor and our next door neighbor’s signs. I do love this neighborhood. If there is one good thing that has come out of this pandemic mess, it is that we have actually met a few more of our neighbors on our walks around the block.

Okay, that’s enough for tonight. This Smithwick’s ale won’t pour down my throat on its own.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Scenes from my front garden:

This Virginia Creeper vine grabbed one of my rocks from my collection atop this low wall a couple of years ago and it is still hanging onto it. Those are some strong tendrils!

I washed and ironed fabric to make masks with earlier this week, and hauled out Mama’s Singer, but before I could get to it my left wrist suddenly hurt so bad it felt like it was broken. After babying it for a day it got much better, then my right hand started hurting, although not nearly as bad. So I walked to my office, and worked there for several hours, and brought home my ergonomic keyboard. Much better. Yesterday I went back to my office for half a day. I get so much more done there, and hardly anyone is in the building. It is locked and you have to be on a list and swipe an ID card to get in. I will go back Monday morning, and haul that keyboard back and forth in my backpack.

This week and next is my crunch time at work, and it has always been so, but some deadlines actually got moved UP so it is even more stressful as I try to keep up with new processes, policies, and software.

I was in a Zoom meeting yesterday where the person talking referred to “hair on fire” moments. What a great description of how I am feeling sometimes!

The walk to work is always nice. This is the iris patch that I got my iris tubers from. They tilled it up a few years ago and some pieces were on the sidewalk, so I nabbed them. I like that the vetch and cleavers are surrounding it.

The herb garden is doing well. Those pots will eventually have peppers in them. My seedlings are still not growing so I will transfer them to the greenhouse at some point this weekend and start some more seeds.

Let’s see, what else. Reading “Bridge of Sighs” by Richard Russo, one of my favorite writers. On my library app is “Swamplandia,” which I feel meh about so far, and “The Essex Serpent.”

On TV, the most recent season of “Better Call Saul” was excellent. I am watching “Star Trek Picard” until my CBS All Access subscription is over. Turns out I was paying for it twice, and it has been so confusing that I just cut off the auto-renewal for both of the accounts. We should buy an antenna.

Really, there is SO much good TV on that I am overwhelmed with the choices and go back to my books, where I have always found comfort.

Every April I have anxiety attacks and I used to beg my mother not to schedule our big family reunion at the end of April but she did it anyway. Usually I go to the lake for Easter weekend and get some water therapy there. Only residents are allowed there right now, and I can’t blame them. I miss my sister. Most days I am functioning fine, but some nights I cry and don’t sleep. Once I get through this month, I know I will feel better, even without my normal travel to look forward to.

Sandy went to the doctor’s office for a diabetes check and he said that there was nobody there except a few staff members and his physician’s assistant. We have been walking more.

Before the hand issues, I had started playing with wedge weave on the rigid heddle loom. I think that I will only do two rows, though. Not super into it.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I was up at the usual time this morning because the cats think that they are being starved.

Yesterday was a busy work from home day because I’m trying to get as much as done possible “just in case.” My expectation is that next week is going to be very busy for me because of work stuff that I can’t really talk about yet. Gah!

Last night I got a bad headache and sore throat and felt slightly feverish, then of course I went into an anxiety attack. This morning I feel fine. It’s hard not knowing what is allergies, hot flashes, anxiety chest pressure, and what is not. I keep reminding myself that historically I have a difficult time with all of the above this time of year anyway.

I finished “Forever Amber” and I am having a hard time deciding what to read next. On my Kindle I have a lot of books, including the “Patternist” fantasy series by Octavia Butler. I checked out “The Secret Chord” by Geraldine Brooks from the online library (Overdrive app) and I think that is the only one of hers that I have not read, so I’ll probably pick that one. I don’t want to read my Irish collection now because it will make me sad. In hard copy, I have so many to choose from, but I think that I’ll try “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht.

The governor finally issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state beginning Monday and lasting through April. I fully support it. It will be the first Easter in a long time that I haven’t gone to Lake Waccamaw. My sister and brother-in-law decided to stay there instead of their home in Chapel Hill. The hospital near the lake is crap, and I thought that maybe they would stay in the Triangle to be near the great hospitals there, since my brother-in-law has major health issues. Their reasoning was that they would be less exposed to the virus at the lake, and their social circle is much tighter there, so I get that. Plus, if they run out of food they can fish or throw a gator tail on the grill. (Just kidding about the gator.)

Crystal had another live workshop on Facebook yesterday and we did three five minute 4×4 collages. We could add contrast to one of the neutral ones, and the other neutral one we are supposed to keep for the next lesson. I am pleased with these and they were so much fun to let intuition rule and not stop to analyze the design. I want to do more of these exercises on my own.

I think that I am going to have to give up this weaving project in which I am tying on a new warp. It’s good that I stopped and tested how easy it would be to pull the knots through the reed. It will be a terrible mess and even though I think that it is doable, I don’t need the aggravation right now. I am going to warp up something simpler and smaller on the horizontal floor loom, and maybe move the Shannock tapestry loom onto the front porch and see how far I get on “Cathedral” this year.

Ah, there is so much art stuff that I could do!

Diego is doing fine as far as I can tell. He is not happy with the pain injections any more and he knows what I’m up to when I lift that skin flap on his shoulders. It’s nice to have him at my side in the “office.”

Lots of different peppers are emerging now, along with a few cucumbers. This grow light might end up being worth it. I had been afraid that the cats would mess it all up but they have not been interested at all. I got an email from UNCG saying that it was okay to go to the UNCG garden plots as long as we stayed far apart from each other and there were only two or three people there. I’ve never seen more than one other person there at the same time as me, so I think that I will go down there and plant some green beans. It is supposed to get up to 85 degrees today!

coffee pot posts, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I figure I will write until I am out of coffee, eat some oatmeal, then head to Chapel Hill for my monthly collage group meeting.

The coffee is a gift from my next-door neighbor, who will be a permanent resident soon. Right now he travels back and forth from Tanzania and Bangkok, where his wife teaches. The coffee is from Tanzania, grown on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. We think that they are going to be great neighbors.

Of course we are all starting to get sick…of the constant news about novel coronavirus. But it is important for us to be prepared, especially since I work at a university where a lot of students are coming back from spring break travel. I am an INTJ, which means my biggest talent is contingency planning. We had let our pantry supplies dwindle down as I was saving for Ireland, so we stocked up on a lot of soup and La Croix and V-8 and orange juice and chicken stock. I don’t consider this hoarding. We do this anyway – this was just a reminder that we had not replenished our stash. I still have lots of rice and pasta and canned and frozen food and tea so we will be fine in a quarantine. I gotta have my La Croix water. Will stock up the coffee this weekend, and I’ve decided not to buy beer for a while – try to lose some weight.

I have said that I am going to Ireland if I have to fucking swim there, and I am keeping that mindset because to lose this trip would be devastating to my mental health. I have travel insurance now. But it is happening. I am going to Ireland. Don’t tell me that I might not be able to go.

Our taxes are almost ready and we get the solar panel tax credit this year, which will go straight to the home equity loan. I’m going to focus on getting that paid off once all my travel expenses for the year are paid. I’ve paid for most of these in advance.

I haven’t been writing every day because this is the kind of stuff that I would write about. Boring and anxious crap. Repetitive noise in my head. I don’t want to write about politics because I am sick of it. I haven’t been doing art because I come home from work with a headache or depression and go to my bedroom and fall asleep early or read and play games on my Kindle. Not healthy, but it is what it is. Budget cuts loom at work, and the stock market is killing my retirement savings. I don’t want to think about it, but I knew all along that I probably would not be able to retire early.

Escapist reading: I laughed when I found a free copy of Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, remembering my glee in reading it during my high school years, and the torrid book covers of the 70s and 80s with Fabio. I even suggested the name to one of my friends when she got pregnant and she named her baby Amber! This copy was from the 60s, and it was written in 1944, one of the first so-called bodice rippers. I promptly tore off the cover and glued it down for a substrate for collage. Then I started reading it out of curiosity and got hooked on it. It is a fun adventure in Restoration England, the sex scenes are hardly there at all despite my memory, and takes my mind off my present reality.

I have been switching back and forth between this and The Milagro Beanfield War. As I get closer to my trip, I think that I will pick up another Tana French mystery. I have been reading Yeats off and on, but I need something a bit lighter.

When I’ve been on the computer, I have been moving my photos from my big travel posts from Flickr to WordPress and updating the links. I am working on the ones from our 2017 trip to England now. Some of these posts had an enormous amount of photos and so I split them into thirds. They still have a lot of photos and probably take forever to download, but I am generally the only person who reads them anyway. The Ireland posts are finished and I am so glad for these memories!

Once that huge blog project is done, I’ll be making some gallery pages.

Okay, done with coffee. Time to move on with my day!