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.

20211114_195253

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?

20211114_192318

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

20211114_192415

art, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, pinhole photography, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

20211009_154154

^^^Wouldn’t this make an interesting tapestry?

Finally, fall temperatures. We sat on the front porch yesterday morning, barefoot in t-shirts and shorts. This morning is a delicious 51 degrees F.

Last Saturday, Sandy and I went to the West Point on the Eno Park in Durham to take a pinhole camera workshop given by Durham Parks & Recreation. This is something that we plan to keep up and we need to get the supplies and set up a darkroom. Here they are hanging to dry and my best print.

20211009_15395120211010_103427

I am afraid of jinxing this, but I will go ahead and say it. My depression has lifted. My hope always is that it will be for good, but let’s just say that I hope it lasts a long long time. It is such a wonder the few times this has happened in my life that I am flabbergasted. This is how normal feels? I like it very much.

My therapist and I think that it could be due to the large amounts of Vitamin D that I started taking every day in mid-August. When I went to the orthopedic clinic for the injured bones in my foot, they put me on 5,000 mg per day, and said that I could stay on that dose with no worries. I had been taking 1,000 mg per day. So if you are struggling and you are already trying other things without success, you might try upping your Vitamin D. I hope that it is this simple for me. She had suggested transcranial magnetic stimulation because my depression was so chronic, but I started feeling so much better right around the time that she suggested it that I never pursued it. I am not quitting my anti-depressant though.

And if I could only sleep when my body needs sleep, my physical and mental health would be much, much better. During the week, I still struggle. On the weekend when I can get up when my body says it’s time, I feel like a champ. This is the main reason I look forward to retirement.

20211010_170240

I had the energy last Sunday and yesterday to really go after the mess that we live in. Sandy and I cleaned floors. SO. MUCH. CAT. HAIR. It amazes me that we have a mouse problem. We cleaned up the stack of boxes and old mail meant to be burned next to the woodstove that you got an eyeful of when you stepped in the front door, and burned the mail outside in the fire pit. There is still some work to be done in that area. There is lots of dust and since I have stopped taking anti-histamines and Sandy’s cough is so bad we really have to do better for our health’s sake. This house will be 100 years old next year and it generates its own dirt.

20211017_093034

Yesterday, I started seriously deep cleaning the kitchen, beyond washing dishes and wiping counters. I’m getting rid of a few items, and reorganizing some. For example I cleaned my coffee/tea/bar corner thoroughly, washed everything there, reappointed the vintage metal bread bin that I used to keep art supplies in to holding all the teas that we’ve gathered and been given, and filled the wooden shelves that my Daddy made for me with most of our small pottery cup collection instead of the tea. I also cleaned the shelves where the rest of the pottery plates and bowls and glasses and tumblers are. It felt so good to get all this cleaned up. I’m going to tackle the fridge, microwave, other counters, and food shelves today.

Daddy had just taken up woodworking before he got terminally ill with colon cancer. He made this shelf for me to display my glass paperweight collection. If I ever have to choose just a few things to take with me out of this house, this will always be one of them.

Hopefully this energy will transfer over to my art and garden at some point. One thing I regret is that in my cleaning frenzy I forgot to take my weavings to the frame shop.

Sandy and I finished watching The Kominsky Method and we loved it. I stretched it out as long as I could because I’m not a binger. When I enjoy something, I want it to last! Last night we watched Nomadland in absolute awe of its strange beauty and poignancy. I want to read that book now.

Speaking of books, I finished Elantris by Brandon Sanderson this week, and liked it a lot although I found it to be a little too frantic in action. The world and characters he created were fascinating. I plan to check out more of his books. Then I began Broken by Jenny Lawson, which is this great combination of hilarity and high speed nuttiness and anger and serious talk about her mental health and compassion.

My achilles tendinitis is back, so I bought a soft foot splint that I wore to bed last night. It was pretty comfortable, and once I get used to it and stop waking up to wonder what is on my foot it should help. I want to put off getting another steroid shot as long as possible. I learned with my wrist tendinitis that the doctors will only do the steroid shots a few times. The shot that he gave me in my heel did not hurt at all, which surprised me.

I also finally replaced my bras. After going so long hardly wearing a bra at all, it was tough to wear those worn out bras again, but I hate bra shopping almost as much as swimsuit shopping. I ordered them online through Kohls so I wouldn’t have to go in the store, and the shipment circled around between Charlotte and Virginia for over two weeks. Finally the routing was straightened out and I found them at my door early this morning. On a Sunday. Shipping is so weird these days. I also treated myself to a tunic and beret from Gudrun Sjoden and three more basic shirts. I have not bought any new clothing in so long, and I need to get rid of a lot of what I have that is worn out and stained. When you have a rack like mine it tends to catch a lot of drips.

Good news: we finally got our tax refund from 2019. It took a year and a half from the time we mailed it. We will never mail another tax return if we can at all help it. I immediately called the credit union for the payoff on the home equity loan and paid off the solar panels. Most of the refund was the tax credit we had been waiting on. I am totally debt-free at the moment!

coffee pot posts, Food activism, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

It’s a beautiful fall morning, at last. Cool, but mild enough to wear a t-shirt and leggings on the front porch. I haven’t done a real coffee pot post in a while from here, because lately I was either elsewhere with other people, getting ready to go elsewhere, coming back from elsewhere, or just sleeping late because I could.

My next door neighbor just turned off his leaf blower, which he seems to have a love for. I plan to sweep the leaves off the sidewalk and rake the others into mulch piles or to take to the compost bin today. I don’t see the need to use electricity or gas for this task, but some people love their gadgets. There’s not a single leaf in his yard. Despite this, I do love these neighbors.  I know that they are good people who will help in a heartbeat if they see that someone needs it. We are so lucky to have them!

They are much better than the former out-of-state slumlord next door, who had to have a warning from the city before doing anything to their yard. Now that yard is clean as a whistle and there is a contract pending sticker on a real estate sign there. That house has sold four times in the 20 years since we sold it and it needs a lot of work. I hope that the new owner is a better neighbor than the last, who seemed to think that they could just collect rent without doing anything else.

My yard guy hasn’t been here in a while, and that’s okay. Last weekend he texted me to say that he was coming by Monday but he and his family had had covid. I counted the days since the date he said he had tested positive and then told him to wait since we were at the beach. We were really on the way home, but I didn’t want to fuss at him.

It’s not just the Trumpies who are refusing the vaccination. There are plenty of others who reject vaccines for “natural health” reasons. It’s very frustrating. I don’t know if he is one of these or not but I suspect so.

A lot of people tend to lump the anti-GMO folks and the anti-vaxxers together as anti-science fools, but as you know if you’ve read my blog for a long time, that is a generalization that is too simplistic. I oppose agricultural GMOs for the egregious and cynical power abuses from the corporations who developed them. I also know that these crops are developed to sustain high amounts of herbicides, which weeds adapt to and develop more robust strains of weeds so you need a more powerful herbicide, which the corporation also sells, and so on and so on. Soil microbes are important – we can’t keep killing them with more chemicals to fix problems that we created. We have to have healthy soil and water to survive.

As far as health reasons, I’m not as concerned about the actual genetically modified food technology as I am that the soil and food has been doused in poison. I have a niece who is a biotechnology scientist who is looking for cures to diseases. Biotech is not evil in itself. It’s the way it is used. If someone comes up with a beneficial biotech crop that doesn’t ruin the soil and water, and is freely available to the farmers without legal caveats, then I’m all for it.

Anyway, I am pro-science, just not pro-corporation lust for profit that puts scientific benefits beyond the accessibility of the people.

Technology seems to be a hassle in general, lately. For instance, I had to rewrite part of this post because it just went haywire for some reason. Now I’m being told I am offline when I am not. Facebook closed down for hours earlier this week, and although I am not so addicted to Facebook that it bothered me, I noticed it because I was trying to post an announcement on our work FB page. I turned over the TWS Facebook and Instagram accounts to someone else several months ago, and with the help of her son, she was able to figure out why some things were not working. It is much more complicated than it needs to be. Why? I’m glad to be letting go of some of this, but I have some work tech on the horizon that will fill in the gaps quickly. Retirement looks better to me every day, although I will have to come up with a schedule for most of my days so that I can turn my attention to art making instead of laying in bed reading and playing games.

Speaking of reading, I finished “Back When We Were Grownups” which was a typical Anne Tyler book. Comfort reading, nothing especially new if you have read Anne Tyler. I began “Elantris” by Brandon Sanderson and I’ve had a hard time putting it down. I look forward to reading more by him. Next on the list is “Broken” by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), which a friend lent to me. My therapist has suggested that I try transcranial magnetic stimulation, and Jenny has written about her experience. I don’t think that I’m going to do this yet since my depression is in regression right now.

I have other blog posts to write, but it felt good just to write whatever came into my head for a while this morning. Time to do some other stuff!

coffee pot posts, Reading

A cool Sunday in the front room

20210530_124641Our house is 99 years old this year.

Sandy has rearranged the front “living” room, which is a long narrow room stretching across the whole front of the house. In other Craftsman bungalows this room is divided into two small rooms. It’s always been hard to decide how to arrange this room, with the wood stove on one side and the cable connections on the other. It is 11 feet wide on this end and about 13 feet wide on the fireplace side, and I’m guessing about 30 feet long. There used to be French doors leading into the “dining room.” We have usually tended to divide it up like two spaces. For a while I put room dividers of books and art supplies and made this part my studio, but it was always too dark and crowded. I like it right now – cozy with the big sofa and big chair, art books beside me, ottoman to put my feet up, cat tree between the sofa and chair, soft lighting. My mother’s little reading floor lamp is in the corner, with a watercolor paper shade that she punched and snipped a design into. Yes, the plaster needs repair!

And that front door – oof. One day.

20210530_123442

When we first moved in here, we were so used to living in a tiny space and so intimidated about what to do with this room that we left it empty for months.

Anyway, I am happy about the change and I suspect it will get me out of the bedroom more often, although I prefer it without the TV on.

One thing that I regret is that there are no photos of any rooms from my childhood home other than the living room, where we seldom spent any time, or a few dining room shots that only show the counter with food on it. So I’m trying to resolve that with this home. One thing that I love about the digital age is that you can take lots of photos and not worrying about the expense of wasting film!

I figure that if we ever get around to remodeling the bedrooms and Sandy’s man cave, and boy, do they need it, we can sleep in this spot. The floor and ceiling and sliding closet doors and walls need to be redone in the small bedroom where I sleep. The old ceiling tiles in there are stained and bulging from old roof leaks and the wallpaper is the only thing holding the cracked plaster in the walls together. The sliding closet doors are metal and difficult and noisy to open and close. The whole house tilts to the south. We did fix the foundation years ago, at least.

When we go into our neighbors’ houses, it is always interesting to see how they have dealt with this similar layout. Most of them knocked out the wall that made this room two rooms. One has a tiny foyer because they put in stairs and built a second story.

These things will have to wait, but luckily I am not the sort who has to have everything just right. However, I did always think that I would have these repairs done long before now, and we can’t just let the house fall apart. We have spent a lot of money on this house on the more basic stuff – electrical repair, new HVAC system, roof, new chimneys. I admit that the solar panels were a bit over the top – they will never pay themselves off, probably, because Duke Energy is going to keep raising their fee to connect them to the net metering system unless politicians have the will to stop them. (The unfairness of this kept me awake a couple of nights this week, until I convinced myself not to worry about something that I have no control over.) I do like that I am producing renewable energy on my rooftop. I probably should have spent the money on something else, though, in hindsight. I never regret spending money on travel.

I have been reading a book that surprised me – The Master, by Colm Toibin, a fictional biography of the author Henry James. I picked it up a couple of times and gave up after the first chapter. I was disappointed because I had picked it because I am focused on Irish writers and this was not about Ireland. Once I managed to get into it, though, I was entranced with the complexity of the characters and I felt as though I had met a twin soul, as far as his introversion and inner turmoil. In particular, the women caught my heart. It made realize that I had never read Henry James, or seen the movies based on his books. So I downloaded “The Portrait of a Lady” and I am watching it on Amazon Prime right now.

I took my last prednisolone this morning and I am looking forward to Sandy being off of his steroid doses, as his are much stronger and more frequent that mine were. It suppresses your immune system so it has made me more anxious about catching a variant of Covid-19. My heel is somewhat better but I haven’t really put it to the test yet. I will be on meloxicam for another three weeks, so I stopped drinking. I haven’t forgotten what strong anti-inflammatories did to my gut years ago. The fridge has lots of good ales in it, and I haven’t touched one in a week. It is very tempting, but I will try to save them to take to the lake in a couple of weeks.

Now there is beef stew in the crock pot. A few carrot tops that had sprouted were planted in one of the containers at the front. I haven’t done this before so we will see if they take root or if they become snacks for the squirrels. I hear our neighbor across the street playing cornhole with his grandkids. We are about to go out and do some shopping (with our masks on) and later if the light and temperature is good on the porch, I’ll weave a little bit on the lake tapestry. That will be for tomorrow’s post.

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

Saturday morning coffee pot post

20210520_140236

^Statue on the corner of Walker and Elam Avenues, Greensboro, NC

It’s still comfortably cool on the front porch, but according to the weather forecast it will be turning to summer temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s soon. Dry, too, with some drought concerns beginning to pop up. When I was at the lake last time, the water was already pretty low.

Both of us have been in better spirits this week. Sandy is going to the Aquatic Center for water exercise classes and swimming laps, and he started the steroids on Thursday. He will be on them for a month and then the doctor switches him to something else.

I’m kind of craving a steroid shot in my wrist again since of course I have overdone it with the yard work and otherwise usually holding a book, Kindle, or phone in my hand until my Dequervain’s tendinitis in my left wrist has flared up and my carpal tunnel has flared up in my right wrist. So I’m typing this with two different kinds of wrist braces on, and will try to hold back on the gardening and weeding this weekend. However, this pain is old news to me and even though it is distressing (I had surgery on the left wrist 8 years ago) I don’t struggle with it as much mentally as I used to.

I bought some more tomato and pepper plants at Deep Roots Market on Sunday afternoon and planted them into the pots: Pink Brandywine tomatoes, hot banana peppers, and jalapenos. Then when we popped into the Bestway for a couple of things I noticed that they had a small pot of sweet basil with lots of seedlings crammed into it for $2.99. They are not particularly happy now that I’ve pulled them apart and planted them, but I didn’t really expect them to be. If I get two healthy ones out of the dozen or so that are in there, I win.

We both had massages Monday night and the therapist, who teaches it at the local community college so knows her stuff, basically said that I needed more work that one hour could handle. Ha.

Late Tuesday afternoon I saw my therapist for the first time since November, 2018, when the election results helped calm me down for a while. I told her that I was seeing her on my best day in at least two years and I couldn’t make the appointment to get help earlier because I was too depressed to do it. Such a vicious cycle, depression and agoraphobia. I really like her and was happy that I started it up again. There was also a nice surprise – my insurance doesn’t even charge a co-pay now. I don’t know how long that lasts, but yay.

Anyway, the point is that Sandy and I are both busy getting our shit together and back to living the best life possible. I have a podiatrist appointment on Monday, too, so new shoes will probably be in my future. We both need to do a bit of clothes shopping.

We are planning our summer – in two weeks we go up the road to Elkin, NC, for my Tapestry Weavers South retreat. I’ll be taking a tapestry design course from Tommye Scanlin on that Monday and Tuesday.

Speaking of Tommye, I set up a Bookshop of my own and right now I am featuring tapestry design books. I get a small commission, and a book wholesaler, Ingram, hosts the sites. It’s a way to support local bookstores and publishers online without going through Amazon. You can buy Tommye’s book “The Nature of Things: Essays by a Tapestry Weaver” or pre-order her upcoming book “Tapestry Design Basics and Beyond” there. The link is on my sidebar and also here: Slow Turn Books. I ordered “The Nature of Things” from my shop and it arrived within a week – what a lovely book! I have ordered from Boomerang Bookshop as well, and the entire Bookshop website is fun to search.  You can order from many independent bookstores there.

I will be adding more book lists as the summer goes on – probably focused on the fiber art/mixed media/collage artists who I’ve taken courses from and love the most. I’m not trying to compete with any bookstores or make any money off this – just promote the books and art that I love and have some fun. I miss my bookstore days, but I don’t miss the poverty wages.

Here’s a wildlife shot: The mighty cougar stalks his prey.

20210521_085359

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Ooh yuk, the pollen is kickin’ ass in North Carolina. We just had another line of heavy storms come through so I hope that will clean the air some more today. My neighbors downhill and across the street are struggling with flooded basements. We used to have a lot of problems with that too, but sandbagging a couple of places and the swales that Justin dug into the back garden helped a lot with that. I checked on ours briefly yesterday and saw some water on the steps and a little at the bottom but otherwise the cement was dry down there. We keep a box fan and a sump pump going all the time.

I’m not going to type a long post. My hands are not up to it. Too much reading and holding the phone and computer mouse, I guess.

We haven’t gotten the results from Sandy’s muscle biopsy yet, but he is feeling better this week and can lift his feet higher without using his hands to lift his legs. He has been running errands and we walked around the block yesterday. Yesterday he got his second Pfizer vaccination. Last night he was afraid that his shingles was coming back but my bet is that it was a side effect from the vaccine or general achiness from doing too much too soon.

He has lost a lot of weight and I have gained weight and if I don’t start getting some more exercise and eating better it won’t be long before we weigh the same.

My next door neighbor is eager for us to get rid of the jet ski so I cleaned it up and he was going to get a couple of guys and move it out next to our driveway for us. I would be extremely happy to get rid of this mosquito incubator that hasn’t been used since at least 2008, when we last had a car with a trailer hitch, but now is not a good time to push us on this issue. Not only because of our health, but because Sandy’s renter in his condo gave notice, so Sandy is trying to sell it. We haven’t seen the inside yet, but from the one time I was over there, I suspect that it will be a mess. He won’t get a whole lot for this place. The tax value isn’t much but the location isn’t too bad. He has talked to someone with a real estate license who is interested in either buying it for himself to rent out or to sell it for him, and they will look at it this week. It is a seller’s market right now, so I hope that we will get this albatross off our back now that Sandy isn’t able to deal with it physically. I announced my departure from this situation about ten years ago. No more landlady Laurie.

This week I read “Lost Nation” by Jeffrey Lent. Part of the reason I didn’t post yesterday was because I couldn’t put it down. At first, I thought, ugh, this is extremely brutal and gory and I don’t think that my sensitive nature can handle it, but when the writing is this good, I can, and I did. The plot moved quickly, but I am a fan of character development, and boy, did this novel have it. The choices that they made based on their assumptions were at the crux of the plot, and sometimes those assumptions were way off. Sometimes they were more subtle. Trust was a major motivator in the plot too – trust or the lack of it. His descriptive language left me with full vision of the world he created. Books like these are why I would much rather read a book before seeing a movie based on it. I’m not sure who would do a movie based on this plot these days though – it would be a tough one to maneuver through the ugliness to deliver the watcher to the end.

Okay, my hands have had it. My spirits are better though.

bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, critters, More gardening, Reading, Wildflowers

Good Friday 2021

20210330_181105

^^^My favorite flowers are multiplying well.

I dislike this new WP block editing mess. I have fooled around with pressing different buttons and got the text editor bar to appear, but I’m not sure that I could find it again. It is under Options/Visual Editor/Block and I unclicked all the buttons except Classic. Now I can’t find that again. Good luck, friends, who also relied on the classic editor, that is the best hint that I can give you. I suppose that I will figure it out eventually. I switched the Tapestry Weavers South site over to WordPress because I liked the interface here, grrr. Now, at a time when I am stressed out over having to learn too many new software platforms at work, WordPress throws its hat in the stress ring. Anyway, I guess it was inevitable and I will get used to it.

Mama always planted her garden on Good Friday. I planned to plant a few lettuce and borage seeds today, nothing major, but we had a hard freeze early this morning and will have another tonight, so I’m going to wait. They will go into the containers in the front so that I can protect them from being eaten by critters.

Here are some of my favorite flowers from the front garden: bloodroot, grape hyacinth, and dandelion. There are lots of Lenten roses also, but I am not so fond of them anymore. They reseed like crazy and I think that I’m going to have to dig up a lot of them.

20210330_181043

The groundhog is definitely back and I haven’t seen Robbie Rabbit lately. I would not be surprised if Robbie became dinner for a fox family, since there have been many red fox sightings in the neighborhood. Robbie was never very careful.

Sandy had his muscle biopsy yesterday and he is sleeping right now. I imagine by now the numbing medication that the surgeon put into the incision has worn off and I haven’t spoken to him yet this morning. He has a two inch incision that they closed with waterproof super glue! We are amused that his surgeon’s name is Dr. Martin. I hope that we get some answers from this and that it is not super expensive, since there was anesthesia involved. Sandy was in fine spirits yesterday, very alert on leaving the hospital, and focused on eating, as usual. He is taking some good pain meds, but he doesn’t like to take meds. I mean, if this condition turns out to be toxicity from taking statins for years, who could blame him. However, he is still convinced that it is all due to his shingles. I am anxious to get the results of the biopsy.

20210401_074241

^^^I want this shrub. It was blooming at the hospital.

A big front came through and blew a lot of the cherry blossoms into drifts. Last weekend, with the help of our neighbors, we got the Honda Fit battery charged up and running. I am going to clean the inside soon and see if I can get the musty smell out of the carpet with enzyme shampoo.

20210401_075527

See that brick wall? That is where I plant my lettuce. The old bird cage keeps the birds and squirrels out. When we get the steps rebuilt, I guess that will need to be rebuilt as well. It certainly needs a good cleaning and paint job, but I will wait. You can see how close the houses are in this neighborhood. My neighbor is back from Tanzania and his wife and son will be back from Thailand very soon. They are good neighbors and it is fun to watch his son play.

In the meantime, we received our 2020 tax refund and it included the $600 stimulus for both of us. We are still waiting for the big 2019 tax refund and the latest stimulus checks. I went ahead and booked the rest of my flight and saw that I could get a decent deal on the same flights for Sandy, and then went ahead and bought him tickets too.

I think that I’ll save this chat about the trip to Ireland for a separate post. It’s exciting.

Reading: “Holy Fools” by Joanne Harris. So far I am intrigued by it.

agoraphobia, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, old couple, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Well, this week could have gone better, but I’ll take it. I stood up for myself concerning a particularly awful process I was expected to use at work that was inaccurate and basically unusable, and I feel like I was heard at least one step up the pecking order. Then I concentrated on what I could do. I got a lot done.

The weather is absolutely lovely and we spent a lot of time on the front porch yesterday evening. I cleaned out most of the junk in the Honda in preparation to clean the inside and shampoo the carpets. I took out at least 20 books. I also did some front garden clean up – pulled the “weeds” that the bees no longer need but left the dandelions, which I love. My favorite flowers are in bloom right now, and the yoshina cherry trees are bursting with light pink flowers. The peppermint that I shouldn’t have planted is spreading through the fieldstone path across to the other section of the garden, but it smells so good that I don’t mind (now). I planted it in several places in the hope that it would deter both mosquitoes and groundhogs.

Reading: Almost finished with “Good Harbor” by Anita Diamant, which I have mixed feelings about. At first I thought that I could relate to the characters, but instead I have found it pretty depressing. I liked her other novels much better, especially “The Last Days of Dogtown,” which was a recent read. Part of my problem with novels about women who struggle with children or fertility is that I feel no connection to motherhood. I have never felt the urge. The other character is having serious mental health issues revolving around cancer and death, maybe not the best reading choice for me right now. I’ll finish it, because I don’t have much farther to go and it is a short book.

It seems like I’m breaking out of the agoraphobic tendencies, although I am typing this in my bedroom, where I spend way too much time. On Thursday morning I drove Sandy to what we thought was going to be his muscle biopsy under local anesthesia at an outpatient surgical center in Burlington. Instead, it was a consultation with the surgeon and pretty much a waste of time other than him telling us that the biopsy would be done under real anesthesia in Greensboro, maybe at Wesley Long Hospital. He didn’t have Sandy’s lab work or records, and he was quizzing him to see if he really needed the biopsy. Once I told him about Sandy’s CK test results, those kind of questions stopped and he moved on.

It was frustrating, not only because we expected this to be behind us by now, but that the communication has been so bad. These days I know to be wary of any anesthesia that puts you all the way under – it can trip an older person into dementia and Sandy had a difficult time maintaining his oxygen levels under anesthesia during his oral surgery a couple of years ago. It definitely has cognitive effects. And the surgeon was not encouraging about it being scheduled right away, although he said that he was on duty at Wesley Long next week and would try to get it on his schedule.

This biopsy really has to be done soon. Sandy dreads it so much that I worry that he is going to back out. Yesterday he was feeling much better and started working on getting the Honda battery charged and the car aired out. He brought me lunch at work. I am very happy that he feels better and is trying to do more. However, he has a denial problem and I have my hands full trying to stop him from health self-destruction since he wants so badly to believe that all he needs to do is get back into shape. This has been the case for years, not just with this issue. I do not want to play the role of his mother or nurse and I want to treat his medical decisions with respect, but I also don’t want to be a widow in my early 60s. I love him and I want to grow old with him. He will be absolutely miserable if he doesn’t get better. His family history is full of disability, including his father who was quadriplegic and his brother and mother who had strokes affecting their ability to move. He also has a serious aversion to asking for the simplest help.

Anyway, the good aspect of this trip was that I drove to Burlington to an unknown location in heavy traffic and even drove around the area a bit without any anxiety or panic. So I haven’t descended into that agoraphobia hole. I feel better, knowing that.

And I feel better that I am officially fully vaccinated, having passed the two week mark yesterday. I haven’t heard from Lora about the residency in Ireland yet, but considering the problems that the EU is having with a third wave and getting the vaccinations out, it looks more and more unlikely. If I can’t go to Europe this year, we will pick a national park to visit. I wouldn’t mind a train trip, or going to Maine to Acadia NP. I’ve never been farther north than Connecticut.

We got a small tax refund back from the state but not either federal tax refund yet. That will be welcome money that we will probably use to hire local people to work on our house. I also try to donate to a lot of individual causes and charities that I see people advocate on Facebook. We are very lucky, despite what we are dealing with at the present time.

Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, Rants, Reading

Sunday afternoon

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I need to put a title on each post and I seldom try to come up with something witty or appropriate to what I have written any more. What I noticed when I went through almost every one of my posts last year was that sometimes I wondered what day of the week it was when I wrote it. So instead of leaving the title blank, I usually name it with the day of the week.

Yesterday I got some stuff done. Getting anything done is significant progress. I picked up popcorn shrimp burritos from Fishbones – so delicious – and did a bit of grocery shopping at Bestway. Normally I shop at my coop, but Bestway has Smithwick’s ale and some frozen dinners that Sandy likes for when I just can’t cook or even eat. They have some organic and local foods too and it’s right beside Fishbones. I cooked a good simple dinner with marinated baked chicken, brown rice, peas and corn.

I haven’t been to the farmers’ market in ages. I just can’t make myself leave the house that early on Saturday morning. It’s very important that I have the weekends to sleep in and catch up since even melatonin and Xanax can’t get me to sleep some nights before 2 or 3 a.m. Once they start staying open after 11 a.m. I might be able to manage it.

It was cold after that storm front came through but the plants that I moved outside seemed to survive without damage. Today it will go back up to the 60s for the highs this week so I hope to stir up some enthusiasm for gardening.

Early yesterday evening, we went through the FEMA drive through vaccination clinic in the Four Seasons Mall parking lot. We found out that they were doing the Pfizer vaccine, but it would still be quicker to do that one and have to come back for the second shot than to wait for the one dose Johnson & Johnson. This has repercussions for Sandy, who most likely needs to get on immune-suppressive meds ASAP, but can’t do that until after he is fully vaccinated. He is not feeling well at all, but no side effects from the vaccine. His second shot is scheduled on April 10, so I’m not sure if we will go to the lake Easter weekend.

I spent some time weaving on “Cathedral,” so that is a very good thing. Today we will both try to pitch in and get laundry and vacuuming done. Laundry is harder than you might think since we have to catch a lot of the rinse water in buckets and dump it out side. The cat hair is at disaster level. I combed several handfuls of Diego’s undercoat fur out this morning. Pablocito doesn’t have that much.

My mood is also lifted because I am considering going alone to Ireland in September for an artist residency if my family can’t manage the trip to Portugal. I have the plane ticket from Boston to Dublin. They have waited to buy tickets until they see how things pan out. This would be at the same place where I had planned to go this past summer, on the Wild Atlantic Coast on the western edge of Ireland.

I have to be careful not to get my hopes up too high for this trip, though. The ride down that emotional hill was pretty rough last year, plus having all this worries on top of that.

I’m reading “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan right now. A very disturbing book, and although I can’t put it down, I am ready for it to be over with. This was a freebie, and I suspect that I picked it up out of a free bin to use the cover in collage. I always try to read these books first. This is the first novel that I have read of his.

One thing I accomplished this past week was filing our 2020 taxes online. We STILL have not received our 2019 refund. I finally called our Congressperson’s office and the staff person put me in touch with the local taxpayer advocate volunteer service. However, they can’t do anything about it either until somebody puts the information in the IRS database. The staff person said that a lot of people who mailed in their returns are experiencing the same thing.

It also means that we didn’t get the last round of stimulus payments. I was able to roll that into the 2020 tax refund. Hopefully we will get the next round. I am going to use it to make some repairs to the house – mainly the front steps to make them safer. Because we live in a historic district, we have to get a certificate of appropriateness and use a special kind of brick if we go with that option.

Doing the taxes is frustrating because there is one tiny thing on our return that requires us to choose an answer to a question, and neither answer is correct. That’s why we mailed it in last year. Then this year there was that AND at the end a series of required responses about last year’s return that were not applicable. The Turbo Tax person told me to check them all and e-file it. No freaking way I am mailing that sucker in this year.

In the meantime, I read that the IRS chooses to audit a much higher percentage of lower and middle class tax returns instead of the tax returns of the rich because they are more complicated, so the rich get away with paying billions of dollars less than they are supposed to pay.

I am so disgusted with this government and the voters who can’t see how they are being abused by income inequality. They are so worried about somebody getting some government money to feed themselves or get health care who might not deserve it in their eyes, but it’s okay to cut taxes for the people and corporations who make so much money that they would not miss millions of dollars in taxes paid.

Okay, political rant over. Time to do some house cleaning and tapestry weaving.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This time, in the morning!

I am waiting for Porfirio to come this morning to clean up this HUGE MESS in the Back Forty. He has worked for a couple of my friends for years, and they absolutely love him. He gave me a great price on this job, and will do the maintenance work for me after the big areas are taken care of. I say “huge” and “big” but our back yard is actually pretty small.

And here he is!

I guess that I won’t be calling it the Back Forty any more. Just my little garden in the back. I’m going to keep up the beds at the side fence and the one that Justin made for me next to the fig tree, and probably move my herb garden back to it. It will be a job that I will putter away at as the days get warmer. But my days of big urban food gardening are over. I’ll plant some more asparagus, since the groundhogs leave that alone, and leeks and onions. I’ll plant some tomatoes and peppers in the side beds and in containers.

The two-decade fight over the back yard design will be over because I am compromising and letting Sandy have a grass lawn in the area that is not my garden. I am done arguing about it and it might help us sell the house. And now I will be hiring someone to mow it. I (and others that I have confided in) have NEVER understood why he so disliked my garden, especially at the height of its beauty. I mean, there was even a big newspaper feature about it!

But, whatever. I am done with it. I can’t fight off the groundhogs and take care of all that anyway. Moving the herb garden will give me a doable project to focus on.

We saw this tree with a ribbed texture on our walk last Sunday. I wonder what it is and if that is normal?

Pablocito has been getting too much camera time, so here is Diego trying to take a nap. He doesn’t much like the camera.

This weekend I am making chili and we are going to Office Depot to try to find an office chair that Sandy will be happy with. He spends a lot of time in that chair and his is worn out. It reminds me of Martin’s chair on Frasier. Yes, it is that bad. He’s been trying to make it last until after the pandemic but it is falling apart.

Since I managed to get laundry done over the course of this week, and a bit of cleaning, I am going to try really hard to do something that is fun for me this weekend.

I finished “Gentlemen and Players” by Joanne Harris this week and I absolutely loved it. The fastest I have read a book in a long, long time. Now I’m reading “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout, and seeing why it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.