coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading

Monday morning

I never got around to the mask sewing this weekend. I did make myself get out and take a walk each day. Part of my routine is choosing at least three books to put in the little free library on the block. Either that, or I’m putting them in a box that will eventually go to the used book store for credit or cash.

I read more of the Patternist series by Octavia Butler. I’m having a hard time getting through these. They have an interesting premise, but it feels so offensive and twisted. I’ve picked up How Green Was My Valley again, but that one looks to be sad as well. I downloaded The Water Knife on Google Books as part of a NC Humanities Council statewide read. Scary. Maybe I’ll have to find something else.

Even if we don’t end up moving to Portugal, I’d still want to leave North Carolina. The Western US is still attractive to me, but the increasing wildfire activity is frightening, not to mention the overdue cataclysm due for western side of Oregon (earthquake/tsunami).

It will make me feel better to downsize some stuff. This means that my niece and nephew may be getting some family heirlooms whether they want them or not. I already did this with the Sanford/O’Neill side of the family and shipped boxes all the way to California, and she might be getting some more. If I have to, I will leave some on the doorsteps of a few NC residences. 🙂

I keep telling myself that if we end up staying here, we are still lucky. This is a very good area to live in. Good neighbors, good restaurants and entertainment, liberal politics, and a paid off mortgage. We are pretty well set financially – not rich, but solidly middle class so far. I hope it stays that way.

Which reminds me, I have some phone calls to make about the solar panel loan. I’m probably going to pay it off. And I am ordering take-out shrimp burritos from Fishbones. Bye!

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.

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.