coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, depression/anxiety, Reading, tapestry

Saturday afternoon coffee pot post

^^^Pablocito in his nest.

During which we need to consider what to have for lunch today, since it is already 12:45.

Things aren’t great in Laurie Land, but I am getting through it a day at a time. The main concern is Sandy – he is in a lot of pain this week and started seeing his old chiropractor on Wednesday for hip pain. He is quite upset and I empathize, having gone through the kind of pain he describes for years. There are other things going on that I won’t go into in a public post, but suffice it to say, the shit is piling up quickly.

Yesterday I came home from work with a really bad headache, which is not unusual for me to get a headache that time of day, but then I saw my full mug of coffee still sitting on the counter. If you know me at all, you know that I cannot exist without coffee. For many years I drank it all day long, until insomnia put a stop to that. I drew a cartoon poking fun at myself during my college years, in which I always had a cup of coffee or a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Anyway, I drank the coffee at 5 p.m. and therefore I read a book until 4 a.m. At least it is Saturday and I could sleep all morning, but I had just gotten my sleep schedule more on target. Next week I have so much to do that there isn’t going to be the option of sleeping all morning.

Today I am looking at ice covering the branches of the trees and the back porch steps. I hear the ice fall off the branches with little crashes as it begins to melt and let go. I could probably learn a lesson from the ice today – I just am not sure what that lesson is. Do I let go and crash? Would the breaking apart on impact be a good thing or a bad thing?

The book that I became entranced with last night is Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim. I was reading a paperback copy of The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville), trying to get back to my quest of reading as many physical novels as I can before I get rid of them, especially those by Irish writers, and getting away from screen time just before bed to help me sleep. I had downloaded a copy of Paper Wife to my Kindle as part of the Prime Reading freebies, and decided to read the first chapter to see if I wanted to keep it. Next thing I knew it was 4 a.m. and I am over halfway through the book.

I also keep a copy of The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats beside my bed for heavier reading that helps me snooze after a chapter but also teaches me a few things. For example, with all the art history that I took, I had no idea of what he was referring to when he wrote about the Pre-Raphaelites. I researched it and learned that was a small art movement that included William Morris and writers, actors, dancers, and artists of the 19th century in Great Britain. Well, yeah. I’m interested.

Also, I never realized how little I knew about the history of socialism until recently. Somehow I thought that it started in earnest in the early 20th century, not mid-19th century.

Hopefully I will get some tapestry weaving done today, but there are a lot of things that need to be done in this house that I’m pretty much doing my myself now, and I probably need to do a little of the work I do to earn a paycheck, since next week will be pretty hectic. I got a little weaving during the week.

Daydreaming about Portugal, but honestly, for me Portugal is a way to get EU citizenship so that I can go to Ireland. And if I stay in Portugal, I will be closer to Ireland. I probably spend too much time noodling around the Portugal ex-pat sites and AirBNB.

Looks like I may be able to get vaccinated after March 10, and my workplace might set up a clinic for its employees. Now if we could only get Sandy an appointment. He says that by the time he fills out the form online, the appointment slot is taken and he moves to the next available, and the next, and then skips ahead, and they’re gone. This week has had other challenges, so I doubt that he has checked since Monday. I’m going to call on Monday for him. He finally agreed to calling his doctor on Monday, so maybe he can get one there. I don’t know. The other issues are actually more pressing right now.

It has reminded me of the night when I finally decided to sit down with him for a serious talk about my own health challenges and how I needed more help from him, and he was so distracted (“I think I drank too much caffeine today!”) and obviously not listening that I got angry and walked away. I had a funny feeling about an hour later that I should check on him and found him sweating and gray and in the middle of a heart attack. That was eleven years ago.

Getting older ain’t an endless picnic in the park, but I hope to get some lunch in today.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

What a week. It was overwhelming in so many ways. I think that is the second time I have watched an inauguration – the other was Obama’s, before I became disenchanted with the Democratic Party. I admit to shedding a few tears of relief and being touched by the poetry and song. I am optimistic about this administration. Not enough to become a partisan again, but I’m a bit more to the center than I was 12 years ago. Some of my super-lefty friends are so negative that they feel toxic. I no longer have any super-righty friends, and I don’t want any.

I don’t remember who he paraphrased, but my mentor in grad school would say that to accomplish your dreams they have to be imagined first. Maybe it was from Thoreau. He encouraged us to do projects in which our minds could fly in any direction and build new worlds. I love that philosophy, and I think it is a great starting point.

However, I am too practical for it in reality. I think that everyone needs to hear what the others are thinking and really listen in order for us to move forward. I’m not saying that the left should get all lovey-dovey with the right. Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve lost all patience with the right. We have seen that the far right has no interest in compromise even with the center right. But what I’ve seen is that the bubbles are real. People on the right believe that Trump won because they are surrounded by people who only think like them. People on the left don’t understand how Trump could have gotten so many votes because they are surrounded by people who see his evil. It takes a very strong personality to reject the culture that you live in.

Phrases like “Defund the police” and “All cops are bastards” are hurting the cause of progressives and if they can’t see why these phrases are misunderstood or twisted then they need to get a firmer grip on reality. All cops are not bastards, or bad. “Defund” the police is completely confusing. If you have to explain your catchphrase, it is not a very effective one. Nobody is going to support this in enough numbers to make any change possible. That is the left’s delusion.

Vegans: the world is not going to stop eating meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. It’s okay that you have, and I applaud you for your willpower and caring, as long as you stop harassing my farmer friends. You can get your point across and make this a better world without being assholes. I know many vegans and vegetarians who do. They are practical enough that they don’t believe that the whole world is going to change to a diet that isn’t even possible in most places, but idealistic enough that they know that their actions make a positive difference.

People on the right need to get over their distrust of mainstream news and listen to people on the left to understand that they are not baby killing anti-Christians. The rhetoric about attacking and murdering Democrats or anyone that opposes the far right is so shocking that, no, both sides are not the same. People on the right are terribly deluded if they still support Trumpism or QAnon, and that appears to be a whole lot of people. Logic is not going to sway them, and certainly phrases like “defund the police” are just going to panic them.

Considering how divided our country is, it is within reason to have leaders who are centrist. We can’t get anything done with the balance tipping far to the right or left every 4-8 years. I may not agree with all their policies, but I am mature enough to understand that doesn’t make the leaders all bad.

Some appointees so far have been great. Some, such as Vilsack for Department of Ag, terrible.

Actually, I don’t have much hope that we will move forward at all.

My thinking is still well within the philosophy of the Dark Mountain Project – that we have passed the tipping point on climate change and now is the time to make the best of what we have wrought. The world will survive, but as a place without human civilization and it will support a different variety of species, many of them genetically engineered.

Okay, enough political musings.

I only watched the inauguration from around 11:30-12:30 because it was a super busy workweek and I was watching it online through the Washington Post as I worked. Later I caught a few more highlights that I missed. It is nearly impossible for me to watch video for more than 20-30 minutes at a time anyway. I rarely watch videos. It used not to be this way. I can’t help but think that it is part of my mental health issues.

My nerves were cranked up, as a lot of people’s were. I shut down for a couple of hours twice this week. It’s good that I am at home where I can do that. With my panic disorder, good things can overwhelm me as much as bad things. Actually, little things can set me off worse than big things. They pile up.

Yesterday our department had a Zoom happy hour for the newest two assistant professors and that was fun. I miss getting together with my co-workers and friends, although I probably have adjusted better than most people because of my need for quiet solitude. I enjoy Zoom, but I don’t have to be on it all day teaching or taking classes or having work meetings. This past week I had four work Zoom meetings. I can deal with that easily.

I’m reading “The Given Day” by Dennis Lehane. It was high on my unread book stack, and I honestly didn’t think about the novel taking place during the flu pandemic of 1918. But so far, it is very good. He has a lot to work with in that time period. I assume that the Tulsa Massacre is going to be covered as well.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Family, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

The shelf next to my “work” table. The small bone is a vertebra that I found at the lake. I think that the lovely carved wooden container is bamboo, and probably came back from the Philippines with my father.

Yesterday I started blogging some of my earliest memories and I’m going to continue to do that from time to time. I think a lot about them when I am in that world between wakefulness and sleep. Plus, there is not really too much else to write about in my personal life, and I prefer to not write about politics, although occasionally I will have to put my opinions out into the world. I don’t want anybody assuming that because I am a white Boomer from North Carolina that I am right wing. I am a leftie all the way, and I have been since high school when I began to understand what humanity is doing to our environment. I can’t say that I understood racism then, although my heart was in the right place.

My mother and father always voted opposite parties, until my father started catching on to Reagin and voted against him in his second term in 1984. He still voted for Jesse Helms, though, bless his heart, because he said Jesse was head of the Senate Ag Committee and everything was about small farms for Daddy. After Jesse was re-elected, he moved to the Foreign Affairs committee so Daddy’s reason was moot.

I am a leftie to the point that Portugal not only calls me because of its affordability, beauty, and friendly people, but because it has a democratic socialist government. I am going to do my best to get there and get EU citizenship when I retire in 2023, and Sandy seems to be committed to this as well. What is going to be the big headache is downsizing our hoard and fixing the house and yard up to get our property sold. It will sell quickly, based on what I’ve seen on this street. We invested well.

Once we get Portuguese citizenship, I hope that will be my back door to moving to Ireland, which has always been my dream, but its income requirements are beyond what we make.

I keep saying that I will get back to artwork but I just can’t seem to do it. At least I have started exercising. I joined Sandy for his “one mile express” low impact exercise video yesterday and my feet were fine last night. Hopefully my tendinitis has healed enough that I can continue to exercise and sleep without pain.

Yesterday afternoon, I retreated here again and played games on my Kindle and read news articles and my current book and cuddled with Diego.

The bed frame is from my Aunt Lib’s bedroom from the Parham house. It traveled to my parents’ house, where it became my grandmother Jones’ bed while she lived with us. It is just the right size for this room, big enough for me, the cats, and my books.

Right now I am reading “House Made of Dawn,” a slim book with beautiful prose that takes place in New Mexico. Given my renewed interest in writing, I may read Natalie Goldberg’s book on memoir writing, “Old Friend from Far Away,” next.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Local food, Reading

01-08-2021

Sitting here in my office during my “lunch hour.” The snow either didn’t show or didn’t stick today. I walked to work in a light sleet that melted on the ground.

Yesterday I got out for the first walk I’ve taken in days, and puttered around the yard pulling up tomato plants and tidying a bit. My Achilles tendinitis only smarted a little bit, so the break I took helped a lot. However I can definitely feel the changes in my body from lack of exercise.

We are ordering delivery for our groceries again. Sandy was very bad and stopped in for cheesecake take-out at Cheesecakes by Alex, though. We get take-out a couple of times a week from different local restaurants. Although we try to limit our shopping to small local businesses, we got salads from Mellow Mushroom recently. I really love their Enlightened Asian salad. For pizza, we have fallen in love with a local joint called Slices by Tony. They also have incredible sandwiches and calzones and desserts. I haven’t tried their pastas yet.

Today we received the last packages that we have ordered since mid-December – yay! I have art supplies for all my classes now so there are no excuses left.

I spent a good bit of time transferring zipped folders of my Flickr albums to three different Google Drives this week, and I deleted about a thousand photos, which means that there are only 10,410 left up on Flickr – LOL. They haven’t deleted my photos yet. I imagine that they are waiting to see if I change my mind about paying up. One thing I have realized is that I have to edit my photos before uploading them to WordPress, else they will take up all my space. There is still plenty of space here, though.

I finished “This Must Be the Place” by Maggie O’Farrell, and I was pleasantly surprised. After the first two chapters I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read it all the way through, but I’m glad that I continued because I loved it. Novels that jump around in time don’t bother me, and I love books that give perspectives from the different characters’ points of view. These characters were very complex and the writing was great. I’m going to look for more by her – I know that her current bestseller is “Hamnet.”

The other reason that I almost returned it to the little free library was because of the perfume smell. I suppose that some books smell like this because of hand lotion. Sometimes I can take it, sometimes I can’t. It’s almost as bad as books that come from a heavy smoker’s house.

Which reminds me – I gave masks to a few of my co-workers for Christmas and one, who is a super-taster and thus has an excellent sense of smell, said that hers smelled like wood smoke. We’ve only had one fire in the wood stove one time this year, so that goes to show how much that permeates everything. Fortunately it’s not a bad smell. I’m glad that she didn’t say that it smelled like cat litter or mildew!

Next up is “House Made of Dawn” by Scott Momaday.

I have no idea what I will do this weekend. Lunch hour is over. Bye.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading

Merry Christmas from the (O’Neill) Family

My favorite Christmas song. I just can’t abide the syrupy bouncy ones any more. I do love some of the old crooners like Sinatra and Clooney, though.

One year, we had a receptionist that was quite mentally ill and very angry at me and the office manager. That December she had gotten another job on campus and was just working out her sentence in the history department. (She was miserable in the next two departments she worked in as well, until she had her final meltdown and left the university.) She played “Oh Holy Night” on repeat until I thought I’d lose my mind. The day she walked out for good (early, of course) I put on every hokey stupid funny Christmas song I could find on You Tube for the rest of the week.

Sandy and I saw Robert Earl Keen play this live at Ziggy’s about ten years ago. I won tickets on a Facebook promotion for the “VIP section” for any show I wanted to see on their schedule. It was a hard strange choice between George Clinton and Robert Earl Keen, but in the end, I thought that REK would be easier on my nerves at the time. The VIP section meant that you got to sit at a table at the side of the stage next to the bar. I’m sorry that I never got to see George Clinton, but I had several chances and didn’t take them. He has local roots so he has played around here a lot. I can’t stand for long periods of time – the pain is terrible – so I don’t go to many small concert venues. Plus, I really really really hate crowds!

This has turned out to be a coffee pot post. We are drinking a Christmas blend with vanilla and clove that was a gift. It smells heavenly.

I am super concerned about Sandy now that I’ve done what everybody says not to do: googled statins and muscle damage. He downplayed his weakness and pain for a long time because he attributed it to getting older and being out of shape. Thank God he finally called the doctor’s office and we are talking about it. He was worried about sounding like a hypochondriac. This is why when other women friends complain about their male partners being babies when they are sick, I have nothing to say. It is the opposite with Sandy. Besides, everybody knows that I’m the hypochondriac in the family. (Kidding, not kidding. There’s a little bitterness in this joke.)

Hopefully he will recover after the statins get out of his system, but he has been taking them for a very long time.

I couldn’t find the Pillsbury Orange Icing rolls that are a Christmas tradition in my family, and I wasn’t going to shop a bunch of different grocery stores for them this week, so I have Annie’s cinnamon rolls in the oven. They are good too. I talked to my sister on the phone for a long time yesterday. She made sure that she got the orange rolls, damn her. She and Tim are at the lake while her daughter and grandson do Christmas at their house in Chapel Hill. No extended family time for any of us during the pandemic. Man, those cinnamon rolls smell wonderful!

A major cold front came through last night and the high is supposed to be in the 30s today after a deluge of rain and wind yesterday. Tornado warnings in some parts of the state and snow in other parts. I don’t know if there were actually any tornadoes. The low is supposed to go into the teens tonight so I’m going to cut all my lettuce and we brought the lemon tree off the porch.

Yesterday I caught up on rest and did some clean-up, but mainly chilled out. We still have plumbing problems but at least both toilets are working now. It’s the outgoing pipe from the washing machine and kitchen sink that is slow, slow enough that when the washer drains, it is too much and it spills out all over the floor. I brought in the old washtub and wringer that I had bought for papermaking several years ago and I am going to drain the washing machine into it until we can get a plumber to clean out these pipes for us. We have tried everything at this point, but it keeps happening again. When I replace this washing machine, I am shopping for one that has mechanical, not computerized, controls on it, even if I have to buy a used one. All I need is wash, rinse, and spin.

I am going to watch the last episode of The Queen’s Gambit today. I’ve stretched it out as long as possible. Also, finishing the Patternist series by Octavia Butler, which despite my revulsion at all the incest and rape, I understand why it is essential to the basic theme, and I grew to appreciate the entire story arc more as I worked my way through the books.

Next up in reading: Your Spacious Self. I can’t decide on my next novel and I keep starting one and putting it down to start another. I have a lot to choose from here, though.

Will cook a few dishes today, nothing complicated, and sew masks, and cuddle with kitties. Feliz Natal!

Back Forty, Blather, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading

A cold rainy day

Here it is Wednesday, with icy cold rain falling outside. Fortunately the ice is not sticking here, but it has rained a LOT and that means water flowing through the Back Forty from two directions, which culminates in a pond in my next door neighbor’s back yard. This, despite an effort to redirect the water to a large burrow under that garden bed. It’s not a big problem for us any more, but I feel sorry for the next door neighbors. They are not there right now, though.

In the middle of a big rain, that curving path looks like a stream. I have considered the idea of digging a trench and filling it with lovely river rocks to make a rain garden and help with the drainage, but since we plan to sell the house in a couple of years, I won’t do it. I used to mulch this path and others throughout the Back Forty with wood chips, only to find them all deposited at the side of the house after a hard rain.

I am now working on 2016 – finished the big train trip to Glacier and Oregon. That was a marvelous memory to relive. That also means I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the Flickr project!

The continuing uncertainty about travel and the vaccine is making me cranky. I miss my art retreats. They truly are sanity savers, and doing them online is just not the same.

Work was busy and frustrating yesterday and this morning. It shouldn’t be this hectic in mid-December. I’ve transferred my ranting about work to a private post, but it was good to get it out of my system.

I am now totally committed to reading How Green Was My Valley and stayed up way too late last night because I lost track of time. Also, I had forgotten what a witty and well-written book Harriet the Spy was! Thoroughly enjoyable adult re-read. Started The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix and I am trying not to binge it.

My life feels so boring right now. I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way. But it is better for it to be boring than being in the middle of a civil war or dealing with serious illness, so I’ll try to keep that in mind.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, GTFO, Reading

Saturday schmatterday coffee pot post

I am up to May 2015 on the blog project, so I need to get a move on to check it off my list.

This week I was fatigued and sleep-deprived. Yesterday was my office day and I left at lunch, took a three hour nap, worked a couple more hours from home, and then slept from midnight to 11 a.m.!!! Sandy has been feeling weak and fatigued also. He does a low-impact aerobic video for as long as he can every day. I’ve had foot problems that wake me at night, so I’ve laid off the exercise other than some light walks.

Sandy is making us waffles right now and they are really good! We use Klondike Power Cakes Flapjack and Waffle Mix, which we bought in bulk at Costco a while back. It is the best commercial mix that I have tasted, especially for a whole wheat mix.

Considering physical problems now and in the future, we moved the litterbox up on a table in the back room where we can deal with it easier. This means that some major cleaning has to take place today, as one of the cats didn’t get the message or forgot. Diego is good with it now, not sure about Pablocito yet and he is the dumber of the two – not saying that Diego is smart.

So this goes on the list of things that we want/need to do to the house when we are ready to let contractors/repairpeople into the house:

-Replace laminate floor in back room with linoleum.
-Figure out and fix the ongoing plumbing problems in the sewer line
-Fix the leak in the bathroom sink
-Put knobs/handles on the kitchen cabinets.
-Fix the kitchen drawer and panel under the sink.
-Pull out trays in the bottom kitchen cabinets.
-Replace the ceiling fan in the kitchen to something simple and easy to clean.
-Change the closet sliding doors in my bedroom from metal to wood, make them open and close easily and quietly.
-Strip and refurbish the antique door I bought and put pressed or stained glass in the windows, and replace the hollow ranch style door that is there now.

I am going to hire a landscaping contractor to clean up the back forty, take the rest of the maple tree down that has been broken halfway by invasive vines, and keep the yard in shape for when we put this place up for sale. I will keep my little garden plot, but I am finally giving in to Sandy as far as making the rest of it a more “normal” yard. We can’t deal with it and I can’t find anyone reliable to help. The permaculture guy who said he was coming back stopped returning my texts, and the guy next door broke his finger splitting wood for us. The guy who cleans the yard on the other side mowed our tiny little bit of grass for $20, then came back to say that his price had gone up to $50 for at least two hours work at a time. And he really doesn’t know plants – he called the cypresses that he planted next door pine trees. And I didn’t ask him to make a special trip or cut our grass, just to spend an extra hour cleaning up along our side of the property line for $20, which was his asking price at the time.

One way or another, I am going to GTFO of this country, and that means getting rid of our junk, our collections, and getting the property in shape to sell it after the pandemic is “over” and I reach social security age.

My hope is that by next week my work will have settled down as faculty and admin staff start taking off for the holidays and I can relax and just respond to a few calls and emails a day. Do some art. Do some garden clean-up and clutter disposal.

I finished watching “In the Dark” and will start “The Queen’s Gambit” next. Sandy and I watch an episode of “Schitt’s Creek” together every day. In reading, I finally finished the second book of Octavia Butler’s Patternist series: “Mind of My Mind.” I will move on to the third, but first I am re-reading “Harriet the Spy” which I was able to borrow from archive.org. What a hoot. It and “My Side of the Mountain” were my absolute favorite books growing up. I also loved the Three Investigators series.

I can’t do politics right now. I am so disgusted with half of the American people and their willingness to destroy everything that we built in order to get their way no matter what, or willingness to be silent about it, and this election won’t change that. It’s not even about the political leadership any more. It’s about the people who allow this travesty, these crimes, to happen with no consequences. It’s about people who see cruelty and crime happen right in front of their eyes and claim that it isn’t true. So, I am not on Facebook much any more. It might be up in the background, but I don’t look at much of it.

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.