Back Forty, butterbeans, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, weaving

Labor Day

You know, it’s ironic how many people have to work on Labor Day. My husband volunteered to work, like he often does on holidays. He likes the holiday pay and we rarely do anything special on holidays anyway. But I remember retail work, and I salute those of you in retail and restaurants and other service work who do not get a choice. I welcome the four day week after the stress of the beginning of the academic year, but it ain’t nothing like the stress of my old jobs.

Plenty of Roma and cherry tomatoes are ripening and I’ve been drying and cooking sauce every few days. There wasn’t any bicolor corn at the market this Saturday and I am rather spoiled for that, so I didn’t freeze any this weekend. I gave in and bought fresh shelled butterbeans (little green lima beans) for the first time maybe ever and was shocked at the price. It was fair, just as the price of shelled pecans is fair for the amount of work, but those are two food items I never had to buy before this year since either my mother or I grew them. I bought bell peppers and dried and froze them in strips. A friend is giving me his okra from his CSA bag, so I blanched and froze some and put the rest in my butterbeans. Half of the butterbeans were blanched and frozen and saved for Thanksgiving. I hope that I will have a second crop soon that is much better than the first crop was. The Sugar Baby watermelons are producing, but I am not impressed. So many seeds in such a small fruit. Also picked arugula that had been sheltered by the potato vines.

My big garden success was this tromboncino squash. It’s rare that I get more than a squash or two when I attempt to grow them because of squash borers and my laziness in combating them. This is the second one – the first was eaten by bugs. I picked it at exactly the right time. The rind is tender, the seeds undeveloped, and it is delicious. I sure hope I get some more. I sliced up the neck thinly and dehydrated the slices. Just tasted one and I was surprised at how tasty it is. The rest will be cooked in a casserole with vidalia onions and cheese and crackers today. There is a second vine growing along with this one that looks to be either the candy roaster squash or the cheese pumpkin that I expected. They are taking over the back yard!

We have a house sitter for our trip and I am so happy about that! Our neighbor does a great job in feeding and visiting the cats (he likes our front porch too) but we have a friend who is selling her house and needs a place to stay, so it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Here’s what I chose for the tapestry diary for the months of June and July, now that my weaving block is broken and my brain is back from circling the hole. I have to weave a little at a time and walk away but I am enjoying it. I got a massage yesterday and she was surprised that I didn’t hurt more than I did and recommended rest for the rest of the day yesterday. There’s a funny English word with two meanings: rest. Anyway, I have to get back to doing my stretching exercises regularly and when I get back from our big trip I’m going to start taking a yoga class again to keep me on track.

I bought CBD oil balm this week and have been using it on my elbow. So far, so good. As long as I don’t lift anything or hold a book or a Kindle for a long time in my left hand, my elbow is fine. After a few weeks of trying this I’ll report back.

We are still waiting to hear about our application to the city to install solar panels. Turns out that they either didn’t get my first fax or lost it and it didn’t get on the agenda for the historic district commission. The city planning office has been great to work with, however, and I was told that they may be able to approve it on their own based on other applications that have been approved. I’m excited about the prospect.

It’s possible that my next entry will be from Idaho, Wyoming, or after I get back from our next big adventure. I have a lot of house cleaning and prep work to do before then, and I am going to weave this afternoon.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Uncategorized

Staycation week, day three

What happened to Days One and Two? They went by in a flash and that’s okay.

Here’s the agenda for my art retreat/get shit done at home week. The idea is that I choose at least four of these every day to check off. The daily checkbox, in priority order:

  1. Get something done you’ve been putting off. (Monday it was going with Sandy to a will planning meeting at the credit union and sewing buttons on my favorite pair of shorts. Yesterday I dropped one of the cars off at the mechanic for an inspection and oil change.)
  2. Sort/purge/organize one box/drawer/pile. Goal: five paper shipping boxes of stuff out of the studio.
  3. One small area weeded or tended in the garden.
  4. Weave tapestry.
  5. Stitch on apron.
  6. Blog.

Today, I’ll probably clean and vacuum the front porch. We’ll see. Trying to stay off Facebook for the rest of the day.

So far I have not played with my apron, so I’d like to do that today, sitting on my clean porch. The weather is lovely this week. I was able to turn off the air conditioning and even give the fans a rest.

Yesterday, I spotted TWO groundhogs in the back yard! This wasn’t a big surprise, but I had not seen them at the same time before. So much for the water jet idea. They munched plants right around it. I don’t think that they are setting it off, although I hear it go off from time to time. They burrowed under a wire cage and ate the broccoli there, right in front of the motion sensor.

My thinking is that this needs to be a year of observation and reassessment of how to handle this. I’m not fond of the idea of trapping and relocating them, but that is still on the table. I’m watching what they like to eat the most – all varieties of greens, lamb’s quarters, broccoli, certain varieties of beans (Jacob’s Cattle and Cannellini), the cucumber vines, celery, the watermelon blossoms, rudbeckia and sunflowers. They also like the wild yam vines and violets, and I wish that they would chow down on only those. They are leaving alone, so far, the tomatoes, butterbeans, carrots, strawberries, pineberries, and herbs.

Now that there is a sunny forecast, I’m going to spray the repellent again. I also hung reflective hologram tape all over the place. I’m sure that the woodchucks think it is pretty, but maybe we’ll save some blueberries from the birds for ourselves this year. Other than that, I’m trying to let it go.

I enjoyed going through a box of fabric scraps and sorting and purging yesterday, and it makes me wants to do some more cloth strip weaving.

Blogging takes up a LOT of time so I’ll probably skip that for the next couple of days.

The tapestry diary is a scene from St. Simon’s Island in Georgia, where I went for the tapestry retreat. I’ve started it from the image in my head and will refer quickly to a photo later.

On tap for later today, a massage and maybe a trip to the farmers’ market. Right now I’m listening to an audio panel about Enneagram types 8, 9, and 1. I’m a One, and I’ve been working with the Enneagram for about 12 years now. It makes more sense to me than any personality type system out there.

depression/anxiety, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018

Tapestry diary progress

I stopped weaving my tapestry diary near the end of March. It was not fun for me any more. I struggled to find anything I wanted to weave or represent and if I wove about my mood I reached for black and gray, then forced myself to pick up blue and purple and pink and green instead. Then I put down the yarn and walked away from it for two months. Art might be healing for some people, but when I am in a period of depression, I can’t do art. I don’t enjoy much of anything at all.

I threw all my energy toward getting better physically and getting my gardening back on track. I concentrated on fairly mindless things, like stitching around a pattern or bundling fabric with leaves to put into a natural dye pot. That took a lot of mental pushing, although I wasn’t trying for any specific results.

The tapestry retreat was coming up and I didn’t have any project to take with me. I made a design with a snail riding an albatross and decided to weave it on the warp on the other side of the loom that the tapestry diary was on. (This is not a bad idea: the snail and the albatross. I fantasized about weaving a tale about a world traveling snail and her companions who help her. After all, a snail can’t get a passport or buy a plane ticket. It still might happen, but on a different loom.)

I also took my small traveling loom with the seed of an idea to weave with the silk threads I’d recently dyed with my fabric. Suddenly that idea took off and I was in a flow state. I didn’t want to stop working on it. I left the big frame loom with the tapestry diary on it in my hotel room.

When the weavers began showing their work and talking about tapestry diaries, I admitted that I’d brought mine but had stopped weaving it. It was such an encouraging group that I brought it over and got lots of good feedback on how to get unstuck. The biggest question I needed to answer was (and is, to be honest) if I really wanted to continue or if I should let it go.

So, here is the decision: New rules. Most people don’t know this about me, but I have been obsessive-compulsive since early childhood. Most people think of the stereotypical clean freak Sheldon type and that is definitely not me. I am more of the kind that hoards things and has to have things in a certain order, plus some thought patterns and habits I don’t talk about. My ways of coping are better than they used to be. I don’t write about it – in fact, when I started writing this post four days ago, I got to this part and my system crashed. I hide my OCD very well and apparently my brain wants to keep it that way. So be it. I will let the brain have a partial win on this and won’t write the long post that I intended.

I write my own rules in my head for nearly everything, and I believe that limits are good for my art projects most of the time. Otherwise I can get overwhelmed and shut down. This time I got overwhelmed by my own rules.

So, new rules:

  • One tapestry entry per month. I pick a subject at the end of the month to represent that month. Anything I do around it is rules-free. My entry for April was woven at the end of May. I will weave an entry for May this month (during June). Likely having something to do with the tapestry retreat – maybe a palmetto tree or sunset. I’ll have the first week or so to percolate ideas and design and the rest of the month to weave it.
  • To keep it consistent, I’m still using the cotton and linen thrums, but I can go to my yarn stash if there is a color I want that isn’t in the thrum bag.
  • If I don’t like the way something turns out (i.e., the entry on Jan. 2 that was meant to represent a thermometer that instead looks like an erect white penis) I can take it out and reweave it.

I thought about weaving a tornado for April, given my focus so far on weather and mood, but chose to weave the new garden bed in the Back Forty instead. And yes, I did unweave the whole thing and rewove it. Good for me.

You know, on one hand, I think that it would be healing and valuable to others to share my mental illness experiences on my blog, and I’ve tried to do so over the years, based on some of the feedback I’ve gotten, especially in the early years when I suffered from agoraphobia and truly was turning my life around step by step, inch by inch. On the other hand, it is just too painful sometimes and I need to respect my inner child’s privacy on this point. Writing about depression is not so bad, but OCD is too much, apparently. That said, I am light years better that I was when I started writing this blog in 2005 and that’s some amazing progress.

The next post will be cheerier, I hope, but if I’m going to keep a personal journal, there needs to be some honesty lest people think that I am one of those incredible people that does it all. I don’t, believe me. I went to bed almost as soon as I got home from work Tuesday through Thursday. I live for the weekend, mostly because I can sleep as much as I need to and have the freedom to be alone. I have long periods of time when I feel like a normal person, and I search out companionship. The times when I feel weird and wish for solitude are not as often or as long.

Okay, time to get some house cleaning done.

Back Forty, dyeing, Rebel stitching, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Upcycling, weaving

Saturday morning WHEW thank God post

I’ve been living for the weekend lately.

Here’s my newest obsession – taking online instruction from India Flint. Her first foray into a structured online class just began this past week: The Alchemist’s Apron. (By the way, that price is in Australian dollars and the exchange rate for US dollars makes it much lower.) Stitching has saved my sanity lately – honestly my work should not be this stressful. It’s the best job I ever had but bad ju-ju from anxiety and frustration is contagious for me.

The weather has been pretty whack, just as it has been almost everywhere else in the US and Europe. It’s hard to know what to do with the temps going up and down the way they have. It snowed earlier this week and was predicted to snow again this weekend, but I think that the forecast has changed. We haven’t gotten enough sun to really warm up the soil and the greenhouse. I spent some time yesterday evening and this morning filling an egg carton and peat cups that I found in the back building with seed starting mix and water. They need to absorb a lot of water before I use them. My garden usually gets a late start compared to others in the area anyway. I started a few broccoli seeds and will figure out a place to begin tomatoes and peppers inside. There are few sunny spots in my house.

Some critter left a rather large dump in my raised bed, and I wonder if it was a raccoon. After shoveling it out I covered the bed in wire fencing. That will not make the husband happy. He does not like my gardening methods, but organic gardening can’t always be pretty, especially if you don’t have the room to sacrifice some of it to the critters. I’m just praying that the woodchuck will not come back this year.

I went to the Greensboro Permaculture Guild seed swap on Tuesday night but wasn’t feeling great and didn’t stay long. Great group of people, though, and someone brought some warm freshly baked bread that was so good I wanted to snatch it and run away and gobble it all down by myself. However I resisted that wild urge and helped myself to a variety of beans, including Jacob’s Cattle and cannellini beans. I shared some of my Whippoorwill and Dixie Lee field peas that I have saved over the years. The Whippoorwill field peas originally came from Monticello.

There I met a young man and his daughter who I am going to call later this weekend and arrange to hire him to help me prepare a couple of planting beds for the summer.

Deep Roots Market is having their Taste Fair this afternoon from 12-4 which is unfortunate timing since today is also the day for the March for Our Lives. Greensboro’s march and rally is from 2-6 p.m. I will show up for part of it but I need desperately need art time.

I have filled a pickle bucket with iron scraps and vinegar and water to make a mordant for natural dyeing the shirt I will transform into the apron for India’s class this week. It was supposed to be in a big glass jar but most of my rusty bits were too big for the jar. It’s been a long time since I’ve attempted any natural dyeing because of my upper body problems. The exciting thing that happened is that I finally found my stash of naturally dyed cloth in the bottom of a hamper this morning. Most of it is silk though, and will probably be saved for something else.

My mood has been as whack as the weather and my tapestry diary this past week shows it. I’m kind of bored with it and I wonder if I will have the willpower to push through that and finish it. Some stitching will make me much happier today.