coffee pot posts, tapestry, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Yesterday I spent weaving and cooking and I finished The Overstory by Richard Powers. I struggled through it, not because of its quality, but because I found it so depressing. The writing about the trees was magical and the character development was great. So I’m going to read Louise Penny mysteries next to give myself a change.

I filled in the place that I unwove last weekend and I’m much happier with it.  I may even weave it up to the size I planned originally.

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It snowed again Friday night. This time it did not stick around on the street outside our house, even though I don’t think that it got over freezing temps all day. This week is supposed to be warmer, but it might be too late for my big pot of aloe plants, which I’ve been trying to get through the winter outside on the front porch by putting it in a cardboard box and draping a curtain over it at night and on cold days. I brought it in last winter and thought that I had it where the cats wouldn’t mess with it. It’s toxic to cats and then of course I found a piece of aloe in some vomit, so it stays out this winter. I’m thinking of this as I listen to the sound of cat puking in the other room. So far the four other plants I brought it are fine, although I’ve caught Pablocito chewing on the lemon tree leaves.

I was looking at what I think are the fox tracks in the snow in the back yard, and my favorite neighborhood cat, Miss Penny, trotted right by me. She ignored my pleas to stop and visit, of course. Miss Penny doesn’t have much use for anyone but Miss Penny, but a few years ago she deigned to allow me to give her some scratches. I was surprised to see her running around in the snow, because she does have a home and a front porch to hang out on so she has a choice to be inside or out. Miss Penny is getting very old and I will be sad when she is no longer around for me to worship.

I’m so spoiled for North Carolina mild temperatures that I don’t think that I could move south or north! But if I have to choose, I would always go for the colder temperatures. I can’t stand heat – there are only so many clothes you can take off in public. Of course, the way things are nowadays you only have to wait a few days for an big weather change.

There’s not much else that I want to write about so I’ll go weave now. I’m feeling the mojo again and I need to take advantage of it.

 

tapestry, weaving

Unweaving

20220123_104658[1]After a good day of weaving and also lazing around yesterday, I woke up this morning with the realization that I needed to unweave a section of the tapestry. Fortunately, this section had fairly clean edges and didn’t intersect much with the areas on either side, or honestly, I would have let it go. I let another complicated section go that I grew unhappy with. I’m not telling which one.

The funny thing is that the entire time I was weaving it, I was patting myself on the back for making such subtle color changes so that the section, although simple, wasn’t entirely flat, but it still melted into the background and gave the eye a place to rest. And when I started weaving this section, I thought it would be much smaller because at that time I had decided to stop weaving at that pen line on the cartoon behind the weaving. I think the section would have been fine if I had stopped weaving at that point.

As the section of green grew larger I started thinking about that sharp line at the bottom of it and how it represented the edge of a branch in the background and how I really needed to indicate, even if it meant lazy lines or a very light color shift, the top edge of that branch. Once I got that in my head, I knew that I wouldn’t be happy with the finished tapestry unless I changed it.

I don’t think that anybody likes to undo work, but if it is something in a piece that you have dedicated many, many hours to, and you can do it without taking a huge area apart, I think that it is worth the time. This is a lesson that I learn over years of practice. Maybe no one else notices or can tell the difference, but if it bothers you, you’ll never unsee it.

The best way for me to do it is to unweave it first thing in the morning, then walk away for a few hours. Come back and see it with fresh eyes and understand that it is something new instead of a mistake undone. Right now I feel pretty eager to get back to it, but normally I would not feel that way.

Because my mind tends to see metaphors, I am considering the way that I am about to unweave my life here in the United States or at least in North Carolina. There are times that I think of this with great relief, and then I think of the enormous energy and patience it will take to do it, and I’m filled with anxiety. My hope is that my husband and I will agree on most of which will need to be done. Those who know us are probably laughing at that statement. I’ll probably want to get rid of everything except the art supplies and art and start over. My husband probably will want to ship all our hoard overseas. And honestly, some compromise of that will probably happen eventually, but not without a lot of arguing. It would be the easier option, and probably cost about the same as buying a lot of new furnishings.

The thought of starting over from scratch is so intriguing to me, though. I have watched a couple of friends do it. A near-total fresh start. That is so appealing to me. The thought of becoming an immigrant is daunting but the idea that it could lead to European citizenship is exhilarating. Not having to worry about being able to afford health care as we age. Travel to new places, new cultures. I have been in love with Europe ever since we went to Italy in 2006, but I never anticipated that I might actually be able to live there until recently.

It won’t be as easy for us as it might have been when we were younger, but we would not have been able to do it then. I just hope and pray that by the time I can retire Portugal does not raise the income requirement or change the immigration rules too much. I’m willing to look at other countries but Portugal has the climate, beauty, public transport, and large English-speaking communities that we would need to be happy.

Honestly, even though this is a very, very complicated section of my life, I think that I want to unweave it anyway. If I let it go, I think that I will always regret it.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Sunday coffee pot post

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Usually I write a post on New Year’s Day of what I hope will happen in the coming year, but I just couldn’t do it yesterday. If I have to choose a motto for 2022, it will be “I guess we’ll see.”

I spend a good bit of time between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s morning reading over past yearly wrap-ups, and although mentions of my chronic depression continued to pop up, they were much more positive in the earlier years of this blog. Even the years when I know that I was in a terrible, terrible mental state, my yearly wrap-ups didn’t mention or barely mentioned the events that drove me into the hole. I’m trying to decide if this is a good or bad thing. Or a gray thing. This is my journal, and I want to write honestly, even when it is public. I don’t have to, and I don’t, tell everything. All the writers that I admire let their vulnerability show. I suppose that I will continue to wing it, but I regret both the negativity I feel and the false positivity that I sometimes project.

Yesterday, I did move forward. I took a walk and looked for different oak leaves. Then I wove a lot on my tapestry throughout the day. Sandy and I did an exercise video and we ate vegetarian. Canned field peas and collards, with a big salad.

I succumbed to a Facebook ad and subscribed to Body Groove. I like the attitude of the instructor and the different videos. Dancing is one thing I can do standing or sitting.

Look at these oak Siamese twins, then some of the other leaves follow. I found at least a dozen different ones so far.

The reason that I decided to weave farther on Cathedral is because I wanted to include more of the blue skies peeking through the shadows on the north side of the tree. This was a particularly tough section to weave, but maybe the most gratifying. All those verticals! I used a lot of weft blending and crosshatching.

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I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that I have to return to the office tomorrow even though we are at a height of the pandemic. I am fortunate that I can isolate with my door closed, but it infuriates me that our administration will not let those who are high risk or have high risk family members work from home, especially since we proved that we could do it efficiently last year. I heard that an office worker with an excellent reputation in another department was terminated when she tried and failed to get permission to work from home because of health reasons. Yet our “leadership” is so proud of “getting back to normal.”

Anyway, I guess we’ll see if it all turns out okay.

So, for the coming year, here are my hopes and plans. In May, Sandy and I will adventure for 17 days in Portugal. He and I will be more physically fit by that time, with less pain, more stamina, and less fat to carry around. My brother-in-law will continue to improve. In early June, there is the Tapestry Weavers South retreat in Elkin. In mid-July, I have to choose between Convergence in Knoxville, Tennessee, a drive-able distance away, or across the country to Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon. Susanne and I plan to go to Focus on Book Arts. It’s a shame because Convergence doesn’t often happen within driving distance of Greensboro, and my tapestry guild will be involved, but that is how it shakes out. It would be nice to find a place to go in September – maybe check off another national park on our bucket list?

Other than that, lake trips, the usual purging, and a resolve to go to the print studio at least once a week, even though it might not be for printmaking or collage or painting. I’m going to have a tapestry to finish trimming, hemming, blocking, and mounting.

coffee pot posts, critters, Reading, tapestry

Sunday coffee pot post

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Yesterday I mostly did laundry and cleaned and read, while Pablocito hung out on the damp warm porch until the storm system blew through that had spawned the terrible tornadoes in the Midwest the night before. I wonder if they have tornadoes in Portugal? Now it is winter weather again, in the 40s.

Diego is breathing much better and sneezing from time to time, which is a good thing because I don’t know how else to get that congestion out of him. I can’t teach him to blow his nose. They both love the new dry food, which I’ve mixed in with the old dry food for now. I hope that I haven’t jinxed this by saying so.

I spent a couple of hours, off and on, weaving the Cathedral tapestry. I turned the photo above so that you can see part of that top section as it will appear when hung. When I step back from it now I can see the form of the tree in the shadows more clearly so I think that this part of the design will still be effective even though I’m stopping about a foot shorter than planned.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy was a stunning, difficult, and wondrously worded read. I have a weakness for authors who create their own languages. This plot caused a lot of anxiety for me as it unraveled, because it is full of trauma and you know from the beginning that it is a tragedy. Yet the children are delightful and the stories behind the characters are rich and complex, so I am glad that I stuck with it. It amazes me that this is the author’s first novel.

Near the end, she quotes the lyrics from “Ruby Tuesday,” and I went to bed with this ringing like a chime in my brain. No wonder it was hard to fall asleep.

“There’s no time to lose, ” I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind
Ain’t life unkind?
 
Next up on the stack is The Overstory by Richard Powers, which I bought from Cricket on the Boomerang Bookshop bus.  I’m really looking forward to this one.
 
It is good that I’m getting my focus and concentration back enough to read for more than a few minutes at a time. Maybe soon I’ll be able to watch a movie all the way through. Strange what an ongoing global crisis can do to your mind.
 
Portugal is calling. I hope we will be able to go. The photos coming from Lisbon of all the Christmas festivities make even an old Scrooge like me feel the spirit.
 
I have a date with the studio at 2:00ish and I am planning to keep it. Last Sunday I ended up collapsing at 3 p.m. I just couldn’t keep going. My problem now is that I have too many projects in my head and I need to choose one. I hope to spend a lot of time there during the week after Christmas.

tapestry

Thursday deferred

I wrote this post on Thursday evening, but somehow it wasn’t published so there will be a two-fer today.

My mind these days is becoming more focused on getting my WIPs done and planning for my retirement, both at home and at work.

The biggest WIP for six years has been “Cathedral,” the tapestry based on gazing up into the bald cypress tree at the lake on a sunny day. I made some progress on it last week, enough that I feel like I might actually get it finished and off the loom soon. By finished, I mean that I have decided to finish it smaller than I originally planned. The tension all over this loom is horrible and I don’t know how long than I can keep weaving. However, I think that the design will be fine if I don’t go on for another 12 inches. Here’s a turned photo so you can see it as it will hang. I’ve been weaving it sideways.

So now it will be longer than it is wide.  That’s okay, if I can block the tension issues once I get it off the loom. I’ll try to weave another two inches and a hem of about an inch.

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Then I will have to decide whether to tie the remaining warp to the bottom and weave another tapestry, this time with much bigger yarns and a simpler design, and sell this Shannock loom, or just go ahead and sell it. Either way, I want to sell it. I need more space in my studio, and my body prefers weaving on small looms.

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I love the details of this tapestry. The ePic yarns are a dream for combining colors for a painterly approach to tapestry. Eventually I will wind off a lot of these yarns and sell them through my Etsy store and this blog, because I have so much of it that I will never use half of it. I just have to figure that part out, but when the time comes, I’ll set up a payment process and announce it all over the place.

When I do the yarn purge, I will also go through my huge stash of old dictionaries and books and maps and make collage packets for sale.

Gotta get rid of this stuff before we move to Portugal! That’s still in the aspirational stage, but with this much stuff it’s better to start early so that the only problem we’ll have to deal with at the end is Sandy’s hoard. He is hard to move toward that goal.

At work it means that I’ve put a lot of paper in the shredder box, and I’m also deleting files that are no longer useful or out-dated. Considering that I’m heading for my 18th year in this job, I figured I’d better start now. By the time I retire, I will have worked for the state of North Carolina twenty years.

We finally have a state budget after three years of unreasonable GOP demands and Democrat governor vetoes. This means that I will get a small raise over the next two years and a bonus this year. The bonus will probably go toward repair on the 2008 Honda, since it has some deferred maintenance problems. We are lucky that we can get by with only one car these days, since I walk to work. But there may come a time, especially with my foot issue, that I may need to drive to work. Or travel on my own and so Sandy will need a car. He might have to get used to the idea of using Lyft or Uber or a taxi. That makes sense to me, financially. I’d be willing to do that for trips around town rather than put money into another car, especially if we decide to move to Portugal.

My feelings about the budget are very mixed. It has a lot of really bad stuff in it, including more dilution of the governor’s power. But the state of public education on all levels in NC is really awful. Employees needs raises, schools need repairs, broadband needs to be improved and accessible. So I guess I’m somewhat happy about it.

art, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

The Lake Tapestry

I really finished this last weekend, and I was going to wait until I had it mounted and framed, or whatever display I decide on, but I couldn’t make up my mind about whether to back it in black or not, so I decided to go ahead and post it.

lake tapestry for web

Originally I was planning to name this “Lake Effects” but since it changed into a mystery place as I wove it I am renaming it after a comment my friend made: “A Place You’ve Never Been.”

99% naturally dyed silk threads for the weft and cotton seine twine for the warp. 4.75 x 6.75 inches.

What do you think? Should I use this black background and frame it? Or should I mount it to a cloth covered board with a lighter, neutral (beige or cream) color? (I can already see a cat hair, so I’ll have to re-photograph it!)

When I cut this tapestry off the loom, I also cut off a sweet little painted silk weft weaving that I began at Pam Patrie’s cabin long ago. I don’t think it can technically be called a tapestry since the weft is woven all the way across, but some people call any art fabric a tapestry. I’m a bit more picky in my labeling. I have no idea what I will name it, but it is inspired by the beach near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

painted weft tapestry for web

art, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Progress on the lake tapestry

The lake tapestry has taken an unexpected turn as I inched (millimetered?) my way to the finish line. I decided to weave a strip of the brown/grey threads at the top for a hem, and started on the right side and took a break.

When I went back to it, it seems that my lake needs a cliff jutting out into the water in the background. Which means it is no longer Lake Waccamaw, which is round.

Yet, this weaving was abstracted anyway. It began with a very quiet photograph of raindrops on the lake and the blue sky just beginning to poke through the clouds and reflect on the tea-colored waters of Lake Waccamaw. I cropped the photo down to a small area and increased the size. I added the movement of the water on top and below the surface, and it became much more animated. The raindrops would not have really looked this way on the surface if the water had been moving.

Now it seems to me that the raindrops in the tapestry have transformed into boulders and rocks in the water. There are no boulders and rocks in the swampy sandy waters of eastern North Carolina. Not naturally placed ones, anyway.

What do you think? I need to make a decision.

dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, tapestry, weaving

Lake Waccamaw, April 2021

20210426_150338I spent a few days and nights down at the lake house with my sister last week. Lisa spent most of her time with me since she was having her bathroom remodeled at her house, which is within walking distance. It was the first time we have seen each other since July, and it was a good time.

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Other than to ride with Lisa to get takeout meals from a couple of places and to walk down to her house, I didn’t leave the house. The weather was a bit cold the first couple of nights and we discovered that the heat is not working. Lisa brought out her electric fireplace from storage and it made the place very cozy. Then the weather turned perfect, although still too cool to get in the water. By Wednesday afternoon when I left, it was getting hot.

Happily, my weaving muse came back finally came back and I starting weaving on this tapestry that I began three years ago at a Tapestry Weavers South retreat. It is an abstract interpretation of a photo I took of a calm reflection on the lake when it was just barely raining and a little bit of blue sky was reflected on the tea colored water.

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All but a little bit of the darkest color are silk threads that I have dyed with natural dyes at various times. Sometimes I threw them in with a bundle of fabric or paper or tied them around a bundle, so those are variegated. The blue is from indigo, and the warm brown coppery colors from black walnut. The other browns and grays – I don’t know. I’ve enjoyed designed from the perspective of the threads, and adjusting the design as I go. Not my normal process, and maybe this was why I had a hard time getting going again on it. Decision fatigue! I am very happy with it, but it won’t be finished in time for the TWS show, I’m afraid. My eyesight gets too blurry to work on it very long. Guess I need to make an optometrist appointment.

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, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, tapestry

Sunday afternoon coffee pot post

On the last dregs of the pot – I got caught up in Facebook.

Yesterday was a better day. Sandy called an old friend who worked for a bird breeder for years and she advised us that Bernie will be okay as a solo parakeet. He will probably bond with Sandy now that Liz is gone, which would be a very good thing since Sandy enjoys having him around. Bernie has bitten the crap out of him twice when he had to handle him. She offered to clip his wings so that he could have him out of the cage but both of us shudder at that idea. We won’t declaw our cats either. Bernie has a big roomy cage just so he has the ability to flutter about. That was one of our requirements if we were going to have a pet bird – he would be able to do birdie things as much as possible.

This friend had ninety birds at her house at one time. Can you imagine the noise?

Anyway, I spent most of the day out of my bedroom and took a walk around the block. Here’s proof:

^^^A long cropped shot of the back of our house from the other side of the block. You can see why we have a problem with water flowing downhill!

^^^The corner bar.

^^^What lies beneath. This is the red clay that our region is famous for. Less than an hour south is one of the oldest pottery communities in the nation – Seagrove, North Carolina.

^^^Tapestry progress. It’s just coincidence that this part looks like Liz.

^^^Robbie Rabbit is still alive and kicking. What a lucky bunny, because it spends a lot of time in the open and we have foxes and big hawks around here. I hope s/he’s still around when our young neighbor returns from Thailand. He will be delighted to see the baby bunny that he fed is all grown up.

^^^Rabbit yoga.

We made a quick run to Bestway Grocery to get a few items, mainly Smithwick’s ale for me since I ran out a while back, and a Smithwick’s after work is a good incentive to get through the day. I forgot that snow and ice was forecast for last night so the place was fairly crowded, although they enforce their masking rule and people were good about spacing. We double masked. Since we were there I ordered one of our favorite meals as take-out from Fishbones next door: popcorn shrimp burritos. It is such a small space and the patrons were fairly spaced out, not quite enough in my opinion, but all the unmasked people in that small indoor space gave me the willies. Thank God I only had to step inside for a few minutes. I feel sorry for the staff.

I will be so glad when we can sit at the bar in Fishbones and drink a pint of Smithwick’s there. It is one of our favorite places.

We had snow around 9 p.m. By the time I got up this morning and looked out the window, it was cold rain and the snow washed away. No ice that I can see. The temperature is just above freezing. I feel for my friends in the northeast who are about to get blasted again.