Lisboa, Getting there and Day One

We are halfway through day two. Yesterday we arrived late in the morning and took a long nap in the afternoon. Right now we are taking a break. It is 1 pm and it is hot. I think this is probably how our days will go. I will edit these posts later, most likely.

Saturday: A fairly turbulent evening delayed flight from Raleigh Durham airport made our connection from Baltimore to Boston skintight. We have also had the luck that in every single airport we have gotten out at the farthest gate from whatever gate we arrived at. We spent the night in a Ramada in Dorchester, just south of Boston, and that’s all we had time to see. We slept late and spent most of the afternoon in Boston Logan. Once the Aer Lingus check-in opened our experience was streamlined and the flight to Dublin was good. The plane was not full at all so we were able to spread out and have some room around us to sleep. Unlike the US flight, Aer Lingus required masks.

Dublin to Lisbon early yesterday was on a smaller plane and when we disembarked there was a very long walk through the airport, first through a Covid documentation check. Fortunately our negative PCR results came through on Saturday night, so I downloaded them to my phone and showed her those and our vaccination cards. The next stop was the passport check in a huge room and I estimated that about 1200-1500 people were ahead of us in line. Nearly all kept their masks on, fortunately. It was pretty efficient considering, and I thought we might make our appointment with the AirBNB host by 1 pm if I called an Uber. Well, that was a bust because I couldn’t find the pick-up spot and it was cancelled. I was so exhausted and worried about Sandy (he kept needing to find a place to sit down) and couldn’t find help in the huge crowd. So I texted with our hostess, and she finally sent her husband to pick us up. I was embarrassed that I was too tired and panicked to handle the situation, but we were lucky to have such kind hosts. They were both working and they certainly did not have to leave work to check us in early!

Anyway, we have public transit cards now and I was told that Uber is much easier to use everywhere but the airport because they are restricted where they can pick you up.20220509_180856

The Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon and I chose this AirBNB because of price, proximity to the train station and flea market (more later!), and reviews on AirBNB. Our place is tiny but charming.20220509_154537

View from balcony

The front door

Our balcony from inside

We took a long walk uphill in the late afternoon yesterday. Sandy did okay but had to stop frequently to rest. We were both still tired and had backaches from all the slow lines and airplane sitting, but we weren’t in a hurry this time though, and it was pleasant. It is warm here for this time of year, in the mid-80s. It was a steep climb, as I expected. I had been told to wear shoes with good tread because the cobblestones are slick. I see why now! They are polished from centuries of footsteps.


We found an outdoor spot to try our first pasteis de nata in the Graca neighborhood, the little custard filled tarts that Portugal is famous for. A little ways down was a traditional restaurant that the locals frequent, Restaurante O Piteu da Graca. We got there right at their opening time and got a table. Later customers were turned away. There I had another traditional Portuguese dish, bacalhau, which is salted, formerly dried cod. You would never know that it had been rehydrated. Sandy had fried breaded thin pork slices with plain spaghetti. My plate was prettier, but I liked his food better. The waiter did not speak English and seemed a bit annoyed with us. They only accepted cash, which we expected for some local places.20220509_194049

Heading downhill, we stopped for some fruit and drinks and beer for the fridge. Two pears, two oranges, a tangerine and an apple cost about two dollars for the lot. Two canned teas and two bottles of beer to go cost about six dollars at a tiny streetside bar. Bottled waters at a small shop cost 50 cents each. Later at a restaurant the same bottled waters cost around $2.75 each.


We slept hard and got on the right time schedule quickly. It is very noisy on this street but it is consistently SO noisy that it is like white noise. Sandy said that he dreamed that something was coming in that he thought was a zombie and he asked me to get him his gun. He woke up and it was me snoring. HA! We are not used to sleeping together because of HIS snoring.


Sunday morning coffee pot post

This will be a really short one because I slept late and I have Leighanna Light’s online class starting back up in less than an hour, but I don’t want to get out of the habit of posting at least once on the weekend.

For once I am seriously enjoying an online class. I think that doing it synchronously on Zoom or Facebook makes so much of a difference. It has more of the feel of having people around me. This is her Vintage Metal Deck class that I first took in person at Art and Soul Virginia about ten years ago. Here’s some of what I did yesterday, and I will post more later since I’ll be working on these and more this week. I was glad to have those stenciled and gelli printed papers from my time in the print studio to work with.


coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Uncategorized, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

20220131_083313The paragraph and list below it showed up in my Facebook memories from exactly five years ago. Good to know that some things haven’t changed.

In the interest of self care, I’ve thought a lot about what I truly enjoying doing the most as opposed to what I think I should enjoy the most. Here they are, in no particular order:
-Sleeping late and drinking coffee while watching my cats play in the morning
-Weaving strips of cloth together
-Good beer with friends at a local bar
-Creating art in the same space with friends
-Related: Art retreats where I can totally focus on doing what’s in front of me
-TRAVEL to new and beautiful places, preferably natural beauty
-Ice cream
-Dark chocolate with sea salt
-Twisted humor
-Mixing yarn colors together to interpret tapestry design
-Watching seeds sprout
-Recurring dreams about weaving and fantastical looms
-Solving puzzles and playing games based mostly on logic and a bit of luck thrown in for fun
-Leaf prints on new cement, as well as on cloth!
-Connecting with artists and friends on Facebook who share my passions
-La Croix orange water


Anyway, on Wednesday, I got up with one thing in mind – to finish up at least one work-in-progress. I chose a good one. The fabric that I wove last winter was intended to be curtains, but I didn’t have enough of it to make four panels of the length needed for our tall Craftsman windows. I had put the fabric away for months. In the latest issue of Handwoven there were lots of towels, including bath towels. Of course! Bath towels don’t have to be terrycloth. These are woven of unmercerized cotton and have lots of texture. I fired up the sewing machine and lo and behold it performed like a dream all day. At the end of it, I had two big bath towels and two smaller towels.

On Thursday, I pulled all the drawers out of my clothes dresser and purged two drawers worth of old clothes. Most of these went into the garbage because they were old socks and underwear and ratty clothes with holes or significant wear. I picked out a few to cut up for rags and to save for another t-shirt quilt. Today I am pulling books off the shelf and I intend to go through my closet and do those clothes and shoes.

And weaving. I am weaving again, thank God. I’ll post a tapestry photo tomorrow.

I bought plane tickets for myself and two friends to go to Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon in mid-July. This might be my last FOBA, so I will mask up and be as careful as possible and go. I want to go to the West Coast one more time before I head to Europe for good.

If you aren’t interested in my personal and work life, you may want to skip the part below.

This has been a particularly rough week for me because I totally lost my temper at work on Tuesday and then had a meltdown in front of the department head. It was suggested that I take a few days off.. Fortunately I had a therapy appointment on the first day off, and I had planned to go in the following day but she suggested that I take another day off. So I stayed home on Wednesday and Thursday to get my anxiety and anger under control. As a result, I had a ton of work to do on Friday and that pretty much kept my brain busy all day. Nobody said anything to trigger me, thank God.

At the heart of the issue here was sexism and a lack of respect for the work that staff does. A male professor explained to me for the second time how I had misinterpreted a policy that I have been working with as a baseline for one of the main areas of my job for 18 years. It was a textbook example of mansplaining and when I again told him what the policy meant (it was clear as day), he began ignoring me and directed the rest of the email thread to the male faculty member responsible for this area. Someone who I trained, and who leaves all the details and process to me. When the man in charge supported what I said, the professor backed down. Then I demanded that the professor acknowledge the work that I do and that I did extra work to accommodate his last minute requests. Of course there was no response, and then nobody understood why I lost my mind afterwards. Even I couldn’t articulate it.  I figured all this out later with the help of my therapist.

I was told that even though I believe that I am on equal footing with faculty, that I am not and never will be, and no matter whether I am right or wrong, I have to do as I am told and accept it or be in danger of losing my job. That faculty don’t care about my feelings and that I need to suck it up and get over it.  (The person who told me this is also staff.) It’s true, unfortunately. Not all faculty treat us this way, but the narcissists regularly leave us out of decision making and do not ask for our feedback although all three of us are valuable resources of information, having gone through the changes in administrative policy for over a decade. All three of us have trained faculty in department administrative positions. Then when problems arise, we are usually the ones who have to fix them. We are not supposed to show anger about this situation. This is our present reality, and not one that is likely to change before I leave this place. We are considered to be expendable.

I do believe that this place will break me if I don’t get out of here soon. I have a little over a year to go before I can get the Social Security to supplement my retirement pension and savings. Then I should be able to get by.


Saturday morning coffee pot post

I’m just starting to get the hang of this block editor, but I still haven’t figured out how to add the categories, which I have used since my first day of WordPress, and added to the old posts that I transferred over. I hope to add these to my newer posts one day since I find them very useful.

Dragged kicking and screaming into any new technological change, that’s me! I wouldn’t even use an answering machine for years, and I was one of the last people I know to get a cell phone that I actually used. You’d think that we’d be different in the O’Neill household, given our IT pasts, but my husband is even more of a Luddite with his phone. I never have liked the constantly connected culture, and I pretty much hate talking on the phone. From what I’ve read, that is common among introverts.

And the answering machine came in handy the week that an insane husband of a friend left threatening messages for me in the middle of the night. That little tape is still in a drawer somewhere. It stopped the phone calls when we informed his wife of its existence.

So anyway, I uploaded photos from the last week yesterday, and if you aren’t interested in our personal lives or my brain dump, you can stop right here and go back a post.

Our week began with Sandy again calling and calling the surgeon’s office to get them to send the lab results from his muscle biopsy to the rheumatologist’s office. Finally a staff member from the rheumatologist’s office got involved and got the results just in time for his appointment on Thursday. His biopsy was APRIL 1st. The results have been back for weeks. I never want to have any surgery from Central Carolina Surgery after this.

Anyway, it was not good news, but I didn’t expect good news, having done a lot of research on what the doctor suspected. The diagnosis is polymyositis, a rare auto-immune muscle inflammatory disease where the immune system attacks healthy muscle tissue and destroys it. Part of the reason it might be rare is that it is hard to diagnose without this muscle biopsy. It mimicked some symptoms of shingles so much that Sandy was absolutely convinced that all of his problems were from long term shingles. His GP diagnosed shingles as soon as she saw the rash. I’m still confused whether he actually had shingles or if the shingles was in addition to the polymyositis. The doctor did say he was sorry, that he knew that Sandy thought that it was shingles, and he asked him where the rash had appeared. Apparently a rash can be one of the symptoms of polymyositis.

Since Sandy is doing much better as far as his muscle weakness, they took some more blood to see what dosage of steroids he should be on. After about a month of steroids, his meds will be shifted to what they call steroid-sparing, because you can’t be on those good-feeling steroids for long.

I really want to have a one-on-one talk with his rheumatologist. Fortunately, they let me sit in on the appointment, because Sandy was an abused kid and his way of dealing with stress and bad news is to zone out and go into denial. He misses a lot of details. For instance, he thought that he wouldn’t be starting his medication until after his next appointment in June. He needs to start this asap.

I asked the doctor whether we could still take a trip to Europe in September, and he said that by then, Sandy should be able to do it. So that’s the good news! I’m so glad that we were both able to get vaccinated before he goes on immuno-suppressant drugs.

Also, this is the kind of disease that comes and goes into remission, and even though it is incurable, the meds should keep him in remission. Thank God for modern medicine.

Sandy started taking water aerobics classes at the Greensboro Aquatic Center a week ago, and this has been a very good thing. His instructor is also a massage therapist and he scheduled massages for both of us late Monday afternoon. That’s a nice thing to look forward to on a Monday, especially since I plan to do a lot of yard work this weekend. The weather is gorgeous.

In the meantime, I decided that it is time for me to get my shit in gear and re-enter the world. For an agoraphobic, this is more complicated than you would think. Agoraphobia is not what the general public thinks it is, which is why I had my own problems getting a diagnosis. I know the red flags when it is coming back, and my red flags started waving about a year ago. It is hard work staying ahead of this mental illness, but I don’t intend to get housebound again. I have even been avoiding the front porch, where I am sitting and writing this post right now.

I went to my GP and got my own lab work done, which I have been avoiding, and talked to her about my problems with my feet. She said that she was referring me to a podiatrist but I haven’t heard anything about that. If I need surgery for this cyst on my foot, I want it in time that I am over it before traveling to Europe. If not, it will have to wait until late October. It is far enough under my high arch that it isn’t painful. I also have Achilles tendinitis which makes me pretty hard for me to walk and disrupts my sleep. I think that will be more easily solved and it is the main issue. My lab work was about the same – high cholesterol but otherwise normal. I gained five pounds, no surprise. I need to get in better shape if I want to do a lot of walking in Ireland and Lisbon.

After Sandy’s appointment on Thursday, we went out to lunch at Kiasco on their patio, and when I mentioned how good he will feel on steroids, he said that he didn’t want to take any more drugs. This is a huge warning sign and once I got home I curled up in a little ball in my bedroom for a few hours. Sandy can be extremely stubborn and self-destructive if he makes up his mind about something, and won’t veer off that course even if he sees that he was wrong. I decided to give him a few days of space to get used to the idea, and have only mentioned the steroids and how much better he will feel a couple of times.

I can see that this is going to be a rough road for both of us emotionally and for me, mentally. So I made an appointment with my therapist for Tuesday afternoon. I’m actually feeling better than I did a year or so ago, or I wouldn’t have been able to make the appointment. I want to stay ahead of what my brain might mistakenly instruct me to do. And then, depending on what happens, I may ask him to go with me.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll write about my upcoming travel plans and the progress with the Back Forty, if any!


Friday Afternoon

I thought I’d post a few of the photos from this week before I go on to my Saturday post tomorrow.

Here are Frida and Bernie in the big cage together. They were pretty stressed at first. Frida was adjusting to her new space and Bernie was thrilled to have a new playmate and wouldn’t leave her alone. Now they seem to be fine, although I notice that Frida closes her eyes a lot, as if she is tired.


Last Saturday afternoon we went to the department get-together at Oden Brewing, where there was a good band playing called Who I Are and a Korean bbq food truck with an amazing bulgogi cheesesteak. Yum, yum. Maybe the best food truck food I ever had – certainly the best cheesesteak sub. I loved the James Brown doll in front of the stage, and the new ESB at Oden is excellent.


I did get out the string trimmer (or weed whacker, as I prefer to call it) and cut most of the yard, at least until I ran out of electric cord. I worked on the new hugelkultur bed by shoveling in the dirt, potatoes, and one garden snake out of the whiskey barrel planter that was falling apart. I moved a lot of rocks around since I took this photo and made hugelkultur bed look less like a shallow grave. My niece won the comment of the day on Facebook when she said, “Where’s Uncle Sandy? Don’t say out in the garden!”


See that cement block wall in the background? I was over there taking a photo of the may pops and a little groundhog came out of the burrow on the other side to check me out. It rushed back in and is just out of the photo’s sight although I could still see it. My neighbor across the street has been feeding the groundhogs so there is not any hope of me getting rid of them. All the neighbors think that they are cute. I scream at them. Oh well. There is a red fox family around too. I think that I heard one bark the other night, and Sandy saw it in the same area. So nature might take care of the problem.20210508_14043620210508_140350

Leaving you with a foxglove and a snapdragon – the volunteers are many this year. Tomorrow I’ll probably have a lot to say, given our medical news this week and my travel plans evolving.



Saturday morning coffee pot post

My neighbor is mowing his front yard and I feel envious. We don’t have a working mower at the moment, and even though I actually enjoy mowing and weed-whacking, it sets off my tendinitis. I’m considering getting the weed-whacker out anyway. The yard guy that I was so thrilled about came by when I was at the office on Thursday to mow and clean up the yard, but he couldn’t find a parking place so he left. So frustrating! The Back Forty is looking like a prairie, which I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t breed tiger mosquitoes.

There’s something about clearing paths and breaking trails that lights up my brain when I mow. Mowing was my job growing up, and I liked it so much that I would mow neighbor’s yards, the sides of the road, and the community building lot too. Now that I have hindsight, I guess that was one way that I coped with my anxiety.

This week was the last of the semester, and things should calm down for a while, but you never know these days. We used to go on vacation in May for this reason. This year our best-laid plan is to go to Ireland with a side trip to Lisbon, Portugal in September. Hopefully the EU will be open for us by then – it sounds like it is moving in that direction. I have good deals on AirBNB apartments in western Ireland (for a week!) and in downtown Lisbon, near the museums and the river in one of the arty neighborhoods. Both can be cancelled up to a week before the rental begins. I hope that my sister and brother-in-law will join us, but that’s beginning to look doubtful. In the meantime, we’ll probably go back to the lake once or twice in the next few months.

Beautiful weather today. Sunshine and breezes, high around 70. I’m glad that I can enjoy it because I had my second shingles vaccination late Thursday afternoon and it kicked my butt yesterday. I barely felt the shot, but afterward I barely slept and had a headache for about 24 hours, not to mention an extremely sore arm. Last night I finally fell asleep with an ice pack, slept for 12 hours, and awoke feeling good. Later we will go to a get-together for our department at Oden Brewing, which has a nice outside beer garden just around the corner from my house.

We moved Frida into the cage with Bernie yesterday. After trying to catch her (we never have handled her) we finally held her cage up to Bernie’s cage and opened the two doors between them. She flew into Bernie’s cage. It was that simple. They are both exhibiting stress behaviors and Bernie has been chasing Frida around more than she’d like, but otherwise they are getting along and were kissy-kissy this morning.

I have so much that I’d like to get done this weekend. I didn’t get any weaving done because I stabbed myself in the finger with a knife on Sunday! It didn’t hurt much, amazingly, but boy, did it bleed and I thought that I might have to get stitches because it was deep. Of course my vaso vagel syncope popped out and I had to lay on the kitchen floor for about 30 minutes. Sandy stayed with me and helped me. We did pretty good first aid because it has closed up nicely and hasn’t hurt much, but working in the yard and washing dishes and weaving were out for this week.  Hopefully I will have a few photos by tomorrow evening.



^^^The view from my office on Friday

Sort of forcing the blog posting right now. Saturday was a very bad day, beginning on Friday afternoon, actually, resulting in terrible nightmares, and putting me in the hole for most of Saturday. I wrote a private post that morning describing my dreams, trying to work through them. Sandy came through after he found me in my bed with the covers over my head, crying. He made sure that I ate, gave me a nice back rub/scratching, and generally made me feel loved.

I popped out of it on Sunday, and if I wasn’t on medication, I would probably still be in the hole.

Last week my focus turned back to purging and organizing, since I can’t get past the artist block. One thing that we’ve been working on is to make it easier for both of us to do things that we have to get down on the floor or squat to do. That is difficult for both of us for various reasons due to age and health.

A couple of months ago we put the litter box up on a sturdy table in the back room, and the cats adjusted right away. It is much easier now to scoop and clean. Earlier last year we were sent a big fancy litter box system with pee pads by mistake and PetSmart gave it to us. We didn’t use it for months because I didn’t like that you had to use special litter and pads, but once we tried it, it is so worth it.

Last week I ordered a couple of metal pull out drawers designed to go under sinks and in lower cabinets to see how I liked them. We have a lot of food and pots and pans and storage containers in our low cabinets and it is really hard to squat down and pull stuff out from the backs of them. I put a two-tiered one under the sink and cleaned that out. The other two, shown here, are very sturdy, but don’t stack as well. I put my Golden acrylic paints and Ranger inks in them for now, where I can get to them easily, but I might end up using them in the cabinets, depending on whether the wide ones I ordered fit. They should get here today.

I packed up a beautiful Japanese tea set that I laid claim to many years ago from the room full of stored antiques in my grandfather’s house. At the time, my sister wanted it for my niece. I said, no way, this is mine, and I promise to give it to Brooke when the time is right. The time is right. I kept one saucer that was extra – it seems that a cup or three were probably broken at some point because they were always missing. The set was so delicate that I never used it. There was ancient sugar in the sugar bowl that I had to clean out. I suspect that this set probably belonged to my Aunt Lib.

It appears that Diego requires my attention now.


No. It can’t be Sunday already.

More than anything, this is a test to see if WordPress behaves on my Kindle. I finally wrangled the Tapestry Weaver South site away from its old hosting company. They knew we had moved the site, but yet they kept bugging us with spam and then emails to update the credit card on file. The person in billing kept sending me the same message even though I kept saying cancel our account. I really hate outsourced customer service. Anyway, the account I thought was canceled is now canceled, I hope.

I am being lazy today. I glued dictionary pages to some bookboard pages to start on Sharon’s class. When I got overwhelmed with ideas, I decided to do that instead and then maybe I can jump off a word on each page for collage and embellishment. I just need to get the ball rolling somehow.

Boy, do I have a lot of earrings to give away. I have a lot of onesies that will be good for hanging off pages or the spine of a book. At least the bowls on the dresser are sorted and clean, and I have thrown some junk in the trash and put a few things in the boxes. Now I realize, ick, these curtains. They probably need washing in the worst way. I see a cobweb on my inkle loom. I bet that top shelf is covered in dust.

I need a housekeeper and a cook and a personal trainer.

Feeling unsure about Portugal now that people are complaining about how damp and cold the housing is on one group, and in another group they are talking about how awful the mosquitoes are. Oh well, no place can be perfect. But one of my big wishes was to pick a place without many skeeters. Maybe I’ll end up in the PNW after all.

My brain feels cooked. I don’t know why, other than Pablocito being a pain all night.

Hopefully photos tomorrow.


Evening follow-up

Here’s what I got done today other than preparing meals and washing dishes and making the bed, which don’t count. I cleaned the ceiling fan in my room, which is harder than it sounds. I noticed that some artwork I had leaning on the molding over the closet doors were really dusty too so I got them down and cleaned them and put one of them in a frame. I still need to clean that area but it’s hard on my neck to clean high places so I’ll do it tomorrow. I took a walk and put two books in the little free library. And I finished transferring the photos from Flickr to the end of 2017. I had hoped that I had stopped putting photos on Flickr by that time, but I didn’t, so I will plan to do January 2018 tomorrow and clean out the refrigerator for my house cleaning task.

This is a painting that I did in Mary Beth Shaw’s workshop in Petaluma in 2012.

This is one of those accidental shots that I looked at and thought hmmm. There might be a good abstracted composition in there.

Now I’m going to watch another episode of The Queen’s Gambit and read How Green Was My Valley.