Snow in NC

I didn’t take photos. Guess I’m not used to having a working camera with me yet. It is our first snow that stuck, so it made everyone excited, and it was pretty covering the tree limbs. I’m happy that I don’t have to go to work until noon, although I can go in at 10 a.m. I don’t think I will.

We were freed today at 2, although again, I could have stayed, but since I had a headache and a choice I didn’t. Most of the time we don’t get a choice and we can’t come in and we have to take vacation time or make it up within 90 days. That’s no problem for me because I already have comp time built up.

Anyway, that gave me time to get rid of my headache and we went downtown to eat pizza then listen to the Piedmont Old Time music jam at Horigan’s House of Taps. Sandy wants to join this group to learn fiddle and I’ll just listen. Lisa was there and we sat in the corner and talked. I took my crochet.

We stopped at Oden Brewing on the way home and asked about the Irish music jsm they are planning there. It will be on the same nights, unfortunately, on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays beginning in March. Maybe I will learn how to play my bodhran.



20th Annual 39th Birthday

This won’t be long. I’ve done nothing all day but look at spreadsheets, push numbers around, and eat leftover soup for lunch. I think that the Sandman plans to take me out for either oysters or Italian for dinner.

Yesterday was nice, though. I built a fire in the wood stove and cuddled up in a comfy chair reading “Still Life” by Louise Penny. Had my massage and then went to Deep Roots Market and bought good things to eat for this week. Then we ate spaghetti for dinner. All in all, just about perfect.

It’s weird to be getting old. I just can’t get my head around it. It doesn’t seem possible – I feel so immature. Whole years of my life seem faded away and so why should they count? But so many things feel surreal these days.

I think that I’m going to collage and write in one of my art journals during the week. Also, get back to stitching now that my hands feel better.

Tomorrow I’m going to the get-together that started with the local Tiny Pricks Project group, so I have that to look forward to.


Big weather

Now that I have this laptop running I’m going to take another shot as using this blog as a journal and talk about everyday life. It may not be too exciting but maybe it will help me stay sane. It also might be moving into more personal territory, which means it may not have a very rosy outlook. Word to the wise. Travel blogging will begin again in May, though.

That was some weather front that came through here. Yesterday the rain was heavy and vertical and today the rain was light and horizontal. Trees falling everywhere. Flooding. We’re all right though. Will have to check the basement. The rain is gone now but the wind is absolutely wicked right now. I heard that it took down one of the last remaining old oaks on campus.

I am see-sawing between telling everybody that I am taking a break from politics and then seeing a Triad for Bernie get-together for the debate tonight and considering going. Maybe I’ll soak in the tub with some bath salts instead. Last night I dreamed about screaming at an old friend of my mother’s because the man with her said something hateful about liberals, and I thought, if my mother was alive, I would never have done this.

I am emotionally exhausted, as are so many of my friends. It has been physically tough as well.

Tomorrow I have our collage group meeting in Chapel Hill and thankfully this wind should be done by then. The only thing I’ve done since the last meeting was deconstruct several raggedy hard cover books for collage materials, but there really is no pressure here.

I finished reading The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle, the third book in the trilogy that started with A Star Called Henry. I skipped the second book because it got bad reviews. The third book had promise that fell apart. However, reading anything after the wonderful Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin is probably unfair to the writer.

Next on tap is Just Fine the Way It Is by Annie Proulx. I got so excited when I found it on my shelf and realized that I have never read it!

On TV I was sad at the ending of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s third season. It’s so hard to wait for the next one. I am a Star Trek Next Generation fan, so the new series Picard is exciting. I haven’t been watching any movies.

At some point I need to get out into my little greenhouse and start my seeds. I guess I should set up my grow light indoors, though, since I need to start tomatoes and peppers. Pablocito is such a pain about eating plants and plastic and spiderwebs and basically anything that he can eat other than cat food. They are on prescription food because of Diego’s food allergies and they both eat the food but they don’t have to be happy about it.

Sandy is bored with retirement. I hope that he finds a way through it that is satisfying for him. It’s tough that I’ve planned several trips that revolve around art classes. He will go along on the short hops but he is much happier if I can hang out or run around with him. He says he wants to go to Ireland but wants to see how his taxes come out. If he does, he will come along for the first week with me and then either go home or travel on his own the second week.

Looking at my Flickr photos as I’ve transferred them to this blog platform reminds me of the great times we have together when we travel. We argue a little, but for the most part we like doing the same things. The only things that we really differ in are that he loves to shop in all the kitschy little tourist traps (blechhh) and I am done with that in about fifteen minutes, then I am very impatient to get away to nature. He likes to hike too, but it seems like something physical stops him or slows him down on every big trip. I think I almost killed him in Cornwall, hauling him along that coast walk (he enjoyed it, though). This year I may have to eat my words because of a continuing foot problem. I should get my shit together and see a doctor well before the trip in June, but I hate hate hate going to doctors. Anyway, he loves the city and I love the country but there is a lot of overlap, so it’s mostly good.


Forward to 2020

Wow. I can’t even think as far as a new decade. Truthfully, I don’t have a lot of hope of things getting better over the next ten years so I think that I’ll focus on one year at a time. Or a month, week, or day at a time. For the purpose of this post, one year. I don’t expect anyone but me to read all this. It will be a long ramble as I gather my thoughts.

The O’Neills just entered a new era with Sandy’s last day of work ending yesterday at 4 p.m. I was really happy that everyone there gave him a good send-off. He worked there the longest of any place of employment and he loved the people there, but I always felt that they did not appreciate his customer service skills enough. Maybe they did. Customer service is definitely a skill, and I’ve had to remind him of that many times. It’s a skill that I have to fake most of the time. Maybe that’s part of the skill!

Anyway, I sound like a broken record but I am seriously trying to downsize my studio, and that has come down to some hard choices. My Schacht Baby Wolf loom went to live with a friend as a permanent loan. I am selling my Dorothy table loom. Most of my tapestry frame looms have been given away. I gave a lot of yarn to another friend yesterday who makes scarves for charity and is interested in learning to weave tapestry. I’m giving all the papermaking stuff and equipment to Susanne because if I ever want to make paper again I can always go to her studio to do it. Some of it came from her anyway!

I am trying to think carefully again about what it is that I really enjoy versus what I think that I enjoy until I do it. Mostly that comes down to mess. I like the results of painting and glueing but not mess on my hands. And I hate wearing gloves. Does the hatred of the mess outweigh my enjoyment of the process? In the case of ceramics, I decided that it did. I washed my hands so much they were chapped. As far as dyeing…I guess I have to face the fact that I can’t make myself start doing it any more. If I am at a workshop, I am all in. At home, no. Maybe I should get rid of my dyes.

Collage and painting is in my future but I will have to come to terms with liquid or sticky mess. Tape and sewing are better options for my preferences, but glue will be necessary at times. I think that I might be able to get past the OCD on this. I can’t give in to OCD completely! There is some stuff I have (will have to find it) that you can put on your hands and the paint and glue washes off easily. Besides, I have some fabulous plans for 2020 in which these will be necessary components, so in this case the results will be worth it.

When I think about what brings me the most joy, it is always fiber and book arts. Weaving, crocheting, stitching. I had so much fun weaving cloth strips together in Jude’s online classes and sewing together the t-shirt quilt. Bookbinding really puts me into the flow. I need to stop being so scattered and focus on a smaller circle of media, and then maybe I won’t feel so overwhelmed all the time.

Most of my travel will be compressed into seven weeks this year! That will be a long haul of anticipation until June 12, when I will leave for the place of my heart, Ireland, for a little over two weeks. The first week I will spend exploring on my own, in Howth and Dublin for three days, then a train to Galway and one night there, then a train to Westport for three days. Then on June 20, I will go to an weeklong art retreat with Mary Beth Shaw near Westport which will be exciting and beautiful.

Near the end of July, Convergence, the biennial conference organized by the Handweavers Guild of America, will be in Knoxville, Tennessee, about a 5-6 hour drive from home. There I will take two daylong tapestry workshops from Molly Elkind and Tommye Scanlin.
Sandy will go with me on this trip.

Then I will come home for a couple of days, catch up on work, and head east to Topsail Beach for a long weekend book workshop with Leslie Marsh and Dan Essig, two of my favorite book artists.

As you might guess, all of this is costing me a lot of money but the good part is that I have paid for most of it already. I had to pay for the Ireland art retreat upfront with cash and that had to come out of my savings. I am going to be concentrating on replenishing that, but as for the other expenses, I have paid my credit cards off! So I am heading into 2020 debt free except for the solar panel loan, which I hardly think about because the payments go directly out of my paycheck each month. I will be able to take the solar tax credit this year.

I am moving my studio from the dark front room into the room where we now use as a TV room/den and moving the den into the front room. This has been part of the reason for my purge. We have a very small house and to make any major changes, we have no place to shift stuff around. This will take time. We need to repair the plaster in the front room and paint. Right now it is a burgundy color and it has never been painted since before we moved here in 2001. Painting it a lighter color feels like a good change.

Other than that, we will try to do a couple of long weekends at the lake and Sandy is cleaning out the back building to set up a game room. Gardening is on the list of course and I bought myself a grow light to raise my tomato seedlings this year.

Now that I’ve cleaned out my brain, I’m heading back to the studio where MAYBE I will finish the caterpillar tapestry. I want to put it in the unjuried small tapestry show at Convergence.

I still have hope that I might be able to retire at 62 and that gets me through a lot of my days. I got a taste of what it would be like for the past week by staying at home for our winter break. I don’t talk about it much but my outlook is pretty bleak. Thinking about travel and art retreats helps me more than anything else. I hope that I will be able to continue it on a smaller scale, after I retire, even if it means that I take a part-time or temp job or two.

coffee pot posts, Uncategorized

Solar Energy Rocks!

Okay, I am giving my new setup with the Kindle and Bluetooth keyboard another try this weekend. The last time I tried I lost a long post at the very end of writing it. It is very very very slow. Maybe that’s appropriate? Teaching me patience? Anyway, if you are reading this, it worked!

We finally accomplished two major life goals this month. We paid off the mortgage on the house, and the solar panels are finally in energy production! I monitor the production every day in an app and so far on a sunny day they produce about 12.7 kHw per day and growing as the days grow longer. We could have placed them for more efficiency but historic district rules stated that they have to be as invisible as possible, so they had to go in two rows at the back of the house. The electrician said that it made little difference anyway.

The company is NC Solar Now and if you are in North Carolina and decide to use them please give me name, Laurie O’Neill, as a reference. I will get a referral fee that I will put back into the payments on the system.

This is not an off grid system. I wish that we could afford that, but I’m not even sure they would allow it where we are if we could. The power we produce feeds back into the grid and we are credited for the amount on our bill. We still have to pay Duke Energy a meter fee, and I imagine that the GOP in power will figure out more ways to squeeze more money from us for Duke shareholders. Still, this system should provide almost all the energy we need. I will be writing and updating about it all year.

As the days grow longer and hotter, we should generate more energy so hopefully it will balance out. Our furnace and water heater runs on natural gas.

I have always been very frugal about energy use and this is making both of us more conscientious about ways we can go further.

Now that I’ve managed to do a life update, I’m heading back to the loom.