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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.

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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.

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.

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Sunday Morning Coffee Pot Post

I meant to do this yesterday, but I slept so late that I was shocked to look at the clock when I finally opened my eyes. Let’s just say that there was not much morning left. It’s too bad that we all can’t sleep when our body needs it. There’s something wrong with this system. For me, that means a lot longer than most people. I’ve always been that way, but as I’ve gotten older and creakier I toss and turn a lot and I think that it eats into my total time asleep.

After I got up, I went straight to the loom and worked on the tapestry diary for the rest of the week. Today I think I’ll weave 2018 into this block. I wanted to acknowledge the “bombogenesis” although the most we got from it was a dusting of snow and bitter cold. That is supposed to lift tomorrow, thank God. I generally don’t mind cold, but I worry about the animals and perennial plants. I’d worry about the homeless here, but in our city they do have places to go, thank God.

The kitties like to sit on the heating vent under the loom.

Things are a bit cramped here in the studio. For the tapestry diary I’m using this frame loom that I had warped some time ago to take to the lake. I prop it up in front of Cathedral on the Shannock loom with a piece of mat board behind it. I plan to sell the Schacht Baby Wolf loom beside it. I also have a Macomber 40″ add-a harness loom with 4 harnesses currently. I have yet to weave anything on it, but my plan was to weave a big doubleweave rag rug on it. I started measuring warp for the project three years ago, but the kittens were too interested and then my neck and shoulders went wonky for two years. I hope to get back to that. I may switch over to weaving tapestry on it and sell the Shannock also.

Yesterday afternoon we went to an annual White Elephant party that my friends give each year, and we both came home with something we were happy with. I got an insulated grocery bag and Sandy got a bendable wooden artist’s model. I hope that he will get back to painting again one day. He clearly has talent but he doesn’t have the patience for practice – he wants to be great right away.

I need to go put beef stew in the crockpot. One of the things that I’m letting go this year (or trying to) is the guilt I feel about not wanting to cook. I simply have higher priorities these days. It’s not that I have let go of the belief that whole organic and local foods are important. I do want to get my food gardening to a higher level this coming year. But the fact remains that I waste a lot of fresh food because I put off cooking at the end of the day, and I want to do other things when I’m not at work. So I’ll be concentrating on buying easily prepared and more healthy prepared foods to eat in the coming year, and maybe eating out more often. I’ve reached the point where I honestly do not want to buy my food from anywhere but the farmer’s market, the co-op, and sometimes Costco, and I’m still very picky about the origin and quality of my food.

At the same time, I keep bookmarking recipes in the New York Times for things like bread so the habit in my mind remains.

We do have an enormous choice of good sauces to pick from for quick easy meals. Some that I’ve been pleased with are curry and masala sauces from Maya Kaimel. Quick stirfry of chicken and/or veggies, pour this sauce over, make some rice, and presto, a great meal.

I am dead serious about not buying any clothes, books, or art supplies this year. I’m adding seeds to that list. I’ve already bought more than I have room to plant. I have enough tapestry yarn to last me for the rest of my life, thanks to Mama’s life insurance money.

I joined Audible.com for a free trial and chose “Fire and Fury” for one of the free selections, and to balance that out, Pema Chodron’s “When Things Fall Apart.” I listened to the first one for a little while yesterday. I mainly wanted to add to the demand for the book, because I know that numbers drive Twitler into a tantrum, but of course, I’m not buying it. I’ll probably cancel the Audible after the free trial. I know where to get audiobooks free.

Okay, time to weave. We have another “Old Christmas” party to go to this afternoon.

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Bringing in 2018

Ah, first day. We went out for the first time on New Year’s Eve in many years to a Steampunk Ball at the Haw River Ballroom with friends, and it was fabulous. We all enjoyed dressing up steampunk and dancing. The music was fabulous, both the dj selection at the beginning of the evening and the live music by the Onyx Club Boys later. I could see myself getting into this bigtime.

Today I’m looking ahead. I am actually going to begin a tapestry diary today, something I’ve intended to do for several years. I have a frame loom warped already and I’ll use that. The plan is to work on it weekly, but I’ll attempt to do something daily if it is at all possible. I’ll probably use a photo for inspiration of color or shape. I’m not going to promise myself to work daily on anything, because I’ve seen that aspiration go down in flames too many times. It only produces guilt.

Another goal is to not buy any clothing, books, or art supplies for the next year. Basically, nothing that is not necessary. Something else I’ve wanted to do for a while. I have enough books to last a lifetime and I need to get rid of a lot of stuff.

I want to spend more time with the Triangle Book Arts group.

I don’t want to sell anything or enter competitions or juried shows again this year. This may change.

I have to consolidate my studios soon, and I’m getting there little by little.

Trips and workshops for the year are planned as followed: Seth Apter one-day workshop here in Greensboro in early February! Tapestry Weavers South retreat on the Georgia coast in May. I have put down a deposit for Tommye Scanlin’s tapestry class at John C. Campbell Folk School, but since I am third on the waitlist and it is the week of Memorial Day, I have very little hope of getting in. I especially want this one because Jenny, a friend from Washington state, is going, and I always want to spend more time with her.

Sandy and I plan to take a week in mid-September as usual, but this time we are going to try to hit both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in our quest to visit as many National Parks and Monuments as we can. My friend Judy from Montana plans to join us.

Here are more photos from last night’s festivities, including our friends Jerry and Susan Wong. Gerald Wong is running for Congress. How’s that for cool friends!


From the peanut gallery at the Haw River Ballroom

Jerry and Susan


Jerry made this awesome staff that had lights that synchronized to the music.


Sandy and I relaxing between dances

I don’t normally take bathroom selfies, but it was the only place with light!

coffee pot posts, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, Slow cloth, Uncategorized

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Did I catch a flying saucer in this photo?

My love/hate relationship with Daylight Saving Time continues. Even though I love that extra hour of sleep in the morning I do not love the earlier darkness at the end of the day. Then spring is so hard to adjust back! I have always had a very regulated body clock. My husband does not and can stay up all night and sleep most of the day on the weekend then switch back to an 8-5 weekday schedule. I envy that and his ability to fall asleep in less than 60 seconds, but I also believe that it affects his health negatively.

My spirits are better this week although it seemed like time dragged. Last Sunday I made myself go to the studio and then made myself sit down at my sewing machine just to play with tshirt scraps. I ended up with a block I liked and will do more in this vein.

Friday night Sandy and I took his little bongo drums to the drum circle that meets in Center City Park on First Friday nights. (They won’t meet again until March or April.) That was fun but I think I’d like to get a bodhran, which is an Irish drum. The vibration on my fingers is a little too much. Then we went to Little Brother Brewing, a new micro brewpub on South Elm, and listened to feminist poetry. An Asheville-like evening in downtown Greensboro.

I’ve been purging collage materials from my studios, trying to get ready to consolidate them if necessary. When I get blocked, I reorganize. I have a lot of pure junk paper that I am recycling, but I also have a lot of old dictionaries, textbooks, natural history books, music sheets, maps, and atlases. My plan is to make collage variety packs to sell at a very low cost because I know there are artists who would love them. I’ll include painted and handmade papers as well. I’ll probably get this going around Christmas when I have time off and sell them through here, my Facebook page, and Paypal.

I think that I’ll make paper and fabric garlands and prayer flags too.

Now, going to work on “First, the Seed” and “Flow” books for the Triangle Book Arts show if I can get my worktable cleared off!

Back Forty, Blather, coffee pot posts, Uncategorized

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This really will be random.

Last night, for the first time since surgery, I could turn over in bed without my insides feeling like they are rolling around! Sometimes the absence of a thing feels like a real thing. So I’m pretty happy this morning. Haven’t even taken a Tylenol yet, although I will.

I think I’ll go to the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market and buy broccoli and some combo of locally raised beef and pork and chicken. They have wonderful lean brats and
sausages there too. I always see a lot of great people there. Back when I was agoraphobic it was one of the first places where I felt comfortable as I was healing.

My field peas are about done but my butterbeans are having a big end of season run. I picked twice this week and shelled, blanched, and froze them. My tomatoes are about done too and I’m going to dehydrate my last batch this weekend.

The California fires are nightmares and my heart hurts so much for the terror and trauma and loss of the people there. Fire is a particular dread of mine and I’ve lost some loved ones to it.

I went to two Art-is-You retreats in Petaluma and one of my classes with Roxanne Stout went to beautiful Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma to sketch and take photos. I hope they survive this. What beautiful country it is there. It’s little wonder so many people have moved there to retire. It seems from the news reports that many of the elderly residents could not escape in time. So horrible.

I’ve been fantasizing about moving west again despite all this. I keep thinking about a co-housing community near Forest Grove, Oregon. We met one of the residents at a bluegrass jam in a tiny brewery there, and he asked us out to a cookout there the day we were leaving. Even offered to pick us up. Unfortunately it was 100 degrees that day and Susanne had to get on down the road to Eugene to meet her boyfriend and turn in the rental car, so we couldn’t go. I looked it up online yesterday. I would really love to live in that area. I think Sandy would like it too.

I picked the glue out of my belly button and I’m so glad about that. It was driving me crazy. The little things, you know. Also, I never thought I’d be typing that sentence.

Also on my mind: if given the opportunity to sell my part of my cousin’s lake house, will I do it? Anyone who has read this blog for long or knows me well knows of my intense attachment to it. I don’t consider it partly mine because my cousin’s wife has lifetime rights but she can’t tear down the house or sell the property, so apparently it IS partly mine. I don’t pay a cent in taxes or expenses for it but she encourages me to go down there and stay as much as I want. I hear that she is considering making us an offer, which I’m sure means that the house will come down. The lot is what is valuable.

I could use the money for retirement, or buy a nice camper and go where I please.

Ay yi yi. Probably won’t happen but it set my brain in motion. And I’m still smarting over selling my mother’s house.

Okay, better get to the farmer’s market. Time has run away from me. I’ve signed up to do this, which I pretty much do all the time anyway.

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Recovery a week later

A week after my surgery, I was humbled about listening to my body and to my doctor’s office. The art work I did wore me out. It did not help my healing to put the pages on the floor and rearrange them on Monday. I had to rest all day Tuesday. Then I went back to work on Wednesday because I had decided beforehand that that was the date I was going back to work, even though the doctor’s office suggested two weeks out and then when I challenged that they said that one week would probably be fine since I have an office job. So I went back six days later, walked all over the place because it felt good to be up and around, and ended up back in bed at 2:30 that afternoon with an ice pack and stayed in bed through Thursday.

After a solid day and a half of rest and a good meal last night I am back at work sitting in front of the computer, but I took the elevator and I am going home if I begin to feel bad or exhausted. I’ve ditched the opioids because they weren’t doing me much good anyway. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen and icepacks are helping me just as much.

Needless to say I am tired of being in bed, I am bored, and I am frustrated, but I’m willing to admit that I was stubborn and wrong and not as tough as I wanted to think I was. I’m actually happy to be at work today. The weekend is ahead and even though there are many fun things to do in Greensboro, I’m going to try to listen to my body.

The deadline for the book arts show has been moved to a later date so I don’t feel the urgency that I did this past week. I’ll work on this again on Sunday afternoon and post photos. I took photos of the book stretched out in its final order on the floor so I won’t have to bend over and futz around with that now. It will all be sitting work.