Back Forty, bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Food activism, Local food, Reading, Slow Food, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I can’t upload to Flickr right now and I’ve been worried for a while about the change in ownership of the platform. I have so many photos on it – over 10K – and over the years I have linked here to my photos stored there. I would be wrecked if the platform changed its code or went bankrupt and dumped my photos. Anyway, I’ll just move along and deal with it later, since it is much too beautiful outside to fart around on the computer. I am writing this on the front porch on my laptop, but I will lose power soon.

One thing that I am trying to be more conscious about these days is my use of plastic. Once you start paying attention, it is stunning how much plastic is in almost everything we use. I don’t have time to avoid it completely. That would require me to commit to buying almost all my food directly from the farmer, and only certain ones at that. I’d almost certainly have to stop buying dairy and meat products. There are some packaged foods that don’t use plastic, but you kind of have to figure it out by buying them and keeping it in your head. Sandy and I decided to start eating vegetarian at home a couple of weeks ago once I cook what’s left in our freezer. However, I don’t think his resolve will last long. He’ll go out and buy something to eat if he doesn’t feel the urge to eat what I’ve cooked.

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Repository for Lost Souls

I really loved the look of Leslie Marsh’s studio when I went there for a book workshop earlier this summer, and my friend the fabulous Zha K was getting rid of most of her possessions to sell her house and get the hell out of North Carolina, so she gave me a lot of baskets and cigar and wine boxes and candy tins. I’ve slowly been transitioning my studio storage over to these boxes and baskets and, most importantly LABELING THEM, and I’ll give the plastic bins to Goodwill or Salvation Army or wherever. This is mostly an aesthetic feel-good action, but I’ll take my feel-good where I can get it these days.

My depression has lifted, THANK GOD, and I hope that I won’t see it again for a while. Or forever, but I’m pretty realistic about the fact that it’s probably something that I have to deal with for life. That’s not to say that there has been an absence of stress or sadness in my life, but depression is not about that. I can cope with stress and sadness when I am not depressed. People who have depression will understand this.

I’m going to work on my tapestry diary this afternoon on the porch. I finally came up with a simple design for June and July that reflected my main focus, although looking at it now makes me realize that I need to reduce the size. Otherwise it will overpower the rest of it. We removed the swing from the porch to make it less crowded. A front porch swing is lovely in concept, but we seldom used it and it divided the space. Now there will be more room for company on the rare occasion that we have more than one visitor.

The groundhogs are back now that the tree removal is over. I’m still getting plenty of tomatoes, especially the ones inside the wire cages. Figs are ripening on the tree, but the few that have ripened so far have been nabbed by the birds. Reflective tape and all. I’ve been buying bicolor corn from Rudd Farms every weekend, enough to eat some and freeze some. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, and some eggplants have gone in the dehydrator. The squash overtaking the back forty turned out to be tromboncino. I’ve got to start putting markers in the garden. These photos are from a week ago so the tromboncino is in the tomatoes now. I should pick the flowers and try cooking them. I’ve never done it.

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Soon we will hear if our solar panel installation will be approved by the Historic District Commission. I will be surprised if it is not, but usually there is some caveat that is expensive to add. For example, we have wanted to replace our front door for a long time and our certificate of appropriateness for that has expired because we haven’t been able to find a door that fits and satisfies both of us and the city staff that we can afford. So we still have this wretched hollow 50s ranch-style door.

If and when we get that approval, it will be hooked into the meter so that it should provide all our electricity and we will only have to pay a meter fee to Duke Energy. The cost is not much more that our current electric bill (we pay an average amount monthly on a budget plan). In a few years, if the price goes down for whole house batteries, I’d love to go off-grid totally.

I finished reading Salvage the Bones this weekend. A very difficult book, but I persevered through the uncomfortable content and was swept up in the story. At one point I did not think I would be able to finish it. I’m glad that I did because it is brilliantly written. I found her afterword about her experiences growing up and her experience going through Katrina to be helpful in my understanding of the culture and why she chose Medea of Greek mythology to be a touchstone throughout the book. It also reminded me a little bit of my childhood growing up in rural N.C. even though my black friends were not so poor, my best friend’s father was an alcoholic that raised his family in a falling down house with junk cars and stray dogs all over the yard. The black family I tried to hang out with (the parents on both sides were not pleased) had a Skeeter, and I was reminded of the disconnect between our cultures.

This was an accidental photo but I like it anyway.

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Okay, time to cook and freeze corn and weave tapestry on the porch.

Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, Market report, Slow Food, voluntary simplicity

Saturday midday coffee pot post

Normally I don’t drink coffee past noon, because of my sleep issues. Today I am breaking that rule. I’ve got a spurt of energy going for me today and I don’t want to lose it!

The tree removal has been moved to Monday. He started on Thursday, and stopped after taking down one big lower limb and the bottom of the sky fell out. I mean flash flood warning heavy rain. I watched from the back door and the white clouded sky behind the limb was like a flash of light as it fell to the ground. I can already tell that these two guys are gonna be good at this, which is a very tricky job. A double trunk, about 80-100 feet tall as I estimate, covered high up in wild grapevine attached to other trees, and way too close to two houses. It’s not a good idea to climb trees with a chainsaw when everything is wet and slippery.

One secondary benefit, because we did not have this in mind when we decided to take down the tree, is that we have a perfect roof for solar panels. The quote we got from NC Solar Now impressed us. We will have to tie in to the power grid through Duke Energy’s meter and pay a meter charge, but in the optimistic view that big storage batteries might get cheaper and we will still have a reliable operating national power grid, it will be a few years before we can think about going off-grid. It’s probably a good idea to try this first anyway. They think that because our power usage is pretty low, twelve panels could cover most or all of our electric needs.

This is one way I can help make the world a little better, and it makes me feel better too. Although I strongly feel that it is too late for us to turn around the tidal wave of climate change – of course it is already here – I believe that we need to do what we can to adapt to the new reality.

It is a good day today. It’s not raining at the moment, which I’m grateful for, and even though I had an awful recurring dream in which I have somehow married an old boyfriend who stalked me for years and I am bewildered and horrified as to how I got into such a predicament, such dreams do make me grateful for the opportunities I have had in my life and the choices I’ve been able to make. I often wonder how things might have worked out if I had made different decisions at key times in my life. So many times I didn’t know it would be a major fork in the road. For example, what if I had chosen UNC Chapel Hill instead of UNC Greensboro? My life now would be entirely different. What if I had not dated another old boyfriend here in Greensboro? I would not have met Sandy, my husband. What if I had not gone to Oregon to take a tapestry workshop with Pam Patrie? I would not have the wonderful friends and connections in the tapestry world that I have now.

Then sometimes I think that what I thought were important decisions really weren’t. For instance, I don’t think that my degree in Studio Art is worth all that much, although that is where I first learned to weave and do woodcuts. I’ve learned much more going out into the world beyond Greensboro and taking classes.

What if I had decided to head out west or emigrate to another country? Who knows how completely different, for better or worse, my life would be?

It’s too late to emigrate to Ireland. I’ve had to accept that. You have to have an income of $55,000 individually or $110,000 as a couple combined. We will never make that much money. Canada doesn’t want retirees at all. There’s not even that option to check on the application. I don’t want to move south. We’ll check out Portugal next year, but I’m realizing that nothing is a given in this world – we can’t know that any place in it will be better than here by the time we are ready to go.

These days, I am looking at aging in place. I still hope to move west to Washington or Oregon, but that will be a while. I am not willing to give up a good job that is secure for now before I get to age 62, and I might have to wait until 67.

In the meantime, our house value is going up, up, up. The house next door sold immediately for an insane amount of money. The new neighbors are currently in Bangkok, where one is teaching at American University. They plan to move in in November, and have arranged for Armando, a young man who worked for them for several years, to take care of the yard. I might employ Armando myself. He thinks very highly of our new neighbors. It all seems good.

Today, it is still humid and the mosquitoes unfortunately did not drown in the deluge. The temperature is still below 90 so we have the doors open and the fans on. I have been to the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market and bought peaches, corn, eggplant, yellow squash, potatoes, and sweet peppers. We have lots of cherry tomatoes and some Roma and Better Boy tomatoes ripening in the back, although the groundhogs have eaten a few that are not protected by wire cages. They don’t bother the ground cherries or herbs, so I have those. The candy roaster squashes are taking over the back – if they bear fruit and the groundhogs don’t eat them, they will be huge and a nice source of food for this winter. Not all the butterbean plants were eaten and a few that were damaged are playing catch up. I’ll have a few but probably never enough for two servings or freezing. The few I’ve shelled have gone into soup.

I’m about to slice and dice and fire up the dehydrator, maybe blanch a few veggies for the freezer.

I’m toughening up. I’m thickening my skin. I’m getting ready. I’m also being kind to myself when I need downtime.

Halfway through Bella Poldark, the last of the book series. I will be sad to see it end. Then I will catch up on the TV series. I canceled Sling when the price went up this month, which included HBO. I will miss AMC but I’ll figure that out. That, along with the 2% raise I’m getting, will pay for the solar panels.

Only one photo this time – my new steampunk loom, Rosie, which I need to warp up once I catch up on my Fringeless online class.

I shall name her Rosie.
consumerism, Upcycling, voluntary simplicity

The Year of Going Deeper

A lot of articles and posts came out in the past few years about people who have decided to drastically cut spending for a year. Pledges have run the gamut of the obsessive compulsive buy absolutely nothing, create no waste, grow all food and barter plans to more moderate plans to cut down and purge. And then, of course, there are those whose poverty leaves them no choice.

I became an advocate of voluntary simplicity in the late 80s, when I really couldn’t afford much extra anyway. For several years I wove on frame looms (still do) with rags and bought the cheapest yarn I could find at yarn outlets. I crocheted a lot. I worked at a bookstore that carried a lot of remainders and I was able buy samples from book buyers very cheaply and so book buying was my biggest addiction. When I came into a small inheritance from my aunt I spent it on a Harrisville floor loom kit, which I got at a wholesale price from a friend who had a weaving supply store.

We didn’t travel much or far. Both of us had low-wage jobs that gave little vacation time and no sick time at all. We would toss a tent and the dog in the back of our little pick-up truck on the rare weekend we had off at the same time, decided what direction to head, and went that way. We went to Lake Waccamaw a lot because it was free.

My life has accumulated a lot of stuff since those days, as we both got better, more stable jobs, a small house, and we absorbed the belongings of our parents that we couldn’t bear to part with. The book addiction is deeply rooted in both of us. I LOVE COLLECTING BOOKS of ALL kinds. Novels, art books, old musty books with Art Nouveau covers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, nature books, old textbooks, secretarial manuals…it’s bad in my house. The hoarding is bad. Bad, even though I regularly purge these books boxes at a time. At one time I justified it as wanting to open a used book store one day. I sold books on Amazon for a few years. Now I justify the hoarding as supplies for my book/mixed media/collage creations.

So this year, no purchasing of books or art supplies or knick-knacks that we do not need. I like the way David, the author of Go Deeper, Not Wider, approaches this idea. It puts a positive spin on using what we already have to enrich our lives. I’m not going without, I’m going deeper.

It’s already hard for me. I see a recommendation for a magazine, or a particular kind of scissors, and I look it up online. I know that if I buy an e-book or digital issue of a magazine it will most likely be forgotten without reading it. That has been proven. Online classes are bought and abandoned halfway through or sooner than that.

However, I mentioned that I bought the Blurb PDF of India Flint’s “Bagstories” and I have joined the private Facebook group where she is going to guide the buyers of her wee book in a project. This, so far, has already been worth the price for the connections I’ve made to other North Carolina artists on the Facebook group! This fabric may be a tad too stretchy for the bag projects, but I finally sacrificed my batik pants from the late 80s/early 90s that I loved so much and started cutting them up to reinvent them for a new use. I’ve almost finished measuring the warp for that rag rug project I began several years ago.

I’ve hoarded fabrics the way I’ve hoarded books – it’s time to go deeper into them as well.

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Back Forty, coffee pot posts, voluntary simplicity, whining

Saturday coffee pot post

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Every now and then I feel the need to drink coffee and type whatever comes to mind until the feeling goes away. That’s a coffee pot post.

I took a break from the visual journal posts. Partly because I kept forgetting to put the battery back in my camera but I realized that I needed a break. My blog passed the nine year mark in late February. Pretty amazing. 2005 seems so very long ago. I don’t know whether I’ll post every day again any time soon.

Work has been busy and stressful. I had my feelings hurt pretty badly, but most of it was due to misunderstanding, and the rest I pretty much knew about the undercurrent anyway, and they probably don’t know that I know. It is a rare workplace that doesn’t have some kind of toxic personality trying to gain control by poisoning others with their own warped intentions. I’ve heard that one in ten people are sociopathic and you’ll never know about it. I still love my job and almost all of my co-workers, and the students just plain rock.

As I told one person in the many conversations about this last week, I played dumb for about half my life (due to getting picked on for being smart in school and later from the haze of alcohol and depression) and I have no intention of ever doing that again. Passive aggression can be fun but it’s not my style. As much as I despise confrontation I despise gossip more. These days I own up to my mistakes and expect others to be honest instead of talking behind my back. I could have gone for my Ph.D. or M.F.A. but I chose not to because I don’t like writing for other people. I’m not saying that I’m the smartest person in my workplace – far from it – but I find it ironic that some of the most ardent feminists I know would be quite happy if I would sit down, take notes, and shut up.

Okay, that had been bubbling up for a while.

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The weather has been quite dreadful this week. My county is under a state of emergency right now because of all the power outages and trees down from the ice storm yesterday. Fortunately, we never lost power and seem to have no damage. Sandy and I had a fun day and evening planned with Missy and Bob, but they have trees down and no power and they are way out in the country. The temperature is supposed to rise up into the 60s by tomorrow so my hope is that we will be able to finish up some of the yard clean-up we started two weeks ago.

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Today I’m going to make an effort to purge my bookshelf and studio. I need the room and I have to be honest with myself that I will never touch 90% of my books ever again. I have SO MANY BOOKS, and I loved collecting them, but I get most of my reference information from the Internet and I can check out almost anything from a fantastic library just across the street from my office. Heck, they will even DELIVER the book to my office!

I’m considering having a porch sale/party and putting the books out there for my friends first. I’ll have a lot to give away and others to sell for less than $2, probably. My main problem likely will be my husband snatching the books back. He loves collecting books as much as I do.

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On March 22 I am traveling to Reidsville for the first meeting of the Handweavers and Spinners of Rockingham County. I have two boxes of back issues of Handwoven, Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot, and various beading magazines to give away at this meeting. Any fiber-related books that I cull today will go too.

I need to lighten my load.

I feel better already.

Here’s a Meyer lemon on my tree, nearly ready to be picked.

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voluntary simplicity

Update

Hey, I’m still around and I’m okay. I am not a holiday person and I get overwhelmed this time of year, even when all seems right with the world. I promise to write at least one good post this month – if nothing else, I’ll probably do a Festivus post and I do an end-of-the-year post every New Year’s Eve.

Today and tomorrow I have taken vacation days to seriously tackle deep cleaning and purging my house and yard. It is taking me a month just to do this humongous kitchen with all the hoarded food and jars and many sets of china and crystal and glassware and flatware that we never use. I’ve had two people over to take what they need, and plan to invite another young man who is just moving out on his own to pick out what he wants. Most of the stuff from my husband’s side of the family is going into storage for whatever Sanford heirs want them, our wedding china has been sold, our wedding crystal is being stored or sold, I have boxes of stuff to go to Goodwill, and I’m starting a box of my Aunt Lib’s stuff for my niece who is named after her. Old paperwork has been burned in the woodstove, and what junk that is of no use or can’t be recycled is going in the garbage. I hope to finish the kitchen today, and I have a friend who has volunteered to help me clean up the garden tomorrow.

When I am done, I’ll have storage room for art supplies, and I have moved my loom into the house from the back building. I’m going to take some time today to finish measuring and maybe winding a warp.

Back to work.