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
-Seafood
-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

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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.

coffee pot posts, tapestry, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

tapestry, weaving

Unweaving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday coffee pot post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fiber art, Lake Waccamaw, Upcycling, weaving

Lake Waccamaw, September 2021, Part II

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The moon, the moon!

We saw a bald eagle dive for a fish while we were on the boat.

I finished off the sakiori and washcloths that were warped up on the rigid heddle loom toward the end of that wonderful week, and played tapestry with Rosie, my homemade industrial pipe loom. The sakiori pieces are intended to be book covers. Since we have a serious clothing waste problem on the planet, I’d like to weave more sakiori.

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art, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

The Lake Tapestry

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

lake tapestry for web

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

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

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

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

painted weft tapestry for web

art, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Progress on the lake tapestry

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

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

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

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

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

dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, tapestry, weaving

Lake Waccamaw, April 2021

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

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

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

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

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, tapestry, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Yesterday ended up being a very good day. I felt some sense of normalcy coming back to my brain. Sandy was very caring, and encouraged me to go back to my tapestry loom. My back muscles aren’t in great shape right now, so when I took a break he gave me a massage. I’m going to set a timer today so that I have to get up every 10-15 minutes and turn it off. It is too easy to get wrapped up in the weaving and then say I’ll take a break after this, oh, maybe after this…next thing you know your back is locking up in the sitting forward position.

As far as the tapestry, “Cathedral,” goes, this is one that I’ve been working on for five years, with many breaks that have sometimes gone for months. The breaks started with my neck issues, which are now nearly non-existent, and then depression. The weaving is beautiful but what people don’t see is that the tension is terrible and there will be big problems in getting it blocked to lay flat when I cut it off. I haven’t done this before because I’m usually pretty good with even tension and straight edges, so thinking about it can make me really anxious and obsessive and shut me down. Will all this work be a waste of time? Anyway, the photo is a detail of the area I wove yesterday.

When I went back to it this time, I reminded myself that this is the section that is mostly in shadow, and I don’t need to worry over the details so much. I am using a very painterly approach to this tapestry, blending 2-3 colors of fine wool yarns to create depth of color. Some of the yarns are handspun naturally dyed samples that someone gave me long ago. I’m pretty much through with them. The round metal circles are rare earth magnets that hold the canvas with the cartoon to the back of the tapestry.

Sandy made blueberry pancakes for lunch and we got Wendy’s for dinner through the drive through window after picking up my prescription from the Walgreens drive through window. As much as I’d like to boycott Wendy’s, I guess it is just not happening right now. It’s the easiest choice we have for food when we are depressed and tired. I like their chicken pecan apple salad.

Last week’s installing of the pull out baskets in the lower cabinets went well. I didn’t screw them down to the bottom of the cabinets because once the weight of the cans and storage containers was in them they worked just fine without that. If I eventually use them for lighter weight storage I will have to attach them.

It had the further purpose of me pulling everything out, cleaning, reorganizing, and throwing the cardboard trays I had been attempting to use in the recycling bin. I can see what I need to reorder more easily. I’m putting things that I don’t use in boxes to either go to Goodwill, Reconsidered Goods, or the lake house. As I finish a book, it goes in the box to take to the used book store, the book bus, or I walk it around the block to the Little Free Library. (The problem with that is that I usually find something to replace it!) Little by little, room by room, I’m getting this place cleaner.

Pablocito is sneezing a lot so we are going to tackle the dust in the laundry room where he spends much of his time on a cushion on top of a cabinet, watching the birds and squirrels and napping. It is one of those rooms that you suddenly realize that there is a coating of thick dust on every door and window sill and lintel, and there are a lot of windows in that room. Surely he is not allergic to cat hair but it makes sense that the dryer lint could be the culprit.

art, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, tapestry, weaving

Afternoon in the studio

^Detail, “Cathedral”

I have managed to get started in the studio again – there’s nothing that I am over excited about happening BUT I have actually started weaving on Cathedral again and glued some stuff down for collage and doodled a pretty good page during a long Zoom meeting.

As far as Cathedral goes, I finally worked out why I couldn’t weave it for so long. The tension is terrible…so uneven and I tried warping and rewarping this sucker for a solid month before I finally said fuck it and started weaving it anyway. So, after all this time and work I became terrified because it is definitely going to have puckers and and crazy tension problems when it comes off the loom, and I just couldn’t bear to think about it. I was already suffering from severe depression and that just added to the pain.

But all that work and time is wasted if I DON’T finish weaving it, and once I get it off the loom I can warp it with a much shorter warp (at the time I was warping for multiple tapestries – big mistake) and begin another weaving. Now the plan is to be less persnickety about the details and get it to a place that is even on the top and finish it as a smaller tapestry.

^Lighting makes a big difference in how we perceive color. I chose the cool lighting on the left.

Today we are getting some remnants of Hurricane Laura moving through but it’s not bad at all. Sandy and I have decided to go to Haw River State Park tomorrow for our adventure since the weather report is a bit better and I don’t want to stop the studio energy.

I do need to remember to take frequent breaks for my back and neck and shoulders. Yesterday my massage therapy studio emailed to say that they will be re-opening soon for existing customers and I hope that my therapist will continue to work there. I have been seeing her for about four years almost every month until after January. I canceled my February appointment due to bad allergies and at the time we didn’t know that they would be shut down so long.

The good thing about working from home most of the time is that my physical problems are much much better, which leads me to believe that I don’t get up and move enough when I am in my office. Here I can take my laptop to the porch, or to the sofa, or to the bedroom, or answer email on my phone. I get up and play with the cats, take breaks lying down if my back or neck hurts. Teleworking has been good for me.

Not doing too well mentally, though. I brood a lot in my bedroom, play games to numb my brain. Read a little. I can’t watch TV or videos for long – I wish I knew why. It would help to have that distraction and to be able to focus on online workshops.

Okay, break over. Back to Cathedral. I am accepting that it won’t be getting into any shows for technical skill, but it is worth finishing, puckers and all. Who knows, maybe I will be surprised.