Blather, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, whatever

Looking ahead in 2021

Well, this is certainly a crap shoot, isn’t it? But I will take a stab at it. I can at least visualize what I hope for.

I actually started writing this post several days ago just in case I got a case of the blues and couldn’t do it. But I woke up fairly bright and sassy this morning, after a shower, under clean sheets, with clean leggings and shirt on, which is a step up in my world! I made coffee and oatmeal, and put on earrings. I haven’t worn earrings in months, and my ear holes were starting to close up. So in went my beautiful earrings that I bought in Santa Fe at the market in the plaza. We will eat some field peas and collards at some point today for luck in money.

Tapestry Weavers South plans to have a retreat and exhibition at the same time as the Blue Ridge Fiber Fest. Tapestry Weavers South has its “headquarters” at Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center in Elkin, NC, and the Blue Ridge Fiber Fest takes place in Sparta, NC, about a thirty minute drive from Elkin. The plan is early June. All this is within a couple of hours’ drive for me.

Whether I’ll have a tapestry to exhibit remains to be seen. I’d like to finish the lake rain tapestry that I started with my naturally dyed silk threads.

We hope to visit Portugal for two weeks in September, with a stopover in Dublin on the way for a couple of days, since we will fly through there anyway and my sister wants to see Dublin. Some of this may depend on our health. My husband’s health is particularly troubling right now, but we all have issues of some kind. I booked my one plane ticket to get my refund from Orbitz so I’ll be flying on my own and will meet the others in Dublin. I also reserved a couple of rooms in the B&B in Howth where we stayed before, just to make me feel good.

This means that I definitely won’t be doing the art retreat in western Ireland next summer, and maybe not at all.

I anticipate that I will be working from home except for Fridays again through the spring semester depending on how the vaccine gets distributed. I’m not sure how I am going to adjust to going back to work in the office full time. It will be tough, considering how this feeds my agoraphobia, and how my sleep pattern has changed, and how my physical pain has been better working from home.

Yesterday, the state government changed the vaccine schedule so that I am actually in phase 1b group 2, and my family members with serious health risks are in phase 2! This is due to me being educational support staff. I assume that universities are included. If not, I’ll be heading to the back of the line again. I was not particularly happy about this change, due to my intense worry about my family, and that I can actually do my job well from home, but as Sandy said, they can’t really micromanage this to that level. Teachers are essential frontline workers, and so are the housekeepers and other support staff that can’t do their jobs from home.

Hopefully I won’t have to attend any protests, although the state government is probably in worse shape than it was pre-election. Thank God we have Democrats for governor and attorney general, at least.

My main focus is probably going to be downsizing, and getting some house repairs and improvements done once it is safer to let people in the house. However, my expectations are lower about actually being able to move away from here. For one thing, I see how much rent is in places in the US where I’d like to live. Good God. We can’t afford that. It is more than our house payments were! Portugal is still my hope but I’m not sure that I will be able to get the house sold and packed up if Sandy’s health issues do not get resolved or worsen. (And Sandy needs to raise the rent on his condo for sure!)

I’m not going to waste effort on food gardening. Other people can feed the groundhogs.

I’d like to get back to weaving strips of cloth since that seems to be the most relaxing and satisfying thing that I could do. Make some books and use up a lot of my supplies. Get my Etsy shop up and running again. Sell collage packs. I wonder if I can sell old copies of Handwoven and Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts magazines on Etsy? I’ll have to check. If not, maybe on Ebay.

I hope that Leslie Marsh will do some more workshops at her home/studio at Topsail Beach. I bought her online class for making a tiny book necklace with metal covers, but I have a hard time following through on online classes. I ordered some supplies for soldering. I’m nervous about this one because of my klutziness, but it will be a good skill to master. The book that I made in Leslie’s in person class is one of the nicest books I ever made.

Maybe Kevin will invite me to participate in his home studio show next year. He likes my collage work.

Most of all, I desperately want to get over my artist’s block. To have all this time at home and feel so frozen is incredibly frustrating. I made a couple more masks yesterday, and I’m going to finish up the others today so that I can move on to something else. I have so many online classes on deck that it is crazy. I don’t even remember how many, so I am working on a list. I will need to add one more…after watching MaryBeth Shaw do a live Facebook art journaling session last night, I bought another one called 21 Secrets. And then I remembered that I bought an online class from MaryBeth this summer that I never finished! This is getting out of control.

depression/anxiety, Obsession, whatever

Self therapy session redux

These are some random thoughts around the theme of connection, which has been on my mind very much lately. Expect some curmudgeon-ish talk.

Last night I went to our Tiny Pricks Project gathering, and I was thirty years older than the other three women there. I enjoyed it thoroughly. There was even a baby photo and conversation about teething. And that put my thoughts to work: my angst right now is as much about aging as anything else.

For most of my life I have been the youngest in the crowd. I was a late-in-life surprise baby and my siblings are 8-9 years older than me. I dated boys and men who were older. I married a man who is nine years older than me. I have always preferred the company of older people. So here I am and my friends are increasingly younger. I feel the generation gap. The graduate students often see me as a mother or grandmother figure. Of course their experiences and concerns are different from mine, and if I let myself, I can enjoy listening to them and learn from that, and I will have to get over being shocked if they aren’t familiar with 70s bands and didn’t live in a pre-Internet world and have a definition of sexism that is far more sensitive than the blatant sexism and harassment I experienced. I am not the youngest in the crowd any more. OK Boomer!

I will probably never understand the obsession of some people with being connected to other people constantly on their phones. What’s with the earbuds that are permanent installations on some heads? When I worked for a call center I couldn’t wait to get off the phone so I can’t imagine being wired in during my personal life. Often I don’t answer the phone. If it’s important, they can leave a message or text or email. I don’t get helicopter parenting. It’s funny how those parents don’t see themselves that way. It is such a different world than the one in which I grew up.

My first forty years were cell phone free and somehow we managed not being constantly connected to everybody else. I resisted getting a smart phone until a few years ago and my main reason in finally getting one was for GPS and being able to upload photos. My other influence is my mother, who was more than willing to let her kids go and I doubt very much that we were on her mind every minute of the day. In fact, I am pretty sure that she probably went for hours not thinking about us. In return, she created three very independent adults.

Any kind of loss is very difficult for me, but I can be separated for a long time without anxiety. Friends have broken my heart much more often than lovers. About thirty years ago I decided not to chase after friends who had disengaged and let them come to me if they wished. Most of the time they didn’t, and I was better off. I recently reconnected with one of those friends.

I can also admit that I have been that friend who disengaged. And those who let me go were better off as well.

So I simply feel lost in this century with its constant distractions from what is directly in front of us. I am a victim of these distractions as much as anyone. I have to find a way back to the here and now of my life, and I need to find a way to connect with others without making myself crazy.

The joys of social media are real, and have added a positive dimension to my life that could not have come from anywhere else. Those few folks that don’t do it ask me, where do you find out about these workshops and retreats? Facebook. How did you find out about this artist? Instagram.

Where do I draw the line? Giving up Facebook and Instagram is not an option, not only because of the positive aspects, but because Facebook is part of my job.

I need to get outside more often and leave the phone and camera behind. I love photography but experiencing life through the lens of a camera or the potential shot is not fully connecting. I am very, very tired of technology right now.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, whatever, whining

Self therapy session

My recurring dream these days is that we are living in a rental condo in a very quirky wonderful community but we have forgotten to pay the rent for months and it would take all my savings and then some to pay the back rent. I am afraid of getting evicted because I love it there and often I am planting seedlings in the yard that I raised indoors, and I want to see them grow. I remind myself that in fact we live in a house that we own towards the end of each dream but it repeats itself almost every night.

Despite my absence here I am not in the hole. Lately I feel a bit like I am bobbing up and down as I float in a stream. I keep forgetting to take my meds and I need to figure that out. Sleep deprivation and game addiction are problems. I lost a friend in a terrible car crash a couple of weeks ago, and that was shocking, especially because she was so vivacious and that she was convinced that humans could live far beyond their normal life spans. We had much in common. It made me think deeply about my lack of connections to people “in real life” and the opportunities I have missed by putting them off. I need to find a balance between my need for solitude and my need for in person human friendship.

Work has been busy. I am about to finish one major project and start on another. Much of my mental energy is devoted to reminding myself that this is a great job – it is the best job I ever had and the people I work with directly are fabulous. The university, however, is a frustrating place to work. Because I am fatigued it is difficult to make myself get up in the morning and go to work. When I come home at night I usually don’t feel up to doing art work or cooking dinner. I don’t know how parents manage. It’s a very good thing that we chose the childless life. I fantasize a lot about retirement and I’m only 58.

It feels as if I am living in a band of low static on a TV screen most days.

I don’t like small talk. I often come away from these kind of interactions feeling like I have talked too much or sounded idiotic and I kick myself mentally instead of sleeping. Conversation with younger women often bores me and I find myself thinking about how soon I can get away. I don’t understand a lot of cultural references because I don’t watch much TV. I don’t care about fashion. Every time a friend gets pregnant I know that I am about to lose a friend, because I am horrified about that child’s future on this planet and I don’t think that it would be appropriate to express that. When I see those baby photos, my heart breaks. My talk of cats and travel and books and art probably bores the crap out of these women. I love conversations with the graduate students and faculty and listening to their talk about history and politics. I am addicted to art retreats where I meet other people to whom I can relate.

For most of my life, I have preferred the company of men. If I hang out with male coworkers and friends, I run the risk of rumors, and although I couldn’t care less personally I realize that it is probably a bad idea. This has recently jumped into my head. Sometimes I wonder if I was young in today’s world what gender I would identify as, where I would take that realization. Sometimes I wonder where I am on the autism spectrum. Anyway, I seldom have real friendships with men outside of work any more, and I miss that.

But other days, I feel great. I probably have more friends now than my personality can support – HA! The core group (three of us) of the Tiny Pricks Project Greensboro are getting tightly bonded. The small group of women that Carol and Leslie (our friend who died) began re-extended their invitation for me to join them, and I took the day off last Thursday to do so. The problem is that they meet for lunch on Thursdays, which doesn’t work with my work schedule. However, they do other things too, like go to the beach and the mountains together. I would like to join them. Most of these women are around my age or older. My Facebook friends are eclectic, artistic, and supportive. I feel fortunate in so many ways. I am involved in Tapestry Weavers South, considering the 50+ Artists Community here in Greensboro, and I could always go back to the local fiber guild and Sierra Club.

So I am conflicted and anxious and hopeful and grateful and feeling exceedingly weird.

Thanks for coming to my self therapy session. Maybe I will share some actual news next time! I really am doing some worthwhile stuff. This weekend I will go to Topsail Beach and take a book workshop with Leslie Marsh. So there should be some photos from that next week.

critters, whatever

Looking ahead

I haven’t been able to find this critter since I took this photo and I hope that it is literally hanging out in a chrysalis somewhere nearby. I believe this is a Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar.

Next week should be part bliss and part anxiety as Sandy and I are taking the week off. We’ll do a little bit of nearby traveling and other than that it will be an art staycation for me. We plan to go to Elkin, about a hour’s drive west, for the Tapestry Weavers South retreat and exhibition opening of “Point of View” at the Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center. We are also going to drive up to southern Virginia for a day to toodle around the Galax/Fancy Gap/Floyd area. At the end of the week the North Carolina Folk Festival will crank up in downtown Greensboro with Booker T. Jones headlining.

So far it looks like Hurricane Dorian will hit Florida instead of the Carolina coast, but as we know so well in the Southeastern US, hurricanes are unpredictable and can turn on a dime, circle back, sit over an area for days, or turn from Cat 1 to Cat 5 or vice versa within a day. Hurricane Hugo did an enormous amount of damage to Charlotte and the NC mountains even though they are a few hours inland. Flooding can be as damaging as wind. The most I would expect here is a lot of rain (knock on wood), which we’ve been getting anyway. It will be a good excuse to stay inside and weave or sew.

Back Forty, Blather, bloggy stuff, whatever

just ramblin’

Next week I’m taking a staycation and I have a lot of projects in mind and a couple of events to attend, including seeing Gordon Lightfoot in concert at the Carolina Theater in Greensboro – a great venue for a great artist.

Today, I’m considering my priorities in what I want to accomplish and what I need to get done. I’m taking a small weaving workshop on sakiori (Japanese rag weaving technique) that is not far away, so first on the list is to assemble and warp my new-to-me Beka rigid heddle loom, and cut/tear half-inch strips of rags for this workshop next Saturday. This is mainly an exercise in creativity and fun, and usually no matter what the subject is, I learn something from a new teacher.

Secondly, I am going to spend some time catching up on the online courses I signed up for LAST YEAR and this year, with the priority being to warp up my new-to-me Mirrix loom in the four-selvedge technique I’ve learned in Rebecca Mezoff and Sarah Swett’s “Fringeless” online course. I hope that this will lead to me weaving small tapestries for book covers and even pages. Making a tapestry book has long been a goal for me.

Other priorities are preparing “puzzle piece” squares for Jude Hill’s current online course as a traveling project. I’d like to do some more cloth strip weaving and make some bags like the ones I made in India Flint’s “Bagstories” course last year.

Another prep project is to make the components for several books, covers and pages, to have them ready to bind. I want to bind at least one book with some of the signatures I made in Leighanna’s workshop at FOBA, and it is mostly ready.

Also, I just finished the first season of “Stranger Things.” As usual, I am behind on popular shows and normally I can’t handle horror shows or flicks – I tend to have nightmares – but this struck me more as a combination of “Freaks and Geeks” and Stephen King. I will probably finish watching the series next week.

I will need to get my battery replaced in the car. We jumped it off after some difficulty after it sat for a while and I drove it to the mechanic’s shop, then made the unwise decision to drive it back home and see if it cranked in the morning. Now it won’t even click when we try to jump it. If we can get it charged again, I will leave it at the mechanic’s shop and let them replace the battery and check out the rest of the electrical system. Fortunately I walk to work and we can get by with one car most of the time, but it limits what I can do during weekdays when Sandy is working unless I get up at 6:30 and drive him to work and pick him up at 4 p.m. I don’t really want to do that.

Once the heat wave settles down, which according to the forecast should happen around Tuesday, I am going to fire up the electric dehydrator and dry a bunch of cherry tomatoes, which are beginning to produce a lot more than we can eat. The UNCG garden is producing plenty of lemon cucumbers, which I have mostly given away, some zephyr squash, and the Roma tomatoes are beginning to ripen. The pole lima beans are now healthy looking after a Japanese beetle attack, but it has been so hot that they have not blossomed, so I hope for a fall harvest. I’ve harvested and eaten onions – the first onions I’ve ever grown from seed. The garlic bulbs did not separate into cloves so I’ll have to figure out what went wrong. We have had a few peppers of various kinds, mainly Italian frying peppers.

Other than that, I am daydreaming about my plans to go to Ireland next June, probably by myself!!! and Sandy has applied for Social Security, so he can retire at any point he wants to now. Since we can’t retire to Ireland, I want to try to come up with ways to go there fairly often. I have an app on my phone called Hopper that is good at alerting you to price drops and rises in airfare on certain routes and days, and I’ve found quite a few AirBNBs that are very inexpensive. If you reserve way ahead of time, you can usually find good prices. Also, I learned on the recent trip to Oregon that I do just fine with a loaf of good bread, sharp cheese, fresh fruit, and nuts for my meals. I’ll be at an art retreat for a week but I want to spend another week walking on the coast.

Yes, I am trying to maintain my mental health during a time of political horror in my own country. At least the racism is out in the open now, but these fascists are scary. My father fought in World War II. What would he say if he were alive? It’s hard to imagine that we are in this place of meltdown, and I will probably end up writing about my helpless feelings about the fall of our civilization at some point. What do you do when people refuse to believe the truth? It is beyond my comprehension.

Honestly, “Stranger Things” is much less scary and a whole lot more believable.

I will add a statement on the sidebar about the appearance of ads on my blog beginning July 28. It is part of my expense cutting to push my money toward retirement, travel, and art expenses. I won’t see them or have any control over them, but I’m not spending any more money on this blog, and that is when my bill is due to prevent ads. Please, just ignore them. Don’t click on them. I hate advertisements and I do not choose the content.