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.

tapestry, whatever

Yay! I am weaving again. I’ve gotten a bit more done than the photo above shows, but I didn’t get a clear shot of the most recent version. I am weaving this sideways, so I flipped this photo so that you can see it as it will look when hung. I’m a little over halfway through.

One of the things that was worrying me this past month was the possibility of having glaucoma. I finally accepted that possible outcome and stopped losing sleep over it, and then the test showed a healthy optic nerve. I will need to have this extra test once a year, though, since I have high optic nerve pressure.

I’m putting together a steampunk outfit for the Steampunk Ball at Haw River Ballroom on New Year’s Eve. The headdress was made be Jenn Guarino. There will be photos, trust me.

I may be a grinch about Christmas, but I do love the lights.

“98% Water” will travel to the Folk Art Center near Asheville and then Yadkin Arts Center for the Tapestry Weavers South show. I will have at least two books in the Triangle Book Arts show at Artspace in Raleigh. Step by step, inch by inch.

augggghhhh, whatever, whining

The Apocalypse!!!

All eyes on the East Coast are on Hurricane Irma, while Texas is still underwater and the West is on fire.

Climate change deniers confuse and disgust me. I’m a person who depends on logic, and this kind of nonsense wouldn’t sit well with me even if it didn’t mean the destruction of our planet as we know it. The worship of money in this country causes such mental dysfunction that even the fate of the children and grandchildren doesn’t get through the psychological walls of the brainwashed.

I resigned myself quite a while back that it’s too late to do anything meaningful on a large scale now. You can say that’s pessimistic or selfish. I say it’s being realistic, and I don’t much care what other people think about my attitude. So I do what I can in my small corner of the world to make things better in the time we have left, thank God I decided not to have children, and hope like hell that I don’t get reincarnated. I support without criticism whatever anybody is trying to do to improve or save our land, water, air and soil, because all the money in the world will not save us if we don’t save them. The great work is being done without the idea of being rewarded for it.

And there’s the social catastrophe in the United States. You can’t even have a civil discussion here on any controversial subject without getting attacked, even from those who agree with you. Nobody’s listening to each other. There are kneejerk reactions to everything according to whatever filter that person is using. People believe insane things that are based on bullshit propaganda and celebrity tweets. I am very glad that I am a political independent, but no one seems to be immune to this sickness. That’s the way I feel today, and why I won’t address social issues here. It might change by tomorrow. I’m distressed right now.

The current forecast is for Irma to skirt the east coast of Florida and make landfall in Georgia or the southern South Carolina coast and come up through the Carolinas. I feel like we are ready here. We haven’t had any real damage from a hurricane since Fran here in Greensboro, but North Carolina has had more than its share of flooding. Floyd drowned eastern North Carolina. Hugo proved that even 200 miles inland is not immune to serious damage. Matthew submerged the little towns along the Lumber River where I grew up last October.

The states in the West that I fell in love with and hoped to migrate to for our retirement are burning up. Oregon has had much more intense heat waves that we have had in North Carolina this year. Glacier National Park is burning. The Columbia River Gorge is burning. People can’t breathe because of the smoke.

I am concerned that we plan to fly to Colorado for a few days next Wednesday, as we try to do every year to visit my aunt and cousin and celebrate my cousin’s birthday. Right now it looks like that plan is still on track, thank goodness.

But I don’t count on anything. It’s a crazy world, and nothing surprises me anymore.

Back Forty, whatever

August update


It’s been so long since I posted I had to go back to July and figure out what I’ve already written about. Here is the end of August approaching swiftly and I wonder where the time went. I guess I’ll start where I left off.

I’ve been living in my head a LOT in the past six weeks. A couple of friends passed away and it really made me think about how I would like to live and be remembered. When I was in high school and the first go-round in college, I was undiagnosed and self-medicating for depression and anxiety. I was neurotic and obsessive-compulsive and had some kind of romantic view of being a victim of unrequited love, although in hindsight I had plenty of boyfriends and dates and certainly distributed plenty of pain from my side. There was a girl in high school that I was extremely jealous of because she held the attention of a boy that I had a crush on, who I dated now and then but couldn’t seem to capture as a steady boyfriend. The thing was that I really liked this girl a lot, even though I wanted to hate her. One day it occurred to my addled teenaged mind to consider what it was that I liked about her, and how I could learn from that. I remember it so clearly as perhaps the first mature adult thought that I ever had, at the age of seventeen.


That’s what I focused on when Chris and Gaylor died on the same day. I read the comments online from their friends and got more perspectives of the ways they connected with others. Chris was a friend from my early-mid 20s, a musician who was simply a joy to be around. I didn’t really know Gaylor in person. She worked in the library here and I first met her because she read this blog. After my struggles to come to peace with my darlin’ Squirtley Dirtley dying of kidney failure and what I felt was my failure to recognize his suffering earlier, and the loss of Mama Kitty only six months later, I received a print-out of a funny twisted story by Margaret Atwood called “My Cat Goes to Heaven” in the mail with a short note from Gaylor. It was a wonderful gesture and probably the most perfect response to my grief that I’ve ever received.

I don’t quite understand why I am not more freaked out about the state of the world, but I know that it partly has to do with Chris and Gaylor. And that girl from high school. And learning to find gratitude and presence in the moment and place I am now living. And probably a little bit of credit should go to medication.


One development is that I may be looking at gallbladder surgery soon. I have an appointment with a surgeon tomorrow. Now I believe that the problem I had getting over that food poisoning or stomach flu or whatever I had in early July was a gallbladder attack, and residual pain from that. I lost seven pounds in five days and I’ve read since that a rapid weight loss can cause gallstones. In early August I had a gallbladder attack bad enough and long enough for me to get Sandy to take me to the ER in the middle of the night. I was pretty sure what it was because of Sandy’s experience with them – I took him to the ER a couple of times before he had his removed. My pain eased after about 30 minutes in the waiting room so I left without seeing a doctor there. Boy, am I glad that I didn’t have that medical bill to deal with! I had an ultrasound later, and yes, my doctor said that she saw small gallstones and indication of gallbladder disease.

It’s easy surgery, as much as anything can be easy surgery, so I’m not too worried about it. If it means that I don’t have any more attacks and I can eat ice cream again, I’m all in.


At the same time, I’ve been trying to heal my neck and shoulders, and I finally saw an orthopedic doctor and had x-rays taken. I’m so glad, because he told me exactly what I hoped to hear. No major problems, a slight narrowing in one disc where a nerve is getting pinched or irritated, and he believes that it is due to my posture when sitting at the computer all day. A visit to one of the physical therapists there resulted in exercises to stretch and lengthen a muscle group in the back of my neck. I have lowered my monitor screen and will be getting a new office chair. In the meantime, I am much more aware of my habit of leaning my head on my chin, especially toward the end of the day, and tilting my head slightly back to look at my screen. And my tapestry when I am home. The massage therapist almost eliminated my shoulder pain. I feel like I am well on my way to solving this health problem I’ve had for two years!

Not everything has been about my health, although that’s been my main focus. I started weaving “Cathedral” again, although I have to take a lot of breaks and it is slow going. I decided not to buy the big tapestry loom, at least not any time soon.


In the Back Forty, those volunteer field peas have produced enough that I had enough to cook a pot full and freeze a pot full for later. The weather turned quite cool for this time of year, especially yesterday and today as we are between Tropical Storm Harvey moving north and another tropical depression turning away from the NC coast. Because it hasn’t been brutally hot here, my butterbeans set flower again and are producing their second harvest of the season. The fig tree produced the biggest crop ever this summer, and they are done. I dried and froze some, and Sandy and I made a jam with honey and orange juice that we have in the refrigerator now. The second planting of Roma and Juliet tomatoes are doing better, since I put them in the ground with Epsom salts and soil that I’ve nurtured over the last several years. I’ve been drying most of those.


I just got a small lightweight greenhouse kit from Pinetree Seeds, taking advantage of a sale. I’m going to raise a few veggies in it, then move it over the blueberry bush in June just before the berries turn red. Hopefully I’ll get some berries for myself this year, and hopefully it won’t blow away in a storm! I’ll tie it down good and vent it. There’s a chain link fence I can probably use to help anchor it. Also thinking about permaculture more. How I might be able make my space more productive and low maintenance at the same time. I have to look after my body first.


In the back of my mind, I am preparing for the worst, whatever that might be. I have put away bottles of sterilized water for emergencies, and I have a box of food and emergency supplies. I’m considering buying a solar powered small generator with a couple of solar panels, but I’m waffling on it. The time to do it is before you need it, I know. I am still nowhere near being prepared for a catastrophe, but I’m also trying to keep my credit cards paid off.

I love my front porch so much now that it is screened in and the weather is cooler. It makes me happy. I have a smile on my face just thinking about it. I extended the front garden about three feet over onto my absentee landlord neighbor’s property, with a stone pathway and pine needle mulch, no plants. I hope this buffer might save it if they decide to use herbicides to take care of the mess that is taking over there.


We went to see Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at the beautiful Carolina Theater here. Oh, how I love him.


The big eclipse was a disappointment here in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was supposed to be at 93%. Instead, a stray storm decided to sit on top of our city for about exactly the length of the event. I still got some photos, and will share in another post.

In a few weeks, we are going to take a long weekend to see my aunt and cousin in Colorado. My aunt is turning 90 this year, and I love her dearly. She has Alzheimer’s, but is still at the point that she can live on her own. Alzheimer’s is a scourge on my family and one of my greatest fears. I’m looking forward to having a good visit with them. We’re paying for the flights through credit card miles and the rest of the voucher I got for giving up my seat a year ago.

I guess that’s enough for now. I’ll scatter a few photos throughout for visual interest, but mainly I just needed to write. Just remember,