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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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,

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cloth weaving, critters, tapestry, whatever

So be it

So much for doing a little each day. It just ain’t happening. At the end of the weekday for most of the past three weeks I’ve been either Facebooking, reading the Poldark series (starting on book four soon!), drinking beer, playing solitaire, hanging out on the front porch with the boys, or going to bed early. I spent a couple of good weekends at the studio, though.

Yesterday I got serious about cleaning up the house and yard and while it is still a hot mess, the kitchen is clean, the front porch is mostly clean, and some of the yard is cleaned up. I bought a lettuce seed mix and green peas and sugar snap peas to plant, as well as a few other seeds for later. Since the next door neighbor absentee landlord finally came through and cut down the jungle in the front, I might have a sunny patch for a while on the south side of the front yard and I’m considering adding an herb garden there, at least until they let it grow up and block the sun again. (Who called the city? Not me, I swear. I don’t do that, but my neighbors down the street have done it to others so I suspect that they did.) Susanne and I plan to put it a garden in the back yard of the studio house also.

I’m going to try to get it together about eating healthy again. I actually got down to 179.8 on the scale a couple of weeks ago, stepped off, did a double take and rechecked it. I haven’t seen the south side of 180 for a long, long time. Then I went on a food and drinking binge, partly because of my birthday but mostly because I didn’t want to think about reality, and gained a few pounds back. I don’t care about my weight so much but the cholesterol is something I have to get under control because I’m getting pressure to go on statins. It may be that I won’t be able to get it under control, but I’m going to stay on the niacin until June, and then if it hasn’t made a difference I’ll do the statins for a little while to get it down. Trying to do better about my vitamins too, since I have a D deficiency.

Bright spots: the weather has been wonderful. Sunny weekends with high in the 70s. I love my new hair cut. I bought a new mattress and I am sleeping much better. Sandy took me out to Blue Moon Oyster Bar and I ate some of the best scallops I’ve ever eaten. I’ve had some fun times with friends.

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The cats are loving the front porch. Miss Penny from across the street most definitely does NOT approve. She considers all the porches on this street her territory, and it was bad enough that we blocked her access by screening it, but now there are TOMCATS on it. She stalks around growling, howling, yowling, and attacking the screen. Diego, the alpha cat, is terrified of her. Pablocito, my puppy cat, is curious but staying the hell away.

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(click through to see the video on Flickr)

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Theo, my old geezer who is constantly bullied by the younger two cats actually stepped up to the plate and took her on (although with a screen in between; I wouldn’t have allowed it otherwise). Then he went after Diego! I wrote this from Theo’s point of view.

Theo to Pablocito and Diego: “Step aside, children. You think I’m an old geezer but I haz combat skills you can’t imagine. I did time in the muthafuckin’ shelter. I got the ears to prove it. Go hide, you pussies. I got this.”

Theo, badass feline, goes head to head with Penny and her attack fails. She runs off in evil shame.

Of course, there was a screen between them.

Theo to Diego: “You still wanna piece of me, son? It’s go time.”

There is no screen between them.

Diego runs.

Unfortunately it was back to business as usual with the cats this morning.

Susanne is here in the studio and I’m ready to get started. I did have some artistic progress in the last few weeks and here’s some proof.

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Since I don’t seem to be getting around to updating the blog very often, I’ll mention that my 12th blogiversary is coming up soon. Maybe I’ll get a post up, but I wrote about the history of the blog a couple of posts ago, so maybe I’ll skip it this year.

whatever

2017 First Day Part II

goeast

gowest

So, here is what I’m thinking about for 2017.

There will be a local exhibition of six fiber artists at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC in January and another Tapestry Weavers South exhibition at Yadkin Cultural Arts Center later this year.

I’m planning to go to the Women’s March on Washington on January 21 with a couple of friends. Quite a few women I know are taking buses to DC. We jumped on reserving a hotel room near the Metro station in Alexandria right away for Saturday night before the rooms sold out and the prices jacked up, and will stay in a cheap hotel about an hour away on Friday night. Now I am shaking in my shoes with anxiety about the whole thing. I don’t even like to go to the movies or concerts because I hate crowds. What the hell was I thinking? But I’m going to go because I think it is important. One of my friends will drive and I’ll take my Dramamine and Xanax for the journey.

Winter/Spring is my busy time at work, so I’m not planning anything then except maybe a trip to Lake Waccamaw around Easter.

May 16 is our 30th anniversary. We are going to celebrate the hard work that went into this by traveling to Ireland and southern England for two weeks. We’ve paid for most of the trip already over the last few months. We’ll stay in Howth (on the harbor near Dublin) for one night on the way and one night on the way back, and most of our time will be spent in London and Cornwall.

Yes, I am a fan of Poldark! But mostly, it is because I love sea cliffs and a large branch of my ancestry is from Cornwall.

In late June, Susanne and I plan to go back to Focus on Book Arts for our third time. Because of the trip to the UK, that is currently the only retreat I’m planning. Unlike the last time, I won’t be making it a bigger trip because I need to do it as cheaply as possible. FOBA arranges for room/board at Pacific University and it is less expensive than other retreats. Also, it has a nice selection of both technical classes and loosey goosey creative classes with nationally known book arts instructors.

In June and July I guess I will be blogging those trips!

Sandy and I will try to make it out to Colorado again before the year is out. We both love it there. We’ll try to visit a new national park if we can. We’ve been to Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, and Great Sand Dunes so far in Colorado.

I’ll try to get back to weaving “Cathedral” again. Now that I have the front porch screened in I know that I will enjoy weaving on the porch bug-free.

I expect that my current obsession with weaving cloth strips and fabric piecework (and maybe quilting) will continue. So there will be plenty of retreat time right here in Greensboro.

whatever

2017 First Day Part I

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“Then what is the answer? Not to be deluded by dreams.” – Robinson Jeffers, “The Answer”

Wow. This is going to be hard. I wouldn’t blame you at all if you skipped this one. I always write a post on New Year’s Day about my goals and expectations for the coming year. I am not a cheery person these days and I don’t want to bring anybody down. But philosophically I have belonged in the camp of the Dark Mountain Project for quite some time. This kind of gloomy realistic thinking does not resonate with most people and most certainly will not get you invited to parties, but I’m not a people person anyway. If I had children, I really don’t know if I would still be sane as this point. Also, I’m not really interested in discussing it, but here’s what is in the back of my mind, and I feel that it is important to put it out there today.

THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF UNCIVILISATION

“We must unhumanise our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.”

  1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
  2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
  3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
  4. We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
  5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
  6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
  7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
  8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.

From the Dark Mountain Project Manifesto

So, there is the broader view of my thinking for the years ahead. Next, a cheerier post about our plans for the year.