How it is with me

Better. Much better.

I am able to make myself do the things that have to be done. And do the things that my soul craves as well.

During the last weekend in January, Sandy and I got out and cleaned up the back yard and took the remaining tatters of the cloth roof off the gazebo, AKA the outdoor studio. The idea is to move it more toward the middle of the yard and away from the trees, and from there it will be mostly up to Sandy what he wants to do with it. I am not moving it or the many pavers that I put down when I set it up long ago. It nearly handicapped me then. But it was a great place to paint and make paper and read and journal until the trees behind starting dropping branches on it and the vines began ripping through the screened walls. A big limb came down on our back house a few weeks ago and so Sandy is cutting away at it and burning it. He is such a firebug.

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Saturday somebody told him that he looks like Captain Kangaroo.

Between that weekend and this weekend we moved the greenhouse closer to the house where I think that it might get a little more morning sun. This will be a warm week and I will start some seeds.

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Last weekend Sandy took me to a country restaurant called Hillbilly Hide-a-way that we have been curious about for a long time. They bring you out some of everything that is on the menu that night and then you can order more of whatever you want, all you can eat. I guess if you are a huge eater it is a great deal. People wrote all over the walls for years so we added our names. It is a very popular place. I doubt we will go back though.

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On Thursday, we went to see Gaelic Storm at the Blind Tiger here in Greensboro. I saw them in 2016 and they put on a great show. I’m kind of surprised I didn’t write a post about it then because I took photos then. They have a new fiddler this year but here is a photo from last year when they ended the show up on the bar.

Gaelic Storm at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC

Then on Saturday, I took a Tunisian crochet class at Gate City Yarns, and afterward we ate at Pier Oyster Bar and Grille, both in downtown Greensboro. This was our second time at Pier, and man, is it good. I had ahi poke tacos and the shells were crispy fried wontons. This is the first time I have found poke with the same flavorings that I found in Oregon in 2017. YUM.

I really like Tunisian crochet. We have two more classes, and here is the start of the sampler…will post the final product later. I like the look of it and it is much easier on my right hand.

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As for Amanda and Gate City Yarns, I think that I have already proclaimed my love for Amanda here. I took the spinning wheel that belonged to Ida Eisemann to her. I had bought it in an antique store in Saratoga, Florida around 2002, I think. She was so beautiful that I could not leave it in the store. However, I felt strongly that she needs to go to a spinner so Amanda is going to look into getting her restored (she needs a flywheel) and either buy or sell her for me. She was lonely at my house. I believe this is an object with a soul.

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Yes, I am still weaving! I am making a mess of the hemstitching on the first curtain panel now.

Solar Energy Rocks!

Solar panels at the back of the house.Okay, I am giving my new setup with the Kindle and Bluetooth keyboard another try this weekend. The last time I tried I lost a long post at the very end of writing it. It is very very very slow. Maybe that’s appropriate? Teaching me patience? Anyway, if you are reading this, it worked!

We finally accomplished two major life goals this month. We paid off the mortgage on the house, and the solar panels are finally in energy production! I monitor the production every day in an app and so far on a sunny day they produce about 12.7 kHw per day and growing as the days grow longer. We could have placed them for more efficiency but historic district rules stated that they have to be as invisible as possible, so they had to go in two rows at the back of the house. The electrician said that it made little difference anyway.

The company is NC Solar Now and if you are in North Carolina and decide to use them please give me name, Laurie O’Neill, as a reference. I will get a referral fee that I will put back into the payments on the system.

This is not an off grid system. I wish that we could afford that, but I’m not even sure they would allow it where we are if we could. The power we produce feeds back into the grid and we are credited for the amount on our bill. We still have to pay Duke Energy a meter fee, and I imagine that the GOP in power will figure out more ways to squeeze more money from us for Duke shareholders. Still, this system should provide almost all the energy we need. I will be writing and updating about it all year.

As the days grow longer and hotter, we should generate more energy so hopefully it will balance out. Our furnace and water heater runs on natural gas.

I have always been very frugal about energy use and this is making both of us more conscientious about ways we can go further.

Now that I’ve managed to do a life update, I’m heading back to the loom.

The Macomber twill gamp

The Macomber loom is up and weaving. The warp that I measured for it beginning 5-6 years ago was a nightmare, though. At that time I decided, as I do and often regret, that I would measure a warp as long as possible to avoid having to warp it again for a long time. I don’t know why I don’t learn from experience, but this was before the Shannock warping fiasco. I had begun the project just before we adopted Diego and Pablocito, and I began having neck and shoulder problems, so those two factors influenced me to put it away for a long time.

When I brought the warp bundles back out, they were insanely long and I had twice as many as I needed because apparently my plan had been to do doubleweave rugs. I dropped that plan and got out my pattern weaving books and threaded a twill gamp. (A gamp is a sampler of weaving patterns.) The bundles were tangled at the end and I ran out of warp sticks for the back beam, so I cut off about seven feet of warp. It is a good thing I didn’t go ahead with the double weave, because I made a few mistakes in threading the reed and the slots where I threaded two warps stuck badly. I went through three cycles of weaving, unweaving, untying, rethreading, and tying. My skills are rusty, but all in all I was very pleased in how it turned out. When I got frustrated, I walked away for a few days. I am not in a hurry.

As you might guess, I have a large amount of this cotton yarn that I bought as mill ends on large cones a long time ago. So it shows up a lot. I’d like to use it up. I am crocheting the warps that I cut off into dishcloths.

I am aiming for this fabric to become curtain panels, since we need curtains. The colors don’t match our sofa or wall color, but whatever. If I can’t bear to weave these for that long because of tension problems, they might become bath towels or kitchen towels. I plan to cut off each one as I finish it and re-tension and re-tie the warp, because I can see the problems on the back beam already.

Most of the time I am weaving standing up, and that’s a good thing since I generally sit all day.

So far my favorite patterns have emerged on the green stripe. I’m glad I chose a contrasting color for the weft.

tech woes

My old Kindle connects to the wifi but no longer connects to the Bluetooth keyboard.

My new Kindle connects to the Bluetooth keyboard but not to the wifi.

My laptop does not connect to the wifi any more.

Suffice it to say, I am very frustrated. Hopefully I will get back to blogging soon.

2018 Wrap-up

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2018 had its charms. I was in much much better physical shape than in 2017 but spent about six months in a serious depression. I am starting out 2019 with much less physical and mental pain, and I have regained some lost hope.

In January I decided to weave a tapestry diary and I was really into it for about three months. It was bitter cold at this time last year and we got a lot of snow. I had to consolidate my two studios and focused on squeezing the stuff from my little corner in the Wharton St. house into my already overflowing living room studio at home. Also went to the Women’s March in Raleigh with my family. I thought a lot about this, which I’m thinking about again now.

Women's Rally on Raleigh

February was a very creative month. I participated in India Flint’s first online class, Bag Stories, which was a real joy. My WandRbeutel bag is falling apart now, but I can mend it and maybe I will make another. It is a great portable project. Seth Apter came to Greensboro and I took his 52 Card Pickup class – great fun. My books “Flow” and “First the Seed” were in an impressive Triangle Book Arts show called “Re(f)use” at Artspace in Raleigh.

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"Flow" top cover and three pages

I stitched a LOT in March. Rather obsessively, as I recall. Started India Flint’s Alchemist’s Apron class. Got serious about gardening again, transplanting my perennials from the Wharton St. garden and putting up a small greenhouse.

New greenhouse!

I got smart and lucky and hired a guy I met in the permaculture guild to redo my main garden area and dig up some unwanted shrubs and dig a hugelkultur bed at the end of my driveway in April. We went to Lake Waccamaw, where I gathered plant material to print and dye my apron and silk threads.

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Tapestry was the focus in May, when Sandy and I went to see the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition at the Folk Art Center in Asheville. We took the opportunity to go to a cheese festival too, YUM. Later that month I went to St. Simon’s Island in Georgia for a Tapestry Weavers South retreat. Groundhog woes in the garden.

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Susanne and I took an incredibly fun workshop from Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller at Topsail Beach in early June that combined botanical printing and natural dyeing on paper with the Zhen Xian Bao book structure. I took a week’s staycation to purge and organize the studio. Groundhog family wreaked havoc.

Zhen Xian Bao by the Sea

July is bittersweet in retrospect. I spent the last week at Fred’s house at Lake Waccamaw. It was beautiful and we had a few friends visit. I stitched my hands into numbness so I got out the sewing machine and started working on the t-shirt quilt again.

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In August, we spent the money to cut down the silver maple, and much of it is in the same place the arborist left it to this day. I picked and dehydrated tomatoes every few days, and paid close attention to what the groundhogs ate and avoided in order to plan for this year.

September – OY. What a big month. Sandy and I took a big wonderful trip to Idaho and Wyoming. We went to Shoshone Falls, Minidoka National Historic Site, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Fossil Butte National Monument. Judy met us in Yellowstone and was our tour guide. While we were there, Hurricane Florence rolled in and flooded both family houses at Lake Waccamaw.

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In October I went to Talk Story in Connecticut for a long weekend to take a class from Sharon Payne Bolton and made a bunch of new friends. I also realized that I needed some help at home with my deepening depression and started seeing a therapist. I focused on mental healing and the t=shirt quilt, wove the last entry on the tapestry diary and let it go.

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tapestry diary 2018

Election and work anxiety made November tough. I got out my mother’s sewing machine and did what I could. Thanksgiving was spent at my sister’s rental house at Lake Waccamaw.

In December my depression lifted, this time for more than a week! Winter Storm Diego dumped a foot of snow on us. Work was better, politics became more optimistic, and we went to my sister’s rental house at the lake for Festivus. We have been at home since then and I finished the t-shirt quilt.