Making brushes and a walk in the woods

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I had a good weekend. On Saturday morning I drove to Chapel Hill and played with the Triangle Book Arts group. We spent the first few hours making brushes with bamboo and driftwood and deer tail and horsehair and feathers and various plant materials, then the last two we spent making marks with things such as small pieces of wood and bleach on black paper, and using salt on wet pigments and spraying through made stencils and such. When I got home Sandy and I went to the Deep Roots Grand Reopening. A fun day.

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It seems to be a good time for fungi, even though we haven’t had any rain since we got back from Colorado. The temps are still in the mid-high 80s and it’s muggy. You’d think that we would have gotten some of this hurricane action on the edges, but no.

The Sierra Club sponsored a short hike on the West House Trail and I made myself get out in nature. A good group and a nice walk in the woods. I took a few more fungi shots. The hands are not mine – my nails have never looked that good!

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On Sunday I was a domestic goddess and my house still looks terrible but it looks less terrible, and sometimes you just have to go with what you got. I am told all the time that my house looks “lived in” which is meant well and I take it as a compliment. People don’t worry about putting their feet on the furniture at my house. I’m always more at ease in a friend’s messy house.

The main focus was dealing with the fleas again before they reproduced a lot so I did a lot of washing bed linens and the rugs in my bedroom. The diatomaceous earth did work well on the carpets and I’ll continue to use it, but I think that I’m going to have a problem with fleas as long as the boys hang out on the front porch. Putting the d.e. on Pablocito was an experiment and it did help a lot for a couple of weeks. Diego got the dose of CatMD during the same time, which is a cheaper version of Advantage. When the fleas came back on Pablocito, I decided to dose him with the CatMD stuff too, and boy, was it strong. My poor boy blinked his eyes rapidly and squinted all night from the fumes and my throat tightened up and got sore just from being in the same room with him. We were both fine the next day but it makes me hesitant about these other five doses. They were still expensive. Maybe I’ll try the pill route.

Dried more peaches and tomatoes in the dehydrator too. I joined a dehydrator group on Facebook and now my head is swimming with other ideas.

I think of all the things I want to write about constantly, thinking that I’ll start doing it after this, after that, and then I don’t do it. Then the words float away, buried by the debris in my anxious brain, or pushed away by mindless game playing that absorb my thoughts lest they go to dark places. I do this to myself. It’s the same reason I don’t get art done.

It’s a pattern for me to get depressed after my last trip west for the year, without any trip planned to keep my INTJ cells active. This coming year I’m sure that I’ll go somewhere for a retreat, maybe to the HGA (Handweavers Guild of America) Convergence in Reno in July. I’d love to take one of the ATA (American Tapestry Alliance) three-day workshops. However, I’ve never been able to get into one, even when I set an alarm to register online at the very moment registration begins, because donors to the organization get to register a month early and the workshops fill up. If I was to donate $125 before Oct. 17, I’d get a shot but I’m feeling the squeeze of medical bills and household repairs that I need to hire someone for. Then I might not get in the class anyway and I’d be out the money. And I’d have to make a firm decision about going to Reno before Oct. 17. Ay yi yi. This is the kind of thing that makes my chest hurt. So maybe I’ll try to register for one of the classes again on Nov. 17 without the extra donation. If I get in, then Fate has decreed that I should go.

Fortunately there are lots of book arts classes that are in driving distance and don’t cost so much. I’m getting involved with the Triangle Book Arts group, which has its meetings in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill and are about an hour’s drive away. Tomorrow morning I’m going to a mark-making workshop at the Chapel Hill Public Library and it will be my first meeting with this group.

Have I mentioned that my agoraphobia now has no problem with hopping on a plane to fly thousands of miles away, but rears its head at a car trip by myself more than 15 minutes away? Mental illness has no logic. This is the kind of thing that slips up on me. I have to push through this. Boo, panic disorder! Go away!

Then I’m going to join this TBA group again the following Saturday in Durham to play with creating a panel for a collaborative accordion style book that will hang at the ReFuse show in January.

I’ve got all kinds of ideas for this panel BUT I realize that right now it might be best for me to just pull out a bunch of collage materials and found objects and then follow my nose.

And I’m working on appreciating Greensboro and North Carolina. I know it’s a case of the “grass being greener on the other side of the hill.” I realize that Greensboro is actually a great place to live, and that North Carolina is a beautiful state. I’m trying to see it with new eyes instead of the eyes of someone who has lived in the state for 56 years and in Greensboro for 38 of those years, never anywhere else.

So I’m going for a hike on one of the lake trails on Sunday.

But all I really want to do when I get home from work is play computer games, read, and sleep. I gotta snap out of it, but it’s not so easy when I want to be kind to myself too. Like right now, I’m gonna have a real hard time not laying down on the bed, much less even thinking about cooking dinner. Last night I ate some crackers and went to bed at 7 p.m. I don’t know how people with children manage.

You’ve probably guessed that I’m having a hard time with thinking about politics, natural disasters, and personal worries.

Oh yeah, my gallbladder surgery is scheduled for October 5. Trying REALLY hard not to think about that, except for keeping my diet fairly low-fat. My neck is much better, and I’m getting a home traction device soon that should help a lot.

Okay, that’s enough whining. I’ll write about my gardening plans and more substantive subjects later.

Colorado, Part III: Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, etc.

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That morning we went to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and saw the petrified stumps of ancient redwood trees. We walked the trails a little. They were gentle. It was a gorgeous day. We were disappointed that we couldn’t pick up fossils, but I guess that’s why it is protected with national monument status. There are many great examples of insect and plant fossils in the visitors’ center.

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Stopped for scenic photo shoots along the road, including an old mine site. There is still plenty of gold being mined up on those hilltops.

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This looks like an oil painting to me:

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Those vistas. Those skies.

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On the way back we stopped at Manitou Springs again and had coffee and walked through several shops and galleries. A beautiful little town, although the parking situation is extremely frustrating there.

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The next morning our flight was delayed and so we went back to Boulder and had brunch at an excellent farm-to-table vegetarian restaurant, Leaf. After we got to the airport, our flight was delayed two more times, and we didn’t get home until 1 a.m. I don’t think that we are going to fly on Frontier any more, although they did give us each a food voucher for $10 at the airport and a $50 credit for flying with them again. Maybe, I don’t know.

Now I’m back home thinking about views like this. But home is good. I like home, too.

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Colorado, Part II: Cripple Creek

Early afternoon saw us on the road to Cripple Creek, Colorado with a stop for Mediterranean food in Manitou Springs. We fed a friendly little squirrel pumpkin seeds and saw an elk doe and two fawns on the way.

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Once we got there we checked into Cripple Creek Hospitality House, which turned out not only to be inexpensive and historic but fascinating and beautifully decorated as well. It was the former Teller County Hospital, built in 1901. All the rooms had names of the former use of the room. For example, the room on the left in the photo below had “Quarantine” on the door. Guess I’m glad I didn’t have that room!

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Cherie and I drove and walked around Cripple Creek later that evening, but not much was open other than the casinos, and we don’t gamble. We had a light dinner at an Irish pub that had no stout (!!!) and my food was awful so I won’t mention its name. We did go into the Brass Ass Casino, where they had actual human interaction with roulette and blackjack and craps and that was fun to watch. The other casinos seemed to be only machines, which I find very sad. We saw a skunk run into an abandoned building. We loved the colors and styles of the small turn-of-the-century houses.

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The big animal highlight was the herd of donkeys wandering around town. They are descendants of the old mine donkeys, and they are very well taken care of. They could be a little aggressive if you had something that they liked to eat.

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We ate lunch at the Red Rooster bar in the Imperial Hotel, which is haunted. That is the ghost of Sandy photobombing Aunt Delaine and me. The other ghost, George, was not around. Which was just fine with me.

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Colorado – Part I, Boulder

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View of downtown Denver as we flew in

Going to Colorado to see my aunt and cousin and doing a bit of sightseeing has become an annual event for me. I love Colorado and its climate and its beauty and its skies and its mountains and its rivers and its plains. I’ve never been there except in June and September, so I’ll admit that I’ve probably seen it at its best.

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This time we came in late on a weeknight so we took a bus to Boulder and stayed at an AirBNB hosted by an astrophysicist who was the most helpful, accommodating, interesting host I’ve ever had. We took her out for a late dinner, ate breakfast with her, and she and I really connected over early morning coffee. She walked with us halfway to downtown, and explained the way that the sun’s image is projected through the leaves in a tree (or other small spaces) onto the sidewalk, much like a pinhole camera. The round spots are images of the sun.

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Then we walked down to the Pearl St. Mall and moseyed around the shops. I bought a used copy of Frederick Franck’s Art As a Way: A Return to the Spiritual Roots. We had a drink at Foolish Craig’s, where I got this random photo of the ceiling. The phone camera was on the bar pointing at the ceiling and I happened to notice that it had captured something that I like a lot:

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We tried to go back for a meal on Sunday but they were too crowded. Downtown Boulder has lovely gardens, fun statues and shops, and art deco architecture.

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I wish that Boulder and the general area was not so expensive…I would move there in a minute if I could afford it.

Later we both had a grilled peach stout at West Flanders Brewing, then we took a bus to Broomfield where we joined our family for dinner for my cousin’s birthday and stayed at my aunt’s apartment that night and the following morning. (See next post.)