Coronavirus Chronicles, political activism

Black Lives Matter

So much to say, and no adequate words to say it.

I keep putting off posting here, because it feels trivial to post my everyday life events in the scope of what is happening in my country and the world today. As a white middle class person, I have learned a lot about racism and listening, but it is confusing to hear the contradictory statements about giving space for African American voices but that white silence is consent. I’ve been trying to walk that thin line.

If it wasn’t for this damn virus, believe me, my husband and I would be at the protests. I wish that I was in DC right now. I feel bad about not participating. I would feel worse if I caught this virus and spread it further. In other words, I feel like shit. Everything is infuriating and terrifying and guilt-inducing and I feel like a turtle flipped on its back. Overwhelmed and helpless, and not at all sure if I can find a way back on my feet.

When it comes down to the choice, I think that the protests are doing fine without us, but an exponential rate of viral infection and the fact that between the two of us we check all the boxes for severe consequences if we catch it makes our decision clear. I’ve been obsessed with looking at the footage and tired of hearing sirens and fireworks (was that a gun shot?) within walking distance of my house. As a senior white woman in a safe middle class neighborhood I never have to worry about being abused by police. All of my police interactions have been good ones. Even the one in which I argued with a patrolman, even the one in which I was arrested, I was treated with respect. The only beefs I have ever had with police were about over-zealous parking enforcement. I am privileged and I know it.

I worry much more about the right-wing domestic terrorists and Boogaloos instigating and accelerating violence, and this city has seen murder from the KKK and Nazis before. It is also the home of the Greensboro Sit-Ins, a proud civil rights event in our history. The Woolworth’s building now houses the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, and given that one of its windows was broken in the riots the other night, I doubt that it was civil rights protesters who did the damage. This city has a very complicated civil rights heritage.

Anyway, my mental health is damaged enough that I don’t think that I need to say anything more except that All Lives won’t Matter until Black Lives Matter. That is what “All” means.

Back to the usual programming later.

Back Forty, Coronavirus Chronicles, More gardening, Solar energy

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I’m finishing up my coffee before I go for a social distanced walk with a friend.

The Covid-19 news just keeps getting worse. Looks like we will have to be isolated for a very long time, mainly because of a bunch of yahoos that think they’re invincible and we are disposable. At least I can work from home or isolate in my office, although I don’t think that I will want to use the bathroom after classes begin. My prediction is that there will be a much worse second wave at the end of summer and classes will go online again. We haven’t hit the peak of the first wave here yet.

It’s tiresome, to say the least.

In other news, we have highs in the 80s now so I planted my tomatoes, etc. The Romas and squash don’t look so happy. The Better Boys and volunteer tomatoes (I hope that they are Cherokee Purple) are doing fine. Knock wood – even though the peppermint and feverfew are a pain to deal with, they seems to be keeping the groundhogs at bay so far. I took before photos that I hope will improve later:

The front hugelkultur/herb garden is looking good. Still need to plant my basil. I did not hear from the guy who I hoped to hire to help me in the garden. It is very frustrating trying to hire help and there is so much that I need help with because of tendinitis. I wonder if we will have to abandon this home for a condo or townhouse eventually. I hope not. Sandy can’t handle it all even if he was willing. (Rant deleted.)

First radish is always mine.

Positive note: For the first time in several months we produced more solar energy than we consumed. I changed most of our light bulbs to LEDs and I’ve been drying most of my clothes on racks instead of using the dryer and washing dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher.

Sourdough was not as much of a success this week, and of course I had offered a loaf to my next-door neighbor before it came out of the oven. I jinxed it. Halving the recipe seems to make it more manageable. Next time I will let it rise longer. It didn’t rise in the oven at all.

I received my order from Dick Blick yesterday with LOTS of small cradled wood panels. My neighbor across the street who is an accomplished artist said that I could participate in his studio sale in the Fall. We’ll see if that happens, but it did light a fire in me. He has always been meh about my fiber art but he was enthusiastic about my collages. So even though I sound depressed right now I am actually kind of excited. I am going to bring a work table onto the porch and gesso some panels today.

Not much reading happening since I finished Bridge of Sighs. It’s hard to get going on a new book and I don’t want anything very depressing. I’m reading The Juniper Tree, a compilation of Grimm fairy tales illustrated by Maurice Sendak right now. Wonderful illustrations – I am tempted to cut some pages out and frame them.

TV – Ozark and Doc Martin right now. Sandy binged through Ozark. I just can’t watch TV for that long, so I’m at the end of the first season. At first I didn’t think that I could watch it but I powered through and became hooked on the plot and the excellent writing. Doc Martin for Cornwall and comic relief, although the soundtrack is making me crazy by sticking in my head.

From my walk with Susanne last Sunday:

Also, it was our 33rd anniversary yesterday. Hard to believe! So many travel memories from this time of year too. Vacillating between feeling sad and enjoying the photos.

Coronavirus Chronicles

Shopping Covid-19 Style

We went inside a local grocery store last night because they carried a few items that I was out of, plus SMITHWICK’S ALE, and I am somewhat sorry that we did. We decided to do it because they are one of the few stores around here that are requiring face coverings. Although I am excited to have Duke’s mayonnaise again (it’s the little things these days, right?) I had a disturbing conversation with the cashier.

I am of the opinion that food workers who process food and who deal with the public (grocery cashiers, managers, stockers, wait staff) are front line workers. I am well aware that health care workers are at the front of the front line, in the gravest danger. But everybody has got to eat, and as a former cashier/retail manager I know how difficult it can be to deal with the public. I also know firsthand about being the working poor, with no sick leave. Now with people actually getting killed by domestic terrorists for simply trying to do their jobs to abide by their employer’s rules, these workers are definitely on the front line.

So, I was a bit chatty, and I had a few bucks in my pocket and I tipped the cashier, telling him that I appreciated him being on the front line. I had wanted to do that for the curbside delivery people but it was contactless and paid ahead of time online. We are not rich by any means, but we didn’t really need our stimulus payment because I am still working and Sandy is getting his Social Security payments – it went to paying off Diego’s vet bill and paying off debt, so I have been tipping generously and donating to charity.

The response I received surprised me. He told me that he was not on the front line, that he was there because he had to be, that he had heard that from several people and for personal reasons it was somewhat offensive to him to be told that. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I tried to explain my reasoning and told him to split the tip with his co-worker if he wanted. I could just see the anger and the words “fuckin’ Karen” behind his eyes, even though his tone was flat and polite. I wasn’t going to argue with him – he has a right to his feelings and who knows what his personal reasons were. Maybe he had a bad day.

We won’t be going back into a grocery store for a long time, unless absolutely necessary, because the cases are still increasing in North Carolina. It was strange to feel so excited about being able to walk through the aisles and picking items from the shelves, as if we were in an American grocery store for the first time – they have this! And this! I also went to Walgreen last Sunday after my walk with Susanne because we needed distilled water and toilet paper, and I felt the same way. There weren’t many shoppers and they were pretty good except for one couple without face coverings, who I easily avoided. There was hand sanitizer for customers to use next to the door. (There was no toilet paper, but Deep Roots Market got me some later.)

But now I feel so anxious that we made this grocery trip. It wasn’t necessary – I wanted Duke’s mayonnaise and I wanted to shop a local merchant who was good about safety precautions. But there was no sanitizer and many of the customers who were there to buy beer, cigarettes, and lottery tickets only had bandannas tied around their faces. We washed up as soon as we got home and tossed our masks into the washing machine. I was awake until 2 a.m. thinking about all this.

We have got to make sure that everybody has access to personal protection before we open up everything. Maybe we can’t force people to do it, but we can make sure that they have the choice to wear it. The cashier told me that some customers were pissed off about the face covering requirement. I told him that they were also going to get new customers because of it because people on Facebook were spreading the word to those who were looking for food stores with these requirements.

I feel so fortunate that I do not work in retail any more.

coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, More gardening, Slow Food

Saturday Coffee Pot Post

In which I can drink coffee in the afternoon, thank you very much.

The official word is that I will be teleworking from home at least until May 22. I can still go to my office if I really need to, but my employer’s policy is for me to work at home. Right now I don’t see any reason to go in unless I absolutely have to scan something or I lose Internet connection.

I broke through some of my lethargy this week. Susanne and I took a walk last Sunday and I planted “beautiful beans” in the UNCG plot, a local heirloom crowder pea that Pat Bush gave me a couple of years ago that I planted and saved last year. I picked the last of the Rouge d’Hiver lettuce that didn’t begin to bolt in the warm weather.

Gave up on the seed starting totally. Everything is dead now. So I supported a local farmer, John Handler at Weatherhand Farms, and bought Roma, Better Boy, pepper, squash, eggplant, and snapdragon plants from the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market drive through market this morning. They are under the grow light inside for a few days until this polar vortex clears out. Also bought a pound of shrimp from George (NC Seafood) so there will be good eatin’ tonight.

Greg gave me some milkweed seed balls and I planted them on Wednesday in the herb/flower garden in the front.

I finally baked two large sourdough bread loaves from Carol’s starter and it turned out great! It didn’t kill my hands and wrists to knead it either. Next time I will divide this into four small loaves so I can give some away. I don’t have a big enough bowl to make more at one time.

I finished two matching face coverings for Sandy and I. This one has a filter inside and I can breathe through it, or maybe my allergies have gotten a lot better. (See top photo.) Now that I am comfortable with this I will make a few more and definitely play with my sewing machine more. Make some of the pleated styles.

The thing that really picked me up was the day I returned to these collages and finished them. Then I ordered a bunch of wood panels and mats from Dick Blick, along with some acrylic glazing liquid and Yes paste, which Crystal Neubauer recommends for an adhesive that doesn’t make the collage paper curl up, which is my biggest problem. Between her workshop and Melinda Tidwell’s workshop, which I did as a remote group with Triangle Book Arts, I am learning a lot about collage, and also gaining more confidence about not necessarily following the “rules.” Crystal refers to her style as intuitive collage, and I relate to that much more strongly. I am looking forward to mounting some of these collages and making a couple of gallery pages for this site in the next few months.

I cut up “Illustrated Question Box” and made it smaller. Pulled the story together.

The other one is called “100 Doses One Dollar” and I did most of it at the beginning of March. It directly relates to the Covid-19 pandemic and our country’s response to it. The saving grace, I think, was adding three small shark’s teeth that I found at North Topsail Beach several years ago. They look a little like hearts, don’t they? They are deceptive.

Oh, I am angry. Make no mistake about it. But I am moving into acceptance about the things we must do to survive the pandemic, with anger about the people who are misleading citizens, profiteering, destroying our constitutional checks and balances, suppressing votes, and literally killing. There must be anger, and action, and resistance against domestic terrorism and this fascist authoritarian regime.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, fiber art

Saturday Morning Coronavirus Chronicle Chapter

With coffee and hot cocoa mix.

Absolutely had an emotional meltdown last night. Part of my problem is that I am addicted to playing games when I am depressed. It keeps my mind occupied without the overwhelming reality of the world intruding. But it is wreaking havoc on my body – my right arm is burning, my muscles are turning to fat, my hips are begging to get out of bed. I want to sleep more than anything in the world now. Even if I was one of those lucky people (cue my husband) who can fall asleep as soon as they close their eyes, my body is preventing it because it is in pain.

After this blog post, which I’ve promised myself to write at least once a week, I am going to try to go offline and no games or e-books for two days. I’ll allow myself TV, but no news.

It is going to be a beautiful weekend outside and I am going to get out in the fresh air and put my hands in the dirt. I do have to be careful because this is the danger time each year when I get so happy in the garden that I overdo and really hurt myself. I don’t have my massage therapy available, although I could still go to a chiropractor. I transferred my sad little seedlings to pots mid-week, only to find them dug up by squirrels. Guess I will be buying my tomato and pepper plants this year, other than the volunteers that I found in the garden.

I am also going to drive someplace new and walk. Sandy wants to walk too, but he is having some kind of painful ankle issue. We have been walking around the block once a day. One of my neighbors built a little free library which she and her neighbor also stock with a few food items. We have enjoyed some good conversations with our neighbors on the other side of our block.

I made a prototype mask last week that worked pretty well. It has a pocket for an extra filter, and I found a pack of cheap masks in my art supplies so pulled the elastic off for other masks and tucked one in. I found that I couldn’t breathe well enough with the filter in though, maybe for a few minutes but after that I’d be in danger of passing out. Allergies, I guess. So I took it back out. I made the patterns for the next ones longer so that they will cover the chin more, and have room for Sandy’s beard.

That forked stick I am holding is one on which I’ve been weaving shells with holes in them. I’m calling it my magic stick.

The elastic for this one is a long hair band that never worked well for holding back my hair. I’m glad I kept them anyway with the shortage of elastic! It measured 19 inches and the instructions called for 11 inches on each side. No problem – a safety pin took care of it.

As for the rigid heddle weaving, it is too painful for my hands/arms right now so I am not going to finish the wedge weave. Sometimes you got to know when to quit. I am sick of those colors anyway.

I think it is time to get back to doing collage. Probably it is the easiest on my hands, since I have a lot of pieces already cut and torn up.

“Bridge of Sighs” by Richard Russo is a wonderful book.

It looks like I might be returning to work on May 8. Sandy says this is too soon, but in my circumstances I think it will be okay, and maybe better for my state of mind. I have my own office, and all the summer classes are online. Hardly anybody is in the building. I am tempted to take some vacation time later anyway if Lake Waccamaw opens to non-residents, and go down and do art at the lake house for a week. The problem would be getting someone to feed our cats for that long. Sandy does not want to try to take them with us. I think it would be okay. They would be too freaked out to try to escape.

Still longing for Ireland. Sandy says, think of all the good things you have here. That is true. I am lucky. I still long for Ireland. Travel in general, really. The anticipation of it has been my saving grace for almost twenty years now. Thinking of the awful circumstances of other people only worsens my depression – it is not a suffering contest and if it is I don’t want to win it.