Friday, March 27, 2020

New Normal

As we settle into our new 'normal', nothing much really changes for me.

Choosing weaving as a career meant that every day I was doing things that I wanted to do.  I didn't pine after doing things once my 'real' job was done.  I was doing my 'real' job every day.

Not that it paid well.  Far from it.  But it was something that I loved to do and was willing to take less in wages than if I'd continued working in the 'real' world.

Most people have no understanding of my reality.  But I grew up blue collar poor and my expectations for material wealth (ha - pun intended) were not high.  Instead I had material.  ;)

Someone once commented to me that she want to be 'rich' like us.  I burst out with laughter because we were far from the kind of 'rich' she was meaning.  I pointed out that - at that time - we were living well below the poverty line for Canadians, but we were frugal, our wants well curbed and our modest needs covered.

I told her that if she considered rich being able to take a couple of hours off to visit with friends, then yes, I was rich.  If she considered that I was doing the work I loved, then yes, I was rich.

I also pointed out that my mother had just paid for lunch for all four of us, in case she hadn't noticed - including hers.

My mother was a huge supporter, routinely taking us out for meals, loaning us her car.  Doug had been doing her fix-it jobs for years, and so the three of us took care of each other to the means we were able.

But rich in the way that was meant?  Nope. 

So when the decision was made to shut down my business, it was with a certain level of trepidation.  The studio had been a small but significant source of income for us for decades, at times our sole income.  But the time had come and the last six months of 2019 were spent arranging our affairs to face the new 'normal' - my partial retirement and closure of my business.

We had just managed to finish shutting down the annex and getting rid of the monthly rent on that when the pandemic really made an appearance in North America.  It was such a relief to know I didn't have to come up with that monthly rent when teaching gigs were being cancelled/postponed and people everywhere were being laid off or fired because businesses were having to shutter and people were instructed to isolate.

With no income, sales of things like books dried up.  Independent contractors and self-employed people are scrambling.  Many of the government aid packages are not making provision for self-employed people.  And we don't know how long the confinement needs to be or how badly the general population will be hit, economically.

And no one has any idea at all how many will die, how many will have damaged lungs, or what the new 'normal' is going to look like when the dust settles.

In the meantime, if you can, stay home.  Be Kind.  Stay away from other people - at least six feet.  Cough into a sleeve.  When you get home, wash your hands thoroughly.  With soap.

Take this time to do the things you have been wishing you could do but never had the time.  Or just take the time to be.  Breathe.  Stay in touch remotely. 

The first priority is to survive.  If that takes staying at home?  I can do that. 

And when the pandemic has run it's course, we will have a lot of things to think about and changes to make.  Because frankly?  The old normal wasn't all that great for a whole lot of people.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Pandemic Do

My hair appointment was booked the day after personal service providers (hair, nails, massage, etc) were told to close to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  One week later, I'm thinking I may need to...cut my bangs myself.  (gulp)

There has been some whining on a certain tv channel about the 'privations' people are experiencing right now due to the shutdown of such personal services.

I would like to point out that someone catering to me is the last thing I want to have happen because we still don't know who all is carrying the virus.  It is now clear that some people can be shedding the virus for several days before showing any symptoms, and some have symptoms so mild they didn't even know they had it.

No one on this planet has an immunity to the virus.  There isn't even much certainty that those who have had it are immune afterwards.  No one knows how quickly the virus mutates and if having had the first go round will confer any immunity to subsequent mutations.

Some people are also missing the point that isolation is a privilege not granted to all.  People who are homeless are going to have a hard time staying clean (no access to soap and water in some cases).  People who are working jobs deemed 'essential' are still having to go to work.  (And lets start paying them hazard pay, not running gofundmes to cover their sick time - yes, I'm looking at you Mr. Bezos).

People are going to suffer economically as businesses shutter.  There is mass uncertainty as to how government programs to help people will work.  How to apply.  Who gets to apply.  Self employed people are particularly left out in the dark.  Do any of these programs apply to those folk?  Contractors?  Who is 'essential'?  Who isn't?

I do not forget to be grateful that I live where I do (Canada) where I at least have universal health care.  I do not forget that I am 'retired' after shutting down my business at the end of 2019.  We have minimum state pensions and not much else, but having been a 'starving artist' for most of my life, my wants are few and my needs more or less covered.  For now.

We still have electricity, water, heat and so far we have been able to get food without too much difficulty.  That may become more of a problem the longer this goes on.

I am old enough to remember where food comes from (and I'm not talking about the stores) and as the virus continues to burn through, farmers are going to have more trouble sowing their crops, then harvesting them.

I am old enough to know how to cook from 'scratch'.

I am old enough to remember the time prior to tv, internet and vaccines.

For the politicians saying that 'old' people should be ready to die to preserve the economy for their children?  I say fie on you - you go first and take your rich supporters with you.

I might be willing to die for a child.  I am NOT willing to die for some billionaires portfolio.

So I will cut my own bangs, trim my own fingernails (I always do anyway) and I will staythefhome
for as long as possible to flatten the curve.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Rule 303

One of the people I follow on line is Beau of the Fifth Column.  He is an independent journalist, retired military, trained in intelligence and communications.

He frequently posts to You Tube and I listen to try and understand what is happening south of my border. 

He explained Rule 303 and in February did an update.

The short form is:  If you have the means at hand, you have the responsibility to act.

Right now we all need to act to flatten the curve of the pandemic currently raging round the globe.

Some people are providing essential services and cannot stay at home.  For those of us who can?  We need to stay put.  Press Pause on life. 

Yes, it is frustrating.  We all have plans that are being cancelled or postponed.  We don't know what the future is going to hold as we watch our portfolios (if we have them) crash.  Our income dry up because people are not going out or spending money.  Some people have lost their jobs and don't know where the next months rent is going to come from.  Will we run out of food?  (No, there is food, truckers and railroaders are delivering it and if people would stop hoarding, there would be enough for everyone.)  Will we run out of medications?  (See bracketed comment above.)

We ARE running out of medical equipment, which is why it is imperative that people stay home.  Stop spreading the virus. 

If you must go out - for whatever reason - keep a good distance from others.

If you have the means, buy gift cards from local small businesses to help tide them over this current economic squeeze.  As one bookseller pointed out, buying a gift certificate gives them money while not requiring them to spend it right away.  I'm sure this works for other service/product providers as well.

Self employed people are particularly feeling the pinch right now.  Most of them do not qualify for things like Employment Insurance.  Many of them are in professions that rely on gatherings of people - teachers, musicians, etc.  Now is the time to help support them - if you can - by donating to their Patreon (or other) accounts, buying their products (books, CDs, t-shirts).

So far the post office is remaining open, although branches may shut.  Mail order still works.

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the morning messaging with friends, checking in with them to make sure they were ok.  They in turn checked that I was ok.  I worked in the studio.  I stayed in.  We both did.

I was invited to play Scrabble on line and suddenly found myself playing a bunch of games with people - some of whom I know, some of whom I don't in real life.  But we are all in this together.

If you have the means to stay home and isolate yourself?  Do it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Hunkered Down

Create Joy

We are hunkered down and staying in.

Yesterday I picked up my hearing aids at Costco and I have to say, the local store is doing a great job of keeping things clean, maintaining safe distances, etc.

When I told the cart person I didn't need one as I was only going to the hearing centre, another person told me to enter through the exit door so that I didn't have to queue.  The audiologist kept safe distance - me in the aisle, him behind the counter.  All went well with him demoing and giving verbal instructions, us passing the aids back and forth by setting them on the counter for the other to then approach and pick them up.  I could see that the counters had been wiped down.

Then came the feedback test.  Normally this is done in the sound proof exam room, but that room is barely 4 by 6 feet.  He very apologetically asked if I could do a make shift test.  It would mean standing in the middle of the aisle in Costco with a bucket over my head while he went to his equipment in the sound/exam room and tested the hearing aids while I wore them.

I'm quite sure that any folk walking by to the pharmacy wondered if I was trying to protect myself from the virus!  I almost asked someone to take a photo, but decided that it would have to live on in memory - and my imagination.

Needless to say it is going to take some time to get used to them.  I'm not used to having things in my ear canals.  And everything is so...noisy!  When you gradually lose something like hearing, you just slowly adapt and don't really notice that you are no longer hearing some things.

I wore them for about an hour or so until it was lunch time and I couldn't bear the sound of my chewing - so LOUD!  I took them out and left them out until after dinner when I put them in to watch tv.  This time things were not quite so LOUD but after two hours they were becoming uncomfortable so I took them out again.

This time of Home Time will be a good way to begin to get used to using them.

It has been very interesting to talk to the audiologist(s) and others who also need to use hearing aids.  Of course we are all different, but there are things that are similar, if not exactly the same.

I won't use them while weaving on the Megado.  The solenoids firing create quite a loud 'bang' so I will continue to wear the hearing protection I used to weave on the AVL.  And am grateful that I did wear hearing protection all those years or my hearing loss would be a lot worse than it is.

Today the shipment of one of my medications arrived, and the rest are good for at least two months.  Those are 'standard' and I'm expecting that the doctor's office will just do a phone call if we are still keeping physical distance, and then phone the Rx in.  They might even do delivery if that seems necessary.

So all we really need are fresh things - bread, meat, veggies.  We have staples to last for a couple of months.

All things being equal, we have the internet and enough to keep us going for some time.

I will check the post office once a week and Doug will likely go to the grocery store once a week for the things we run out of, but otherwise we have no plans to go anywhere.  I expect my chiropractic appointment to be cancelled (it's next week) and our dental has been postponed.

Our country isn't doing the best job during this time.  But neither is it doing the worst.  Time for the citizens to do their part and as much as possible stay away from other people.

Home Time for me:  weave.  As much as possible.  Make puzzles.  Start plying that fine silk.  Read.  Might actually get to those books piled on the hearth.  Who knew I would need them now instead of when I purchased them?  Hem towels.  Stay in touch with people via the internet.  Start walking if the roads ever clear of the ice and snow!

Stay calm.  Or as Ivor would say 'stay clam'.

Monday, March 23, 2020


Same warp, two different wefts.  The lighter textile is more subdued as the values are close together on the grey scale.  The darker textile shows how dark will make the light look lighter, brighter.  The darker cloth looks more dramatic. The twill lines are more obvious and the design is easier to see.  It will also be more obvious from a further distance while the lighter more subdued cloth will tend to blur into a pale solid colour.

Distance.  Drama.  Contrast.  All things that we are living with right now.

Panic seems to be taking root and people are not thinking things through.  They are paying attention to things that are not helpful.  We are focusing on what we cannot do, instead of what we should be doing.

When a ship is rudderless, it is tossed by the waves and wind.  Right now governments are attempting to steer their ships of state through the confusion the Covid-19 virus is causing all round the globe.  But some countries seem to have lost their rudder as their leadership waffles in their response and people are frightened, grasping onto anything that even sounds reasonable.

No, drinking lots of warm water will not protect you from the virus.  Your mouth is always moist.  Staying hydrated is fine, but even water in large amounts can be bad for you.

No, drinking warm water will not 'wash the virus out of your throat into your stomach'.

No, don't go taking the medication a certain someone touted.  He isn't a doctor.

No, don't go to parties and get everyone infected to get it over and done with.

No, just because you don't currently have symptoms you aren't contagious.  We are finding out that young people MAY have the virus but because they are young and healthy they don't feel sick but are shedding the virus like pollen in spring.

There are good and valid reasons for people to isolate themselves physically from others right now.

Several of my friends have begun playing Scrabble on line or other on line games.  Some are doing Facetime chats.  Some of us even, heavens to Betsy, are phoning each other to stay in contact!  Sometimes you just need to hear a friendly voice.

In Canada stores are following the self-distancing guidelines in several ways.  Some are keeping the doors closed, only letting in X number of patrons and as those leave, let that many more in.  Some have actually placed coloured dots on the floor to keep the six foot distance for people queueing for the cashiers.

They are also placing item limits on essentials.  No, one person cannot purchase every single package of toilet paper or sanitizer in the store.  These limits were enacted because a few people were being stupid and selfish.

We have been warned that if we don't flatten the curve of infection voluntarily, Dr. Henry has the powers to make them mandatory - and she will.

Other countries are already in lockdown and if you are on the streets without good reason, you will be escorted back to your house and ordered to stay there.

We need - as a society - to protect ourselves and each other.  We do that by not spreading the contagion.  We do that by staying home.  Staying in touch on line.  Our sense of isolation is only as dreaded as we make it.  Doug and I are leaving the house as little as possible and when we get home we wash our hands.  With soap.  For at least 20 seconds.  We have wipes and bleach solution to clean doorknobs, my purse, key fobs etc.

Don't panic.  Follow the guidelines.  If you aren't getting good info from your government, find one that IS giving good info.  Random Facebook posts with suspect info should be disregarded and not forwarded.

Stay positive.  The better we follow directions and flatten the curve, the sooner we can stop isolating ourselves physically.  In the meantime, we still have the internet.  If anyone needs to vent, feel free to contact me.

I will mostly be in my studio, weaving.  The next warp is nearly ready to weave.

In the meantime, stay positive.  Stay mentally active by playing games, reading, making puzzles, working on your hobbies.  Stay physically active by walking, not congregating.  Or even clean those closets you have been meaning to clean for years.

We can get through this.  Together, but at a 'proper' physical distance.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Creative Chaos

Pro-tip from someone who has had to self-isolate for health reasons on several occasions. 

Don't keep telling yourself that the coming days/weeks (months?) are going to be hard.  If you keep telling yourself that they will be hard - they will feel even harder.  The words we tell ourselves matter.  Keep them positive.  It's ok to feel sad, but don't get stuck there.

I get it.  You  miss your friends.  You miss the events you were supposed to attend.  Some of you will be missing income - and that?  That actually will be hard and I'm sorry.  But I would rather people tighten their belts than die.  Just saying.

Some people will be able to work from home.  Some will have to find other ways to bring some

If you have the means, I suggest supporting some of the workers in the gig economy - the artists, musicians, writers.  Most of these have product that can be purchased.  Support them through Patreon or just send them cash via Paypal if that's an option.

This morning scrolling through Twitter there was a sponsored tweet showing a group of Canadian musicians coming together to cover a Blue Rodeo song called Lost Together.  One of the musicians was someone I had not heard of previously but I loved her smoky voice.  Terra Lightfoot if anyone is interested.  A quick google brought up her website where I was able to purchase a CD and digitial download for immediate enjoyment.  I'm hoping I can figure out how to get it into iTunes and from there to my ipad, but if not the CD will be arriving shortly (if the post office stays open, which I am hoping it will as an essential service.)

As a coping mechanism, stay in touch with friends and family remotely.  Remind yourself daily (hourly, minute by minute if necessary) that this is temporary.  It is necessary. 

For myself?  I finished the warp yesterday and am now in the process of getting the next one beamed.  I am also cutting/serging the warp that just came off the loom and will wet finish as soon as they are done so I can press and add them to the hemming pile.

I am waiting for a yarn order so I can weave more samples for Tien Chiu.  Plus there are warps still in the queue ready and waiting to go into the loom.

Right now I am not weaving at the rate I used to and never will again.  But a friend insists that I am  more productive on a bad day than most are on a good one.  I don't know about that - I only can compare myself to myself.

And I am no where near as productive as I used to be.  I could moan about it but I choose to focus on what I can do, not what I cannot.

Some days you have to scrape really hard to find the silver lining in the cloud, but a friend summed it up very nicely this morning:

We are not at war, no matter how much battle language is used.  We are not being bombed.  Our roads are still passable and truckers and railroaders are still delivering essential goods to the stores.  We still (most of us) have drinking water, electricity and heat delivered right to our houses.

And spring is returning. 

Stay focused on surviving this pandemic, not on what you are having to cancel or postpone.

We will get through this together.

Saturday, March 21, 2020


In this time of great uncertainty, people are rising to spread good information and even cheer.  Stacey Harvey Brown yesterday posted a lovely video where she talked about these times of great change and that we can use this time to think about how we want to be once this pandemic is over.

When the caterpillar creates its cocoon, does it know the beautiful creature that will emerge once it dissolves into genetic soup and recombines into a butterfly?  Does it have any thought other than that it must make that cocoon as the next step? 

As human beings we are self aware.  Mostly.  As human beings we are incredibly adaptable.  On the other hand?  We don't like change - most of us.  We fight to hang on to what we know, keep the status quo, call on 'tradition'. 

And yet.  And yet.

Yes, things are frightening right now.  We have gotten so used to herd immunity, we are at a loss now that we are being confronted by a disease to which there is no herd immunity.  The only recourse is to isolate ourselves from the spread of the virus as best we can until it runs out of hosts and eventually dies.

In the meantime researchers are scrambling to try and find a medication that will moderate the effects of the disease.  Health workers are scrambling trying to help those who are ill with it.  Scientists are trying to develop a vaccine - but that will be months in the making.

Politicians are trying (for the most part) to help us during the immediate crunch of the distancing and economic devastation that is happening because - for the most part - people are staying home and trying to stay well.

This isn't some small, isolated disease but a pandemic.  It will travel the globe, it will attack anyone, regardless of political bent, economic status, or some kind of artificial 'worthiness' rating.

Right now we need to not panic.  We need to not hoard things.  We need to help each other.  We are going to need each and every one of us when this is over to help in the recovery.

Follow the guidelines as outlined by medical health officers like Dr. Henry here in BC.

Stay home.  Do not be hanging out at the mall or going to parties.  Do go outside for walks, observing safe physical distancing.  At least six feet.  Cough into your sleeve.  Wash your hands.  With soap.  For at least 20 seconds.

Stay connected with friends remotely.  Most of us have phones, ipads or computers we can connect to the internet.

Read a book.  Enjoy a hobby you don't have time for in your 'real' life. If you are able, get some exercise.  Hold light for others who may be struggling.

If you are struggling, remember the analogy of the choir.  The choir as a whole holds a note for a long time by having individuals stop to take a breath, then come back in on the note when they are able.

We are a choir.  We can take a breath when we need to do so.