Sunday, May 31, 2020

Speaking Out

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

  -  Martin Niemoller

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pandemic Fatigue

You've all seen it.  The graphic representation of the Covid-19 virus.

It kind of looks like a really messy ball of yarn.

As the pandemic continues its constant roll through society, the numbers of people who catch the virus, the numbers who survive - and who do not - mount.

As human beings we like our routines, and do not like it when those routines are disrupted, our plans cancelled.  For some of us, staying home, staying out of the cross hairs of this virus is easier than for others.

The uncertainty wears on our nerves and we miss our friends and the events that we had so looked forward to attending.  Not knowing when life will get back to 'normal' is stressful.  Even more so if you are facing economic hardship due to losing jobs/business.

As mentioned, human beings have gone through pandemics before.  We can manage to navigate our way through the restrictions, plus we have the knowledge now of how a virus works and what it takes to avoid it.

But pandemic fatigue is real.

I know my focus is shot.  I am coping - more or less - by focusing on my goal of weaving down my stash.  I make myself get into the studio for at least two hours every day.  The weather hasn't been great this week so I haven't gone walking, but I hope to get back to doing that when the current weather moves on.  There are predictions for super storm cells to the south of us that may impact us with more rain.  Certainly the skies are overcast today and it looks very dreary.

If you are finding yourself unable to cope right now, rest assured it is normal.  Set up a Skype call with a friend, go for a walk, maybe have a physically safe visit with a friend like I did last weekend.  We sat in the carport, either end of a long table Doug has set up for dealing with parcels/shopping.

If you can't focus enough to read or do your hobbies, give yourself some time to accept that life is full of ups and downs and if you are currently 'down', contact a friend, have a long chat, reach out to someone and let them know you need a virtual hug.

Friday, May 29, 2020

A Liberal Education

As I turn a major 0 type birthday this year, I look back and remain amazed at how my life has played out.

I was born and raised in a geographically isolated town of mostly blue collar workers (my dad being one of them).  I grew up 'poor' insofar as my parents scraped and did without so that their children (my brother and I) could have the essentials.  Luxuries were few and far apart, but even so, I confused the kids at school - I only had one pair of 'good' shoes but I had multiple hand knit sweaters, made from expensive yarn.  I had nice clothing that mom made.  I had music then ballet lessons.  Because mom saw the value in such things and she made the money for them happen.  Even if it meant stew several nights a week that was mostly vegetables from our back yard garden.

Mom signed the approval papers for me to get a library card when I was in grade one or two, I can't remember which teacher took us on the field trip to the library - possibly grade two, then when the librarian phoned her to ask if mom knew the kinds of books I was taking out?  Told the library I could take out anything I wanted.  (the book in question was a grade 12 history book, apparently - I don't remember, but overheard  mom telling a friend the story when I was an adult).

So from a very early age I read.  Voraciously.  Everything I could get my hands on.  I read fiction, but I also read non-fiction.  I drank up everything, absorbed cultures that were not my own, learned as much as I could about everything.

I was also blessed with really fabulous teachers (for the most part).  When I complained to mom that I didn't much like my grade five teacher she asked why.  I explained that he 'favoured' the girls and was mean to the boys.  She agreed that wasn't right, but there wasn't anything I could do about it and that I needed to continue to do my work.  I don't recall her saying that I ought to defend the boys, but I wanted to.

Grade 6 was a transitional year in large part because of my teacher, Mr. Rae.  I will never forget him and the way he taught us to think for ourselves, to use logic, to question the status quo.  He taught us history without the sugar coating of white supremacy.

In high school I benefited from mostly really excellent teachers, and those who were not good, in fact, down right 'bad'.  From the 'bad' ones I learned how not to teach.   I learned even more about teaching when mom went back to school as a mature student to take an Early Childhood Education degree.  I typed up her papers, editing them, getting them into 'proper' English (she had English as a second language and never could wrap her head entirely around English grammar, especially written.)

In grade 7 I was assigned a pen friend living in Sweden and eventually went to visit there, living on campus for three months at the university in Orebro.  Nothing like living in a foreign country, not being able to speak the language to develop an appreciation for your own culture - and to begin to see inequities in it.  Distance is great for developing perspective.

My parents mostly identified with conservative values (of the day).  In grade 10 our liberal social studies teachers gave us a 'test' to help place us on a political spectrum.  I placed in the liberal leaning part of the quadrant.  And over the years, as I have taken such 'tests' subsequently, I have remained there. 

Sunday school taught us that Jesus loved the children, all the children of the world - didn't matter their colour.  Turn the other cheek.  Love your neighbour.  Be kind.  Those were the values I took from church.

And yet.  And yet.

Here we are.

I was born in 1950 so I lived through many of the things listed in this piece of music.  I remember McCarthy, the race riots, the march to Selma.  I remember actual lynchings happening.  John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy all assassinated - by white men. 

I remember Nixon, Johnson, Reagan, Vietnam.  Many American draft dodgers came to our neck of the woods.

I wept at so many things that have happened in this world as human beings murdered each other in the name of...something something gazpacho, as Jim Wright says. 

We are at the cusp of something momentous right now, in this time, in this place.  The pandemic is forcing us to take a long hard look at society, shining a spotlight on the privileges white people have claimed for themselves and withheld from others.

White people are not superior to others. 

White people live in a bubble of privilege that they have claimed for themselves.  Some of whom are willing to retain through violence.

White people need to open their eyes.  See how what they are doing is simply wrong -  IF they call themselves Christians.  IF they actually care about what Jesus said.  IF they even understand that Jesus was a brown man from the middle east. 

These are difficult times due to many factors, the pandemic is just shining a spotlight on them.  Time to work on what is causing the problem and stop killing each other.

Thursday, May 28, 2020


We watched a program on moths/butterflies last night.  It was fascinating to see the various combinations of colours and shapes they come in.  How some advertise their toxicity, while others mimic the signs even though they are not actually toxic.

The transformations the creatures go through until they at last emerge from their chrysalis to become their final incredible self are quite simply amazing.

Human beings don't change their form much.  We just go up, and sometimes 'out', we develop grey hair and jowls, but our physical shape remains pretty much the same throughout our lives.

On the other hand, we are adaptable to a degree that many other animals are not.  So we assess our situation and judge what needs to change - and then we change.  If we don't, we risk not surviving.

And so it is with this pandemic.  We are facing a virus with no known cure or vaccine at this time.  We do, however, understand how viruses work.  We know that transmission is from person to person and that right now avoiding contact with the virus is pretty much our only strategy for avoiding catching it.

In the beginning very little was known about the virus but as medical folk and researchers found out more, recommendations changed.  At first health officers were reluctant to recommend a mask, fearing that people would assume that a mask would provide 100% protection.  There were also too few medical masks and there was concern that front line health care workers would not have the personal protection they required to safely help those people who were already seriously ill.

So recommendations at first were to stay home and businesses were ordered shuttered.  Then as it became obvious that this virus was not going to go away any time soon, researchers found that cloth masks would help prevent asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus and now the recommendation is to wear either paper or cloth masks.

But always, always - wash your hands with soap and water.  If you can't do that, hand sanitizer will help, but wash your hands when you can.

Politicians and businesses are scrambling, trying to figure out how to loosen restrictions, run businesses, maintain physical distancing of 6 feet, protecting staff and customers.

But overall, there is enormous uncertainty about so many things.  When will interacting without all these protective measures be safe?

The bad news may take a very long time.  As in years, not months.  This may well be our new 'normal' for the foreseeable future.

For the minority of people who scream that the virus is a hoax - it isn't.  It is within the power of every person to take appropriate measures to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the staff of the businesses they frequent.  If you  love your manicurist or hair dresser?  Wear the mask.  If you love your library, teacher, students?  Wear the mask.  If you love your guild mates?  Wear the mask.

Maintaining physical distance and wearing a mask are our best strategies for avoiding becoming ill.

The cloth masks a friend made for us are now in Canada and on their way.  In the meantime, we are wearing either paper masks.  Doug also has some N95 masks purchased for the wildfire season last year.

I have a hair cut booked for tomorrow.  I will wear a mask because I know she has a compromised person in her home.  While I believe I have not encountered the virus, it is my duty as a concerned citizen of this country to follow guidelines and care for the people around me.

In the meantime, I seldom go into the public preferring to stay isolated as much as possible.  Because I can, I will.

Being pretty much an introvert I'm not having a terrible time missing social interactions in person.  So far I have done a couple of Skype calls with friends, stay in touch with distant friends via Facebook Messenger, emails and even (can you imagine!) phone.

This is a time of enormous uncertainty for human beings.  It was my hope that we could come together to help each other through these difficult times.  Some do.  Some...don't.

My hope is that we go through this time of isolation, much like the caterpillar in it's chrysalis and emerge into a society that is more equitable for all, no matter our colouring, no matter our shape, so that each and every person can shine.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


We are living in 'interesting' times.

As event cancellations mount, requirements for masks be worn, the US passes 100,000 deaths, soaring ever higher, the reality is that this is going to be a marathon.

The world has been hit with several waves of bubonic plague.  The one that lasted from 1346 to 1353 is considered to be one of the worst to ever happen.  Millions around the world died, some estimates putting the death toll at 1/3 of the population of the time.  Society went through upheaval after upheaval as the plague arrived not once, but several times, wave after wave.

Medical understanding of the time didn't have the resources or technology that we do today.  Some forms of the Black Death were so very virulent that you could be apparently healthy in the morning and dead by nightfall.

We are facing similar challenges right now with Covid-19, except that we do have an understanding of how a virus works, how to avoid catching one, and technology to help some people survive it.  Unfortunately some survivors are going to have long lasting deficits from the damage the virus has inflicted on them.  And some simply do not survive.

So far my community has escaped the worst of the virus, but people are having to make hard decisions - to open businesses or not, to return to work or not.  What society will look like in 3 months or 30, no one can say right now.  That bad outbreak of the bubonic plague was SEVEN YEARS.  Not seven months.

We have to start planning now for how we will continue.  Some businesses are taking precautions by installing plexi shields.  Some are requiring patrons wear masks.

Yesterday when I had my appointment with the audiologist, I was required to wear a mask.  They had masks available if I didn't have one, but I do.  They had hand sanitizer, and while I waited for my appointment, he wiped down the counters with sanitizer.

I made sure I touched nothing (or as little as I could), wore my mask, and we discussed the mask wearing.  (I was trying to disentangle my hearing aids from the mask elastic around my ears.)   He expressed the hope that once people  had gotten used to wearing masks and disinfecting their hands, that the habit would continue and that overall the flu/cold season (both viruses!) would be lessened because people would follow better hand hygiene, cough into their sleeves, or just stay home if they were sick, and so on.

When I 'retired' from teaching it wasn't anything to do with a pandemic but simply me being too tired and feeling too fragile to face long distance travel and the constant worry about getting sick while I was on a trip.  Teachers are now posting that their new terms of conditions for teaching will include that ALL the people involved will wear a mask.  Or they won't be allowed in the classroom.  Anyone not willing to wear a mask will not be able to attend the class.

If I were still teaching, haring all over creation, I would have a similar requirement.  I understand completely why a teacher would want to protect themselves AND THEIR STUDENTS from catching this (or any other air borne illness like flu/colds).

Covid-19 is not going to go away any time soon.  Will it last seven years?  I hope the hell not!  Will the Olds classes go ahead at Yadkin or Cape Breton in September?  No idea.  Will the border be open to anything other than essential travel?  No clue.  Will I be willing to get on a plane and travel from one coast to the other?  Uncertain.

I intend to not catch this virus because it will most likely kill me.  So I continue to stay home, stay out of the line of transmission as much as I possibly can.  I will wear a mask, wash my hands. 

My desire is that we will all survive this time and be able to continue with our lives, most likely with adaptations for the virus.  Because this one is going to take a while to be beaten back.  But there will be another.  That you can bet on.

Human beings are infinitely adaptable.  We are going to have to adapt to this new reality.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Roller Coaster

People like me who live with a disease like cancer frequently use the roller coaster as a metaphor for the journey.

Cancer is no longer a death sentence, depending on the type of cancer and access to good medical care.

I was extremely fortunate in that just as I presented to the local cancer clinic, a new oncologist had arrived to begin practicing here.  Happens that he was very experienced in the type of cancer I have and had actually developed a protocol to treat it.  At the time the protocol was not approved in this province, but he fought for me to get it and managed to get approval for me to benefit from his experience and knowledge.

But just because I was in remission for six years afterwards didn't mean I was 'cured'.  In fact I lived with that fear of return before every check up.  I did so well that my check ups went from every three months, to every six months to once a year.

And then it came back.

By that time, however, break throughs were being made in the treatment of the cancer I live with and instead of chemo again, the new oncologist put me on a 'miracle' drug.  Instead of poisoning my entire body with toxic chemicals in hopes of killing the cancer not the host (iow, moi) the new drug targeted just the rogue cells.  Unfortunately, while it worked extremely well to kill the cancer cells, it also did a number on the rest of me.  Commonly called 'adverse effects'.

And so I hit the portion of the roller coaster where the peaks became higher and the drops more stomach dropping.

Roller coasters are not a continuous round of sharp ups and downs - they give a few seconds of respite between rapid corners and stomach turning spirals.

And so does living with cancer.  At least the type of cancer I have.

Right now the peaks and valleys are fairly low.  I go in for check ups every six months.  Mostly I ignore the fact that I have cancer like a black cloud looming over me - like the cartoon character from Dogpatch - because for most of the year it is pretty far 'behind' me.

But I cannot forget for one minute that it is there.  And as the time for my check up draws nearer, I spend more time thinking about it - is this physical issue cancer?  Or allergies?  Is that physical issue cancer?  Or pandemic stress?

While I have gotten pretty good at isolating such thoughts (swimming in De Nile is not always a bad thing), the closer the appointment, the more I think about it.  Is it back?  Or do I get another 'pass'?

So I ride the roller coaster.

To those people who ask how I am 'celebrating' still being in remission?  I don't 'celebrate'.  As the stress of the 'not knowing' shifts to 'knowing' the remission holds, I can once again take a deep breath and shove the black cloud further away, further behind me.  Unless I detect symptoms, my next appointment is in six  months.  In the meantime, it will be back to weaving.  I still have way too much stash.

But the cancer, plus cardiac, plus my age, mean that I am three times susceptible to the Covid-19 virus.  So, because I can, I will continue to isolate as much as possible.  If I need to go out (as I do today) I will wear a mask.  I will sanitize my hands, mask, etc., when I get home.  I have the privilege of being able to self-isolate, so I am removing myself from the line of transmission as much as possible.

We are all riding the pandemic roller coaster.  Some of us just have extra twists and turns in ours...

Monday, May 25, 2020

Special Snowflake

Today was my six month check up at the cancer clinic.

I live with cancer.  The type of cancer I have is not (currently) considered curable, but it is indolent (slow growing) and it impacts my body in many ways.

My diagnosis was in 2011 and I spent that year in a constant round of tests, stress and treatments.  I was the first person in BC to benefit from the Rituxamab maintenance protocol, mainly because my oncologist at the time developed it and fought to get me on it.  He said he was seeing remission of up to 6 years. 

I got that six years.  And then it came back.

By that time, having already had chemo, I was eligible for one of the new 'miracle' drugs, which I took for almost exactly one year before the adverse effects became so onerous I couldn't go on any more.

My care team took me off the Ibrutinib and let my body recover as much as it could, lining up the next drug in the queue, which unfortunately had pretty much an identical list of adverse effects.

But my numbers stayed good and we held off starting any kind of treatment.  While some of the adverse effects did eventually resolve, the muscle pain did not, which is why I started the pain treatments. 

This  morning I found out my numbers were still good, I'm still in remission.  Even better news is that there is now another drug that can be used to treat the type of cancer I have and she is willing to skip over the other one and go straight to the latest one - when it becomes necessary.

But the fact that I have been in remission for a year is pretty 'special snowflake' and adds to the data that some people, having taken Ibrutinib, actually stay in remission.  The research scientists are tracking the data to see if some people reach 'cure' - as in it never does come back.

I don't know if I can be one of those people, but the fact that the cancer is dampened down enough that I do not need to begin treatment now is very encouraging.

Behind our masks (we both wore masks) we smiled, and while we discussed the potential of 'cure', we are both well aware that it might come back.  So I will go through this all over again in six months.

On the other hand, it's a huge positive that I do not have to start another round of treatment in the middle of a pandemic.

I will be grateful for small mercies.

And yes, I did wear a mask, not because I think I have been exposed to the virus, but because my allergies are such I didn't want anyone in the waiting area to worry about  my coughing.  I also sanitized my hands when I got to the van, then thoroughly washed my hands when I got home.

Stay safe.  This virus is going to be around for a while.  Opening things up doesn't mean it has gone away, just that there are now beds in ICU for you.  Until the second wave hits.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


If there is one thing that has been a running theme through this time of pandemic, it is this;..that we are perishable.

I do not personally know anyone who has died from the coronavirus, but I know people who have lost loved ones. 

We are being forced to examine our lives and face the fact that everything is perishable.

Some people cope with the stress and being at home by deep cleaning their houses.  Some have planted gardens, or taken up baking bread.

Some of us question the size of our stash - both the yarn (raw materials) and the product.  I, for one, have plenty of both.  I question why I keep making more when there is already a glut of textiles available.  And who will be able to afford to buy hand made textiles?

I am also old enough to have stash yarn that is beginning to show signs of aging - and perishing.  So again I feel pressure to not let that yarn go to 'waste' but to use it to make something useful before it ages out entirely.

After we return to some kind of 'normal' there are several ways we, as humans, could go.  We could learn the lesson that more for the sake of more is actually kind of silly.  Maybe we will stop competing to see who can spend more, buy the biggest house, the most expensive car, have the most jewelry.   We could stop flying half way round the globe en masse.  We could live more thoughtful lives.  We could waste less, recycle/reduce/reuse more.

We can work at forging stronger bonds between people, accepting folk for who they are, regardless of skin colour, religion (or not), ability and talent.  We could focus on helping everyone not just survive, but thrive. 

One of the fastest ways to stimulate the economy is to increase the minimum wage but it seems big corporations are hell bent on having the stimulus money go directly into their coffers before it runs through the fingers of people who are in some cases desperate for food and shelter.

Today's New York Times front page lists just 1000 people who have died from Covid-19 in the US.  I feel ill when I use the word 'just' because that is a tiny reflection of the 100,000 people who have died in that country.  So far.  And yet people are refusing to wear a mask or maintain physical distancing because the pandemic is a Dem hoax or something something gazpacho.

Other countries are experiencing similar difficulties with some people considering themselves above the recommendations.

But the bottom line here is this:  we are all perishable.  But we are all valuable - to someone.  Even those toting guns, demanding the economy be opened up are valuable to someone else.  For those people recommending that we all just jump into the public and get herd immunity as quickly as possible, never mind how many millions would die, I invite them to go first to show us how it's done.  How 'safe' it is.  How 'mild' the coronavirus is.  Prove to me it is 'just' the flu. 

I have the privilege of being able to stay home.  I always was an introvert so staying at home is not a particular hardship to me.  So I can remove myself from the line of transmission.  If and when I do need to go out (I have medical/self-care appointments this week) I will wear a mask.  I will clean the mask, my hands, my keys when I get home.  I will maintain physical distance or wear a mask when I can't.  Like for the aforementioned appointments.

Yesterday a friend came to visit and we sat outside, at either end of a long table we have in the carport for dealing with parcels.  It was great to have that in person visit, but we were both very careful about maintaining distance.  And even though I would have loved to give her a hug, I am saving hugs for when it is safe again.  For both of us.

We will go soon enough.  Let's not hasten the end date by ignoring the recommendations of safe distancing, mask wearing, washing hands etc.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Lighting Candles

We are living in 'interesting' times. 

An author I follow on Twitter commented the other day that he would rather write about 'interesting' times than live in them.  I responded that I would rather read about them than live in them.

This morning someone did a long thread on how she had been a libertarian as a teenager and young adult, and how the mind set of being 'right' meant you had to 'win' every argument, whether or not that argument actually made any sense in terms of living harmoniously with others in society.

(I paraphrase.)

She said that she now preferred to focus on the good that could be done, daily looking for people working to make things better for society as a whole instead of just arguing for the sake of argument, scoring points by 'winning' at all costs.

It has been something I realize I have done instinctively.  I do not share memes on social media mocking other people.  I do not (publicly) call people names.  (I reserve the right to vent my frustration at politicians and their supporters, in private, so that I don't spread my frustration publicly.)

I try to focus on the good being done.  But as the rise of the alt-right grows and spreads, it becomes harder and harder.

Statistics show that the alt-right is actually a small percentage of society.  They are, unfortunately, apparently willing to resort to violence, either verbally, or even physically.

In a society that is supposed to be built on 'Christian' values, I find this disturbing and upsetting.

And so I try to retweet and share the stories of people doing good things.  Helping each other.  Holding each other up, not punching down.

We are living in 'interesting' times.  What we do once the pandemic is controlled will determine how our society goes on.  I will continue to try to light candles, not extinguish them.

So far I have not been personally impacted by anyone I know becoming ill and dying.  I will continue to stay 'isolated' as much as possible.  I will wear a mask when I need to go out.  I have been slowly beginning to have physical visits, but only at the recommended 6 feet distance, out of doors.  Doug continues to do all of the errands, allowing me to stay at home.

This is a privilege I do not take lightly so I will continue to stay out of the line of infection as much as is possible.  I do not want to be a vector of spreading the virus.

I have some appointments next week where I must be there physically.  I will wear a mask.  I will - as much as I am able - protect myself and others from the spread of this virus.

And yes, I read Ayn Rand as a teenager.  Atlas Shrugged if I remember correctly.  Decided I didn't like any of her characters enough to read another of her books.  

Friday, May 22, 2020


A few years ago scientists began to put together the idea that birds were descended from dinosaurs and when you look at baby birds, there seems to be a definite resemblance!

There are also similarities between feathers and scales.

My next warp (once the one I just put on the loom is done) again uses blue hues.  Somewhat reminiscent of peacock colours, I am using this 'scale' design and will be crossing the light/medium value blues/blue greens with that dark cotton that appears to have not aged well.  Not well enough to use as warp, at any rate.

It will serve just fine as weft for towels, and I think it will make a very nice textile. 

And that is what life is all about, too.  Compromises.  Plan Bs.  Accepting something less than 'perfect' when it is 'good enough'.

Yesterday the local Community Arts Council announces that it was not going to hold the biggest craft fair of the community.  I was disheartened that so many people were making really negative comments, saying they would never support the fair again.  They said they were going to boycott because they were 'supporting' the artists.  Um, how does boycotting next year's fair support the artists who will participate - when it is safe to do so?

Instead the CAC will work at holding an on-line event.  If they offer consignment sales for their members, I will participate that way.  The fibre arts guild will be exploring if it might be feasible to hold a sale in the guild room, as we usually do early in December.

Just because there is a pandemic doesn't mean we can't do things.  We are just going to have to do them in a different way.

I am just back from the cancer clinic where I had my blood draw.  I am now on tenterhooks until Monday when I get the results back.  I think, I hope, I am still in remission.  But I will know on Monday.  

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Stop the World

It seems unfair that during a pandemic other things don't stop.

We have had to stop our physical interactions.  Stop businesses.  Stop conferences, classes, meetings.

But other things?  Do not stop.

And so we have floods, some of them catastrophic.  We have weather events - hundreds of people in Bengal and Bangladesh affected by storms.  Volcanoes erupt and earthquakes happen.  Glaciers melt.

And climate change goes on.  Even as we stopped travelling so much, even as we stopped polluting so much.  Even so.

Scientists warn that the tiny blip in numbers is essentially meaningless.  As soon as we go back to 'normal' things will continue to worsen.  In fact, they haven't actually improved all that much.  The fact we may have clear blue skies just means there is less particulate matter in the air, not that carbon dioxide isn't still warming the earth.

Individually people still have health issues beyond the pandemic.  People with chronic illnesses are still ill.  We are just 'better' at isolating ourselves, so may be managing better than people who do not have that background of having to deal with being careful because of our health.

Some countries are doing a better job of helping their citizens weather the pandemic 'storm'.  Others?  Not so much.

And a small vocal minority screams for business to open as usual, refusing to protect themselves or others from the spread of a deadly virus.  Last time I checked there were over 5 million people who had caught the virus and 300,000+ people who have died from it.  There is still no cure, no vaccine, and people advocating for society to just get a grip and let the virus run rampant through the world so that we can quickly develop herd immunity are willing to do that at the expense of thinning the herd.

They don't seem to care that millions could and likely would die.  They are ok with people who are immune compromised or old to go ahead and just die already.  They don't care that a significant number of people who survive the virus will do so with compromised bodies.  In the US that means that those people will have 'pre-existing conditions' and will not be eligible for health insurance.

And they don't care.

There are times when I want to throw up my hands and just hunker down and try to ignore those bleating about their 'rights' and their 'roots'.  But I cannot.

So I urge everyone to stay safe.  Stay at home if you can.  Wear a mask if you must go out.  Maintain physical distance.

And now that most of the world is seeing the end of the first wave and beginning to slowly lift restrictions, it is time for us all to think about what we have learned from this pandemic.  What we need to do to change the inequities in society.  How we can protect ourselves from further calamity.  How we can continue to live and grow and support each other.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Yesterday Doug went to the printer and discussed the changes I wanted to make to my hang tags.  This morning, shortly after 9 am the email with the changes in proof form arrived in my inbox.

I suspect that such businesses are hurting from the pandemic closures and was actually a little surprised they were open, except they probably can do physical distancing.

Doug was pleased to see that as soon as he left, an employee was already wiping down everything he touched as he then felt secure that they were doing it for everyone.

After some discussion we agreed that I should keep the "Weaving" while dropping the "Studio".   (I choose "Weaving" rather than "Weaver" because Weaver is also a surname and at one point I got listed in the directory as Laura Weaver!)

There are reasons for me to make a noticeable change, too lengthy and boring to go into here.

I kept the Master Weaver designation because even though I am retired, no one can take my credentials away from me. 

I am keeping the post office box so the address is the same, but I no longer have a business phone so we now list the home phone and the hours at which we would entertain phone calls.  Not that anyone does, but...

It was also time to drop the other business info - I am no longer a dealer for Ashford and will not be actively seeking commission work.

It took me years to get my business fine tuned and it is going to take some time to close it completely.  Like wrapping up a life, a business takes time to shut down accounts and get paperwork done.  As a friend commented a few weeks ago, my timing in shutting down was rather prescient, and I'm actually glad I did.  Or perhaps relieved is a better word to use.

And so Life does go On, just in very small, incremental ways.  I choose to stay home as much as possible.  Today I need to go have blood work done for my 6 month check up.  I'm not sure if the nurse practitioner will just phone me with results or if she will have me go into the clinic.  I suppose it depends on how the numbers look.  I haven't stressed out about it too much this time.  The pandemic kind of uses up all my stress focus.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Year of the Plague

No one said anything would be 'easy' and so it is proving.

I'm seeing a lot of people getting frustrated, saying that 2020 doesn't count because they aren't getting to (name thing here).

But Life isn't what you want, it's how you deal with what happens while you are living.

Disappointed?  Yes, I have been dealing with disappointments.  And quite frankly, if I wasn't 'retired' I would be a lot more stressed than I am.  So I get, I really do.

Things are uncertain.  Things are difficult.  Things are stressful.  All of these things are 2020 in a nutshell, this Year of the Plague.

This morning our prime minister announced that the southern border will remain closed for at least another month.  The longer the border remains closed, the more difficult life is going to be for a lot of people.  On the other hand, the US leads the world in Covid-19 cases...and deaths.  So while I regret the border staying closed (for non-essential travel), because I had a friend who was planning on coming for a visit, I understand the necessity.

I freely admit my privilege during this time.  Not everyone is in the same place, and they can't stay safely at home but must brave the workplace and hope they don't catch the virus.  Because of my privilege, I can stay home and stay out of the cross hairs, and not present myself as a target for infection.  I can choose to not become a vector for spreading it.

There have been some encouraging news stories about the development of anti-body testing, and even some promising results in the vaccine trials that have been rushed into the human phase.  But as a researcher pointed out last night on the news, that particular vaccine may not be the one that actually 'works'.  However, they can learn from it and the trials are exactly what they need in order to tweak the vaccine to make sure that a) it isn't going to cause more harm than good and b) actually provide immunity over the larger community.

A reliable vaccine is still about a year (best case scenario) from being available.

Our province is beginning to loosen restrictions but ultimately everything is uncertain right now.  Have we flattened the curve enough for society to begin to mingle again?  Dr. Henry warns of a second wave to come, encouraging all to keep physical distance and if that isn't possible, wear a mask.

What this means for groups, like schools, where the whole point is for 'large' groups to meet in confined quarters is yet to be determined.  And how many young children are going to understand that they must stay distant?  How will they play?  New games will have to be invented, I think.  I read a news story about Denmark - reducing class sizes to 10 students, and holding classes out of doors.

Years of governments slashing education budgets will have to be addressed, school class sizes drastically reduced.

What about public transport?  If I have to fly somewhere, will I have to buy all three seats in my row to ensure I'm not sitting next to someone shedding the virus?  What about people who refuse to wear a mask?  Will they be allowed to enter stores?  Why would they even want to not protect themselves?

These are troubling times.  It would be great if the experts had definitive answers, but the virus is 'novel', as in never seen before, therefore the experts are learning as they go and sometimes the recommendations change as they do learn more.  It may seem confusing but it's actually pretty simple:

Stay home if you possibly can
If you need to go out (as some of us do need to do, for various reasons) wear a mask.
Wash your hands when you get home.  Use sanitizer when you touch things.
Wash your cloth mask, clean your bags, purse, phone

As the restrictions begin to loosen, be kind.  You don't know what is going on with anyone else.  Be especially kind to employees you interact with as you go about your business.

And don't take advice from people peddling fake cures or treatments.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Rolling Right Along

We got all the towels re-tagged but have run out of tags.  Which means I am going to have to go buy more.  Since the printer I last ordered tags from is still in business, apparently, I will have to find out if they are open during this time of pandemic.  And request changes - new telephone number, remove the words "Weaving Studio".  Because weaving is now my 'hobby', not a business.  On the other hand, the textiles I place for sale at consignment shops still need to have legal labels, so...

Yesterday I had a Skype call with a couple of friends.  We have been meeting pretty much every two weeks (barring individual schedules) since around 1995.    We have diverse backgrounds, but a shared interest in textiles.  I weave, one of the others knits and all of us got intrigued with bobbin lace.

Over the years, our shared interest has turned into friendship and it was lovely to see their faces and talk for an hour.  We will do it again in two weeks, and then see how things are going.  If restrictions are lifting, we will plan on meeting at the house of one as she has a large deck and we can maintain physical distancing.

We talked about being at home, wearing masks, taking precautions.  One has to have Zoom meetings for work and she talked about Zoom fatigue.

I have read articles about how people who don't have an appropriate level of social interactions can start to have problems staying away from others.  All three of us have experienced isolation due to medical issues and are perhaps a little more accepting that this needs to happen right now.

Craft fairs locally are cancelled so the two of us who sell our work are unsure as to why we continue.  Except that we find solace in creation.  And things will start to sell again, sometime, somewhere.

Two of us belong to the fibre arts guild, and we are looking at how we might be able to hold a sale in the guild room in November and/or December.  Whether we take appointments or some other method of managing people has yet to be worked out.

"Normal", as they say, is a setting on the dryer.  With a vaccine still months away, a second wave predicted as society begins to 'open up', no one has any idea at all what things are going to look like next week, never mind in the autumn.

The country south of us is pressing to open up, including the border, but our PM is being cautious.  The country to the south of us is currently the leader in cases...and the world.  We don't need to import the virus from them.  Which may mean that Americans may not be allowed into Canada to attend the Olds satellite classes in September.  Which means, they might 'fail' due to lack of numbers.

And so we finally come to grips with the uncertainty of life.  Truth is, there is no certainty.  We just think there is.  Now we are being forced to look uncertainty in the face and acknowledge that there is only now, only this.  We had better make the most of our time here, because there are no guarantees of tomorrow.  For anyone.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Roller Coaster

Today is not a 'good' day for me.  I have been plagued with seasonal allergies and sinus congestion and not sleeping well for a number of reasons.

So I woke up feeling lethargic and tired.

We think that progress should be a steady, straight line to the goal, but it isn't.  We all have good days, bad days and meh days.  Sometimes we have more energy than other days.

Right now what keeps me going is the fact that I can weave.  I am past the halfway mark on the current warp.  I've used up more of the yarn wound onto pirns and am about to weave a colour more to my taste (just one more of the green to do) and I'm hoping that the new colour (cherry red) will be really dramatic.  Two of the red/dark towels will be given to a friend for a bd present (belated no doubt but she also feels such things are moveable feasts).

I am dragging my feet on getting a warp onto the Leclerc, but have cleared most of the clutter away from that loom so I can beam the warp.  But I need to math for that one and my brain is foggy with sinus congestion.  However, I could at least get the warp beamed.  I mathed enough to get that started a couple of weeks ago.

Someone posted on Twitter that now is the time for compassion and to begin with yourself.

So I am going to go get dressed and finish that green yarn.  And then have a Skype get together with a couple of friends.  It's not supposed to rain today, so I might begin the red after the Skype call and finish the day with a walk.  I'm seeing progress in muscle strength and I would really like to keep moving in the direction of improving, not sliding back.

But if I can't?  That's ok, too.  There is always tomorrow.

Saturday, May 16, 2020


As the days and weeks grind on, people are starting to feel restless.  In the northern hemisphere, winter has loosened its grip and people are wanting to be out and about.  For folk struggling with staying home, comes the question - how are you managing the pandemic?

I'm not having a particularly difficult time of it, in no small part due to my circumstances which allow me the privilege of actually staying home while Doug does all the out of the house errands.  But even he is beginning to limit his time out of the house.  We have the promise of masks and I expect that he will begin wearing one when he goes out as restrictions in our town begin to ease.

But basically I am quite pragmatic.  I see roses.  I enjoy their scent, their colours, but am also abundantly aware that they come with thorns.  Do the thorns make me enjoy them less?  No, I just acknowledge that the thorns are there and take measures to avoid them.

The Oxford Concise English Dictionary defines pragmatic as:  dealing with matters according to their practical significance or immediate importance.  (there are other nuances to the meaning of the word, but this is the one that is applicable to this post.)

So if I were to label how I am dealing with the pandemic, it would be pragmatic acceptance.

I accept that we are living in the time of Covid-19, where we have no herd immunity because the virus is 'novel' (so new no one's immune system has seen it before), no cure and no vaccine.

I accept that I am compromised and should I contract the virus could well die, and if not die, be made very ill from it.  Some people who have recovered say that their bodies are compromised for weeks afterwards and no one really knows how long that will go on, or the long term impact it will have on their lives and ability to return to what was 'normal' prior to having it.

I accept that the best course of action for me is to stay out of the cross hairs of the virus, so I am staying at home other than to walk in my neighbourhood for a little physical exercise and fresh air, maintaining physical distance from others.  When I pass others on the road, I smile, nod, return greetings.

I accept that there is no way to know how long this will last and that no one knows what society will look like when it is 'over'.

I am not 'giving up' but taking a pragmatic look at what needs to be done and how best to do it.

Right now my best plan is to stay home but keep active - which means keep weaving and walking when the weather permits. 

I accept that the classes I was booked to teach have been cancelled or postponed and that the postponed classes may also be cancelled.  Am I happy about this?  No, but I accept that it is necessary should a second wave happen as restrictions loosen.

The leader of the cancer support group that I attend commented that people with chronic health issues like us are probably uniquely equipped to deal with the self isolation because we need to pay attention to things like this all the time.  I have had to deal with self-isolating on several occasions, although previously the restriction was just on me - I could still have company.  But the internet provides interaction and communication and how I am living my life right now isn't terribly different from what I was doing during those times.  I have had practice at staying home, not going anywhere that isn't necessary.

All of this coping on my part doesn't make someone else's difficulty in coping a character flaw.  People need to figure out what works for them and how to get through this time.

The first priority is to survive.  Some people are posting memes saying that just surviving isn't enough.  I'm here to say that this is our only priority right now.  Survive. 

Mark Lawrence is an author I follow on Twitter.  He has written many books and has a way with words that I find compelling.  This morning a quote was posted on Twitter to the effect that we need to keep punching me-shaped holes in the days.

My goal is to keep punching me-shaped holes in my days.  Survive.  We'll figure out what comes next 'after'.

Friday, May 15, 2020

In The Wings

Trying to use up stash, things can get a bit challenging.  Which is not a bad thing, but...

So I had this box of pirns, wound with a beige that has a bit of a green tinge to it.  The tendency would be to 'muddy' the colour it crosses, so I had to think for a while what to do for a warp to use the beige on.

My yarn stash is diminishing nicely, and choices were getting scarce.  Eventually I pulled the rose/brick/beiges in the bin, with the thought of doing something like brick work.

But the more I thought about how those colours were going to interact, the more I hesitated.  I already had a warp with very similar colours and the result was...visually very 'busy'.  And in my eye, not particularly attractive. 

Customers obviously agreed, because very few of those towels have sold.

So I let the whole thing simmer on the back burner for weeks.  Months, to be honest.   In the interim, I worked on other combinations that appealed to me more than this one.

But I'm running out of time to make tea towels.  I have agreed to do some other things, plus I'd just like to work with some other yarns and make something other than tea towels.  Because goodness knows, I have plenty (plenty!) of tea towels, given I'm not doing any craft fairs.

(Truth to tell, most of them are cancelled anyway - we are mulling over how/if we do a guild room sale.)

Shops are still closed, although the provincial medical officer is beginning to loosen things.  We will pause for at least two weeks to see how the numbers are before Dr. Henry proceeds with further lessening of restrictions.

But back to the above.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been thinking more consciously about this particular combination.  I examined and tossed out multiple approaches.  The first firm decision I came to was to not blend the different colours, but to make coloured stripes.  So the rose/brick will be grouped together, bracketed by the beiges.  The difference in value means the colours must be more carefully distributed, not randomly sprinkled.

Once I had made the decision, I considered weave structures,  The original plan was tossed out because the motif would not play well within the stripes.  So then I considered other options.  Each one was tossed out because I didn't have a good feeling about how it would look with those yarns in a stripe.

Yesterday I tossed out everything and decided simple is best.  This warp will be woven in a 1:3 broken twill.  The cloth will be primarily warp on one side (to be the 'right' side) and the beige weft will be primarily on the other (back) side.  The cloth will be woven 'upside down' so that I am lifting the least number of shafts.  IOW, back side up.

Will it work?  I'll know in the next few weeks.  I hit the halfway mark on the current warp, but I have another project that needs to be done with some urgency after putting it on hold some weeks ago.  That deadline is about to go 'critical'.  Which is when I work 'best', it seems.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

As Others See Us

We rarely see ourselves in profile - or at least it used to be rare.  Now we can take 'selfies' and see ourselves as others do.

My hair cut was booked for the day *after* the provincial government mandated that businesses shut down.  My hairdresser has a home based business and at the time of the closure announcement, she had not one but two vulnerable people in her home.  So she immediately messaged me to say, sorry but no can do.

So I went into the pandemic 'stay safe at home' due for a cut.  Now, 6 weeks or so later, I am shaggy. 

I have never considered myself 'attractive' in the way North American society defines it.  I never much cared about my appearance other than wanting to be 'tidy'.  I have never had the money it would take to treat myself to spa days.  My hands are not attractive and my body is, well, let's just say 'generous'.  (OTOH, medical folk tell me I have 'resources', so there is that.)

Someone posted a photo of herself wearing a mask, giving thanks for the wrinkles around her eyes, saying that even when she (rarely) goes out of the house, people will be able to see her 'crows feet' wrinkles and know that she is smiling.

So I share this profile of myself to share that I, too, have wrinkles around my eyes and that I will be able to smile at people and have them know that I am smiling.

But I also see evidence of aging.  The old age spots, the jowls, the treble 'chins'. 

I am well aware that I weigh more than I would like.  I do look in the mirror after all.  There is a reason I wear pants with elastic waists and baggy shirts.

I see the genetics written clearly on me - grandfather Guillet's 'wild' eyebrows, the jowls.  (I don't know what my father's parents looked like as they both died before I was born.)

For now I am in no hurry to get my long overdue hair cut.  There is no where I need to be until a couple of appointments later in the month - and anyone I see at those won't care what I look like.  As long as I am clean and as tidy as I can make myself. 

As we move through this time of pandemic, it is becoming clearer that many things are going to have to change.  I think that many who are immune compromised are going to find ways to make masks a fashion accessory.  I've already seen one photo of a mask with a Chanel logo on it.  Others have created cleverly designed masks with animal faces, or pretty fabrics.  As more people wear masks, there has been innovation - the ear savers, for instance. 

We know so little about this virus, not even if a vaccine will be effective or available any time soon.  People are going to have to either take precautions, or they will get sick.  And the thought that some people will not take precautions, willing to get sick is a very sad thing in my opinion.

Stay safe.  Stay well. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


Louet Megado

For decades (1982-2019) I wove primarily on an AVL Production loom and then a Leclerc Fanny.  On both looms I would (usually) beat on a closing shed.

However, change one thing and everything can change.

The Megado is a different loom from the AVL.  It has it's own...quirks...and I very quickly discovered that I could not weave at the same pace I had been able to weave on the AVL.  I had to slow down, significantly.  Like from around 44-48 picks per minute on the AVL to around 20-24 picks per minute on the Megado - shuttle throwing pace.  Actual productivity is lower still on the Megado because it does not have auto cloth advance and I also have to stop and advance the fell, retighten the tension on the warp.

Additionally, I have discovered over the years that different qualities of cloth mean that the rate of weaving speed, when I beat, and how frequently I need to advance the warp (on the Leclerc) changes.

It depends.

One of the challenges of weaving is that as you change the type and quality of cloth, as you use different yarns, what you need to do to actually weave must also change.  You cannot weave a very fine, somewhat fragile yarn the same way you weave a rep weave rug.

All these variables can be overwhelming to new practitioners of the craft.  Mostly they want definitive answers to questions where there aren't any.

For example, when I weave my standard place mats:

I can whip along at a fast pace because the weft needs to be firmly beaten in.  I change the shed while I am moving the beater forward to the fell which means the shed is closing as I beat.

However when I'm weaving something like this:

which is a very open cloth made of textured silk, the weft must be very carefully and gently pushed into place, not a firm beat.  My weaving pace must slow down to accommodate this very gentle placement, done on an open shed.  The shed is changed while the beater is at the fell line, then the beater is moved back to the heddles, the shuttle thrown, and the beater gently moves that pick into place.  Etc.

So like almost everything there is about depends.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


It is a very rare occasion when I am left without words.

So it was today when I opened an unexpected parcel from a friend. 

Pardon this less than wonderful photo - it was the best I could for the moment.  Right now I am thinking where it will be hung - probably in the studio if I can find just the right place for it.

The weave structure is overshot.  My friend was very canny and kept this a complete secret, only mentioning that she was working on some overshot.  A not unusual thing for her to be doing.  But let me copy the info from the back:

"In celebration of the Laura Fry Weaving Studio 1977-2019

Hand woven by Sheila Carey January 2020

The warp and tabby weft are 100/60 polyester core cotton (sewing thread) and the pattern weft is 60/2 silk.

The Overshot designs are based on three different 'name draft' tables.   The upper left used the words "Laura Fry Weaving Studio", the centre is "Nineteen seventy-seven to twenty nineteen" and the lower right is "AVL Number one eighty-one"

The cardboard below is from the original back of the antique photo frame belonging to the Carey family."

I can't even imagine the amount of work that went into this and I was literally without words.

I humbly say thank you to my friend of too many years to mention.  I will get a better photo once it has been hung on the wall.

Some Sunny Day

This time of isolation wears on a lot of people.  The uncertainty.  The chaos.  The not knowing what will happen once the recommendation for isolation is over and business can resume.

The fact is, there is no cure or vaccine for the Covid-19 virus.  Yet.

The best thing is to try to stay out of the cross hairs.  But that is not something everyone can do for one reason or another.

Perhaps they have been deemed 'essential'.  Perhaps their landlord is still demanding the rent money, so they have to go to work.  Perhaps they have dependents they are caring for so they must venture out to buy needed supplies.

And no one knows what society will look like, how it will function once things do resume.

We are somewhat better off here in Canada with a leader who - for all his faults - is trying to keep folk from going bankrupt or homeless.  No, he's not 100% successful in what he's doing, but the provincial premiers are not always doing much to help, either.  Things like healthcare are in the provincial domain, not the federal.

People who are marginalized, homeless, dealing with addiction issues, single parents trying to care for and home school their children are under a heavy load.  People with elderly parents who are in long term care and locked down are unable to visit or ensure that their fragile parents are actually being cared for properly.  It is a fact that there has been a very high toll amongst that population.

I have the privilege of removing myself from society right now.  Doug does all the out-of-the-house errands and I have only been leaving the house to walk in the neighbourhood, keeping physical distance from anyone else I might see on my route.  I have twice met with others with social distance measures.  But otherwise I am content to stay home and out of the range of the virus as much as I can.  I am well aware of that privilege and that not everyone has it.

Some people blithely say that we all need to get the virus so we can develop herd immunity.  The downside to that recommendation is the death toll that will happen to get us there.  So the scientists and researchers are scrambling on several fronts - trying to find a treatment for the virus, not just the symptoms, which are varied and wide ranging, and a vaccine that will protect everyone without the death toll of getting to herd immunity the 'natural' way.

In the meantime it is spring here (finally!)   The trees are beginning to leaf out, the plum trees have blossoms, flowers are beginning to grow, not just warily poke their heads above ground.  And we finally have some lovely sunny days.

We need to get through this time.  We will best do that by remembering we are all in the same storm of this pandemic and those of us who can, need to withdraw from unnecessary social interactions.  If we need to go out, one way to help protect ourselves is to wear a mask and remember to clean it, our hands and everything we have touched while out in society as soon as we get home.

Feeling lonely?  Facetime someone.  Pick up the phone and talk to family or friends.  Participate in a guild Zoom meeting.  Be kind.  To everyone.  If you possibly can.  

Monday, May 11, 2020

Plans, Best Laid

So, I had a plan.  It was a good plan.  I was pleased with myself for coming up with said plan.

Until I got to the loom.

Plan A was sort of what I wanted, but it wasn't weaving up in a way that made me happy.  I couldn't seem to work out the technical issue, so I stopped about 12 inches into the towel, backed out of the weaving function of Fiberworks, edited the tie up and started again.  About six inches into that towel, I gave up, went to the desktop, which I find much easier to design in Fiberworks than the laptop, and scrubbed both tie up and treadling to start over again.  The threading was 'set in stone' at this point, but I could still play with the other two variables.

Plan C was quite different from Plan A but I thought it might just work.  Back down to the loom with thumb drive in hand, and try (try, try) again.

The tie up is uneven or unbalanced, insofar as there are fewer threads lifted than left down.  This gives a different look to each side of the cloth - more warp emphasis on one side, more weft on the other.

Right now I'm thinking the warp emphasis side will be the 'right' side.  It looks stronger, more dramatic than the mostly weft side.

But I learned a long time ago to not set my plans in stone.  And to be satisfied with something that doesn't quite match the image in my head because sometimes I can't get what I want.  But I can get close.

This warp is going to be 'challenging' because of all the broken ends that will have to be dealt with as the warp gets used up.  I remember counting 13 breaks but there might be a few more.  I have already run into two of them.  One has been resolved, the other has a repair end hanging off the back beam.  The original end has come loose from the beam and once I'm finished the next towel, I will tie the original to the repair end, pull the original through and pin to the cloth at the cut line.

(edited to comment that my shuttle is not 'dirty' - I just weave so much that the wood shows the wear of being used)

Sunday, May 10, 2020


mother:  Having or showing the good (esp. tender or kind) qualities of a mother (Oxford Concise Dictionary)

Today is Mother's Day in the US and Canada.  It has always been a day of mixed emotions for me.  I chose to not have children and suffered the constant pressure from my mother to provide her with grand children.  I understood that she wanted them, but I could not provide.

Mother/daughter relationships can be wonderful.  I know plenty of people who have great relationships with their parents.  But they can also be complicated.  Bittersweet.  Sometimes, toxic.

Our society has come to idealize the mother figure and when you don't have that ideal, it can rub, like salt in a wound.

I no longer have live parents, or even my one sibling.  On a day like today it feels raw.  It feels...lonely.

I am the last twig on this part of the family tree.  It all stops with me.

Days like today I question why I am still here.  What purpose do I have that yet needs to be fulfilled?  Is there even any 'purpose' to live?  Or is it just that life struggles to stay?

In the midst of a pandemic, I am actually relieved that my parents are not here, that I don't need to worry about them going through it.  My dad would have been fine staying home, letting my mom do all the errands, take care of everything - that was pretty much the way he lived, anyway. 

My mom, the quintessential helper would have been running around taking care of everyone else.

I see the messages on Facebook, all the celebrations of mothers and think that really the ideal of 'mothering' isn't confined to the genetic connection.  Human beings don't even have to be female to 'mother' - that is, have the tender or kind qualities we ascribe to a mother.

There are men who nurture, too.  People who take care of other people's children.  Aunts, cousins, sisters - either genetic or chosen.

Instead of idealizing 'mothers', I would love to see society respect their mothers every day and extend the concept of nurturing to everyone, regardless of gender or genetic relationship.

Especially the teachers, who are just another form of nurturing and being kind.  The good ones, anyway.

So to all my chosen sisters, I love you.  To all my students, I love you, too.  To my mother I say thank you for this life.  I will do my best to model your caring of others and nurture and support all my 'family' of friends and students, for as long as I am able.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Slowly, Carefully

I am going to miss my annual trip through the mountains this year.  Mount Robson is, well, majestic and rarely seen without a toque. 

The Rocky Mountains are always lovely, regardless of weather.  That doesn't mean I enjoy driving through them in bad weather, just that they never disappoint.

Yesterday for the first time since March 23 I had an in-person (physically distant) meeting with the cancer support group I belong to.

We are all immune compromised to some degree - some more than others.  The group leader is probably the most compromised, so we met in one of the local parks, brought lawn chairs and formed a circle with about six feet between each of us.  It was strictly social, a time for people who have been isolated, some by themselves, to have some face time contact.

Our provincial health officer is well experienced in the public health field, worked in Ontario during the SARS epidemic, and has been a calm guiding light during this time.  She and the government minister do daily updates.  Dr. Henry has quietly but effectively made the case for caution and while she has begun to loosen restrictions has been very clear that physical distancing will be in effect for months to come.

Yesterday word came down that Convergence will be cancelled.  My trip to TN will also be cancelled because frankly, I have no idea when non-essential travel to the US will be permitted.

People have been checking in on me and I reassure them that I'm mostly fine.  As an introvert with a deep stash, I have lots to occupy my time.  Plus books, although my focus is such that I'm not actually reading very much right now.  Not nearly as much as I expected, given how much I love reading.

We are very fortunate in these times that we have the internet.  We may be physically safe at home, but we can reach out to others at any time we wish by sending an email, leaving a message on Facebook, or other internet access.

Yes, my pandemic 'do' is shaggy but like I said to a friend the other day, there is no one I need to impress right now, and frankly, one's hair do is part of the superficial restraints we put on each other.

I have a very short hair cut because I used to production weave, about 5 hours or so a day of sweating.  That meant that at the end of the day I had to shower, and I did not want to go to bed with wet hair.  It was easier to just get it cut short and keep it that way.  I've grown accustomed to a wash and wear hair style and I doubt people would recognize me if I had long hair (again). 

So I'm  not going to contact my hairdresser to get me in anytime soon.  When she is ready I'm sure she will contact her clients (she's home based and may not want a parade of folk coming into her home studio). 

Yes, I've gained weight.  But like so many medical people have told me, being some ways 'overweight' doesn't mean I'm 'fat' but that I have 'resources'.  I will worry about my weight some other time.

In the meantime, I am walking fairly regularly and already I'm seeing improvement in my strength.  I've done the steep hill several times and managed better than anticipated.  The warmer weather means more people are out and about, so I may start wearing a mask, even just to filter out the pollen in the air. 

Today is our anniversary.  We will 'celebrate' another time, more to our choosing.  Because neither of us is particularly anxious to go to a restaurant.

Society is about to change - if it will.  We will remember Before and After the Covid like our grandparents remembered Before and After the 1918 influenza.

If you possibly can, stay at home.  Wear a mask if you need to go out where there are other people.  Take care to wash your hands, mask, keys, phone when you get home.  Survive.