Wednesday, 08 April 2020, Day 29 of Sheltering-in-Place: Today is Eye Treatment #13, and as I both expected and feared, my vision has declined. Today I lost 10 letters. That’s almost all the letters I’ve gained over the last year. Despite knowing the erosion of vision since the last visit, I am sad, bereft, and discouraged. I’ll take it easy tomorrow, then bounce back into the studio on Friday and get back to work making face masks. Thank y’all for your constant loving support.
Saturday, 04 April 2020, Day 25
Gorgeous weather is the bearer of hope.
When we need more supplies to make masks, there is no choice but to go out. Before we enter the store, I give The Engineer a 4” x 44” strip of fabric with instructions to cover his nose and mouth then tie it in the back of his head, and I do the same. Next we both don gloves. Back in the truck, The Engineer says – and I quote – “I felt like an idiot when you made me wear that makeshift mask and gloves . . . and I think it’s the smartest thing you ever made me do.”
I choose yoga, sketching, and short poems for my 100 Day Project, and I start early with a Yoga Nidra this morning led by my amazing friend Nona Jordan. I haven’t adjectives to tell you how wonderful it was except to say that I am now looking forward to a spot of yoga in each day. Yoga will change my life. That much I’m sure of.
Small pleasures: walking through the grocery store downwind of the blue hyacinths that will soon grace our home.
On the way home, we get behind a grandfather and his grandson who apparently decided to break the bindings of cabin fever by taking the lawnmower out for a spin.
There is much to smile about well before noon.
Sunday, 05 April 2020, Day 26
Affirmations help some days.
Chore charts are set aside as we all pitch in to do what needs to be done while mask-making for friends and family continues full steam ahead. The floors are a garden of thread and scraps of fabric. There’ll be plenty of time to sweep later.
Friday, Day 17 ~ 3.27.2020 ~ Cashiers, NC
It’s 10 a.m. and we are just getting up. While I fantasize about sleeping late, actually doing it ruins the entire day for me. By 10 a.m. I should have much of my To Do List done. Then and only then do I earn time to stitch and write, says the dreaded Voice of Authority on the Committee of Jeanne. (The other COJ members are saving up for a firing squad. I just might create something to sell and contribute to the cause.) Daily accomplishment/productivity is important to my mental health and survival during times like this.
This year I’m using the Ink + Volt Planner. I love the look and feel of the red book linen cover and the two ribbon markers, though I only use one so far. Weekly “planning” works better for me this year, though I don’t use the planner quite as it Is designed to be used. So far (and especially now) I use a sticky note (fear of commitment?) to create a Task Well – a list of things I would like to accomplish during the week. Once I’ve done something from the well, I note it in the day it was accomplished (in pencil – again, I ask: fear of commitment?), complete with a box that I then tick off in green ink. I like structure and accomplishment – I thrive on structure and accomplishment – I miss structure and accomplishment, but I find it incredibly hard to come by now when time is in plentiful supply. Is it grief or avoidance?
The NC governor issued the official shelter-in-place decree for NC, effective from 5 p.m. Monday, March 30, 2020 to April 29, 2020. We – Mother, Alison, The Engineer, and I – have already been at this for more than two weeks, but there’s something unsettling about it being official and applicable to everyone in the state.
Saturday, Day 18 ~ 3.28.2020 ~ Cashiers, NC/Fayetteville, GA/Cashiers, NC
Last night Alison said she missed her jewelry, and that sparked an idea that The Engineer fortunately agreed with. We spent the day in the truck, driving to Georgia and back, giving Mother and Alison an hour in their homes to fetch creature comforts and necessities. It still feels like we’re in a post-apocalyptic movie when we leave the house. They made their lists on the drive down, and they each forgot only one item.
The roads are eerily empty, and I am relieved that there are state patrol cars at the state line. Even though the governor’s decree doesn’t go into effect till Monday evening, it feels like we are doing something wrong, scary, dangerous. In nearby Highlands, police are stationed at each end of Main Street because apparently people are renting cabins and coming up expecting to shop and dine as if on holiday. The governor as well as Jackson and Macon County officials add into their decree that any rentals less than a month in duration (unless for essential workers) must be canceled and anybody coming up to stay a while must bring enough food and medicine to get them through the two weeks they will spend in self-quarantine.
It was a good day. I close it out as I always do, with a list of Grins and Gratitudes.
Sunday, Day 19 ~ 3.29.2020 ~ Cashiers, NC
It’s surprising how tiring 9 hours in the car can be. We sleep late, nap long, and continue binge watching Downton Abbey late into the night.
During our waking hours, I hand out the new individualized Chore Charts I created – one for everybody – intended to keep everyone in their own lane, doing their own chores. Each chart has space for everyone to write in other things they want to accomplish (They’ll likely use it about as much as I use my store-bought planner.). I reduced the number of chores, deleting some and combining some, till I have 8 daily chores, two per person. Thursday will be out entire house day, so everybody adds one chore on Thursday. I write the chores on slips of paper, fold them, and let everybody draw – a DIY scheduling that relieves me of that thankless grumble-inducing task.
To sweeten the pot, I institute weekly challenges. This week it’s water intake. Whoever drinks the most water (measured in 8 oz increments) between Monday morning and Saturday night can hand off their 2 Sunday chores to the person of their choosing. (Even though I’m putting much back into their hands, I have a feeling I’ll be real busy on Sundays.) Another week it will be walking – whoever walks the most steps wins the challenge. That’s all I’ve been able to think of so far.
Monday, Day 20 ~ 3.30.2020 ~ Cashiers, NC
I am cranky. I don’t want to be, and I try not to be, but I’m cranky, and I can list you reasons. I vow (again) to be kinder and friendlier, and even as I write that, I know that despite my best efforts, it won’t last. There’s simply not enough chocolate to carry me through. Should a chocolate shortage develop, you’ll find me eating bark and vines and howling at the sky from atop our chimney made of gravestones.
Today while trying yet again to bring order to The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug (my studio) (I believe physical environments enkindled and/or support emotional and mental environments, and I need all the help I can get!), I find the small blocks I made during some dark days I lived through in the Way Back When. Funny how many of them I remember. I immediately envision ways to bring them together in one art piece, but my heart settles on nothing yet. It will come, and I think it involves rope. That’s all I know for now.
Supper is at 6 p.m. every day, and for dessert, I stitch as we binge watch episodes of Downton Abbey. (We’re on season 6 and planning to watch the movie next.) Then I think we should make a list and watch movies featuring people who find themselves plucked from their normal everyday life and marooned in a new, surreal existence. Who knows? Maybe we’;ll find them motivational, maybe educational.
Maybe I’ll gift myself a couple of just-stitching days and that’ll be just the ticket I need to get me in productive motion again. Shoot, maybe I’ll even spend some serious time on that book I’m itching to write.
Today was my day to cook breakfast, so we ventured out for a PICkuptruckNIC. Went to Bo’s for a biscuit, then – because he is showing withdrawal symptoms – a stop by Lowe’s. I admit it was more than a bit scary – after all, we haven’t been out of the house in two weeks. We never left the truck, though The Engineer and I did go into Lowe’s – he in search of supplies and me wanting to feed my Fitbit. People tended to make sure there was space in our togetherness, and most women wore gloves or kept their hands in their pockets. Why did I feel like holding my breath the entire time? A clear plastic panel was on his shopping list, and their supply’s was nil. When we went to the checkout, we discovered why: a panel of hard, clear plastic separated every cashier from the paying customers. Every aisle was marked off with big, colorful X’s on the floor and a sign asking next-in-line customers to wait here to maintain social distancing. The people behind us paid no heed.
The weather was absolutely beautiful today, so once back home, Mother and The Engineer busied themselves outside planting colorful annuals in the deck pots while Alison and I worked on our computers indoors. If I told you Mother’s age, you’d be quite impressed at all she did today. But then if I told you her age, she’d kill me and spend the rest of her life wearing ill-fitted orange jumpsuits in prison, (a sentence she’d willingly endure for punishing me for the ultimate transgression. Our motto is Age is just a number, and mine’s unlisted.) I imagine we’ll all sleep well from a day of good work (and no naps) with visions of Bo’s Biscuits dancing in our heads, though I’m not sure we’ll venture out again any time soon. I don’t like being fearful, but I don’t know how to quell it.
From the Mailbox
Thank you to Julie for sending a long list of quotes in response to my request on Day 14. She includes a quote at the end of every blog post, and she was kind enough to compile last year’s quotes and send them to me. I dare say Mother will enjoy these much more than the oracle cards.
I really enjoy hearing about how you’re getting on during this surreal time. My friend Becky writes of baking cookies and how she and her husband (who is now working from home) enjoy this slower lifestyle, including date night on the newly pressure-washed deck – now festooned with brightly colored plants – twice a week. She’s turned this into a delightful time of delightfully leisurely togetherness.
The Four-Legged Population Sheltering-in-Place With Us
Did I mention that we have 8 – yes, e-i-g-h-t – cats staying with us, too? Why oh why does it sound so adorable when Tracy Coan posts of her feline’s antics? Ours are cute as buttons . . . When they’re asleep.
I am cranky.
I need space (physical and mental).
In this morning’s First Light of Day journal, I ask what I want my life to be because that seems a good starting point. The question “What do I want?” echoes when it hits the page.
I need a reset button, something to take my mind off the current situation and set me back on the path of cheerfulness and optimism. The only thing for it is to plead with Mother Nature to wrap her arms around me and whisper sweet parables to my heart and something positive to think about to my brain.
The sun has come to call today, so I go outside for a walk and there, in the flowerpot now filled with dead stems that were once colorful blooms celebrating daughter Alison’s graduation from college in our home-held ceremony, I spy a daffodil stretching and rubbing her eyes.
How did that happen?
In July this pot was filled with ham and egg lantana, not daffodils. Daffodils are spring flowers; lantana thrives in the summer. Daffodils enjoy the cool shade; lantanas are happiest in the hot, full sun. I accept it as one of Mother Nature’s conundrums, something for me to ponder.
Now I may be delighted with the notion that everything happens for a reason all in its perfect time, I may giggle gleefully with magic, but The Engineer wants to know how and why things happen. Before I can stop him, he shoves the pot aside with his foot, and lo and behold the pot is sitting in the middle of a small daffodil patch. This daffodil – the only one blooming – who found her path blocked, found a way to keep growing anyway. By golly she was meant to stretch, reach, grow. She was meant to live, and live she would. She was, after all, put on earth to bloom, and she let nothing – not even a heavy pot of wet soil and dead (or dormant) lantana stems stop her.
She is not a victim, this daffodil. She doesn’t whine or wring her hands because her life is difficult and not at all the way she’d like it to be. This is one Determined Daffodil, and she chooses lightness and smiles and positivity.
Now I REALLY have something to ponder.
Pop quiz: 1 introvert + 3 social butterflies = ?
As the resident introvert, hearing “shelter-in-place” sounds like paradise. To the social butterflies I live with, not so much. For me, self=distancing brings on the excitement of having large blocks of time to myself to create with cloth and ink. To the 3 extroverts, it means they have to go more than 2 minutes without interrupting me.
I was a stay-at-home mom, which in those days, was the equivalent of gum on the bottom of your shoe. At last I’m feeling some respect, though, as next generation family members have the choice made for them to be stay-at-home parents. “This is hard, Mom,” my son tells me. “How did you do it?” Wonder if he can hear me purring in response.
Every few days, I reach into my memory banks and sent my son and niece an email with “”low tech” activities they can do with children – things I did when my children were tots. (I am careful not to include any project requiring toilet paper.) I doubt they’ll use any of my ideas, but I’m itching to pull out the supplies and add a daily arts and crafts hour here at Camp Corona.
Creating Space in Our Togetherness
We – that would be my mother, our daughter, The Engineer, and I – have been sheltering-in-place since Tuesday 10 March 2020. You’d think by now we would have a daily routine, but in reality, not so much , though it’s not from lack of trying, and we are getting there. We spent Day 1 bringing beds up from the downstairs guest rooms and moving furniture in the gathering room to accommodate them. On Day 2 we went to the library to load up with books and to the grocery store. Day 3 we went out for supper because I expected the restaurants to close. We kicked off Day 4 with me inviting everyone into my morning sacred practice. We read a randomly selected Blessing from this book written by a talented woman and dear friend Ashima Sarin who is the daughter of a dear friend. Then we draw an oracle card or 3 from my decks and take a few minutes to take the wisdom into our bodies. I’m not sure Mother has ever seen or heard of oracle cards, and I’m not sure they resonate with her. So last night when I couldn’t sleep, I came up with the idea of writing quotes on slips of paper, put them in a container, and she can draw one of those out every day. I think she’ll enjoy that and find it more meaningful. (If you have favorite positive, uplifting quotes and are willing to send them, I’d be much obliged.)
Knowing the value of structure and accomplishment, Day 5 found me introducing the Chore Chart. (It also keeps one person from having to do all the work.) Community Chores are listed, assigned, and everybody has their own signature color to make finding their daily duties even easier. Knowing how important it is to do something for others, I asked Mother to call at least 2 people every day (something she’s taken quite seriously and enjoyed immensely) and daughter Alison to post at least 2 funny kitty videos on her facebook timeline each day (something she’s not done with any regularity). Everyone is required to spend at least 30 minutes outside every day, with their feet on the earth and fresh air in their lungs. The Chore Chart seems such an easy thing to me – and it would be if everybody would stay in their own lane. Mother is bad to do other people’s chores (usually without mentioning it to them), and daughter (who seems quite comfortable in overage teen mode) is bad to do none of hers. On Day 6 we set a time for breakfast (9:30 a.m.), declared lunch on your own every day, and supper at 6 p.m. We binge-watched Turn and are now on the second season of Downton Abbey. There’s some comfort knowing that at 6, we’ll eat the flop in front of the tv (all) and hand-stitching (me).
Today I will create personal Daily Do sheets for people to add their own tasks needing to be accomplished. Chores take about 1 to 1.5 hours each day, leaving plenty of time for reading and making. I do this because we need to keep as normal a life as possible and (perhaps mostly) in the spirit of self defense so I don’t have to remember and remind.
Other things I’m considering: weekly book club or maybe weekly book reports; daily arts and crafts; and a round of daily calisthenics.
Adjustments are required on everybody’s part. Our house is totally rearranged with stuff everywhere, and I am not one who handles clutter – visual or physical – easily. Mother and Alison are in our house not theirs, so Mother, especially, has to ask where everything is and learn little idiosyncrasies like how much laundry detergent to put in the washing machine, how you know if the dishwasher is on or not, and which light switch turns on the lights and which one turns off all the clocks, lamps, computers, and other things plugged into electrical outlets. Which reminds me: our first arts and crafts hour will be spent creating signs for rooms (occupied / vacant) and the dishwasher (clean / dirty).
Meanwhile in the Dissenter’s Chapel and Snug
Over the weekend, while others napped, I treated myself to some much-needed, much-enjoyed studio time. Cut up some shirts The Engineer no longer wears, and mindlessly put them back together. Now that I think about it, this kinda’ parallels our current existence: putting the discombobulated familiar together in new ways.
How About You and Yours?
How are you and yours? What’s keeping you sane? Be well, y’all. Check in when you can.