On Paper

Sunday night, when I was Skyping/Zooming/Line-ing with Mom, (what is the generic term for this The Jetsons' age telephony?) she casually commented, "So, you're not working." She meant I'm not weaving. It's been super hot these last few weeks and the orange warp is galling sitting in the middle of the living room, and I've been avoiding eye contact.
I was in the middle of showing Mom blind contours drawings. I've been doing something related to Sketchbookery almost every day, and have been "enjoying" it immensely. Let me explain why it's in quote marks.  
I genuinely enjoy Mary Ann's video tutorials. Her colors are uplifting. I like the looseness of her lines/shapes. I like the apparent ease with which she draws, and seemingly so lightheartedly. (Not sure if this is entirely true; after all she is a grade school teacher.) At night, before I go to sleep, I either gaze at images on Pinterest or Instagram, or read her blog. Mary Ann loves nature, cats, birds, flowers and trees, so there are lots of drawings of them, while I like man-made objects and indoor scenes; fear not, she's also traveled extensively so there''s plenty of old stone buildings and rented accommodations. I don't know if I've been stressed, (I don't think so,) or if it's for other reasons, but I can't help feeling her company is what I needed right now. She started blogging in 2007 so there are a fair few posts to go still. :-D 
What's not necessarily enjoyable has been the actual drawing; I'm struggling. I decided to go with things I like to see drawn, and would like to draw often just for fun. I chose small coffee cups. They can't be that difficult.
I did a bunch of blind contours and noticed the handles, and how they are attached to cups, are incomprehensible, especially handles not made of round ropes, not flat slabs. I'm not aiming for realistic/detailed 3D depictions in my final sketches, but without understanding how they are/work, I can't seem to get a handle on looser lines, never mind coloring them. So I drew more, looking at the paper more often, looking at the cups, but boy, the more I drew, the more I grew confused.     
I remembered Nephew #2, (now 21,) loved drawing, but he didn't know how, so Sister, who never drew, had to concoct examples for him to copy. (She occasionally rattled off animals she had to conjure most recently.) I manipulated photos and traced the outline, paying particular attention to the handles, of course, but this was less than satisfying; I didn't learn/see/discover anything, so I've taken more closeup shots to give it another go. 
Except today I didn't want to draw seriously, so I thought to draw and color some art supply, another subject I'd like to sketch often. I noticed, though, when I'm not doing blind or slow contours, I draw what I think I see, and not what I see. Case in point, the color samples attached to this set of watercolors; in real life, I can't see all of the squares on the row closer to me; it's cut off by the lip of the case. I was also gobsmacked how many lines were needed to depict all the edges that exist in this wee case. I'll investigate some more in future, but it's something I struggled with rounded cup handles. 
I tell you what, though, Mary Ann or no Mary Ann, I do enjoy looking at my drawings later, even the bad ones. I think it makes me better at visual problem solving. And if nothing else, I concentrate and do the best on the moment, and that's well-worth my time and energy. 
The online embroidery thingie I signed up for without knowing what it was turned out to be Stitch Club Stitch Camp led by Gwen Hedley on TextileArtist.org. I can't find a webpage that explains it, but this is her. She seems very nice, but I'm watching the vids, taking notes, and saving tutorial PDFs but not doing a project now; I want to concentrate on Sketchbookery, but more than that, the style/material she's using for the vids, and what others are sharing in the FB group, are the more-is-more-and-never-enough school, and not my thing. There is good emphasis on trusting-the-process, though, and one never knows when the knowledge will come in handy. 

Tonight is hot. Ben said we're not having dinner, not even a salad. I'm thinking, ice cream.



As I mentioned in the last post, Ben went back to work-work on Tuesday, and I've been trying to get back to, or establish a new, non-Plague pattern of life. To dig myself out of Plague/housewife mode I had to physically extricate myself from the kitchen on Tue/Wed and I actually felt sad to leave. I hadn't realized housework gave me relief from having to think, (as in deliberate/project-thinking), and still be productive. I have a bunch of low-intensity and/or short-to-mid-term projects, including finishing projects:

* Yet-Unnamed and related Summer & Winter piece/s: with a little over a month to finish weaving, submitting it/them in local exhibition/s is now low priority. But I'm definitely interested in recreating the Old Wallpaper look and make something with it. I had so few lifting ideas, so after a few weeks of doing nothing, I took off the second sample, 40EPI, in late December and washed. It's still too tight, so I resleyed at 32EPI, but math told me I can get 36EPI by threading 4-5-4-5-4-5 of 20/2 plus paired 60/2 in the 6-dent reed, so I haven't resumed sampling. Current plan is to sample a short length of 32EPI anyway, then resley and sample 36EPI. Also I think the next sample warp may be in duller colors to enhance the feel of old wallpapers. 
As well, I shall finish weaving Sunflower II really soon, be it as a scarf or more samples, just to get back in the swing of lightheartedness. The orange warp is interesting, depending on my mood, but intense and not relaxing or "nice" at the moment.  
* Revisit the Purple warp and finally decide whether to weave on, or abandon. 
* Review and rethink the Syrie project by going back to the interim summary blog post I was working on in February 2020 just before the Plague. No need to pick up where I dropped off, or to the origin of the idea, necessarily, to continue.
On Paper: I would like one or two low-keyed projects going at all times, be they on my own or otherwise. I miss them; I like the simple happiness I feel when I "succeed", which is different from succeeding in weaving; the process is less technical and more organic/intuitive than how I approach weaving, and I'm easier to please on paper.

* Letter Journals: I'm back with low-pressure friends with whom I've had successful swaps. I sometimes remember working on specific processes/pages/spreads out of the blue, and I get to relieve the gratification of good problem-solving.  
* I'm picking up where I left off with the Sketchbook Project.
* I signed up for Mary Ann Moss's Sketchbookery tutorial; it's something I thought about many times, and finally went for it. My goal for this is to bring back lightheartedness, but it's also another way of thinking/not-thinking visual problem solving. It's also reassuring some of her instructions are familiar from figure/life drawing days, and I can jump right into it, e.g. blind contours. I had no problem not looking, or automatically switching to negative spaces. A curious problem is, the longer I drew, the more I cheated, i.e. peeking while blind-contours. These are modified blind contours of Mom's handle-less Shigaraki teapot. 
Also re-familiarizing myself with my watercolor and guache supply; she makes us go right into using them. I did some of this on the kitchen table, but after putting them away, I couldn't stop, and kept going on the stash room carpet. 
* I signed up for some kind of a short-term embroidery online thingie, details for which I'm not searching. I think it starts next week, and I want to go into it without prejudice. 
* Garden. It's like weight loss, but marginally/momentarily better. 
* Reading. My 2022 resolution is not to stop reading a book just because another book looks shinier, although it's OK to abandon if it's not worth my energy, or to pick up a cookbook and read alongside current. So far so good, the current book is 7/10 interesting.

These are items higher on the list. I also have unfinished sewing, dye, and possibly one knitting, projects which I will finish "soon". Finishing several woven pieces and reworking my online shop is another. And if ever I find needlepoint yarns, or something similar I can substitute, with a wide variety in the same hues, in person, I would most definitely start a few projects. I miss needlepoint so much. 


Plague Diary Season 3 Week 21

Day 14+7+86+34, January 5. 17 Delta community cases on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 23 cases at the border, but genomic sequencing is not finished. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. Anyone over 18 years old who received the second jab at least four months ago can receive their booster from today at walk-in centers, or phone in to book, or book online after January 17; that's the day we become eligible, but also 5-11-year-old become eligible for jabs, so expect something of a jab jam. And I still haven't read anything about ventilation, though a few weeks ago I read mention of filtration, once. And home testing is still some distance away. 
EDIT: Thanks to UK Twittering health folks, the next morning I found this.
Today started hot but quickly turned cooler, which was a blessing because I've been loosing the plot, even though today's workload was a third of the last five days. Every year, I get excited about a clean kitchen, imagine cooking this and that, and hope to reboot a healthy lifestyle. But this year, I'm just grumpy... We have so much stuff. Still, tomorrow, Ben and I will finish the saga. 
Ben also started working on his next project, repainting the picnic table I painted in 2009, not with the same color but close, because I bought the wrong one. The first coast is on white primer so it's looking light, but we hope after the second it'll look more saturated. 
And this is what Ben did yesterday; he found plenty of the yellow primer from when we had the house painted last century, so he gave two coats on the sides of the stairs to our patio/front door. There is quite a bit of retaining wall to the right so we don't know if we're going that far, (it would make our place incredibly yellow,) but sometime soonish we'll get the top coat to go over the primed bits. These steps are dark, so it's also practical.   
Day 14+7+86+35, January 6. 19 Delta community cases on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island; all 23 Nelson cases have recovered, even though short of links to North Island cases, the origin was never reported. 43 cases at the border; Omicron genomic sequencing to come, although these days they expect most/all are that. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. Since boosters became generally available yesterday, there have been increase in people getting first and second shots, also. What. Eva.
Today started with lovely rain. We had our first cooked late brunch (and attempted sugar overload) of 2022: Ben's almond and wheat flour pancakes, bacon, seared bananas, and seared extremely local plums, on a plate made by local artisan, with extremely locally roasted coffee. I washed the dishes afterwards, but we were so tired we didn't even talk much. It was easy deciding to postpone going to the store for a container and an extension cord needed in the kitchen. We didn't even think to watch a film, listen to an audiobook, or even read. I paced the house looking at all the unfinished business at one point. 
I did manage to iron, because today was supposed to be the one cool day before the return of the heatwave, although looking at the forecast now, maybe not. Ben cleaned up an old, old paella pan we use all the time, especially for salmon; it had a couple of decades of accumulated caked-on built-up black stuff, but he took it all off and we can see the original paella pan and it's in a great shape.
Three more days of Ben's holiday left; he's going back to work at work on Monday after 145 days, except for the few hours on Friday in December. Weird.
Day 14+7+86+36, January 7. 35 Delta community cases on the North Island, none on the South Island. 24 cases at the border; there is no mention of genomic sequencing or Omicron any more. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. Following Christmas Day and New Year's Day, there is to be no update tomorrow, either. Our traffic light system was based on two jab requirement; now that boosters are available and Omicron has arrived, the government is yet to announce any rules or policy adjustments. In fact, we've seen very little of public officials, not that I've been looking for them. 

Today, we finished the kitchen. I did most of it, but Ben helped wiping down the high bits. Ben, though, since New Year's Eve day, finished two and a half big jobs and two and a half little jobs. This is probably the most productive we've been in years. 

Because Ben loves to have coffee or lunch outside, we brought the purple picnic table just outside the kitchen. Now he can have coffee either here, or just outside the front door. I wished we thought of this last summer, when we planned to do these projects in the first place, because Ben would have been able to work from out here. 
It's a little strange for us not to have the table set parallel/perpendicular to another straight line, but this way, we can sit next to each other and look out towards the water. It wasn't this industrial-looking when we bought the house 25 years minus three weeks ago, but there is water there. And when the grapes and apples are gone, we'll have a clearer view. It looks like rain may be coming back. 
Ben'd been spending a lot of time in his office looking at his computer while waiting for the paint or oil to dry. A lot. I nearly said something, but he was doing what I asked, so I held back. It turned out he was working some of the time, enough hours so he has Monday off, too. Yippy!! 
Day 14+7+86+37, January 8. No updates today, but two cases found in Wellington from a music festival in Tauranga. We ran errands, tied loose ends of the tasks we finished, and went food shopping. It's hard not to overdo veg and fruits this time of year.
Day 14+7+86+38, January 9. 85 Delta community cases in the last two days on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 64 cases at the border; no coverage of Omicron. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. 
Slow day where I washed/cut/manipulated so much veg we need another fridge, and Ben went around touching up projects he finished this summer. The outer leaves of the red cabbage are too tough to eat raw, (we used the inner leaves for coleslaw,) but don't they make you think of Beatrix Potter paintings?
I'm also happy to report purple cauliflowers retain a lot of blue pigments after parboil, (more saturated purple than in the pic,) unlike the cute beans and carrots I grew some years ago which turned all pale. 
Day 14+7+86+39, January 10. 27 Delta community cases on the North Island, including Wellington,  none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 33 cases at the border; no specific coverage of Omicron. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed.
A few Queenstown attractions are locations of interest. The big shot Auckland Anti-Vax guy preached in Christchurch. Our government is sounding more and more like other governments, being fine with Covid/Omicron in the community. I've been reading scary articles about the effect of Covid, especially Omicron, on diabetics, and also the increase in (identifying?) childhood diabetes. 

My diabetic husband goes back to work-work tomorrow in this brave new world. I couldn't imagine being a parent.  

Today was another-tying-up-loose-ends day for me; Ben smoked salmon; if you knew him in the 80s, you'd know how funny that last bit sounds.
Day 14+7+86+40, January 11. 14 Delta community cases on the North Island, including Wellington, (linked to a north Auckland festival,) none in Nelson, but two in Canterbury to be included in tomorrow's numbers. 9 cases at the border; no info on Omicron. 78% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. 
After 146 days at home, Ben went back to work-work this morning, ending our third "lockdown", and so Season 3 of Plague Diary. 
The government has not clarified how many Omicron cases have been found at the border for some time, but expect most/all positive cases to be that. Government ministers and high-ranking officials have been on holiday, I assume, as they have not been visible; Jacinda is rumored to be getting married at an American hedge fund family's holiday place at the end of the month near Gisbourne, and has not been seen in weeks. If you are to believe the MSM, the government wants us to prepare for mass spreading of Omicron in the community, as our health systems are "well-placed" for it. Good on scientists who continue to appear and write how they think we should face Omicron in the meantime. 
Anti-vax/anti-lockdown propaganda continue to present problems, although big name activist continue to act with impunity, and Nelson is one hotbed. The American doctor specializing in weight-loss who sold vaccination exemption certificate for $80 in Kaiapoi had her license taken away, but has moved on to making chocolates. I'm not advertising the brand name. 
Lastly, my favorite place in town, Volume book store, decided to go online-only. I can't blame them; the store is tiny; even before vaccination and anti-vaxers, some folks were offended by distancing or scanning; and the shop does well online. But loosing a place to accidentally discover hitherto unknown authors or beautifully produced books is a big loss. For now, I must try to get my head out of lockdown/housewife mode and into "making" mode, with the occasional, until it gets cooler, weeding and such outdoor pursuits. And the occasional, "OMG, look what's happening in Aotearoa" posts. And food pics. Maybe "I made this" pics.
Thank you for tagging along with us for 147 days. Be well, you and yours, take care; this thing is not over yet.


Plague Diary Season 3 Week 20

Day 14+7+86+27, December 29. 46 in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Rotorua, Tairawhiti, and Canterbury, (linked to a previous case.) 0 in Nelson. Re. Omicron, the media, or the Ministry, used a weird expression today: total Omicon cases are 71 today, up from yesterday's 49 (stuff.co.nz) or 54 (radionz). 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed. 
We went to a couple of stores to get what's needed for more of our projects; I've now been to four stores I believe should have asked for my vax pass that didn't. But tonight...
An Omicron case was out and about in Auckland on December 26 and 27, visiting bars, restaurants, and a shopping area. There will be an announcement regarding this at 11AM tomorrow, but from what I read so far: 
* The person, fully vaccinated, not a New Zealand citizen, arrived from the UK via Doha on December 16.
* Current NZ rules are for all arrivals to stay at managed isolation for seven days, (during which time this person tested negative three times,) and in self isolation for three days. The case tested positive on Day Nine, which would be December 25. Nobody else on the same "flight" (singular, so presumably Doha-Auckland) tested positive.
* The person was notified on December 27 and brought to managed isolation on the same day. Whole genome sequencing was done on the same day, clarifying it was Omicron. 
* The government had earlier changed the rules to extend the initial managed isolation to ten days starting December 23. 
* The Ministry does not believe the person was highly infectious at the time. 
So... Good luck to us.
Day 14+7+86+28, December 30. 60 in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Tairawhiti, Canterbury, (linked to a known case;) 0 in Nelson. Omicron cases, 6 new, 54 in all, one case announced released. 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed. 
Aotearoa's first "community" Omicron mentioned yesterday turned out to be a UK DJ who came to take part in a New Year's Eve concert. He stayed self-isolated until his tenth day, but the government said he broke the rule because he did not wait until he received the result of Day Nine test, (on Day Twelve;) this was his third trip in a year, so he should have known. His case is not genomically linked to any known cases here. 
There is another Omicron case who was in the community, an Air NZ crew who returned from Sydney on December 24. This case was identified during "routine surveillance" on December 27, (flight crews have different rules,) linked to three other cases on the same flight, and is now in managed isolation. No info on when/where they were. And at midnight tonight, all but Northland will move to Code Orange. 
Today Ben worked some more on the outside table, and touched up orange chairs he painted last year. I cleaned the fridge and the dinner set on the shelf above the fridge. When I broke up this year's kitchen cleaning tasks into five parts, I thought I could do almost any two in one day, and Ben can keep sprucing up our outdoor furniture. Wrong! I almost didn't get to the freezer. Amazing to think Ben and I used to clean the whole kitchen in one day every year, years ago. 

I like fridge magnets, but fridges, I prefer naked. I predict negotiations coming up.
Day 14+7+86+29, December 31. 49 Delta community cases in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Hawkes Bay; 0 in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. Omicron cases, 10 new at the border, 88 in all, and so far no community transmission. No locations of interest for the Air NZ crew. The Ministry now assumes all border cases will be Omicron and will prioritized sequencing these. 77% of population and 91% over 12 double-jabbed. No updates tomorrow.

Insomnia has been out of control for weeks, but one benefit is I managed to read during the quiet hours. I've been trying to read more printed books, but found it hard to stick with them. Earlier in the month, I cleaned out boxes under the bed that housed all the books I started this year but hadn't finished; there might have been three dozens. Except young adult novels; I love them, they are inexpensive, quick, plot-driven, authors don't lie or trick you, and there are always likable characters I can cheer for. The picture shows all printed books I managed to finish reading this year, (yeah, dismal,) excluding two I borrowed, also for young folks.
What's with all the Nigellas, you ask? Well, I read cookbooks cover to cover as reading material; I have many I read but never cooked from. But if I can find the ingredients, (not always possible in little old Nelson,) I can manage the "complexity" of Nigella's everyday recipes, (i.e. they are not difficult,) and so I've cooked quite a lot from her first two books. Ben's found a couple of used ones for good prices in subsequent years, but around the time we went into lockdown, he decided to get me all the ones I wanted. Because when I read Nigella, I cook Nigella, and she has a lot of chicken dishes, Ben's favorite, so we had a whole lot of new chicken dishes during lockdown and since, one most definitely a regular item now. Reading Nigella is an on-going project; we bought her books in order they were published, and I'm reading them in that order, of course, so I have a few to go before we look for her latest she wrote during her solo lockdown. I hear that's supposed to be a bit of a game changer, although it might just be a promo thing. 

I also finished maybe 15 audiobooks; the experience is interesting because sometimes I just listen to the voices like they are singing and nothing of the story stays with me except maybe a vague impression; other times, I take in so much it's almost as if I experienced it.  

So in the coming year I have a promise to myself, resolution if you like; I'll try to finish a book before moving on to the next shiny one. That is not to say I'll finish come hell or high water; Ben said about 20 years ago I'm wasting my life reading books I don't like and I don't owe anyone anything. I used to take it so seriously back then, finishing, and it was a revelation I was allowed to move on. I might even tell you about some. 

And with that, let's hope for a quiet, little more predictable year next year; see you on the other side. 
Day 14+7+86+30, January 1, 2022. Well, hello! No Ministry updates today. I decided to take an online sketching course a while ago, but I wanted to start it today. (We're allowed to access the material for one year from the day of registration.) I feel great about the course, and about the year; how can I not when I opened the landing page to see I'm drinking water from the same glass as the teacher? 
And drinking water I did. I woke up with a lower back pain yesterday, and as usual I stretched several times, but it didn't work well. At 2.30AM, while reading about witches and pilots, I thought kidney stones. I should have rung the 24-hour 0800 health number then, but I waited until 11 this morning; the nurse (?) agreed it sounded like kidney stones; recommended I take a pain killer if I needed one; agreed I don't have to go to the hospital unless it worsened; said I wouldn't want to go near there on New Year's Day if I didn't have to. The Internet told me to drink 2l of water, preferably with lemon juice, so I did. 2.5l of it. And it was better by bedtime. Kitchen cleaning was slower with change of plan, but I kept at it.  
Day 14+7+86+31, January 2. 105 Delta community cases in the last two days on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 33 cases at the border; Omicron 2 new, 90 in all, and so far no community transmission. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed.  

Ben finished treating the coffee-roasting table and touching up the orange chairs. I kept working in the kitchen, slower because it's been so hot, but progressing. I managed a little less than 1.5l lime water. Ben evacuated the pumpkin on top of finished weaving, next to the ironing pile, but no ironing happening in the foreseeable future.
Day 14+7+86+32, January 3. 27 Delta community cases on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 24 cases at the border; Omicron 0 new, 90 in all, and so far no community transmission. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed. They'll have to start adding the boosted numbers, don't you think?
So hot, so humid, today was disgusting from the moment I woke up. But kitchen looking like this for days, I had to keep going. (The last couple of evenings we had sandwiches made with deli meat, salad leaves in bags, and supermarket rye bread, but they're all gone.) 
Because we don't have a lovely purpose-built pantry like many Kiwi kitchens, part of this year's "cleaning" is amalgamating "pantry space" within our cupboards in this post-lockdown living-with-Covid era. We went to the hardware store to buy fancy build-to-measure shelving we planned to get 12 years ago, but after an hour of looking for the right sizes and negotiating configuration, I remembered the back/far wall of the cupboard is a flimsy board and can't support the heavy setup. So we came home with a cheap flat pack. It's not great, but we got rid of the temporary plastic trolley we bought for our Auckland rental that's been disintegrating for a couple of years.
I broke this year's kitchen cleaning schedule into five daily bits, but I'm not sure if I'll be done tomorrow. "Reducing" isn't going great, but magically the dishes and glasses aren't as crammed on shelves as we think they used to be, so we're good. I haven't reached 1l of lime water yet today, but also, I almost forgot I had a lower back problem; kidney stones don't pass this quickly, do they?
Day 14+7+86+33, January 4. 31 Delta community cases on the North Island, none in Nelson or the rest of the South Island. 29 cases at the border; new Omicron genome sequencing has not come out yet, 90 in all; a family member of the Air NZ crew tested positive and was relocated to Managed Isolation. The UK DJ will not be charged as the police, as has been their usual MO, worry charging him may discourage future cases from cooperating with the health authorities. 77% of population and 92% over 12 double-jabbed.
Today was not as hot or humid as yesterday, but for most of the day I scrubbed pots and baking dishes, so I was just $@#)^&(%!* hot. And I need a couple of more days. One reason the kitchen is taking longer in recent years has to be we have. more. stuff. We gave most of our delicate Japanese ceramics to charity a few years ago, (too delicate for us and our current life,) and that freed up some space, but we still have too. much. stuff. This afternoon, I added four items in the charity box, but took one out because Ben makes souffle in it, and we have nothing similar. So, yeah...

Ben took a wee detour with his projects, and finished a quick one, but one that packed a punch, making a tiny part of our place look very cheerful. I'll show you tomorrow. And I just found this on his office floor. We're exhausted tonight.