2022/08/30

Autumn/Winter 2022 Recap - Long

Hi, friends. It's been a while. Ben's and my life has been uneventful for the most part since the last post; or, to paraphrase, life dragging on in an interminable purgatory that is our "(Not)-Post-Covid" era, with no discernible resolution or punctuation, while we remain in a self-imposed loose lockdown. But it doesn't mean it's been bad, either; I just couldn't find anything exciting to blog about. 
 
In March/April I had a really hard time with Covid-related issues; our government switching rules/policies to match what I understand many Western nations were doing, i.e. loosening rules for data collection/publication; changing definitions for the data components; shortening/eliminating isolation requirements; switching from PCR to RAT, (for which not enough explanation was given,) while RATs were not yet freely available, etc. A bunch of doctors wrote to the government confirming my suspicion changing things up mid-Delta right into Omicron was confusing the nation. On the same day, we learned our government used an American company to monitor social media comment sections in deciding policies.

At one point, May?, we reached one million "daily new" community cases, but by then folks were only reporting voluntarily, and those in the know assumed the more accurate numbers would be two to four million. New Zealand's population is around five million, so though we don't know how many folks had it for the second/third/nth time, it was still a heck of a lot. New cases and death continued to shoot up; Health Ministry refused to recognize the hospitals were in dire straights, (they were;) and numbers weren't coming down then. (They've come down and "stabilized" since, when we can find them, but still pretty worrying, if you ask me.)

Feeling we were really on our won to fend for ourselves, deciding stay in our own lockdown for the "foreseeable future," my mood got a bit dark, so I indulged in a little "therapy". At first, I tried to draw and paint with watercolor, but that felt too onerous for therapy. I still find drawing shapes challenging and not enjoyable while I do them, but they're quirky and fun to look at later. So I switched to drawing and coloring in The Bard's face. And since it's just therapy, I drew blind, and/or with my left hand, and/or turning the paper upside down, etc, and colored in first in flat colors, and then with some shading.  
I used notebooks/sketchbooks which either had a few scribbles already, or only a few pages left, avoiding First Page jitters and ruin perfectly good fresh books. In a month, I finished four books, filled all the pages with outlines in two more, and got started on another. And then one day, Ben asked if I'm going to draw anything else. 
 
That's where therapy is different from, well, art-attempts, for want of a better name. The direction-less, plan-less, purpose-less, intention-less, thinking-less shape-making and coloring-in suddenly needed those things, and though I tried to ignore the bad feelings, I stopped. I tried mixing The Bard with Vincent, but that didn't work, because that wasn't the point of this exercise. I hated my weakness, but there I was. 
 
I have the last notebook to fill in with outlines, (this part was cut short also because I ran out of brown felt-tip pens. This is a notebook I made years ago with coffee and tea stained paper, and I was using only brown felt markers for outlines, going for the aged, sepia vibe. I had a period I thought I should try landscapes, and bought half a dozen different brown pens in Japan, but you know me and browns. They were all still here. Pffft;) and two other notebooks with outlines to color in. I am going back to this project because I learned so much about color combinations and a little about watercolor and gouache paints, but I forget unless I keep using them once in a while. At least I ought to go back and look at them to remember. 
One day, while not sitting down with paint and sketchbook, I tidied the living room, taking stock of unfinished projects, (I have a couch for these, like a 3D To Do list,) and remembered I intended to recycle the yarn used in the teal sampler and the last remaining ball and a half to make something useful. I found a big fat cushion insert, and set out to knit a cover to go with Ben's green recliner. Unlike weaving, I start knitting with only a vague idea and try to figure out sizes and patterns as I go, and after nine such goes, I finally decided how I to proceed. But I haven't knitted since I did the first two rows. Fear not, it's not bad a bad thing.
 
I have tried to keep up with Ukraine news. When the idea came up in social media in March about booking AirBnB accommodations, paying but letting them know we're not coming, just donating, I started looking. There were good stories on the Internet, but unfortunately I found one young woman who owned an apartment in the historic Maidan but worked in the Middle East, and a young man who owned five or six properties all around the country, all looking like the worst bad-action-movie-oligarch-compounds, so I gave up. 
 
A week later, Gail in New York suggested we buy embroidery patterns on Etsy. I don't stitch any more, but I liked the idea, and instead of patterns, I bought professionally-produced recipes from woman in Chyhyryn in March, (and I just got more while looking up her town;) narrowly avoided buying photos of Kyiv from a Hungarian seller, and bought a bunch of watercolor clip art from a woman in Kherson in late April. (I'm still keen on doing my thing in watercolor.) Still, they're measly amounts; NZ$ was doing badly against US$, and in both instances I wasn't sure if my purchases allowed them to buy enough food for even one meal, even if the system worked to put funds in the sellers' pockets. (NZ$ is doing even worse against US$, so it's not a bad time for me to list my stuff...) 

I was washing dishes on the morning of May 6, like any other morning, wondering what I could do. I know organizations want money, but I don't have much, and all I have is New Zealand $, which is, let's just say, not a strong currency. But it finally dawned on me that what I have are yarns and looms, and perhaps I could make a whole bunch of winter scarves to send! So downstairs I went and put on a wool warp on the four shaft, and a cottolin towel warp, (because the colors looked vaguely like the Ukrainian flag,) on the 16-. This was May; I was aiming for first lot to be posted in September.
 
Then I came down from a high. Postage to anywhere in the world for even a postcard is ridiculously expensive, and we no longer have different classes of mail, only air; how am I going to manage sending 10 scarves and shawls to Europe? Can I piggy back on a reliable organization what will take goods? How can I find them? And then I saw a few photos of women in rooms stacked to the ceiling with donated goods, trying to choose what they need, only a couple of months after the war started. 
 
I haven't solved that part yet, but I learned there are a few Ukrainian Kiwis raising funds in Nelson, so when the time comes I could ask if they would take goods?? Anyway, this part is unresolved, but unlike watercolor or knitting, I have kept up a steady pace weaving, and separate from the initial goal/purpose, I'm enjoying it on the whole. I'll talk about the weaving in another post.
 
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As of August 1, Mom started her fourth year in care. As of August 17, Ben has worked from home for a year, minus the one afternoon he went in last December and eight or nine days this past January. Lacking other milestones, I guess I'll record these here.

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