Tuesday, March 31, 2020

I don't know how to title this post.

When I saw the first photos of people making their own protective face masks or to help out doctor’s practices I immediately decided ‘this is a bandwagon I will not jump on to’. 
Opinions about the effectiveness of wearing these masks differ widely, the WHO says there is not much gained when everybody starts wearing these masks. Basically, keeping other people at a distance (‘social distancing’) is much more effective than any mask, even industrially made ones. This does not even take into account that there are two different types of masks, with highly different degrees of effectiveness.
However, I think for many people it is a psychological thing more so than that it will be effective from a hygienic point of view. 
Where these masks are indeed necessary and effective, however, is in a hospital- or caretaking context, when caretakers have to get close to patients. Nursing through home office is not an option. Elderly people in nursing homes need their caretakers to get close to them, and so do patients who are already in an infectious situation. Here, wearing a mask is mandatory.
Now Austria, Czechia have issued that everybody going grocery shopping has to wear one. I think this is highly irresponsible in this context. Which leads to the fact that everybody will be scrambling for masks which are a highly sought-after item by now anyway. These regulations lead to an increase in scarcity, and make the situation, which is dire already for hospitals and nursing homes, much much worse than it is already.
At work – for me right now: a hospice – we have been asked to bring our own masks because the hospital is running low already. In the hospice, of course, people are in a final phase of life, they are in a process of dieing, but nobody wants to speed up this process through introducing a virus from outside which might well prove disastrous to people with cancer, a reduced immune system or other sever ailments. But I understand very well that the industrially made masks still available to the hospital should be reserved for the wards with infectious situations.
So I made masks this morning. 

At least I got to use the bias-tape-maker I have had for ages and virtually never used -
the real surprise is that I found the box in which they have been waiting for
their - this! - big day.

I dove into the box with shirts mostly.

Part of my production

Enough to last me through two shifts. Then they need to be boiled on the stove or washed at 90 degrees.

And one for my husband and one for my son, should it be that Germany, too, issues the order to wear one when visiting a supermarket. And one for my Senegalese friend, confined to a refugee housing, because where should they get a mask from when they want to go shopping? (Going shopping for them has been made more difficult this month anyway because they did not receive money, but only vouchers which are split up into three for the entire month, in a sum which is higher than they ever go shopping for, but they will not receive any money back ... but that is a different story.)

I really would have preferred to spend today's time at the sewing machine differently. 

A minister in Hesse has probably committed suicide in the context of all this, and the virologist from the Charité, who has been giving vital information via a daily podcast in a highly understandable and serious manner is now withdrawing from the public because of aggressive reactions to his statements, and after having been accused to have caused this suicide. 
Come on, folks. Where are we getting to?
Not in a good mood today!
(I am getting to the point where I hope that this virus will be smart enough to pick out people with a lack of intelligence, social empathy and brain power and go after them. For good.) 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Notes and thoughts from social isolation

So numbers of infection in Germany are rising, the curfew has been extended until April 20th and I am beginning to understand why early warnings or concerns had been voiced that instances of domestic violence might also increase. (Not going into details here… but …)

Did a bit of gardening yesterday

Our district supposedly has been called a Hot Spot, too, because of a sudden increase from 216 infections to 281 within a day, nothing else seems to be on the news anymore and I have am getting sick and tired of the topic. Plus developing a bit of cabin fever, although I do take a lot of care to get out and exercise every day.

Reflections on the river when I went to fetch milk from the farm this morning

The willow tree which I photographed pretty regularly for a while took
serious beatings in storms since. But there is just the slightest shad of green...

My son and I have started selling some of his LEGO pieces that he has outgrown on ebay, we went through his wardrobe and tried to diminish the stash.

I spin – very fine spinning!

This is just a tiny sample where I plied the thread onto itself, it
is not going to be like this, but I wanted to see the potential.
I am aiming for a three-ply with different mixtures.

And I am slowly working on my scraps, but the real creative spark is missing. Therefore there hasn’t been that much progress really. I have added a few of the grey rounds around the individual pieces, and have also included a few more - newly 'made' - pieces with fine lines because I thought it would probably look awkward if these appeared only in the upper right hand corner. I hope to get back to it after I finish this post.

I signed up to participate in a psychological study on the effects of this period on people, their feelings of loneliness or connectedness and am waiting for their daily questionnaires. But it is a weird period. Befittingly, I am also currently reading a book by a German paleontologist on human migration waves, the way that genetic material was distributed – and yesterday I read the chapter on how illness, and especially infectious diseases had a decisive influence on it all. It’s only been a few hundred years since the plague, and considerably less than that since the killer diseases of typhus, tubercolosis etc. We had the Spanish Flu only 100 years ago, we are witnessing multi-resistance in microbes and there has been abundant warning about this – and I wonder at how the human setup can be so ill-oriented that we as a kind believe something like the plague won’t hit us again. Such arrogance. I didn’t foresee this kind of pandemic, but I am not surprised that it is happening. I am more surprised at that we really think we can get through this in a better way than earlier populations could, just because we have hospitals and might even be able to find some kind of medication that will be effective in this. We need to be more aware of the fact that humans are vulnerable,  that they must die of something. No medication is available to secure immortality, and, if we are honest, who wants to be immortal? 
It probably isn’t fun to die of this virus. But is it more fun to die of cancer, or after years of dementia? I don’t know. But I don’t think the kind of social isolation we are practising right now is going to be really effective in maintaining the ‚crisis‘ at a ‚manageable‘ level. And yes, I  would very much like to   be proven  wrong in this one!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Scrap Therapy, instalment 'in viral times'

Sometime in the 90s I witnessed a partial solar eclipse. You were not supposed to look up at the sun, and they didn’t have eclipse glasses then, and I am not even sure many people noticed what was happening. I sneaked a view at the sun through some dark piece of glass, I think, and vividly remember the brief impression of a round shape partically covering over the sun, the excitement about the fact that even at that point of perhaps 60% coverage no really noticeable dent in the feeling of warmth had occurred. Then, in 1999 – in what feels like several millenia ago! - my first total solar eclipse. Although it was a bit cloudy and overcast, I got to see the full extent of totality. Ever since then the word ‚corona‘ had a certain magic for me. I am not an astronomy expert, but I am fascinated by that – how such a comparably small lunar shape can cover up the sun from our perspective, and that it happens at all. I mean, the sky is pretty wide, the sun is really big, the moon rather small, and that this constelalltion can occur, it is so fascinating. 

Because my first experience with a total eclipse was before
I owned a digital camera, and I did not get to see totality at
the second one, I am taking this screen shot from
@visitfaroeislands as illustration. One of the many feeds I
follow on Instagram to satisfy my yearning for faraway places...

And now they have taken this beautiful and magic word and turned it into a virus name, everybody is freaking out and it is a bit difficult to maintain the fascination and awe at what ‚corona‘ used to mean for me. So I prefer to refer to the virus as covid-19, or just ‚the virus‘ and get on with it. But it has an impact on our lives which leaves us stunned, we don't know how long this will go on, will the economy recover, how severely will all the small shops be hit...

In any case, for one thing my nursing training has been affected and I don’t know yet how it will influence the point of or degree of my graduation next year. I will have to wait and see about that, but it is a bit unnerving. Certainly not a motivating factor, and I do think authorities should do anything they can right now to keep current or future nursing personnel motivated and inspired. The way that we (the nursing students) have been treated so far in this ‚crisis‘ is not going in the right direction. That adds to anxiety and I feel stressed. Much more so than I want to be, and that I would need to be. After all, my recent 'victory' should have set me totally at ease, put me into relaxation mode, and nothing can hurt me from now on. But it is not so. Minor things upset me and give me a lot of stress. That I am not used to in myself. And I certainly don't like that feeling.
When I have time, I try to keep stitching, and scrap therapy is the mode of action I have turned to. I went back to my yellow scrap box (no, scrap bag is not the right word) which I was working from for ‚A Scrap a Day‘ and which unfortunately did not decrease during that project… At first I was only piecing scraps together, not really knowing where it would take me.

Then some idea came about, I have a bit of shade gradation, and I will put some other colour around the pieces.

Not the entire arrangement, and nothing set in stone yet,
but at least something is happening on the design wall.

By now I have decided I had sort of enough individual pieces and want to proceed towards the background. And I have put the yellows aside. (Note: has it made a dent in the scrap box? Slightly. Not very noticeable yet, but at least one bag within the box has been depleted.)

This is only what I am taking away to clear the working area.
It does not constitute anything like the entirety of my yellow scraps, alas.
At first I was thinking the background would be in the purple range, for some reason I thought I would be working ‚complementary‘. But yesterday evening I started drifting towards shades of grey, and this morning I pulled a few fabrics from the stash.

It will be interesting to see where it goes. Perhaps stay with the lighter greys...? Or even with one single fabric that has a bit of variation in shades in itself?

Keeping oneself mentally occupied in viral times.