Sunday, May 31, 2020

“Daily Somethings” in SAQA’s Virtual Gallery (Diary of recovery 4)

As I was walking to the bakery the other day I saw this little piece on the sidewalk and instinctively stopped and stooped to pick it up. 

Yes, it is Covid19 times and you are not supposed to pick up stuff because it might be contaminated... but I didn't care. The action, and the instinctiveness of it, reminded me of last year’s project “Daily Somethings”, which had started as a Daily Art project, then I got behind, then I decided to cut it short by limiting it to 100 days, and finally I added some more things when I was picking up and collecting stuff in South Africa. However, I was extremely behind on the dailiness of it all, and then I started doubting the quality of what I was producing. At some point I was very close to putting it in the bin, but Kathy Loomis’ insistence that it was well worth finishing helped me push it through. I still wasn’t sure I liked it, but at least it was finished, and I was going to give it a chance for a public appearance. 

detail of "Daily Somethings"

So at first thought I would enter it for Birmingham, but then the Festival got canceled, then the virtual galleries were initiated, and then a SAQA call came up first. So I entered it there, thinking it could always still be entered for Birmingham after it got rejected from the SAQA virtual gallery.
Then I had almost forgotten it and the announce-by-date when Claire Passmore sent me a message last week congratulating me for being chosen. I once messaged Claire from a show where she had won a prize congratulating her before she had been notified by the organizers, who knows, we might be establishing a tradition here… I hadn’t seen the message by then but checked my mail and was quite pleased to find out that I was one of 28 chosen from over 150 entries. Not a real in the terms of physical exhibition, but it was a good piece of news to receive in the context of a week that was full of mood swings.
In my mess on my desk I have since found two more items that could easily qualify for inclusion in Daily Somethings, one of them being this label that was attached to a jacket I bought in the fall for its bright yellow color only. 

Even then I wondered about this label – there had been another paper one on the jacket declaring it ‘vegan’, and that almost put me off buying the jacket entirely because I don’t really believe in veganism, and certainly not in clothes. And I am old enough to remember when clothes like this would have been disapproved of as being ‘100% polyester’ in certain parts of the population, back in those days when ‘natural’ was the total hype. Times change, don't they? But I wanted this yellow, so I denied all my principles and went ahead and bought it. (Despite my ‘not buying any new clothes’ mantra.)
But I am not doing anything daily right now, and because I still remember vividly how hard it turned out to finish this one that I have only opened a little box where stuff like the metal piece and the plastic label will be living for a while. Something might come of them, but right now I am only keeping them.
Thank you, Kathy, for making me persist by believing in this piece.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Back to… (diary of recovery 3)

In the garden, it is the time after the tulips and the yellow early blossoms, and
I love the different shades of red that show up now. They don't photograph well...
and you can see that as always there is a lot of work that needs to be done in my garden!

This past Monday I went ‚back to school’. Only half the class of my nursing course, the other half was home schooled, and we will switch weekly. Safety distance between the tables, masks in front of our faces, and we are not supposed to sit next to each other during breaks either. The usual by now. The building can be accessed only through the main entrance, all the others are barred for entry, though you can exit that way. I did not take a picture of the classroom. It is not interesting, really, we can all imagine.
Classes are … well, different. Because ‘back to school’ with all these measures is not back to anything, it is adjusting to a completely changed learning environment. Which is one reason why I simply can’t stand that phrase ‘back to a new normal’. There is no going “back to” normal as nothing is going to be the same anymore if these measures persist. We have to move forward and accept that we are dealing with completely changed modes of interaction. So ‘getting used to a new normal’ would be a much more fitting phrase, I think.
Sitting in a classroom with masks, a serious construction site right outside the windows and temperatures getting warmer does not make for easy learning. Sometimes I feel sorry for the teachers, because students’ eagerness to answer questions is not too great, and standing in front of such a masked-up class must be anything but exciting.
I am surprised at the degree of uninformedness of some of my course mates. They are studying to become nurses – and talk about conspirational theories, how politics is taking away our liberties and human rights. But some of the nurses on the ward, and that was the infectious ward, in direct confrontation with Covid19!, did not really know much about the virus either, only how to put on the protective masks and uniform. 

When I went to get tested almost two weeks ago the doctor had a bit of time to chat – few patients, because everybody was afraid to catch something in the waiting room – and as we know each other privately, too, we chatted about various things that had more or less to do with the virus, or not. I told him about that virologists’ podcast I listen to and how that had helped me deal with the situation because it taught me a lot about what is going on. He told me about a wonderful book he was currently reading, and it sounded so interesting that I went ahead and am testing an audiobook service now for a month to listen to this book. And he was right – it is a highly fascinating book: “Pale Rider – how the Spanish Flu changed the World we live in” by Laura Spinney. 

Screenshot from the audio I am using.

The current virus is not a flu, but a lot of things that happened with the flu are similar to what we are experiencing these days. If you want to read something that puts everything into perspective, try this book. I could not lay hand on a hard copy, which is why I then decided to try the audio version. I stitch, and listen, and feel as if this is grounding me.
Progress in recovery. 

Stitching is a part of this, of course. I am on the finishe line with the black and yellow piece I have been working on and finally, this morning, found a title, so can proceed with the sleeve.

One knitting project is finished, too: the moebius type cowl I have been working on from a handspun yarn that was the outcome of the Spinning musical chairs I participated in last November. Just in time for summer... But I did in fact wear it today for a little while, not only for the photo, which was taken two days ago it is rather cool today.

And a number of zoom sessions during the past few days enabled me to continue on one of the many many UFOs I have: I am actually getting closer to having enough blocks that I can then assemble them and put them together.

Progress on stitching myself to recovery.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

“Nachholen” - On Catching up (Diary of Recovery 2)

German has a verb, “nachholen”, with the meaning that a certain activity, meeting, action can, on the occasion of not having taken place at the original time, be rescheduled, re-initiated, without supposedly any alteration in circumstances. A lovely word, I think. It gives you the impression that that is possible, something that has not happened on its scheduled point of time can be realized a bit later, no losses need to be counted. I am not sure that ‘catch up’ completely covers the span of meaning that the German verb has, but when I saw a note in the newspaper a few days ago about a blog written by a journalist during social distancing times, with the title “Das holen wir nach!” (We’ll catch up on that later) I began to ponder on things that had not taken place recently.
Quilt shows, exhibitions, concerts. Grand openings, several weeks of schooling, religious ceremonies. I haven’t been able to go to see the “Abstract & Geometric” exhibition in the Heidelberg Textile Museum yet. (Although I saw that it has been extended, so there may be a chance to still go and see it. That is something, for which ‘nachholen’ may be an appropriate verb.)
Wedding celebrations.
Funerals – they were held out of necessity, but here in Germany only a very limited number of people were allowed to attend. We, as a family, did not experience a personal loss of that kind during these recent times, so were not affected on that level. But my husband, a minister, had to deal with that situation as the authority several times, families were not cooperative, refused to understand the measures.
Both my son and I had our birthdays. He turned 15, and could not have a party with friends. I am not usually somebody who makes a big deal about her birthday, but for this year I had actually planned a day canoe trip with friends, who would have come from Switzerland, Bremen, Weil, Munich in addition to my husband and son and two friends who live locally. Not possible. Of course, a birthday party can be rescheduled. But it wouldn’t be the same thing, ‘nachholen’ is not really possible. Especially so when you are younger. My son would have gone to Paris with a school exchange in April, and to Budapest later this month for the return-visit to an exchange in which his Hungarian partner had visited us in December. Both were not possible, the visit to France will not be rescheduled, and the visit to Budapest is unlikely to be rescheduled. He was hoping to participate in basketball tryouts to get onto another team for next season. We have yet to find out how that will be dealt with. He did not think about any way of possible celebrating his birthday outside the family, because he did not want to prefer one of his friends over the others. These are experiences that at that stage in life have a special meaning, and rescheduling them due to the kinds of circumstances we have been going through changes a young person’s life much more radically than a postponed canoe trip at my age. You cannot catch up on your 15th-birthday-party. It simply won’t work.
So for my birthday he and I took a bike trip together, up the valley, 25 km one way, bought and had an ice cream cone, and then came back. 

Which was nice enough, even though not the canoe trip intended, and I can definitely cherish the fact that he consented to spend that day with me in that manner. 

A piece of found art while we were having our ice cream...

But for a 15 year old it must feel strange, to be so stopped in your life which is only just beginning. I wonder how that generation is going to come through these times. What will they tell their kids about these times? How will they remember being locked up in their houses, having to be aware of other persons as potential danger of infection? What
I am listening to the audio version of the book “Pale Rider” by Laura Snippey. It tells the story of the Spanish Flu in 1918/19, and ‘how it changed the world’. There is no way to catch up on activities that were stopped like we are experiencing now – but life goes on, somehow. 
What are we going to take with us from these times, in a positive way?