I wanted to see how you all are and tell you how I am and how I’ve been coping in these strange, strange times. (And I also wanted to give those of you who follow my blog via a blog reader the chance to check if you are getting my posts in your feed – if not, simply subscribe to this one instead!)
These are undoubtedly the most surreal times of my life. I’m more aware than ever how lucky I am, having made it to this age still being able to say that. Lucky even more to have a place to call home, to have a partner I feel save with and enjoy spending time with, to have loved ones that are healthy, to still have an income for the time being, to have a balcony, to have so many things that give meaning to my life that I can do at home while self isolating and not endangering others. To be a maker. Many growing up in the western world have never had to navigate a world turned up side down in such a profound way in such a short amount of time. I’ve been thinking a lot about that too. And about my dad’s family. And about crossing the ocean in a boat with small children and landing in a land where everything is Other. Lucky for the sacrifices that have been made for us to have this life.
But I worry a lot. For the safety and well being of my friends and family, for your friends and family and for the friends and family of complete strangers. About wanting to help but at the same time knowing that physically that is not an option. For jobs and work and the financial difficulties many are facing already. The economic stability of the lives of many of the people in my life is precarious and so many people are already affected by a crashing economy. Many more will be affected by it still. I feel a lot of anxiety and uncertainty regarding the future. What it will mean for all of us. Two weeks of navigating empty supermarket shelves has added to a general dystopian feeling that I think a lot of us are feeling.
My own life has changed too. I celebrated my birthday two weeks ago in the same week when our government announced the first COVID-19 related policies and advised to work from home as much as possible. That evening we had a chaotic dance around with furniture to rearrange our small apartment to accommodate that. I’m grateful this is an option for us, but keenly aware that for many it is not. It’s surreal to think it was only two weeks ago. It feels like half a lifetime ago. We adopted self isolation early around the same time. We don’t have a car and do all our groceries by bike. We have started using the bike pet trailer we have for our cats to do our groceries, to limit the number of times we have to go per week. I guess I handle solitude quite well and I have the good fortune that many of the things that give meaning to my life are things I do by myself, but I sympathize and understand not everyone is in a similar situation. It can be hard to explain to people why it’s better, kinder even to not go and see them. I’m thankful to those that stay home.
Emotionally I’ve feel I’ve been bouncing around all over the place. Some days I feel I’m taking it all quite well, and other days are not so good. But that’s just how it is for a lot of people right now. I’ve been partly coping with my anxiety by trying to keep busy. I’ve never felt more appreciative to be a maker than the past few days. Everyone deals with their anxiety and worries differently and being paralysed by it is in no way less valid of a way to cope with anxiety. To be honest, I’ve loathed seeing those messages urging us to write the next King Lear or invent the new bla bla whatever. I find them super tone deaf. While I for the moment deal with this situation by blazing through lots of DIY work, I think it mostly stems from a need to have some things in my life which I do have tangible control over but I don’t think it’s necessarily a better or healthier way to deal with everything that is happening right now.
Amidst all this, it’s been a joy to see my balcony garden coming back to life. My apple tree has started sprouting new leaves and my rosemary has been blossoming like spring depends on it. I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to grow this year and started planting some seeds for that. There is something unabashedly hopeful about thinking about what seeds to plant. It’s inherent in any start of a new thing, like when planning a new knitting project, but perhaps more profound when growing things that actually live and take a long slow while to mature. In any case, I think I could use a dose of that this month.
The idea so far is to focus on tomatoes, a variety of peppers and some herbs. My balcony catches a lot of sun and part of it is behind glass so I’m going for lot’s of sun loving plants. Last year was my first time gardening on a balcony after years of windowsill gardening and was a bit of a test run as to what exactly I could do with the space I had.
I’ve tackled some diy work that I’d been meaning to do for uh…varying lengths of time. I painted my work table a bright yellow for double the amount of cheer ( it was was a pastel yellow before) and put up a storage cabinet that had been living in it’s flatpack form next to our washing machine in the months prior.
I have been juggling two knitting projects: an Icelandic jumper and a new allover cardigan. It is super unusual for me to have two active knitting projects at the same time. Normally I tend to not be able to focus on either and just pick one that I finish before the other. But now switching between rhythmic colourwork and mindless stockinette is working for me.
I’ve also been sewing, I’m usually a slow stitcher, but the other day during the weekend I stress sewed almost an entire dress in one sitting (it still needs buttonholes, but then it’s done). It’s a project that I dyed the fabric for and cut the pieces out for half a year ago, but then promptly abandoned cause I didn’t like the colour after dyeing. My feelings about the colour haven’t changed, but I did make a plan on how to tackle it, which I’ll tell you more about in a later meeting.
Finally I’ve been finding some comfort in baking. Looking at instagram and the self deprecating jokes flying around on twitter, I know I’ve not been the only one. I’m not an expert of course so largely my take on why doesn’t matter but as a maker I’m not surprised to see people find relief in working with their hands. It is an accessible way of keeping busy and trying new things. Even when every other store is closed supermarkets are still open here. That, and I suppose food anxiety also plays a role. I wouldn’t be surprised to see cooking from scratch in general, fermentation and preserving foods by canning or bottling making a surge in popularity.
This is all possibly a very long winded way to tell you all that the Treehouse now also has a sourdough starter. Something we (my parner also enjoys baking) wanted to try for a while but since we are both at home now we actually have the time. It also gives us something to compulsively check apart from the news (See the bubbles!) and to update each other on ( “She has definitely risen!”) and ultimately to confuse our neighbours with (“She is definitely alcoholic now!”). FYI, the most recent update says she smells like ‘fancy champagne’.
That’s it for me now. In my next post I’ll show you the blue allover cardigan I’ve been knitting this winter (I’m telling you now in part so I’ll actually do it). Hopefully next week. Perhaps it will take both of our minds off things a bit. In the meantime take care, of yourself, your friends and your community. I know things have been rough to say the least, and in the craft world you can extend that to the past 1.5 year and there were moments that I found myself wondering what the point even was. All of those things are still true but seeing how my friends in the make community handle this and check in on their friends all around the world has been warming and hopeful. Thank you.