Crafting My Way through Crises

It’s been a long time, friends. I haven’t felt motivated to write in months. Doing nothing is exhausting, draining all energy and leaving me sitting here at home watching time slip away. I’ve been at home, sheltering in place from the coronavirus pandemic, since mid-March. I was able to work from home for a while, but when those opportunities ceased, I resigned from my job rather than risk going back to work. I am incredibly fortunate that I have that flexibilty and I do not take it for granted. It was something Bob and I sat down and thought long and hard about, and I think it was the right decision.

I intitally thought I’d get so much done around this house, organizing and cleaning and whipping everything into shape. Nah. Hasn’t happened. I am glad to know it isn’t just me though. Natalie Morris, writing for Metro in the UK, posted about why lockdown is so tiring. There are physical reasons for it:

Dr Diana Gall, from Doctor 4 U, says it’s normal to notice your energy levels flagging when you’re not doing anything.

She says it can become a bit of a cycle. The less you do, the more tired you feel, so the less you do.

‘When you’re lacking any sort of physical activity, and your body spends most of its time in the same position, whether that be sitting or lying down for long periods of time, its ability to take in oxygen decreases and you will notice a huge drop in energy levels and motivation,’ Dr Diana explains.

‘The reason you feel tired, lethargic and lazy after doing nothing is simply because you’re allowing your body to feel that way as it is tired from the lack of stimulation and movement that it is used to.’

She says that if you aren’t keeping active, less oxygen will be getting to the blood which will increase the feeling of tiredness, which could also leave you feeling sluggish and irritable. Not great if you’re trying to keep the peace with your lockdown buddies.

Foster kitten Storm demonstrates exhaustion.

I was doing things, like making masks for my neighborhood back when it was so hard to find them.

Masks, a must-have accessory.

We are still fostering cats and kittens. I’ve been reading. A lot. But nothing that really requires much getting off of my butt.

Lockdown buddies and sisters, foster kittens Mouse and Minnie.
Books I’ve read during quarantine on the left, Bob on the right. This doesn’t include the many audiobooks I listen to while crafting.

The basic answer: get active, and your energy will increase. The more you move, the better you’ll feel. I tried that. We pulled the trusty old treadmill out from behind the piles of stuff in the garage, and I set myself a goal to walk briskly every day. At first I was going for about 30 minutes, or the length of the show I was then watching on Netflix. (The Chef’s Line is a great cooking competition from Australia; highly recommended.)

Hosts/judges of The Chef’s Line. I love them all!

After I finished the only season of The Chef’s Line available on Netflix, I moved on to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. What took me so long? I love this show!

If I had realized sooner that it’s from one of my favorite creative teams, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, I would’ve been on board at the beginning. They are the team behind one of my favorite shows of all time, Gilmore Girls, and the short-lived-but-I-loved-it Bunheads.

I will never get tired of Gilmore Girls. Ever.
I wish more people had watched this charming show.

Another plus to Mrs. Maisel? Tony Shalhoub, star of another one of my all-time favorite shows, Monk.

Mr. Monk, you are my hero.

Tony Shalhoub plays Abe Weissman, Midge Maisel’s quirky and annoying yet lovable father.

Longer shows got me walking more, until I was doing at least 3 miles every day. I even lost 5 pounds (that I had gained earlier in the pandemic, thanks to a combination of being lazy and one of my other pandemic hobbies, cooking.)

And then California went up in flames. Again. If you doubt the reality of climate change, come to California. But bring a mask, not just for the pandemic but because breathing the air here is a bad idea idea right now. You can see, taste, and feel the air; it has texture. That is not a good thing.

That’s smoke; normally we can see out over Oakland.

So we stay indoors, whereas one of the things we did enjoy earlier while sheltering in place was our backyard, playing as novice gardeners and prettying up our little sanctuary space. We put up a little greenhouse, ordered vegetable seeds and starts, and optimistically puttered in our garden.

Grow little plants!

The garden has looked so pretty (until the heat and smoke and drought and…) that we got married out there! Virtual weddings are a thing now.

The altar in the backyard.
Bride and groom!
I even made a vegan wedding cake!

We jumped on the bread baking bandwagon. Thus the 5 pounds. Which I cannot afford. I already have a pretty significant amount to lose without bread weight! But it’s been delicious.

Bob bakes, and grows a Covid beard.

Finally getting to the title (I didn’t forget), Crafting My Way through Crises, I have been spending most of my time drawing, painting, and crafting. Nero might or might not have fiddled while Rome burned, but I am making art until I have to round up the animals to evacuate, if that becomes necessary.

Many organizations and artists have figured out using Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms to hold classes.

Zoom class in progress.
The results.

I subscribed for a while to The Crafter’s Box, and have many kits to work with, trying new things, like wood burning and paper quilling. Some didn’t go as planned, others were delightful surprises.

Basketry project gone awry.
Wood burning. Not too bad for a first try,
Paper quilling, a quiet, meditative craft.
Animals in colored pencil.

I even painted a mural on the storage closet doors out on our back deck.

Artist at work.

A group of dear friends started a collage group, where we send each other kits and post the results on Instagram. A lot of people are doing this; check out #collagein20 if you are interested in seeing more. Start your own group!

One of my collages for #collagein20

Now that I am not working, I have to budget carefully, but due to my acquisitive nature, I have art and craft supplies stockpiled to last me a while. And since exercise requires breathing and the air is chunky, I am back to sitting on my butt, making stuff. Miniature books. Mosaics. Who knows what else I might try!

Mosaic tray I am working on.
Sashiko embroidered pillow I made while watching the Democratic National Convention.
Miniature book.

One of the organization projects on my list has been my room that I don’t know what to call. Studio sounds like bragging. Office makes it sound serious. “My room” sounds like my teenage bedroom from the 1970s. I haven’t done much organizing, but I’ve done a lot of playing!

Here we are nearing the end of August. Our cars are ready if we need to evacuate from the fires. I’m still not sure how evacuation during a pandemic is supposed to work. Hopefully, I won’t find out first hand. In the meantime, I will be here fiddling, I mean crafting, while everything around me burns.

Peace and hugs. Stay safe.

And PLEASE, vote in the November election. Our country, our future, our lives depend on it.

Vote 2020 presidential election buttons; Creator: JasonDoiy | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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