What If All This Was Happening in 1999?

That was the question the newscasters were asking themselves the other night on my local five o’clock news. Online education would not have flown with dial-up internet connections. Working from home would have been grounded too as virtual networks were not yet widely available and clouds were just weather phenomena. No personal protective equipment (PPE) would have been generated on 3-D printers. Frankly, it would have been an even bigger mess than it is now. Thinking of this makes me feel better.

That’s even before I realize that there were no streaming television channels and televisions were not only NOT smart, but were big and bulky in 1999. I don’t think Blockbuster would have been deemed “essential” so we would have been stuck at home, with only our big ol’ televisions, VHS tapes that we already owned and sewing machines. I really like the movie, “Blast From the Past” and I’ve watched it on streaming while observing the “stay-at-home” order. I have “Blast From the Past” on VHS tape too, so watching “Blast From the Past” is an example of something that for me is the same now as it would have been in 1999.

My sewing skills were no better in 1999 than they are today, and I have the same sewing machine I had in 1999 (I’ve been through dozens of computers). I would not have had the time available for mask making that I have now (unless we were ordered to not work, but stay at home), because I was not retired in 1999. Any masks I made would have been of similar quality to those I’ve made in 2020. I think the sheets I’ve been using to make masks were purchased well before 1999, so they, like my “Blast From the Past” experience, would be indistinguishable from 2020.

Sheltering in place would have meant that Phil and I were cooped up together with OUR kids. All that togetherness would have been driving us CRAZY. In 2020, sheltering in place is a solitary experience in my house: just me and my cat, Cinnamon. In 1999, our household pets were ferrets, which some say are a lot like cats, so household pet status goes in the “1999/2020 Similar” column.

All-in-all it would have been different, and the same. Different and the same sounds a lot like the recommendations that are coming down from our political leaders right now. Bill Clinton was president in 1999, and was going through his impeachment hearings. In 2020 President Trump was going through his impeachment hearings. Here we are again; different, but the same.

This past week I finished up my most recent round of mask making. These masks are my third iteration, and definitely my favorite (https://aplat.com/blogs/shus-notebook/diy-cloth-face-mask); however, as far as quality goes, they are the same as those that came before (even though they’re different).

I’m up to 46 poorly made masks. I’m so proud!

Sunshine, Snow and Chiffon Margarine

Last Saturday, the sun was shining, bulbs were blooming, pollen was pollinating as Spring flaunted its finery. Eggs were not being hunted at neighborhood parks due to the novel coronavirus, but Spring, oblivious to viral threats, popped up in public places despite stay-at-home orders. I stayed at home and Spring came to me, popping up in my backyard. That was very nice of Spring.

Granddaughter (St. Jessica’s daughter), Liadan, preparing soil for garden.

Easter was celebrated quietly by most on Sunday, and then Monday hit. Monday hit with a snowstorm. Happily, Liadan wears the boots pictured above year round so her feet were properly shod for the storm. I’m retired, and abiding (for the most part) by the stay-at-home orders, so I cranked up the heat (which had not been turned on in a few weeks), and reverted to my Winter crochet while binge-watching British television shows routine. Those who are not retired, not working from home, or have been newly-planted were not as lucky. Mother Nature, once again, showed us who is boss.

Monday following Saturday pictured above.

While sheltering from the threat of the coronavirus and the cold, my mind decided to take a trip down memory lane (memory lane is typically a private lane so I was not violating social distancing requirements). I remembered the Chiffon Margarine ads of the 70s and 80s where actress, Dena Dietrich, dressed as Mother Nature would proclaim, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature,” after tasting what she thought was butter and finding out that it was actually a hydrogenated cotton seed oil product. I’m proud of the fact that I remember those commercials, as so much of what happened in the 70s is as unclear in my memory as the view of the mountains was here in Albuquerque on Monday. In the 70s, I spent much of my time running from things I should have run to, and running to things I should have run from. Just as things were getting uncomfortable on memory lane, it intersected with my currently private here-and-now lane and I took the turn. I wondered, is Mother Nature angry with us? Are Spring snowstorms and novel viruses Mother Nature’s response to our own actions? Then a commercial came on the television and I decided to go fix myself a piece of toast with REAL butter. Mother Nature (and Joaquin Phoenix) would probably be happier if I had used almond butter, but I didn’t have any and we’re supposed to be staying at home right now.

All Wrapped Up

Easter is Sunday, and I wish all a happy one. Chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and… masks? Yes, we’re still sequestered at home, masked in public and entrenched in the unsure and unknown. This is not a typical Easter, but the promise of resurrection has added appeal this year. We’re all hoping to resurrect our lives once the novel coronavirus subsides. In the meantime we wear masks in hopes of maintaining life, and so this week’s story is a repeat of that of an earlier week.

After last week’s self-pity-party blog post, I realized that I needed a project to keep my spirits up, and per the CDC masks in public are recommended to preserve life (if not our own, those we may expose to a virus we may be carrying). I need a project. People need masks. I can make masks, and so I’m back at the sewing machine (I was able to finally get it back together after cleaning it following my last mask-making endeavor).

This time, I decided to use Phil’s (and some of my own) old T-shirts to make masks for my kids and grandkids. I went through the drawers and found T-shirts with images that I hoped would appeal to the grandkids, thereby increasing the likelihood of the masks being worn. With elastic sold-out at stores that remain open and carry it, I turned to hair ties for securing the masks behind the ears of the wearer. I cut as many appropriately-sized rectangles as possible from the T-shirts and pinned, sewed, ripped apart, wrestled elastic, and sewed again. Eventually, I came up with twenty hopefully functional masks. I did not feel sorry for myself once all week.

Spring is as beautiful, inspiring and full of promise this year as it is every year. The promises of Easter are the same whether or not we gather together at church, with family at home, are masked or unmasked. Joy, chocolate bunnies and masks to all!

Gone, but not forgotten.

The Enemy Within

With so much justifiable concern about the dangerous virus that is sweeping across our Country, I, like everyone else, am sequestered at home. This leaves me alone with “the enemy within.” For some of us, the enemy within is as scary as the virus. I’ve long battled a fierce, merciless enemy within. I try to keep it “within” because I don’t want to expose friends or family to its demeaning brutality. Somethings, I just want to keep for myself.

Obviously, I am having some trouble adjusting to social distancing/shelter-in-place/stay-at-home orders. The funny thing is, that I don’t think I’m staying at home (alone) anymore than I was before this whole thing hit. This is both funny and sad. Really, I should be happy; now I have a reason for being stuck at home alone. Some how, it’s just not hitting me that way. It’s allowing the enemy within to take me down and pummel me with punches of self-pity. That’s disgusting. I am ashamed of myself (the enemy within tells me so). I think it best that I mask this self-loathing. Masks are now “strongly” recommended for individuals leaving the safety of home to buy toilet paper or wine (or something else that is crucial to have on hand during the current state of affairs). I’m thinking of wearing a mask at home, too. Maybe the enemy within will be a little easier on me if it can’t see my face.

When I sat down to write this morning, I thought I could either write about the impact of isolation, or the Rosemary bush in my backyard. I’m pretty sure I made the wrong choice, but I am committed to the whole downer isolation thing now, and I always try to honor my commitments.

My enemy within has been getting on to me about how lazy I’ve been. It goads me on with statements like, “Hey, you’ve got a backyard that needs work, and a front yard that needs work, and a house that needs work.” I whisper the cowardly reply, “But I’m retired.” I then do some work on my backyard, or my front yard or my house, but my heart’s not in it. I have a backyard, a front yard and a house. I should be happy, and I am, but… those things are best enjoyed with others.

Please enjoy this photo of my Rosemary plant with the Sandia Mountains in the background.