Thursday, August 20, 2020

And Lockdown Continues

 Where I live, Morwellia, we are in stage 3 lockdown, but Melbourne, where my mother and daughters live are in stage 4- as we deal with this second wave of Covid 19. This is a really difficult time for people and I am fortunate to be able to stitch, create new workshops, read and watch some tv on my laptop, walk in a small bushland reserve and use messenger and zoom for more face to face conversations.

I see people lamenting their inability to travel and to go overseas, and yes whilst i do look at photos from travels past and I do miss travelling I am trying to  focus on small things, small steps and  grabbing enjoyment from tiny moments. This was the one big lesson I took away from cancer (apart from  giving yourself time to exercise and to eat as best as you can with the freshest food possible in season)- to savour the tiny moments and to marvel at the world immediately around us, and to look for joy in the smallest of things. Cancer is also a great equaliser like this virus is - when I was lying in the Women's Hospital after my op and fearing for the future- my thoughts of self became obliterated as I heard doctors telling young women that they would never bear children- I heard their crying as they were told and I saw their inexorable grief for something that would never be. But with cancer there is no choice- and yet here we are in lockdown and we have the luxury of choice to be the best we can for the communities we live in, to protect those around us as best as we can, and to protect those we love as best we can. All it takes is to be careful, to socially distance, to wash hands, to wear masks and for this brief blip in the landscape of 2020 to stay at home unless we need  necessaries for sustenance. It is not a lot to ask in the big picture of things. I have also found that the hand sanitiser plays havoc with my much more fragile skin since radiotherapy, but  I have a huge clump of aloe vera in my garden, and whilst I have used aloe vera to treat burns and sun burn, I had never thought of using it on bad chafing and cracking of the skin on my hands until a friend suggested I try it last night- and within 24 hours of applying it regularly i can say I can't believe the improvement of my skin and the cracks are no longer weeping. Makes me wonder what it could do for my face lol????

I have returned to noticing the small things- I take a daily walk in a small bushland reserve not far from my house- and pretend it is a forest full of  spirit and wonder.  It used to be a dump for abandoned vehicles and a kind of hoonville hooning  spot. But someone with vision saw that it could be something else- something of benefit to the whole community, and something which would allow the return of native bushland to a small part of Morwellia. They built tracks so people can walk, they cleaned up the rubbish that gets dumped ( even now) and deal with invasive weeds. I  can tell you that it is actually full of ducks and screeching cockatoos, parakeets,currawongs, fairy wrens,  the odd kookaburra, magpies, shrike thrushes, wattle birds, asian minor birds, a pied heron, even a bower bird, native pigeons- and I am not a twitcher! I have also seen a kangaroo. It is small but I am so grateful that it is there to let my mind wander for an hour a day whilst my body benefits from the exercise.

I am also surprised- very pleasantly actually- in a town that has a reputation for bad behaviour and crime- that I have only seen one person without a mask. Even the biker on his motor bike yesterday was wearing a mask, and  everyone is very aware of the social distancing except for a few elderly people. Even the hoons are off the streets at night ( even though we are not under curfew like Melbourne) and are hooning in the day time instead. Small mercies... small things... but you know what, it does tell me that Morwell actually thinks of itself as a community and that we need to look out for each other.

When I was diagnosed with cancer and went through radiotherapy I created a little written reminder in stitch of both the good and bad- small things every single day until treatment finished. I acknowledged my fear and anxiety and gave it a place, but also found myself being more upbeat then I was expecting to be, actually bent on noticing small things, and embracing joy from those interactions- whether it was to hold some healing stones sent by a friend, the look at the fibre/textile hearts and cards  sent, or to simply marvel that i could walk, and daily see the changes nature seemed fit to bestow on me. We cannot control the big thing like a pandemic, but we can be a small step in  trying to make our communities safer. I read somewhere if we make a small list of our anxieties once a day at the same time, we are giving signals to the great unknown of our minds that the anxiety is there but you are only giving it a small portion of your day.

I started the Forest Quilt below before the pandemic started to reign. I was making it to exhibit in Moscow and the Netherlands. But as lockdowns started happening , that of course  did not happen and so the quilt sat half finished for ages. But my morning walks made me pick it up again and finish it and happily I have also sold it, almost immediately i posted the image on instagram (quite a lot of happy dancing here)  The fabric was printed with  bracken and she oak and the fabric was especially dyed to reflect a forest environment. It is  free motion drawn with Aurifil Mako 30 thread- this thread has a wonderful sheen and because the weight of thread is slightly heavier it sits on the surface beautifully. The she oak print looks like spirits dancing to me.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

New Normal

Lockdown is well and truly back. Melbourne is stage 4 which makes it impossible to see my children and difficult to see my mother. I have been trying to find out the right way to go about delivering  the groceries and personal sanitary items and medication which I take to her once a fortnight. I am not a registered carer, but as she cannot drive and cannot walk as far as her local shops , I have to take her those things. I also used to stay the night- and cook things for her freezer, but I can't do that anymore either until stage 4 restrictions lift. Sometimes all of this is overwhelming and it is hard to get motivated. I have started walking in a Bushland Reserve close to my home, as I had been missing the bush a lot. It seems to be working, and at least I am exercising and often I am the only person walking so I have the whole 100 acres of the reserve to myself.

This spot is called Tortoise Dam and often there are ducks swimming around. It is quite peaceful even though the noise of birds is anything but. There is a lot of birdlife in this little reserve and I am so glad I found it. The walk is helping blow the cobwebs out, and I like seeing minor changes from day to day.

I also had some good news  recently , a grant from  Creative Victoria , Sustaining Creative Worker's Grant. It is to help me create some better videos with a videographer, and to create new on-line courses and just improve my on-line delivery of things, as it looks like  teaching in this way will be one of the ways forward in this new world. So I am extremely grateful to have succeeded in obtaining a grant .

I have finally finished embroidering all the circles on my One World Traveller's Blanket- all 87 of them! Now for the background stitching. I did start with a dark coloured burgundy thread- but I am not sure I am liking it. I started in the middle if you look closely, I am thinking I need to be using a brighter colour. 

A lot of stitching needs to be done!

I was doing a bit of poking around as I am trying to locate my Tifaifai Renaissance book ( I have two copies and the one I found has some blank pages so I need to find the other) and came across my Plaids Nomades book which I had also been looking for. Sometimes it is lovely to see things in print!
The little stitch maps remind of  maps in general. I suppose "reading" a traveller's blanket is a bit like reading a map, each embroidered circle something in its own right but connected to all other things with stitch, visual weight and colour.  There is still time to join the on-line Traveller's Blanket class I am starting on 8 August. You work in a size of your own choice and also use motifs to reflect your story. There is a Paypal button on my previous blog post.