The Third Week

Time is behaving strangely, telescoping then expanding. Sometimes three weeks ago seems like yesterday; sometimes like years ago. In a way it seems as if while external events are not marking days, time should stand still, and it is a shock to realize a week has passed. I am just observing; I am not distressed by it.

At least there will be no premature lifting of restrictions. One good thing among many obnoxious things. One of the worst is increasing sanctions on Iran rather than lifting them. And Venezuela. An indictment of a sitting president and sending of naval ships there to police a drug trafficking that is minimal compared to drugs traveling in other areas. I await more information, but I am skeptical of motive and timing and even the truth of the accusation. It is no secret that the White House has been pushing for regime change and Juan Guaido as president, whereas his popularity has dwindled. Is the whole thing an attempt to boost Guaido? It sure looks that way, especially with the offer to lift sanctions in the future if an emergency government is formed, a support of Guaido’s own proposal. (It seems a support of Guaido even if neither Guaido nor Maduro would be in the US proposed emergency ruling committee.) Sanctions should be lifted for humanitarian and global reasons.  Even if one doesn’t care about the people in either Iran or Venezuela, it is in the interest of the world to contain the novel coronavirus by allowing medicines and emergency equipment to reach them.

Another area in dire straits is Gaza and the West Bank. A field hospital was begun (I think in the West Bank), only to be torn down by Israeli forces because Palestinians are not allowed to build. Such idiocy, to enforce such a law in times like these.

I attended a virtual rally sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace among others, about ending the blockade on Gaza to allow medicine and emergency equipment in. I tuned in by Zoom and listened to speeches as at any IRT rally. Actions included signing petitions, making signs and showing them along with our faces while they captured screen shots and posted them. It was suggested that with legislators working from home, voice mail and email of senators and representatives may not be being monitored, so to reach them it was suggested we tweet at them on Twitter. Something to think about as other issues arise as well.

And on the home front, I am livid that Jared Kushner has been put in charge of logistics of the national emergency stockpile. That is a position that requires someone with expertise, not just a Cliff Notes version of getting “up to speed.” Kushner didn’t learn well in his cramming. Instead of helping, he is continuing problem of getting equipment where it is needed, Kushner’s claim that the stockpile is not the states’ but “ours” is appalling, and equipment seems to have  been released not to those who need it but to the private sector so that states can continue outbidding each other and companies can get into war profiteering. (I’ve heard this mentioned once on Chris Hayes’ All In.)

On the mask issue, this article from The Atlantic is the most clarifying thing  I have read. The short version: In addition to conveying the technical definition of airborne as a size of particle more than the lay definition carried by air, it begins to answer how asymptomatic people transmit the virus. And it concludes with something I’d come to think: since we can’t distinguish who is well from who is asymptomatic, we should consider ourselves potentially carriers. And even if homemade masks only protect others from the sick (rather than keeping us from contracting COVID-19), we should protect others from the possibility that we are carriers. And it has become official, if voluntary, with the weak call of one who will not wear a mask.

I was out the day before the announcement, and about 1/4 of the people I saw–I didn’t see many–were masked.  I was out walking in the empty park. People in my neighborhood  are cooperating.

playground empty

Two buses passed while I was walking, both were empty. However, one bus driver has died of COVID-19. He had previously complained because of a passenger who not only coughed but made no effort to cover his cough.  (What happened to stay-at-home-if-symptomatic there?)

The projection is that Oregon’s peak will be mid April. It is approaching. Today’s statistics: 4 new deaths, 100 new cases, bringing the total to 999 as of 8 am. And among the survivors, a 104-year-old veteran. That’s impressive!

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The Last Four Stars

I didn’t feel like I’d made any progress until I got the parts assembled and could lay out the block into a 9-patch.

1 star partial

At this point it almost feels finished even though there are several seams left to sew.

Plan A was to have the  quilt layout planned today.  Not gonna happen, and here’s why.  I’m going to need a whole day to assemble the alternate blocks once they are laid out.  When the design bed is opened, it takes the whole living room and is very awkward. Meanwhile once the quilt is laid out, I don’t want to pick it up till stitched together. This grouping just doesn’t lend itself to any stacking method I know that would allow me to keep track of what goes where. So a one-day sewing marathon is in my future. (And with the stay-at-home order there will be days.)

1 star alternate block

All the alternate blocks are at this point. Because I planned each star to have its own background, I need to synchronize those backgrounds with one square in each of its adjacent alternate blocks. So I can’t finish the alternate blocks till I know which stars will be next to each of its sides. And that won’t be known till I decide first where each star will go and second which parts of the alternate block will be arranged together beside it.

So, the final four.

1 4 stars

Hmmm. Yes, I see that oops. Funny how sometimes you don’t notice till you see a photo. At least this is before any more seams are sewn.

When I started making the star blocks,  spent a lot of time looking for the right square to put in each corner. But once I laid the blocks out with the alternate between them, I saw that the corner square blends so much into the other squares that it really doesn’t matter.  (You can see what I mean in the layout here or in the Irish Stars button in the sidebar.) So I have dithered a lot less since then.

Usually I’ve photographed blocks in even numbered sets, like the above. However, last time I had an odd number. That photo suggested another possible layout for a quilt without the chain alternate blocks. I had to check it out.

1 5 stars layout

I think that would make an interesting quilt someday.

The two end stars don’t have white centers. The white is the four squares that match the background being kept with them for when I finally get the layout planned.

It won’t be too much longer, just not today.

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday and Oh Scrap! (Buttons in sidebar).

 

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Chernobyl

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear DisasterVoices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book of people telling their experiences after the Chernobyl nuclear incident. Relatives of people who had worked to contain the burn out, people who directed evacuation, people who helped destroy homes, gardens, and the very earth that was too radioactive to remain, people who later moved into the Zone in spite of everything.

A few moments stand out for me. A nuclear engineer desperately trying to get government oficials to act for peoples’ safety, being brushed aside because a government person higher up had said all was well. A person sent in to measure radioactivity who wasn’t allowed to tell the people living there that what was happening. People planting peas because it was in the plan, and they hadn’t been told otherwise. People who had to work to contain the reaction because the radiation was so great it interfered with the functioning of robots. People in hospitals who were so radioactive they could not have visitors.

It is not an easy book to read–maybe three or four interviews at a time. But it is an important book to read to vicariously experience the immense power of a nuclear reactor gone awry. Freak accident though it was, it is important not to be unprepared should there be another one.

View all my reviews

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Second Week Same as the First

I’m remembering a camp song line, “Second Verse, same as the first.” I can’t remember any of the rest of the song. Odd memories.

This sign appeared by the elevator

elevator sign

And while I was taking the photo, the elevator door opened and I wasn’t 6 feet back. Silly me, I thought I was okay till I pushed the button. Actually as the door opened it looked empty out of the corner of my eye. Then I heard the, “Excuse me.”

I did a wee bit of quilting (here), a moderate amount of knitting, and a lot of reading, mostly online.  Less news. Lots of Facebook, Mewe, and blogs. I remember a time when I’d spend hours reading blogs and decided I should spend more time sewing and less time reading them. Back then I changed to no longer get email notification, thinking I’d check in regularly. I have learned that I tend not to.  I’ve enjoyed getting back into it. Back when linky parties began I’d read every link. That has often dwindled to the suggested two-before and two-after my own and any whose photo catches my eye. I used to comment on all, but have cut back to when I have something more to say than, Nice quilt.

I am still reading Voices from Chernobyl. Among the stories of radiation illness and coping with relatives’ deaths was a harrowing tale from a physicist who knew what had happened and tried to warn government superiors, who only brushed him off with the party line that the fire had been put out. The parallel between competence and incompetence echoed too closely with our current situation where instead of the federal government orchestrating supplies so that they go where most needed, the states have to outbid not only each other, but also the federal government. Worse yet, the president demands “appreciation” before he releases from the surplus. The lack of understanding of risk management is too appalling to believe.

I am angry at states that are not working to flatten the curve, Mississippi, for one, where the governor not only decreed that businesses remain open but also overrode city and county decisions to close. Then there is the large church in Lousiana that is meeting in defiance of state orders to close down large gatherings. And Liberty U ordering faculty and students back after spring break. If only the virus would attack only those that disrespect it! But no, they endanger all.

And there is the fear that Trump will act on an earlier statement to open things back up by Easter. And the Lt Governor of GA ( I think–will check)–yep, GA )who said he was willing to die to save the economy and talked as if all old people agreed. I don’t. Nor do I want to see lifting the restrictions prematurely; it would make this two weeks of isolation meaningless. The curve would rise again and undo what has been accomplished toward buying time for hospitals to cope.  It wouldn’t even help the economy if it causes more people to get sick and die. Once again, an utter flouting of risk management.

I don’t live in constant anger and fear, but it is there.  I look at the numbers, but don’t memorize them.  In between I read, sew, knit and plan.  I’m retired, so I have no challenges like those working from home. I have no deadlines–don’t even have a long term show goal to work toward early. So instead of a to-do list I have a might-do list. And no guilt if I don’t. That is still working; we’ll see how long.

 

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The Stars Are Out Again

After a long break (last touched in December), I worked on the Irish Star quilt along (button in side bar). It is more a quilt echo along now. WeddingDressBlue has moved on to another very interesting tutorial/quilt along.

1 stars

It is a nice change from the recent improv art project to do some repetitive chain piecing. There are things I like (and dislike) about each approach; moving among approaches smooths my interests out.

Now the plan had been to sort and put fabric away before starting a new project. Ah, but this isn’t a new project. (Rationalizing is one of my strong points.) I’d started on a stack on the table and these were at the bottom and just irresistible.  I also need to oil the machine and change the needle before I sew much more. Maybe tomorrow.

Now I have only four stars to go before I can plan the layout–my favorite part! This will be a good thing to do on one day of social distancing–now become stay-at-home. I really want to have time to sew all the parts together once it is lain out.

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And the First Week Ends

A couple other bloggers are blogging journals of the coronavirus times and the experience of “social distancing.” (Applique PaintboxSo Scrappy, Art with a needle ; I’ll come back with other links as I find them.) It seems a good idea. There needs to be a record of these unusual times, a record from ordinary people.

Apart from finishing the Stretching Art piece (here), I haven’t done any quilting. That is neither unusual nor a sign of the times. I usually pause quilting after a finish, especially an intense finish.

Nor have I finished a book. That is a little more unusual as I usually manage a book a week. (I don’t usually blog about every book I read, only books I really like.) I am working on Rachel Maddow’s Blowout. Those of you who listen to her would recognize the pattern: start way back, explore many precursors, finally tie them to something current, at which point as reader, I feel like the need to go back to the beginning to see connections I had missed.

I am also working on Voices from Chernobyl on my iPhone. (In the old days–a week ago–when I was out and about, I kept a book on my phone for bus rides and waiting periods. I will be reading more online while my library is closed.) Svetlana Alexievich takes a similar approach here as she did in Last Witnesses (review here), gathering stories of peoples’ experiences of an event and presenting them with little comment. It is, alas, a timely read. The incompetence and lack of foresight is harrowing, as is the lack of honest communication. There is a major difference, though.  There officials followed orders from above almost unquestioning, out of habit–one example, a radiated village planting peas because it is time to and they had received no orders to change the plan. Here most of our state and local governments are taking matters into their own hands and doing what they can.

I am thinking about my next project.  Nina Marie has suggested a coronavirus quilt along with linky party (here). I have many leader/ender HSTs to press and trim so they can become leaders-and-enders again as potential pinwheels. I have leader/ender 4-patches to press and trim and alternate squares to cut. I have many tops waiting to be quilted. Or projects to start. Or I could make masks.

I have pondered making masks. I waver between “something is better than nothing” and “they would be false security” for one thing. I don’t have non-woven fabric for an inner layer desired by some (and seeming to make them more effective). I don’t have elastic, nor do sites where I usually shop.  (And yes, there are patterns for masks with ties, but locally it seems they want only elastic.) And with all the elastic sold out, I wonder if enough others are making masks that mine would not be needed.  I recall other emergencies where requests have been met with such response that the requesters have begged people to stop. I think I’ll keep my ear to the ground and listen for signs that more are needed, truly needed, before I start.

My time has been spent glued to news. I finally realized that no matter the headline, a new article probably didn’t add enough new information to be worth the time or emotion spent on opening it and have directed my attention elsewhere. I will admit that I keep backsliding into news rabbit holes, though.

For the first week, I actually enjoyed having no external demands. I do rather well with unstructured time–maybe not productive, but contented. I am substituting online and phone contact for hanging out with friends. I am reading FaceBook and MeWe more and following blogs more faithfully. I will not be surprised if that attitude changes.

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And “Solidarity” Is Finished

A little more than the original three-day estimate, to be sure. But with each closing, more time became available, and with it expansion of work to fill available time. I did end up quilting closer than originally planned; it was good to have the option.

I quilted everything except the sky then stopped. The original plan was problematic.

2 solidarity before sky

I’d planned straight lines with a scalloped bump for a cloud. First I stalled on where to put the bump. Then on how close to make the echo lines. Then on what to do with the little narrow spaces. If I hadn’t had three days to just look at it and think, I’d have quilted a big mistake. Finally I remembered advice from a quilting class: if you want something to recede, quilt it closely. I realized that all my previous ideas kept the sky at the same level as the buildings. So my old standby, meander. Or maybe it is stippling when smaller.

2 soliarity sky quilted

But I didn’t want to let the cloud idea go, so I did a wee bit of padded quilting. I’d meant to do two, but there wasn’t enough space on the left to get the padding stitched in and cut around.

Then I tried a new way of facing that I’d learned in Elizabeth Barton’s Mod Meets Improv class on the Academy of Quilting. (I was reminded of a tailoring class I’d taken years ago where at every class the instructor said of some technique, “If you don’t learn anything else, this technique is worth the class fee.” I feel that way about this facing; however, there was much else worth while too.) And the quilt is finished.

2 solidarity finished

And I can still go to the post office and get it in the mail. Time will tell if the three shows Stretching Art and Tradition is scheduled for will take place. Meanwhile I have enough books, fabric, and yarn to keep me occupied and enough food to eat for a week or so. I hope the rest of you are coping with this coronavirus thing.

ETA: As I expected, the first show has been postponed till June. I’d have had till May to complete it.  Glad it is completed.

History of this quilt

Stretching Art theme for 2020 and sketch

Embroidery and beginning improv

Improv finished

Template section finished

I will be linking with Needle and Thread Thursday , the Clever Chameleon, and various Friday linky parties. (Buttons in sidebar)

Linking with Free Motion Mavericks too. But, full disclosure.  The bottom half quilting was done with a walking foot. FMQ from the “river” on up.

Also linking with So Scrappy.  and Oh Scrap! The bottom section is made from true scraps; the upper from pre-emptive scraps–IE, cut from fabric purchased for another project.

 

 

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