Hello again! Well, we are all approximately 3 weeks into the corona lockdown now, and I wonder how you are faring? When I was reading a blog post this week, the writer used the phrase, The Great Retreat, in her post, to address what she was feeling and what she was doing in her life in her own part of the world, namely the forests of New Zealand, in adapting to the Covid 19 social isolation. Her focus upon home, creativity, and nature is similar to my own, and as I’ve got to know some of you, for you too. So I’ve ‘borrowed’ Valerie’s expression for using in my title. Thank you to Valerie! And her post, entitled ‘Keeping body and soul together’, is here if you fancy a read.
I hope you are all well, staying safe, and keeping busy. It seems this weekend may be The Great Painting Challenge, as online suppliers of house paint are very low on stock, with queuing time in place simply to virtually view online what they have not got. Easter has brought out the DIY enthusiasts, of which I am one, wanting to crack on with those jobs that have been piling up during the winter. It’s kitchen painting for me, using the paint I luckily bought a few months ago, which has been sitting patiently waiting to see the light of day. But also suffering for lack of supplies, are all those ladies who dye their own hair, of which I am also one. They want to retouch their roots, but so does everyone else, and yes, you’ve guessed it, the virtual shelves are empty. Just think of all those grey roots emerging! Not a bad thing, of course, unless you haven’t yet taken the plunge to go full grey. I am lucky here again as I have plenty of my colour in stock at home, and my hubby is a dab hand at doing this precision work, having had plenty of practice ;>)
So, on the surface, apart from having to curtail my volunteering activities, my life has been pretty much the same as usual, with my writing, painting, reading, gardening, crafting, as well as getting out in the fields for some exercise. I listen to the news in the evening to keep abreast of what is happening and I wish our PM, Boris, who succumbed to the virus himself, a speedy recovery. I have been missing friends for long chats, and have been missing being out in my car, listening to music, but mornings are mostly spent with phone chats or social media to keep in touch with people. This keeping in touch has lifted my spirits and hopefully has been reciprocal in raising other’s spirits – so important during this time. Because although, on the surface, I feel pretty good, under the surface, I am both moved by aspects of what is happening, and I’m worrying and wondering, with many questions piling up inside.
I am moved and humbled by the wonderful NHS staff and those in care work who, due to lack of appropriate personal protection, are literally putting their lives at risk as they help care for others. Doctors and nurses have already died. I’m worried how many businesses will go under if this state of affairs carries on, in the sense that this can cause depression in the soul too. I’m appalled at the number of deaths, and shocked at how this virus enters our bodies so easily, ‘cleverly’ adapted as it is to penetrate cell walls more directly than most, and with such unpredictable outcomes, from not even knowing you’ve got it, to dying from it, and despite early indications it’s no respecter of age. I’m shocked that a local ice rink has being requisitioned to be used as a temporary morgue with white tents erected inside. This global crisis is unparalleled and of course, it’s very scary. And now, due to some people not following the rules of social distancing and hopping over to the seaside for some recreation or trying to penetrate remote Scottish Highland villages and the Lake District, I heard today that the police are making their presence felt. Roadblocks are in place. But people in a local rural town here who were social distancing during their outdoor exercise, were moved on by the police when they sat down on a bench on a river walk, with a helicopter circling above to point them out. I also heard the trolleys of some shoppers were recently stopped and checked by the police to evaluate whether the shoppers were sticking to ‘essential shopping only’. Chocolate Easter eggs, for example, did not fit the criteria. I think this action has been dropped, but still… I’ve heard people are watching one another’s movements in suburban streets to register and potentially shame someone if they take their dog out more than once a day, or if they are out for longer than an hour. These kinds of behaviours are frightening, reminiscent of oppressive party-politics and historical regimes, because we are only at the beginning of a long journey in getting back to ‘normal’.
And finally, there is that word, normal. What is normal going to be? Will we still greet friends and family with a hug? How many people will have died, and will continue to die? How many people will still be carrying the virus, only to have further outbreaks in months to come? If they create a vaccine, will it be compulsory to be injected with it? How many businesses will go under? How will we adapt back into sharing social spaces? Will we really learn better life values from this pandemic? Will the people with the power to change things learn and want to make a difference? Or will we go back to how we were, capitalism in the driving seat and looking after ‘number one’. All these questions, and we all have them. We can’t answer them right now, we can just keep living in the now, being mindful and grateful for what we have, and keep busy – and for this blog, this means carrying on with the creative life and looking after your wellbeing. So I’ll share a few of my random harvests with you from the last couple of weeks, and trust you’ll have some of your own. They will seem trite in comparison to corona, but nevertheless they are my harvest and I get my meaning from them.
1. First of all I want to share a resource with you that came my way, from My Modern Met. The ‘Ultimate Resource Guide For Creatives’ is packed with links to amazing free resources, for artists and designers, including access to many prestigious galleries. Here is a PDF of what I was given free in a special offer which is well worth diving into : art design resources
2. I’ve been listening to spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, speak in this sequence of videos which he has recorded for the times we are going through, entitled ‘Staying Conscious In The Face Of Adversity’. I’d never heard his voice before and it does sink into your soul somehow with his slow pace and meditative repetitions. I do some embellishing of a crochet panel at the same time. Perfectly fitting!
3. Onto decorating. This luscious bright turquoise paint was used on the back entrance to our cottage. It turned out far brighter than I intended, but I’m going with it. The plate is a charity shop find from just before the lockdown and if you recognise the design, do let me know, as the back of the plate is not giving any information away.
4. I redesigned the book cover for After Black, as you can see in the side bar, just to give it a more literary fiction feel, with more tonal contrast and more positive warming colour. The floral theme also links to the floral fabric designs the main character enjoys so much.
5. This is the latest stage with my current painting, which is a pairing for the previous Peony millefiori. This frilly Opium Poppy is coming along now, ready for the marbling effects to commence:
6. While conversing with a friend via direct message facebook chat, I seasoned some soup I was making to her instructions, and ended up with some real colour in this lentil and veg soup, thanks to half a teaspoon of paprika, and half a teaspoon of turmeric, such brand new spices for my unadventurously conservative cupboard.
7. And finally, one particular special walk in the fields (despite my sore heel), which felt like the first day of spring. The ground clay was parched and cracked, just how I like it for that desert feel, at least when I’m looking at the field tracks! The rest was lush new growth.
Accompanied by my shadow:
The parched earth:
Scots pines trees reaching for the sky:
A clean edged field, fringed by conifers, open to the sky:
Distant hills, namely, The Eildons Hills, a primary landmark of the Scottish Borders, and a bushy hawthorn farmers hedge, with gnarled and twisted trunks, one of my favourite things.
Do let me know what you have been up to and share what is happening in your part of the world.
Stay safe, stay well, namaste from me to you.
(top log cabin painting courtesy of pixabay, all the rest, Lynne)