Monday, April 19, 2021

Reflections on the Pandemic Year

Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Now that the Pandemic is over a year old, I decided to review and document my last year or so, my personal 2020 and 2021. This unique time period will become a memory, but as current events become common place, the memory of the start, the middle, and the now of the pandemic start to morph, merge, change and fade.

(Note for readers:  Please skip this post if you are looking for a typical creative post.  This wordy post probably won't resonate or entertain.  But I wanted to document my experiences of a strange time period, my personal slice of the Pandemic.  Every person experienced this time differently, depending on age, location, profession, activities, family status, parenting school age children, college students, living alone, etc. If you are interested, read on, and I'd love a comment.  If you have a Pandemic reflection post, please put the link(s) in the comment section, I find them interesting to read as well.)

2020 Year start
2020 started out full of promise - I was dreaming of a probable trip to Europe in the summer ("Europe 2020"). My youngest two children were a college Junior and a college Senior. One was graduating from college in May 2020 and his job hunt was underway. (Class of 2020! Family Party! New job for him, somewhere...) My daughter was finishing her junior year of college, looking forward to a summer internship she'd gotten. (I would help her move - and visit her, maybe around the 4th of July!)

My May 2019 college graduate had started a good job in May 2019 and in Nov 2019 moved into an apartment nearby. And my oldest son started a new second job in January 2020. (That was exciting as well!) There were going to be two fun weddings this summer (all my family invited) to plan fun vacations around.

After living in the same house for over 2 decades, with the same 4 children, things were beginning to change - and so 2020 would be a year of changes and adjustments. That part I got right.

Fire photo by Jeanne Selep
A view of 2020

Year 2020 by the month: 

My daughter and I attempted to learn and use Blender animation software over her winter break, and my oldest son started a new job (at CSH). Then my two students went back to college, and I bought a newer refurbished PC which would be able to run animation software better.  That was fairly fortunate considering the pending pandemic.  Wildfires in Australia were making the news.

I traveled to St. Petersburg Florida in February, exploring museums and more for several days.  Other 2020 trips were in the works - A national quilt show in Kentucky, and more. (Santa Fe, someday I'll visit...).  I was in more art classes and special interest clubs than I ever.  (Calligraphy, mosaics, print-making, photography, gardening, etc.)  I made blogging and creative goals.  And I was spreading out at home doing creative projects.  (This post shows an example)

I was looking forward to Easter and the kids March spring break, knowing it would be one of the last "Spring breaks" - (my kids being nearly done with college).  Maybe we would travel?

In late February, things started to look worrisome - some virus was causing problems, and the stock market started to dive (Feb 24, 2020)... I went to a Wisconsin winter quilt show on Feb 29, 2020.

MARCH 2020
I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) Orchid show on March 2, 2020 (Orchid post, 2nd post here); the Paine Museum's March 6 floral arrangement show, and participated in multiple classes a week (mosaics, printing, photography, etc.) On Tues March 10 I entered an artwork into a local art show.

But... the CBG closed the orchid show early, before March 14, before the cool weekend orchid show event I was planning on going to. The market continued to decline. I also was stocking up on household supplies, and increasingly aware of anyone coughing. Shortages were happening at grocery stores.

On Saturday March 14, I attended a quilt show
in Waukesha that few others attended. The show was beautifully laid out, but visitors were absent. People were worried. My various classes started being canceled.

In a flash (March 16, 2020) both college students moved home. There was not much warning, and no time to plan. They brought the contents of two dorms into my garage, and fun and energy into my house, but we had to reconfigure without much planning, setting up two study spaces. Both my college junior and college senior then started virtual college at home. Miranda had class "Is Humanity Doomed?" and javascript class, among others. The library closed the day after I checked out a lot of library materials.

Relatives picking up my niece from NYU in New York city when her campus closed up came down with Covid, and I did some grocery shopping for them while they were sick for weeks, so this was no imagined illness.

Apple Farm
My 3 adult children at the Apple Farm

APRIL 2020 - M, N, and T living at home
I started using Visual Studio (on my newer PC) to create a Javascript artwork application, gathering painting photos from across the web. It absorbed my time. My daughter had a 21st birthday at our home, not the 21st birthday with college friends in Chicago. Easter - April 12, 2020 - I barely remember it (Easter post). Stores were closed, and my son applied for unemployment. We all learned to "Zoom". I had dreams of dying from Covid, going to the grocery store felt dangerous, and I thought I/we would get/could die of Covid. Some people felt going to the grocery store with another person was awful.

I spent lots of time on the PC reading and obsessing over the news, and often in the evening binge watching TV became something we did.  (Post here).

Indian Matchmaker Season 1 watched
Lucifer Seasons watched
Inspiring video This music video resonated
Humorous video - Julie talking to past self, part 1

MAY 2020 - M, N, and T living at home
I continued making my Javascript application. We started a "Covid" Garden in the front yard, basically two raised beds nick-named "New Deephelm" and "New Lowgarth" by the kids who helped create and plant them. I took spring photos where I could, but the Chicago Botanic and other gardens were closed. My son graduated from college without a ceremony or party and increased his job search in a pandemic. Again, I spent lots of time on the PC reading "news". On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by police in Minnesota, but I became much more aware of that in June.

Derry Girls Season 1 watched
Leverage Multiple seasons!
Burn Notice episodes watched

JUNE 2020 - M, N, and T living at home
All of my kids college classes were over, and my daughter's Internship started. Gardening continued. The family living at home went camping in Pennisula state park. The two June weddings were postponed, and riots were happening in Minnesota and Madison, (and all over the country). This impacted my son's girl friend living in Madison Wisconsin near the riots. Reading and watching news on the internet again occupied more time than ever. The library started lending books (by request only) sometime around this time, which was nice.

Memes and other posts also reflected the times.

Leverage Multiple seasons
Warrior Nuns Multiple episodes
Lucifer Multiple seasons
Blood and Treasurer - Pyramid blows up, art world
Humorous video - Julie talking to past self, part 2

Camping with 3 adult children

JULY 2020 - M, N, and T living at home
4th of July - I watched fireworks in Cedarburg. But that was it. No other July 4th activities. My sister-in-law got married, her post-poned wedding from June rescheduled to July. Remember how many thought the pandemic would wind down soon and normal life might resume quickly? It was becoming apparent that Covid might be around in fall impacting schooling. I worked on mosaics in a makeshift studio in the garage.  We had two separate house guests, O and C.  We played Catan and made puzzles.

Hamilton on broken TV - Red and purple!
Dynotopia with house guest C
Mandalorian season 1

AUGUST 2020 - M, N, and T living at home
More Mosaics, more Gardening, and we went camping at Kohler.  We attended some outside only church services on Thursdays only, some of the first church services held at my church. California fires impacted many including friends of my daughter. It seemed like disasters were happening all over.

Dragon Prince episodes watched
Marvelous Mrs Maisel episodes watched

Covid Wedding
The whole family at a rescheduled wedding.

SEPTEMBER 2020 - M, N, and T living at home
My four children and I went to a wedding rescheduled from June. (We wore masks except for the picture).  We went to the apple farm before Miranda moved back into her dorm. At her college all dorm rooms became "single" and she was tested for Covid once a week. Her college meals were to be eaten "carryout" in isolation, not in the beautiful eating spaces on campus, and she didn't have any in-person classes. Students were encouraged to have self selected "Pods" of about 5 people to interact with in person.

Fire photo by Jeanne Selep
My daughter moving back in her Dorm, Sept 2020

OCTOBER 2020 - N and T living at home
My mosaic classes started running again, and I was able to start some stained glass classes. There was a blitz of election reporting and news. I started doing altered book art on 3 books (garden, Paris, and miscellaneous.) I attended 2 classes in-person - one on Calligraphy and one on Copper Enamel. My church held two Sunday indoor services, and then a staff member got Covid and the church ended in-person services. My 2020 college grad started a good job at a medical lab, and my daughter got a job offer from her internship. 

What We do in the Shadows - watched NZ movie and season 1
Mandalorian watched season 2
Humorous video - Julie talking to past self, part 3

NOVEMBER 2020 - N and T living at home
The elections were finally over - good bye junk mail and phone calls.  I worked more on altered book art, and had lasik surgery.  I started cataloging my books in the on-line library Library thing.  It encouraged me to organize books and more around the house.

Thanksgiving was "intimate" - a great home cooked meal with turkey (ordered fresh) and fixings for 4 people (JS, T, N, M). We had a extended family zoom chat on the same day. My Mosaic classes ended before Thanksgiving, and Miranda moved back home from college since she had had no classes in person and the experience was isolating.

Good Omens binge watched season 1
Emily in Paris binge watched season 1
Dragon Prince watched episodes
Queens Gambit watched episodes

DECEMBER 2020 - M, N and T living at home
I cataloged more books into LibraryThing. Miranda finished up her 1st semester of college. I had no mosaic classes (and no other classes either). I went to several estate sales and resale shops, and bought 3 new pieces of (estate sale) furniture (dresser, bookcase, and a chair) that I then had to incorporate into the house. On the home repair front I got a new Garage door and new downspouts. I also got my piano tuned and windows cleaned. The window cleaner said in 30 years of work 2020 was the first time he washed windows in December.

I wasted a lot of time playing games on my phone and playing the on-line game Dominion. Even though my kids were home, my tree was put up the latest ever, and other decorations were late. But I did make 8 batches of cookies! (I haven't made that many cookies in over 20 years.) (for the record - double batches of ginger snaps, peanut butter kisses, chocolate sandies, and cutout cookies!) I read a lot of travel books instead of decorating.

We made a Christmas Beef Wellington for dinner, a very complicated recipe which actually turned out really well. Christmas was my immediate family, six people, with a extended family zoom chat after dinner.

Marco Polo watched Season 1
The Good Place watched Season 2 and part of 3.
What We do in the Shadows - binge watched Season 2

Year end 2020 state: 
A strange lethargy overtook me, wrecking my plans (or resulting from no plans?).  Cleaning the kitchen repeatedly, and the rest of the house, from the college apartment aesthetic my children leave it in, drains my creative energy that used to be encouraged by my weekly mosaic and printing classes.  Open studio time helps me, and that no longer exists due to Covid.  And yet I love having my adult children here.  

I had a goal of at least a post a month in 2020, and yet I didn't achieve that.  The July omission I understand, beautiful weather outside with race riots around the country distracted from blogging.  But I have no real excuse for missing November and December.  I started posts that never happened.  Grand ideas stayed in my head and in the draft post stage, and didn't translate to actual implementation. 

JANUARY 2021 - M, N and T living at home
January was a welcome new year, that quickly became crazy.  I watched lots of news, mostly not encouraging, which occupied most of my time.  Crazy new from Georgia, The Jan 6, 2021 electoral count and riots, the worries leading up to the Jan 20, 2021 the Inauguration,  the impeachment, etc. 
Many things didn't make much sense. 

Estate sales and resale shops became a fun pasttime, as well as art projects.  There was a cold winter with actual accumulated snow viewed through the (recently cleaned!) windows (Winter Garden post here
My daughter sub-let an apartment, sight unseen, on her college campus hoping for in-person classes, which she didn't get.  She once again had all her classes on-line. 
But she moved out of the dorms anyway.   

The president's goal of 100 million vaccines in the 1st 100 days of office was considered impossible.  My surgeon sister-in-law got her vaccines.  I stopped trying to keep the house tidy and start doing more art projects.  My son got a COVID puppy, a slice of joy!  But his car also got stolen.

Chuck, watched parts of a season.
Marvel Comic Superhero, watched parts of seasons.

Vaccines are really getting underway!  People are actually getting them!  N, considered a health care worker, got his vaccination.  On the downside, things are being canceled for a second year in a row - Orchid shows, MAM events, Quilt shows, etc.  I'm zoomed out and barely watch photo classes I sign up for. 
I was blogging more, and reading a lot, worked on puzzles and stared out the window a lot (Bluebird Post here, Another Bird post here).  No classes or clubs were live.  We had lots of snow here, that stayed around for a while.  Texas had a crazy winter too - and their power grid really isn't set up for that.  
MARCH 2021 
T, a grocery store worker, got his 1st vaccination. The 100 million vaccinations goal is reached on March 22, 2021, 58 days into Biden's presidency.  So that is positive news that is actually good... (see the pun there ?  Positive covid result=bad, positive goal achieved is good...)  My sense of humor is warped by covid isolation.  It was another thing neglected in 2020, compared to previous years I think. 

I attended church on Palm Sunday, (my church had recently started in-person services again) and very few people were there, mostly vaccinated looking older couples.  I was definitely there with the youngest people I saw, and there weren't that many people to see.   My mosiacs classes resumed! 

Blown Away
- Binge watched Season 1 and 2.   I think I'm getting binged out.  But electronic games on the phone are sucking up my time now.

APRIL 2021 
Now I that April is reached, I think I need to post this post.  I was going to have it ready April 1, but I thought posting it on April Fools Day wouldn't be great, so I shelved it, and suddenly April is more than half over.  That is how procrastination works here. 

Easter came and went, which we had isolated at home with an extended large family zoom chat later.  My daughter is at a trimester campus, had spring break, and actually got 1-2 in-person classes for her final undergraduate college experience.  For one entire year, every class she had was on-line.  The first week classes were virtual, and then she had classes with other students in the same room.  For one week!  But then an outbreak linked to frat parties sent those few classes back to the virtual realm for the time being.

Spring has sprung here in Wisconsin, nearly 3 weeks early by my guess.  The early spring flowers are lovely and welcome. 

At my house two of the four people have had two doses of the vaccine, and the other two have had the first dose, so that's something. 

Looking forward 2021 
I realize that events and activities are still along way from resuming normally. Will the Olympics run? Many summer festivals, etc. around here are already canceled.  My daughter may have some sort of in-person graduation ceremony, but no parents will be able to attend.  (Parents get to watch via live streaming).  I won't be traveling out of the country this summer, and I'm guessing my summer travel will be somewhat limited and probably feel unwise. But who can say?
And apparently 200,000 doses have been given to American adults, well ahead of the most optimistic schedules, and now 25% of the adults in the USA are fully vaccinated. This makes me hopeful for summer activities and travel. I'm hoping for a fantastic 4th of July.  Maybe even a graduation party for my college graduates? 


Things I missed and miss...

Attending Church and the people there
Monthly dinner with Moms, TIPP dinners
Museum and art show openings
Movies and Theater and other events
Club activities
Extended Family parties, birthdays, holidays, etc.

Mar (2020 and 2021)
Orchid Show + sale + clubs,
Theater - HS, MU, UWM, UCHI, the Rep, Broadway
Collectors Corner
Print Class
Mosaic Class (held in 2021!)

Apr (2020 and 2021)
MAM Art in Bloom
Fashion in Bloom
Theater - HS, MU, UWM, the Rep, Broadway
UWM Italian Film Festival
Collectors Corner
Print Class
Quilt Museum Show
Mosaic Class (held in 2021!)
Spring at Chicago Botanic Garden (Open in 2021, at least)

May (2020)
Garden Club luncheon
Theater - the Rep, skylight, opera, UWM
Collectors Corner
Print Class
Mosaic Class

Kite Festival

RAM Print event
Annual trip to Door County
Dance events - Danceworks, Ballet

June (2020)
Garden Club luncheon
Symphony Showcase House Tour
Bead and Button Show, events
Garden tours
Garden Club tours
Print Class
Mosaic Class

July (2020)
4th of July
Travel - 2 week vacation
Garden tours
Garden Club tours
Print Class
Mosaic Class - restart?
Summerfest fireworks,
Big Bang 3rd of July fireworks,
Burlington Balloon Fest
Summerfest and various festivals - church, etc.
Various Art fairs - Holy Hill, etc.
EAA fly in

Aug (2020)
FAS tours
Print Class
Mosaic Class
Garden club tours

Sept (2020)
FAS tours
Photo club tour
Collectors Corner
Print class closed forever.
Open Doors Milwaukee
Milwaukee Film Festival
Kite Festival

Oct (2020)
FAS tours
WADA antique show
Collectors Corner
Open House Chicago
Chicago One of a Kind Craft Fair
(also one in Spring I never attended but was planning to)

Nov (2020)
Christmas house
Kohler Holiday Shops
USM Holiday Shops
Collectors Corner
Family Thanksgiving

Dec (2020)
Advent Brunch ABC
Advent luncheon - CPC
Cookie Party
CCC party
FAS party
FAS Xmas luncheon
MAMGC lunch party, raffle, event
Photo Club parties, 3x
Christmas Show at the Domes
Family Xmas Eve
Christmas event at Heidi's
New Years Eve party
Mosaics class
Family New Years Day

Jan (2021)
Collectors Corner
The Train show at the Domes
MAMGC, Calligraphy club, Photo club, ...

Feb (2021)
Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic,
WADA antique show
Winter Quilt Show
Theater - incl High School
Collectors Corner, MAMGC, Calligraphy club

[By the way, the opening image of fire is from an EAA airshow war birds demonstration from 2013.  he EAA is the Experimental Aircraft Association, an airplane museum here in Wisconsin.  They have a huge summer airevent every year (when there isn't a pandemic), and they have an airshow day where old war airplanes fly by and pretend drop an occasional bomb, explosions triggered by experts safely for the audience.  I always loved that I got some interesting photos from their carefully controlled explosions.  Don't try this at home, people!]

I am linking up to these parties:

My Random: Anything Goes 281 (Entry 69)
Texas Tanya: Link Party Mon (Entry 54 of 60).
Good Random Fun: Good Fun Mon 4a (m Entry 40 of 44).
Anitaojeda: Inspire Me Mon 4p (s Entry 41 of 48).
Lindas Lunacy: Make-a-home 211 Tue 9a (m Entry 38 of 52).
My world Thru My Lens: My Corner Wed (Entry 66 of 71.)
Jesh studio: All Seasons Sat (Entry skip)
Thistlekeylane: Tuesday Turn About 96 5p (s Entry 17 of 153).
Also My Wee Abode: Tuesday Turn About (s Entry 17 of 153).
Stonecottageadventures: Tue w a twist 417 (l Entry 44 of 47).
Lets Add Sprinkles: Keep in Touch 195 Tue 4p (m Entry 37 of 43).
Girlish Whims: Whims Tues 8:50p (Entry 6 of 78).
Applestreetcottage: Party-in-your-pjs 355 (Entry 12 of 101).
Imparting grace: Grace at home 421 (Entry
Our Three Peas: Wined Down Wed 392 (Entry 5)
Pieced Saturday Sparks Th 8a (L Entry )
Modern on Monticello: Home matters 328 Fri (s Entry 45 of 65.)
My hubbard home: Fri with Friends 19 (Entry 23x)
Pennys Passion: Fri Favorites (Entry 42 of 54)
Pams Party: Dare to share 465 Fri 11p (m Entry
Its a small town life: Thankful Th 24 (Entry 20)
Natalie: Coffee Share Th (Entry 7)
Kathleen: Bloggers Pit Stop 267 Th 8p (L Entry 68)
Coastal Bohemian: Funtastic Thur 8p (i Entry skip)
Shelbeeontheedge: On the edge 241 (Entry 241)
The Painted Hinge: Farmhouse Fri 201 (L Entry 59 of 67.)
Cottagemarket: A morning cup of Joe 33 (L Entry 51 of 62)
Busy Being Jennifer: Fri Favorites 129 (m Entry 42)
Our mini family: Our mini party 327 (s Entry 24x


April 2021 Freak snow Dashcam

Other covid reflection posts:
Random Musings
Notes tied on Sagebrush
Tea with Jennifer
Sacrificial Homebody
Sacrificial Homebody P2