My Pandemic Year: May 2020

May 1, 2020 – COVID dreams

After a week of insomnia and several weeks of no dreams at all, I experience what might be described as a COVID dream – spending my night making a chainmail camail from soda can pop-tops, while having an animated conversation with a coworker that I rarely interact with even when our office is open. It felt so real I woke up with sore fingers. Kate reminds me that it is Beltane, and the veil is as thin now as it is at Samhain. SCA events have now been cancelled and two projects I was working on have now been put on the back burner. I feel badly for their royals. This must be the worst reign ever.

May 2, 2020

I’m finishing the last of my donation face masks for awhile. I’ve now donated 300 to various organizations though I am still far short of the 450 that I committed to for the Masks4Millions project and Days for Girls. Today I’m shifting to my “Fancy Face” line of masks – a couture line of brocades and silks, with most of the selling price benefiting food banks.

I need to attend to commissions and get my hats back into public view. Peters Valley School of Craft has now announced that they will be closed through 2020 and I expect zero holiday sales there now. Creative Minds is still tentative since the owner is in a high risk group and plans to be home-bound for a full year. I’m now waiting for my other galleries to follow suite.

Washington State has extended lockdown through May 25 or May 30.

May 5, 2020

I noted on April 19 that as Trump was tweeting to “liberate states” from lockdown and that in 14-18 days there would be a spike in cases. Sure enough – 2,418 deaths today, reversing the downward trend from April 28.

I had a really productive weekend, but I’ve had a pair of unproductive days at my desk. Today I am tired of everything. I contemplate early retirement, although with grant writing season starting soon, I’ll have plenty of work to focus on.

My government stimulus check arrived ($1200) so I donated about $1500 to charities today on “GiveBig Tuesday”. A check for Mom also arrives, which I promptly void. I add the letter, signed by Trump, to her archives. Maybe it will be worth some money when it becomes a historical artifact.

May 8, 2020 – Reopenings and disappointments

  • Total US deaths from COVID-19 – 75,852
  • Total US cases are now 1,259,777
  • The Senate is still trying to dismantle ObamaCare. Because they are idiots.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe. I wake up with a scratchy throat and a mild fever.

Businesses are starting to reopen but are disappointed by the lack of customers. Fear and lack of money will keep things shut down for awhile, I think. Unemployment rate is 14.4%, and 20.5 million people lost their jobs today. Hospitals are now considering bankruptcy since they have had to postpone the elective surgeries that are their biggest profit center.

There’s a noticeable decline in Facebook posts, and Twitter trends are mostly sports and K-Pop. The news remains focused on COVID-19 and I’m not reading as much of it now. I’m still musing on early retirement. I’m also musing on why I have so much to do outside of work, but so little motivation.

Tonight, Vicki and I went to the Target rooftop parking garage to watch the rising of the last Super Moon of 2020. I’ve never seen this part of Northgate from this rooftop perspective and think someone should have built a restaurant here instead of a parking lot. I’ll try to come back for the next meteor shower as it is a nice, unimpeded view of the night sky.

May 9, 2020

Still having temperature spikes and some other physical complaints I won’t detail here. I’m super listless and angry, although a walk with Vicki helped to modify that mood. I’m hoping my evening is more productive that my day was.

May 10, 2020 – Mother’s Day

It’s my first Mother’s Day without a mother. I plan to stay off of social media today. My fevers have mostly gone away, and I wonder if the fatigue and anger from the last couple of days were the result of whatever malady was I was fighting off, or if it is a symptom of cumulative stress.

May 14, 2020 – Up, down, and sideways

It’s not a bad day, not a good day, every day seems to be the same as the last. I’ve barely left my desk today, and now its 8:30 PM and I don’t have any motivation to do anything but continue to scroll through the news. The only thing that seems to change is that politics are getting more perverse, and people in general are getting more stupid.

It dawns on me that my lack of motivation might be linked to my inability to make plans for the future – no travel, no vacation plans, no new hat sales. I’m having troubles reading books, I just re-read the same page over and over before putting the book down. The only thing I’m doing now is charity work. I wonder if Mom spent so much time doing the same thing (knitting scarves, making candles for church bazaars), because it was the only outlet available to her to break up the tedium of life alone at home.

  • Court rules today that emolument case can proceed against Trump.
  • Wisconsin court overturns the governor’s stay at home order, and a bar fills with a crowd of unmasked patrons in about 45 minutes. I’m now setting a COVID-19 timer for a spike in cases in Wisconsin.
  • Epidemiologists predict a bleak winter, one that the US is not prepared for.

And today there’s news of a nurse in Snohomish who may have had COVID-19 over Christmas. I still think that Mom may have been an early and undiagnosed case, though I will never know for sure. But news like this certainly makes me wonder.

May 15, 2020 – Today’s trends

  • Hogs are being destroyed because packing plants are closing, so the hogs cannot be processed into food, and farmers can no longer afford to keep them fed.
  • Disruption in the food chain are starting to occur globally because of logistical issues. There are fewer planes flying which has decreased cargo space.
  • Food producers are geared to supply the restaurant and hotel sector (HRI) and are having problems re-gearing to the retail sector (mostly a packaging and distribution chain problem). Food is getting dumped, food banks continue to cry for donations.
  • 7 million gallons of beer were destroyed in the UK today because it expired while bars were closed.
  • Trump wants to cut ties with China – our largest trading partner.
  • Today’s top of page headline in The Guardian: “World looks on in horror as Trump flails over pandemic, despite claims that US leads the way.” Countries who were angry with us, now look at us with pity.

We will survive this fiasco but God help the next five presidents…

May 17, 2020

Vicki shares an article with me today on the effect of the pandemic on mental health. Basically, although we have more time, our brains are not shutting off, which leads to stress eating and lethargy (among other things).

I started on the postponed SCA projects today. After several hours on one of them, I reverted to my original plan (thus negating the “fix” that occurred to me in my dreams a few days back). I’m trying to decide whether I should work on hats in case I have any galleries open this fall. I still haven’t heard from a couple of them.

May 21, 2020

I really need to start getting out for a walk mid-day.

Today I receive a delivery of my mail and fresh chard from a garden, and news that “we aren’t reopening the office any time soon, and when we do, it will be voluntary.” I want to come back at least part time, but there are still concerns about mass transit, which has cut occupancy to 12 people per bus and has dropped some routes. The buses are fogged with disinfectant twice a day, but that doesn’t seem adequate against this contagion.

So at home I stay. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise, now that I’ve grown accustomed to waking up at 7:45 instead of 6:30, and having cats nap on my desk while I work. But I miss going to museums and accessing my PO Box and the bank, and just walking around downtown. What started as a moment of calm is now upended by another panic attack. With things looking so indefinite, I wonder if this is what retirement is going to look like.

May 22, 2020 – A homeless man seeks a bath

  • Global cases are now 5,213,557 / global deaths are now 338,232
  • US cases are now 1,601,434 / US deaths are now 96,007
  • Our trajectory has not leveled off yet.
  • I wonder if we will hit the 100,000 mark by Monday – Memorial Day.

Today I adjust my focus and stop waiting to go back to the office. I stop waiting for any previous “normal” behaviors or habits to return. I start another round of masks to donate, and expect to make my 400th mask this weekend.

At 8:30 PM, there’s a knock on my door. It’s dark but the profile looks like my youngest brother. But when I open the door, it’s a young homeless man, holding a Home Depot bucket, and asks in halting English if I can fill it with hot water so he can take a shower. Neither of us are wearing masks and we’re not socially distanced because I can barely hear him. I take his bucket to my bathroom, where I rinse it out in the tub and fill it with hot water, and return it to him with a bar of soap. After he leaves, I scrub and disinfect my tub and wash my hands twice, and highlight this entry in my log in case I’m sick 2 weeks from now.

Trump demands that churches open today as “essential businesses” and threatens to override governors, raising 10th Amendment questions. I guess he’s still unhappy that churches were closed for Easter. He announced that flags be flown at half mast for the next 3 days to honor those who have died from COVID-19. If I had a flag, I’d be flying it upside down.

May 25, 2020 – George Floyd

George Floyd was killed today, strangled under the knee of one of three arresting officers in Minneapolis. The event was captured on a bystander’s cell phone. It dominates the news cycle today.

May 26, 2020 – Memorial Day weekend

I immerse myself in a non-hat commission, which had the effect of a mental vacation. It gave me a better sense of what my retirement will look like, when I will have more control over what fills my day, and I won’t sit in front of a computer for 8-10 hours with no place else to go.

  • Washington State cases now 20,000, death count is 1,070
  • US cases are 1,666,852, death count is 98,294
  • Chicken and beef shortages are now feared, due to packing houses shutting down.
  • Trump lays his hand on a wreath that had already been placed for the ceremony at Arlington, and then he went golfing.
  • Dr. Birx appears to defend whatever Trump says and has become useless. We’re now looking for Dr. Fauci, who has not been at the recent COVID task force pressers.
  • UW furloughs 4000 medical and admin staff for 8 weeks due to budget shortfalls. They will retain their medical benefits.
  • Washington State Employment Security Office announces they have lost “hundreds of millions” to the Nigerian Canary scheme, which took advantage of holes in our system that were created when the ESD started bypassing steps in an attempt to speed up processing unemployment checks.

I gained 2 pounds overnight and feel feverish but I don’t have a temperature. Another work from home week begins, albeit a short one. I realize today that it’s not work that is stressing me out, it’s the constant barrage of news that comes into my email when I am at my desk. Every single thing seems to be a “Breaking News Alert”.

“Fear is the mind killer.” Face it, and let it pass through.

My timer is now set for the week of June 8 for a second wave as party goers failed to follow COVID-19 precautions over the Memorial Day weekend. Public pools and coastal towns were packed, and newsmakers include Lake of Ozarks in Missouri, the Boardwalk in what I think is San Francisco, and Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The World Health Organization (WHO) forecasts another spike as businesses continue to open too early. Another headline today was that Trump’s “Cut the Red Tape” actions in 2017-18, gutted the Obama-era regulation that would have required hospitals to prepare for airborne contagions and epidemics.

“The Year of Unintended Consequences” is now a hand written notecard on my refrigerator door.

Creative Minds Art Gallery on Orcas Island closes until further notice. Nature’s Kitchen in Yreka CA reopens today but I still haven’t heard from the gallery in Tubac, AZ. Brookfield (in CT) and Peters Valley (in NJ) remain closed tentatively for the rest of 2020.

May 27, 2020 – 100,000+

Today should be proclaimed as a day of mourning, and will be recorded in history as a day of infamy. The US death toll is now 100,411 and makes up one third of the total global death count. Cases are 1,699,073 and the mortality rate is near 6%, which is closer to what I originally estimated for March.

May 28, 2020

Another up and down rollercoaster of a day. I cannot get myself off the computer this week. After a productive weekend, it is disheartening to have such an unproductive, slacker week. I want to do everything. I want to do nothing. I should have gone for a walk today but couldn’t even muster that.

May 29, 2020 – Dumpster Fire Day

The China / Hong Kong / Taiwan mess is going to affect trade in a bad way. I wish Trump would just keep his mouth shut and stop making things worse.

Riots in Minneapolis today may have resulted in the arrest of the officer who killed George Floyd during a botched arrest. Finally.

I’ve been having temperature spikes and weight fluctuations over the last few days, but I wonder if those are linked to fits of depression and today’s total melt down. Fever dissipates by mid-morning, but my mood is still unpredictable.

May 30, 2020 – Protests in Seattle

Peaceful protests here and in several other cities turn ugly when police fire teargas and flash bangs into the crowd. George Floyd is the subject but the end result has little to do with his death. In Seattle, Proud Boys and other white anarchists torch cars and loot stores. Nordstrom on Fifth Avenue appears to be on fire. Starbucks are targeted in several cities. Bus and ferry service is cancelled to the downtown core at 5:45 PM and a curfew is now in place until Monday. We’ll see if tomorrow’s scheduled protests proceed.

In other news:

  • Major thunder storms and flood warnings are issued for Chelan.
  • Murder hornets make their 1st appearance in Washington State.
  • COVID cases rise, so between that and last night’s damage to downtown retail, our reopening will probably be further delayed.

It’s weird being an office manager without an office to manage, and I brace myself for a reduction in hours if our firm starts to lose contracts because of the ongoing trade war with China. (In retrospect, this fear would turn out to be completely unjustified.)

It’s been another totally non-creative week, and even the simple things I try to do today take four times as long as they should. I finish 4 face masks in the time I usually complete 20. I’m still not sleeping well. I wake up angry, and I want to eat and drink everything in the house.

I don’t like this new normal. I want a new one.

Published by augustphoenixhats

I'm a self taught hat & mask maker, working in rescued textiles and found objects. My hat designs are inspired by my travels and historical studies, my masks from the textiles they are born from.

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