Wednesday, October 28, 2020

October Current Books on my Shelf

Back to my reading list! I'm realizing more and more that I stopped reading for pleasure when I was working on my master's degree years ago. I was so busy working through my classes that the thought of even a novel was too much. It's been a few years, a few moves, and a pandemic to put me back into the state of mind to enjoy reading. 

 *Note: I finished most of this post before I had COVID! It has been slow, slow healing with lingering symptoms. I've found myself having trouble focusing; I'll reread the same page over and over again.

by Tee Franklin, Jenn St. Onge, Joy San, Genevieve FT

I need to stop picking books that make me cry...seriously though. The artists did an excellent job of representing two women in love and wove their stories together like a perfectly knit sweater. The art was fantastic, and I would definitely read any other book by these authors/illustrators. I'll be dropping this in my classroom library at some point, probably when I stop rereading it! We need to normalize these love stories! Also, graphic novels are an excellent way to reach out to more readers.

by Caitlin Doughty

Ever since I was a kid, I was interested in death. My mother called it a "morbid curiosity," which I fed with as many books and movies as I could stuff into my brain. I've read other books by Doughty, specifically Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, where she discusses her experiences in the funeral industry and how we handle death in the US. She's a part of the Death Positive movement, which seeks to help people become more aware of dying, death, and find ways to help people cope and honor the process. 

In this newer book, she travels around the world to study different cultures and how they perceive death. As I'm reading, I'm transported back to the time when my own Grandma was dying, and how working through it with her (we joked that she was my soon-to-be-dead Grandma Dolly) before she died and participating in her arrangements helped me through my own grief. I have pictures of my Grandma at the funeral, as well as a lock of her hair. Based on this reading, my efforts at coping are quite normal in different parts of the world. If you are someone who has lost a loved one or want to know more about death and how it is celebrated around the world, I highly recommend this book. 

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Let me start by saying this is not a normal reading for me. I joined a nerdy girl book club, and though I like discussing any literature, I would have not picked this. With that said, I did enjoy it. It was a very Scifi book, though it was written in 1912. Please enjoy the scantily clad alien lady on the front cover! I wouldn't dare ruin any aspect of this book with spoilers, but I'll say it is a short read. There are aliens and monsters and fighting and science-y stuff. And if you REALLY get into it, apparently there is more to the series!

by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell'Edera

Another graphic novel, emphasis on graphic! My local comic store stocked up on Halloween series a few weeks ago, and I snapped up this beauty based on the cover art alone. It is not kid-friendly, so this will not be passed on to my students at some point but will remain safely tucked away in my private library at home. The story is written very well, and indeed something is killing the children. Read with caution, read with care, read with the light on!

5. Paper Illusions: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave
by Barbara Stoeltie, Rene Stoeltie

I'm going to be completely transparent about this book; while there is an introduction and information about Isabel, most of the book is made up of brilliant images of her work. She creates clothing and outfits from paper that she molds and paints. I'm in awe of each piece for its intricate but stunning presentation. It was a really, really nice book to read while I've been sick because of the beautiful pictures. Really now I want to work with paper again! Perhaps when I'm feeling better...


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Non-Consensual Participation in the Historic Covid Pandemic

 To start, I want you to know that this blog post took about a week to write. Not because it is a difficult topic, or that I'm so out of practice in the art of writing that words escape me (ha). I'm exhausted beyond what I thought was possible to still be a person, and even the drugs and measures I've taken to keep me standing barely do just that. Most of the time I'm passed out on a surface in the house, but I thought it was important to write this.

I returned to face to face, hybrid teaching about two weeks ago. I went from a distance learning format, where I saw no students, to seeing students every hour, all day. Cases were going up in the state of Michigan.

Let me add here: I wore a mask when required. I did my best to keep a distance from my students, though it is not possible with the space we have. I washed my hands and my desks and everything imaginable when I got home. I've taken vitamins and stayed hydrated. I only went to the grocery store. And yet, I contracted COVID.

It started with me being a little tired. Honestly, it felt like allergies, so I took an antihistamine and decided to rest. When I woke up the next day, I felt the beginnings of a cold. Immediately I contacted my work because I'm not going to play around with that stuff. Thus began my first week of quarantine.

At first, I was aching, sore, and tired. My chest was congested and I had a fever, as well as gastrointestinal symptoms. A sore throat appeared. My nose was burning, and I lost my sense of taste and smell. I taught virtually from my home, hours in the day despite my symptoms. I didn't want my students to worry and I was worried about falling behind. So I spent 4 days teaching and grading and doing all the things I shouldn't be doing. In my defense, I wasn't moving around a whole lot, mostly because I would get dizzy and need to sit down again. But this was wrong and I will tell anyone, just because you feel well enough to do something, doesn't mean you should. You're going to need every ounce of energy for the next part, so get ready. By this time my test came back positive.

I really hoped I was nearing the end of this...and then it got worse. Suddenly I could barely move, roll on my side from one position to the next. My resting heart rate was really, really fast. The pulse oximeter detected lower oxygen, then lower, and we prepared to possibly take me to the hospital. Here I am, 32 years old, and I can't even hold my head up. This was the scariest moment so far, Luckily my fiance worked with COVID patients and has the experience to take care of me.

Let me say this: I have ZERO respect for you if you call this the flu. I think you're an idiot if you think "herd immunity" is the answer (which would kill thousands of more people). My lungs may be permanently damaged, though we won't know for a bit BECAUSE THERE ARE NO LONG TERM STUDIES ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF COVID. This could be a really, really bad October for me or the start of a lifetime of health issues. All I did was physically walk into a building that I've been working in for a decade and do the job I've always done.

COVID isn't done with me yet. I'm still under quarantine and can barely walk to the bathroom. My bag is still packed just in case my oxygen dips again. I can't talk for too long without taking gulps of air like a person drowning. I'm having trouble sleeping because everything hurts. I've needed help getting dressed because I did not have the strength to raise my arms to put on a shirt. Literally, my biceps would not work, even with medicine and caffeine.

It definitely felt weird to take a picture right now, but I think I should be documenting what's happening to me. COVID is a legitimate, terrible virus that has killed 225,000+ people in the US alone. It is not a hoax against the president. The policies in place now have allowed it to spiral out of control, and I would be unbelievably angry if I wasn't so tired and focused on drinking this glass of water. Quit complaining that life isn't back to normal. 

I will add an update this week depending on how I feel. Please, please stay safe in the meantime. I'm going to get some rest because it is necessary right now.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Tidy Little Punch Paper Box

As the school year progresses, I often find myself busy with winter projects. I have piles of punch paper, as well as wool embroidery floss and silk taffeta. Suddenly, this box appeared! Isn't it cute? Perhaps I will give it as a gift, or maybe keep it for small things on my desk. It didn't take very long to make either. That's what I love about punch paper! It's quick and easy.


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Falling into Autumn

 Autumn in Michigan is really a sight to behold. The skies stay blue but the wind blows cold. As I stare out of my window now, I see the trees in brilliant gold and red hues. There's ALWAYS the smell of a campfire or cooking stove, almost as if it soaks in our skin. Thus begins the sleepy, pre-nap phase that is Fall.

The pets are settling into the routines quite nicely. Pup gets a walk every day, while the cats are lounging on every surface possible. We have a little enclosed area for them to hunt insects outside and they love hunting their prey. It keeps them busy and out of our way when we're trying to get things done.

I've started some new projects as well. A few Christmas gifts in progress, and I've started painting Warhammer miniatures. They are intricate little pieces used for a game, which reminds me a bit like risk and a role playing game all rolled into one. For me, there is something pleasing about painting the tiniest of details. Of course another craft to add to the pile!

I do have a few historic things to add over the next week or two. I never seem to remember to take pictures of what I'm working on. At the very least I have a cute box to show off when it is finished! I'll update when I have more time to write.

Stay safe! Prep for Halloween!


Friday, October 2, 2020

Work-Case Made of a Pumpkin

Sometimes you come across something so...interesting, that you just have to talk about it. Let me introduce you to the pumpkin that will be turned into a work-case. I never knew that I needed this so badly in my life. May the harvest bless us all with a PUMPKIN BAG!

Godey's Lady's Book, October, 1870


Materials .-A yellow pumpkin measuring four and four-fifths inches across, some brown glacé silk, thick brown silk braid, round brown transparent beads, gold-colored purse silk, fine gold-colored silk cord and ribbon three-quarters of an inch wide, nine round brown glass buttons, some wadding.
THE pumpkin to be used for this case must be quite dry when gathered. Then hang it up to be dried. After some weeks cut it into halves, empty each half carefully as far as the skin, and bind each half round the edge with a strip of brown silk a quarter of an inch wide. This binding is covered on the outside with gold-colored ribbon, which is folded as seen on Fig. 2, then cover it with brown transparent beads from the same illustration, always drawing the yellow thread through the back of the pumpkin . The half destined for the lower part of the case is ornamented from illustration with eight round buttons, which form the feet, and are placed at intervals of one inch from each other, and at a distance of one inch and two-fifths from the centre. The loops of these buttons are drawn through the bark, a cord is drawn through these loops inside the bark so as to fasten them; the two ends of the cord are carefully knotted together. Each half is lined with card-board and brown glacĂ© silk. The card-board lining is made of a strip of card-board three and three-fifths inches wide; its length must correspond to the width of the pumpkin ; this strip has been gored seven times on one side at regular intervals, so as to have the shape of the pumpkin . The lining is then covered with a similar one of brown silk. The silk lining for the lower part of the case is turned back four-fifths of an inch on the card-board, which latter must be about two fifths of an inch higher than the pumpkin bark. On the inside the silk lining is edged along the top with two rows of yellow buttonhole stitches at a distance of three-fifths of an inch from each other; between these two rows work a row of coral stitches. Similar rows of coral stitches cover the seams of the lining. At the bottom of the case fasten a small round silk quilted cushion; the seam is covered with gold-colored silkcord. The lining of the upper half is not ornamented. Sew a round flat piece of card-board, covered with brown silk, in the top half at a distance of four-fifths of an inch; a double cross-strip of brown silk three-fifths of an inch wide is sewn on across this piece of card-board; it is stitched down along the edges, ornamented in the middle with coral stitches of yellow silk, and stitched on the bottom in such a manner as to form loops, in which the scissors, thimble, cotton, etc., are to be placed. The seams are covered with silk cord and beads wound round it. Both halves of the necessaire are varnished on the outside, and ornamented with bead borders worked from Fig. 1. In the middle of the upper half the ends of the bead borders are joined to a bead circle, in the middle of which a glass button is fastened. Two bead loops are fastened from illustration on the opposite sides of the case, through which two thick brown cords are drawn for the handle. The cords are plaited together in the middle; the lower ends are sewn together, and fastened on a button of the necessaire, as can be seen on illustration.


On My Bookshelf: December

December has been a really rough month. Between what happened in Oxford (not far from where I live...) and just the general pandemic issues,...