There were just three of us in my Bellydancing class last night. The rest of the class stayed home for reasons due to the Coronavirus.
The facility where we dance is still open, but we’re expecting it may close any day. So we’re figuring out how to do Zoom classes to keep everyone dancing. It is interesting to me, that like most gyms, that it is actually one of the safest places, besides staying home, to be.
The space is sanitized between each group that uses it. There is an air filtration system and high ceilings, we sanitize our hands and feet (since we dance barefoot), keep at least six feet apart from each other, take and record our temperatures and, of course, wear masks.
Winter is here and, as predicted, cases of the virus and deaths from it are rising. It’s a Covid Winter.
So I stitched an image of the coronavirus with a hat and scarf. The words Covid Winter and 232,639 the number of deaths from the virus as of today.
You can see my Corona Kimono from the most recent entry to the first one in April, here.
I sit in a cushioned chair at the end of two industrial dining tables pushed together waiting for my mother. After a few minutes, she comes through the door pushing her walker, looking small in the cavernous room, a young woman with long brown hair and wearing colorful scrubs at her elbow.
Before the pandemic, it used to be the dining room. Now the tables and chairs are piled around the edges of the room. A temporary wall divides the space so two residents of the Assisted Living Community can have visitors at the same time.
I already had my temperature taken and signed the papers with all the standard Corona Virus questions.
“I feel like royalty,” I say to the tall woman orchestrating it all, as she leads me to the long table with a chair at either end. It’s like one of those British movies where the rich couple sit on opposite ends of the long table meant for more than two people.
She laughs almost relieved, “Oh that’s good,” she says “I like that”. I get the feeling she expected me to say something else.
My mother had been in Assisted Living about a month. This was the first time I visited her since she moved. I had to put my glasses on to see her across the table. I felt like we were yelling trying to be heard through our masks and across the distance.
Talking has always been difficult between my mother and me. In a way, these new obstacles at least gave a tangible reason for it.
We talk for forty-five minutes until the tall woman comes back in the room and says it’s time for my mother to go. I wait for the aid to come in and lead her out of the room before I leave.
Although the place where my mother is living is very nice in so many ways, and she seems to be very comfortable, even happy there, I was reminded of the time visiting my ex-brother-in-law in prison.
I didn’t cry till I got back in my car.
In the past few years I haven’t seen a lot of my mother even though she lived only a little over an hour away. Now she’s now living in a very nice place where she’s getting the care she needs. So it isn’t as if our relationship is much altered by her move.
But it was sad to actually see her in this new and final stage in her life.
I visited my mother about three weeks ago and knew that I wanted to include the visit on my Corona Kimono. But it wasn’t until today that I could get myself to draw the image that came to my mind and commit it to thread.
There was no question about what I’d be doing in my studio this morning.
It was like finding the lost pieces of a puzzle. The words fit perfectly around the thread drawing I had done of Trump playing golf standing on the number of people who had died of the Coronavirus through September 17th.
Then around the image and words, I did a thread drawing of a cross-section of the coronavirus.
What just months ago would have seemed like a scene from a bad Sci-Fi movie, is now normal.
On Saturday I went with Jon to get a COVID 19 test before his surgery.
We drove into a parking lot behind Saratoga Hospital and waited in the car under a canopy for a nurse covered from head to toe wearing a blue gown, mask, face shield, and rubber gloves. She came out and stuck a swab in Jon’s mouth then retreated to the storage contain/makeshift lab with the specimen. We never got out of the car.
Jon had done this already before his first surgery a few weeks ago, so he knew what to expect and luckily wasn’t worried about a positive test result.
It was the strangest drive-thru I’ve ever been to.
It came to me last week that President Trump didn’t have a place on my Corona Kimono. Although I’ve referred to him with some images, I didn’t have an entry that spoke directly to his role in the Pandemic.
The idea came to me this morning. The image of Donald Trump golfing while people are dying of the Corona Virus.
I used my newly found technique of stitching around a drawing that I made, of Trump playing golf, from a photo that I found online.
Under him, I stitched the number of people that have died in the United States, 196,277, and the date beneath it. Alongside him I wrote out the number of people infected with the Corona Virus,6,613,331 in the United States. These figures are according to the CDC.
I dropped Jon off at Saratoga Hospital, watched him walk in, and drove away.
He is having a Cardiac Catheterization. It’s a common outpatient procedure, where it will be determined if he needs a stent placed in a vein to open it up and help pump blood to his heart.
He’s had this procedure before, about four years ago. That time I was with him, drawing my sketch pad in the hospital waiting room. That time Jon needed Open Heart surgery and I followed the ambulance that took him to Albany Med about an hour away.
This time there’s little chance he will need anything other than a stent and I’ll pick him up in five to six hours right where I dropped him off. He’ll be hungry since he hasn’t eaten all day, so I’ll bring him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some water. We already have plans to get ice cream on the way home.
It was strange not being able to go with him into the hospital. Normally I’d spend the day with him as much as I could, waiting with him between tests and procedures, drawing in my sketchpad in the waiting room when I couldn’t be with him.
Of course, I can’t help but think of all the people who have and still will die in hospitals without the people they love around them, because of the Corona Virus. I think of the people who can’t be with them.
I am getting a tiny taste of what that might have felt like.
So although I sit here wondering how Jon is doing at this moment and the next, I am truly grateful that he is at a very good hospital, getting healthier as stitched the images and words on my Corona Kimonoand as I write this.
When I look back at it now, I see the words “A low hum of menace” stitched in purple thread. I remember that feeling, the uncertainty I and so many other people were feeling. The expectation of the unknowable.
There’s still so much we don’t know, but it does seem evident that the virus isn’t traveling through the mail. I don’t know of anyone who is still washing down packages or leaving mail in their garage overnight.
But the USPS is once again on people’s minds.
This time in regards to mail-in voting, a necessary service for so many people, like me and Jon, who don’t want to risk going to a polling station to vote, during the pandemic.
And like everything else regarding the Corona Virus, there is political controversy surrounding it.
Voter suppression has a long history in our country, beginning with the Founding Fathers who severely restricted who could vote. It has manifested in some complicated ways over the centuries and this year it’s coming, from our Federal Government, in the form of severely limiting the mail service.
Ever since I started my business, I’ve had a very personal relationship with the post office, which I visit several times a week to ship my art, and the people who work there.
When I think of the first months of the Corona Virus Shut-down and how the postal clerks at my post office, Wendy and Josie, believed they may have been risking their lives to keep the post office going, I get choked up at their courage and commitment.
What I don’t get is how the Post office was important enough to keep open and potentially risk the lives of the people who worked there a few months ago and now it’s just a financial burden.
I made some practice drawing last night as I was listening to the Democratic Convention. Because of our history, I understand that some of us will probably always have to fight to vote. But I never imagined we’d have to fight for our post office.
You can see the history of my Corona Kimono since that first April 6th entry here.
I had so many ideas for my Corona Kimono, I didn’t know which to choose for today. But when I listened to the news this morning, the end of the Moratorium on Evictions hit me the hardest because of the immediate impact it will have on so many people as well as the long term implications.
I placed this entry to my Corona Kimono above Naked Athena on the sleeve of the Kimono.
It’s hard to position the sleeve under my sewing machine to do my tread drawing. I have to be careful not to sew the pieces of the Kimono together (which I only did once with this drawing, but have done many times before).
I heard today that there can be as many as 40 million evictions. So I used those words and Moratorium on Evictions Ends with today’s date as the background.
There’s not too much space left on my Corona Kimono. I still have the backs of the sleeve to do but otherwise, the back of the Kimono is covered. I’ll keep working on it till it’s all filled up.
Well I thought about it and decided to make my Naked Athena Corona Kimono drawing into a magnet.
I just sent the image off to Sticker Mule and should have the magnets sometimes next week. I’m not sure I’ll be able to sell them on Etsy so I’m limiting it to just 50 magnets.
I see Jen, the woman who sat naked in front of the Homeland Security Troops sent into the Portland Protests, more as the goddess Sheila na gig than Athena.
Sheila na gig is the ancient goddess who sits naked with her legs wide often holding open her vulva. She is mostly found carved onto churches in Ireland and no one really knows what she represents although there is lots of speculation.
Sheila na gig still shocks people much the way Jen did when she used her nakedness to protest the troops that brought more violence to the Portland Black Lives Matter Protests instead of quelling it.
Jen’s protest was personal, creative, and powerful.
She is the antithesis of the heavily armed and armored men who shot bullets at her feet when she confronted them by standing naked in front of them. She said she wanted to show them what her “version of vulnerability looks like”…her “version of power“. She wanted them “to see what they were shooting at.”
I listened to an interview with Jen on the podcast Unrefined Sophisticates. She didn’t plan her action. She said, “I felt like I was following my nature…my impulse to be who I am”.
And when she sat down in front of them it was her way of saying “Shoot at this. Look at this, you can’t say I have a weapon now other than this yoni.”
Jen talked about performance art and being a sex worker. To her, this action came from “a lifetime of experience”.
I’ll be charging $7 for the magnets and will donate $2 from the proceeds of each sale to Black Lives Matter.