week 5 diary > new routines

Got cooking, baking and gardening buddies. Nassi and Ody. We have developed new routines it seems and have become more experimental in the garden and in the kitchen. And I clean a lot!!!
The strawberry plants we bought on eBay arrived and we opened the massive bag of flour and started baking. Actually I do bake with Ody and cook meals with Nassi. Will we have some strawberries this year? Not sure as the plants were mainly  roots… we will see. Maybe we will have to wait until next year.
The weather has been lovely. We had another BBQ… on Sunday when it sort of started raining, a little bit. BBQ and rain seem to go together.
But mainly it has been sunny and warm for NW standards. I can’t remember another year like this. And I have been in the UK for over 20 years now. Drying clothes outside is another of my everyday little pleasures. Half of the garden is a construction site with a scaffold and everything. Yes, the builders working on an extension left it all behind just before lockdown. It would have been nice to have it finished but it wasn’t meant to be.
Work has been really busy. Time flies and I feel that we are now more needed than ever before. Existing relationships are strengthened and new ones are formed all the time that generate ideas for support and collaboration. Last week I participated in a session with our foundation year in art and design and I could really feel how connected my colleagues were with their students and how well they knew them and their work. I can’t wait for next week to see their first sketches, a respond to a live brief and a collaboration that is starting. Bigger plans are also emerging. I suspect things will be clearer in a few days. I am excited and motivated and also feel physically much better. It is all psychosomatic… as a dear friend and colleague keeps saying. Feeling almost normal, which is a little bit scary too, as I just don’t want to get worse again and ever experience that pain again.
No new story this week, but I slowly made some progress with a more detailed version of the storydress stories. While I use autobiographical details, I also free myself from the real experiences and inject my own details that will hopefully make the two stories interesting to a reader. Thinking of capturing these longer version, pure constructs of my imagination, on audio. Both stories together, spoken simultaneously, as they are lived in parallel. I have been thinking about the last feedback I got from my supervisor and am trying to address some of it, hopefully, but in a way that also works for me. I can’t see more text migrating onto the dress, so the above solution with the double layered audio story could work. I will need to finish writing them first and I have been slow… Almost avoiding it?
Coloured in some more of my plywood designs and have moved on to the ones for Christmas. Furthermore, I went back to sewing colourful bags. Working on four at the moment… as if one wasn’t enough. But they do make nice presents. And I love making them. Wanted to experiment with drawing with chlorine on jeans fabric… no, not injecting it. I couldn’t believe my ears this week. Many of the politicians bring me despair and I am not sure why this pandemic should be led by the government, one political party… what about a government of national unity?
The first vaccines were administered at Oxford University. And then fake news started circulating. Not going to repeat them here or link  to it. Why are people so mean?
Is time standing still? … all the Easter decorations are still up.
Stay safe!

There is light! And hope! There has to be…

week 4 diary > we got flour!!!

We got our second Easter this last Sunday. The orthodox one. And we got strong flour. A lot of it, 16 kg. Found it on eBay. It came from Germany. So much baking… is it therapeutic? It must have similar effects to crafting.

made in Germany… apparently

I wrote another story (5 in total now during lockdown) and am looking forward to discussing a specific creative writing project this Friday with colleagues and students. I can’t hide my excitement!!!

Also, over the weekend I made further progress with my storydress, my final assignment for the MA in creative writing. The Contrado site has been really useful as I have no idea how I would have done it otherwise in these challenging times. I guess, I would have come up with another idea in the end. Just hope they will remain open until I am ready.

It is almost done now but I will be writing the story up as a longer piece too and create an audio recording to accompany the final submission. I have struggled to start writing the story in a format that reveals further details. Maybe this is why I turned my original notes into a laconic almost story. A story that doesn’t reveal much. A story that says more by what it doesn’t say. They say silence speaks louder than words. Sometimes. Maybe I was avoiding writing the story or the stories I should say, as they have been so painful? Maybe. I have made a start now and will continue until it is finished. Over the next days and weeks. I have plenty of time until September and am happy with what I have achieved so far.

Going to the supermarket has become an expedition. I will always remember this. Also our cooking sessions with Nassi. We have tried all kinds of new recipes together. Not sure what will happen in September. Will he be able to go to university? As in “going” physically? So many questions… Will he be safe? And Ody and his new school? What will our new normal be when this is all over? Will it be all over? A friend told me some upsetting news recently. I can’t stop thinking of her. I wish she was living nearby.

I like to be in the garden and observing the plants growing. The rocket we planted with Ody is now out but no sign yet of the spinach. I love April and May when our garden fills with forget-me-nots.

Don’t know what else happened this week. I keep busy at work. Thinking about the now and the future. What I can shape. We didn’t go anywhere beyond the garden and my little Wunderkammer that has now also become my office. It is my little escape room too.

No haircut this week. I am still recovering from my operation but am much better. Almost 60 days now after I went to hospital. Trying to watch the news less but it is hard to escape them. Feeling sadness about all the people who are ill and loosing their lives. I wish there was a cure… I wish there was a vaccine…

week 3 diary > Escaping through food?

I started worrying more and not sleeping that well. Waking up really early. The numbers in the news hurt so much. So many people are loosing loved ones. What progress is there with medicines and a vaccine? Some related news from Oxford University

and the World Health Organization.

I am keeping busy. But then I am always busy. Doing a lot of cleaning, crafting and cooking with the boys. Beyond working, of course. Nassi discovered a yummy BBC recipe and we tried it, together. It was a dhal recipe. We will definitely do this again. Made another rhubarb cake and tsourekakia. I make the dough in the bread maker it it always seems to work. Is food taking over our lives? Is it the one thing we can still enjoy?
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We also did some gardening. Spinach and rocket. Haircut No 2 happened this week. It was Ody’s turn. Nassi and I did it together. I have to admit it was mostly me. I was far too instructive.
The boys are spending a lot of time in front of screens. Far too much… they have not talked about what is happening. They are quiet. I know that they are following the news. I am thinking about the situation a lot. Nassi is going to go to university and Ody to a new school in September? We don’t know yet what will happen. Nobody knows. Times of excitement and anticipation have been turned into silence, endless silence. And uncertainty. Fear also?
Talking with friends and family is comforting. It has been again this week. When will we see each other? When will we be able to travel again without fear? Technology helps and brings as closer together. At least we can see each other from a distance. Missing the human touch though. A smile and spending time together more frequently is now a substitute for everything else… it seems.
Easter Sunday. Our first one. Another Easter Sunday, next Sunday as it is Orthodox Easter then. A quiet day… Ody was unwell the day before and I panicked… Some rest, chamomile tea with manuka honey and toast made him well, after a few hours.
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Ody’s cup… he doesn’t like honey but loved the tea I made him… that had honey in it…

We had a barbecue… in the rain. But the food was yummy. The μπροζόλες reminded me of my childhood and the chicken souvlaki is something I started doing.
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But we had a good time together and the boys did our traditional Easter egg hunt. I always remember doing this as a child. I think my boys will remember this too.
easter

inspired by Marieanne Cavaciuti www.damsontreepottery.co.uk

Not much else to write. Thinking about the next excursion to the supermarket and how to clean the stuff Adam will bring back.This is occupying my mind.

No new story this week but some encouraging news about one I wrote already. More regarding this soon. Below some gems I found about our current situation that link to my picture book love. Hopefully, we will be able to contribute also. 

From my window, an R/GA story, access here

Coronavirus a book for children by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts illustrated by Axel Scheffler and published by nosy crow, access here

The book of hopes access here

Stay safe!

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Inspired by Hazel Terry at hazelterry.com and her fun craft activities

Week 2 Have I been home forever?

Usually we are away around Easter. Not this year…

Numbers and stats everywhere and all the time. The graphs make it all look like a race? Such a deadly one. Thousands of people are loosing the fight with the virus. Everywhere. So so sad. So much pain. Even the UK’s PM Boris ended up in intensive care on the 6th of April. I hope he and everybody else will make it and fully recover!!! Nobody should have to go through this.
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made more angels as we all need at least one, stay safe!!!

I struggle to watch the news. Struggle following developments on social media. And journalists seem to ask questions around how long we will be locked into our houses. Is this a useful question? And why is everybody keen to get out when there anyway when there is a real danger that “free movement” would make it all worse for all of us? Hard to say this when thinking about Brexit and what the EU stands for…  but the circumstances have changed and it has now become a matter of life or death. What if journalists would ask questions around the progress researchers are making, and UK’s involvement to find ways to treat individuals who are infected. Any vaccine? There must  be hope. Where is it?

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The house is getting cleaner by the day despite the fact that all four of us are here all the time. Outside work, I have been  crafting, (re-)potting, wrote one more picture book story (we are now at number 4) and spending some time with the boys mainly preparing meals and eating together. Ody changed his whole room just yesterday, moved all the furniture around and created a new space for himself. I made some face masks. We all have one now. Made out of layers of fabric, some from off cuts from our Fashion Institute. The one shown here is for my dear colleague and friend Haleh. 

With Nassi, we made Jamie’s cauliflower and cheese pizza without following the recipe too closely. It worked. Didn’t look as good as our normal colourful pizza but we ate it with an appetite and it was something different. We had to use 50-50 strong and normal flour. We have now officially ran out of strong flour. We got some yeast.

Rhubarb flat cake was also something we tried for the first time this week. We made it twice. I used my basic non-recipe for flat cake and we added the rhubarb at the top. It did sink into the mixture. We sprinkled sugar and cinnamon over the cake and put it in the oven. It was yummy as it quickly disappeared.

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Rhubarb will be the one fruit we will have for the whole year and don’t need to go out and buy. Later, much later we will hopefully have some apples and pears. The strawberry plants don’t look that good this year. Oh, yes, Adam’s tomato plants will go in the greenhouse when it gets a bit warmer and brighter. The little plans are doing really well so far.

Being resourceful is key and positivity is equally important in these difficult times. I found the related webinar this past week with our guests  Gerasimos and Haleh insightful and the experiences they shared will help others move forward in their practice and be there for their students in a meaningful way. The importance of the emotional presence and community definitely came out of our conversations.

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This week, I found the open course Let’s break the chain Covid-19 infection developed by MBRU including Prof. Nabil Zari whom I met in Thessaloniki at a conference some years ago. I found the course  very informative and clear but still have some questions around mask wearing. Is it suggested for the general population not to wear the surgical masks because there are not enough? And if this is the case, what about DIY face masks, which I have started making following some online instructions I found? After completing this informative course, I have become an #MBRUCommunityImmunity Ambassador. I am responsible to protect myself and my community from #COVID-19. I challenged 5 friends to take the course. https://learn.mbru.ac.ae/courses/covid19 > Please do the course and share it further.

I remembered the time I was a translator and the joy I got translating a book by a living author, despite the struggles to do the translation itself. The experience was always so much richer and the struggles more bearable. The final output was also better when I could make that personal connection between author and translator, to establish that bridge. I reached out to connect to better understand their work and share my joy and care for their work with them. For me it was important for them to know that. Often I asked questions, things I wasn’t sure about, things I wanted to understand better to do their work justice but also to celebrate. Peter Härtling (just saw that he died a few years ago, so sad that he is no longer with us) was the author I did this on multiple occasions, as I translated a number of his books, and then we even met one year at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Are such exchanges valuable in other situations too? I have also found this approach really useful in the context of scholarly activities around learning and teaching and see this as a form of collegiality and peer review that connects people and ideas. I have seen that other people do this too, as I am sometimes contacted by people who are using my work. It makes me smile and is lovely to hear that it is useful for others, furthers their thinking and takes my work into new directions. I also continue learning through this process and the discoveries others make. The discoveries we make. That is what it is all about.

My wellbeing, I feel has been boosted by staying in touch with dear friends and family. Care and compassion at the heart, being there for each other in any way we can. Aristotle said that humans are social animals. He was right, we feed from healthy relationships, grow, and are happy in our selves, for others and with others. The noise is disappearing. I can feel it. We also hear the difference in our streets. I hear the little birds singing again. Maybe they were there before and I just notice them now more? A dear friend recently said, we now spent more time talking to each other than before. This desire to connect helps us both. I feel lucky to have met some special people and they are part of my life, to share, celebrate, cry and pick each other up again. Thank you.

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Seeking hope and peace at the bottom of the garden

Stay safe and speak again next week

 

Lock down weekly diary > Week 1

The current need for a diary
I used to keep a monthly diary from the birth of my boys until they were one year old. Diaries can be useful spaces to reflect, make sense of situations and move forward. But also to preserve moments in time, experiences and emotions. At the end of week 1, I decided to keep a weekly diary while the UK is in lock down from the 25th of March 2020.
Week 1
This week was my first full week back to work after an operation and trying to fully recover. I guess when we get older everything takes longer. I just need to be (more) patient but I do need to acknowledge that I am making progress and hope to be fully fit again soon. Going back to work meant working from home due to the lock down of the whole country, well the whole planet almost. I have to admit that this situation despite the fact that it is so so worrying for all of us, made my return to work more manageable and flexible and I am able to cope better.
My boys are off school and Adam is working from home for over 10 years now. This has helped as hugely in the past with childcare when the boys are little but he also often mentions that he misses being in a physical place with people despite the fact he has daily meetings and interactions with his colleagues.
This week we have been hooked to our screens a lot. Well, the boys more than us, I think. Not really sure how they feel about the situation. The boys are off schools and their GCSE and A Level exams have been cancelled. There is a lot of uncertainty about the future and how it will all work out. I hope that the government and their advisors will move away from examinations in the future and explore more flexible options that empower teachers locally, their schools and students and enable them to work more closely with universities also. I decided to have a haircut on Sunday and Nassi who will be studying engineering from September, helped me. I call it our collabo20200329_180123rative haircut. We created a shared memory we will always remember. The boys have also been really good with washing dishes and clothes and other things around the house.
I have been getting back to the rhythm of working. Supporting our colleagues on the PgCert and the MA is always a pleasure and helping them in these difficult times is really important. I also enjoy the webinars I have started facilitating with a colleague to help colleagues teaching remotely in this emergency situation and supporting them in other ways as well. One thing I can clearly see is the care they put into their work with students and how resourceful they are. The AdvanceHE webinar with Kathy Wright, Gillian Judson and Jesse Stommel was another highlight of this week. Creativity does seem to feature more recently and I just hope that creative practitioners will be able to have a voice and be listened too more than in the past as they dare to think and do the impossible and make novel connections that have the potential to bring new light and hope to this world.
My lock down started even before the operation due to health issues so I am used to being at home but I do miss going to the supermarket and buying the stuff I want or need. We haven’t filled our house with toilet paper. We only have a few pasta packages and some tomato tins and feta cheese of course. Adam does the shopping and I worry each time he goes out and what he may bring back with him. Online delivery slots seem to disappear fast but it is something I need to look into more closely and systematically. We hope to be able to continue our family tradition to make pizza on Saturdays but flour is nowhere to be seen in Glossop. Well, Adam got some from a tiny bakery but we are now almost running out. Food shortages also means we need to be more resourceful with our recipes and Jamie’s programme on telly has been useful but also some related exchanges on social media. I have tried to prolong the life of my oat milk for example but adding 50% water… we have plenty of rhubarb in the garden and it have been making crumbles but now need to move on and try some other rhubarb creations.
20200330_102401When I was in a lot of physical pain, I reached out to craft as the painkillers didn’t really help me. I continue crafting and this week I knitted some headbands. I tried a new pattern and while it said easy on YouTube I struggled to follow the instructions and gave up. I went back to my wood cuttings I made many years ago and started painting them and then I have written three picture book stories this week, all inspired by our current situation.
I find these various creative outlets for my emotions valuable as they enable my mind to wonder and wander and create something that makes me feel good. The meditation app in the evening helps me fall asleep and forget my worries for a little while. The breathing exercises really seem to help. And while I do most of these activities on my own with everybody in the house, the conversations with dear friends this week have also been equally important and re-assuring. We are not alone in this.
Stay home! Stay safe wherever you are, whatever you do. 
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Angels to protect us all