Today in May, 2022

At the beginning of May, I was on my way back from Minnesota, and I had such a big adventure I am still working on writing about that.

The United States passed a million documented Covid deaths this month, and if that fact was officially recognized, I did not hear it. Everyone seems to have completely lost interest in Covid, as if the pandemic is over. It isn’t.

And then, our beloved old dog Captain went to bed one night and didn’t wake up the next day.

I make room within myself to accept the arrival of more bad news, like it is normal, and expected. Captain’s cremated remains wait for me at the emergency vet, where my son and I took him on that bad Saturday. Maybe I will go on a day where the U.S. Supreme Court leaks yet another opinion that I am not a person worthy of bodily autonomy, or a day where a guy with a car full of military-style weapons goes to a supermarket or school to shoot up and kill young children or elderly shoppers. You know, just another Thursday in America.

Today in April, 2022

The light changes in April, and the skunk cabbage comes poking up out of the mud in the swampy woods, and the grass in Bedhead Hills becomes vivid green. Daffodils do their daffo-thing. It’s nature’s sleight of hand. One day it’s late winter, and the next, the birds are screaming, my eyelids feel like sandpaper, and I’m running Covid tests because I forgot about spring and I forgot about allergies.

All those years ago when my mother did us the disservice of dying in April, she should have picked a more dismal month, like February or November to ruin. Better still, she could have refrained from dying at all, and stuck around for the death-fest that is Life in the Time of Coronavirus, when hundreds and thousands die every day and no one cares. Then, we’d have spent every day of the last two years worried for her safety.

If, in the past, I felt peaceful making these, I have lost that feeling now. It might come back. I’ve saved it a seat. Meanwhile, I am still doing it automatically, without asking myself to do it. It is a daily practice. A chore, even. An obligation. To what? To the horror? To something I started and don’t know how to finish?

The totals go up. The daily deaths and cases got pretty low, but they didn’t go away. And then the cases started going back up again, despite the fact that no one seems to be counting anymore. A new variant is just around the corner.

In the spirit of “Everything is Fine,” I spent the last six months getting ready to go to the Vizsla National Specialty Show in Shakopee, Minnesota, and on the 23rd of April, I loaded the car with a lot of stuff and two dogs and hit the road.

I did not miss a day.

More about my trip next time.

February 2, 2022

On this day, Wednesday, the 2nd of February, in the last month of the 2nd Year of Our Pandemic, 2022, I recorded the data published by the New York Times on four boxes that fit together.

The outermost box is covered in obituaries with painted skulls. Inside surfaces are painted paper collage.

Total worldwide cases as of this date, 381, 675, 145. 5,686,747 total worldwide deaths attributed to Covid-19.

3,262,391 new cases per day, worldwide average. 10,234 new deaths from covid, in all its variants, each and every day.

10,101,836,424 vaccine doses administered worldwide so far.

On this day, 295,3374 new U.S. cases were found, and 3,579 dead were reported.

805,00 vaccine doses are going into Americans each day.

128,284 Americans currently hospitalized with Covid.

(Only) 64% of Americans are fully vaccinated.

75,285,898 total U.S. Covid cases have been counted so far.

889,522 total Americans have died of Covid as of February 2, 2022. In the week since, the U.S. has passed 900,000 dead.

On this day, 214 new New York deaths counted. 6,267 New Yorkers hospitalized with Covid.

6,468 new New York cases just detected.

4,796,000 total official New York cases of Covid-19 as of this date.

64,461 total New York deaths from Covid.

In Westchester County, New York, where I live, 6 new covid deaths reported on this day, and 257 new cases. 242,283 total Covid cases so far, and 2,622 total deaths.

The finished larger box also has room for all the boxes I made in earlier months.

Today Again in January

People are saying it’s now the third year of the pandemic, but for me, it started March 14, 2019, so we are still in the second year, and closing in on the end of the second year.

92 skulls this month. No pandas.

I remembered to do a tea box again for the first time in many months. Big numbers, little box. Eggi was very helpful in the demo.

I used both sides of 5 cereal boxes this month, something that wasn’t necessary, but it was possible. As it is, you have to flatten a cereal box to put it in the recycling, so there you are, cardboard in hand, deciding if you could re-use it.

Grackle was a regular pest in January.

People on Twitter had things to say about the stripes. Here’s what I can tell you: I dreamed I did it.

Idaho should not feel singled out; I found a box of maps. If you have an old map of a state you’d like me to feature, maybe we could work out a trade.

The 20th, below, became the 25th, and then became the 26th. Shit happens.

Those paintings are still there; you just have to see them with your mind.

I feel I have a new relationship with the color yellow now.

Because I write these numbers down every day, when we passed ten billion vaccine doses administered worldwide on Friday, January 28, it was cause for exclamation. I yelled, like, “holy fuck,” or something. That’s a lot of shots. There are still plenty of Americans yet to get theirs, and if you know some, I’m sorry.

Pretty soon I’m going to have to buy some more paper. I’m thinking about making these smaller for a while; I’m not sure how that will work.

Last Year, Today Again in December

About 434 days ago, I started writing down what day it was, because I was having trouble telling what day it was.

We’ve had only a few days of genuinely cold weather this winter, and one snowy day. Otherwise, it was mud, mud, mud outside at the end of 2021, that very long, very strange year.

Some nights I dream about making paintings. Once, I dreamed I was in a great gray void with a long, long brush that was two or three times as tall as me, and a clanking tin bucket of black ink hanging on my belt, and I danced across a great, undulating sheet of soft, thick paper as it floated on a shallow sea. The paper wanted to curl into a scroll before I could finish writing the numbers, trapping my feet between the two tubes.

Thanks to the arrival of the omicron variant in the U.S., on top of the reluctance of about 40% of America to bother getting vaccinated, we ended 2021 in the U.S. with an explosion in the number of infections. There may not be enough test kits available to measure the cases.

I had an impulse to paint over the 20th and it became the 27th. I also painted over the 26th, and it became the 31st.

Today Again in November

Yes, I am still making them.

Did I think, last November, that I was starting this at the beginning, middle, or end of the coronavirus pandemic? Did I imagine the pages would get bigger and bigger? That I would use yard signs and cereal boxes? That there would continue to be inconsistent messages to Americans about wearing masks? That so many people would forgo being vaccinated in favor of just being demonstrably stupid?

Add to this the fact that our least democratically chosen and highest court in the land is now hearing another challenge to Roe v Wade and it looks like the decision will be in favor of the special religious interests and against the poorest women in America, who apparently do not deserve bodily autonomy.

I went to bed angry last night. And I woke up angry.

Don’t you dare tell me to vote. I voted.

An abortion is a medical procedure. A religious fringe group has decided that procedure offends them, and they’ve spent 40 years working to change laws in your state to limit your ability to have that procedure. The Supreme Court has been packed with justices hand-picked to make this decision in favor of the religious fringe, and, if the vast majority of Americans doesn’t like it, well, too fucking bad.

We were taught that ours is a system with checks and balances, and is a democracy, with liberty and justice for all. All.

No matter what I try to think about today, it is drowned out by the screaming fact that American women are not yet considered people. There is no liberty without bodily autonomy.

I will end with the cat. He likes to step on the work.

Today in October

I have been doing a poor job of keeping up with this: the BLOG. I am going to come right out and say it: writing is hard and I am quickly bored with whatever words I put down.

I have been doing a good job of making these things, though, so there’s that, and, ok, yeah, sure I missed a day this month, but oh, well, it happens.

This month marks the end of an entire year of making these. These things. Sometimes I use paint and I guess they are paintings. Those sometimes I think I could call them data paintings. But other days I use glue and paper and ink, but a brush. Ok. Maybe that’s a painting. And then there are the pencil drawings. Those aren’t paintings. Since it’s a daily practice, lets call it that. The Daily Practice. That, or an anti-NFT.

Mid-month, I went to Virginia with Fellow for the Vizsla National. I just got the pictures downloaded, so that story will be next week.

While we were gone, the Bacon Provider got the puppy Dibs weaned and started getting him housebroken.

When we got back, we had about ten days and then it was time for Dibs to go to his forever home.

Today in July

Opening nonsense paragraph: now with fewer words.

Followed by second paragraph, now with more jokes. Ok, maybe no jokes. No jokes at all.

Third paragraph, nothing funny. Ok, wait. July 13th’s cat is really ugly. I made it ugly, and liked it that way. Ugly, and dangerous. It’s a mood. Ugly cats are funny.

Old novels have a lot of women doing needlework in them. They never lose needles in the bed of the Air BnB, and, man, I looked and looked and never found it. I am getting faster at the needlework, and somewhat better, but sorry, whoever finds that lost needle, in their unsuspecting foot, or worse.

This would be a good point to have some words about buildings, pets, or food. I’m sorry. Yes, we each know that one someone who won’t get vaccinated, and, no, there is not this one thing you can say to them to get them to change their mind.

Gee whiz, July was long

Looks like over 150 skulls this month (unless I counted wrong). And three cats.

Pandemic Quilt for March 1, 2021

and, so, like, at some point in February, I was doing my daily “Today is” thing and had the impulse to make the daily data into a quilt.

Here’s what I had in mind: like, you know, where it says “Today is” and then the date, and then the usual data (new U.S. cases, number of dead, number of people vaccinated). I pulled out a bunch of black fabric and a bunch of white fabric and started playing with making letters (which I had never tried), but without planning, or measuring, or consulting advice online, or any other things that might have sucked the fun out of it (or made it better). By the time I had made the words, “Today is Monday,” I was aware that I was not going to be able to lay out the words in lines that would make sense.

So I thought I would also have some room for skulls, which was good.

Anyway, when March 1 rolled around, as we knew it would, pandemic or no, I publicly shared the thought it might take me a few days to finish.

I assume I was being sarcastic.

I finished piecing what I thought of as the quilt top on March 16. It was too large to measure in my sewing room. And it was only vaguely rectangular.

Does a quilt have to be a perfect rectangle? No. Could I have tried harder to make it a perfect rectangle? Yes.

I was a fan of Vine, and I enjoy TikTok. No doubt I will enjoy the next short-form video social media platform, too.

Then I started on the back, for which I had in mind a large skull surrounded by coronaviruses. I did not plan it well, and do not recommend working according to the method that my progress photos, below indicate.

The back of the quilt took up so much of that green fabric (I had many yards of it in my stash), that I had to cut up a pair of unfinished pajamas that I had started to make from it. Every time I start to sew clothing for myself I become so convinced it will be a failure that I never even finish. So cutting up the unfinished pajamas was a typical end for a project of mine.

There are a lot of reasons not to make quilts that are too large. Keeping the top of a small quilt flat is simpler. Small quilts weigh less, and so are easier to move, to measure, and to quilt. Small quilts can be laid out and basted on the floor of a small sewing room. I know; I know. There may be more reasons I don’t even know. My ability to fail to demonstrate my understanding of this lesson is noteworthy. I had to piece together batting to have enough.

I quilted with the green side up because quilting with white thread on a white fabric background is harder to see mistakes. I have a Sweet Sixteen machine for quilting, and I love it. I finished quilting May 4. For the binding I used scraps.

I finished burying thread ends and hand-stitching the binding just after midnight last night, and waited to wash it until this morning. I used five color-catching sheets because if the green fabric ran onto the white during the first washing, I wouldn’t have found that funny at all.

The finished size of the quilt is 87.5” by 102.5” by 83.5” by 97.25.” It’s a quadrilateral. It weighs 8 lbs., 10 oz. It is so big that to take a picture of it, I had to take it outside, lay it in the grass, and set up our tallest ladder.