The New Normal

I have struggled to figure out what I should be saying on social media. It all seems absolutely (kind-of-sort-of) irrelevant. What could I possible have to say to a world suffering from a pandemic?

NYT Update March 23 2020Still, I think of writing my blog as part of my job as an artist and quiltmaker. So, I am going to just show up, and be present, and see what happens next.

Earlier this month, just as the US was moving from life as we know it, to shelter in place, I went to Los Angeles to teach for the LA Modern Quilt Guild. My flight left at 6AM on Friday morning March 13. During the course of those morning flights from Anchorage to Seattle to LA, I began to doubt the wisdom of flying and teaching. I scribbled a blog post about that as I flew. 

airplane photo

The LAMQG had planned well, and we had an incredibly large classroom. But as the weekend progressed, we went from an acceptable gathering to a quarantine violating meeting. Each day, the rules of social interaction got more and more limiting.


By the time I flew home on Monday afternoon March 15, I knew that our oldest son needed to fly home too. Between my flights, I booked him a trip to Anchorage in the hopes that we would all be together for whatever came next.

That was two weeks ago.

For the first week, I grabbled with how I was going to manage all three sons under the Alaska shelter-in-place requirements. The food preparation alone was daunting to think about. Layered on top of that, all three of them would be participating in online classes starting Tuesday, March 31. In the meantime, THEIR plan was to game all night and sleep all day.

I became the bad guy.

While I am cooking, and cleaning, and opinuating on gaming, I am thinking, “When are I going to get the work done for my show at Shelburne? How the hell is that going to happen?”

And to be completely honest, I am worn out. I have been on-the-go for about four years now. I am eternally grateful for all of the teaching, and lecturing, and exhibiting opportunities I have had, but each one of them requires me to get up and go over and over again.

Last Tuesday, the Shelburne Museum let me know that they would be postponing my exhibition until May 2021. (Thank you. Thank you.)

At that point, I went into collapse mode. I mean, really, what am I going to do next? Well, the truth is that I am going to do exactly what you are doing. I am going to hunker down and hope for the best.

I am walking and hiking. Alaska Covid-19 mandates clearly state that recreating is absolutely allowed as long as you stay six fee apart.


I am—in a safe and prudent manner— going to the grocery store to stay stocked up. Feeding four dudes is a lot of food. Each trip brings surprises and letdowns—YES! They have chickpeas. NO. They don’t have Wildwood Extra Firm tofu.


I’m ZOOMING. Aren’t you? Can you even imagine an pandemic without modern technology? (Thank you. Thank you.)

cloth in common March 2020 ZOOM

Cloth in Common held its first ZOOM Meeting!

And I am knitting. Okay, the knitting is a bit out of control, but the fact that I am writing a blog post means I have ever intention of reigning this obsession in.


Socks. Socks. Socks.

I spent a week wringing my hands in confusion. I spent a week in trifling activities. And now it is time to get back to business.  Are you with me?

Are you moving in a positive direction as you shelter in place? I wish everyone good mental and physical health. We may be six feet apart, but we can still be together.  

This entry was published on March 30, 2020 at 12:22 PM. It’s filed under Cloth in Common, Exhibition News, Image Journal, Just Plain Stories, Monthly Update, News And Events, Thoughts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

40 thoughts on “The New Normal

  1. Janet Wright on said:

    Time to teach those boys how to cook–survival skill#1. You will be doing their future wives/partners a big favor. Rest came just in time for you.
    I live on an island and the grocery situation is getting worse–We have not had tp, or any paper goods, rice, pasta, sugar (just when the hummingbirds are coming back) and now-the worst –says my husband–NO CATSUP.
    BUT–WE HAVE EACH OTHER–that counts for something. We can think again about what is truly important in life. Hang in there. Janet Wright(I took your class last year in Port Gamble

    • Glad to hear you’re finding a new rhythm and hopefully some rest and creative time. Looking at your schedule the last years I thought you were Superwoman , it was so impressive! But it’s hard to keep that up I assume. Take care of yourself (and let the boys cook and clean once in a while).

      • Cindy Bollinger on said:

        Hi Marie. I too thought you were a SUPERWOMAN! Juggling all those hats in the air. I am glad to hear you are human (makes me feel better about myself). And that you are slowing down a little – even if it took a world pandemic to do it! I would be thrilled to have my children back underfoot – at least for a while- I was always as excited as the kids when there was a snow day or summer vacation – because it meant just a little extra time to enjoy them and interact with them. They grow up so fast and are quickly busy with their own lives. So knit and visit with your guys while they are making dinner and you have your feet up!

        When all this started I was happy that I had quilting to help me pass the time at home. I quilted two donation quilts, made a donation top, made and sewed two bindings on my own quilts. Yesterday I started mask making and even if nobody is able to wear them to take care of coved 19 patients because they don’t meet the standard, I feel good about making them and will make more. As I shared what I was doing with few friends they were quick to say would you put me on your list. I learned there was a need one way or the other. Our guild has shared completed projects on our Facebook page. Bee members are texting and emailing. It’s a great time to tackle your UFO pile. We are trying to maintain our connection. My hope is that we will learn some useful things from this and hopefully it will carry over to the post pandemic world to help us make some improvements on this world we live in. Stay warm in Alaska and keep on quilting. CIndy B from Texas

      • Thank you Cindy for commenting. All you comments are so encouraging. You are right. We must hope that the lessons learned from this experience result in a better world where we are kind and care about each. Take care Cindy. I hope you and yours are A-OKAY.

      • I know. I think that is part of why I am struggling now. I always have had some sort of deadline that was kind, of sort of, overdue. Which meant I was always pushing, pushing myself. And now, who cares? I am slowly getting with the program. Please take Regina. I hope you and yours are good!

    • Janet- I am absolutely using this as a teachable moment. The boys are now responsible for laundry, dishes, cooking, and more. But that means I am the manager of these people which is its own set of problems. You are right. And I am trying to use this time to make them good husbands and partners! I hope you get TP soon!

    • Dear Janet- I hope you get Catsup soon! I have been stocking up on things. Not crazy style, but we do have a major supply of beans and rice. Take care!

  2. Betty Vincent on said:

    Good job to hunker down and get some rest.

  3. Remember to put catching up on your sleep on your list. Take care. Mary

  4. Judy McKelvey on said:

    Thanks for this, Maria! Connecting in this unprecedented way is comforting, even if it’s just a techno connection. I remain 100% disappointed that my last minute knee surgery kept me away from your LAMQG workshops and lecture. You will perhaps be relieved to know that so far as we know, none of the workshop participants have developed signs of COVID19. So yay for that!
    Judy McK.

    • Betty and I have been chatting about things and I am so glad to hear that the LAMQG is A-OKAY. I hope you are on the mend and that our paths cross at another time.

  5. I forgot to say that your feelings are pretty much what I’m hearing from my friends.

  6. Yes, to that.
    The media feeds on and dispenses panic, blame and half truths, that’s what sells.
    So what to do? Stay home and take care of what really matters.

  7. While I don’t have the responsibilities you do (it’s just my hubs and me), I’ve found it invaluable to be making. You’re knitting. I’m quilting. I’ve also been blogging, as I find it especially helpful to write about what’s been going on, as well as hopefully offering some encouragement to others. We’ll get through this – come through better than before – and possibly live in a different culture. We can’t yet imagine the ramifications of this unprecedented event. I like that your store is placing people-spacers on the floor. I haven’t seen that here, but then I haven’t set foot in a store since March 19. We are definitely living in a new world.

  8. Maria – ths is an important post.
    We are all in the same boat – and for once, that’ is not a trivial statement. The world is undergoing a big shift – and maybe that’s the silver lining.
    I have not been able to do any new creative work for two or three weeks – but the good news is that I am starting to think about it.
    You sound as if you really needed a break from the travel and the teaching.
    Be safe and well and take care of yourself and your family.
    Your work is necessary – when it is time to begin again, you will.
    For now, the knitting and cooking are metaphors for the love we are all needing.
    You are doing the best that you can.

    • Judy- thank you so much for commenting. Your words mean a lot to me. I am trying to get my head around what it is I am supposed to be doing as all of this happens. I know/hope my purpose is to empower people to tap into and celebrate their creativity. That seems like such a insignificant job when people are dying and economic systems are breaking. Still, I am starting to understand that each drop counts, right? Whatever we can do for the greater good is contributing to the great good. So, I will keep at it in my own way. I hope you are yours are safe, healthy, and sane.

  9. Lisa Taylor on said:

    Your comment made me think of this: Better to be six feet apart than six feet below.

    Hunkering down in Louisiana!

  10. ramblingranger on said:

    Much love, Maria. Glad you and yours are doing well.

  11. ramblingranger on said:

    BTW, really love your feature shot flying over the mountains!

    • I know. That is a good one. Sometimes I get great photos when I am flying. And that one was really good because I was really coming home to hunker down. I hope you are taking care of yourself!

  12. I am also not sure what to say in these strange times. Thank you for this post and keep knitting — beautiful socks!

  13. Maria, what an excellent email. Thank you.

  14. Pamela Rocco on said:

    Thanks, Maria, for your unfailing generosity in continuing to blog. I, for one, really appreciate your valor in confronting life day after day with courage and grace.

    • I don’t know about that. (smiling face icon). But I am trying! I think I may have figured it out–at least for me. And that means less obessive news reading and more making. I hope you folks are doing good!

  15. I too have struggled what to post on my blog as it all seems like fluff sometimes (should anyone care about my latest project) but we need to keep sharing our crafts and art and spend less time I think reading the news (I news fasted for a day). Love all your knitting WIPs! Those are going to be amazing socks! I live in beautiful Colorado and thank goodness they still encourage us to go outside as long as we stay 6 feet apart, which is not difficult in many part of Colorado. Love your photos!

    • Tierney- You are so right! About all of it. We must do what we do and share it. Getting depressed or overwhelmed will not solve ANYTHING. It has taken me several blog posts to get where you are, but I am with you. YES. We are lucky to live in places where outdoor recreating is allowed and encouraged. Fresh air, sunshine, and good views–these are all things to celebrate. Take care Tierney!

  16. elizabeth a hinze on said:

    Haven’t we all wished that everyday was a Saturday..
    well now it is ! How we now crave for a Sunday or even a Monday : (

    • I know! Life is so strange. So uncharted right now. So sad and so beautiful. When I see how people are treating each other, it gives me so much hope. I hope you are yours are doing well. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  17. We decided to buy a house during this mess…then prepare to sell our house. I mean, being able to bring stuff to the thrift store was always in the plan, but all of those places are shut down. I really can’t get any handyman work done, because what sane handyman wants to work during these times. House cleaners and such (which I normally don’t use) aren’t going out, and it is forbidden to even look at a house to purchase, so we are having so much fun. Let me tell you the last room that I plan on packing up: The sewing room, because this bird needs sanity.

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