Teacher’s Corner: School’s out for Corona

Sing to “School’s out for Summer”.

The ministry of education has finally acted and from Monday on, all schools and daycares are closed. Which is good and necessary. You want to know why schools need to be closed? Here’s an easy example: the primary school next to our school has two suspected cases. They share a schoolyard. One kid is the younger sibling of one of our 7th graders, the other one is the kid of one of our colleagues. Which means that if they are confirmed I may have to go into quarantine. That means no leaving the house. At all. No, not even taking out the trash. It has to be stored inside until we’re declared clear. You aren’t even allowed to put out money for the delivery service, that is considered contagious. Friends and family would have to put food on our doorstep. Oh, and no outdoor crafting.

Not closing schools would mean the kids could spread it, even undetected. I could pass it to my kids, who go to school in a different county. The cycle starts again. Of course this also brings a hell lot of problems for parents of younger kids. I already offered to take in a friend’s kids (should I be declared clear).

What I’m really salty about is how all this happened. Closing schools has been discussed for weeks. We could have had weeks to prepare. But last night the government still said that schools will stay open in order to “ensure quality education”. This morning, the news already reported that we’re being closed down, but until 10 o’clock or so we had no official information. Then we were told to prepare material for the kids, with 40-50% of them already missing. We do have an online platform, but it hasn’t been introduced properly and not all kids have the access codes now. We can only hope that they share the code among each other. I expect phone lines running hot.

On Monday we’ll have a meeting where we hopefully get some instructions. These are not holidays and of course we’re expected to do something for our money. What we can do will be seen.

Those news brought on another run on the supermarkets. Thankfully I only needed food for the weekend. OK, I admit, I stocked up on fish fingers, chocolate and coffee. Well, and crafting supplies have been ordered…

Welcome to Pandemia

As we’re all fretting and worrying, here’s the thread to do so.

I’m currently somewhere between annoyed and worried about other people. The neighbouring region in France was declared an outbreak area yesterday. Of course the kids have come to school in Germany all the time including today and we have quite a couple of kids who live in France (it’s 500m from school, many people take advantage of the lower French taxes until they notice that they also get lower French social pay…). As of tomorrow kids and teacher who live in France can no longer come to school for two weeks.

Actually we’re all just waiting for schools to be closed down completely, but we’re also asking ourselves what our politicians have been doing. Because it’s not like these scenarios  were unpredictable. Any somewhat competent administration should have discussed “what if”, decided on triggers and measures and therefore have their plans ready. Instead what we get are reactions which take precious time. Not to mention that we tend to get our information from the media, not the ministry of education.

Well, at least you should get some resin project pictures.

Personally I just told both my parents and my in laws that we’ll keep our distance. I’m not worried about me, Mr. or the kids, as we’re not risk groups, but very much worried about my mum and my father in law who probably check all the boxes on people with high fatality rates. Of course my mum thought I was overreacting…

So, share your woes, fret and complain, be annoyed with the powers that be.

Jack’s Walk – an Admin Note

Evening at The “Pink” Posada, Manzanillo, Mexico ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s hard to admit that you’re not coping well, but today’s walk is an admission of sorts.

While I was in Mexico, I had limited access to wi-fi, and rather than struggle trying to find a place to read and post, I gave up and took an internet break, which turned out to be edifying. It goes back to the time my mother was dying last year. Mom suffered constant anxiety and required a lot of support, which her caregivers at the nursing home struggled to meet. Neither she nor I had the funds to hire extra help and I took the task on myself. It turned out that I was spending 6 to 10 hours a day with her, hand-holding, calming her fears and helping with her personal care needs. She was expected to die in mid-August from an acute infection, and in agreement with her Dr., we withheld antibiotics as a palliative measure, keeping her as comfortable as possible, but not treating the cause. As it turned out, Mom beat the infection, surprising everyone. She didn’t recover, though, and her decline took many more weeks until she finally succumbed at the end of October. Each and every day I was there – for most of the hours of the day and many hours of the night. My husband and friends all worried about me doing too much, but I couldn’t see a way clear to change things. I’m an only child and so was my mother and all of our family is in Germany, so there was no one else to help.

My mother suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and she could be difficult to deal with. Our relationship was complicated, and I was hoping that by being there for her at the end of her life, we could make peace with each other. That didn’t happen. She wasn’t able to give me what I wanted, but over those many weeks, I lost the need for it. I accepted that her BPD dictated who she was and how she related to the world around her. Slowly I found compassion for her and came to realize how distressing her emotional life had been. My care for her gradually became about pure love for a mother who did the best she could despite her own struggles. It was an emotionally complicated time for me, and there were many days that I fought my own anger, exasperation and disappointment. By the time she finally died, I had let go of a shit ton of crap, but in the process, I burnt myself out, and I never really recovered from it.

Being unplugged in Mexico, I had time and space to reflect on a lot of things, and one of the more difficult epiphanies that I had was that I’ve been putting too much energy and time into this blog. I posted my first Jack’s Walk on March 23, 2018, and since then, I’ve been here every day in one form or another. That’s almost 2 years of daily effort, and I’m worn out. It’s also partly my fibromyalgia. I have a good regime in place (thank you, medical marijuana), and I can often ignore the smaller symptoms, but the larger ones still crop up, especially when I’m tired or overstimulated.  Please, don’t get me wrong… I love this blog and the people who populate it. I wouldn’t have come this far otherwise, but Jack’s Walk has been feeling stale and repetitive, and I need a bit of a break from it.

What does that mean? I’m not really sure in the long-term, but for now, it means Jack and I will only be here twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. In between those days, there might be a post about Russia or Mexico or maybe something else altogether or nothing at all. I have other ideas and maybe taking a break from The Walk will allow me the energy to explore some of them. I’ll still be around every day, but some days it might just be in the background. Charly has thankfully recovered and is posting regularly now, keeping us informed about setting up a new knife-making business and forge with ingenuity and resourcefulness. He’s also sharing with us the art of Bonsai. Giliell still shares her work struggles, her beautiful photos, her art of food and resin, as well as her fearless fight against the Patriarchy, so that relieves some of my stress about keeping this blog alive and viable, which has been my goal since the beginning.

Being a blogger was never something I set out to do; it happened because of the death of a friend, but this blog is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. I always wanted to write, and thanks to all of you, I’ve been able to do that. Now, I hope to catch my breath and focus a bit more on my real life so that I can keep writing and maybe even improve at it. My final thought for today is one of gratitude. The best part of this blog is the way the world has opened up to me. I’ve made friends all over the globe, and I appreciate all of them… all of you. I’ve always said my favourite thing about this blog is reader submissions, and I mean that. Your comments, the photos you send and the stories you share are what make this a meaningful endeavour for me. I think of this place as a community founded by Caine and maintained by all of us, and it is still my pleasure to help keep the lights on.

Jack says hi and wants you to know that even though he’s just turned 12, he is not over the hill and that he plans to have many more adventures.

 

 

Jack’s Walk

See you in March. Photo by Janet B.

I’m leaving for Mexico tomorrow and won’t be back until the end of the month, so after today Jack’s Walk is on vacation until March 2. I’m going to a place called Jocotepec to help a friend pack up her house. She and her husband lived there for 12 years, but he died 2 years ago and Janet moved back home. She’s sold her house there and we’re going down to finish the paperwork and pack up the last of her things. It won’t be all work, though. We have a few interesting field trips planned, including an Iguana Park, a pyramid and a mud bath! We’ll also be going to Manzanillo for a few days because I’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean and we could both use a little beach time. I’ll share the photos when we get home, but you may get the odd Postcard From Mexico while I’m away. No promises, though. I’m ready for a break.

I can promise that The Art of Book Design will be here every day as usual and I thought that Jack’s absence would be a good time to put up the next part of my Russia series, so there will be 2 or 3 posts published about our stay in Uglich. Be sure to look for those. I’ll see you all in March.

Jack’s Walk – A short Admin Note

Late yesterday afternoon, my mother died peacefully in the company of her best friend and myself. Mom’s been inching toward death since mid-August, and while I’m sad that her life has ended, I’m relieved to have her dying ended.
We’ll be having a short service followed by burial on Friday afternoon, so Jack and I will be taking the rest of this week off. We both hope that you have a Merry Hallowe’en, and we’ll see you again on Monday, November 4th.

 

An Admin Note about Jack’s Walk

Hey, Bubba, what are all those spots on you?

Umm, what spots, mom?

Jack and I have been walking at odd hours for the last few weeks because I’ve been spending most of my time at the nursing home with my mother. Mom is in the last stage of her life and is expected to die soon, but it’s turning out to be a long, difficult journey for her.  She has a lot of pain that isn’t always well controlled and she’s s full of fear and anxiety. She often calls out “Help, Oh please help” or asks for mommy or daddy and occasionally for me, but when you ask her what she wants or what’s wrong or what she’s afraid of she goes quiet. She’s also developed a large ulcer on her coccyx from the continuous bedrest. Mom is a big woman, about 240 lbs. and it’s difficult to reposition her so there’s no pressure on that area. About every hour I’ve been rubbing her other pressure points to hopefully avoid another ulcer, but it pains mom and is difficult for both of us.

The nursing home where she lives has given us a private palliative care room with a big, stuffed electric recliner for me. The support workers check on us often and have been fabulous with mom, but I can’t say the same about the registered nursing staff. Some nurses are reluctant to give mom pain meds – one nurse insisted that she had to ask for them herself because writhing in bed and calling out for help apparently isn’t good enough. Some nurses forget to crush mom’s pills and some try to give her  plain water without thickener which makes her choke. I’ve asked and asked for that to be written on her chart, but it hasn’t happened. That’s partly because of the long weekend – some of the nurses come from an agency and don’t know the residents, so I’m hoping that will improve this week. Just to be sure, I’ve put a large sign over mom’s bed about what she needs in case I’m not there.

I’m telling you all of this because I’m burnt out and there’s still a lot of road ahead. My fibro has flared up and I’ve got shingles. I expected both those things, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I have a chronic form of shingles that flares up often, especially when I’m tired or stressed and right now I’m both of those. Something has to give and unfortunately it’s Jack’s Walk the virtual and Tree Tuesday, both of which I’m putting on hold. The nursing home doesn’t have wifi and even if it did I’m not thinking clearly – it’s taken me 3 days to write this – I’m in pain, I’m exhausted and my mom needs me. So does Mr. V whose heart has been acting up with atrial fib.

Jack’s Walk and Tree Tuesday will be back, but I don’t know when. I’ll try to keep posting a daily book, which gives me something nice to think about, but if I miss a day you’ll know why. I’ll be around and I’ll stay in touch. Jack says gawoof, gawoof in his big boy voice which means see you soon.

Jack’s Walk

Early morning at the park ©voyager, all rights reserved

Tomorrow I’m going to be having my last 6 teeth removed and 2 dental implants inserted. It was supposed to be sleep surgery, but the Dr. won’t take the risk because of the combination of drugs that I take so I’ll be awake, which sucks. I will get nitrous oxide and I have some marijuana oil for before and after which the Dr. says will be fine by him. I’ve been told to expect a few bad days post-op which could mean a bad week or two factoring in my fibro. Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, Jack and I have decided to take a virtual vacation. Starting tomorrow until August 19/19 Jack’s Walk won’t be here. You’ll just have to guess what the Bubba and I are up to. Tree Tuesday will also be absent for the next 2 weeks, but Fungi Friday will be here and so will the daily books. Next week the books will feature a few of Caine’s favourite artists and I know you won’t want to miss that. Giliell will also be back from holiday next week and I know she has lots to share from her vacation in Spain. Those are all good reasons to keep tuning us in.

Jack and old, toothless me will see you soon.

 

Blacklist Acting Funny…

Just a quick admin note – I just noticed that our blacklist sends occasionally comments in limbo despite them not containing any of the blacklisted phrases and not being submitted by banned users. I will have to clean up the blacklisted list, there are some generic things in it that were added by Caine back in the past probably to deal with some temporary acute issue.

I have no idea what causes this, it does not happen very often. If your comment does not appear after you post it and you were not banned by either Caine or me, it might just be a hiccup. In that case wait or write a short follow-up comment telling me about this. From now on, I will check the trash more often.

The Tactical Kitchen Auction

Have you always wanted a kick-ass knife that can handle any kitchen task with ease and also protect you from Ninjas? If so, then you should head over to Stderr where Marcus is auctioning off 2 of his handmade knives, here and here. The auction closes on May 5/19 at 10:00 so be sure to check it out soon.

All of the money raised will go towards paying off the legal bills from the Richard Carrier lawsuit. The ridiculous suit is finally done and gone, but the bills didn’t vanish with it so if you’re in the market for a tactical kitchen knife now is the time to buy. You’ll get a fabulous knife (seriously, both knives are wicked) and you’ll be supporting Freethought Blogs. That’s what I call win-win. Of course, if you just want to make a donation to the fund that’s easy too. Just click on this link to go to our Go Fund Me page.

Good luck to you and thanks.

We’ve Been Spring Cleaning

Seasons change and so do blogs. Here at Affinity we’re making a few changes to how things look. The first change you’ll see will be the top section of the left sidebar. We’ve collected all Caine’s cancer related writings and artwork into a new page that will stay permanently attached right where it’s always been only we’ve made it better. We’ve added all  Caine’s cancer related writings that happened between Cancer Chronicles so it’s now a comprehensive list organized by date. We’ve also added Caine’s death notice and the eulogy by her husband and best friend, Rick. Beneath that you will find Caine’s cancer related artwork and then tributes made by members of Caine’s international community. The page ends with a reading recommendation from Caine herself. Comments will be left open on the page and they’ll be  monitored regularly. The page is called Fuck Cancer: Caine’s Journey and it will be posted directly after this one. I hope I’ve managed to capture everything, but if you find any errors or omissions please let me know at affiniysubmissions@gmail.com. The address is always in the left sidebar under the colourful percolating head.

The next change you’ll notice is the addition of the blogging team. Just click on the person’s name and it will take you directly to their introductory profile post. Underneath that you’ll find the addition of our Twitter account following the TNET.

Some of you may have already noticed one of the biggest changes; no more ads. Finally. The ads have been removed from all Freethought Blogs making this a great time to check out the other bloggers on the Freethought Channel, where a lot of talented writing happens. The full roster of blogs is on the left sidebar. A bit farther down you’ll find a list with the most recent postings on the channel.

One last thing. Affinity isn’t just a blog, it’s a community and we welcome you and your submissions with glee. I am happiest when I get to see what’s up in your world so please send us whatever you’ve got to share: trees, flowers, birds, rocks, fish, animals, hobbies, food… anything, really.  We’re a curious bunch and if it interests you, chances are it will interest us. Just use the address on the left sidebar.

 

Affinity is growing

It is with great delight that I announce that rq is joining the blogging team here at Affinity. Many of you are familiar with rq from the comments section of the blog where she has been contributing for many years. She is now ready to step up and do some blogging herself and we couldn’t be happier. She brings a lot to our team and we can expect posts on an interesting mix of subjects ranging from Baltic culture to the arts. Perhaps she’ll even share a peek into the random and interesting things that cross her path. For now there will be no fixed schedule for rq’s posts. Instead, they will come as happy little surprises that surface amidst our already mixed bag.

So now we are four. Four bloggers in four different countries, all with different interests and different points of view, but all wanting to share our worlds with you. We’re also a curious bunch and we want this blog to be a vibrant international community where other people share their worlds with us. That’s one of the best parts of Affinity. It has many voices and you just never know what will pop up. We also hope that one of those voices will be yours. We still invite you to share your favourite recipes, photos, arts and crafts with us. You don’t have to be a great photographer or a master artist to contribute. I’m certainly neither of those things.

I would also like to take a minute to acknowledge the founder of Affinity, Caine. This blog was her vision and she always welcomed contributions from her readers. Her voice was always encouraging and it is because of her support that I even dared to try blogging. Caine expressed a desire for rq to become part of this blog and I know that she would be thrilled by the news.

Affinity just became more interesting. I hope you’ll all help me welcome rq.

A change for Submissions

Giliell’s post of earlier today noted that we want Affinity to continue being a community gathering place and that your submissions are an important part of this blog. We want to see your photos and artwork, hear your stories and share what matters to you so we have set up a new mailbox and are ready to receive whatever you want to send. Charly, Giliell and I will be sharing this mailbox so it would be helpful if you could tag your submissions with a topic such as trees, birds, flora, recipes or Tummy Thursday. If your submission doesn’t fit one of those categories be creative with your tags and we’ll figure out where it goes. The new email is:

affinitysubmissions@gmail.com

and it has been linked in the sidebar. I’ve tested it out and it’s working for me, but if you have any difficulties with the link please let us know. We’re looking forward to seeing what you have for us.