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Charting the Highs and Lows through the Pandemic

No one’s life will be the same again, with the pandemic having a profound impact on everything. From simple disruption to losing loved ones, we each needed to deal with the changes in our own way. My survival mechanism: Sewing.

In January of 2020, I was asked to return to my previous school district in a new capacity – as the Director of Human Resources. I embraced a completely new skill set in education, transitioning from the curriculum side of things to personnel. Since it was very sudden, my husband stayed in New Mexico until our house could sell and he could drive up with the cat and pups in June. In Bethel, I rented a small little house – about 600 square feet, set back from a main road in this rural town. I knew lots of people here, and looked forward to socializing with them all.

For the first couple of months, the new position demanded every minute of my time, often working 12+ hours a day. I came home, ate, went to bed, and did it all again the next day. And then March 13 came, and everything shut down. I happened to be in Anchorage doing a job fair, and thought – this will only be for a couple of weeks. I flew back to Bethel, and went to my little house – where I would spend the next three months with little to no contact with the outside world other than through Zoom.

Previously, I had borrowed an old Singer sewing machine from a closet at the school district office and started a small quilt project – a temperature quilt, charting the highs and lows each day, each grouping of temperatures represented by a band of colors. Soon I ordered a new basic Brother so I could get consistent stitches. Every day I looked up the temperatures of the day, and sewed together the little pieces, then turning days into weeks, and then weeks into months. The irony was not lost on me as the project continued throughout 2020.

Since I could only do so much each day on the temperature quilt, I was soon looking for other projects, and moved on to Moroccan Lanterns, and then Snowflakes, and then Southwestern patterns, etc. I joined every online quilt-along I could find, especially if it had a fabric kit you could purchase, with my limited accessibility to quilt or fabric shops. Every minute I wasn’t working, I was sewing (which is pretty much how it continues to be to this day!).

Watching raw fabric become a complete quilt creation was so satisfying, and allowed me to use creativity to replace the social interactions I was craving.

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