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April 15, 2020: Hello from the Inside!

It has been WAY too long since I have made an entry and, as the whole world can attest, it has not been due to lack of happenings! My goodness, how the world has changed. To be honest, MY world hasn’t changed THAT much because we were already pretty isolated homebodies (due to being unemployed and “poor” ) before the Coronavirus forced us all into house arrest. But 4 weeks into the isolation period, I confess I am starting to get antsy.

Let me give a brief update of where we find ourselves. In early February, the internal construction (at least what we set out to do initially) was completed (THANK YOU, LORD OF MERCY!). We have been delighting in our comfortable home and officially settled in. I love the kitchen, I look out to the greenery of the yard as I wash dishes, our room is cozy and the electric blanket does wonders for our sleep (all the cats sleep with us now!), the studio has amazing light and I hear birds chirping as I paint, the laundry room is a dream especially compared to the damp spider den it used to be, our living room is totally “entertain-able” and we have a guest room I’m not ashamed to host in! Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for the construction being over. The new roof helps keep in the warmth and the whole house is alive and homey. You will have to come see for yourself when the world “reopens”! We are still waiting to paint and repair the outside of the house and begin to clear and organize the backyard. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we need to save up, we need better weather and we need things to open up again.

We were blessed with Simplicio finding a job that is originally online the Friday before the lockdown started (how amazing is God!?) so he has been working online in the den/office and we spend a lot of time in there. He had begun a technical course at night in February, but, unfortunately, that is on hold due to the current moment. I must say, I am proud of Portugal. The government was swift and rigid to implement social distancing and other precautionary measures very early on, contributing to it being an exception among its European neighbors in terms of spreading and death rate. This is wonderful because people are complying with the state of emergency and staying safe, but I also worry a little for the economy of this tiny town. Needless to say, my prayers have multiplied as I’m sure is the case all over the world and maybe that’s where we needed to be.

I've been seeing variations of this sign all over town in windows of closed business and homes. It reads : "Everything will be alright"

There are a lot of good aspects to this moment, the introspection, time to dedicate to spiritual growth and family, the loss of consumerism as an escape and the sense of community that is being developed. An example of the latter: In response to feeling powerless to help, I felt led to put a bin of non-perishables outside the house with a note saying “ If you are in need, go ahead and take some food!”. At first, Simplicio thought it would not be received well because the Portuguese are very proud, but people have been taking from it and knocking on our door to ask if it was really ok (we’ve even met our neighbors and received some prayer requests from people in our community) and then today, someone placed a bag of potatoes and and some onions (I think from their own yard) in the box! I know it’s a little thing, but it’s a wonderful feeling when you can impact, even if on a small level, the world around you. I hope it helps create more community here.

But everything has two sides right? I do miss eating out, going to other cities, the beach, visitors, hugging, and the prospect of “getting on with my life”. The already not very busy town is now a ghost town and I worry for the small business owners (Man, am I glad I am no longer running a business with heavy overhead right now). This moment is exposing a lot of ills within us (like my impatience and dependence on external approval) and within our society (why is health care so precarious even in first world countries!?) and I hope that, besides physical healing, this time will bring about the beginning of some spiritual healing as well. I admit, artistically, I have been having a hard time. At first, I was just paralyzed with so many options of inspiration and not knowing where to begin. A struggle of mine has been staying “on track” to create a series or collection. This may just be a cross all creatives deal with, but I tend to have a bunch of ideas, begin several and instead of finishing them, I get sidetracked to the next new and shiny idea. The result of this is work that is thematically incongruent and many unfinished pieces which generate self-loathing. So I have been really pushing myself to just choose something and see it through. I finally decided to start with something simple: fruits I can find in my backyard. So I completed a small collection of fruit, incorporating some textures and patterns which have inspired me recently. I have also been trying to develop a series of doors and windows with an abstract twist, but I am finding that rendering straight edges and geometric patterns in an “abstract” approach is a taller order than I imagined. I half hate everything I have done up until now. And finally, with spring in the air, and the local landscape blooming new life, I caught the flower bug and am doing a little floral collection as well. On top of that, I decided that lockdown or not, I have to develop my website, document my work and get my online store going. Easier said than done. I HATE technology and this part of the art business is the most tedious for me, hence the procrastination, but I have been forcing myself to work on it a little every day. It frustrates me that the photos don’t do the work justice and many pieces are already sold so I can’t re-photograph them, I do not have a great camera and, no, the site is not crisp and flawless like everyone I’m comparing myself to seems to be. But I am moving and progress of any kind at this point is valuable!

I hope you are staying safe and finding new projects in this weird moment. I do think and pray often for my friends around the world and for people on the frontlines. I hope we appreciate some of these essential workers even more when things go back to “stable”.

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