smoke

Doomscrolling Addictions

Where are you concentrating your doomscrolling activities these days? Fires? Other global warming environmental disasters? or Covid numbers,  and changing protocols, openings, closings, etc? Politics and the upcoming election?

Here in California we’ve become intensely focused on the colors in our skies and the effects of smoke on our health. Meanwhile I have developed a fascination with all the colorful interactive maps, particularly of fire events and Covid outbreaks, all of which are continually updating. I got to the point where I was seeing dots of red and orange everywhere. Time to do an art treatment!

All the fire dots were on the west coast and the majority of Coronavirus hot spots in colleges were in the eastern half of the country. So I decided to draw a map of the U.S. and paint black around it. Then I punched out red and orange dots and used an acetate overlay to position the Covid outbreak dots.

Putting them all together here, along with some labeling, I arrived at a crude but nevertheless satisfying result of my day’s doomscrolling.

The Map of My Country Has an Outbreak of Acne

I see spots everywhere

Red dots (and not all republican)

Outbreaks so numerous

They’re beginning to merge

The borders are closed

No one wants us any more

With no escape I wear this country

Like my body blemishes and all

I’ve moved on now to an obsession with checking the air quality index of cities and towns all over the west coast that are burdened with smoky atmospheres from unhealthy to hazardous throughout the day.

Well, that and keeping my son fed. Andrew is home now and in quarantine for a few more days after traveling from New Jersey. Not a bad deal. Kind of like a bed and breakfast plus lunch and dinner and no dishes to do. But we’re looking forward to having some good in-person family time, and then maybe I’ll drop some of the . . .you know.

Ashes, ashes

The Walbridge fire near us, the one that evacuated us, still burns. Many have lost their homes, and we will mourn with them, even while experiencing relief that most evacuations orders are lifted and the fire perimeter is holding.

I’ve heard from many of my friends that we are all weary of virus and fires and of smoky air that keeps us inside. We are unable to breathe deep and have feel that “it’s over now”.  And we probably have three more months of “fire season” ahead.

The last two days I’ve turned back to my mixed media, expressive, intuitive Muse art to help me deal with those feelings that the mind has not been able to keep up with. 

I grabbed a new bottle of black ink and as I dropped, splattered, smeared and scraped. . .

the words “ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” kept popping up. Hmmm. . .a nursery rhyme. Remember?

Ring around the rosies

A pocket full of posies

Ashes, ashes

We all fall down!

So I decided to research the rhyme and here’s what I found! Ring-a-round the rosie (probably in the Great Plague of London in 1665) referred to a red circular rash common in some forms of plague. The posies would have represented the different flowers and herbs people carried to ward off disease. The ashes or a-tishoo and falling down was supposed to mimic sneezing and eventually dying from the disease.

It seems that fire and plague have joined hands again!

monoprint and collage

And so I did another on the same theme, with the rosies/posies and ashes and that red orange we’ve seen on the horizon of late, either at sunset or sunrise, tinting the sun and the moon. 

Rosies and posies, fire and plague. No wonder I can’t get the mind around it. But art can.

Oh No, Not Again!

I was on the phone this afternoon with my son, paying only partial attention to the skies as they transitioned from bright sunshine to a peachy gunmetal gray, which worked its way up from the horizon until the entire sky was filled. Bob placed a piece of paper in my lap that said it was smoky outside. And the words came to mind, “oh no, not again!”

It took a bit of online searching and a leap of the imagination to believe that the smoke was blowing all the way from Butte County, where a new and fast growing firestorm was blowing through 15,000 acres with no signs of slowing, and 1000 ‘s of people were fleeing. Oh no, not again.

And I still thought that referred just to the fire.

ono not again

acrylic and cheesecloth texture on watercolor paper, 10 X 11″

Out in my studio  I looked around for a way to give shape to what I was feeling. A cheesecloth textured piece reminded me of a horizon in flames.  I knew I was looking for the faces of those who would be fleeing the conflagration.

We refer to a mask of fear, of sorrow, and this is what I wanted as a kind of prayer of solidarity. Yes, I was grateful to find out that the fire was not closer, at least not this time, but. . .I still feel the fear, and the loss.

And then I’m watching the evening news about the shooting in Thousand Oaks, a country western music night for young people, some of whom lost their lives and others who will never feel totally safe again. And then the news announcer uses these words, “people are saying oh no, not again”.

Smoke

We’ve been warned about the toxic smoke in the air from the north bay area fires. After getting the phone text alert from Sebastopol PD, I got to the Senior Center just as they ran out of face masks. Next stop was Ace Hardware where they were handing out 3 per  (anxious) person from big boxes. I got the kind with the vent and the rating of 95. Only problem is it’s still the most uncomfortable, suffocating experience to wear it, and doesn’t protect the eyes at all. Today I tried walking up to my neighbor’s house up the hill and was fed up with it before I got there. I recommend staying inside. . .if you can. . .when the smoke chokes the air. Tomorrow hopefully clearer skies?

facemask

(Sketched from phone selfie)