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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Pandemic Daze: Making Decisions

An interesting feature of life in general is that we often have to make decisions--sometimes life-altering ones--without anywhere near enough information.  Unsurprisingly, this has also been true during the pandemic.

The US has been a real patchwork of regulations since the pandemic started, but depending on where you lived, many decisions were made simple in the beginning.  When non-essential stores, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, museums, and hair salons are closed, the decision is made for you because you can't actually go to any of them.  For a while, we really went very few places.  We had a weekly grocery store trip and an almost daily outdoor walk.  We ordered food a couple times a week to break up the monotony.  As time went on, and public health experts became less concerned about outdoor transmission, encountering other people on our walks made us less nervous.  We started making occasional trips to restaurants to get take-out instead of ordering in (both because food delivery has been a very imperfect process and so that our money would go to the restaurants themselves instead of the delivery services).  But that was pretty much it for our venturing out.

Now, more options are available in our area.  Restaurants, salons, gyms, and non-essential stores are allowed to reopen under certain conditions (greatly reduced capacity, mask-wearing, etc.).  And so in a sense, some decisions are still easy.  We don't have to decide whether to risk eating in a crowded indoor restaurant, for example, because indoor seating capacity has been capped at 50% for the time being.  But we do have to decide whether we want to risk going to that restaurant (or gym, store, salon, etc.) in the first place.  

This weekend, we decided to make a couple of these decisions.  First, we went to our local farmers market.  This had stayed open with modifications throughout the pandemic, but we hadn't been since before the pandemic started because we had been trying to minimize non-essential outings.  We decided this was probably a safe outing to make since it's outdoors, and besides, I wanted some plants for the balcony.  We could see decisions being made at the farmers market itself.  Some vendors had elaborate systems for socially-distanced lines and the employees handling your produce.  Others were more relaxed and let you wander around and pick your own stuff.  On the whole, I found the farmers market much more enjoyable in the pre-pandemic days, but that's probably not much of a surprise.

We also decided to go to a restaurant and (gasp!) actually eat there.  Our 14th anniversary was on Thursday, and we were talking about how to celebrate it.  Since the pandemic started, we celebrated both Scott's birthday and my graduation at home.  And now we actually had the option to go out.  Ordinarily, we would have gone somewhere in DC (I keep a mental list of restaurants I want to try there), but we decided to choose someplace within walking distance this time in order to skip taking Metro to get there.  And while the whole experience felt very different from pre-pandemic times, it was still pretty great!  Time will tell whether this was a wise decision, but I'm hoping that some of the regulations in place will help us all to get a little taste of our previous life without putting undue risk on anyone.

More decisions are coming.  My gym is reopening in early July (with only two people allowed to work out at a time).  I also haven't had a haircut since February, and am sorely tempted to get one now.  I'm thinking I might spread these "pandemic firsts" out a bit to see how my area's reopening goes and to not force myself into too many decisions at once.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Some New Jewelry!

Finally, a post that has nothing to do with the pandemic!  Well, except for the fact that all this time at home is giving me plenty of time to think of hobbies, of course.  I was working on photographing some jewelry for a side hustle I'm working on, and thought I'd take a few pictures of some recent makes just for fun.

I was inspired to make this first piece by a pictures I saw online of vintage silver earrings.  The earrings looked like grape leaves with clusters of silver grapes dangling freely.  (Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the exact image to share).  I realized that remaking those earrings would be pretty challenging with the materials and equipment I had on hand, but I thought I could at least take the leaf and cluster idea and translate them to something else.

While I was mulling this over, I realized that a few years ago, I bought several toggle clasps that look like leaves. 

Open toggle clasp...

And closed toggle clasp
Unfortunately, as cool as these look, they worked terribly as actual toggle clasps.  I tried making two different designs with them, and they kept coming open while I was wearing the necklaces.  NOT a good thing, unless you enjoy losing your jewelry.  One of the companies I buy supplies from has a precious metal scrap recycling program, and I thought these clasps were destined for that.

But then it occurred to me that they did look like leaves, and I was thinking of making silver leave earrings.  I connected the two parts of the toggle clasp with a short length of chain, added some stone beads to create a cluster of something (grapes?  berries), and added earring wires.  Voila!

Surprisingly lightweight and comfy
Continuing the plant theme, I've had a silver flower pin in my stash for several years.  I bought it at a thrift shop with the idea of turning it into a pendant, and I finally did!

This last piece incorporates an interesting shell fragment I picked up on the beach in North Carolina.  I often find thick shell fragments with multiple holes there, and I had been thinking it would be interesting to try to incorporate them in jewelry.  I picked up one with some purple on it.  But then after I brought it home, it sat around for a while because I wasn't convinced I could make a necklace I liked out of it.  Once I finally did, though, I was pretty pleased.

I think the polished fluorite beads and silver help to elevate the somewhat rough looking shell.  I don't know how durable this shell pendant will turn out to be--it's possible that the beading wire I strung  it on will wear away at it over time--but there is no way to know without trying, and I'll enjoy this necklace for as long as it lasts.