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#stayathome stories – #12

In this installment of our series, Karen Axelrad shares how she’s embraced creativity and crafts, as well as virtual socializing, during the pandemic.

Broken Needles and Lockdown Coping

by Karen Axelrad

I’m healthy, active in many groups, love tech, new gadgets, new ideas. All of a sudden, COVID-19 branded me as a member of an endangered group (endangered translates to old). So I stayed in for the first few weeks, but with the warmer weather, I take bike rides or go for a walk in the neighborhood.

I ordered a new sewing machine to make masks. It came with directions in Polish, Hungarian, Czech—no English, German, or other languages I could have understood. I managed to break all the needles and get the machine impossibly stuck (even the downloaded instructions didn’t help). But, thanks to a nice Indian man on YouTube, I was able to get it going again and then borrowed a needle off the old machine. Things like sewing machine needles are hard to come by at the moment.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Library, I have been downloading cookbooks (I’m on an Israeli/Palestinian kick at the moment), baking pita, and trying new recipes. I was desperate for my new favorite spice, za’atar, found some on Amazon, and made Za’atar Manakeesh (Palestinian flatbread), which was new to me. I’ve also experimented with Dutch pancakes. Who knew that powdered sugar is so easy to make?

The dangers of cooking so much are obvious, so I have been diligently working out for an hour a day, first doing exercises with my Elastiband and various French and Italian YouTube trainers, who are all way too young and fit. Then I do fifteen minutes on my elliptical trainer that has been gathering dust for a long time. And now my sports studio is also offering Zoom classes.

I’m playing with more “arty” photography using iPhoneography—taking older photos and trying experimental treatments on them. I’m active in many Facebook mobile photo groups that have weekly or monthly challenges.

Several other Berlin groups that I am in have had Zoom conferences, but the one that has been the most fun is a small group of my former high school classmates. We had a Zoom session that everyone enjoyed so much that we have been doing it weekly with about eighteen participants. And I try to FaceTime with my little granddaughter often.

I’ve joined some new Facebook groups: “Growing Gray Gracefully,” “Silver Revolution,” “Silver Foxy,” “Curly Silvers”—you get the point. Seems there is a group for every theme, and these offer encouragement to stick with it, even though I look like a skunk at the moment.

As things open up in Berlin, I will still need to be careful. I feel lucky to have the Internet, books, friends to chat with, soap operas to stream (watching one in Korean now). My virtual travels also include cooking shows taking me to exotic places. I think those of you at home with spouses and children have a much more challenging situation.

Please share!

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