Status Reports & Other Ramblings

Status Report: still not working

Remember how I very optimistically said maybe I'd work on writing tutorials or overhauling the website last week? Uh, yeah, I wildly overestimated my ability to function while fighting off the plague. Basically, I spent an entire week just... being flat, and occasionally being able to focus long enough to read or talk to people.

I never did get sick enough to get tested or need hospitalization, although I had a few scary moments and I've used an inhaler more in the past week than I typically did in an entire year back when my asthma was actually symptomatic. The shortness of breath is improving and I'm starting to feel relatively normal as long as I don't try to do anything - the fever still keeps coming back every few hours, so I haven't even been able to start the clock on a 72 hour symptom-free period. 

At this point I'm assuming that the absolute soonest I could possibly be back to work is next Monday, and it will probably be longer - it sounds like most people take 2-3 weeks to fully shake off a mild case of it. I'm on either day 9 or day 10 right now, depending on whether or not you count the day when I didn't realize I was having symptoms, and as I said in my last post, once I get through 72 hours with no fever, I'll need to spend at least a full day disinfecting things before I go back to work.

Today I finally managed to enable the gift card functionality that was rolled out to sellers at all account levels last week, so if you'd like to give somebody a gift card, or buy one to use yourself when I'm back up and running, you can do that!

That said - I've built up a decent emergency fund over the past few years and my overhead expenses are extremely low, AND New Hampshire made unemployment benefits available to people who are self-employed, so a few weeks of not being able to work will NOT create a financial crisis for me. That's not the case for a lot of small businesses, so PLEASE prioritize supporting your local small businesses and any artists who are living a lot closer to the wire than I am! 

This is going to be a rough time for all of us, and the only way we're getting through it is by helping each other along the way. 

I need to go put on clean pajamas and make sure the child eats something before I log onto Zoom for a board meeting at 7, so I'll post this now - stay safe, take care of each other, wash your hands, STAY HOME!

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Status Report: well, THAT happened.

Okay. So. First of all: I AM OKAY and I have every intention of staying that way. But.

I began showing symptoms consistent with the milder cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday morning. (In hindsight they actually started mid-day Monday, but it wasn’t at all obvious - more on that in a bit.) It’s not severe enough for me to be able to get tested or need hands-on medical care... but given my medical history, my doctor is taking it seriously, and obviously I’m assuming that I’m contagious.

Which means WS is closed for... I don’t actually know, I need to make some calls. Definitely at least a week, probably two weeks. Could be more. We just don’t know enough about how this thing is transmitted, so I don’t even want to risk doing production for later until it’s been at least a week since the onset of symptoms AND I’ve been fever-free without medication for at least 72 hours; that’s my state’s official recommendation for isolation of mild presumed cases. Shipping is also suspended, for the same reason.

(It could be considerably longer/get even more complicated if any of the other people in my house get sick, but I’m not going to worry about that right now. Much.)

Okay, so that’s the logistical business stuff. On to the personal. As you may or may not know, I have EDS and chronic Lyme disease, and a history of minor colds turning into nasty lower respiratory issues; as a result within minutes of emailing my doctor it was determined that yes, we are going to presume it’s COVID-19 and also we are going to nuke it from orbit NOW.  I’d already been working on getting my body as physically healthy as it could be, both to fully recover from surgery and to prepare for this exact situation, and my doctor is really good at keeping me alive and mostly functional despite my body being held together with zipties and packing tape, so I’m very hopeful that it will remain mild and uneventful.

Physically, I’m... not too bad, but all over the place? That thing you’ve probably been seeing, about sudden loss of smell and taste being an early symptom - they weren’t kidding and it is WEIRD.  Over the span of a few hours early yesterday I went from “I kinda can’t smell the herbal ointment that’s slathered all over me and my yogurt tastes weird” to “I can’t smell the eucalyptus oil in my bedside diffuser and also the curry that was nicely spicy on Sunday and oddly bland on Monday is completely flavorless now, WTF.” During that time I also acquired a persistent low-grade fever and chills (although in hindsight I suspect my inability to feel warm on Monday probably wasn’t just damp hair) and severe fatigue, plus mild nausea and almost no appetite, and just for funsies, an intermittent weird sensation in my chest that I can’t define any more succinctly than “wrong.”

(Also a wretched headache, but mah nishtanah halailah hazeh? Although it’s different than my usual headaches, and I can’t articulate that either. It all just feels WEIRD.)

The fever is now staying mostly under control with liberal application of Tylenol, and the rest of the symptoms come and go - half an hour ago I was horribly queasy and dizzy and freezing cold and my chest felt weirdly wrong again, but right now I feel disconcertingly normal aside from the headache and having no appetite and not being able to smell anything. I’m hearing that the mild cases are like this - a friend several states away who is about a week ahead of me with nearly identical symptoms confirmed that yes, it’s consistently inconsistent and kind of miserable but mostly very boring.

(Boring is good, here. Doctors like to tell me that I’m “very medically interesting” so I will happily settle for boring and unremarkable, even if I’m cranky because I had JUST gotten back on my feet after having surgery last month and was REALLY enjoying feeling normal again.)

My plan is to rest a whole lot, eat nutritious things that I can’t taste, drink aaaaaaaaall the water, take my meds religiously... and in the times when I feel well enough, I’ll work on overhauling the website or writing tutorials. (Or maybe you’ll even get a book at the end of this, who knows? We’re living in a really weird world right now and anything could happen.) I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford to take a week or two off, even this soon after having done it once already this year, so mostly I plan to rest.

You’re welcome to keep ordering things if you want, just know that the soonest I can ship anything is somewhere around April 1st, and realistically probably not until mid-April or later. I’ve also learned that my e-commerce platform has opened gift card sales up to sellers at all account levels, not just the exorbitantly expensive level that’s otherwise overkill for a business of my size, so at some point when I’m feeling clear-headed enough to wrestle with the website I’ll get that set up.

Stay safe out there, y’all. Wash your hands. STAY HOME. Assume everybody has this, because they probably do and it hits FAST and out of nowhere.

Okay. On to the napping part of my agenda now.

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Weekly Roundup: Quarantine Edition

So today is basically just a repeat of last week, which is good because today was a hair washing day and since I haven’t bothered with anything more than throwing my damp hair into a bun since... uh, mid-January? I decided to actually Do My Hair today and thus my entire morning involved arguing with my hair and styling implements. (I am in fact typing this on my phone with one hand while the other hand is doing the diffusing thing in hopes that my hair will be mostly dry by bedtime.) Also I may have lost an argument with a towel and I don’t want to talk about it. 

ANYWAY. Hi. Even for a self-employed homeschooling introvert like me this quarantine thing is starting to get a little old (and wow do we need to upgrade our internet) but I have books and beads! And I can still order even more beads as long as I quarantine and/or sanitize the packages upon arrival!

So, yeah, still livestreaming on both Facebook and Twitch, still making lots of shinies and putting them on the website, finally put the March Pretty Rocks Club live last night, and I’m consistently able to pull full workdays now so shipping is back to normal although things may take longer in transit because, y’know, toilet paper. 

Okay. My hair STILL isn’t dry but my arm is tired and I’m running out of things to say, so I’m going to go to work now and if you want to come giggle at my  ridiculous 80s-style crunchy curls (yes I do use approximately half a bottle of gel each time I do this, thanks for asking) while they air dry the rest of the way over the next six hours, I’ll be turning the livestream on momentarily. 

[three. hours. later.]

...or actually it turns out I needed to go wrestle with Comcast and my router a whole lot because our internet connection was so bad that I could barely load my own website much less run a livestream and WARGARBL WHY ARE COMPUTERS ANYWAY. I need to go ship stuff before the snow gets serious, but first I need to make a pair of earrings so I might as well see if streaming will work now?

...and my hair still isn't fully dry, so you can still giggle at it. 

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Well, this certainly has been a WEEK, and it's only... Tuesday? I think? I'm honestly not sure anymore.

On Sunday I discovered that it's pretty much impossible for me to panic about the world ending if I'm livestreaming - a side effect of becoming a professional performer in your teens is apparently getting a permanent THE SHOW MUST GO ON switch installed somewhere in your brain - and since a few people told me they found it equally soothing to watch me doing things with wire and pretty rocks, and because I am a person who needs to be doing SOMETHING, I have decided that from here on out I will be LIVESTREAMING ALL THE THINGS. 

(All the workbench things, anyway. The rest of my life is fairly boring, especially right now.)

With the help of a very patient borrowed teenager I was eventually able to figure out how to set up an actual over-the-workbench webcam and get a video stream up and running to both Facebook Live and Twitch at the same time, which still confuses me greatly, but it seems to be working? Although streaming to two places at once has led to some hilarity because people talk to me on both platforms and I answer out loud which resulted in me suddenly yelling "NO LICK!!" yesterday and half the people watching were VERY confused until I explained that someone in a different chat had threatened to lick the beads.

So if the real world is stressing you out, feel free to come hang out with me! There are lots of pretty rocks and occasional non sequiturs and sometimes there are cats, and usually I have mellow music on in the background and I tend to sing along which apparently is also soothing? I don't know, I just work here.

Right now I don't have a fixed schedule but I usually work between 9am and 5pm on weekdays and have been popping online any time I think I'll be at the workbench for at least half an hour. I'll try to add some weekend and evening times as well, with the caveat that anything between 6pm and 9pm will involve a lot of PLEASE EAT YOUR DINNER and PLEASE GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH and YOU HAD PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITY TO GET A SNACK BEFORE IT WAS BEDTIME, YOU CAN HAVE BREAKFAST IN THE MORNING and possibly also whiskey once I'm allowed to drink again.

In other news, shipping is back to close to normal and Pretty Rocks Club has shipped and will be available for individual purchase tomorrow, and I am very tired from a long day of yelling NO LICK!! and YES YOU HAVE TO FINISH YOUR SCHOOLWORK BEFORE CAN YOU PLAY MINECRAFT and PLEASE BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH TOOTHPASTE THIS TIME so I'm going to become horizontal and unconscious for a while. 

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Weekly Roundup: post-op whining and pandemics and planning and pretty rocks

Y'all, it's been a weird month. I'm officially a month out from surgery, and doing well overall, but it's a lot of two steps forward and one step backwards: I keep being surprised by it, because for the most part I feel fine, and then I try to do something that normally wouldn’t be exhausting and the fatigue hits like a ton of bricks. 

And then, of course, there's the whole global pandemic thing. I'm trying very hard not to freak out while simultaneously following my roommates around the house with sanitizing wipes and also nervously checking and re-checking my supplies of critical items like soap and frozen vegetables and anti-depressants and cat food and earwires and headpins. 

(Prepping, wirebender edition: order 250 pairs of sterling earwires.)

Confirmed cases are still low in NH so for the moment it's business as usual at WS, but since it seems inevitable that I'll be exposed at some point, I've been trying to figure out what I'm going to do about shipping if/when COVID-19 hits my household. My friend and colleague Christina of Sihaya Designs posted this today, and I'm borrowing it with permission because it's way more coherent than anything I could manage: 

I've heard some discussion going around about whether or not COVID-19/the novel coronavirus can be transmitted via packages.

Right now, it looks like the chances of transmission via mail are fairly low. From what I am reading, the virus can live on cardboard boxes for 24 hours, and on various common surfaces, like plastic, for about 3 days.

Practically speaking, this means that if you bring your packages home, quarantine them, wash your hands, then open them a day or two later, you should be in the clear. There are also ways to decontaminate packages if you need to open them sooner.

Keep in mind that transit times mean that the virus has had longer time to die inside the box, and that your main concern would seem to be be the outside. Not to mention, temperature fluctuations common during the shipping process are also not good for the virus. But of course, if it is practicable for you to sanitize the inside contents, do that if it would give you peace of mind.

Overall, a few practical measures and a little bit of patience are all you need to protect yourself against contamination from packages, where the risk is already fairly low.

I'm quarantining incoming packages for 24 hours (which is REALLY hard because a package of really amazing beads just arrived in the mail and I WANT THEM, PRECIOUSSSS) and I will be washing my hands before I work on anything and before packing any orders. Obviously, use your judgement on opening packages; I think Christina's advice is both sensible and well-researched, but if you're concerned, gentle washing with warm water and a mild soap should be fine for most of the things I make, unless opals or pearls are involved. If I get sick or I know that I've been exposed, I'll suspend shipping for an appropriate length of time and post an announcement on the blog. 


This brings me to my next announcement: I was already planning to start offering wireworking lessons and tutorials this year, and given that it looks like a lot of people are going to be spending a lot of time at home in the near future, I'm going to bump up the timeline on that a bit. Taking up a new hobby is a really good way to fend off boredom when you're housebound - I learned to knit during a particularly nasty cold and flu season over a decade ago, and that's saved my sanity any number of times over the years.

I specifically want to focus on one-on-one teaching (because wireworking of the style I do is all about learning techniques and theory and adding your own creative spin to it) so that’s what I’ll be rolling out first. I'm still figuring out logistics and scheduling and pricing, but at least initially I'll offer video lessons on a sliding scale, since that will both make it more accessible to a wider range of people as well as giving me a chance to figure out what the heck I'm doing.

At some point in the next few days I'll try to post a basic equipment and supplies list (with links to where you can order wire and tools, if you don't already have them) and set up a scheduling system of some sort so you can reserve a block of time with me. 

(Also? If you really want to do a lesson or two and it's just not in your budget, talk to me anyway - I will need some sample video clips and such for marketing in the future, and especially if you're able to be flexible on timing, we can probably work something out. Or I can take a poll about what people most want to learn to do and livestream a couple of basic lessons...)

Okay. That's enough doomsday for today. I've got aquamarine (and its friends) to play with over here, because Pretty Rocks Club should ship this weekend, so I'm going to put down the internet and pick up the pliers (after washing my hands AGAIN) and resolutely ignore the tempting package that I know contains star diopside amongst other things, and try to get on with my life as best I can. Take care of yourselves and be kind to one another, okay?

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