Reminders of Elsewhere

A photo of the Convent of Christ in Tomar, Portugal.

I like taking photos, but I take thousands of them at a time. Too many. I never go back and look at them, let alone have time to do any post-processing.

Since getting stuck at home, I’ve finally taken the opportunity to post-process some of my old photos. The task is peaceful, slow, and brings a steady stream of pleasant memories. This photo was taken with my wife during our exceedingly late honeymoon in Portugal. It’s at the Convent of Christ in Tomar.

I’m still very much an amateur photographer, and don’t have much of an eye for it yet. A friend gave me some tips with respect to angles, perspectives, and colors, and this is my attempt to follow through on them.

credit: Scott B. Weingart

license: CC-BY


Data munging for CORD-19

Illustration of coronavirus data visible in Rhapsode text analysis interface

A demo search application that connects data on Coronavirus publications to the rhapsode concordance interface:

credit: Tim Allison

Mourning Braids

Two examples of mourning braids. These are made of wool roving and are roughly six feet long.

I study the way we count dead people. I also make art in order to help people experience mass casualty events differently. Usually this is about the past. For the last several years I’ve been interested in mourning braids, a tradition that has some roots in Victorian England, but also more contemporary examples like the stunning work of Nene Humphrey.

I recognized last week, during our first week of “social distancing” that I was mourning. Mourning the ever-growing loss of human life. Mourning canceled opportunities to spend time with friends, colleagues, and family who are all distant from our new home. Mourning the lost alternative present in which actions taken in January/February had prevented the global medical crisis we now find ourselves in.

Grief takes a number of forms and they evolve over time. Last week I wept and felt unfocused. But I woke one morning remembering the work I’ve done in representing past pandemics in fiber installations (including with Liz Grumbach on the 1918 Influenza). I remembered visitors’ reactions, the way they sat with the braids and wove and unwove them, sitting with those who are long dead.

So many are unable to mourn their dead in traditional ways right now. We are not permitted to sit with our dead, to gather and mourn together. Or, as in Italy, people are trapped with their dead because the system is too overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed. So I started braiding mourning braids for COVID-19. It is a way for me to process, but also, perhaps, to help.

If you would like to join me in braiding, either as a way of mourning your own losses or to represent those losses that are distant but nevertheless deserve our care, you can of course simply start braiding. If you’d like to contribute a braid or braids to what will likely be some sort of installation, send me a note with the form below [Link]. If you’d like me to braid for you – either for your personal use or for inclusion in a future installation, please also let me know.

The braids can be a way of mourning people, or simply lost opportunities, events, etc. I may ultimately look to incorporate audio and textual materials, so please feel free to let me know if you’re interested in that. Right now I’m working with fibers I already have but I can see pretty clearly how one might incorporate both textile and other media that serve the memorial/memory for a person or a time.

credit: Jacqueline Wernimont

license: CC

· CC

Ultimate Cloak of Invisibility

photo of a green cloak on the left; on the right, the cloak used to blend wearer's body into a green screen

There are all kinds of new rules and best practices now. What to wear when video conferencing (plain colors, no green, no distracting patterns), how to arrange your living space to appear tasteful and professional on video. Any chance my doing that ended when my desk was subsumed into the preschool/kindergarten. I needed a new solution.

Right before our local fabric store closed, I bought green fabric to hang over a folding screen. I picked up a small piece of every green knit they had, and tested them out on Zoom to determine which one would be best for my Ultimate Cloak of Invisibility (currently in progress). It was shortly before St. Patrick’s Day, so it raised no questions. The delightfully strange Bat Girl is fabric that I’ve had for some time. No one else seems to love it like I do; it’s been in stock and on sale for ages. So I combined it with the green knit fabric samples and made this new hoodie to wear “to work”, during the few hours I have for it.

Shrugging in meetings is now underwhelming, but thumbs-up are great.

I have big plans for once the Ultimate Cloak of Invisibility is done.

credit: Quinn Dombrowski

license: CC

· CC


credit: barryvan (Barry van Oudtshoorn)

license: CC BY-NC-ND


Spelling Rocks

(Note: if the embedded spelling game is not working in your browser, go directly to the app on Glitch.

credit: Andy Jackson

Dumplings for Two

photo of dumplings being prepared on a counter

My family in China usually get together to make dumplings on holidays and special occasions. During this special time, my husband and I both have to work from home but actually get to spend more time together, and enjoy this family tradition in a quiet evening.

credit: Huajin Wang

create something

fire image credit: casc (

Don’t despair, create! (Or despair, and create!)

Many of us are turning to creative outlets to keep the stresses of a global pandemic at bay. a thousand little fires is a space to share and see what we create while reconciling with self-isolation. One new creation each day.

If you’ve been knitting, making music, baking bread, writing poetry, building an elaborate aquarium, or otherwise creating anything that has brought you joy, send it over. Anonymous contributions welcome. Amateur contributions welcome. Unfinished contributions welcome. You are welcome.

To contribute, click here

credit: a thousand little fires

license: CC-BY 4.0

· CC-BY 4.0