Beth Markel

What now? What next?

Posted on May 3, 2022 by Beth Markel

February 23rd I wrote a blog about not just what I was sewing, but also about how excited I was that carpet was being installed in our basement and my sewing room the very next day. After the basement flooded in August, it was a long haul to get everything fixed. Drywall was in shipping containers coming from China. Paint was in very short supply because a year ago Texas had ‘snowmageddon’ and most paint is produced using chemicals in a base that is manufactured in Texas. Because of the freezing temperatures, millions of gallons of paint were lost before it could be mixed and shipped. Who knew? Finally, I was pretty jazzed that my design walls were going back up. I was using thin, wobbly sheets of pink insulation propped up against the walls in our front entry way as a design board…not ideal. I was sewing on our dining room table and ironing in the living room. Not ideal. My Ott light and Oliso were destroyed that day in August when the ceiling came crashing down, soaked in all directions. However, after the carpet went in, things would be back to “normal” or so I thought.

With horror, over the next 24-48 hours the world watched as Putin invaded Ukraine.

It was as if the horrific black & white newsreels of WWII had come to life and were now being streamed in 24-hour news cycles.  Putin is a madman.

Within a moment, my small inconveniences of running up and down the stairs to sew and iron paled in comparison. I was embarrassed that I was happy about carpet going in when there were innocents being attacked, bombed, and, it turns out, shot in the streets.

Towns and cities were decimated, some eventually almost wiped from the map, and while historical buildings could be rebuilt from the rubble, people cannot.

Like many I have spoken to since the attack on Ukraine began, I was horrified and somehow completely indecisive about what to do, and how to help? Instead of working, sewing, or moving furniture back into my sewing room, I sat with my face glued to the news.

I wondered how ‘art’ would help? Does art matter when the world is crumbling in places like Ukraine?

I wondered how I could help? What could a single person do to make a difference?

Then Yo-Yo Ma set up his cello on the sidewalk in front of the Russian Embassy and played. He wasn’t dressed in a tuxedo, he didn’t have an audience of hundreds or thousands, and he wasn’t looking for accolades. As an artist, a musician in the highest musical echelons, recognized around the world, he simply set up his cello and began to play among homemade signs and sidewalk chalk statements protesting the Russian invasion.

Art matters, even when the world is in chaos.

Music matters, even when bombs can be heard in the near distance.

People matter, down to the last man, woman, and child.

So I stopped feeling lost and stuck, and began to do things.

I donated to Samaritan’s Purse because they were already on the ground helping the displaced refugees. Just this week (April 25, 2022) they delivered 15 metric tons of supplies to Poland where everything from hygiene kits to toilet paper will be trucked into Ukraine and the border area. They have also distributed thousands of hygiene kits (toothbrush/toothpaste, soap, washcloths, shampoo, etc.) to refugees flooding out of Ukraine. They have DART teams (Disaster Assistance Response Teams) in Moldova and Poland, in addition to Ukraine, many of whom are providing medical assistance to refugees.

I donated to UNICEF because their priority is getting clean water and medicine to people still in Ukraine, along with the refugees flooding out of Ukraine. They also focus on helping the children being displaced, along with the family unit, or whatever is left of a once-stable family unit.

Eventually, my husband installed one design wall and I have been sewing every day, often with the news on, but more often than not, music in the background. Yo-Yo Ma and his Goat Rodeo album, along with the follow-up album, Not my First Rodeo. I listen to Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Jimmy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, Handel’s water music, Mozart, Journey, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Holly, Beethovan, just to name a few.

I may never be able to stop bombs in another part of the world, but I can pray for and support the people and organizations that have boots on the ground, helping people I cannot reach by myself.

The Ukrainian people are amazing, brave, relentlessly optimistic, and will prevail.

Once I pulled my face from the 24-hour news cycle, I also began to sew.

Paul Klee inspired 20″ x 25″
Split Rail/Rail Fence #6, 53″ square
Split Rail/Rail Fence #7, 53″ square

Make something beautiful today.




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