Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

How I Came to New Mexico and learned about Art and Life



Llano Quemado, New Mexico – 3/17/20  – Taking the day off today.  All hell broke loose last Friday when the shelves at Smith’s Grocery in town were bare to the bone!  Thought I was calm as a cucumber until today when I STOPPED!  I bought into the panic buying with a large pantry order on Amazon and another order of frozen food from Schwann’s home delivery service.  Night before last I bought a small upright freezer from Sears! GUILTY!  Hoping today will mark the beginning of my return to sanity!

Scary flashbacks to all panics similar to this time….Pearl Harbor (I was a small child, but WWII affected every day of the first six years of my little life), hiding under our desks waiting for atomic bomb attacks which never happened, but scarred our fragile child minds forever.  Oh, and the summer- long polio quarantine when my brother and I couldn’t leave the front porch – children were sick and dying all around us until Dr. Salk discovered his miracle vaccine.  My brother had fever and symptoms and my mother believed he had a “mild case” of polio.  The Chicago blizzard of 1967 – grocery stores emptied out overnight and staples were selling at black market prices.  The big 2010 gas outage with no heat in the house for ten days with temps ten and even twenty below zero- a little electric heater in the bedroom for me and my animal pals, Virginia Woolf and Rosie.  Times of uncertainty – fear and panic. Each time the beginning of a “new normal”.

Somehow this time feels oddly unlike all the others.  This virus is occurring world-wide -pages and pages of obituaries in the Italian newspapers….a decision not to save anyone 80 or older (gave me chills).  Save Your Life warnings – forced social isolation. San Francisco is shut down completely and Gov. Cuomo is ready to do the same in New York.

My family is “out there” in all of this.  One of my girls trying to get her belongings from New York to her new home in Santa Fe – hoping the movers arrive today and she can get a plane ticket to leave the big city tomorrow.  Her sister caring for her husband who had surgery yesterday.  My brother and his family at M.D.Anderson in Houston caring for one of his daughters who is very ill.  What me worry?  Messaged my brother today – “If thoughts are prayers I am praying for you all day long”.  Same for my twin girls and their significant others, my granddaughter – my friends and helpers Doug, Hope and Dan!   Feeling helpless and a little scared.

For me, social isolation is not only a necessity, but a dear old friend! Still in my pajamas at one in the afternoon.  Making myself useful in small ways – still trying to catch up from last year’s dramas.  Worked with Dan the Man, my computer whiz to update my website this morning.  Taxes almost finished on the dining room table.  Gave up watching the news yesterday.  Watched the CYA press conference with the president and his sidekick and wondered how we ever got to be governed by this motley crew of grifters?  Are we without hope, doomed forever? Actually I have had the growing feeling that all these Orwellian characters needed to be exposed.  All their conspiracies exposed – all the rocks turned over because none of this corruption is new – years and years of rot!

This horrific time might just be the waking up of the world to a new value system – I think the tanking stock market is a good indication of great change.  What will happen when families are forced to be together – to get acquainted, talk and listen to each other?  What will happen to the planet when factories are not burping toxic gases into the air and automobiles aren’t spewing gunk from their exhaust pipes? What if our food insecurities cause us to grow little victory gardens to feed healthier food to our children?  What if we stop shopping for things we really don’t need?  What if we learn to listen deeply to one another without taking sides?  What if we learn to live another way with less chaos and panic? What if this is our time to separate from our old habits and values and the beginning of great social change?

In the meantime, there was this little bird on my back portal singing the sweetest song this morning – busy building her nest.  I can see the ground turning green with little seedlings – the Crazy Cosmos seeds I planted next to the well last fall – the start of my “meadow in the front of my house.  One geranium plant in my office has ten fist-sized pink blooms and her potted friends try their best to keep up – makes me smile every time I look at them.   Work on my new 40″x40” painting “First Snow” progresses and I am excited to start all over again tomorrow morning – hoping to complete it by the end of next week.  Somehow I know all the trauma in life before has prepared us for this time; it is entirely possible that we will not only survive but create a more tolerant and compassionate society  – one small planet, one people, please….

Only one question…why hoard tons of toilet paper?