Sheltering- As if we need something else…

By now most readers know I walk my dogs every day. There are asphalt walking paths that are very well maintained. One natural area features trees and grass in a more or less natural state. There is a maze of footpaths through the trees and even though it is mowed regularly, there are areas of long grass in a number of areas. In short, it’s a lovely way to get out of the house during this COVID 19 pandemic but yesterday, I found this guy in my bathroom.

Most likely a Rocky Mountain Wood Tick.

We thought it must have come in on one of our dogs but confirmed it just a few minutes ago when Gary found one on our Jack Russell. If we are correct in our identification, these ticks are just normally disgusting and doesn’t carry lime disease. Nevertheless, both of them are now confined to a sealed baggie and will be making their way to the veterinary clinic to be tested. This isn’t the first time we’ve found ticks on the dogs but it’s the first time we know they are local.

From Facebook and other social media posts, it appears that this is a good year for ticks. I know I will check the dogs very diligently. We do treat them with a repellent for ticks and fleas we get at our local veterinary clinic. That is likely why we found one crawling in the bathroom and the other on the dog but not really latched.

I will still take the dogs for their walks. I think it’s a heads up for anyone in the outdoors. The trails I take the dog walks on are basically in town. Ticks don’t care. With the pandemic, we do need to get outdoors, get exercise, and fresh air. We don’t need a additional health concern so stay safe, stay home, and watch out for ticks.

Sheltering- Missing a Walk

The dogs are used to a walk, every day. No walk? Canine despair. In this time of “stay home,” I admit to looking forward to going despite the fact the route doesn’t vary a lot. Since I maintain a blog, you know I like to write. Some of my good ideas (or maybe not so good) are ironed out on the walks.

Despair

Yesterday weather dictated no walk. Cold, rain, and wind were the triumvirate that kept us in. The dogs stared at me when “walk time” came and charged after me even into the bathroom. At last they gave up, resigned to really ‘staying home.’

This morning didn’t look much more inviting, but there is no rain. Were my canines angry because I didn’t walk them yesterday? No! They were delighted to get harnesses and leashes on. And it turns out the wind was cold and it’s dull out but the air? Fresh. The smell of rain and spicy aspen in the trees made it worth it. The dogs ran with joy and the bonus was the rain had washed away the gross things they had loved rolling in.

You can see the path through the trees. No rabbits today but there was lots to sniff. I love the tamarack. In fall when their needles turn, they are golden; then in winter, they look dead. Every spring fresh new needles dress them in spring finery. And the blossoms are just a precursor to the wild roses I anticipate each year.

So, a quote from my grandson, “Your blog is surprisingly therapeutic. There is something soothing about the mundane.” He was twelve when he made these observation. And yes, staying home can drive one to near despair. I like to try and find something positive- so here it is. Stay home, stay safe, and treasure the therapy of the mundane.

Sheltering- Covid-style Visit

“Come out for coffee and cinnamon buns.”

Who can resist an invitation like that? It’s been a couple of months of sheltering in and staying home. I admit it seems longer. We are social animals and miss the face-to-face visits.

The “Stay Home Nazi,” me, was consulted and I helped make the rules. Visits are permitted but you have to be careful. In this instance, we agree to take our own lawn chairs and coffee.

“But what if they’re insulted?” Gary is a worry-wart.

“They won’t be. We’re all old, and there is an immuno-compromised person. We’ll just be safe and six feet apart with our own thermoses.”

Not quite. But you get the idea.

The weather was warm and overcast with a pleasant breeze. Even if we weren’t social distancing and avoiding going into the house, we would have chosen the outdoors. The same old coffee from home tasted better and we opted not to have cinnamon buns.

Of course, we didn’t “visit” our host’s bathroom. That would entail disinfecting for the next person, The simple solution was to ‘hold it’ until we got home.

Sounds like a big fuss? Our hosts had sanitizer and disposable plates and forks, even though we decided against using them. It was a surfeit of safety for our first visit. They didn’t seem to mind and after listing all theses “rules”, guess what we took away from our face-to-face?

We laughed a lot. We commiserated about inconveniences of shopping and getting necessary business done. There was reminiscing, and catching up on the news of our grown children. Time passed and we hardly noticed. It wasn’t about coffee or cinnamon buns (even though we didn’t have any). It wasn’t about taking our own chairs and sitting outside six feet apart.

It was the real voices, real faces, and real visit. Old friends. Even with the rules, it was a very bright spot in a different and stressful time.

Sheltering- May Long Weekend

Tradition? May Long Weekend (aka Victoria Day long weekend) was always our first camping trip of the season. In the day, we spent some miserable days in cold, wind, and even rain. But it was, in the new vernacular, May Long. Once we retired, we could choose our time and the first camping could occur sooner or later than Victoria Day.

This year tradition is out the window but a Sunday drive and a walk are something we can do. Our health experts advocate fresh air, exercise, and getting out of the house, if you can safely do it. So where did we go? Out to Dunn Lake. It’s Gary’s heart strings this rough, rugged, and out-of-the way destination tug at. Just about every hill, is one where he sighted a deer, shot one, or missed the big one.

It’s 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) and the sun is out. Of course the dogs are with us and they are beyond themselves with excitement. It’s actually hot walking through the arid hills where the aspens have leafed out. The crocuses are done, there are buffalo beans dotting the hills yellow, and small purple flowers like violets hide in the dry grass.

The “lake” is across the trail from our first walk and before we get there four dirt bikes whiz past. Some young people enjoying the outdoors, too. Taz, our Jack Russell, runs to the water and wades in. Scruff is not a water dog so he stays on the bank. Then the Jack goes for a swim. She’s going to be three years old in September and this is her first voluntary swim. She’s now too tired beg at supper.

On the main road home, Gary spies two yearling moose. He thinks they are cows; no nubs of antlers were visible to him. He “screeches” to a stop and backs up so I can get pictures. ‘Shooting’ from a moving truck results in poor quality photos and I actually cut the head from one. With cropping, one shot isn’t bad. The clearest lacks, unfortunately, the moose’s head. Sigh. One more thing to cross off the second career list- wildlife photographer.

So May Long this year is different. No camping. No visiting with friends next door at the lake, no fishing, no campfires. However, it is beautiful weather, my garden is planted and soon the bedding plants will be in. I am pleasantly tired from the fresh air and the dogs are both sound asleep. Not so awful, just different.

Sheltering- Gardening for the Pandemic

Gardening is not for the faint of heart or the weak, This morning (and I apologize to those who know me) my buttocks were stiff and sore. Yes, even though, according to my kids, my butt fell off about 20 years ago, the Gluteus Maximus (or is it Maximi) hurt. My saggy old arms are stiff and a little sore. And I have to be careful not to pull my back, a family weak spot. This litany of aches and pains is not to complain; it’s to report.

What garden activities have I taken part in? Let me count the ways-taking soil out of planters so I can put in fresh, loading bags of manure and potting soil into the truck, digging up a flower bed and working in some fertilizer, raking the garden, planting kale, beets, carrots, beans, spaghetti squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. I have bought and loaded my bedding plants (everything in one trip, I hope. The most dangerous place I’ve been? The greenhouse. Old gals like me get quite excited.) I have watered haskaps and a few perennials that I hope come back. And there are sweet peas along a fence that has never seen planting.

Waiting for the weather…

The containers are yet to be filled with soil and flowers but the weather in the next week doesn’t look nice. I have one more flower bed to dig up and fertilize and the window box under the front room window to get ready. Then there will be hoeing, weeding and watering. The garden and flowers suffer most summers when we go camping. A great neighbour waters, but we can hardly expect him to weed and fuss like we might ourselves. This year we’ve decided camping is out. There are a lot of restrictions and we can’t travel to Gary’s favourite spots in Saskatchewan.

Then there is the supply chain. Perhaps if, instead of being lazy, I can preserve more produce. It’s healthier and you know exactly where it came from. So not camping, canning? I sent a picture to my granddaughter of the little lake where we usually camp together.

“Ah,” she said, “It makes me sad. We can’t camp this year.”

I said, “We will visit eventually and we’ll camp next year.”

She said, “CURSE THE PANDEMIC!”

Gardening is something to occupy time outside and there is the reward of the produce. My garden this year should be “spectacular.” Still I’d rather be camping.

Echoing my granddaughter, I cry, “CURSE THE PANDEMIC.”

Sheltering- A Reading List and Confession?

The Stand- by Stephen King is not on the list. I am, for the most part, a King fan, and enjoy his writing. Like a well-done horror or suspense movie should, he safely scares you. But The Stand is a dystopian landscape after Captain Trip (a deadly flu) decimates the population. King throws in a little Good vs. Evil with Randall Flagg. He reminds readers that the book is not about covid 19, but it is about a pandemic. I am not going to recommend any dystopia right now.

I have read The Dutch House by Ann Prachett and Greg Iles’ Mississippi Blood, the last in his Natchez Burning trilogy. Now for the confession. There have been a number of mysteries in my list but they were an easy read and kept my mind off more serious things. There was non-fiction, too, but some of it depressing and that’s not what is needed right now. I have almost finished The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas which it very much a book I’d likely set aside, even though it won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2009. I will admit to starting some books and not finishing…I think it’s my state of mind.

Since covid, I have read a variety of books that I might have read but might not have if I’d had better access to titles I’d reserved at my public library. I finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and am now reading HP and the Deathly Hallows. My grandson read the series a year ago and I thought I should see why he so enjoyed them. Well, Harry leads an exciting life and the plot moves right along. Glad I decided to follow my grandson’s lead.

I caved and bought The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. It’s the last of her Tudor trilogy and takes concentration to read. There are so many characters, so many intrigues, and they deal with plague all the time. It’s not a major theme of the book, though, history and the character of Thomas Cromwell is. It’s fascinating how he, as a commoner, became one of the most powerful men in England and a trusted advisor to Henry V111. It’s also a total diversion from what is going on right now (at least for me). So even though in Alberta, we’re in phase one of opening up, reading is a way to keep safe and stay home.

Sheltering- The Stay Home Nazi

I walked into the yard with my dogs yesterday and my husband arrived from his truck, hands in the air, saying, “I only drove by. I didn’t go into any stores.”

I admit to being adamant in my directions about avoiding other people. I follow my own rules and have cajoled and scared my husband into honouring them, too. Our groceries are delivered, one of us goes into a store, our drives into the country are into the boonies. So far into the boonies, that if the truck broke down, that’s where our bleached bones would be eventually found.

I can be mean.

Nazi or not, the isolation is wearing on everyone. A painting friend texted to run the idea of a final painting session (we haven’t met since before March 13th) by me. I had to say I didn’t think it was a good idea, even though she said no food would be served. It’s just not time yet. Community spread seems to be through gatherings; shopping turns out to be safer. In social settings, we forget ourselves, we are closer, and more animated. (We can thank covid 19 for making shopping for groceries and toilet paper exciting.) Still in Safeway or Save-on, it’s easier to physical distance. (If you want to.) Another friend is trying but turning into a rebel, breaking rules, and going into stores to buy almost necessities. It’s hard.

Being sick is hard, too. So is having someone in extended care, in the ICU, or on a ventilator. Young people who look to be in perfect health may have underlying conditions- diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis. The list could go on. Without being too preachy, hang in there. Better and I quote “to have a real visit” than to stop by to see a tombstone. Harsh words but true.

Another day of being the Stay Home Nazi. It’s kind of an unsung and unappreciated role. I will struggle on and try to be as strict with myself. Stay safe and stay home.