Sheltering…Forbidden Fruit

“I don’t even normally go out much. But now that I can’t, I really want to.”

That’s a quote from a phone conversation I had with a former colleague a couple of days ago. We had settled the reason for the call and carried on into a general catching up. A lot of the conversation centred on the pandemic and that’s natural.

Her comment got me thinking about what things I would like to do but shouldn’t right now. I’m not talking about family and friends. Missing them goes without saying. Lately I have caught myself in nostalgic reminisces of shopping for groceries at the local Coop.

What!!?? Who am I kidding? I never enjoyed getting the supplies for the next week. It’s a chore and one that Gary had taken over, shopping as I’ve mentioned in the European manner, a little every day. That doesn’t work in these COVID-19 days and so we order once a week and if we don’t have something, we go without. There is no explanation for the pleasure at unpacking the delivery when it arrives.

In my ahem, later years, shopping has lost most of its charm. Wandering around and examining merchandise I don’t need had become far less attractive but suddenly, I would like to “look around.” A definite no-no. Even with the lockdown lifting somewhat, browsing isn’t the way to go.

Some of it is the human contact. Whenever I was “downtown” on some errand, I’d run into a neighbour, friend, acquaintance. Now if I see someone when I”m walking the dogs, even someone I’d avoid in normal times, I’m waving and calling hello.

Times are not normal and I’ll have to adjust. It’s not bad for me. I’m not sick and none of my family or friends is. I’m not working on frontlines and neither are they. I’m inconvenienced and tempted to ‘bend the rules.’ I’m resisting and recognizing that some of my longing is related to being told I “can’t.” So resist, stay home and stay safe.

Sheltering – the New Covid Shopping Needs

Toilet Paper? Passé. Hand sanitizer? Soap and water work very well. Yeast? Bread and baking aren’t as easy or fun as YouTube makes it look. Jigsaw puzzles and coffee? Stocked up.

The latest things flying off the shelves are hair products and exercise equipment. Some people are even trying the No Poo look if they aren’t shampooing their hair as much. If you don’t see other people…the theory is sebum glands readjust and don’t produce as much oil. Warning: there is a transition period. Exercise equipment? Well, you just can’t go out to the gym now, can you?

Barbells are big sellers. Some gyms are renting stationary bikes so that you can sweat and stay in shape in your home. Shelter at home; exercise at home. Some trainers stream their routines so that clients can work out just as they had pre-covid, only now they do it by themselves, in front of the tv.

People are coping by taking action. There isn’t much you can do about the virus except wash your hands, stay home, and avoid any place where you might run into people. These are such passive ways of dealing with the danger of the pandemic. Shopping for “survival” needs is a more active way of trying to maintain control.

At night when I’m supposed to be sleeping, the surreal images and messages of covid 19 invade my thoughts. Then I become anxious, worrying I should be wiping down this, bleaching that, or maybe completely withdrawing from the world.

It turns out some of my fears are foundation-less. The clothes you wear are porous and don’t hold viruses well. Those that might fall onto a coat or other clothing likely last at most 24 hours. The fat component of their capsule breaks down. Unless you are a frontline worker. Regular laundering will get rid of any covid.

Newspapers, books, etc. that come into the house are quite safe. The virus transfer to their surfaces is small and they don’t last. If you’re worried, leave the cardboard or paper products for 24 hours and you’re sure.

Outdoors little currents of air carry droplet-containing particles away from you. When walking or jogging, you set up these little eddies and the virus doesn’t get a chance to settle. Stay six feet away from others and you’re safe.

Your shoes? Wiping them down just spreads bacteria, fecal particles (you were outside) and other organic “stuff” around. Sneakers and footwear like that can be laundered.

It looks as though the pandemic will last a while so if people cope with exercise (or the purchase of exercise equipment), with less hair washing, and more baking, good for them. The main thing is that they’re coping. As for me?? I think I’ll have a nap.

Sheltering- and complaining

Cobble Hill Jigsaw Puzzles?? Hair products?? Coffee?? Nail technicians? Hair stylists. All things that are in short supply or who’s non-essential designations cause inconveniences. When will things be back to normal? The short answer is not for quite a while. Patience.

Cobble Hill makes good quality jigsaw puzzles and in these days of self-isolation, can’t keep up with demand. An old and simple pastime is popular again. Hair products fly off the shelves because people are reduced to, gasp, looking after their own grooming. It is a skill and if you were dependent on the professionals, you could be sporting a new look. It’s a similar situation with nails, manicures and pedicures. Coffee is in even more demand because people working at home can have it when they want, sip on it, even as they work.

I’m old so it made me reflect. When I was a kid on the farm, in winter we’d get snowed in for weeks at a time. The groceries were what Mum had canned or preserved. No one complained; we weren’t hungry and it was what we knew. There was no electricity, at first no central heating (there was the woodpile and the coal shed storing fuel for the heating my Dad kept going), no telephone. We may have had a battery operated radio. Mum cooked, cleaned, looked after us kids. Dad went out to feed and water the livestock. Any spare time in the evening might be spent reading or in Mum’s case knitting. Any of these activities were by the light of the coal oil (kerosene) lamp. It was cold in winter and cold in the poorly insulated houses. Water was carried in by the bucketful.

I am not reflecting on my childhood with any kind of regret. It was great and no one felt deprived. When we could get together, people visited, they got out the fiddle or accordion and created music, they cooked food for guests. Community gathering were events but they didn’t occur often. My brother (now deceased for a while) and I often reminisced about how good times were.

I confess. I have felt the isolation, too, and may not have handled it as well as I could. Sharp objects in the kitchen glint with a certain attraction when Gary and I are there together. He announces everything he is going to do. Everything. This is the man who couldn’t stand his freedom infringed upon when we first married.

Cobble Hill Puzzles? I confess. I’ve done some 100 piece on-line versions and they take me half an hour. Cross genius off my resume. Hair? Not a problem for me. Nails, nope. Coffee; oh, I do like coffee. Seeing friends and family; definitely miss that. If I think of the isolation for my mum and dad, I have to stop whining. Things could be worse and the pandemic will be over. Just not for a while.

Sheltering at Home – II

In 1978, Stephen King published the post-apocalyptic novel, The Stand. Although it is fiction, there are disturbing similarities to our pandemic. There are big differences; King’s Captain Trip flu kills 98% of the world population and the set-up is there. Good vs. Evil

I don’t intend to go on about a fictional disaster. Our own is frightening enough and in the new reality, I have learned some things. I touch my face a lot. I don’t wash my hands for 20 seconds or scrub them sufficiently. I’m learning. My last years of substitute teaching had me sneezing and coughing into my elbow so I’m okay there. Never before, have I wiped down groceries with a bleach solution. I have now. My whole kitchen and bathroom got wiped down and cleaned with the bleach solution. And yet…

I find myself checking for symptoms. A week ago, I bit my tongue hard. Of course it hurt and the pain radiated to my throat. (I know, this is a bit dramatic.) My God. I have the virus. Even though I knew it didn’t help, I gargled with salt for a couple of nights. O, and my tongue healed and my throat wasn’t sore any longer. Twinge in my head? what? Is that the covid?? I don’t get headaches. Then there’s the coughing. Yes, I cough. I’m old and I take meds for hypertension so I cough. But is this cough dry??? I could go on but that’s sufficient. I was descending into hypochondria.

Ridiculous worry. Last night, the Premier did nothing to allay fears. The models and predictions, especially the worst case scenario are dire. I take comfort in knowing he is not an epidemiologist and that we don’t need to progress up the curve. We can flatten it.

Stephen King wrote a prescient novel of a terrible pandemic. It was fiction and by simple things, we can avoid the fate of the victims of the flu, Captain Trip. Wash our hands, physical distancing, stay home. It’s hard because we aren’t used to restrictions. It’s time to ignore minor inconveniences. I have to remember there are all kinds of people who go out to work every day, possibly putting their lives on the line. Thank you. Those of us who have to shelter in place have it easy.