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.”


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- In Public??

Stay home. Self isolate. Go out only if necessary. Only one person per household should shop if possible. I heard all the warnings and so haven’t been in a retail or business establishment since toward the end of March. Gary, the husband, likes picking things “we need” up so he was the designated shopper and for groceries, we are lucky to have delivery service from our local Coop.

This is the week my prescriptions had to be refilled and it turns out renewed. My by-phone doctor’s appointment was simple and since I was picking up prescriptions, I returned library books in the outdoor slot, paid taxes at the bank, and deposited a cheque. I picked up an order for blood work from the doctor’s office.

Driving down to our town’s “business” section felt strange. At the bank, there is a reminder to stay outside until the ATM is free. The staff have masks and gloves. At the doctor’s I used the hand sanitizer they’d provided before I got my lab requisition. Masks and gloves again and the receptionist protected behind a plexiglass shield. The pharmacy provided hand sanitizer with a reminder to use it. My prescriptions are filled. I got a couple of other things (over the counter meds for allergies) and scored a small bottle of hand sanitizer. I was home in less than an hour.

I have to say people were courteous and maintained the 6’ separation. This was my trip until next month when I’ll have to refill prescriptions. I’m back home and I admit there was the temptation to check out the stores for other things I “need.’ Except they weren’t on my list, and I have necessities (even a bag of Cheezies), to get me through till my next ‘essential’ runs out.

So stay home. Get Exercise and now that the weather is nicer, for me, the dog walks are something to look forward to. Gardening becomes close to a passion. Let one person do most of the restricted shopping. I’d like to be around a little longer. Stay safe.

Sheltering- Mother’s Day, VE Day

Empty Streets. Eerie Calm. No Celebrations. The 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe, WW11, passed without the usual crowds and with very little ceremony. Newscasts recognized the day and there were comments from our dwindling number of veterans. As one reporter said, “This might be our last chance to hear from WW11 veterans.”

This 1995 article is Mum’s recollection of the first VE Day

Twenty-five years ago, Mum took a tour that celebrated the 50th Anniversary of VE Day. As the article shows, May 8th, 1945 was to have been her wedding day. It was postponed until July 11th. My Dad was with the Canadian Army for the six years of WW11.

Mum died 14 years ago when she was almost 85 years old. Like everyone of her generation, the war marked her and my Dad. She survived the Battle of Britain and he, serving in an artillery unit.

When Mum was alive, (she was widowed at 53), I used to like to make Mother’s Day special. Usually it would involve a home-cooked meal with even a dessert. One year when he was 18 years old (or so) my son did the whole schmear for us both. BBQ and the trimmings. If it was nice, we’d eat outside.

Mum loved gardening and in particular, tried to coax tea roses to bloom in our harsh prairie environment. Sometimes she was successful but I never realized what she was trying to create until I saw their abundant tumble in English gardens. She had a green thumb and even once she had moved into an assisted living Lodge, she maintained hanging baskets and containers of flowers.

Each year, the local Flower Club organized a bench show (likely in conjunction with Stampede Association later on). I helped her with her exhibits in later years (and even entered a few categories myself). Mum won firsts and she, and a good friend, made a whole day of it.

This time of year, she and I would have gone to the local greenhouses and I could get both of our purchases in the car trunk. It was an afternoon of relaxed wandering through the potential of this year’s flowers. The year after she died, when I went myself, I was struck by nostalgia. Without Mum, the greenhouse lost some of its colour. This year, Mother’s Day, will be different for everyone but phone calls can help. I miss you, Mum.

Sheltering- First Covid Haircut

“I need a haircut.” Not on a protest sign, a desperate plea in our own home. Gary thought a cut was long overdue and yesterday he finally succumbed and allowed me to get the scissors out. It was with great trepidation that he sat in the kitchen, shirtless, while I wielded the scissors normally reserved for Scruffy. My little dog has no teeth and a fragile jaw so I “groom” him; and now I was going to groom Gary.

Knowing that Gary is particular and more than a little vain, I took care to clip only the back of his head. Then he had to check in the mirror. Next were the instructions on how he wanted the hair he combs to the side trimmed. After that and no major disaster, he described what must be done to the other side. Not too much later he was satisfied, no small feat on my part. Gary was actually delighted because he’d expected to look bad.

The result.

In the day, people did things for themselves. I cut my Dad’s hair, I cut Mum’s, I even cut my brother’s in the late sixties, although the result gave him a distinct resemblance to Friar Tuck. The home salon experience didn’t end there. In our farming community in the 50’s and 60’s, home perms were beyond popular. I remember Richard Hudnut and Toni brand names and Prom may have been another. The one Mum favoured came in a pink box. She lent out her “perm rods” and was sought out for her skill in using them. Everyone looked like a poodle because the resulting “curls” were tight and their ends burned by the harsh ammonia. The “permanent wave” never loosened and needed re-doing in about 4 months.

Our neighbour, Julia, was a big fan of Toni.

I liked doing friends’ hair and it was an economy. The salon was for very special occasions. One of the last times I gave a “perm”, my girlfriend and I got into her husband’s gin. When he came home to the odour, two tipsy women, and a wife with hair like a frizzed Brillo pad, he was furious. Fortunately, when my friend’s hair was “set” and dried, it looked fine.

“I need a haircut.” Next time I hear Gary say this, I’ll be a little nervous. I shouldn’t have done such a good job; the bar is now set high. All the same, I was glad to see the we could still “do for ourselves.” It was a time honoured tradition that people are re-discovering as they stay home. It’s nice to be fussed over and looked after. Estheticians and stylists provide a service but in these times, you can “do it yourself.” Stay safe.

Sheltering – A Date Afternoon

Movie? Romantic Restaurant Meal? Friends Over? The options have narrowed; all but essential businesses are shut down and restaurants are curbside and takeout only.

Stay home. Hunker down. Self-isolate. But a drive and a walk in the country? Allowed and when you live in rural Alberta, there are places where chances of running into another soul are slight. Yesterday we did just that and it was a date afternoon that the dogs could take part in, too. A quiet walk in the country.

Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Not to discourage anyone but the excuse for the walk was to scout a possible wilderness site for a lunch when the weather at last warms up. Yesterday the wind was strong and bitter. Even the 0 to +1 temperature felt cold. We wore out winter coats and were glad of them.

Our drive took us into an area of “heritage rangeland.” It is an arid place where trees are twisted and dwarfed. The wind has scoured the land, scooping out depressions in the sandy soil. The snow and ice persist and the ground is rough. We park and head out, Gary scanning for the best lunch spot that might be out of the wind and exposed to the sun.

The road in…

Our Jack Russell runs eagerly over the rugged terrain, casting for the scent of gophers or mice. There are none but she is not discouraged. My little guy (under 10 pounds) picks his way gamely through the ground cedar, short shrubs, and dead burr plants. Gary spies 2 or three possible sites for our next date afternoon and asks which I prefer. In all honestly, they’re equally bleak. We get back to the truck and the decision is left for another day.

Scruff checks it out.

Glamourous? No. Exciting? No. Costly? No. Date afternoon despite the chill, the desolate landscape, and the wet feet (mine), was still a success. That bitter wind? Cleared the cobwebs and made the cab of the truck warm by comparison. Brown, depressed scenery? Made you appreciate the tenacity of the wildlife that survives; there was plenty of tracks. Sooo… no movie, no candlelit dinner, no visits – but one day soon, a romantic al fresco date lunch. A simple outing to anticipate.