Sheltering… Masks? Hell, yes.

The mask protects the vulnerable and in settings where one can’t social distance, masks should be mandatory. They are a little uncomfortable. For me, it was a bit like hiding under the covers in bed and breathing in your own moist exhalations and sweat.


The advantages? Take a look at the picture. The mask hides so many ‘imperfections.’ Wrinkles?? A few by the eyes and on the forehead but hey, I could just be serious. Jowls? Surely you jest, none in sight. Don’t look at the neck. The glasses help disguise laugh lines (so much gentler than calling them crow’s feet.)

The masks don’t have to be plain, disposable surgical masks like the one I’m sporting. For the fashion maven, they are the new accessory. Companies and individuals have leapt into the void and you can order cloth masks in any colour and with a variety of prints, pictures, or personal cartoons. I believe some clothing companies have matching masks for popular outfits.

I haven’t been much of a clothes horse for quite a number of years. Too many structures, ‘go south.’ You have to pair age of face with outfits that aren’t too avant garde and comfort is more important than it once was. But if wearing a mask protects others and makes me look good, win-win. Stay safe, stay home, but if you’re out and about, wear a mask.

Sheltering- Now I’m Angry

The last thing I wanted to do in this blog was complain and whine. This isn’t that. I am worried because of my age….and because I know immunosuppressed people and people with co-morbidities. I am incensed that a lot of people have been designated as more or less expendable by the premier.

Sorry – this is a little rude.

Kenney said: “We cannot continue indefinitely to impair the social and economic as well as the mental health and physiological health of the broader population for potentially a year for an influenza that does not generally threaten life apart from the most elderly, the immunocompromised and those with co-morbidities.” This is a quote and there was more. I understand the need to get the economy back into some kind of balance but only when it’s safe.

This is callous and the diseases is not an influenza, COVID-19 is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It is a novel virus meaning this is its first time in humans. We don’t know about its effects (if any, in survivors), how it affects children with MIS-C, multi-system inflammatory syndrome. (There have been 3 deaths in the US and it is linked to corona virus.) We do know that young people can die from COVID-19. This is a partial list to be aware of when we think of who is at risk of severe outcomes from the virus- about 1 in 20 diabetic Albertans, about 12% of Albertans are asthmatic, about 20,000 new cases of cancer may be diagnosed this year, anyone receiving chemotherapy, anyone with a transplanted organ, arthritics who have to take drugs which are immunosupressants, kids who get MIS-C.

I will not rant on. My point it that corona virus infections are not just dangerous to the elderly. Alberta has been cautious and there hasn’t been a lot of community spread. A great deal has been in the meat packing plants and in seniors’ care homes. The virus is still here, though, and if there is increased community spread, we will see people of all ages with severe outcomes. Sorry to be Debbie Downer on such a beautiful day. Stay home, stay safe, and keep others safe, just a little longer.

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- Date Picnic

Picture the perfect picnic. You carry the picnic basket to the blanket spread under the old oak tree. A slight breeze ripples the lake. When the food is taken out of the basket, there is fried chicken, potato salad, and brown beans. Lemonade, freshly squeezed is the liquid refreshment. A pair of swans swims by. After the picnic, you stroll beside the lake, on a smoothly maintained path.

If this is what you imagined, instead picture this. There is a wind, no lake, and the bush and grass is dry and brown. On some of the hills leaves are starting to appear. The back fender on the truck “touched” a post on the way in. No blanket but two folding chairs. A lunch bucket holds two chicken sandwiches, two apples, and a dill pickle. There is water or beer to drink. Two small dogs ramble about. After the simple repast, it’s off for the walk.

This was the last walk to look for antlers. Through the bush, our path is rough with fallen trees, branches, and shrubs that tug at your clothes. Scruff only weighs 10 pounds but he was game to find a way through, under, and around. Our total walk was about a mile but it felt like more. At one point, Gary said, “I don’t think we’ll find anything today.” (meaning antlers.)

I said, “I’m pretty sure I won’t. I have to watch my feet so I don’t fall on my butt.”

No antlers were found but back at the truck, we sat on our chairs and enjoyed the sun. I think I even got a little colour in my face. Taz, the Jack Russell, played with sticks and sniffed around. Scruff sat under the truck in the shade.

Not what you pictured as an afternoon picnic. Even Gary said, “That’s pretty wild land.” It was a good getaway, none the less. The temperature felt like spring, the fresh air piqued an appetite, and the walk demanded enough that I experienced a pleasant relaxation. A darn good picnic, after all.

Sheltering- An Alberta Covid Spring

And with a bang, a cold, windy spring season turns hot. The last two days have been warm and then today we hit 24 degrees Celcius in some places. Pussy willows and catkins are apparent on the trees. And there are crocuses. People are posting pictures and remarking on how they have never seen them so thick and beautiful. That’s not what happened to me…there was a camera issue. Sigh.

A picture from a few years back…nothing like what people are seeing this spring.

However, in my backyard, the haskaps have tender little green leaves. This is the third year since I planted them and it was last spring we were surprised to see they are the first to leaf out and the first to have pale yellow blossoms. The early bees LOVE them. They’re an indigenous plant but I have lived my whole life on the prairies without seeing them; last year when I posted a pictures a friend exclaimed, “Honeyberries.”

Haskap leaf…soon they’ll have blossoms.

On the dog walks, I found pussy willows. Soft and promising. The red-winged blackbirds called to one another in a kind of avian speed dating. Geese are paired up; grebes call one another. Robins are around and Gary whistled at one to see if Robbie, our winter robin had come to visit. Conclusion? Inconclusive.

This morning the crows my husband hates, were making soft, almost cooing sounds and the branches of the fir tree near their nest were shaking. ”Aww,” I said, “They’re making such a nice noise.”

“They’re screwing,” Gary said, in disgust.

Mood spoiler. It wasn’t the usual harsh crow caws so I like it anyway. Even with sheltering in and self isolation, the arrival of spring lifts your mood. Stay safe, everyone.

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- And the Nutters

“I want a haircut.” – Sign carried by a protestor in Toronto. A haircut. Is this what it’s come to? No one is excited by the prospect of a missed summer. Here, in Alberta, all festivals, stampedes, and exhibitions will be re-scheduled for 2021. Covid 19 is taking its toll socially.

Such a serious oppression.

Yet, we need to shelter in place and be patient in the new reality. Getting the virus or passing it to others isn’t the answer. Our biggest challenge looms. Summer will be solitary and different. Camping, travel, and visiting will be restricted. Winter is long and we yearn for summer.

Yesterday I had a google hangouts visit with my 9 year old granddaughter. “I did 4 hours of school work,” she said. “Dad showed me where the work was but now I’m caught up.”

She thought for a moment. “I wish I could go to school. I miss my friends.”

“I miss my friends, too,” I said. And I miss not being able to visit my grandkids and my adult kids. When we get together, there are only 6 of us but it’s loud with a lot of laughter. Who wouldn’t miss that? My friends and I are a certain vintage but that just makes the conversation more irreverent and entertaining. Opinionated, funny, and perhaps wise.

“I need a haircut.” That is a petty, spoiled attitude and I fervently hope that the protests in Canada don’t spread. We are privileged, I am privileged, but the threat of Covid 19 is real. I will continue to stay home and like my granddaughter, “I miss my friends.”

Sheltering…The Little Things

“There are still lots of things you can do.” Dr. Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer said yesterday as she tried to mitigate the disappointment that some of her announcements created. Festivals have been cancelled, the Calgary Stampede and Edmonton’s K-days, and we are still restricted to gatherings of 15 or less and at those, you are to be spaced out 2 metres apart.

An example. My grandson came across an inflatable Star Wars kite I’d given him some time ago that he’d never flown. Although he’s just turned thirteen, it was a novelty to fly it for the first time. Kite flying, going for walks, and gardening are still good activities.

A friend wrote in an email that she had finally decided to take her husband up on an offer to walk and look at a beaver dam. (The original offer, made sometime ago, was rejected.) The outcome? It was a good walk and the dam was more interesting than she’d imagined. I quote, “the poplars were cut straight but the beaver turned the multi-branched willows into sculptures.”

This morning on the dog walk, Taz, the Jack Russell, almost caught a gopher. What she would have done if she had, is a whole different question. Then on our way through the trees, a bush bunny crossed the path. Taz was on it like a flash and the chase was on. Scruffy and I caught up with her once the rabbit had made its escape.

Enjoying the sun…and it’s now clouded up…

After lunch we sat in the backyard in the sun. It wasn’t hot but sheltered enough to make it pleasant and Gary had put our patio furniture out. While I raked a flower bed and cleaned the birdbath and the dog’s outdoor water dish, Scruffy snoozed on a chair or raced to help Taz defend against passing canines and other imminent danger.

So we have to take pleasure in the little things. These mundane occurrences brightened my day. Later on, the big event will be when our groceries are delivered. More exciting than you’d think. Stay at home and enjoy the small diversions.