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.

Me.

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…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 – and another Sunday drive

COVID-19? Notice how your entertainment options have been narrowed? We are trying to stay home and shelter in place. You can go for a drive and enjoy a park or campground.

Today we were at Capt. Ayre Lake again. It’s so small that it’s not even on Google Earth but with 20 degree plus weather after the nasty couple of days we’ve had, it approached Eden. The dogs ran and the humans strolled. There was a pleasant breeze.

Camping isn’t allowed at this small county-run site until June 15th. The park is closed but we could drive in and go for a walk. Or sit among the trees at a picnic table. The blackbirds called from the tops of the trees, there was a lone loon on the lake, and across the field people let their two large dogs frolic at the boat launch. Behind us we could hear the muted music and sounds of someone working at their cabin.

Our Jack Russell is pretty good for such a high energy breed but I thought I’d provide some added fun. All it takes is a stick. Taz was delighted to chase the make-shift toy and it provided me with an opportunity to practise my video-ing skills. The only way is up, and for this one, I couldn’t see the screen on my phone because it was so bright out. In all honesty, I think it turned out as well.

Have a look.

So once again, a bit of an isolated outing turned out to be just fine. The dogs are actually enjoying COVID-19; they get a lot of attention but never as much as right now. It’s not the same, but it’s okay.

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- 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.

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 – Adapting Activities

May the force be with you!

I’ve been retired for more than a few years now but that doesn’t mean that before the pandemic I puttered around cleaning my house or maybe cooking great meals. There were other things to do. I am on the local library board, a member of the local arts council, and our adult learning board.

I am part of a painting group that meets at the Anglican Church in town. Everyone who takes part is of a certain vintage and the sessions were in the afternoons on a Tuesday and Thursday. Obviously, this has suffered the fate of so many pastimes and there have been no meetings since the beginning of April. However, one member set up a group text and we have kept in touch that way. Covid 19 has been tough on creativity for some, and there hasn’t been a flurry of texts with new paintings, but there has been contact to keep up with everyone’s news OR lack of. Why not a Zoom Meeting, Google Hangouts, Houseparty? I did say we were of a certain vintage. Still the texts work and some days my phone pings often.

The one “project” since Covid.

My writing group meets once a month, usually on a Thursday that suits the 5 of us. We’ve missed a meeting and now, in May, we should be getting together. Despite the “loosening” of restrictions, it isn’t going to happen. Instead (with the deadline of May 14), we are going to email one another a new piece of writing- a poem, an essay, a reflection, a short story. With a little motivation, it’s easier to do some of the things you normally would, just in a different way.

So…even retired people of a certain vintage can find ways to continue with their interests. It isn’t the same but it’s better than not doing anything. When the pandemic calms down, we can go back to the meetings and gatherings. We’re not there yet so I will write something for my writing group and email it and I’ll try and produce a painting…stay safe. Find a way to do what you like.