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- 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- 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- 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…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.

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.