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- 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- 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- 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 – 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.

Sheltering- A Little Excitement

As the self isolation becomes more of a drag even though I know it’s inconvenience and inconvenience only, I look for things to do. So does Gary. Since the choices open are few, we took another walk through the bush looking for antlers. If a deer, elk, or moose lost antlers this year, you couldn’t prove it by me.

The dogs have no problem with the same activity. They are as excited to get in the truck as they were initially. We did see a white tail deer in the distance on the way out and a couple of mule deer with their distinctive spring-spring gait and coming back. Maybe it’s the fresh air, it could be the wind, or perhaps it was tripping over fallen trees, stumbling in tangled shrubs, or dry twisted grass. Whatever the reason, we all had naps.

A Whitetail deer on her way…

About 2:00 a convoy of cars, trucks, and SUVs drove past, horns honking. The teachers and staff from the local schools had organized a “drive-by” visit for the students they were missing and who were missing them. Across the street, three or four kids sat on a step waving and enjoying the moment of connection.

A great idea. Many of the vehicles were decorated or bore signs identifying the school their drivers were from. The staccato of horns made a simple drive-by into an event. The Wainwright Fire and Rescue with lights flashing and sirens brought up the rear. Everyone, Gary, Scruffy, Taz, and me watched until they were gone.

Hand lettered sign bore messages of encouragement like, “We are not gone,” and “We’ll be back.” In an day when the time was dragging, a simple idea cheered everyone. Teachers, students, and town residents. Things will get back to a new normal. It is an inconvenience not to be able to run to the store, to go for coffee, or eat in a restaurant. It’s a little boring but not fatal, so I’ll stay home and if Gary suggests more walks in the bush, I’ll go.

Easter Sunday- Sheltering Version

Stay home. No family gatherings. No big Easter meal. Corona virus and unseasonable cold combined to make it possible to descend into deep funk.

Instead, I decided those of us sheltering alone (me, Gary and the two dogs) should have a nice meal anyway.

“I’ll roast that other chicken,” I said.

“We ate it. There’s no chicken in the freezer. I can get another one.”

“No. There’s a pork roast. We’ll have that.”

So yesterday the menu was pork roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw, peas and carrots. As I mentioned to my son (who made a spectacular meal for his kids), “Your Dad likes boiled vegetables. The peas and carrots will be a hit and I can’t handle a lot of spice and heat myself.”

The apple pie featuring our own backyard variety was labelled 2017 but I baked it anyway. It looked good and smelled good.

Time to eat. And of course, the critique.

“The roast is dry,” said Gary.

Well, yes, it was. We tend to overcook pork. A hold over from the days when trichinosis was a danger. But the meat was still tasty.

The peas and carrots? (Boiled and buttered)- pronounced “Delicious.” Can I call it???

And the pie? It may have been less juicy, but honestly, there was nothing wrong with it. I was glad the three year old label didn’t put me off. As you can see, I dug out a candle that had resided in a cupboard for years, too.

So we stayed home and there was no family gathering. We did have a more simple meal but I paid more attention to its preparation than I would for an ordinary supper. It made Easter a bit more normal in this serious new reality. And the dogs?? No they didn’t get to sit at the table. That’s something I’m contemplating but I’m not there yet.

Happy Easter.