Posted in anxiety, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Health

Surviving the Coronavirus Pandemic – Week 9

white rhodos

Note the title change. I’m no longer staying at home. I am venturing out, now. I’m still distancing, but I’m not isolating.

This is the new reality. We will think twice about going out to public places and will reduce the number of times we go, maybe by half or more–one of many adaptations we plan to make.

I bought disposable masks at Canadian Tire this week – 20 masks for $27.99. We went to home Depot and stood in line, distancing. The sign said they were open for urgent needs. I ignored that. After two months at home, it was urgent for me to get back to feeling somewhat normal.

It was finally time to buy toilet paper. We didn’t stock up. A package of thirty rolls lasts three months at our house. I calculated. Walmart’s home brand was still not available, even online. So we bought Costco’s version. I wore a mask because I’d heard Costco required masks in the U.S. Half of the people waiting outside in line were not wearing masks. I saw a burly man of about sixty look around at the line and whip off his mask and stuff it in his pocket. That made me laugh as I thought about how he had probably been “convinced against his will” by someone to wear it.

“To mask, or not to mask. This is the question.” And a big question it is. In B.C. Dr. Bonnie Henry, our Provincial Health Officer who specializes in pandemics, does not think wearing masks is a significant precaution for our setting. In other countries masks are a priority, particularly in densely populated areas. So far the restrictions we have put in place in B.C. have served us well.

Wednesday evening my husband and I went to a track at a local park for our walk. I admit there were more people at the track than I had ever seen there before. They were mostly maintaining distance. A game of cricket was in progress. It looked wholesome to see people outside exercising. As we walked, the smell of freshly cut grass permeated the air while the sun sank behind the trees. It was just cool enough for a light jacket. I found the experience greatly uplifting to my spirit. I felt like I was turning a corner in this pandemic.

horse

I made a brief foray into Michael’s this week. Suddenly nothing in the store tempted me. Michael’s is nearby so I tend to drop in frequently. I wanted to do something normal, after two months, but it was a bit of a letdown. I think these weeks are changing how I see things. It has something to do with the word, essential.

I’ve been browsing articles and watching informational YouTube clips. I’m a bit of an information junkie. I actually email myself links to news and other articles I find interesting. Otherwise they disappear into a dark void and I don’t know if I will find them again. So, I’m a ‘virtual newspaper’ hoarder.

I watched an interesting conversation between Mike Rowe and Dave Rubin on the subject of language and how the current use of the words essential and non-essential might be creating an existential crisis for people who are suddenly hearing their work classified as “non-essential”. This is an unintentional result. But we might want to be thoughtful, moving forward, in our conversations.

Elon Musk just got the go ahead from health authorities to open his business. I don’t advocate carelessness and indifference, but given who Elon Musk is, I don’t think he falls in that category. I actually trust a man of his intelligence to calculate risk and come to a reasonable conclusion.

I still hear people compare the coronavirus to the flu, saying that similar numbers of people die of the flu as die of COVID-19. Well, here is the article I’ve been waiting for that explains the difference.

To demonstrate a more apt comparison of flu and coronavirus deaths, del Rio and Faust looked at numbers from “peak weeks” of seasonal flu outbreaks (not estimated numbers) and a week during the coronavirus outbreak. During the week of April 14 to 21, there were 15,455 COVID-19 deaths in the US, while the average number of counted flu deaths during the peak week of influenza seasons from 2013 to 2020 was 752.

That’s more than a twentyfold difference.

pink rose

Another subject I have seen under discussion is how much risk we can tolerate. Right from the beginning of this shutdown I have been calculating risks. Risks are low if we keep distance between us and others, particularly when we are in conversation. Risks are lower for us if we wash our hands after touching surfaces that might possibly be contaminated. Installing plexiglass shields at cash register is an excellent idea because these workers come into contact with any number of people who may or may not have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Masks? Unless they are the N95 masks, they will not protect us if we are sneezed on, or coughed on or inadvertently spit on. When people open their mouths to speak, or to eat, little spray droplets can squirt out of their mouths onto others nearby. So, this being the case, they could get into our eyes. A mask will not fully protect us. I’m not trying to make people paranoid. I walked by someone in Canadian Tire whom I didn’t see at the end of an isle. He was talking on his cell phone. His spray droplets could have reached me. I was exposed to risk. The truth is, if we want to have a normal life again, we will be exposed to risk from time to time. We now need to develop risk tolerance, while exercising reasonable precautions. It is reasonable to isolate if we have flu-like symptoms and to get tested if we suspect we have the virus.

As I said, I’ve thought a lot about this, as I’m sure my readers have. My sister had to strictly self-isolate for a month because of her cancer surgery. Five days after she came home family went to see her, practicing precautions. I think this was a good thing.

It’s time to see how close to normal we can come. This is why I somewhat forced myself to do things this week. I will not allow myself to become paranoid.

Lonsdale Quay

One afternoon I saw a long strand of some sort of leaf or grass on my balcony. It looked, at first glance, like a snake. For years I’ve been paranoid of snakes. But over time I’ve forced myself to look at them, to watch them when I see them in movies, to become familiar with their movements. Usually I still look away but I left that blade of grass or leaf on my balcony for a couple of days and glanced at it from time to time, thinking, what if it were a snake? How would I feel?

Sometimes I think about disease and death in the same way. I condition myself. I tell myself it has happened to others. I tell myself some people survive, and some don’t. I tell myself that doctors, nurses and paramedics have to expose themselves to known an unknown risk. We are all mortal. Even if I do everything possible to protect myself, there is still the risk that I could die prematurely, of the coronavirus or another disease or accident.

So, I ask myself what kind of life do I want? Do I want a life that is shadowed by fear? Or do I want to live courageously?

We’ve done our part, isolating. Now we need to take the next courageous steps.

Some of us will not be able to go to work for sometime. We can continue to do the things that this unique opportunity affords us the time to do. Below are some of the more common trends I’ve noted.

  • Reflecting and re-evaluating priorities.
  • Working on personal character building.
  • Putting new effort into relationships.
  • Learning skills and attempting new things.
  • Being more intentional about caring and responding to the needs of others.

I’d love it if you would add to this list in the comments below. One thing I want to encourage is for people to think about uplifting artists and other creatives. We know that writers, for instance, put a lot of effort into their work with little or no compensation. Consider clicking “likes” and even posting actual “comments” on blogs you read. If I feel a slight response in my heart to something I’ve read, I take a few moments to consider whether I can say a few words and make a connection with the author. This sometimes makes me feel vulnerable, but I tell myself that’s OK. My generation is not as adept at cheering others on as the younger generation, I’ve noticed. In fact, I was surprised to learn in an assessment that I tend to give few words of affirmation. Changing this is hard work, but it’s very rewarding.

One last thing, if you are reading articles on Reader in WordPress, make the effort to click Visit Site. That way the author will know an actual person stopped by to read their writing when they check their stats!

So, going forward, let’s continue to be cautious, but let’s be courageous too!

knitted sweater

This is the sweater my husband finished knitting during the last two months while he has been off work. It’s made of sheep’s wool and alpaca yarn. He is hopeful that he will soon be called back to work but in the meantime we will spend tomorrow producing another Music with Mr. Sheldon video for children.

Posted in anxiety, Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, faith

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 8 at Home

tulips

We’ve had two months of isolation. In Canada, things are beginning to open up.

This week I have been thinking about the economy and wondering what the impact will be of closing down businesses, schools, etc. We are seeing resistance to closures. We need to find a middle ground, a new normal going forward.

For Mother’s Day we met at the border with our children and grandchildren. It was 28 degrees Celcius which is 82 Farenheit. The sun was beating down as we sat next to the pavement on 0 Avenue. Two roads run parallel to each other, one on each side of the border, with a small ditch between them.

0 avenue

I wanted to pass our umbrellas over to the other side, but we were not allowed to pass anything. This is the border. There is surveillance. However, sitting here is allowed. Marked and unmarked border patrol vehicles constantly drive by. Not ideal, but so nice to see the family after so many weeks.

The grandchildren don’t like coming here, we are told. I don’t blame them. They have seen their cousins and their other grandparents here. There are many families doing the same thing along this stretch of road these days.

As we drove back we got a phone call from our son telling us that his wife’s friend works in border patrol and she said that the Peace Arch Park had just opened. It is a no-man’s land, between Canada and the U.S. A symbol of peace. We decided to see if we could meet there, and to our surprise, we could. What a difference! But so eery to see the closed boarders, normally packed with vehicles, completely empty! Only one lane was open.

empty borders

We need to get back to work. We need to get back to normal, as much as possible. Thank you to everyone who cooperated so well and helped to flatten and lower the curve in B.C. Now that we know what we are up against, as we have seen around the world, I think we can loosen the restraints.

As I said before, I have been trying to picture what this will be like. My imagination fails me as I begin to visualize who has all been put out of work.

I am haunted by homeless tent cities that have been dismantled as people have been placed in motels, locally. Haunted as I think about how many more people will be homeless in coming months.

I am haunted by seniors’ homes that are understaffed, where there is sub-standard care and unacceptable neglect. Haunted as I think of a country that is facing a financial crisis.

I am haunted by playgrounds that have yellow hazard tape around them. Haunted by the thought of how long we will fear this virus.

I am haunted by hearing of a woman being fined for taking her child to a swing in a park.

We will all be scarred.

playground

“Look for the helpers” – Mr. Rogers. Look for the good people.

We are incredibly blessed to have people who continue to put themselves in harm’s way to help. Meanwhile there are those who now do not want to go to work. The “help” our Canadian government has given could turn into a nightmare. I’m concerned about the impact of CERB. There will be some dismantling to do and I know not everyone will be happy.

Sometimes my husband is irritable when I bring up these subjects. I try to strike a balance. I have a bit of an obsession with trying to figure out where we are headed. Yes, it might make me a bit anxious, but this is better for me than not knowing and then being taken by surprise.

In the midst of all this I understand how important it is to keep faith. Faith in people, and faith in God and his goodness. He will carry us through.

Yesterday, Sunday morning, I wanted to drive to a church parking lot and just pray and read a scripture. The lot was empty. We don’t have a home church right now, and the first church we went to had a gate that was closed so we drove on to another church.

After that we went to a small park and had a time of “worship.” That’s how it felt, being out in the fresh air, viewing the beauty of God’s creation. Someone had made a chalk drawing on the sidewalk.

brighter days

Yes, brighter days. My sister is recovering from surgery, and it feels like brighter days. I noticed I was very distracted this week, as she went in for surgery. I did not write anything in my planner. That’s a sign. My mother seems to be doing well, still going for weekly tests. Her calcium is still high, but not so high that she needs treatment. This need for constant monitoring is concerning, though.

I called my mother on Friday and she was doing well. Another thing I failed to do, for the first time ever, was to send Mother’s Day cards. I can scarcely believe it.

One of the centers where my husband teaches notified him that they are opening, however, he has not been called back at this time. He is hopeful that things will open and he will be able to teach again, soon.

Tomorrow we will record another episode of Music with Mr. Sheldon. Last week we sent a package of activities to the grandkids which they will receive any day now. They still had not watched this past week’s “Mr. Sheldon” when we met them yesterday. Maybe our son is distracted too, and forgot.

My heartfelt prayers are for all the various needs of people around the world, and specifically in Canada and the U.S. at this time. I just wrote another article about hope and salvation. I have a site entitled Faith Insights where I write about spirituality.

I hope this is the last “Isolation” article I need to write. I hope we are open for business after this week and I can write about normal life. But of course, we know life will not be normal for sometime. In the meantime, take courage, all of you “helpers” out there!

be calm

Saw this and the end of season tulips on a “distancing” walk in New West on Saturday.

more tulips

 

Posted in art, Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, De-stressing, Health, Home, Music

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 6 at Home

latte
Latte delivered to my “office.”

I missed my weekly distancing walk on Sunday with family. I was sad about that, but it’s OK. I’ve been having some minor health issues, not coronavirus related. My system has always been sensitive and requires a delicate balancing act.

This past week I celebrated a birthday, in isolation, as many of us are these days. The day before I was a bit down about this, but then I told myself I would make this day great! And I did! Our son and daughter-in-law gifted us with Skip the Dishes so my husband set up the app and we ordered a meal. Another new experience!

skip the dishes

For breakfast I requested that he make us waffles. His first time.

“I gave you the opportunity to do something special for my birthday,” I smiled at him as we were in the living room later that evening. He smiled, a little tentatively.

“I had never made waffles before.”

“It’s really not that difficult. The only thing you have to do is be willing to stand over a waffle iron and know how to beat egg whites,” I told him.

The waffles and the latte (above) were his “gift” to me. We used bacon drippings in the waffles and had them with eggs. The drippings gave the flavor of bacon and eggs. It was delicious!

During this time we are trying not to waste anything, however, we pulled a glass container out of the fridge today and neither of us were able to identify what it was. It was green and furry. Well, we try.

I just finished my part in the production of Music with Mr. Sheldon. My husband has gone down from full-time work to about five hours a week, but he is a trooper. I’m glad I live with someone who insists on being optimistic. This morning when I awoke feeling really off, he had to take over the filming on his own, for the first time.

Guess what I did, after I rested today? I got out my guitar and started singing. I even printed three new songs off of Ultimate Guitar. I want to put a plug in for the site. It is one of the best investments I’ve made. Lately I’ve learned to sing Tennessee Whiskey, Chris Stapleton. Never thought I could do that, but it’s amazing what you can do if you try!

For about twenty years I stopped listening to the old Rock’n’Roll music I used to love. I think music was my surrogate parent and taking a break was actually a good thing. During those twenty years I was a worship leader. Last week I organized all of my worship music. I have a huge collection. Now, strangely enough, I’m picking up some of my old secular favorites again. I can’t say why a lot of the worship music just does not appeal to me at this time in my life. It’s not like I’m having a crisis of faith. But I am re-evaluating a lot of things.

After singing for awhile I decided I might as well put my adrenalin to use editing and I finished the Mr. Sheldon video in the bedroom, with a latte–did I mention my husband roasts his own coffee beans? He stayed in the living room to teach a couple of groups of students in a school that has gone online. Earphones come in handy these days.

I noticed flags near our place are at half mast this week. I haven’t seen any news report on this but between the coronavirus and the shooting in Nova Scotia, we have reason to give acknowledgement. Yesterday we met a lot of people applauding health care workers with bells and other noise makers during our walk, around 7:00 p.m. I became teary-eyed because I had just got off the phone talking with our son who is a health care worker in the U.S. Three people died in his dementia unit this week, but not of the coronavirus. I could hear his heartbreak over the fact that relatives were unable to visit in the past month and only came in during the final hours to be with their loved ones, outfitted in protective gear from head to toe and not allowed to touch their family member, but needing to remain six feet away. I do hope there is more leniency for seniors to have visitors soon.

One bit of good news is that my sister’s cancer is localized, so she will only require one surgery. We are so relieved that it has not spread. We are still working at stabilizing my mother’s electrolytes, with family taking her for weekly lab tests and an intravenous intervention that left her feeling unwell this week. She is a very stalwart and positive person of faith, so I read between the lines when she said, “I’ve had better days” and seemed eager to get off the phone to rest.

paintings

This week I finished a painting I’ve been working on. Two paintings, actually. I’ve recently tried my hand at acrylics, after painting watercolors for years. It’s been a challenge. Here is another painting I did this year.

roses painting

We haven’t dug out the puzzles yet. Still time for that. Cheers!

Posted in Children, Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Home

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 5 at Home

tree with green blossoms

Saw this lovely tree during a walk in the park on Sunday.

I read recently that this is a good time to analyze your life strategyThis assumes we have a strategy. I haven’t really thought of a life strategy, in those exact words. Now I’ve been looking at my life to see what sort of strategy I have and it’s caused a bit of a shift because a strategy involves a plan and an objective–how to get the thing we want.

When I think of strategy I imagine scrambling to the top of the heap and I’ve never been that kind of a person. I like to come alongside. I like to help others. I’ve worked under people who clearly had a life strategy and I was part of their success plan. I actually didn’t want to be like them. My life has been guided by principles like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” “Give and it shall be given unto you,” and be “faithful in the little things.”

Yesterday my husband explained to me why I am having a difficult time with this isolation. It is because I want to help everyone. This morning I checked a few sites I follow to see what others are doing, what “strategies” they have, or words of encouragement. Here are samples of what I found.

Tim’s Blog “We are wandering, perhaps, but we are not lost. And we are not without opportunities.” Taken from his audio recording while he walked in the early morning. This is a great time to look for opportunities.

Another Slice writes with a beautiful pathos and optimism about an 18 year old son who is missing out on all the celebrations around graduation that we have always taken for granted.

Harsh Reality ‘s ten year old daughter set up a google classroom and was discouraged when no one showed up. Her father told her something I needed to hear today, too, that “if she wanted people to interact she needed to really take the reins of destiny and put herself out there.” Sometimes I wait when I need to take action.

Diane Reed is going through her house and reflecting and organizing, as many of us are doing these days. She ran across cards she made years ago and writes about the Early Diane. I encourage you to check out her lovely artwork and maybe buy something from her Etsy site Diane on a Whim.

Patrick Ross shares some insights for creative types who may wonder why they are not able to seize this opportunity for creativity as well as expected.

What I know from my past experience interviewing creatives about their process…suggests this isn’t a great time for many of them. A key element found in most creatives is empathy.

Empathy is what allows creatives to produce works that move the reader/viewer/listener. It also makes them more vulnerable to experiencing the pain of others, in ways that can at times be debilitating to the creative spirit.

I love these glimpses into the lives and thoughts of others at this time. They are so relatable.

This week I heard about one of the many amazing new things that have come out of this isolation. On Sunday friends and family celebrated two very special women by doing a drive-by “birthday parade” for one, and an encouragement “parade” for the other who will be having cancer surgery shortly. I was moved to tears by this show of love and support, even though I wasn’t there to witness it. There were cards and signs and balloons and gifts left at the end of the driveway. Both of these women are very giving and social. This isolation is particularly difficult on them. Maybe it is not a coincidence that the birthday girl is also a cancer survivor in the same family.

On a somber note, I’ve heard this week about a nurse whose ears are raw from wearing a mask as she sometimes works back to back shifts covering for others who are sick. Isolating may be difficult. Wondering how we will pay the bills may be difficult. Looking after young children 24/7 may be difficult. Not getting out to see the people we love may be difficult. But I could think of worse things, like being on the front lines without relief.

These days I draw encouragement from whatever sources I can, and try to give support in return, without beating myself up over how little I feel I can do. I remind myself, everything counts. This is my short term survival strategy (as I keep looking for ways to serve). Smile.

After four weeks of solitude, I broke out of jail for a few hours this week. I bought flowers at Superstore, making a swift ‘in and out’ of the store, from the outdoor, fenced, gardening area. We did our first take-out meal in five weeks – burgers at DQ. We took the burgers to the home of a senior friend and sat outside on the patio and shared them with her. It was lovely. Chilly, cloudy, but lovely. Human contact is suddenly so precious. (I know the admonitions to not meet with anyone outside your family, but let’s be reasonable.)

Once again, we recorded an episode of Music with Mr. Sheldon for the children. I’ve discovered a new gift. I simply love editing and producing video! This is not work for me. It is pleasure!

Now I have started a new prayer for wisdom for those who are deciding how to open up the economy again. I pray for creative ideas, things that may not have been considered, which can be implemented to help keep people well and make things work out better than expected. I also pray for the right timing. I’m leaning towards sooner, like two months, maximum, of isolating before beginning to loosen restrictions.

There are concerns about which I am not writing here in the interest of being mostly uplifting in my conversation. Our words make a difference. During this pandemic I am paying more attention to how I use my words.

tree curved branches

I saw this unusual tree on our walk. A good root system helps this tree to survive. If I think about my life strategy, I would say it boils down to learning to draw sustenance from my Source.

Trust in the Lord, with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5,6

 

Posted in Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Food Security, Home, mental health, sustainability

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 4 at Home

fungi

Saw this interesting fungi on my walk, like a flower growing out of a dead branch. It made me think that when we feel like something is dying, a new thing can spring forth.

I’ve noticed this week that the isolation is getting to my husband a wee bit. He’s a very positive person and that is definitely a good trait to have at this time. He believes some good will come out of this. People may begin to reconsider what is important in life. We may come out of this kinder and more grateful.

My heart is especially with people who are struggling emotionally. There are days when I feel a wave of despair wash over me as I lie awake in the pre-dawn hours. I think this is a universal pain, not my personal distress. At these times I pray for peace and hope in the hearts of those who are losing hope. I pray that special things will happen to encourage people.

Yesterday there was an attempted break-in at our condo and as strata members gathered to examine the evidence, I forgot about social distancing for a brief moment. To tell the truth, it was a relief to be in a “normal” space for awhile. I sensed we were lingering. Human contact is becoming very precious.

I continue to pray for farmers and the food supply chain. I’m very grateful for truckers. They find it challenging to get their cups of coffee at stops, I was told by a friend whose husband is a trucker.

I learned this week that there are 1.2 million small and medium sized businesses in Canada employing 13.6 million Canadians out of a total working population of 15.8 million. Small and medium sized businesses are some of the hardest hit in this crisis.

We once owned a restaurant. The profit margin is very small in a restaurant. Imagine going to the grocery store, buying food and then trying to re-sell it after transforming it a little. Business expenses include equipment, supplies, rent, permits, credit/debit transaction costs, utilities, and wages for staff. All of this is covered by converting the food you bought at a grocery store, or from a food supplier, into another consumable form. This is what businesses do. They develop and sell a resource or a service.

It is capitalism that allows this. Capitalism is good to a point. It provides an opportunity and an incentive for people to develop a product and market it. It rewards ingenuity. Its downside is that it can be manipulated by the kind of people who hoard hand sanitizer and try to sell it on Amazon for $70 a bottle.

Years of capitalism has resulted in larger companies squeezing out and swallowing up smaller entrepreneurs. Add globalization and you see international entities with huge buying power taking control of industries world-wide. As a result of this crisis I am becoming more convinced of the importance of small businesses, self-sufficiency and good borders.

These are things I ponder.

Some think the distancing actions that have been implemented are extreme. I read an interesting statement that said we value lives over style of life. Some think the government is over-reaching their control and are very eager to re-start the economy. A few are outrightly disregarding the safety measures. In Sweden we are seeing the consequences of not instituting a lockdown. Sweden already has five times the deaths per million that Norway has and three times that of Denmark. 

Last week I shared that some of my family members are facing serious health issues. A friend reported coronavirus in her family this week. As family members are heading to hospitals for tests and surgery, I pray they will be protected from the virus.

I don’t know where my readers are in terms of faith in God, but I want to say that in years past we have often not known where our supply would come from and God has provided. I believe he rewards our faith in his goodness.

For anyone who is planning to watch this week’s episode of Music with Mr. Sheldon, I want to add that Mr. Sheldon’s haircut was courtesy of his wife. It is a skill I taught myself in early days when we were pinching pennies.

Mr. Sheldon now has a dedicated YouTube channel and one school is using his program. Good news! He teaches a few lessons online, but most of his small music business has shut down until this is over.

We have a very small park near our home. Lately when I have taken walks I have been a bit disproportionately grieved by the trees that have been cut down in the park. I see Weyerhaeuser plastic coverings on sections of logs. I would feel better if I knew there was a good reason for removing these trees. In another local park trees were removed because there is a risk of trees falling. They were not rotting. They were just near the pathway. Please, Parks and Recs, don’t worry about trees falling in parks. Let us keep our trees! We don’t want Weherhaeuser in our parks. My rant for the day.

trees felled