Coronavirus, Where is Spring? and Keeping Motivated

April 6, 2020

by Kathy Larson

It is snowing. Again. I am so tired of snow. Of winter. I want Spring to come. To see trees budding, grass growing and flowers peeking out from cool earth. This has been a long, cold season, made that much worse by this coronavirus that has gripped the world.

For the past few weeks I, like millions of others, have been glued to the news, following the ever-climbing numbers associated with this virus. Numbers of infected, of tested, of deaths. Numbers of unemployed, of businesses closed, of personal debt predictions. Numbers related to health care — those who are working to help others, those who are helping others who have themselves become infected, and the constant call for masks, respirators and other ppe.

Watching and listening to this news became an obsession. I felt that if I wasn’t paying attention 24-7 then I might miss something critically important. In doing my part by staying home and only leaving the house when absolutely necessary (and for a daily walk to get some fresh air) I had come to think that staying tuned to the news ALL THE TIME was my obligation and responsibility.

I see now that this was an unhealthy, though understandable, reaction to the crisis our country, and the world is facing. So, yesterday, I took the day off. I didn’t watch the news even once. We made some phone calls, placed a couple of video calls just to check in with family, and then I turned it all off for the day.

Instead of drowning in bad news and despairing numbers I soaked in a bath of epsom salts and lavender scented bubbles. I treated myself to a lovely refreshing coconut face mask, gave myself a mini-manicure and then immersed myself in feel-good music in a room all by myself. I allowed myself to think of other things and not feel guilty about ignoring the pandemic. When I emerged from my happy little bubble a couple of hours later I felt much, much better.

The hardest thing about this period of mandatory isolation is staying motivated. Though I have all this time on my hands I can’t seem to do much with it. I try, I really do, but more often than not, I fail to accomplish much of anything.

You’d think I’d have written a novel by now, with all this uninterrupted time. But how can I write anything when I’m glued to the television and my brain is preoccupied by thoughts of impending doom and the coming apocalypse?

I could have crocheted a couple of afghans in this surfeit of spare time, but all I have to show is a couple of produce bags and a rather large shopping tote. They’ll come in handy once the ban on plastic bags is reinstated — if it’s reinstated.

There is a roll of wallpaper I bought over a month ago sitting on top of the cupboard I bought it for that stares forlornly at me every time I walk by. Yeah, yeah, I see you, I answer silently each time, I’ll get around to you, just give me time.

Maybe. This week. We’ll see.

I know this much: the television is staying off this week. At least until the evening news.

Home-bound

by Kathy Larson

March 19, 2020

So, we’ve been social-distancing and semi-self-isolating for four days now. Honestly, it hasn’t been that much of a change in normal for me. I stay in most days, happy to read or crochet or dabble at writing. I get the housework and laundry done, listen to music, do a crossword puzzle, maybe go for a walk if it’s not too cold. The aquafit classes I attended were my biggest social outings, but that was only two or three times a week. Walking/jogging on the indoor track at Mac Island, though done in the company of others, was also, mostly solitary. With my headphones on I cruised around the oval for 45 minutes then took myself down to Second Cup for a honey tea latte, half-sweet. Please and thank you.

I don’t care to shop — never have. Going to movies is fun, but costly, so we don’t do a lot of that. Eating in restaurants tends to be disappointing, so don’t miss that, and we’re past the age where going out to the bar or a nightclub is even a consideration. Once in a blue moon we’d go to the casino and lose a hundred dollars, but, again, not something we do on a regular basis.

Sadly, neither of us volunteers anymore, so we have nothing to miss on that score. I keep saying I’m going to find something to volunteer for, but haven’t yet, and now, with COVID-19 in our lives most opportunities have disappeared.

It’s funny, when our son was young and I worked full-time and had a busier social life I volunteered a lot. Both my husband and I did. We were always engaged in some community group or other and it never seemed like we were overwhelmed. Now when I think of the time I’d have to commit to something I find all kinds of excuses and reasons why I’d rather not. Maybe that’s just age. I don’t know. I do know when this is over that I’m going to have to change my thinking.

I tried the online grocery order thing. From Superstore. Because of the current state of things I got less than half of what I had ordered. No toilet paper, no chicken, and most shocking — no chocolate bar! Oh, and the bag of avocados was rotten. The process was pretty easy, actually, and I’d definitely try it again. Say, perhaps, when we’re getting back from a holiday. Some day. In the future. When the coronavirus is no more.

After picking up my half-order of groceries from SS I drove over to Save-On to see if they had what I wanted. They did, though it was considerably more costly than SS. We are now well stocked with toilet paper, chicken and giant bottles for water — just in case.

Save-On had some lovely ahi tuna steaks in their meat section so that’s what we had for supper last night. Maple-mustard glazed tuna steaks (get the recipe here: https://cooktoria.com/ahi-tuna-steak/) with sweet potato oven fries and a fresh salad. Yum.

Being sequestered at home at first seemed like A BIG DEAL. For us, really, it’s not. We watch a couple of shows in the evening, play a couple of card games, then head upstairs to bed around 10:30. Nothing different from our normal routine. Other than the ever-present reality that we can’t go anywhere simply because we want to.

I can see isolation being tougher on families with small children, those with medical problems, those with addiction problems, those with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. My heart goes out to them, but that is all. This virus makes it virtually impossible to do anything other than sympathize.

It’s hard to think of anything positive during this global crisis, but if there is anything good at all to be gleaned from it, it is this: Maybe, with all this time for reflection and self-reflection, there will be a returning to the meaning and importance of family and community. By being forced together maybe people will discover, or, re-discover, the simple joy of time well spent in one another’s company. That’s not going to happen for everyone — that would be fantasy — but if it happens at all it is something definitely worth celebrating.

Giving in to Hysteria

by Kathy Larson

March 9, 2020

I was all set to go to the pool today, but after watching the morning news I’ve changed my mind.

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is the reason. I don’t normally get easily spooked by things like this, but I’m thinking maybe this time I’d be right to avoid any unnecessary exposure.

The public pool/recreation center at MacDonald Island here in Fort McMurray is world class. Among its many features is an Olympic size pool, massive whirlpool, and water slides. Like all public swimming pools it is constantly busy with lessons, classes and just casual drop-ins looking for a little escape from the daily grind. The staff who work there are also fantastic, and they work very hard to keep the facility clean and safe.

But.

People in Fort McMurray travel. A lot. There is an extremely high population of immigrants in this area and they frequently travel back and forth between their northern Canadian home and their birth countries. Those who are not part of the immigrant population tend to travel as well. If they are not workers from another province travelling back and forth for work, then they are permanent residents seeking a respite from the solitariness and seclusion of life in a northern city with not much to do except stare at the snow. Any day I am at the pool I overhear people talking about their latest trip.

Call me paranoid, but with more cases of the novel-coronavirus surfacing daily in Alberta I don’t think congregating in public places is a very good idea. Especially in a place where people have exposed themselves to the risk of contracting such a virus. So, I’m going to take a pass on my aquafit classes for a while. I’m also going to avoid shopping malls, and large public gatherings of any kind. I’ll try to keep my grocery shopping to a minimum, though I’m not going to resort to stock-piling toilet paper or hand-sanitizer. All that nonsense just makes me shake my head.

Instead I’ll practice common sense and hopefully wait this crisis out.

I wish everyone could do the same. It’s not possible, I know; the world has to keep on keeping on, after all. Kids need to go to school, moms and dads need to go to work, goods and services have to get delivered. I hope, for all our sake, that this virus is nearing the end of its life cycle and that life can soon return to normal. In the meantime, we should take whatever common sense precautions we can to prevent the spread of this virus from getting worse. If that means missing a pool day, then so be it.

I am going to miss my pool days; this self-imposed restriction is only temporary, getting sick and possibly dying is not.