And So It Began – Covid 19

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The first time I heard about Covid 19, it was called simply Corona virus and was being likened to the SARS infection of 2003. A friend, who is also a nurse, asked me if we should be concerned. I thought back to that year, how SARS, though it wasn’t ignored, wasn’t really given the attention needed and the severity was downplayed, at least where I worked. And I told her that I didn’t really think it would be too bad and we should just be careful, maybe the public should be encouraged to wash their hands more, that type of thing. Of course I was very, very wrong but hindsight is 20/20.

We all went about our business as usual, socializing, going to our service club meetings, picking up the grandkids from school, shopping, and planning a trip to Florida to get away from the cold weather for a couple of weeks. All was normal. I knew that our province had supposedly strengthened the public health mandate. I didn’t know our pandemic plan had been largely ignored, with dust gathering on the binders until a pandemic was declared. I knew that the current government, in its desire to cut spending, had decided to make large cuts in our public health care. I really hadn’t paid a lot of attention as public health wasn’t in my sphere pre-retirement or since for that matter. I can tell you it sure is now.

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My husband and I, the rest of our family and friends went about our daily lives without a care. Shopping, lunch or coffee with friends, still planning a trip south, the same things everyone else was doing. Oh and complaining about the weather, all Canadians complain about the weather and this winter was cold but much less snowy than usual so we really did have something to complain about. Little did we know that was the least of our worries. The hubby and I left for Florida in the second week of February. We wanted to relax and enjoy the warmth, maybe golf a bit, visit friends we made when we spent a couple of winters there. You know, winter is long and we just wanted to get away. So far there were no warnings against travel. There was some heightened concern about the deadly effects of an epidemic in Wuhan, but no real fear of a virus able to spread so quickly and easily.

I feel I should have known, or at least recognized the possibility of a pandemic. I lived and worked through SARS, but that seemed so long ago and I had complete faith that lessons had been learned and Public Health was not politicized and would have our backs so to speak. That trust in the system was obviously misplaced. Plus the news was still downplaying or was not able to get, information about the spread of the disease. Boy what a circle of information. No one really knew who or what to believe.

And so off we went to Florida and we really enjoyed our trip, some heat, some golf, and some visiting. It was nice. We have two adult sons living with us and shortly after our return, one of them went off to Panama for a yearly adventure that he enjoys. didn’t think twice about him going either. Our grandkids were still going to school, March break hockey tournaments and day camps were planned. So many good things were happening.

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My mate and I decided one day, around March 7th, to run some errands. One of those included a stop at Costco, the massive warehouse store, mainly a lunch stop as we appreciate the price of the hotdogs. We asked a woman about our age, if we could share her table and of course we had a nice chat over hotdogs and pop. She wondered why most of the customers had at least two of the very large packages of toilet paper. I hadn’t really noticed but she was right. TP, paper towels, cleaning wipes all seemed to be going out the door quickly. Did all these people know something I didn’t? I laughed about so many folks running out of toilet paper at the same time but I still wasn’t too concerned. I had just bought some about a week ago so we were okay for those supplies. All these people going nuts over toilet paper! I figured someone had started a rumour about a paper shortage. I surely didn’t think I was witnessing the beginning of the pandemic hoarding.

I DID NOT POST ANYTHING!

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It’s been at least four months, probably a bit more, since I last wrote a blog post. I’m afraid I am a lazy blogger or I don’t have much to say about anything. We have been in lock down since March Fifteenth and so not much activity in my household, or any other for that matter. Most of my friends and acquaintances were at home. A few in essential services were still working and I am forever grateful for their service to our community.

For the first few weeks of quarantine, I didn’t even go to the grocery store or pharmacy. My sons, who were still working, did all that for me but honestly there came a point where I couldn’t stand it any more! So I donned my mask, stocked up on hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes and braved the lines outside the store, keeping a careful six foot distance. I love the directional arrows too, it made my shopping much more efficient. Everyone was in the same boat and no one felt it was a hardship. We were outside and able to get our needed items. No one complained about wearing masks and I, personally, didn’t encounter anyone who was rude or demanding. Thank you all for being so Canadian.

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At the beginning of this strange way of living, I had great plans. I was going to write, a lot. Then do some crafting, I have about four scrapbooks started, and learn to decoupage. I have a cross stitch pattern that I’m working on for a Christmas gift too and this was a perfect time to complete it. I also planned to finish a basement corner to use as my craft centre, my own special space. Hmmm can I add none of the above to my list?  Nope, not a single project done to completion. That’s pretty darn sad. I’d like to excuse myself by saying I was depressed about the world situation and the effect this lock down time had on everyone’s psyche but really, quarantine just allowed me to excuse my laziness. There are many folks in far more dire straits than I, mentally and financially.

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What good has come out of this reflection? There has to be something right? Yes there is! I can only speak for myself of course, but I have learned I spend far too much time on the internet. My political juices are boiling some days and my tolerance level has gone down. I recognize this and will work to fix it. I am now diligently filling my birdfeeder and can identify numerous types that  visit. Yes I know I’ll have to continue to fill through the winter to help those birds staying through the coldest months. I really miss people. We stay in touch online or by phone but it’s very hard to stay involved. I belong to a service club and much of our time is spent raising funds to help charities and doing actual, physical work for the community. We all miss our gatherings and it has been hard to keep the fire of service alive. We are trying though.

And lastly, the very fact that I recognize the issues I’m having, is a good thing. Now I can work to fix my perceived problems which, now that I write them down, aren’t so terrible and are easily fixed.

How have you done under lockdown? Feel free to share your insights, solutions or even your issues.

But We Just Moved!

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One week after moving into our sweet little apartment, it’s time to begin our winter sojourn to our little mobile home in Florida. Crazy I know but we really don’t like the winter cold anymore and go to great lengths to avoid it. This season the plan was to travel south in November, the high cost of medical insurance and having just found our apartment, it seemed better to wait again until January. Next year I’ll be a better planner, at least I’ll try but, like most New Year’s resolutions, that too might not make it. Ah well; we live in hope.

With just about everything I own still in boxes, I started my vacation packing with the most obvious, clean out my purse. Most people I know wouldn’t consider it essential but when we travel, my purse turns into the repository of everything from passports to gas receipts. Add in a wallet containing American money and my regular Canadian money wallet and my small case for holding all cards, my cell phone, some headache tablets, keys for Florida and home and you can see that it gets really full, really fast. Occasionally I also have to carry the hubby’s wallet and keys also. He complains about the hard time I have finding things once in a while but, he too would be lost without my purse. Now that task is complete, I can move on with the rest of the packing. Clothes and toiletries of course as well as food that would rot if left here for a couple of months and what I consider kitchen essentials that travel everywhere with us. We learned last year that Florida is not always hot and sunny, sometimes it’s not even warm, so a few extra long sleeve shirts and a couple of sweaters were added this year.

We’ve made this trip quite a bit over the years so we basically know how to get to the sunshine state, but I gave the hubby a gps device for Christmas in the hopes it would be good to have for any little side trips we may take. The darn thing still isn’t programmed, we have pages of instructions to follow online and I’m just not that adept at these. Maybe I should give it to my four year old grand daughter to program for me, she seems to be a budding techie.

Next thing I pack is the personal care bag. I take a couple of meds for diabetes, the hubby takes nothing, but I had to sign a paper at the pharmacy swearing I was going on vacation and needed the extra meds. Sheesh, are diabetic medications selling on the black market now? If we feel a cold coming on, I have vitamin “c” and then first aid stuff. Then of course cosmetics, toothbrushes, our preferred soap etc. Why not buy that type of thing after I arrive? Because I have personal preferences that I’m afraid I won’t be able to get elsewhere and I already have a ton of this at home so why waste time and money buying more. Makes perfect sense to me. Besides I always forget something that I have to replace when travelling anyway.

At the end of it, our minivan is well packed with every conceivable necessity. It looks like we’re moving all over again. But even though we just moved, we are ready to do it again! So setting out at four am; or five; maybe six, anyway we avoid the worst of the morning traffic and hit the road. Every trip is an adventure!

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