The Corona Diaries – Part One

If someone had asked a few years ago when I was an exhausted stressed-out worker bee, if I would like a couple of months off, to read, write and catch up on sleep, I would have thought it was the most amazing gift.  But as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for….

Now that I’m retired and used to staying home more, my current COVID existence isn’t as dramatically different as it might be for someone accustomed to being out and about every day.   I’m coping okay so far – reading, writing, blogging, cooking, exercising, checking on my mother – but at seven weeks into lock-down, even the most contented of homebodies, may be starting to develop some degree of cabin fever. 

A friend suggested I keep a diary to record this tumultuous time.  I haven’t so far, but as my blogging topics seem to have dwindled to books and baking, (and even baking is on shaky ground now that the grocery shelves are empty of flour), perhaps a few observations about life in COVID Country might be in order.

Wheat field two (2)

A wheat field can be a beautiful thing……maybe I could grind my own flour?

And speaking of the country, it’s much easier to social distance in a rural environment than in a densely populated city like Toronto.  Our cases here in Canada reflect that, as the link below shows, with the more rural provinces, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the islands PEI and Newfoundland having far fewer cases than more densely populated Ontario and our pandemic hot spot Quebec.  As well as having more people, these provinces are home to two large international airports.  PEI and New Brunswick have had no deaths.  Saskatchewan and Manitoba have had only 6 each and have scheduled a staged re-opening.  

Link to Canada’s Pandemic Map.

As a country of 37 million, we have 62,000 cases and 4000 deaths (as of today May 6).   Locally, we’ve had 189 reported cases and 14 deaths, but none since April 20, out of a population base of about 100,000.   Forty of those cases and six deaths came from the same upscale retirement home, where a resident who was in contact with a church group which had traveled to Europe in March, is thought to be the seed case.   The situation in some of the nursing homes in Quebec and Ontario is so out of control that last week the government called in the army to help feed and care for residents in some the worst hit homes.  I’m extremely grateful my 94 year old mother is still living in her own home, and has her painting hobby to keep her busy. 

Was it only last summer we went to see The Tall Ships?  Who would think we would now be in such uncharted territory, trying to navigate this strange new world, where unknown danger lurks in every grocery store.  Well, you get the picture…

The Tall Ships - AMc - 2020

My mother has been painting ships.

Of course, there are things I miss – socializing, eating in restaurants, shopping.   We finally got a Homesense and Marshalls here, set to open the end of March, and I drove by it the other day and mourned all the unseen merchandise sitting there behind locked doors.  (And yes I know it’s selfish and shallow to be thinking about this when so many people are wondering how to pay their bills, but I’m thinking it all the same because shopping can be a pleasant distraction, even if you’re just looking at all the lovely things, and a little retail therapy may help to restart the economy).   By the time it’s open will we even need spring clothes….summer clothes….or will we be back into fall?    Let’s face it, we know we won’t be getting out of this any time soon.   It will be a summer of no music, art, or food festivals.  The local theater season and Canada Day celebrations have been cancelled, even the fall fairs are on hold, and if and when things do open up, will we be brave enough to go out or will we have developed agoraphobia?

Of course we can take solace in nature,

Daffodils

Even the daffodils are looking dejected….

but even your own backyard can get a little claustrophobic after awhile, especially in the hot hazy days of summer when you might wish for a cold dip in the lake.

sailboat race

Something to look forward to…

I’m also looking forward to gardening season and planting a Victory garden, especially the fresh lettuce.

romaine lettuce

Although it’s nice to have the time to do all the things you always said you’d do when you had the time……what if you don’t feel like doing them?   I have not yet resorted to spring cleaning my house – it’s dusty and the windows need cleaning but it’s still too cold outside for that.   The deck needs hosing down and while the patio furniture is out, no one has sat in it, as the whole month of April held hardly a day over 50 F.   The cool weather has extended into May with more of the same, and we may even have wet snow on Friday.    Some sunshine would be enormously cheerful.     

blue forget me nots

The pretty blue forget-me-nots are out.

I spend a lot more time on the phone these days.  In fact, I haven’t talked this much on the phone since high school, when those princess phones were all the rage….

Princess-Telephone

Sadly, I’ve also become a News Addict.  I always watched the 6pm local news, but now I must watch the 11pm National news too, and check the online paper and social media during the day for constant COVID updates.   No wonder so many of us are having COVID nightmares.   While we can distract ourselves during the day with activities, at night our brains are trying to process this constant bombardment of new information.  

I need to tune out and go back to reading before bed.  I’m thinking there may be an e-reader in my future, even though too much screen time makes my eyes sore.   I’m slowly working my way through those 18 books from the bookoutlet in January, but they’re all non-fiction and I’m dying for a good  distracting novel.   I’m hoping the library will be on the list of first places to open, that and hair salons.  (If you saw last weeks post on pandemic bangs, you’ll know why).  

My daily routine still includes mascara and under-eye concealer (otherwise I resemble a raccoon), clean but comfy clothes, and hair washed at least every 3 days.  I will not succumb to sloth….. 

I’ve been walking every day, missing just two in the past month – one where I did a 4-hour-2-grocery store marathon (does pushing an overloaded cart count for building arm muscles?) and one so windy with flurries that I just could not (April 21 – this is spring?).   There’s really no excuse not to now, as it gets me out of the house and into the fresh air.   Exercise also helps me sleep better, so I have more energy during the day to do nothing.  Plus, as I usually walk around my subdivision, I’ve met more of my neighbors, including several I worked with years ago who I never knew lived nearby.   It’s too bad we can’t have a proper visit, as we’re all social distancing of course.   

I cook more, spend less on food and eat better.   I wonder how many families have discovered just how much money can be saved by eating at home, saving restaurants for an occasional treat and not a regular occurrence.

Shrimp and Scallop Pasta

Shrimp and scallop pasta

While many of my daily routines may be the same, other things just seem bizarre – but bizarre is now the new normal.

In the past month I’ve been to the grocery store twice, the bank once, the full-service-no-way-am-I-touching-the-pumps-gas station once, and one restaurant for takeout.   The car was sluggish so I drove to the nearest city for the takeout, as it needed a good run and we were craving Swiss Chalet (rotisserie chicken).

Usually I enjoy grocery shopping, but am finding it stressful now that it’s become a marathon event.   I have a master list, written in order of location as with most of the aisle exits blocked off and one-way arrows on the floor, the grocery store has become a maze.   If you forget the butter, you don’t want to have to backtrack to dairy through the whole store.    My cart is loaded with enough “provisions” as my dad used to call them, for two houses for 3 weeks.   I find the customers polite and patient, but some of the staff are kind of rude.   One store is very lax, a box of gloves at the entrance if you want, and social distancing stickers on the floor, Plexiglas for the cashiers, but otherwise you’re on your own.  They trust you know how to behave like a responsible adult.   At the other store, it’s command central – the deli workers are now the traffic cops at the front entrance, barking orders right and left.   They even have a portable hand wash stand outside the store.   I was told (and not very nicely), that my own disposable gloves could have COVID germs on them and could not be worn inside, I had to use theirs.  I always try to pick the line with the nicer cashiers.   Nice people tend to stay nice in a crisis, but stress can bring out the worse in the others.  

I don’t know how they decide these things but at my mother’s bank I had to stand in the vestibule, while the people accessing the ATM machine walked right by me, closely by me.   Only one person was allowed in the bank at a time.   When it was my turn, I was escorted in by the normally cheerful teller, who was obviously tired of explaining the procedure.   My bank had a better set-up, kind of like a dance routine.    The teller stands back six feet behind the plexiglass while you step up and enter your pin, then you step back six feet to the spot on the floor and let her do her stuff on the computer, then she steps back again and you step forward to take your paper.   Normally I do online banking, but Income Tax was due, (Death and Taxes being the only two certainties in life).     

I’m grateful not to be working despite those emails from the college asking if I would like to reinstate my license to help out, just send $2000 and an application form.   No thanks – I’ve done my time.   My immune system is not great, I need to stay healthy to look after my mother and when I got H1N1 (2009 swine flu) I don’t recall anyone serenading me from their balcony for my months of service.   All I remember is the complaints –  we were so swamped with Tamiflu prescriptions coming in from ER that we couldn’t get to the regular work and there was no backup staff to call in, or even any backup plan or any masks or PPE at all, which is how I got H1N1 when someone coughed in my face.   And BTW, Tamiflu, which had to be started within the first 48 hours, only shortened the duration by a day or two, it was NOT a cure, although the government was happy to provide it free to everyone and their dog.   I don’t remember ever been scared to go to work though, as it was not as contagious or as deadly (only 428 deaths in all of Canada).    My colleagues now are dealing with complaints about the 30 day limit, instituted to preserve the supply chain but in the process tripling their workload, and trying to source back-ordered drugs such Ventolin, insulin and sedatives used in ventilated patients.   If the wholesaler only sends you two when you ordered twenty, how do you decide who to give it to?   Did I mention I’m glad I’m retired?     

Like everyone else, I’m grateful for all the dedicated medical and front line workers, especially the highly trained doctors and nurses who are risking their lives fighting this beast.   But I’d also like to include the unsung heroes who never get mentioned, like respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians and the hospital cleaning staff.   Recently our provincial premier announced a $4/hour pandemic wage increase for front line health care workers and yes, he forgot the respiratory therapists and the paramedics, two groups with the highest exposure.   I also worry about the people not getting needed surgery or treatments and those too afraid to go to the ER when they need help.     

I’m not surprised many of the nursing homes are struggling with not having enough personal support workers.   It’s a chronically understaffed, unappreciated job of mostly part-time hours.   Most homes are privately owned and don’t pay full time benefits, so they wonder how it spread from place to place?   The government enforced the one worker/one home rule way too late, the damage was already done.  The sheer number of deaths in long term care institutions has been a national tragedy, a wake-up call about a system which has been underfunded and understaffed for a long time.  (While PSW’s here make from $18-23/hr, the minimum wage in Ontario is $14/hr, and $18 is considered a living wage).     

Of course I’m lucky to be retired, and not to have lost a job.   But I wonder if this isn’t a bit of a wake-up call regarding the debt levels in our society, about having it all when you really can’t afford it.   Needs vs wants.  Living within your means.   The old standard financial advice about having 3 to 6 months savings set aside for emergencies.  And I’m not talking about the working poor who live paycheck to paycheck and can never get ahead, but middle class workers with good jobs, nice houses, new cars, annual vacation trips,  who drink $5 lattes everyday but have zero savings.  But then maybe I’m old-fashioned and grew up in a different era where credit wasn’t as easily available.  Having lived through a few recessions makes you wiser.

We’re lucky to have more social safety nets here in Canada, as well as free health care.   Not just Unemployment Insurance, but a Canadian Emergency Response Benefit of  $2000/month for 4 months, which was set up in April for those laid off as the UI department could not process the number of claims in a timely fashion.  Every day our prime minister comes out of his house (where he’s been self-isolating for well over 6 weeks now as his wife tested positive), and announces another plan – the Wage Subsidy plan for business – government will pay 75% of salaries if they keep employees on up to $847 per week per employee – money for students unable to find summer jobs ($1250/month, $1750 if they have dependents, $5000 if they volunteer for a charity or do farm work) – an increase in GST and child tax credits – loans of up to $40,000.   Last week he announced they’ll be paying 75% of the rent for small businesses and also helping charities with rent who have had to postpone their fundraisers.  What will be next – subsidizing Girl Guide cookies?   While many small restaurants and shops with short cash flow may need immediate relief, other larger, more established, profitable businesses may be able to ride it out for a few months, especially if they don’t want to lose their valued employees.  (The employees at my bank said no one had been laid off, and all continue to be paid for full time hours even if their hours have been reduced).   It might have been prudent for the government to see how many people and businesses actually required help at this early stage, before making such broad based decisions.   Note the Depression went on for a whole decade of poverty and unemployment – is a few months of restrained spending worth a $300 billion bailout, even if unemployment  temporarily increases from 5% to 9%?   Many recessions over the past 30 years had at least that amount, and they all bounced back.      

Lately I’ve been thinking about John F. Kennedy’s famous speech – “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

While there have already been reports of abuse of the programs, (such as people enrolling their kids in the student aid program who have never worked a day in their lives), there are also those who always step up to help out.   When essential charities like the food-bank sent out a request for help, people were quick to respond.  Some health care workers are donating their bonus pay.   When the Toronto Zoo asked for help feeding the animals for six months the public donated $500,000 far in excess of the $100,000 they actually needed.   These were all public or corporate donations.  

And then there’s the CFL  – The Canadian Football League who asked the government for a $150 million handout as the football season will be cancelled, although they would settle for $30 million if it’s only delayed, not a loan mind you, no plan or promises to pay it back.   Does anyone even watch Canadian Football?   Every sports team with lost ticket revenue is waiting with baited breath to see what the answer will be…    

While all these government programs may be a necessary and welcome thing, I’m wondering who’s going to be paying for it all?   My dim recollection of Economics 101 is that you can’t just keep printing money, but maybe things have changed?   Many people don’t seem to get the connection between all the freebies and income tax.   Of course these are extraordinary circumstances, but we’re already a highly taxed nation with a high national debt load and saddling the next generation with even more debt isn’t exactly fair.   The millennials already resent us enough…(they think we had it easy, we didn’t – we just had less stuff), maybe they’d be happy to see a few of us die off.   While it may be popular to bash baby boomers, most of us didn’t start out with expensive houses either.  There was a thing called a Starter Home, a modest bungalow, and once it was paid for then you traded up.   (There was also a Starter Car – something second hand, fixed up).   Should I feel sorry for a double income couple living in a mansion who now can’t make their sky high mortgage payments?   While you might think I’m lacking in sympathy, I grew up on the poorer side of middle class, so if you’ve not had money, you’re more appreciative of  the safety net of having some in the bank for a rainy day….or a hurricane.  

One permanent outcome of this pandemic might be that people will reassess their current lifestyles and spending limits.  Will they be happier with less money but more family time?  Will working from home become the new norm?  How much stuff is really truly essential? 

It can be interesting observing people’s reactions to this crisis.   There are those who are carrying on as if everything is the same, the ostriches who seem oblivious and never turn on the news, (including the poor old man at Walmart who thought there was a sale on TP, and when told about the virus, asked if diarrhea was a symptom), the angry deniers proclaiming this is all a hoax, the protesters screaming about their rights and freedoms, and the Short-Fuse Freds who are always in a bad mood and take it out on anyone and everyone who will listen.

Our own opinions of the crisis can change over time.   Is the elderly lady with the shopping cart full of ten loaves of bread and 3 frozen apple pies, a hoarder?  In the early days, back when we thought this was just a two week quarantine, I might have said yes, but now – no – she’s just shopping for the neighbors in her seniors building.    Not sure about those pies though, they’re not good at the best of times, let alone for a Pie Pity Party. 

Older people who have the life experience of living through the Great Depression, WW2, rationing, outbreaks of scarlet fever and polio, a couple of recessions, double digit inflation and stock market crashes – have seen and survived a lot.   It seems horribly unfair that they are now dying in  nursing homes without a loved one there with them.   I feel sad for little children also, and hope their parents are able to maintain some sense of normalcy for them in these scary times.

The good news is – we’re not all going to hell for missing mass on Sunday.  The Bishop said so in the parish email cancelling all church services when “he granted the faithful dispensation from their Sunday obligation.”  Is there a Catholic alive who still believes this?   I hope they eliminate that hand shaking bit at the end permanently, worse germ spreader ever.

Even those of us who are introverts and prefer a quiet life, are in need of  some social interaction other than Zoom.   In the early days before the lock-down, I managed to avoid a screening of Parasite with subtitles, as the 300 seat theater just might be a breeding ground for the virus.   Now, with everything closed, you don’t have to make those excuses er…..decisions!  But on the flip side, we also don’t have anything to look forward to.   I’m wondering how I’ll feel after another month or two of this…and when things do open up, will the constant fear of catching it, be worse than staying home and being safe but bored.

I’ve been watching a new CTV series Transplant. – about a Syrian doctor transplanted to a Canadian ER, a world of contrast between a modern hospital and one in a war zone.   I’m also watching World on Fire – a British miniseries about WW2.   Although we may be at war with this horrible virus, we’re not in a war zone.  It’s all about perspective.  This too shall pass.   Just like Columbus, we need patience and perseverance to steer the course.  Calmer seas are ahead.  

The Tall Ships - AMc - 2020

PS.  If you have your health, and food and shelter, family and friends,  sprinkled liberally with books, music and nature – then you have everything you need.

PS.  My apologies for the length…..if anyone’s still reading.  Hopefully there won’t be Part Two.    I’ll leave you with an oldie but goodie…

Song of the Day:  Duke Ellington – Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

 

 

 

58 thoughts on “The Corona Diaries – Part One

  1. Anne says:

    This has been such an interesting read! We are so fed up with the illogical and irrational rules that have been applied in this country after five weeks of a hard lock down and now moved to Level 4 (which means you can exercise from 6 am – still dark! – until 9 am) with little else to relieve the situation for ordinary citizens. It has been dubbed Level 5 with running pants on! I agree with most of what you have expressed here and empathise with your views. I only discovered about the Boomer-bashing recently (that is how isolated we have become) and cannot help thinking that many young people have had it too easy for too long. Keep reading (I too long for a novel I can get lost in – only have non-fiction left on my pile), keep cooking healthy meals, keep walking – and keep writing! All strength to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Anne! I wasn’t sure whether to include that, as I don’t wish to offend my younger readers, if I have any, but many of the ones I know haven’t had to handle any adversity in their lives, other than the usual angst about school and finding a job etc. They’ve not yet realized that life isn’t always fair. Of course I know that doesn’t apply to everyone, but we are a fairly well off society here, with little “true poverty” as opposed to other countries in the world. We have a functioning welfare system, unemployment insurance, free health care, foodbanks, homeless shelters, abuse homes etc – all for the asking. We’re very fortunate to have all these programs, and I am certainly not complaining about paying taxes, its the tradeoff for having a caring society, but I do mind when money is wasted by the government on things which don’t seem essential. They are starting to loosen things up here a bit, and let some groups go back to work, because “lockdown fatigue” has set in and they sense the rebellion in the air. Plus, I think they are wondering how they are going to pay for all of this if it goes on for another six months!

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  2. Kate Crimmins says:

    I have been astounded at how little I am getting done. I can’t concentrate to read and I’m just not in the mood for projects. I would have killed for this time when I was working but like you, I’m retired. My life isn’t different yet it is. Yesterday I was able to go to a garden center that was just allowed to open. OMG! I walked around and took in all the beauty. Better than Valium! Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thank you Kate! Yesterday when I was at the bank, I tried to visit the little garden centre attached to the grocery store, but they were still locked, although as of this week they can be open again. They had some stuff outside but it was enough just to view the flowers again! Still too cold here to buy anything, so I’ll wait a week….but something to look forward to.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Deb says:

      I second that–Covid brain fog is a very real thing! Then again, when life has been tossed topsy-turvey almost overnight, I guess we have to be gentle with ourselves. Our brains are trying to process all the change and trying to cope with generalized anxiety and worries that we never would have imagined before.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Ruth…..it was really too long, I should have broken it up into parts. I suspect we’ll be in for a whole summer of this….but yes, it may be something to look back on someday when things return to normal!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ally Bean says:

    You’re asking the important questions that we’re all asking ourselves as we go through this stay-at-home pandemic experience. What’ll change permanently? Will the future ultimately be better than before, as in less stressful and materialistic? Or will people not learn how to slow down and go right back to their busy ways? I agree with you that if you have your health and shelter and family/friends, then you’re doing ok right now. Your choice for the ending song is perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks for reading til the end Ally! I know it was a long read. I used to put more songs in my posts in my first year blogging but have gotten away from it…..something I need to pick up again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      PS. I’m trying to set my intentions as in one of your recent posts, and really live in the moment, even if the pleasures are small ones like a really good breakfast or walking when the sun is out or seeing my flowers blooming etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Deb says:

    I always like hearing your thoughts, J…I’m glad you’re journalling them! I hope the ‘Corona Diaries’ continues, but don’t be afraid to chase tangents, LOL. Physical distancing and isolation has taught me that I’m not cut out for cloistered life–but that I don’t really as much interaction as a lot of people. Also, that my cooking skills could use some upgrading–cream sauces are beyond me at the moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Deb…..chase tangents? I’m having a hard time writing period! Not for lack of time, although I’m not really doing much the day seems to go by quickly, just not motivated at the moment I guess…..

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  5. Linda Schaub says:

    This was very interesting – I enjoyed reading it. As we’re the same age, we have lots of things to ponder. Younger people think they have the world in the palm of their hand, especially millennials who must learn to think about others besides themselves. But they are not the only ones thinking like that – I read the comments on the news stories about the Governor and about COVID-19. Nothing is going to change if people must constantly be reminded what to do – two months later we should not be hearing PSAs telling us to wash our hands, cover our sneeze or cough – no, no, no. Today our Governor extended “Stay-at-Home/Stay Safe” to May 28th … people are livid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Good for her! I’m behind in Reader again, so will catch up on the weekend…haven’t read your posts or anyones for the past 3 days…..I really don’t understand where the time goes. Re those PSA’s – my mother still takes a daily print newspaper and every night there’s another full page ad (costing $1000 or more) telling us to wash our hands/social distance etc. sponsored by the government health ministry but paid for with our tax dollars. Same with the constant TV ads. What a waste of money, agree 2 months later does anyone still need a daily reminder. If they’re not going to cooperate, no amount of nagging is going to make them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I have been perpetually behind for weeks it seems. Usually a day behind, but I am now two days behind in Reader. But I have done two posts for Mother’s Day weekend and that took a lot of time – Sunday’s is long, tomorrow’s is about the goslings. I do it to myself, but I want to get some things done in the house, and walk both days (if not snowing – snowing a little now) so was late getting here yesterday and today. Every time I hear we need to wash our hands, cough or sneeze in our elbow I want to cringe too – we learned this as kids. It is already 10:00 – I likely will just catch up on comments and go to bed. I nodded off proofing my post … does not say much for me or the post. 🙂 I took a lot of photos last Sunday and one morning this week as I went through the neighborhood, to the Park (fringes to take pics) … right now have 300 – 350 pics I’ve not even looked at yet, plus old pictures sorted, but nothing written.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        That was a good idea – it will make for a good post on our wacky weather. The weather is more like March than May they are saying. We will go to 27 tonight and break the last record of 29 in 1983. They said the fruit tree growers will have fans going all night to keep the cold air directed away. I hope this is not the new norm for weather now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Even next week is cool still…..I’m hoping not to have to turn the furnace on tonight upstairs, as I dropped a comb behind the hot water rad when I was cutting my pandemic bangs at the window for better light. I tried to fish the comb out, but couldn’t even see where it went…..called my neighbour who used to work for a heating and cooling company and he said he thought it would be okay until fall when I have the maintenance checkup but if it started to smell like plastic to call them sooner! So now I’ve been afraid to turn the furnace on as it’s a weekend – of all the stupid things to do, and it was a fairly large comb too!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I am laughing as that is something I would do then have angst over it afterward.

        I had the bathroom light fixture issue … it is a three-light fixture. Most times I have a whole set of bulbs ready to put in when they go. They are 40 watt bulbs and difficult to find in the grocery store and I remembered, when two of the bulbs went about three weeks ago “oh no – I couldn’t get any more of the Reveal bulbs at Meijer.” So I went downstairs and looked anyway – nope, no more 40W bulbs. So hopped on Amazon and they were not essential items, so the soonest they would send them out was May 29th!! I figured the third lightbulb would go soon and my father took the electrical plug out years ago – he used a straight razor and my mom/I used disposable razors so he got rid of it and the tiny medicine chest and put up a big mirror. Great – but no plug. So I could not even plug in an old bedroom light base I have downstairs that we kept to use with timers when we visited my grandmother. So I ordered the bulbs “express 2-day” and it cost a pretty penny to get them fast. I figured I’d wait til the third bulb went and replace all three at once – it is still there, bad lighting but the stupid thing still works. Now, my cellarway light has gone – that makes me mad. It is pitch dark in the cellarway and the light at the end of the steps is working but the main light is not – pitch dark going downstairs and will require a flashlight … but doing laundry is not so easy with hands full – it requires a 9-foot ladder, so the handyman has a job to do. I have to open the side door to get it light in the cellarway – the kitchen light does not throw off enough light. (I don’t know what will be happening with stay-at-home orders for when Jim the handyman does gutters, etc. – he usually does this the first week of June, but who knows?) That fixture I have plenty of lights for!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I did NOT turn the upstairs furnace on last night, but may try it on Monday just to see if I smell any plastic burning. I’m low on lightbulbs too but our hardware stores are not allowed to be open. The oven light has been burnt out for a month, so I can’t tell when I’m burning anything except by opening the door and letting the heat out. Then two of mom’s hall lights are burnt out, but that requires a handyman too…..not sure what to do about that, as the Reliance guy replaced the others when he was here fixing the kitchen tap. I have a very unhandy electrical plug way up high on the bathroom light fixture which needs to be replaced by one at a lower level but I couldn’t find a light fixture I liked last fall so I gave up on it……these small things are so annoying!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I could carry a flashlight down, but I think I’d open the side door instead as the light at the bottom of the stairs works – but this is very dark. I will have to do washing during the day on a weekend … sometimes I do it in the morning – not now. I thought I had a long-lasting bulb in it and I only turn the light on to go downstairs and shut it as soon as I come back upstairs – so annoyed it did not last longer. The third/last lightbulb still has not gone out in the fixture. I must have replaced it at a later time. I’ll bet you froze last might. I went to sleep with my blanket over my head, hoping I didn’t suffocate myself. The annual ant invasion is here – last year Shelley wrote about it and suggested using Terro liquid ant bait … I got about six or eight boxes at the tail end of the ant invasion and opened a few of them – didn’t see any more ants. I put these out a couple of weeks ago, but have seen these little ants sporadically. Last night as I was sitting here in my bedroom at the laptop – I must’ve seen 20 ants … there were crawling on the ceiling, dropping down as the ceiling is not completely flat – little bumpy marks in the paint – fell down on my hand or onto the bed. I should have gone into the kitchen because maybe they were attracted to the light fixture which is in the middle of the ceiling, right over the bed. I woke up this morning and went I went into the bathroom, there was a dead little ant on my eyebrow crease … I really don’t want to know what happened there. I don’t have a bite but right away I thought “just what I need to have to go to the doctor for an ant bite.” I never ever had these little ants until about 5 years ago. It used to just be in the kitchen, now not many in the kitchen – all in my room. My mom would have been horrified – our neighbor Marge had them every Spring for a week or two and my mom would say “I’d just die if we ever got those.” We had the carpenter ants – that was bad enough.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes it was awful seeing it on my eye crease. No, because it is only once a year for about a week, two tops. My neighbor got it every year and Kate wrote about it last week – I think they are born and run all over the place then disappear. They don’t come back in a few weeks and are bigger. I don’t know where they go. Now I’ve been here since 6:30 and only killed 2 – thank goodness with all the rain. I won’t want to go into the basement – I am afraid of spiders and centipedes and we had all this rain. They will be coming in.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I think that’s why women used to wear nightcaps in bed…..to keep their heads warm! I just finished reading your post – brought back lots of memories!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I think you’re right Joni. Back when I used to sew all my own clothes because I was tall and they didn’t have tall sizes in those days, I made flannel nightgowns and there was a pattern for a matching nightcap/curler cap. So I always wore curlers and had a nice flannel cap to keep my head warm on those cold Winter nights. It is pouring hard out there – this Mother’s Day weather will win no prizes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I have never seen that movie nor read a Jane Austen book – something to do when retired. I can tell you I will not be bored when retired – there are many many classic books I’ve never read and classic movies I have never seen. “Wuthering Heights” comes to mind. I will get cable again when retired to catch up on some of these shows. So, I liked having a nightgown that was roomy and to my ankles and made it in heavy flannel with the matching cap – even put lace on the cap. I’d have fit right in with those ladies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Although I find Jane Austen’s life/biography interesting, her books not so much. The movies are better than the books, especially the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. Although it was so popular I never watched it until about ten years ago and found it far better than any other version I’ve seen. I wish I had signed up for Netflix before this quarantine started, now I don’t know how to sign up/program it and really don’t want anyone in my house to show me how, even if they did want to!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        They are advertising on Comcast and WOW (which is the only competitor though Comcast Internet/Cable has cornered the market) that they have contact-free installation for new internet – that surprised me a little. I would like to learn about Netflix for when I’m not working anymore – I would do that or cable to watch some programs and movies I never got to see. I would have liked to see the series “Mad Men” as I worked in an ad agency. I’ve not read a lot of the classics. Lincoln Park had a horrible school system and I did not get a good education there – I realized that when I got to community college and discovered what other students had read in high school. I was amazed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I think there’s lots of good stuff on Netflix but I never figured out how to work it on my Smart TV – I guess it was too smart for me! I did get your last gmail and will reply soon – hoping to go to bed earlier tonight, last night was very very late.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I have not turned a TV on in ten years and were I to go to Netflix I am thinking my old TV from the 80s may not be “enough TV” and would need to upgrade. It is something to think about down the line when I’m retired and have more time. I went to bed early last night and woke up with a start from a loud noise – never found the origin of it. Don’t worry about my e-mail please, and especially the long e-mail because I responded to what you had said. We will start out fresh … I am too wordy as you know. I look forward more and more to retirement, but I figure I will take many months first to just declutter everything – too much here and make it look like it used to, inside and outside. Then, I can truly enjoy retirement. On days like today – it was cold out, but beautifully sunny and I would have stayed out another hour, walked more steps – cheap entertainment. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I bought a 55 inch Smart TV five years ago, (upgrading from my 1990’s relic one which I seldom watched), which I enjoy the big screen, but I never used any of the smart features as I needed a cable to connect it to my computer to use Netflix/Facebook/photos etc. Now they can program your internet modem directly to the TV, so you don’t have to download onto your computer, but you still need the computer to sign up, which is the part I haven’t done yet. My friend has it, but seems to have problems using the remote. I hate technology. While there is some good stuff on it, there’s a lot of junk and time-fillers. Other than watching the news and a few shows, I’d must rather read. Well, at least you have a goal and ideas for what you would like to do in your retirement,. I’ve already declutterd, but won’t be able to have my garage sale. I’ll just respond to your latest email then….probably on Fri/Sat. It was beautiful today, I did walk and enjoyed the balmy weather!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I can’t imagine that big a TV – and where would I put it. This one is sitting on a piece of furniture – the house is done in colonial furniture and I haven’t bought any furniture since it is just me to get rid of something else. The TV room is the only comfortable place to sit because the living room furniture is not comfortable at all, the rocking chair has a velvet cushion on the seat and back … and it is cold in the living room as it is next to the garage. So it’s not a place you want to sit and relax. I listen to the radio news, but have watched news reports or special event items on social media live or after the fact. I just need to declutter bigtime. But that has to be when I have a lot of time and will not even do it right away. I have not had a vacation of any type (and I’m not talking about a tour or a trip here) since 1992 when my mom and I took a trip down South and spent a week in some Southern States. That is almost 30 years ago and any vacation time I took was tacked onto another long holiday like Memorial Day or Labor Day and usually spent working outside or inside and maybe one day to go to the mall shopping. I’ve not had a vacation day since I was hired back in June 2011. I think I am exhausted, but a lot has to do with staying up too late re: WP. I know that, but I think is getting older too. I had a wonderful walk yesterday – it was quite cold but very sunny and the sun made all the difference. Yes, I wrote a very long e-mail and responded to everything so no, don’t respond to it, just read it and we’ll move on. The second e-mail was an FYI too. I will be “short and snappy” from now on. 🙂 We are supposed to have potentially severe weather tonight with torrential rain and raucous storms. Saturday is nice, but other than that, today won no prizes and Friday and Sunday won’t either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        A 42 inch might be a better size for you, although my living room isn’t very wide either and I have gotten used to the big screen. I think they have 60 and 70 inch ones out now too but you’d need a really big room for those. I walked in the rain today, and it was okay, not raining very hard, kind of pleasant actually. It’s our long Victoria Day weekend this weekend and it’s always rainy then anyway….

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Does it hang on the wall? I don’t even know where I would hang it – in the TV room there are two walls that are cut up due to the closet in there and the only flat wall has the loveseat there … there is another chair that matches that but would not hang the TV there due to the configuration of the room. I guess I would have to just have the cable turned on again – or maybe stream it. Never thought about all those things – so I am out of tune with what you can do. Comcast has streaming through your computer – that would be the other option. I totally forgot about the long weekend being next weekend until you said it was your Victoria Day weekend. For some reason I thought it was two weeks away. I’ve lost track of time for some reason. My boss is supposed to be going up north with the landlord and told me that a week or so ago, but he’s never mentioned it again – I guess it would be the end of next week. All the rain is making my brain soggy – we had several big rains today and a storm. Got up early this morning after having picked through alot of pictures and did some posts for this weekend about my virtual 5K walk and some geese and goslings – the post was too long so I broke it up. And did a Wordless Wednesday for next Wednesday – I was going to use it the other day but did the Dingell Park photos instead.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        No I don’t hang mine on the wall…..it’s just on one of those long TV stands. I don’t have an accessible wall with the right angle for viewing either. I can lay on the couch and watch, which is more comfortable. Yes, it’s our long Victoria Day weekend, but it isn’t unusual for it to be cold and rainy, or now humid and rainy. We may have some sun tomorrow for part of the weekend. I think it’s early this year. I have nothing ahead blog-wise but may do a cookie post for next week if I get them made on Monday. Not feeling too inspired right now….

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I think that’s why I thought it was two weeks away – it is really early this year for us too. A cookie post will be nice, especially since so many people are at home right now and are now homebodies like you and me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I made the cookies this afternoon but was not pleased with the way they turned out but am going to post it anyway. I’ve made them before but much be out of practice….

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        You can always make a second batch to get back into the swing of things. 🙂 Isn’t that good reasoning? I only made cookies once and they were slice-and-back cookies and they burned badly!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. annieasksyou says:

    I stayed with you the whole time, Joni—very thoughtful and interesting. I think, though other Americans may disagree, that you can’t fully appreciate a strong safety net until you live in a country that lacks one. We’re fortunately Ok, but the images of families driving up to food banks for the first time in their lives is heart-wrenching. And large aid packages intended for small business people to help them stay afloat somehow find their way to the president’s cronies—and undoubtedly to him and his family. And no plans—while the death toll rises rapidly. Horrendous!
    But your account was informative and lively. I’m glad our nice neighbors to the north are not experiencing anything like what we are.
    PS: Before this, I described myself as an ambivert. I’m now a comfortable introvert. Who knows what changes lie ahead?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks for reading Annie….I know it was a long piece. I know the situation in the US is MUCH different, not just in terms of cases and deaths but in terms of poverty and unemployment which is now 16%? I understand the agitation to get back to work despite the risks, as the alternative is starving. We are lucky here to have those all those safety nets, even though our tax rate is high….I’m certainly not complaining, it’s the cost of a caring society. I just hate to see the abuse, here and in the US, both the government wasting money on unimportant stuff and companies/people lining up to take advantage so they don’t have to dip into their profits. Trump always makes sure his cronies do okay. Was his son’s school was one of those getting money??? I don’t know what lies ahead, but I hope it isn’t him getting re-elected again…and can’t understand how he can still have so much support. I’m sure you’re aware of the Hygge books from Denmark which discuss the higher happiness rates in countries which provide more social safety nets…

      Like

  7. indianeskitchen says:

    Very good post!!!! I can’t believe how different it is in Canada compared to the US. I feel just like you as my husband still has his job which supplies our health care and being retired, my life style hasn’t changed. My daughter, an RN and on the front line, was given NO extra money. They were told they will work whenever and wherever they are needed in the hospital or else. I understand what you mean by living in the rural area.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      Thank you for reading Diane….I know it was a long post. Perhaps I spoke too soon as the new unemployment stats came out today and we’re now at 13% unemployment here in Ontario, mostly restaurant and stores and service industries which may pick up as things reopen, but certainly not totally. They also announced more pandemic pay to lower wage essential frontline workers, this was a federal announcement separate from the the provincial $4/hr boost for health care workers, so I don’t know how it’s all getting sorted out. Seems only fair to me though, when the government is handing out money to everyone else but the very people who are saving our lives! I don’t know where you are located, but Linda says Michigan is hit bad, but I think that goes with being a more highly populated area…..who knows how it will all end. The best we can do is stay home if we can and try and stay healthy.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. J P says:

    Wow, you covered a lot of ground! I don’t blame you a bit for not re-upping for your (former) career. And it is good that your mother is in her own home, away from the hot-spots. What a blessing that my own mother passed away at the beginning of December, not long before this all got going – she was in a nursing home and that would have been an awful situation for all of us to be in.

    I agree with you in wondering if everyone’s life will get simpler. I do think that young people today have a point. Yes, they spend way more at Starbucks and places like that than I do, but I got out of college with no debt and health insurance that cost me $67 *quarterly*. And the per capita government debt was waaaaay lower when I was their age.

    And as you might expect, JP heartily approves of your musical selection at the end!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Yes, that would be a terrible worry, esp knowing you couldn’t visit. The retirement /nursing home my mom had looked at before Christmas, as a suggestion when she was discharged from the hospital for a minor problem, now has an outbreak, and 3 people have died so far…..I’m glad she said she wasn’t ready for that yet, and grateful she’s still healthy enough to live on her own.
      I agree, that kids have more debt now getting out of school and good jobs can be scarcer, which is why it is important to choose your course wisely. I had no debt too, mainly because my parents paid for everything, as the $1000 I made over the summer (at $2.20/hr) was my spending money for groceries and living expenses for the whole year. But when I graduated in 1979 I had a very good job making $11/hr so whatever debt we had could be quickly paid off. But I also recall having a very small wardrobe, a few pairs of jeans and tops, a coat, one or two pairs of shoes. I just find kids today have SO much stuff, some of which they can’t live without like electronics, but other stuff which is just frills. I was having this argument with a family member who says he can’t save money. He eats at fast food restaurants every day and with the coffees figures he spend $30/day eating out, which adds up to $900 a month. You could buy groceries for much less, take your lunch and coffee to work, and save the rest. I have another family member, a niece, who has learned to live very frugally during the 7 long years of getting her PhD. I wish they would teach budgeting to kids in high school. Remember also we couldn’t get credit cards back then, unless you had a good job, so there was less temptation to charge things you couldn’t afford. Unfortunately, this crisis is going to split society into even more of a have and have not situation, as many of those low income jobs like restaurants and retail will not recover. It is spiraling health care costs which hurt in the US…..I’m glad we have universal coverage, even if a third of our taxes go to that. Thanks for reading, I know it was a long post….next week it will be back to cookies! PS. I’m glad you enjoyed the music!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. thegenxtravels says:

    Enjoyed your post!! I too no longer work as of last November and am becoming used to not having the hustle and bustle of working long hours. Regardless, I miss so much but I am surprised at how much we are saving due to eating at home and not going here or there. I like your positives!!!! Lori

    Like

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