Category Archives: Self Isolation Diary

What Will Be Different?-Self Isolation Day 14

On Saturday it was my niece’s birthday.  She and I have been going to the Winnipeg Art Gallery and out to lunch every year for her birthday since she was about eight years old.  This year the art gallery is closed as are most Winnipeg restaurants and during this time of social distancing, we can’t be together. I hope we can still have our birthday lunch and art gallery visit sometime in 2020.  

One of the paintings featured in Stephen Borys’ posts this last week was Native Fires by Wanda Koop.

Every day the director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery Stephen Borys posts a painting from the gallery’s collection online  and tells people a little bit about it.  All the pieces featured so far have been popular works from our collection that I have had the privilege to share with hundreds of gallery visitors as a guide during the eight years I have been at the WAG.  Seeing them again each day on social media is like seeing old friends. 

We all need a break sometimes from the COVID-19 coverage we hear from morning till night. I have a subscription to The Atlantic and on Sunday they sent out a newsletter offering links to coronavirus free articles from their magazine. 

Dave and I did a walk down the Duff Roblin Parkway yesterday. We walked for an hour and only met one other couple with their dog. We gave each other a wide berth stepping into the fields beside us. But we did say hello. When your husband is the only one you talk with in person most days, a hello like that from someone who isn’t on a screen or phone is nice. We were still isolated but isolation outside is a whole lot better than isolation inside. 

We may be in social isolation until July.  A friend said in an e-mail yesterday that he wishes he had a remote control so he could just fast forward us to the end of June. 

A photo I took of the West End Cultural Centre through the window of the Feast Restaurant across the street.

My husband Dave is a regular volunteer at the West End Cultural Center. Of course, since they aren’t open now, he can’t help them out by giving of his time, so he sent them a donation.  It seems during this strange period when you have to keep your social distance the only way you can help causes and institutions that are important to you is with your money. 

Someone put this poster up in the elevator in our condo building. I ‘m thinking about its message. 

A former colleague of mine who is currently teaching in southern Italy says gangs of people desperate for food during the lockdown have begun organizing raids on supermarkets.  Since millions of people in Italy earn money in informal ways they are not eligible for unemployment benefits and so they don’t have money for food. How can we keep this from happening in Canada at some point?

Yesterday was our last day of self-isolation. What will be different today?  Not much. We won’t be able to visit friends or family or have them over.  It isn’t safe. We won’t be able to go to work at our part-time jobs.  The places where we work have closed their doors. We can’t attend our church and I can’t go there to work in the church library where I am the librarian.  Our church is only open in a limited and restricted way for the folks who need to access our food bank.    I can’t go and volunteer at the MCC Thrift Store as I usually do. They have locked up.  Dave can’t go and play pickleball at the recreation centre or curl at the curling rink and I can’t work out at the gym. Those places are locked down.  The boards and committees on which I serve no longer meet and the place my writers’ group meets has canceled all events held there. The Manitoba Theatre Centre where we have season tickets has canceled all performances and the local movie theatres we frequent regularly are closed. 

We will be able to go the grocery store, the post office and the pharmacy. I think that will be the only difference. 

Other posts………..

Siloam Mission at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Paint Nite

All of my self-isolation diary posts

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Faith Hope and Love- Self Isolation Day 13

We Are Best Friends by Laura Gross-Acrylic – Millshof Hutterite Community

When I was a writer for the Winnipeg Free Press I once spent a day on a Manitoba Hutterite colony at the invitation of a Hutterite woman named Clara who said she read my columns and considered me a friend. My visit to the colony was an eye-opening experience that left me reexamining many of my stereotypical ideas about Hutterites.

Soccer Game – plasticine-by Grace Waldner-Decker Community

 An article I saw about how the Amish people in Pennsylvania are handling COVID-19 made me think about Clara, as well as the colony members from across Manitoba who were responsible for a wonderful display of Hutterite art I saw at Winnipeg’s Heritage Gallery in October.  How were their communities coping with the crisis? I knew communal living was at the very heart of their lifestyle.

Making Apfel Platz- water colour- Sofia Maendel- Fairholme Hutterite Community

A story on CTV news yesterday explained that Manitoba Hutterite colonies are being mindful of public health warnings. They have cancelled church services and school classes and they no longer eat communally.  Leaders believe that the support system the colonies provide will help them weather this crisis. They say that faith, hope and love will get them through this challenging time. 

Mennonite Church at the Mennonite Heritage Museum

I found an interesting article about Dr Glen Klassen a microbiologist who hails from Steinbach. He did a research project for the University of Winnipeg on why double the number of Mennonites died of the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918 compared to other ethnic groups.  He thinks it was because of the way they attended communal church services held in different villages.  Today Mennonite churches, as well as people of most other Manitoba faith groups, are meeting virtually or online. 

We talked to our son and his wife on Friday and one of their Saturday projects was going to be recording some music for the online service their church was preparing. 

I’ve mentioned before that I make myself check Fox News every day to see how they are covering the pandemic.  Often I am incredulous at some of the things I see, like the newscaster who implied that women’s chief concerns during the pandemic are their inability to get their hair done or have a manicure.  

With good friends at a Dolly Parton concert in Winnipeg

However, I did find an article yesterday about Dolly Parton.  My friend Sandy once treated some friends to a Dolly Parton concert here in Winnipeg and I came away with a great deal of respect for Dolly who does amazing work to promote literacy in America. Dolly was interviewed about the crisis by a Fox reporter and she said, “I think God’s trying to hold us up to the light so we can see ourselves and see each other through the eyes of love, and I hope we learn that lesson. I think that when this passes we’re all gonna be better people.”  

A while ago I began a series on my blog where I looked for good things happening in our world and I practised the drawing skills I am trying to develop to illustrate them.  I need to get back to that. But if you’d like to see my Good News posts, you can check them out here.  I think there is probably no time when we have needed good news more.

And speaking of good news my cousin Cindy posted on Facebook yesterday that together with his students her son-in-law Landon Grace who is an engineering professor at North Carolina State University has figured out a way to design and produce a face mask for doctors and nurses that provides a great deal more protection than the N95 masks they are currently using. Landon and his students at the university plan to make 5000 shields in the next few days.  You can read the news article about that here. 

me and esther

My friend Esther inspires me with her optimism

I had a long phone chat with a good friend yesterday and she said she has faith that God will get us through this crisis. I told her I think God is just shaking her head at our stupidity. We were given this beautifully created world and we didn’t look after it and messed it up.  We were given intelligent minds to be used in ways that would improve the lives of everyone and we used that intelligence to make better weapons. We were given ample warning that this day was coming but we stubbornly refused to listen. My friend replied,  “But look MaryLou, despite that God still gave us this gorgeous sunny day to enjoy.”  What can you say in the face of such optimism?   

Other posts…………….

A Photograph in The Mennonite

Hutterite Artists

Could I Be A Hutterite?

Dolly Patron or Patron?

 

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Tears For A Missed Opportunity- Self-Isolation Day 12

Our family lived in Arizona for a year from 1989-1990 and I was really looking forward to all of us being there together again. 

I shed a few tears this morning. Today is the day our whole family was to join us in Arizona for a holiday we had been planning for nearly a year. This was the first time everyone’s winter work schedules aligned so we could all be together. We spent a month looking for the perfect house for us to all share. When Dave and I left for Arizona many weeks before our children were to arrive, I had packed the car with toys and games and books and activities for the grandchildren. At Christmas, we had given the kids and grandkids gift certificates for various outings we had planned for the family. We were going to celebrate our granddaughter’s first birthday together. But………..there will be no holiday.

Celebrating our son’s university graduation was very special. Many families will be denied the experience this spring.

I know my sadness about a cancelled family holiday is nothing compared to the sadness of all the people who have lost their jobs, the people who will not be able to graduate from their university programs and the athletes who have trained so hard only to have the Olympics cancelled. I know my sadness about our missed vacation is nothing compared to the sadness of the people who have a family member dangerously ill with COVID-19, the families that can’t visit their elderly relatives, or the medical personnel who must leave their families and enter workplaces filled with risks. 

Despite my sadness about our lost holiday I know I should be counting my blessings.  Right now Dave and I, as well as our children and grandchildren, are safe and healthy. We all have comfortable homes in which to maintain our physical distance. Each household has at least one income to rely on even during the crisis, and each household is filled with the love it needs to sustain it. Blessed indeed!

From Facebook I found out my great-niece Chloe had asked her Mom what COVID-19 means.  I realized I wasn’t exactly sure either, so I looked it up. CO- is for corona  VI – is for virus D- is for disease and 19 – for 2019 when the pandemic began. 

I loved riding in my grandfather’s truck. Here is a picture of me heading off from Winnipeg to my grandparents’ farm in Gnadenthal Manitoba in Grandpa’s truck, to spend a few days all by myself at my grandparents’ house. What a treat!

On Thursday I told my grandson a story via Face Time about going to the grain elevator with my grandfather when I was a child.  I loved riding in my Grandpa’s truck and when we took a load of grain to the elevator, we drove into the building and they hoisted the cab of the truck up high so the grain would slide out of the bed in the back and into the storage area of the elevator. I thought it was such a thrill to sit in the cab as it was hoisted up. My grandson didn’t know what a grain elevator looked like so I sent him a picture of one.  It started me thinking about how many things that were a familiar part of my childhood are unfamiliar to my grandchildren. 

Sometimes my Dad has trouble remembering what is happening to him right now, but he remembers the past oh so well. Last night I told him about explaining grain elevators to my grandson and Dad and I had a great conversation about grain elevators.  He told me stories of going to the grain elevator in Plum Coulee Manitoba with his father. 

I also told my grandson about how my grandmother had a pail under her sink where we threw all of the kitchen food scraps and then later I would take that pail of ‘slops’ out to the pig barn and feed my grandparents’ pigs.  I was trying to explain ‘slop’ to my grandson and he said,  “Oh it’s like the stuff we put in the compost.”  

 

In an article in The Atlantic this week writer Ed Yong says that children conceived or born during the COVID-19 experience will be nicknamed Generation C.  He speculates when they are growing up they won’t dream of being sports stars, or movie icons or wildly successful businessmen and women they will all aspire to become scientists and epidemiologists because they will understand those are the true heroes who save the world.

I am reading and making notes on The Five Books of Miriam by Ellen Frankel. It offers a female perspective on the first five books of the Bible. I am supposed to be delivering a sermon based on a section of the book at the end of May.  Not sure if that will happen although I may be asked to give the sermon online during a virtual service. That should be interesting. One of the questions the book asks is why the Bible so seldom shares the wisdom of women and why the church has only just begun to listen to the wisdom of women.

Dr Theresa Tam- Canada’s Chief Medical Officer

As I pondered the ideas in the book it struck me that during this COVID 19 crisis we are very much depending on the wisdom of women here in Canada.  Many of the chief public health officers in the various provinces are women as is Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Theresa Tam. Women are playing important roles in leading Canada through the pandemic.  

Other posts………..

Many Women Are Pastors But Our Language Still Excludes Them

On My Grandparents’ Farm

All my Self-Isolation Posts

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Single Use Elevators and Peeking in the Neighbours’ Windows- Self-Isolation Day 11

The elevators in our building got new signs yesterday stating only one person can use them at a time. Dave and I are together twenty-four-seven anyway, so we figure it is okay to share the elevator.  Dave takes along the cane his cousin John made for him when we ride the elevator and uses its foot to push the buttons so we don’t have to touch them.  

Dave also takes his cane on our walks and says he can use the cane to keep away anyone we meet who won’t maintain their physical distance. Of course, that never happens because when you walk between 9 and 10 pm. you meet practically no one and everyone we do meet is very careful about staying far away.

Dave walking in Steve Juba Park with the cane his cousin John made for him after he had hip surgery.

Dave used his cane last night. After one day of not walking, we knew we couldn’t sustain staying indoors around the clock.  We both need to be outdoors and breathe some fresh air to stay sane and we don’t have a yard like many other people.  Walking so late at night is interesting because now many apartment owners in the downtown leave their blinds up and so we can look inside and see their living space.  With the normally bustling streets of the Exchange practically empty people don’t feel the need to lower their blinds in the evening anymore. It makes our walks really interesting.

A photo of my father-in-law tending his greenhouse plants

We told stories to our grandsons again yesterday.  Dave told them a story about saving his father’s life when his Dad passed out while fumigating their greenhouses to get rid of aphids.

Playing dress-up with my cousins on my grandparents’ farmyard.

I told them stories about going to visit my grandparents in Gnadenthal-going to the grain elevator in Grandpa’s big truck, the slop pail under the sink whose contents we fed to the pigs, playing dress-up with my thirteen cousins and the baby fawn my grandfather once brought home and cared for in his barn after he found it beside its dead mother on the road. 

Some of the many issues of Rejoice I have contributed to in the past

Rejoice is a publication I have contributed to annually for twenty-seven years. It features meditations and reflections for each day of the week. Our editor is putting out a special issue with personal stories from the writers about their experiences during the pandemic. Each submission is supposed to be illustrated. I wrote a story about how some birdseed attracted a crow to the window ledge of our downtown apartment. Since I hadn’t managed to get a photo of the crow, I sketched one to illustrate my submission. 

Yesterday I was telling someone during our phone conversation how impressed I am with all the creative and cool lessons my teacher friends are posting online for their students.  They asked……..but what about kids who don’t have computers.  I hadn’t thought of that. What about them? How will they keep up with their lessons during the pandemic? Then I read an article in the New York Times about the thousands of children in New York City who live in homeless shelters.  Their schools gave them i-pads to take home but the homeless shelters don’t have internet connections.  Will the pandemic motivate governments to think about whether internet access should be provided as a service to everyone? 

Dave going up to place his order at the Dairy Freeze

When we visit Dave’s family in southern Ontario a stop at the local Dairy Freez is often on the agenda. Sad to read yesterday that the business opened as it always does in spring, in spite of the pandemic, but not just for appropriate physically distanced take out and delivery as the government has recommended.  Someone posted on Facebook they saw more than 60 people on the grounds enjoying icecream and not at all worried about physical distancing. I saw a similar story on Trip Advisor. I honestly hope this story is ‘fake news’. 

Is anyone else finding they are only eating two meals a day during isolation?  Since we aren’t as active as usual we just don’t seem hungry at noon. So we have a nice breakfast, our cocktails at 4:30 perhaps with a piece of cheese or fruit, and then dinner at 7 or so. 

Dave has a big book of New York Times crossword puzzles.  I have my own book of much easier crosswords.  I try to do two a day. I am systematically working my way through the book and have already completed 22 puzzles. 

I was excited to hear the birthday present I sent my granddaughter arrived at her house yesterday.  I was hoping the postal service would stay operational.  I have two more grandchildren with birthdays in spring so now I can start to get their birthday parcels ready too. 

Other posts………….

A Visit to Dairy Freez

A Puzzling Achievement

Eighteen Years in Rejoice

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What A Rigmarole! Self-Isolation Day 10

  • Dave and I enjoy entertaining. We normally host lots of people in our home. But if health experts are right we won’t be entertaining for a very long time. I hate doing housework but what always motivates me to embark on a cleaning spree is inviting guests and knowing they are coming over.  Now that we won’t be having company, probably for months, what is going to inspire me to vacuum rugs, dust furniture and wash my floors? 
  • Kyle Penner, the son of friends of ours, and a pastor at Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach suggests adding another beatitude to the list Jesus gave us during his Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are those who flatten the curve for they shall save lives.”
  • Most days a number of lengthy phone and Face Time conversations make the hours pass by pretty quickly. It is nice to have plenty of time to talk to people who are important to me. 
  • A friend has been questioning whether it is ethical for Dave and me to go for evening walks outside while in self-isolation and on Tuesday’s walk I nearly fell on an icy patch of sidewalk. This motivated us to try to get our exercise inside our condo yesterday.  I walked in and out of the various rooms in our house for the length of an entire This American Life podcast, about an hour.  Dave walked for half an hour and then did 100 step-ups on a high bench we have near our front door. 
  • I was happy to get an e-mail from the staff at my aunt’s personal care home in Saskatoon. Now that the residents aren’t allowed any visitors they are encouraging family members to send messages and photos via e-mail and they will share them with the residents, especially those like my aunt who can no longer use the phone.  Today I wrote a letter to my aunt with lots of family photos inserted.  I ended with this photo and these words. 


I have been going through some old photos I found while helping Dad move and I love this one of you and Mom with a chicken. Had you just killed it? You both look like you are laughing. I love remembering how often you and your Mom and your sisters used to laugh together. During the hard time we are facing now laughter will be especially good for us. Thanks for being such a good example.

My husband Dave and I with my Dad on his 90th birthday.

  • My Dad isn’t allowed any visitors at his assisted living place so I try to call him twice a day. Although he doesn’t understand the nuances or details of the pandemic he has some idea that strange things are going on in the world right now and during each of our calls this week, he’s asked, “So what do you think of this rigmarole MaryLou?”
  • I did not vote for Justin Trudeau’s party in the last election but as I watch his daily messages to the Canadian public on my Facebook feed, I am surprised at all the hateful comments people post about him during his press conferences.  Whether or not we agree with him politically, I think we need to acknowledge we are lucky to have someone sane and articulate at the helm of our country, someone who says his government is making decisions based on SCIENCE, and we need to remember our prime minister is single parenting three children at the same time as he is leading Canada during perhaps its most challenging hour.  I think just for now we need to set aside our differences and remind ourselves of the bunny Thumper’s line in the Disney movie Bambi. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. ” 
  • I remember when we lived in Hong Kong, temperature scanning at the airport was routine. We took off any headgear we happened to be wearing and walked under an electronic bar that took our temperature. If you had a fever you were pulled aside and either sent to a medical facility or given a note that you needed to seek medical attention and should notify authorities that you had done so. Might this be helpful in all airports? 
  • It was a little frightening to read this Macleans article about a woman whose surgery for breast cancer has been postponed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 crisis. How many other people will have life-saving procedures postponed until it is too late for them?  Patients with coronavirus will not be the only medical victims of this pandemic. 
  • A former pastor of my church shared this story yesterday on her Facebook page.  A man was walking in a wilderness. He became lost and was unable to find his way out. Another man met him. ‘Sir, I am lost, can you show me the way out of this wilderness?’ ‘No,’ said the stranger, ‘I cannot show you the way out of the wilderness, but maybe if I walk with you, we can find it together.” by Emery Nester. 

Other posts………..

Supporting Each Other

Looking For the Positives in the Election

90 Years

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My How The World Has Changed – Self-Isolation Day 9

Yesterday I thought about some of the places we’ve been in the world and did a little research on how they are being impacted by the pandemic. 

My husband Dave is picking out a pastry for his breakfast in Madrid.  Bakeries are one of the few kinds of businesses that have stayed open in Spain where the death toll from the coronavirus jumped by 514 yesterday.

In Dehli, India I am visiting a shelter for street children.  Yesterday Dehli was placed on a complete lockdown by the government. What will happen to the three million people who live on that city’s streets? 

Dave snapped this photo just after we toured the Colosseum in Rome. The Colosseum and many other tourist attractions in Rome are closed to the public now as Italy fights the coronavirus. It is predicated Italy will lose about 30 billion euros in tourist revenue because of the pandemic. Dave taking part in an elephant show in Thailand. I read in yesterday’s New York Times that many elephants used for tourism in Thailand have just been abandoned by their owners because the coronavirus has left their businesses without clients. Owners can no longer afford to feed or care for their elephants.  I am under a kiwi tree in a kiwi orchard in New Zealand.  It is harvest time for kiwi right now and orchard owners have been getting out the word that they would be happy to hire people from New Zealand’s hospitality and tourism industries who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Normally 25% of their harvest workers are backpackers from around the world who need part-time work. The backpackers have all gone back to their home countries so there is a shortage of labourers. Dave and I stand near the harbour in Stykkishólmur, Iceland.  Yesterday Iceland had 648 confirmed coronavirus cases the highest number per capita in the world. An article I read yesterday says the extensive testing and population screening in Iceland has revealed there are 40 mutations of the coronavirus in Iceland alone. Mutations make the virus more contagious but less dangerous to those who get it. We toured Croatia on bicycles.  But on Saturday people were warned not to go on bike rides in Croatia after the country reported 78 new coronavirus cases in one day. Buses, trams, railways, cable cars and ferries all ceased operation. People were even discouraged from taking walks.  A message from the government said only immediate family members could attend funerals and all children’s playgrounds would be closed.

On a misty morning, Dave and I stand in the rain forest in Costa Rica. A spokesperson  for  The Alliance of Peoples and Forests in Costa Rica says the destruction of the rain forest can encourage the emergence of diseases like the coronavirus.  Loss of habitat has brought wild animals into closer contact with humans allowing diseases like COVID-19 to jump the animal-human barrier and spread through human-to-human contact. 

Dave stands in front of a wall at the United Nations in New York with the verse from Isaiah 2:4 that speaks of a time when the world will not learn war anymore. On Monday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres urged all warring factions in the world to lay down their weapons so everyone can join the bigger more important battle against COVID-19.

I pose beside the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. This is where Jesus is said to have healed a lame man. This morning The Jerusalem Post reported over 2170 cases of the virus in Israel. I know there won’t be an instant miraculous cure for the coronavirus like the one Jesus provided to the lame man. But I do think if we act on Jesus’ teachings about what it means to be a neighbour, if we obey his injunction to care for the least of those among us, and if we follow his guideline to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” we will get through this crisis and our world will be better because of it. 

Other posts…………

Our Heads in the Clouds

The Pool of Bethesda- Personal Connections

Meeting the Street Children of Dehli

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Back to Work and Betty Boop- Self-Isolation -Day 8

Here I am with a group of my student teachers and the staff members who supported them taken several years ago.

  • Well, it’s back to work for me!  Yesterday I received instructions about what I need to do to make sure my university education students qualify for completion of the practicum course I supervise.  Although I can’t go out to schools to visit them they will be writing up unit plans and lesson plans for my approval and composing reflective essays about their teaching philosophies.  I get to read and grade all this material and then write a report of my own.  
  • In talking to friends and family I realize there are many university students out there whose future is uncertain because of COVID -19.  There are medical students who won’t be able to write their final exams and accounting students who won’t be able to complete their certification and future veterinarians who won’t be able to do their community placements. They say the virus may not be as deadly for young people, but it is going to be very hard on them in lots of other ways. 
  • Does anyone else have rough hands?  Mine are red and sore and dry from all that handwashing.  I’ve been putting Vaseline on them at night?  Any other good suggestions?
  • I finally finished the puzzle I’ve been working on since the second day of our isolation. Puzzling is a bit of a family tradition and I’ve done so many puzzles with my parents, my kids, my grandkids and my sister.  Often when I was working on this one all by myself I was thinking of the fun family times we’ve had puzzling.
  • I saw this sign on our evening walk.  I am not sure what it is for but it expresses my sentiments very well.  Yes I am hearing what they say on the news but my mind can hardly grasp the enormity of it.
  • The Lynda Barry course I’m working through called Drawing Comics has me drawing different versions of a 1930s cartoon character named Betty Boop. By the way, Lynda Barry was interviewed recently on the CBC show q by Tom Power. Give it a listen. 

Laura Branigan

  • I am a bit sad that I finished all the Mobituary Podcasts yesterday.  I just love them!  One of my favourites was about Laura Branigan a popular singer from the 80s.  Although Laura has passed away she returned to centre stage in 2019 when her hit tune Gloria became the victory song of the St. Louis Blues as they made their historic mid-season turn around and won the Stanley Cup. I just can’t get Gloria out of my head now.

    Lunch at a tea room with the women I work with at the MCC Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue

  • I can’t volunteer any longer at the MCC Thrift Store because it has closed its doors.  I work there with a group of women from my church.  Our fearless leader Marj sends us a weekly e-mail update but now during the crisis, we’ve all chimed in on the e-mails keeping each other informed about how we are doing in isolation and how the pandemic has changed our lives. It is so nice to keep in touch with each other.  
  • We watched the Gordon Lightfoot special aired on CBC last night. The very first music concert I attended as a teenager was one Gordon Lightfoot gave at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg. I used to teach his song The Ponyman to my elementary school students and then they would draw illustrations for the different lines of the song and we would make a book out of them. 
  • My husband made homemade biscuits for breakfast!  They were great!  I wonder how many pounds I will have gained by the end of our isolation? 

Other posts………..

Going on a Field Trip

Mobituaries

Puzzling- A Family Tradition

You can read all my Self-Isolation Diary Entries Here

 

 

 

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You Can Burp in Church- Self-Isolation – Day 7

Pastor John Braun giving his virtual sermon at our church

  • Yesterday we watched the live stream version of the Sunday service at our church Bethel Mennonite on the computer.  The pastor had just started his sermon when my husband Dave let out a rather loud burp.  Dave observed that… “One of the good things about attending church in your own living room is you can burp if you need to.” 
  • I have a colouring book with paintings by well- known female artists.  Self-isolation provided me with the perfect opportunity to get my colouring book out of the drawer where it’s been sitting for far too long.  I just finished a painting by Berthe Morisot’ called In the Diningroom.  I learned about Berthe when the Winnipeg Art Gallery had their French Moderns exhibit in the spring and summer of 2018.  Berthe was one of only a few women artists included in the exhibit.  I decided to completely alter her original painting and make mine as colourful as I could. 

A sketch I did of our family at the Forks two years ago. My two grandsons are in the front.

  • Our son is a teacher. After schools closed he became the primary caregiver and homeschool coordinator for his children while his wife a physician carries on with her important work during the pandemic. Our son asked if Dave and I would be willing to tell stories to our two grandsons during this time of self-isolation.  He suggested stories from our past, or from our family history.  Yesterday Dave and I shared our first stories via Face Time. Dave talked about an incident when he was five years old and accidentally cut himself with an axe. I told a story about a time I ran away from home because I was mad at my mother. We were surprised how carefully the boys listened and when we were done they each offered to share a story of their own with us.

    With my friend Wendy

  • I had a long talk with my good friend Wendy yesterday. She was out walking her dogs and mentioned how glad she is that pets can’t contract or transmit COvid- 19. Wendy’s mother has been hospitalized after a major stroke and because of the virus, her family can’t visit her. I realize how many families must be in exactly the same difficult situation.

    Visiting with my cousin Al at a family party

  • I have been praying regularly for my cousin Al who is undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma during these trying times and for my sister-in-law’s sister who is beginning radiation for breast cancer.  It is never easy to deal with a cancer diagnosis but right now it must particularly tough. 

This picture was taken at a family celebration. Cousin Cindy is furthest to the right

  • My American cousin Cindy who recently retired after a nearly forty-year career in the nursing profession posted an impassioned plea on Facebook for people to stay home during the pandemic. She reminds everyone that if they do not socially distance and self-quarantine they are responsible for putting the lives of health care providers at risk. Cindy has many family members and good friends in the medical profession and ends her statement begging us to help these hardworking men and women she loves so dearly by staying home.
  • I am amazed as I look at people’s posted photos on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. So many are simply ignoring the self-isolation recommendations.  They are having outings with senior family members, going to the beach, having their grandchildren over, hosting dinner parties and hanging out in public places seemingly not at all worried about staying the recommended number of meters apart. 
  • An author I heard speak at a Saskatchewan conference last year has come up with the perfect tool for Canadians to use to self-distance when they are out and about.  Arthur Slade has made a video suggesting we carry a hockey stick and swing it around when we are in public. If it hits someone we are too close to them. 
  • I am lucky to be married to my own personal barista who loves experimenting with different ways of making coffee.  Yesterday morning I believe he was trying the inverted aero-press method.  Whatever way he makes my coffee it’s delicious!
  • We had a lovely walk last night but…….. Dave was visiting with friends who are also in self-isolation after a trip and their doctor told them walks weren’t allowed.  They needed to stay inside.  I hope we are doing the right thing. 

Other posts…………..

French Moderns

Cousins

Colouring- Not Just For Kids

Vision and Voice

You can read all my self-isolation posts here.

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It’s A Bird! Self-Isolation – Day 6

Winter skating on the riverwalk several years ago

  • My friend Maryann lives on the river and writes in her recent thoughtful blog post how she has observed many families taking advantage of Winnipeg’s icy river paths to get some exercise during this time of social distancing. Dave and I have been going for nightly walks for our exercise. Dr Deena Hinshaw the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta says that’s a good idea. She is encouraging Albertans, even those in self-isolation, to get outside and be active.  She does warn us, however, to stay two meters apart from others, and not to go outside if we are sick. 

Mom and Dad with the world map we gave them for Christmas one year. It is now covered with colourful pins that show the myriad of places in the world my parents’ travelled.

  • The seniors’ residence where my Dad lives requests we not visit except for emergencies.  My siblings and I have set up a schedule so one of us calls Dad every couple of hours to check on him. The dining room in his assisted living facility has closed so workers bring meals to his room.  He told me yesterday he showed the staff member who brought his lunch his map of the world with colourful pins in all the places across the globe my parents visited. He said she was really interested in his travels. I am so grateful to the caregivers in Dad’s building for the way they are keeping a physical distance but still taking the time for little chats with the seniors they serve. So many people Dad’s age are now are in almost complete isolation in their rooms and apartments.

On the Great Wall of China

  • My parents travelled the world extensively and so have my husband Dave and I.  I think a lot about whether globe-trotting will be encouraged after this pandemic is over.  Will it be necessary for us to keep more to our own countries in order to prevent the spread of future diseases? Will my grandchildren have the chance to see the world as I have been privileged to? 

A family garden near Merida I photographed last year during our two month stay in Mexico

  • I have an interesting conversation with my brother Ken who just got back from spending several months in Mexico including some time in very rural places.  He wonders if the people of Mexico won’t fare better than we will during the pandemic.  He says for the most part they are much more self-sufficient and don’t count on their government to provide them with clean water, police protection, electricity, internet service or a steady supply of food to purchase. They have had to learn to take care of themselves. 
  • Although during the week we read the Winnipeg Free Press electronically we get a paper version delivered to our door on Saturdays. We wonder if it could have coronavirus germs on it.  Dave gingerly removes the outer section and puts it in the recycling bin and then we read the rest of the paper and wash our hands after doing so.  Are we getting too paranoid?

    Some members of our small group helping us celebrate our anniversary in August

  • My friend Marie and her husband Bill are social-distancing at their cottage.  I have heard of other people who are doing that.  These last few days Marie has been writing encouraging messages in the comments section of my blog posts.  She and Bill are part of a small group of five couples formed many years ago when we were all attending Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach. Even after some of us moved to other places, or stopped attending Grace Church, we kept our group together and we still meet regularly throughout the year to socialize and support one another just the way Marie is supporting me now with her kind words. I think it will be important to electronically maintain these circles of social support we had in our lives before the pandemic.

    The RaY building at 125 Sherbrook

  • I have a long talk with my cousin. Her daughter is on staff at RaY (Resource Assistance For Youth) an organization supporting at-risk kids under age thirty, most without permanent housing. Unfortunately, coronavirus means RaY has had to adapt the kind of help they can give kids, but I notice on their website they are coordinating with other Winnipeg social agencies to find the best way to lend a hand to our city’s vulnerable homeless population during these uncertain times. One of the things I hope we are learning during this pandemic is that the welfare of everyone in our society is intertwined with ours and when we ensure even the most vulnerable have help we are really helping ourselves.  You can go to the RaY website and make a donation.  Even if we are in self-isolation there are still ways to help others. 
  • I am reminded of the evening our family was talking with the pastor who was preparing to speak at my mother’s funeral and my brother told a story about a time in his life when things weren’t going well and he was feeling sorry for himself. My Mom asked him gently and wisely, “Son do you think you are doing enough to help other people?”  Mom knew when we help others we feel better about ourselves. I think that will be something to remember as we deal with the inevitable depression and sadness that will accompany our current situation.

    Erik’s latest artwork on display outside his home

  • My former teaching colleague Erik is an artist self-isolating with his family in Saudia Arabia. Every day he puts a different artwork he’s created outside their house for passersby to enjoy.  My great-niece Izzy had her eleventh birthday yesterday and although she couldn’t have a party, friends came and left presents outside her door. Our friend Ed just recorded five classical guitar pieces for us to enjoy on Facebook.  Listeners are posting appreciative feedback. I have read that while we need to be physically distancing at this time we need not be socially distancing. There is an important difference!
  • Dave found some birdseed we got in a gift exchange at Christmas and he put it on our window ledge. We are on the fifth floor of a hundred unit condo building right in the heart of Winnipeg. I was sceptical about birds finding the seed there.  But……….. it wasn’t long before a crow arrived.  “Come and see,” Dave called. “It’s a bird!”  I tried to take a photo but the crow flew away when I got too close.  I am thinking bird feeders might actually provide some great entertainment for folks who are self-isolating. 

Other posts………..

Cocktails in A Stable

A Walk to Breakfast in Merida Mexico

Finding the Elusive Quetzal in Costa Rica

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I Laughed- I Cried- Self-Isolation- Day 5

  •  Are we smart or what? Shortly before we left on our trip to Arizona a professional handyman from our church helped us install new, more eco-friendly toilets in our condo.  And…….we decided to add a bidet hose to one after I read about the damaging environmental effects of using too much toilet paper. During this time of coronavirus when toilet paper can be hard to find it appears that installing our bidet was a stroke of genius!

Out in the garden at her personal care home with my aunt on one of my visits last year

  • I know many people have been sending me comments about how they like the positive tone of my daily self-isolation updates but full disclosure……… I wept yesterday after talking to the residence coordinator at the seniors care home in Saskatoon where my 97-year-old Aunt Viola lives. I have been looking after her and taking care of all her affairs for a number of years now. I was told I need to stop all the outside services I have put in place for her- the foot care to keep her comfortable- the physiotherapy to prevent her from having another fall- the twice a week visits from a nursing service to help her stay alert. Those visiting nurses read Aunt Vi the letters I send her because her hearing makes communication by phone difficult. Those nurses provide me with weekly updates on how she is doing.  All the activities at the care home she enjoyed- bible studies, concerts, cooking experiences and crafts are cancelled. Now she will stay in her room and be looked after by the skeleton staff who will give her the best care they can.  I asked the residence coordinator how her employees are doing. She said they are stressed, overworked and worried about what their contact with such a vulnerable population could mean for their own families. It was enough to make me start crying and I had to hang up the phone.

John and Dave engaging in a mock fight on the site of the historic Plains of Abraham battle in Quebec City 

  • My husband’s cousin John calls to see how we are doing.  John and Dave are both blessed with a wicked sense of humour I think they may have inherited from their Oma.  Listening to the two of them make clever jokes about the current dismal situation on our planet had me laughing out loud. 
  • We are finding it is important to have certain rituals to mark our long days in isolation. One we have instituted is that just before 4:30 Dave makes us each a cocktail, usually a Ceasar or a gin and tonic and then we watch Jeopardy together.  It’s our version of a coronavirus happy hour.

    In my housecoat with my older son as a newborn

  • Another rule I have instituted is that I must get dressed before noon.  Since the first time I leave the condo each day is for our nine o’clock evening walk in our deserted neighbourhood there is really no reason to get dressed till then, but I have found my day is better if I  put on some clothes, comb my hair, even use a little lipstick before noon. I remember how when I was home with my first baby and overwhelmed by all the things I needed to do to take care of him that I had the same rule.  My goal was to have both of us clean and dressed by noon. 
  • A Facebook post from an international school teacher in isolation in Wuhan notes that for the first time in many years she can see the sun, smell the spring blossoms breaking out on all the trees, and hear the loud chorus of birds. She is now allowed morning runs and can actually do them because breathing in the air of Wuhan is no longer hard on her lungs. My brother says satellite images from before and after the coronavirus outbreak in China illustrate how the ensuing shut down of factories and all kinds of travel has made a remarkable difference in the air quality over the country.

    Last year one of my stories was in a Chicken Soup anthology called My Amazing Mom.

  • I have written a new story to submit to Chicken Soup.  It is a publication my writing style seems to suit. I have had quite a few stories published in their anthologies and you actually get paid decently- something that is becoming rarer in the writing world. There are lots of other writing projects I should be working on but somehow crafting an uplifting, inspirational kind of story seems to be what I need to do right now. 
  • I had an absolutely marvellous long conversation with our nearly eight-year-old grandson in Saskatoon via Facetime.  He told me about all the things he had learned earlier in the day while watching a Magic School Bus episode about the brain. He explained the plot of a kids’ version of Oscar Wilde’s The Ghost of Canterbury he is reading.  My grandson goes to an all-French school so he is quite proud about reading this chapter book in English. He confided in very grown-up tones that the story might be too “intense” and not “appropriate” for his nearly four-year-old brother. His Dad was reading his little brother Charlotte’s Web instead. He also showed me some drawings he is working on inspired by a set of French graphic novels he is reading about a young girl who finds a magic amulet in her great grandparents’ house. 
  • I make myself go the Fox website each day to see how folks who trust that media outlet’s perspective on the news are having the current pandemic explained to them.  I note they are doing regular interviews with television personality Dr Oz who is giving viewers the notion that there are viable and effective treatments for coronavirus. I contrast that with yesterday’s article in the New York Times by one of my favourite columnists Nicholas Kristof who writes in a very balanced way about both the worst and best-case scenarios after interviewing the leading epidemiologists and pandemic experts in the world.
  • My younger son drops off his father’s medications which he has picked up at the pharmacy as well as some groceries he has purchased for us. We exchange I love you’s through the closed door.  I start to cry again when I think about how long it may be before I get to hug my son. 

Two Squares of Toilet Paper

Happy 95th Birthday Aunt Vi

I’m In Chicken Soup

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