Not Able To Work From Home!

Today Attila returns to work. His only other option is to stay home with no income, and since we still need to eat, need shelter, well, he doesn’t really have any choice in the matter. So here we are, dreading the possible exposure to Covid-19, taking every precaution we know of to prevent either of us from contracting the virus, and living as healthy a lifestyle as we can under the present circumstances.

Our stress levels are going to be very high from now on, because our precautions may not protect us. We feel vulnerable to the stupidity of greed, that sees low risk people at home without work, and high risk people working when it would be wiser to isolate at home.

If Attila is infected, we will know it happened at his workplace.

The virus is more often fatal for vulnerable people, two of us here, and yet there is very little consideration taken to support isolation for the most vulnerable people who are living independently. If the employer calls an employee with co-morbidities into work, if the employee needs an income to survive, the employee will go back to the workplace with all those who are younger or have no co-morbidities. If the employer calls an employee living with a vulnerable individual, or a senior, then the employee will go back to the workplace with all of those who are not living with vulnerable people.

Co-habitation and family are not part of the economic equation of protecting the vulnerable members of society. To be honest, I am having trouble seeing just where the protection for the “most vulnerable” is actually going on. The only truly visible support for the long-term care homes where many, many people are dying, is the national military stepping in, and responsibly reporting abysmal conditions in for-profit run care homes, after which the Premier suddenly decided to take over the care-homes reported by the military.

Why did people have to die before the issue was addressed?

I accept that this is the way it is, but I have trouble listening to rhetoric that claims our leaders are taking care of the most vulnerable.

For Example:

“As we face some of the darkest times in our province’s history, we have a duty to protect and care for the most vulnerable in our society… we must go above and beyond to ensure they get financial relief, food, medicine and other essentials without delay.”
Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, April 21, 2020. https://globalnews.ca/news/6847643/ontario-coronavirus-additional-funding-seniors-vulnerable/

I guess “most vulnerable” didn’t really cover the people in long-term care, who are still dying in great numbers, some living in appalling conditions that our Premier calls “gut wrenching”. I guess “most vulnerable” didn’t really cover seniors and people with serious co-morbidities who live independently and need to work to survive. I’m not sure just who got the financial relief aimed at the “most vulnerable”, I fear top heavy “helping” agencies are fattening up with the dollars, but I do know it wasn’t us, and it still isn’t us.

Anyway, that is my perspective on Attila being forced back into the working world during this pandemic.

I am scared, and not ashamed of being scared.

I admit to having a little cry after Attila drove away. A good cry can be very cathartic.

Now that I have that off my chest, it is time to carry on.

Our garden received new plants from the local nursery this year. Most of the plants were healthy and are doing very well. BUT the most expensive plants, the shrubs, arrived heavily diseased, which became apparent after about a week in the garden. Aphids attacked both plants, a red currant bush, and a high bush cranberry bush. The red currant bush seemed to be fighting them off with success, but the high bush cranberry was losing almost every leaf to those dreaded little beasts.

I started with a spray of insecticidal soap. It slowed the aphids down for one day, then they were back worse than ever. Watching the shrub slowly die just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. So I brought in the big guns, which I haven’t needed to do over the last 10 years, but this nursery baby was so severely infected when we got her, that our usual organic approaches to insect control would not overcome the issue.

I have been waiting for a day without wind to spray the high bush cranberry with an insecticide, as I do not want the chemical spray drifting anywhere else in the garden, where it is not needed and would kill the insects we welcome. The weather has been very windy! But this morning, at 6:00 a.m. the air was calm, so I put on my protective clothing, and out I went to relieve the bush of its aphid infestion. I hope this works!

I am not impressed with the local nursery, who sold us the two infected shrubs for top dollar.

Today is baking day, Attila will need muffins for his lunches, as well as more loaves of bread for sandwiches.

I’ve been mending again. This time I am working on mending my “new clothes” purchased at Costco over the last five years, one pair of pajamas, and two shirts. I don’t buy many new clothes, so having to mend the only ones I’ve purchased in the last five years is truly disappointing. I will contrast those poor quality clothing items from Costco with the other piece of clothing that is being mended, a linen shirt I purchased used for $10, 25 years ago. After 25 years of wear the fabric itself was wearing thought at some pressure points. The Costco clothing needed repairs to frayed seams (cheaply made with inadequate seam allowances) after less than 5 years of very light wear. I hate remaking new clothes because they weren’t made well in the first place.

Here are a few images of my mending projects.

The bottom pant cuff on my almost new pajamas has frayed and detached from the cuff, the seam allowance was not wide enough. Two thirds of the cuff had detached after only a few washings.
I repaired the cuff by turning it up on the right side, stitching it, then used a zig-zag stitch to secure the frayed material to the turned up cuff material. Not elegant, but very functional and good enough for me!
The collar of my 25 year old linen shirt is fraying badly, the fabric has just worn through with use. Not bad for 25 years of wear!
I turned the collar to the inside, stitched it down on the collar band, then stitched the collar edge for stability. I like it better than an actual collar, it will never be out of place.
This is where the fabric wore out along the back yoke of the linen shirt.
What you see here is all of the material left from a shirt I rescued from I don’t know where, it would be over 50 years ago. I’ve used the material from this shirt for various projects over the years, most recently for my face mask. This fabric looked nice with my linen shirt, so I cut a piece from it for mending.
This is the mending patch pinned to the linen shirt, ready for stitching. This floral band was sewn to the seam of the yolk, which has several layers of fabric and is very sturdy. It will then be pressed over the area of the yolk that has worn thin with aga and wear, and sew on.
The linen shirt, the collar turned in and stitched down, and the new floral patch applied across the weak fabric in the back yoke. This is a very big floppy shirt, almost like a cape it is so big and loose fitting. I love it, it offers cool covering that protects me from the sun. It isn’t a particularly pretty shirt, but I wasn’t willing to give it up! We have seen some good times together , this shirt and I.

I like mending better than I like clothing construction, there is something satisfying about rescuing much loved clothing items!

Worldly

Weather

22°C
Date: 1:40 PM EDT Friday 29 May 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 22.2°C
Dew point: 18.8°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: WSW 9 km/h
Humidex: 29
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a” gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”
Harper Lee
1926 – 2016
To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960

Last Gasp of the Renovation Budget

When we bought this broken down, abandoned, very small house 10 years ago, it was a “tear down”. We have been renovating for this whole time, mostly addressing structural issues.

Covid-19 means our income, which was just a few dollars above the poverty line, has dropped way below the poverty line. We are managing to buy our food, and garden supplies, keep up with the mortgage and monthly bills. But long-term, I think our remaining, larger renovation plans are cancelled, probably forever.

One of my long-term wishes was to update the original kitchen cabinets. They were hand built, and sturdy, but the cupboard doors don’t close and the drawers drop down when you open them, and they don’t provide a lot of storage. We make them work.

Accepting that we are probably never going to get around to updating the kitchen cabinetry, and knowing that we need more storage and counter space, I decided to put function over form, budget over aesthetics, and ordered two new cabinets that were on sale, to complete the kitchen. These babies make a HUGE difference for day-to-day food preparation and preservation!!

They look beautiful to me, as I see them through the lens of making our time in the kitchen so much more enjoyable. We now have room for food in the kitchen, that was previously stored in the basement, which will reduce my time conveying items up and down a narrow, tricky stair. We now have drawers that don’t flop down when you open them, and fall out when opened too far. We now have cabinet doors that close. I guess none of those things are a very big deal in the larger picture of human life on earth, they are just a very big deal to me right now. My kitchen is completed, bring on the summer and fall harvests for preservation!

Here it is, my big kitchen renovation! We know our renovation budget is shot, so this is a last gasp purchase, on sale, to give us some decent storage space, and counter space, in our tiny kitchen. We used to have a table in this space, but no more, it is now dedicated to storage and work space. These cabinets were easy to install, built to last, and the price was right!
To the left you see my six gallon bucket of wheat berries for milling flour. Above the cabinets is the shelf Attila build to store my herbs and spices. To the right is a cabinet that holds our one gallon jars of dried goods. On the counter top is a dish with washed egg shells, drying so that I can use the mortar and pestle to turn them into a powder, for soil amendment in the garden. On the right of the window sill is my attempt to grow ginger, from a small chunk of fresh ginger from the grocery store, and it is growing!
Everything is now where I can reach it without having to move anything out of the way, or needing two hands to open a drawer to prevent it from flopping down!!
And we have a butcher block counter top!

Worldly

Weather

23°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Saturday 23 May 2020
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.7°C
Dew point: 10.1°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: NNE 15 km/h
Humidex: 24
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.”
Samuel Butler
1835 – 1902

Warmer Weather At Last

The weather was lovely today, perfect for sitting out on the back porch and enjoying the sunshine. Perfect for gardening (Attila), and perfect for watching gardening (me)… my kind of watching sports!

The long weekend is over, it was a busy one. We stayed very close to home, as we figured others would not, and we intend on keeping safe.

We did, however, venture out once in the car. A month or so ago I had ordered a red currant, a high bush cranberry plant, two strawberry plants, and a horseradish plant. They were finally ready for pickup. The company had advertised delivery to vehicle, so we thought we would take a chance. We brought all of our protective gear, just in case we needed it.

It went smoothly enough, I called the nursery and prepaid. Then I called from the parking lot, and the fellow left the cart with our order by the back of the car. We discovered he had forgotten the horseradish plant I had paid for, so I phoned him from the car and he brought it over and left it at the back of the car. Attila loaded everything and no one came near us. It was a successful adventure.

We were the only people taking such precautions. When we arrived there were about six people standing about together, chatting, at the entrance to the nursery, and a staff member was chatting less than six feet from another customer. Two older women wore masks, that was refreshing, but they were only protecting others, not themselves, and the others we saw didn’t give a toss.

On Saturday I milled two 1 gallon jars of whole wheat flour. On Sunday I baked five loaves of bread, and one loaf of 10o% whole wheat Squash Spice Raisin Bread. I bake exclusively with whole wheat flour now, that I mill myself. On Monday I baked 9 100% whole wheat hamburger buns. That was my first attempt at hamburger buns, and we were very pleased with the results!

100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns.
My very first attempt, and we like them!

Today Attila and I canned 13 500-ml jars of Coleslaw. Attila chops and prepares the vegetables. I prepare the syrup, the equipment needed for canning, and can the coleslaw. It is a lot of work, but it is a great go to for the vegetable portion of a meal. We have already consumed 10 jars of Canned Coleslaw, and I imagine we will be making more by the end of May. The only expensive ingredients is the red pepper, the rest is as cheap as it gets, cabbage, carrot, and onion.

We are growing cabbage and carrots in the garden, fingers crossed we get a harvest!

Attila has been off work for two months now, and isolated for two months. I’ve been self-isolating since February 27th. The isolation seems normal now.

Good news from our pharmacy! They now deliver, one day a week, and so we do not need to brave the store to get our medications. What a relief that is. When last we had our prescriptions refilled, Attila had to go into the store to get them, they didn’t deliver at that time. Now they do. Now, if only the local grocery store would wake up and provide delivery service! I live in hope.

Worldly

Weather

20°C
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Tuesday 19 May 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 19.8°C
Dew point: 3.5°C
Humidity: 34%
Wind: NNE 16 gust 28 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
Bertha Calloway
1925-2017

Herd Immunity and Me

I have decided to record here some of my experiences and thoughts on the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Grandbabies will remember this time from the perspective of childhood, isolated from their elders. We won’t see them during this time, and it will be along time before we see them again. I hope this will allow them a perspective from a senior family member. The media has lots of stories for posterity, and as interesting as those are, they are chosen for drama value, and highly geared to a profit structure. What is written here has no agenda other than sharing one old woman’s perspective, mine.

As Ontario moves into the first stage of lifting restrictions during this pandemic, I am mindful of my age and Attila’s health.

The experts tell us that the the virus will continue to circulate and affect people until the species reaches “herd immunity”, either by reaching approximately a 70% – 90% infection rate, or by developing a vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus.

IF I were in my thirties or forties, or even younger, with no significant health issues, I might welcome the easing of social restrictions. After all I would not be likely to develop the more serious effects of the virus, and could expect to recover to my normal level of health, if I became ill. I could die, but it would be improbable.

BUT I am old enough to be in a significant-risk age group, to develop serious complications if I were to become ill with the coronavirus. It isn’t a definite death sentence at my age, but it is likely that I would experience serious ongoing health issues, and possibly death, if I were to contract the virus. This means that the easing of the restrictions looks a lot different from where I am sitting, than it does to a person in their 30s or 40s, or younger.

Attila has health issues that put him at particular risk for complications as well.

SO, the virus is still circulating, and we are no where near the 70% infection rates needed for herd immunity, and there is no vaccine. I think that during this first attempt to ease restrictions in Ontario, I need to increase vigilance in protecting myself from the virus, as it will be more freely circulating.

IF I were younger I might not feel this way about the easing of restrictions, I might even say to myself, “what are the chances of this being a serious problem for me?”

Everyone has to make their own decisions on this issue, within the social constraints set by our leaders. I think those decisions will range from behaving as if nothing is amiss, total isolation, and everything in between, depending on who you are, what your circumstances are, and all of those reactions can be totally valid.

My choice is increased diligence, as other people begin to open up retail shops, go shopping, go the park. I say good for them, it had to happen sometime. But not for me. And not for Attila. We will let “herd immunity” develop without us, as we do not want to be among the “inevitable deaths” that will come, as that process continues on its way. The longer we avoid the virus, the more chance medicine has to develop interventions that save lives, improve post-illness health, and eventually even develop a vaccine. My choice is fraught with challenges, but I love my life, and will continue to protect it to the best of my ability.

Note: I read and base my decisions on reliable sources of information, this is one of them from Johns Hopkins University: Covid-19 and the Long Road to Herd Immunity.

Worldly

Weather

13°C
Date: 4:00 PM EDT Saturday 16 May 2020
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 12.6°C
Dew point: 6.4°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: SSE 4 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“What you risk reveals what you value.”
Jeanette Winterson

Bullies

In the late 70s, I was in hospital for surgery and recovery.

My hospital stay was in city hospital. In that city there was a large residential institution for people with severe, very severe, mental deficiencies. I was one of the lucky few to have a semi-private room during my recovery, and to share it with a very nice woman.

Next door to our room was a ward room, with I think, four patients, all women. One patient from the large residential institution was in the ward room, recovering from a sterilization procedure. The other women were local residents in the city. My roommate and I could hear all that transpired in the ward room.

The woman from the residential institution was the object of much attention, none of it kind. The other women discovered that her stitches were itchy, and goaded her to scratch them, laughing uproariously when she scratched at the healing wound. She laughed too, thinking she was “one of the girls”, and was pleasing people. By the end of the day she had opened the surgical wound. The wound was stitched back up and redressed. Thankfully the hospital staff moved to her a private room.

I remember distinctly the feeling of skin-crawling disgust I felt towards those women who had tormented and abused that helpless woman from the residential institution.

That same sick feeling of disgust is what I felt towards the individual who guffawed at my face mask and shield, when I went to the grocery store, where people do not wear masks, to pick up my grocery order.

Bullies.

And then, when the knowledge that people behave in these ways threatens to overwhelm me, I turn my attention to what is beautiful in this world, the majority of humans and the natural world.

Our visit to the Camp: This is the culvert on our property, where the water from the swamp trickles out and is away off to the lake. The sound is Attila, who was moving dead branches into a pile to transport to the fire pit area.
These are May Flowers, and they always make me think of my Mom, who was born in May, and taught us how to identify them as a welcome sign of spring.
Happy Birthday Mom!

Worldly

Weather

10°C
Date: 12:33 PM EDT Friday 15 May 2020
Condition: Light Rain and Fog
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 10.0°C
Dew point: 9.9°C
Humidity: 99%
Wind: SSE 10 km/h
Visibility: 0.8 km

Quote

“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”
Ralph W. Sockman
1889 – 1970