The Dust Settles

Since early January I have been watching the current pandemic rise, experiencing internal stress as I attempted to prepare for its arrival in Canada. I spent a lot of time thinking things through, trying to prepare for isolation, and still I missed things. I missed that bleach expires, and so we have no effective bleach to use for disinfecting, and it cannot be purchased, the stores are all sold out. That was a big mistake on my part.

But what has worried me most all these months, is that Attila would have to work, and would be exposed to infection, and that he and I might not fare well in such a case. All of my focus was on resolving that issue, trying to take steps to keep Attila safe, and myself safe as a result. Our fates are tied together at this point. When two of the managers returned to work after travel abroad, I reached a breaking point. Attila began to use his vacation time to stay out of harms way.

Suddenly, on March 25th, Attila was laid off. What a blessing. Fear of poverty is a lot more bearable than fear of death, at least that is how I feel. And so my life instantly changed, from fight or flight feelings, to intense relief. The first few days both of us were stunned and grateful, trying to take in our new situation.

Here we are, March 31st, six days later. And I realize that some adjustments are needed on my part. My life revolved around routines that I had developed over the last few years, routines that involved an adequate income, and Attila being away to work five days a week. It is different now.

Our income might be adequate, we do not yet have any idea what the future holds on that score, but for now we are fine, in the short term. We are no longer financially able to purchase items as we have been doing, particularly related to renovations. The renovations will have to be put on hold. The materials already in our possession, for the basement insulation project, will be used until they are gone, and hopefully they are adequate to finish the project. But if they are not, it doesn’t really matter, we will be fine.

Getting used to Attila being here all the time is more challenging for me than I had anticipated. Suddenly, with my biggest fear and focus happily resolved, I find myself needing to reorient myself, figure out how to comfortably spend my days. My old routines do not work for me, Attila is here all the time, the house is small, this is new!

For instance, we both like to putter in the kitchen, which is small, so we need to orchestrate the activities. Slowly we are developing a dance, exploring how to time our little projects so that we aren’t in each other’s way. It is going well, but still, it is an adjustment, mostly for me, as I am accustomed to having the kitchen to myself during the weekdays. Sharing means changing habits, so I am working on that.

We are so lucky to have Mist Cottage. It is a pleasant and safe place to self-isolate, with our own outdoor space.

Attila has his insulation project to work on, bit-by-bit each day, but mostly he works in the yard. He has a large garden planned, and spends most of his day working outside. He has pruned the apple tree and bushes along the property line, and is using the branches to build Hugelkultur beds. The garden along the fence line is also being expanded. He has harvested quite a few Dandelion roots from that area.

And that is where some of my projects come into play. After Attila washes the Dandelion roots, I spread them on the racks for the dehydrator to dry them. The plants have some newly formed leaves on them, which are also dried. I tasted the very young leaves and they were quite good, I thought, not bitter. Since we are avoiding the grocery store, we have no greens at the moment, so I suggested a Dandelion green salad. That was a NO from Attila. Oh well, I might harvest some of them for a lunch time stir fry for myself.

Dehydrated Dandelion Root
Dehydrated Dandelion Greens

I tried making No Knead Bread on Sunday, saving a wee bit of dough to use instead of yeast for the next next loaf, which was yesterday. It was a unanimous decision that my regular 100% Whole Wheat Bread is much preferable. The No Knead Bread was very dense, had a good flavour, and a very tough crust. It was worth a try!

The weed seeds that I removed from about 12 cups of wheat berries, when I last milled my Whole Wheat Flour. Oops, I see one wheat berry in there, can you spot it?

Today I baked Squash Squares, which are Pumpkin Squares made using pureed squash instead of pumpkin. Attila seldom asks for sweets, so when this was requested I was very happy to make it for him. We will be growing squash this summer, it is a versatile vegetable that we both enjoy.

Squash Squares, made in a pie plate. I like this pie plate because it has a wide rim, which make it easy to grasp when it is hot, and I am removing it from the oven.

So that is us, doing fine as we weather the storm of the Pandemic, isolated in our little house with a garden. I hope everyone’s circumstances allow them comfort and safety!

Stay safe dear friends!

Worldly

Weather

6°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Tuesday 31 March 2020
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 6.0°C
Dew point: 2.1°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: NE 20 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“What you are is a question only you can answer.”
Lois McMaster Bujold
1949 –

Temporary Reprieve

Although I have been self-isolating since the beginning of March, Attila has had to go to work, and out to buy groceries. When he ventured out for food he wore clothes that were removed and washed immediately, wore gloves, and a face mask. But at work, these precautions were not possible. Working cheek by jowl at the plant where he worked felt dangerous. It was dangerous. When a cold/flu (everyone thought it was a cold/flu) spread quickly through the plant, Attila caught it. That was early in March, he was off one day without pay, to sleep and recuperate. One of his work mates eneded up in hospital. So we knew that if the virus arrived at the plant, the chances of getting it were very high. Then two managers returned from out-of-country flights, and came to work. Horrifying and negligent in my opinion. All of these things have made the month of March a time of extreme worry, and desperate strategizing.

Then, the week before last, they laid people with less seniority (younger people) off. They did not accept the requests of those more senior employees that wanted to be chosen for layoff, so that they could self-isolate and keep themselves and their families safe. Attila and I were horrified at the lack of humanity of the decision to reject volunteers for layoff, on the part of the employer. So Attila arranged to use his vacation time to stay home and self-isolate. This past week, although we have enjoyed his time off, we also felt the increasing dread of his needing to go back to work. We talked for hours, trying to figure out a way to survive financially, and stay safe. Finally we decided to risk everything if we had to, to self-isolate.

Last night Attila received notice that he too had been laid off work, indefinitely. I burst into tears when he relayed the news to me. We have been so frightened, for so long, that this sudden, very welcome development felt like being reprieved from a death sentence. Attila will receive Employment Insurance, our income will fall drastically, and our chances of living through this crisis has been optimized.

Last night he did all the “paperwork” requested by the employer and the government. We were both exhausted, tense, and emotional. He got the job done, what a relief.

Attila described the last few months as feeling as if he was being pushed, hard, and that the pressure increased gradually, relentlessly, to become quite intense. The pressure required increasing internal resources to remain balanced and upright. The news last night instantly removed the pressure, but the resistance didn’t disappear immediately. That pretty much described what I have been experiencing as well, as we have watched the virus begin to colonize the inadequately-lead human populations around the world, pressure has been mounting for us, as we have struggled to keep ourselves safe.

Last night Attila and I were faced with the sudden removal of a dire threat, we were stunned. We did not immeiately adjust to the vacuum left when the pressure was removed. We kept our routine, went to bed, and to sleep at our regular time. But within an hour we were both wide awake and restless. We needed time to take stock of our situation, to explore our new, less terrifying situation, to allow the new reality to sink in.

We puttered about into the wee hours of the night. Attila spent his time reviewing his basement projects. I spent my time cancelling things. I had already cancelled Netflix, but we had a few more monthly bills that are fluff, and won’t be affordable on our new budget. One was my audible account, which I have enjoyed immensely, it is just not a viable expense at the moment. Another was Attila’s cell phone, which is an emergency phone only, needed while he had to work. I reduced that bill to a minimum, $7 per month, and removed the method of payment, so that no more billing will come through, we are already running a credit of over $90, so it will be at least 7 months before we have to make a decision about the cell phone, and we will know more about how we will be situated at that time.

So here we are, the two of us alone in our bubble. But we aren’t alone, not really, there are many other people, all over the planet, in their bubbles. It is a new kind of “we”.

We don’t know what our future holds, if Attila will be called back to work before the dangers have passed, if we will become seriously ill, if our friends and loved ones will become seriously ill. These concerns remain, as they do for everyone.

As part of my efforts to regain equilibrium, I decided to try a new recipe today. I am making a loaf of no knead bread, for the first time. The time-of-use billing for hydro has been suspended for 45 days, starting on the 24th of March I believe. This means I can use the daylight hours to do projects relying on electricty, instead of postponing them until the weeked. The usuall price for on-peak use if over 20 cents per kWh, and the current special price is 10 cents per kWh, half price. I love being able to get things done during the weekdays!

And Attila, well he is out there in the garden, where else!

Stay safe dear friends!

Worldly

Weather

6°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Saturday 28 March 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 5.7°C
Dew point: -1.3°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: ENE 12 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Life is constantly providing us with new funds, new resources, even when we are reduced to immobility. In life’s ledger there is no such thing as frozen assets.”
Henry Miller
1891 – 1980

Nesting

We have been disappointed with Netflix for some time now. Most of the new programming is too violent, full of intrique, or melodramatic for us. They do have some good programming, but we haven’t been able to find anything we like for months now. AND now that so many people are self-isolating, we couldn’t get it to work at all.

Today I closed our Netflix account. We shall see if we miss it. I doubt we will. It feels good to begin cutting our expenses, because our financial future doesn’t look good. We aren’t young enough to have time to recover, to start again, so eliminating an expense makes me feel better.

Since Attila is using his vacation time this week, we are enjoying our iso-cation time to the fullest. Attila is working slowly on the wiring. He can only do a small amount of it in a day, because he has to work overhead, and it hurts his neck. It is more complicated now because the quarantined groceries are in the way, and won’t be moved into the kitchen until next week. There are significant challenges when living in a space this small, and they become more pronounced when living in interesting times.

My project today has been to move furniture around in the living room. The dining table is now in the living room, and some storage cupboards from the living room are now in the kitchen. We will see how this arrangement suits us. One bonus to this arrangement is that we can watch videos in the living room, while sitting at the table with our snacks!

Over the winter I had some Lavender Oil on the go. I decided to strain the oil today, and now there is a quarter of a cup of heavenly scented oil, in a small jar, ready for use.

About three weeks ago Attila wasn’t feeling well. He was off work for one day, sleeping the whole day. He had a bad cough. At that time I had a sore throat. Attila recovered enough to go to work the next day. My sore throat hung on until just the last few days, but has been replaced by rather intense nasal congestion.

When Attila fell ill, as many, many people where he works did at that time, one of his coworkers was hospitalized with what they thought was Influenza A. I now wonder if it might have been the coronavirus, they were not testing here in Canada at that time. Studies in Iceland have indicated that up to 50% of people who have the virus have no symptoms. People with families from all over the world work with Attila, so it is entirely possible that one of the workers contracted the virus without knowing it, and it spread through the plant. There was no testing being done on out-of-country travelers at that time, unless they had been to China. None of his coworkers died, that we know of, so maybe not. It would be good news to find out we have had it, and recovered without incident! It would be bad news to find out it spread through a workplace, and no one was aware of it.

This morning Attila made Apple Pancakes for breakfast. What a treat. He likes his with a drizzle of Maple Syrup, and I like mine with large dollops of Apple Sauce, and very light drizzle of Maple Syrup. Maple Syrup does wonderful things to apples!

Here is a video about bringing your groceries in safely. Sandy mentioned the microwave, wondering if it would kill the virus, this Doctor says yes in his video Safe Grocery Shopping.

Worldly

Weather

4°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Wednesday 25 March 2020
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 3.9°C
Dew point: 0.2°C
Humidity: 77%
Wind: SE 14 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The weird thing about houses is that they almost always look like nothing is happening inside of them, even though they contain most of our lives.”
John Green

I know!!! This always amazes me, the inner warmth of buildings, that no one sees from the outside.

Mail-On-Hold-Box

We don’t have enough sanitizer to deal with all the items that come in from the outside world. It is no longer available for sale anywhere. So, we are exploring ways to reduce the amount of sanitizer needed, to make what little we do have last longer.

Paper items, the mail, are particularly demanding, they have relatively large surfaces to be covered on two sides. Also paper gets soggy when sprayed with liquid sanitizers.

We know the the virus will not live forever on surfaces. It lives longer at cooler temperatures, and at room temperature about 3 to 4 days. So I proposed a system of a series of containers for our mail. And this is what Attila came up with as a result. He built us a Mail-On-Hold-Box, out of cardboard and packing tape. It will sit in the locked garage, the daily mail will go into a designated slot, and stay there for 7 days, not touching anything else, then it will be removed and brought indoors when the next week’s mail deliveries begin, to be replaced by the new weekday mail. This will give all mail items 7 days of self-isolation, before they are brought into the “safe zone”. I am mulling over the fact that the virus lives longer at cold temperatures, thinking about how cold it is in the garage, above freezing but not warm. I haven’t decided if I will trust 7 days at that temperature!

I like this invention particularly since no purchases were required, very little plastic was used, and most of it is recyclable here on the property as compost or mulch.

Mail-on-hold box.
Mail-On-Hold-Box, where the mail will self-isolate for 7 days before being brought into the “safe zone.”

Worldly

Weather

3°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday 24 March 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 3.3°C
Dew point: 1.3°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind: S 12 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Necessity, who is the mother of invention.”
Plato
427 BC – 347 BC

Carrying On

Well here I am. I began self-isolation at the beginning March, three weeks ago. So far so good.

Where Attila works they laid off 600 people on Friday. They decided to do it by seniority, rather than ask people if they were willing to be laid off. That meant that the high-risk-for-complications older segment of the work force has to keep working, while the younger, much lower-risk-for-complications segment of their workforce are out of a job. It make no sense. There were older workers who wanted to self-isolate, but cannot, and younger workers who wanted to keep working, but could not. Attila was very upset by it, he would have volunteered to self-isolate, with a much lower standard of living with some support from the government. But he can’t do it, he has to go in there, and risk our lives.

My opinion of the company is that they are evil. So much for protecting the vulnerable, and the disabled in our country, there are far too many systemic holes to fall through. What a bunch of heartless jerks.

So for now Attila has to go to work, in a place where people are almost shoulder to shoulder as they work, and two of the managers who had been out of the country, returned to the workplace after arriving back in Canada. They are not coming in now, but if they were carrying the virus it is spreading at the plant. They came in to work last Monday, so we won’t know if they had contracted the virus for a few weeks.

So we are trying to gain some sort of equilibrium with the situation, which we cannot control. It is very hard work.

UPDATE, 11:40 A.M., March 23, 2020: Attila applied to take vacation time this week, to give us a chance to figure out how to get him into self-isolation without losing everything. His vacation time was approved Monday, just before lunch time!!! So we have a weeks reprieve, a short period where we don’t have to obsess about what to do next. Next weekend we will be back on that treadmill of worry, but we will have a break from it for a few days.

But it is the weekend, and we love the weekends! The sun was shining yesterday, but it is chilly out there, beautiful but chilly.

We just picked up our first pick-up order from NoFrills. It was quite an experience. Because of my anaphylaxis I have to shop carefully, and there are only certain items that are safe for me. But the online ordering had a check box that one could uncheck to indicate “no substitutions”, vital in my case. I don’t want to spend what little money we have on items I cannot eat, and have to give away. So I thought this was wonderful. BUT as soon as the order was moved into the queue to be prepared, the online program automatically checked all the boxes to allow substitutions, for all of the items! Unicorn Poop!

This time it turned out all right, luckily. There was only one substitution, and it was just fine, more by luck than design. There were many items missing, not to be had. Fresh fruit and vegetables, canned and frozen vegetables, none to be had. So we will get by with the aging cabbage we purchased for sauerkraut. We won’t be making sauerkraut, we will be using the cabbage as a fresh vegetable. We like cabbage.

We enjoy apples as a fruit. Luckily they are grown in Canada, so I am hopeful that come next September we will be able to procure them in quantity, hopefully enough to last between harvest seasons. In the meantime, we have some apples here, having purchased a large bags of “seconds” from the grocery store a few weeks ago. Some of those apples are not wonderful. Attila is chopping the less than desirable apples into pieces and freezing them, when he has enough he will make a batch of Apple Cider Vinegar. We have three jars of homemade ACV, which will last for a quite a while, perhaps right into the autumn apple season. And perhaps this summer will be one where our Crabapple tree will bear a lot of fruit. Last autumn there were no apples to harvest.

I have noticed that the Internet does not work as nicely as it has done. Netflix often tells us to come back later, and some programs that depend on the “cloud” simply open and close themselves in an instant, because the connection cannot be made I suppose. We are all depending on the Internet for so much, vital communication, shopping, news, and entertainment, to name a few.

It was chilly when we got up yesterday morning. But in the afternoon the temperature rose to 6C, perfect weather for basking in the sun on the back porch. Oh, it was grand. I pulled up my pant legs to let the sun soak into my winter weary skin. Attila and I sat there in the sun, listening to the birds, breathing in the fresh clean air, fresher and cleaner than we have ever enjoyed here at Mist Cottage. Intermittently we dozed off, happily dreaming of lovely things. Attila becomes restless after a while, and would wander out into the garden to collect dead stalks for the compost bins. It was very quiet, only two airplanes flew by overhead. The neighbourhood was quiet too, and the roar from the roadways came to us only as an occasional rumble.

I needed to sit in the sun and just not think! What a great afternoon.

Today it is snowing, and very windy. I’ve kept busy with little projects. I moved the Apple Cider Vinegar from two of the jars, into a large gallon jar. The gallon jar is far from full, but it will keep the vinegar very well, and every time we have another batch finished, we can just pour it into the gallon jar. The third jar isn’t quite ready. But I am quite excited, because it has developed a scoby, our first! I am researching how to preserve the scoby for future use, once the ACV is ready.

Slowly but surely our routines of protection are forming, we have to think about them less and less. Attila, who has to go to work every week day, has it all figured out. I don’t go out much, so I am finding some of them easy to become accustomed to, and others not so much. Right now a big challenge for me is figuring out how to navigate having “virus zone” shoes/boots, that do not enter the “safe zone” in the house. I’ve had to re-sanitize the entrance twice now because my strategies have not worked out well… I lose my balance, my boots are too cold sitting in the unheated garage… I’ll get there!

Life is pretty good here at Mist Cottage. We are as concerned as anyone about the state of things, but remain focused on what we have right now, enjoying our time of good health, and met needs, to the fullest.

Stay safe!

Worldly

Weather

2°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Sunday 22 March 2020
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 1.6°C
Dew point: -12.9°C
Humidity: 33%
Wind: NE 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“When you close your doors, and make darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not alone; nay, God is within, and your genius is within. And what need have they of light to see what you are doing?”
Epictetus
55 AD – 135 AD