WEATHERING the STORM

WEATHERING the STORM

Red Sky in Morning

It really is a storm isn’t it, this cursed virus that has descended on the world?  No wonder words that describe it are storm related….tsunami …..the next wave…dark clouds ahead..the surge….hunkering down.  I actually much prefer the storm analogy to the war zone descriptions though. It’s more positive believing that our collective sun will emerge from behind the clouds someday. We’ve all seen storms throughout our lives…or rather been through storms… in one form or another. Personal storms too. We came out better for it and we can weather this one.

For us here at RED by the Sea, aside from the obvious, like the physical isolation, our lives haven’t changed that much.  Retirement has given us a framework for surviving this new reality…but I do believe when this is all but a memory there will be a new global reality. Attitudes, habits, routines with be forever altered. Change is hard though for some.  My daughter pointed out that our generation has habits so engrained  that we may be the most resistant to change. That may be so, but I personally think we are adapting very well under the circumstances.  Francois’ forty years of military training had us focussing first on threat assessment and security.  What do we need to get through this physically? The tough soldier attitude perhaps doesn’t address the emotional needs but he has me to help with that one.

I chuckle to myself seeing friends’ social media posts.  You know who you are. First day of isolation and all organized with to do lists and by the end of week one, diving into a tub of ice cream still wearing the same pyjamas for the seventh day in a row.  Oh, maybe that was me. Ha-ha!  I like the race analogy from an article I read recently, that if you treat this like a sprint and don’t pace yourself you’ll be the one at the finish line vomiting on your shoes. So the message here is to go ahead and prepare for the worst and when you’ve taken care of that, simply ‘be’. Someday this will be over.

Because of our fairly minimal lifestyle we already had an edge up on managing the day to day.  We maintain what we have and keep things running in good order.  The simpler the better and I fully believe the more complex, the more bells and whistles, the more that can go wrong.  It just makes sense on so many levels to keep it simple. And the more we can handle ourselves, the more autonomous we can be when needed. We’ve even streamlined paying taxes doing everything ourselves online saving hundreds of dollars in the process.

 

“It is no bad thing celebrating a simple life.” ~ JRR Tolkien

 

Since moving here we have become entrenched in buying locally whenever possible and the current situation has given us no reason to change.  Many businesses  have adapted by offering online services with no-human-contact pick-up.

Clean hands and garden supplies

With the recent run on hand sanitizer a local distillery offered their own brand of denatured alcohol and our favourite garden centre has adapted their retail operation to car pick-up only.  No human contact necessary. With the Crow’s Nest in full swing, I can get a good start on our vegetable garden.

Plant Babies

For me the physical distancing is the hardest…not being able to give Gramma hugs.  Video chats have become common place with the occasional window drawings and through-the-glass-kisses. My three-year old grand-daughter took the initiative because she wanted to show Gramma her doll family and called me on her tablet. What, I wonder, was I doing at that age? How the world has changed!  We even had a wonderful ‘visit’ with Francois’ daughter the other day. She, her husband and three kids are doing quite well in Rome.

Window art and smooshy kisses

My son Luke lives in a small options home with staff and 3 other residents and the latest restrictions mean we can’t visit nor is he allowed to come visit us.  Also he is on a medication that compromises his immune system so everyone has to be extra careful – especially now.  So far he seems to understand and one of the staff sets up video calls  which warms my momma heart.  I worry about him longer term since there can be no trips to the country to break up his routine until this crisis has passed but we’re taking it day to day.

Sweet Child of Mine

I spend a good deal of time in the kitchen these days, more than usual, making basics like granola and breads.  My pantry is usually well stocked but there may be a time soon when staples like flour and yeast are in limited quantities.

Staples

Planning ahead I think I have worked out a system where we won’t need to go to the store at all. When supplies get low there are meal delivery services. Whole dinners, chopped and portioned so all we have to do is decide which bag to pull from the refrigerator, add a little cooking time and voilà!

This time of year there isn’t a lot of fresh green available so things like root vegetables…shelf stable carrots, sweet potatoes and celeriac are our go to choices.  I can rustle up a very fine meal with a couple of taters, some lentils and a drizzle of tahini sauce in no time. And thirty minutes in the pressure cooker gives us many meals from that happy-free-range chicken that I had stashed away in the freezer.

There is also farm delivery service where we can order pretty much anything from baked goods, veggies and fruits, meats, honey, even cut flowers, fully prepared meals and artisan creations, all delivered weekly to a location near us.  We have fresh caught fish and seafood delivered when needed.  I buy ten pounds at a time and stash it away in the freezer.  During lobster season I can walk down the road to buy a freshly caught crustacean or two straight off the boat for an occasional treat.  Actually these are all the things we have been doing since moving to the country, supporting local businesses as much as possible. So you see, not a lot has changed for us.  Hell, even the liquor store delivers.

Now that our movements into the community have been further restricted, I’ve sought out entertainment options…because after a while TV binging becomes dull.  Our regional library offers online services like downloadable movies, ebooks and audio books. I’ve read more books in the past two weeks that I have in the last two years.

We miss our weekly gathering of friends, lovingly known as the Hubbards Hooligans, at the village coffee shop so now some of us gather virtually instead, to check in and catch up. One of the Hooligans even dropped off home-made masks, kindly left on our door knob.  Humour can be strong medicine.

Some Hubbards Hooligans

So there you are, all up to date. Thanks for dropping by.  It warms our hearts to know you are there.  From our little RED by the SEA, we wish you strength and safe passage through to the end of the storm.

Post Script: For you bird fans, this year’s couple, Dr. and Mrs. Mallard, presented themselves at Duck Pond last week. And unlike some humans, they didn’t need to be told about physical distancing.  The dozens of ducks that once inhabited the pond – nowhere in site.

Doctor and the Misses

ISOLATION

ISOLATION

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Hello there folks.  I was in the midst of writing a post to tell you about one of our recent road trips and stopped mid-sentence thinking how inappropriate it would seem to tell you about a rather large gathering of random people in a confined space…in this case a steamy green house. So I flushed that idea…for now.

Here we are, the two of us, at  RED by the SEA, March 2020. The world is currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our little province is no longer untouched with three presumptive cases to date. There will likely be more. We’re being asked to stay home, don’t travel, respect social distancing. And I couldn’t be happier.  Yep! I am one happy Kat! To be given permission to socially distance myself, to self-isolate is a gift for someone like me and I’m going to milk this baby dry. This is what it’s like to be an introvert.  I guess in truth I am more of an extroverted introvert.  I love social gatherings and enjoy being asked out.  The bigger the gathering the better because I can usually ‘disappear’ in a crowd.  Smaller groups are more of a challenge for me but I’m happy and comfortable with our circle of friends here….labeled the Hubbards Hooligans by the cafe owner where we meet once a week. Each of us is a little quirky in one way or another…some more eccentric than others…our island of misfit toys…and they accept me for who I am with my own brand of foibles.

But enough about my foibles and on to the present…

We really needed this break in our routine for so many reasons.  We’re constantly on the go.  Every day is full of something or other and I feel time passing far too quickly.  One month crashes into the next.  We’ve become so reactive in our daily lives it’s like living in a pinball machine. This is not how I imagined retired life.  Full, yes, but not overwhelmingly busy.  Although maybe it’s just overwhelming to me because of my nature. Whatever the reason, I often feel overwhelmed.  What happened to the long walks to the beach? Sea glass gathering for hours that I found so therapeutic? Scanning my iPad for news/information/inspiration has replaced reading of real books.  I used to love disappearing into a good novel and I honestly can’t remember the last time I did this. So I see this, not as a negative, but as an opportunity.

I can disrobe our outdoor Christmas tree.  Yeah, I know, it’s March, but my excuse for not doing it sooner was an honourable one.  The little winter birds love hiding in it.

Bird Sanctuary

Coincidentally, I purchased a book to curl up with entitled “Wintering” by Katherine May. Now how appropriate is that to read during these times of isolation?

A Good Read

I started taking painting classes in January.  They’ve ended now and I get together with a friend once a week so we can practice what we learned.  Our get togethers are on hold for now but I have a bin full of paint tubes and other related paraphernalia that keep staring at me begging me to show them what I’ve got.  I have a condition called Essential Tremors which means my dominant hand shakes when I hold things so abstract will likely be my method of choice (or lack of).  I do however enjoy smearing beautiful colours over the canvas.  Will see how that goes.

Nor’easter

I’ve also committed myself to write a cookbook focusing on the use of a Swedish-made stove top oven that we have used extensively on our trips aboard R.E.D.  That’s been stalled for several months now so it’s time to breathe life back into that project. It will give me a chance to create new recipes from what we have on hand…shopping my pantry instead of frequent visits to the local grocery store.  I refuse to be drawn into the hoarding frenzy that has consumed so many. The run on hand sanitizer I guess I understand but toilet paper?…really?

A Galley Kat Creation

I also joined the gym in January…challenged by my painting friend…to get my aging body moving.  Rising at 6:00 to meet her each weekday has become one of my better habits but now that door too has been closed until further notice.  So I’ve reinstated walking to the beach, sea glass hunting and breathing in fresh sea air…as well as daily at-home yoga.  My sun salutation is a bit rusty but some movement is better than sitting on my wrinkled ass all day.  By the way, the painting above is my abstract interpretation of Gramma Beach on a stormy day…in case you couldn’t figure out what I was trying to say with those globs of blue paint.

Gramma Beach

Francois, of course, is never without something to do around the house.  Spring is breaking through the ground more and more each day so there will be lots of yard work and the Crow’s Nest is nearing completion inside.  It’s now insulated. Shelves have been constructed and he built me the most wonderful potting table which means I have another project to add to my list – garden planning and spring planting. It’s a very good design so if you like I’ll write up a post with step by step how-to.

Francois’ Creation

Sounds like quite a list doesn’t it?  And now that I’ve itemized it I realize these are all things that bring me joy and peace, so you see, this current situation, however difficult, scary or frustrating and in some cases potentially dangerous for some, is an opportunity. So for the next while, this Kat will be busy making lemonade from my basket full of lemons.

Thanks for stopping by.  Go forth, make your own lemonade, wash your hands, breathe in the fresh air when you can, stay well and drop back whenever you like.  We’ll be here doing what we do as well as we can for as long as we can.

ROAD TRIP and a SHOW

ROAD TRIP and a SHOW

The following is the story of our recent road trip to Bear River, Nova Scotia…

Hummingbird House

This is the amazing 150 year old captain’s house with a sprawling 5000 square feet of beauty, antiques and charm where we stayed. I had booked the two guest rooms well in advance for us and our friends and arranged for purchasing four tickets for the sold out performance of Hold Mommy’s Cigarette. So super excited but a bit nervous that maybe I just might be over-selling how wonderful it would all be. I needn’t have worried.

Hummingbird House

Before Shelley departed to prepare for her performance, she asked what time we wanted breakfast and before I could answer, she announced “OK, 11:00 it is then”.  Always the comic!  She told me that after the show she is usually drained and crashes while she regroups so I didn’t expect any special treatment

Hold Mommy’s Cigarette

She and her husband set up and prepare for the show with minimal help, the set simply a reproduction of her growing up environment.

The Set

During the performance she plays her seven year old self, her mother, her grandmother and her current self.  She deals with such emotional and traumatic events with such ease, moving effortlessly from character to character.  We belly laughed and at times felt our eyes welling up with tears. It was truly a world class performance.

Gramma Persona

Following, we returned to Hummingbird House, stripped down to our bathing suits and wrapped in the fluffy robes left for us in our rooms.  We skipped the sauna warm up and headed straight to the Nordic salt water spa that overlooks the Bear River and soaked and soaked and soaked until pruney, chatting and sipping wine.  Actually I think we stayed there relaxing with our friends until at least 1:00 in the morning.

Hot Tub Heaven

That night we slept with the angels.  Morning came with the delicious smell of freshly brewed coffee and when we descended to explore we found the breakfast table already set for the four of us.  Cereals, toast, homemade jams and cake, freshly squeezed orange juice.

Good Morning

The sign she left on the table for us made me smile.  So very Shelley!

Host with the Most

Four hard boiled eggs gathered that morning, two blue, two brown, prepared with love and so much care.

Farm Fresh

We asked Shelley to join us while we sipped coffee and chatted about the show and her life in general.  She truly has had quite a challenging life and has come through the other side with such dignity and strength.  I could have sat there listening to her for hours.  Even as draining as it must be for her to perform then change costumes to become super host she carried it out with such ease.

Super Host

After breakfast was cleared away we packed up our gear and headed down to the barn to visit with Jason (Shelley’s husband) and the Farmacy menagery.

Farmacy Visit

I have such a soft spot for ginger cats! There was Marlowe, Peewee, Junior and Archie. Lucy Maude, the momma ginger, had previously departed for unknown adventures.  Then there’s Johnny the black feral barn cat who is not a favourite friend of the Gingers.

Lucie Maud’s Tribe

They have an impressive variety of critters all with very distinct personalities.  The shy and very grumpy pot belly pig. The curious sheep. One somewhat aggressive alpha goat who was insistent on challenging Francois to a head butting competition. The cautious feral black cat with vampire fangs.  The adopted cow that nobody wanted.

Oscar

Jason told us a hilarious story about the time Shelley called out to him and asked where Mork, the goat, was to which he answered: ‘out in the yard somewhere’.  To which she replied: ‘no, just got a call, he’s down at the legion and it’s not even happy hour.’  They said that one or other of the animals with wander off into the town from time to time but they have become such a well known fixture in Bear River that it’s never really a problem.

The Farmily

Let me see if I can remember the names of Shelley and Jason’s crew.  There’s Maynard the Indonesian Ayam Cemani Rooster (complete with black feathers, black internal organs and black bones), Rosie, Tammy the Silkie with feathered slippers and Susie. Then there’s Oscar the cow; Bean, Hana, Gilbert, Mork  and Mindy the goats; Molly B, Seymour and Audrey the pigs; Sweetie the sheep; and last but definitely not least, Steve the pony. I think my favourite of their critters was Phyllis the Frizzle hen with her perpetual bad feather day.

Phyllis Diller

Shelley refers to these wonderful animals as her ‘farma-suitables’. We came home totally relaxed and refreshed.  Great entertainment, beautiful healing surroundings.  The very best medicine indeed!