THE GROUNDHOG DAY EFFECT- update from the isolated

THE GROUNDHOG DAY EFFECT- update from the isolated

Greetings all of you ‘Covidiens’.  How are you doing with your respective lives in isolation?  Here in our little piece of East Coast paradise we are coping quite nicely, thank you. It’s certainly not perfect but we are beginning to see a tiny bit of light on our horizon….beautiful welcoming orange morning light.

Francois has found a new passion. Torching stuff. He builds it then he burns it. It’s an ancient Japanese method of treating wood called shou-sugi-ban to preserve wood by scorching the cuticle of the wood to seal and protect it. For a brief video of his method click here IMG_1331.

He built a lovely bridge to span the incoming stream at Duck Pond and finished it with this method. Burning with a propane torch then lovingly rubbing every square inch of  it with linseed oil. The process became a neighbourhood curiosity. One neighbour dropped by (socially distanced of course) and ask what the heck he was doing. She had been watching the build process from her home across the road but when the propane tank and torch came out her curiosity got the better of her.

Bridge over Calm Waters

One early morning, I looked out our bedroom window and saw our friend Fred perched on the bridge, bright red umbrella and fishing pole in hand. He’s quite a quirky character, always bringing a smile.

Old Becomes New Again

Francois also used the same burning method on our outdoor furniture transforming  each piece from Ikea tan to rich Asian black tea.  Quite a striking difference!

Papa’s Bridge

My daughter and son-in-law, loved the bridge so much that they asked if Francois could build one for them too.  She ordered the materials, had them delivered and paid for his services with virtual hugs and free beer.  Not a bad deal.

For Hugs and Beer

Speaking of hugs, Mother’s Day came and went. My daughter parked down the lane near the shore so we wouldn’t see her car, then the three of them toddled up the hill. Her four-year-old asked if he wore his mask and held his breath, could he give Gramma a hug. However heart-breaking, the answer was ‘no’ but I will remember the moment forever.

Mother’s Day Surprise

Nature continues on its spring journey oblivious to what’s happening in the world. Grass is green and lush. Birds are choosing partners and homes for their future families. Swallow Condo has at least three tenants now and from time to time we can see little heads poking out. I love sitting on the deck with my early morning coffee watching them dance and soar, listening to their happy song.

Swallow Condo

Francois has started a relocation program for some of our visitors. Monsieur and Madame Marmotte (our groundhog couple) are now several kilometres away, repositioned in a much less populated area. And Rocky Racoon and his Missus – the true Covid mascots, with masks and incessant hand-washing – have been deposited deep in the forest as well.

Uninvited Guests

Our gardens too have come to life. The tulips Francois planted last fall are in their full glory. The seventy-five bulbs from Holland commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Netherlands’ liberation following the end of World War II….a sea of beautiful orange blossoms.

Liberation 75

We both are enjoying our Crow’s Nest, planting seeds and watching them poke through the soil in the heat of the day. In the past I’ve bought seedlings from local green houses but with so many restrictions in place this year we’ve opted for online/no-contact seed and other supply buying from a company in Halifax. Mostly everything grew, surprisingly, considering it was our first time gardening on this scale.

Francois was quite proud to pose for you in the warmth of the ‘shed’ holding a flat of healthy greens for Naked Gardening Day.

My (almost) Naked Gardener

Four weeks ago Nova Scotia entered phase one of loosening restrictions. We celebrated with lobster, cooked and prepared at the world famous Shore Club. Paid in advance and pick-up time-slot assigned, deliciousness placed contact-free in the trunk of our car. Each year they host a Mother’s Day Celebration with a seafood feast. Three seatings, each sold out well in advance…but these are not normal times and we were more than happy to support their modified event in the comfort of our own home

Shore Club Lobster

The best part of this phase-one of isolation relaxing was the hugs. Hugs upon hugs upon a million hugs. A day spent with our ‘bubble’ family…and those million hugs…was the best therapy I could ever have asked for.

Healing Hugs

Papa Hugs

How to Calm a Wildling

Now that our provincial beaches are open I can begin to make use of my birthday gift. I’m not very stable yet so the 14 knot cross winds made me nervous….yes, she who has no problem heeling at 30 degrees in a storm can’t handle a puff of wind in a few feet of water. I will persist.  Francois was a champion though. Even a tumble into the frigid water didn’t phase his at all.

Trial Run

Sad little RED sits patiently in the driveway, winter cover removed, waiting for whatever summer months might bring.  We’re not sure when she will be splashed but lobster season is now over in our south shore area with traps removed so it might be soon. I remain hopeful.

Soon

So now you are up to date. As you can see our ‘day to day’ is not quite so ‘day to day’ as the ‘groundhog day effect’ might suggest. There is more than enough variety to bring us pleasure. We’re loving the simpler slower pared down version of our previous life and hope its continues. The other day, Francois mused that after isolation is lifted he would like us to remain isolated. Some things may have to change in order for that to happen – like being able to say ‘no’ more often. But we have time yet to work on that.

Thanks for stopping by.  We love it when you do, keeping connected in this rather disconnected way.

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.