Thursday, October 1, 2020

How I Spent my Covid Vacation!

It's been 7 months since I posted. When Covid hit, my office closed (mid-March) and with no computer at home, it meant no connection with the blogging world. But now I'm back. HELLO!

I'm one of the very fortunate people who spent most of COVID at home with little to no loss of wages. For many months, our office ran on 2 hr a week per employee; then to 4 hr 3X a week; and finally a return to full time hours. 

NL has few cases of Covid-19, mainly due to our provincial government not allowing visitors to our island and to the many Newfoundlanders who have been wearing their masks and social distancing. Even with cases skyrocketing again, we remain very steady with little to no cases. But that doesn't mean we haven't been affected.

The supply of food stocks is sometimes low; for at least 2 weeks during jam/pickling season, it was difficult to find a bottle of vinegar! Our shops are open (with mandatory mask wearing), but there's lots of empty shelves. But, we are able to meet in our "bubbles" (small groups); and our hospitals aren't overrun any longer.

How did I spent my Covid 'vacation'? Well, I had a very clean, organized apartment,
 so I had lots of free time.  I subscribed to BritBox and watched all the old classic Doctor Who programs. I watched a lot sci-fi! And once restrictions began to lift and the weather improved, I was able to get outside to walk .... and garden! The flowers were beautiful this summer.  Although I didn't get to vacation off the Island, I did a 'staycation' and went east to the Burin Peninsula where I'd never been. My cousin joined me; then we both went to her home in St John's for shopping and lovely, lovely, lovely eating!

I'm glad to be back and to catch up with my blogging friends. 

I'm thinking of my U.S. blogging buddies who are entering into a nightmare election during a nightmare pandemnic:  I wish you love, peace and calm. Shalom!

Friday, February 21, 2020

I disagree with the Romans ......

Hibernia, the Land of Eternal Winter,  

was the name given to Ireland by the ancient Romans. But they had obviously never been to western Newfoundland!

Boy oh boy! It's hard work staying on top of one's mental health when all around is cold and snow. And I'm not talking about small stuff! The temperatures for the past 3 weeks have averaged -17 Celcius (approx 1 degree Fahrenheit). Today is -15 with a windchill factor which brings the temperature down to -31 C (-23 F). In these temperatures, even road salt doesn't always do its job; the roads are greasy-feeling beneath one's studded tires (law here in NL). 
As well, here on the west coast of Newfoundland, the snow doesn't stop falling:  I mean really! It snows every single day! It's not always a lot of snow; and we get days with periods of beautiful sunshine (but never a full day of sun). And those periods of sun are usually followed by periods of grey skies and blowing snow. And then there are the snow squalls which can be pretty terrifying as they blow up unexpectedly. My 10-12 min journey home at the end of the day can contain a snow squall sandwiched between sunshine! Sure makes life interesting!

And while the rest of the world is talking daffodils and mud, we will still be talking snow for at least another month and a half. Oh dear! It's around this time of year that life becomes particularly difficult for me (and others, I presume). Cabin fever can be a reality even in the middle of a city!

So, how does one keep up one's spirit? 

Artwork by Mark Sheetey
For me, it involves lots of determination, perseverance and some encouragement -- be it friends, uplifting quotes, meditation and/or prayer, music, or even the occasional tipple or toke (legal here in Canada). Whatever way one can, one crawls doggedly towards the light!

(Other than the dark hair, this picture could totally be my doughy-white arse crawling towards what I hope is a travel agent with a ticket to a hot country with free bar and room service!)

As I always mention, self-care is a huge part of how I get through these long winters. Even in the coldest of temperatures, I try to get outside each day, even if it's only to stand in the driveway for 5-10 minutes. I try to open my windows for a little every day to let in some fresh air:  Mother Nature is so important. I remind myself of the blessings and advantages I have; I try to eat well; I have successful methods to de-stress. But it's almost always a decision I have to make daily to do what I can to keep my head above it all. And my living and spending most of my time alone with another 2 months of winter still ahead means I have to work extra hard. It can be exhausting. 

But isn't it worth it? I mean, if the alternative is crying in the corner, rending my garments and gnashing my teeth, I'll choose laughter and dance every time.  

So, here's to my fellow 'winter workers' who like me are fighting daily to be positive and optimistic .... or to just hang onto your branch .... but are doggedly crawling towards the light. 

Hang in there, Babies. WE ARE WORTH IT!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Wading through Winter

January in my neck of the woods has been cold with a whole lot of snow without the added bonus of storm days off through the week.  Sigh! We've not had a good sunny day on the weekend so I can go snowshoeing. So, how have I spent my time off?

Well, first there's shopping for important, much-needed items like a new mattress. Then there's the shopping for no-so-much-needed items like the following:

Who doesn't love a soft, comfy pair of 'shoo-boots' in a dusty rose color for $11.00 freekin' dollars! Thank you Winners!

And who can resist discounted gourmet chocolate with descriptions like  elderberry apple Elderflower. I eat them small amounts, slowly letting them melt on my tongue. Yum!

There's also been a happy increase in my reading in 2020. I've spent many happy hours on my couch with a good book and a cup of something delicious. 

(And contrary to what the cup says, there's Inka coffee substitute in there and not prosecco.)

I've indulged in lots of Netflix as well, but I've also spent many happy hours (1/2 hours?) in my bathtub, fragrant with my homemade eucalyptus epsom salts soak, soft lighting and some folky/dreamy music. My sister gave me this battery operated mini-terrarium light at Xmas, and it sure looks pretty when you're lying back in your bath chillaxing. I find it's so important to my self-care to decompress in this way.

My music tastes will vary depending on the season and my frame of mind, of course. The music I've been listening to most lately has been Celtic: Loreena McKennitt, Capercallie and Altan. There's something about those grass-roots instruments and the soothing, lilting vocals; they make a deep connection in my spirit. 

Here's a little sample of Altan. Don't you just love the male vocals! 

The ice and snow is just starting outside my office window, so it's off home in a little while before this weekends storm hits. 

 Happy weekend y'all. I wish you peace and calm in the midst of whatever storm you may encounter.

Monday, January 20, 2020

... and a very achey New Year

 A very belated Happy New Year to you all. I've not been busy just hesitant to come out from underneath the fleece blanket!

Yes, I not only survived the Christmas holidays, but finally, after 3 years, I've had my first good Xmas here in Newfoundland. I prepared Xmas dinner for my dad and siblings; and although both my brother and I had to work fairly hard at the beginning of our time together to fend off the negative comments, pretty soon everyone else joined in the fun and laughter  and we all had a good time together. At 89 years of age, my dad won't be around for many more of these.

The remainder of my Xmas break was a rotation of favorite movies while eating melted brie and/or chocolate with regular walks outside in the cold air to "blow the stink off me" as an old friend's father used to say to us. And there may have been a day or two spent at the Mall checking out the Xmas sales. 

New Year's Eve was a quiet one. I actually enjoy a quiet evening at home; and this year featured one of my favorite wines, Sandara. And what's more festive than Shaun of the Dead, huh! It worked for Toroto and I.

Now that Xmas is over, the near future looks cold and bleak. It's been in the  -12 to -20 C range (10 to -4 F) lately with plenty of the white stuff outside. But we did not get hit with last week's storm like the provincial capital did: St. John's had a day and a half snow storm where 76.2 cm of snow fell: that's 30" of snow! And with the 150 km/hr winds, the snow drifts covered cars and highways 15' in places. Wow! They declared a state of emergency, and even today -- 3 days later -- schools, business' and shops are not open.

Before me are 2-3 months of cold and snow and isolation. So, to help combat cabin fever and total shut-down of my joints and muscles, I've begun to swim a couple of mornings a week. (When I say swim, I mean crawl a couple of laps.) So, while I may not seize up this winter, I do have to get past muscles screaming because they haven't been used like this for a while! Ahhhhh, the joys of aging!

Hope you're warm where you are, my blogging friends.  I may be here at work, but the fleece is always handy!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Blessing of a Snow Day

We all know this is one of the most busy times of the year. Even when you want to keep things simple ...... even when you're organized and ready for the festivities, life is just so darned busy. I've found that with aging, it's so, so important to make ME the priority: one just doesn't have the strength, stamina, or health to ignore the signs that you need to slow down. So, I make allowances for the things that I 'wanted' to do and just stick to what 'needs' to be done. And I'm okay with that. But if a good ole Newfie blizzard causes a work closure, I take full advantage of that extra day. 

Sunday afternoon, I didn't do my usual cooking for the week but instead took myself for a walk in the mist and scattered slush and sat near the bay to soak up some nature. Ahhhhh! 

Alas, Monday morning I woke to a raging blizzard outside which meant no work. So, while I enjoyed my morning coffee, I looked through my new-to-me cookbooks (purchased for $1 each at our library book sale). I adore reading cookbooks! 

I earmarked recipes that I want to try in future; not everything was a Xmas recipe. But I did pull out my tried 'n' true Xmas recipes and made a list of pantry needs. I took out butter and cream cheese to warm to room temp. And while that was happening, I decided to do my weekly cook. 

Soon I had a pot of delicious Japanese curry bubbling on my stovetop, filling the apartment with the most delicious, comforting aromas! Japanese curry cubes are wonderful: they're really quick and convenient and wonderfully flavorful, adding just a hint of sweetness and a deep, rich color. One of my Japanese international students introduced me to them, and although I love Indian carries, there are times that I crave a good Japanese curry, especially in winter. Yum!
For dinner, I made a favorite chicken dish that I've made for years. I put a couple of chicken breasts in a baking dish, top with salsa and Jack cheese and bake. Serve with a good rice and a salad, and you have a completely balanced meal. 

I ate a simple lunch; and by that time, the butter and cream cheese were room temp. So, I made a couple of batches of cookie dough to pop in the freezer: shortbread and Rugelach, two of our favorites. Then, just like the good Lord Himself, I rested! Feet up, a large mug of hot chocolate (and perhaps a few German chocolate treats which had just arrived), and a little Netflix. 

Because this unexpected snow day, I'll be able to give more time to prepping my 89 year old Dad's house for our family Christmas dinner and my grandson's Dec 23rd birthday. And I'll be able to rest more. Fingers crossed that this Xmas will be illness and stress free!

My last day of work will be this Friday. And as I don't have a computer at home yet, you may not hear much from me until I return to work. But I'll be catching up on your posts via my phone.

Hubert, Doris and I all wish you a Happy Solstice tomorrow, a Happy Hannukah, and the very best of Christmas'. And if you don't celebrate, I wish you peace and joy and quiet amidst the hooplah.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Rabbit Rabbit December

Rabbit Rabbit everyone. Christmas month is here.

I've had 3 Xmas's here in Newfoundland, each one worse than the previous. So last year, I did the bare minimum: I didn't decorate other than my memory 'tree' laden with pictures of the people I missed the most. It served it's purpose. 

But a few months ago, I began to think on Christmas and I began to actually get excited about it. I've had a change of attitude that's happened since last year; I don't know how it happened other than through the power of prayer. And although life here is still challenging and I'm still very alone, I feel more settled and content and able to cope with the upcoming long, cold winter. 

So, I decided to decorate and celebrate Xmas for me: not with expectations of the past, but just to celebrate the lights, the music, the joy of Christ, the food, the movies -- ALL the good that the season has to offer.   

As I spent Sunday decorating, I felt happy. Each ornament has a story, a memory, a name attached to it; and it was wonderful to think on these. 

From my 1st Grandma bulb to Ugly Santa, onto Snoopy (who after 37 years is showing some wear), then thru 28 yr old Molly's snowflake, Ayaka's cupcake and finally onto Miley's wrecking ball:  the perfect spot was found for each one.

The same was true for my nativity scene, my Newfoundland mummers and all my Xmas decor. I didn't even take out all my stuff the 1st Xmas here; so it was nice to find those perfect spots and commit them to memory for years to come. One of my favorites is my kitchen window display: it holds all my small Santa and Mrs Clauses. Washing up will be more pleasant now .... 
especially in the dark December evenings when the twinkle lights above make my hanging crystal icicles glitter. So pretty! 

Yes, the month is upon us and before you know it, the big day will come. But there's lots to enjoy leading up to Dec 25th. I hope today you find something beautiful to enrich your life -- even if it's only a good cup of coffee.