Tag Archives: COVID-19

Tale of two artists

Like most grandparents in Canada this year, I’ve given up seeing my grandchildren, Nathan, 9, and Avery, 7, in person since mid-March to reduce my odds of getting COVID-19.  

As a way to stay connected and feel useful, I’ve agreed to help with their learning while they cannot attend school. Each week, my son picks out an educational activity for each of them that lends itself to FaceTime conversation.

One week, Avery and I each undertook to make hearts to hang in our respective windows to say “Thank you” to essential workers.

Before the session, we collected art materials and a screen device to see each other and our respective works as they evolved. Avery set out a big sheet of plain paper and her markers at her kitchen table. I amassed coloured paper, scissors, magazines, and glue on my living room floor.

Avery decided to make a heart-shaped face. Every time she completed a section – a rainbow eyebrow, a heart-shaped eye, a flower nose, or a two-toned hair bow, she would show it to me.

Ah, I like the colour you chose for that!”

“Thank you.”

Every time I cut out a heart of a different colour, Avery would ask to see it.

“I like this one better than the one you just showed me.”

“Yes, me too.”

And so it went.

At the end of an hour, Avery had completed her masterpiece and was ready to hang it proudly for her mother, an essential worker, to see when she got home.

I had a lot of scraps and a pile of paper hearts of various sizes. The majority of them were green because the few magazines I could find focused on plants. I also had lot of misgivings about how I should arrange my hearts

For most of the following week, my project lingered on my living room floor. I made small tweaks each time I passed and waited for the sense it was “done”. Several musings about colour theory, experimentation with balance, and additional magazines and hearts later, I had a composition I was ready to glue into position.

I’m happy with it, but it lacks the joyfulness of Avery’s.

I’ve read a research finding that disturbs me. “The confidence of girls starts to plummet when they turn eight.”

“No-o-o-o-o-o!”

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Nostalgia junkie: Part 1

Maybe it’s only me, but this pandemic pause has created a steeply rising curve in the number of times per day I reminisce.

Here’s the first moment of nostalgia I’d like to share with you.

The pre-pandemic version of me continued to evolve as a socially- and environmentally-conscious consumer. When I needed a cleaning product, for example, I studied brand names and labels for key words like eco, green, safe, etc. If it was locally made and/or fairly traded, or sold in recycled, recyclable, and refillable containers, all the better.

All of a sudden, I’m a “grab and go” shopper.  

Last week, my grocery list included rubbing alcohol to use as a disinfectant. The store was out of stock, but my eyes landed on a bottle of Lestoil. Before I knew it, I had scrubbed my kitchen and bathroom floors with a generous solution of it. The smell transported me back to coming home from school when my mother was in the midst of her annual spring cleaning.

Basking in the clean-feeling aroma, I did a Google search on Lestoil. That brand has been around since 1933 and is currently owned by the Chlorox Company. It’s an American outfit that is committed, according to their website, to ending animal testing. They provide no update on where they are with that.

According to the “Organic Authority” website, Lestoil contains “petroleum distillates which pose high concern for cancer and damage to DNA, … pinus palustris (longleaf pine) oil, which has potential for skin irritation and allergies.”

So, in my eagerness to keep myself safe from COVID-19, I have compromised my values and may have set myself up for cancer and other threatening side effects.

But, aah, that familiar smell I associate with clean was so worth it!

Post script: I suspect I’m not the only person with a case of nostalgia. If you have found new pleasure recently in something that reminds you of your childhood, I invite you to post a comment.  

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DIY masks to the rescue

Well, it’s official. Evidence has mounted that people with no symptoms can unknowingly spread COVID-19. This week, the folks at the top shared that wearing a mask in public could reduce the risk that someone who is carrying the nasty bug will infect others in places where social distancing is difficult. Ah yes, the barrier method to counter infection.

I feel fine, but one never knows. My next grocery run is due. I’d better get with the program and equip myself to practice safe shopping.

Don’t tell anyone, but I have two surgical masks left from a package I bought before a friend who is immunocompromised came to visit a while ago. We’re supposed to leave the professional grade masks for health care workers. Best I don’t appear in public wearing contraband.

This means I need to make my own mask.

The internet has lots of patterns for home-made masks and I know how to sew. Excuses will be hard to find.

What to use? I purged my odds and ends of fabric before I moved to Vancouver. With the prohibition on non-essential trips, this means I need to make it with materials I have on hand if at all possible.

A hunt through my closets produced a torn white cotton bed sheet from the bygone era when all bed sheets, at least for simple folk like me, were white and cotton. It occasionally serves as a dust cover or drop cloth. Lots of washes have softened it. A few inches from the good side will provide enough fabric to create several multi-layer, washable, boring face masks.

I have a plan. I must stop watching every news conference and reading every post on social media so that will have time to follow through before my cupboard is completely bare.

Post script. If you, like me, have found diversion in the humour on social media, you’ve likely seen the videos of how to turn a lady’s thong…not the flip flop kind… into a face mask. Or a photo of a fetching woman modelling how one bra cup will do the job.

I had a moment of regret that I purged the psychedelic print bikini I wore for sunbathing in the early seventies. Three potential masks…gone.

I could have turned heads at the grocery store.

Post post script. I’ll leave the visual for this entry to your vivid imagination.  

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More things that made me smile

I am happy that officials are starting to use the term “physical distancing” to tame the COVID-19 pandemic. “Social distancing” was a misnomer from the start.

Social closeness has never been more important to me. Two people with whom I connect by text and phone more often than usual these days amused me recently. With their blessing, I pass along their levity.

Well over a year ago, I started to text with my friend and neighbour, whom I’ll call Debbie, every morning by 8:00 a.m. In the remote chance that either of us has fallen or expired during the night, we know that the other will investigate our lack of response and get the right people on the job. So far, one of us has remembered to start the interchange on time virtually every morning. The texts often led to spontaneous decisions to meet for a walk or coffee later in the day in the pre-COVID-19 world.

Recently, I woke about around 7:15 a.m. – too early to text Debbie. I started scrolling through my phone to see the latest developments around the only subject there’s any news about these days. Before I knew it, 8:00 a.m. had come and gone.

“Got distracted scrolling. How are you this morning?” I keyed in at 8:10.

“Infected by the scrolling virus, too!! Other than that, I’m fine,” she responded a minute later.

Debbie gets it.

Meanwhile, my vigorous attempts to stay safe continue unabated. My hands have never been cleaner. I’m tired of “Happy Birthday” as a handwashing song.

Man, if I get COVID-19, it will be a phenomenon akin to the virgin birth. When I shared that thought in separate phone conversations with Debbie, my sister, and another friend, each of them roared.

I tried it on my son. Silence at the other end.

“Are you there?”

I quietly wondered if I had offended his virgin ears.

“Mom, I think it needs a little work.”

The next morning, the following text from him arrived:

“For your joke, I wonder if you could describe it as an “immaculate infection”.

I wonder if he’s missed his calling in standup comedy.

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