Rejoining the World at Large

After so many months of full lock-down life, then a partial lifting of stay-at-home restrictions to include outdoor-only stuff, to me it feels really weird to be considering going out of the house and into an indoor business premises with other people present for something more than picking up essential groceries.

Although most of our other shops have been open again since 26th April, personally I’ve been a bit slow at getting back to browsing just for fun. Over this last year caution has become the new norm for me and for now, unless I truly NEED to look for something specific, it seems I’m OK to wait a bit longer before returning to any real semblance of retail therapy…

And I do miss going for an occasional leisurely pub lunch with my husband but I’m not sure how long it will be before we try out that out again. Right now I feel that restrictions and relaxation make uneasy bedfellows, and the thought of eating on edge makes me hold back a bit. Time-limited dining in small, cordoned-off, see-through cells doesn’t really appeal to me in quite the same way as the collective camaraderie of the old days. It’s as if the whole experience by necessity truly is sanitised beyond the point of enjoyment for me.

So for now I’ll probably stick with my half-way-house approach to rejoining the world at large. Go shopping for things in indoor public places but only when I need to, and go out to pick up an occasional takeaway meal to enjoy at home with a bottle of wine from the fridge. Still support the local economy, but safely, cautiously maintaining my distance until I feel more confident that Covid is no longer such a viable threat to our future.

Whenever that may be…

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘roc’

Hugs All Round

From Monday 17th May here in the Highland Region of Scotland we moved from Level 3 down to Level 2 Covid restrictions, which means lots of different things for lots of people. For me it means we are now allowed to visit in very small numbers indoors instead of being restricted to the garden, and we are allowed to hug people again!

Seriously, being allowed to hug the people I love most in the world is such a wonderful gift, my ageing parents and my adult children and my growing grandchildren… We’re normally quite a touchy-feely family so it’s been really difficult NOT to hug for months on end, always keeping our distance while only meeting up outside.

So without a shadow of a doubt that’s my Weekly Smile for this week – being able to hug my family again ❤ 🙂

Last Week…

The Weekend Prompt at Weekly Prompts this week is Last Week… Hmm… Let me see now… What might count as highlights in this crazy busy world of mine right now? (Spot the sarcasm…)

Last week I spent quite a lot of time in my garden again (surprise, surprise!), mainly weeding and planning and monitoring the progress of all the plants. My yellow azalea is now flowering, but the red one sitting right next to it is still a bit shy to open up. The single little colony of white bluebells are probably looking their best just now and the plentiful blue bluebells making their presence felt all over are still going strong…

What else? Um… One day last week I actually went into a proper shop that was not a supermarket – woo-hoo! In the end I didn’t buy anything but I really enjoyed browsing again for things other than food and essentials. It felt a bit weird to begin with but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it again soon enough. No, thinking about it I went into TWO shops, because I also visited a toy shop and bought my youngest grandson a gift for his sixth birthday 🙂

Oh, and the other day I decided finally to paint my wooden garden bench. I bought the paint a couple of weeks ago but the spring weather has been a bit inconsistent so I never seem to have two dry days together to get it done. Instead I took the bench in to the conservatory, let the wood dry out properly, gave it a good clean and a sand and have given it a first coat of paint. Now that’s fully dry I’ll need to give it a second coat… maybe tomorrow?

Yeah, life isn’t exactly fast-paced at the moment as we start to come out of the pandemic, but that’s OK with me… 🙂

A Walk in the Woods

A few pics from today’s walk – I really pushed myself and went further than I have in a long time, so I’m exhausted now I’m home again but delighted that I did it! I used to be such a great walker BC (Before Covid) and I’m determined to build up my strength and stamina as sensibly as I can to try to beat this lingering breathlessness and tiredness.

It’s definitely a lot better than it was, I do feel some improvement month on month but I wish someone could give me some indication of just how long I should expect this ‘Long Covid’ to last for. Of course sadly no-one knows yet… It seems to be one of those ‘How long is a piece of string?’ questions… Sigh! 🙂

Weekly Smile: In the Garden

I’ve not found it so easy to find any smiles to share over the last couple of weeks, but even though the weather’s not been the best over the last few days and I’m still not feeling at my best health-wise, I’ve nevertheless made an effort lately to get out into the garden as often as possible to start some serious re-arranging of stuff.

When we first moved into our new home 18 months ago (a lovely 1930s bungalow in need of a fair bit of tlc) our priority inevitably focused on the interior of the house – and anyway, it seemed sensible to leave the garden pretty much as it was for at least the first full year to see what plants appeared, to best understand where the sun rose and set across all four seasons, and to give ourselves time to work out how we might choose to use the garden space in the long-term.

So we’ve been making plans to make some big changes in the back garden this year, and have made a good start by finding new homes for both old and fragile glass greenhouses so now have two empty spaces waiting expectantly for whatever comes next. As well as the two ex-greenhouse spaces there are also still two old sheds in situ – the largest wooden structure most definitely needs to be replaced entirely, it’s clearly not been properly weather-tight for years so is slowly rotting away from within. But we want its drier replacement to be re-sited on the other side of the garden, requiring some ground-work to be done in advance.

We need to move the current washing line, shift the active built-in breeze-block compost heap, and get rid of a large old tree stump to make way for the new shed, as yet un-sourced, which will sit on the footprint of one of the old greenhouses and then some. The sunniest, most sheltered spot in the back garden, currently occupied by the old shed and the ghost footprint of the second old greenhouse, will eventually become a patio area, and a replacement rotary washing line will be re-positioned on the site of the second, smaller metal shed, which will be repurposed elsewhere as a bike shed. A vegetable plot will be introduced. Flower beds will need altered in size and shape and some re-sited altogether. So not surprisingly that’s all going to take some serious re-organising to achieve and some time for us to get there.

In the meantime we’ve been busying ourselves outside for the past few days making a start on the ground-works. So far we’ve taken apart the old unused brick BBQ – the mortar was so crumbling in parts it really wasn’t too difficult to disassemble – and while my husband was at work I’ve spent some time starting to chip off the residual mortar with a cold chisel and hammer. I’ve also managed to stabilise the wobbly garden steps with the help of a breeze block or two filched from the base of the greenhouse, and have removed a rickety wooden railing that was becoming more of a hindrance than a help.

I’ve replaced some old unsightly rotting wooden border edging with some solid re-purposed narrow concrete facings, also taken from the old greenhouse base, and have already dug up and re-planted some early spring bulbs for next year. I’m going to have to re-position quite a few mature plants this year, so I’ve also spent time sitting quietly on the garden bench with a cup of tea surveying the situation and making even more plans. Because four months post-Covid I still tire quite easily, and still get breathless quite quickly, so I find I have to rest a lot, quite often. But still I can get out there and do something, so I do what I can.

So my Weekly Smile for this week is just that, no more no less – I’ve been getting out there into the garden and doing what I can, health permitting, and I’m really enjoying it. The focus on carrying out manual physical activity in nature helps me feel better emotionally, however tired and however breathless I get. The effort is worth it, the feel-good factor rewards are so worth it… I’m worth it 🙂

April A-Z 2021 – Reflections

This year I decided to blog about my thoughts and feelings on the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, which for me is the most topical thing in my life at the moment for two main reasons.

First, I’ve actually had Covid, and still struggle with a few straggler symptoms four months on. My ongoing recovery is slow but sure, although I’m finding that even now it still hampers my life somewhat. And second, I was made redundant in mid-March when the business I worked for stopped trading altogether, so one way or another this pandemic has personally affected both my health and my wealth in a very immediate way.

So for me Covid is not just something abstract ‘out there’, affecting other people somewhere else but not touching my life at all, it’s something that’s very much made its presence felt intimately ‘in here’ up close and personal since the beginning of the year.

When it comes to this year’s A-Z I succeeded in posting something daily for all 26 letters of the alphabet – sometimes images, sometimes limericks, sometimes opinions, but I kept it up right to the end – hooray! And now it’s over I can look back and say it’s been quite cathartic overall to post about my Covid experience, so that’s got to be a good thing too.

When it came to checking out other blogs I kept a copy of the Master List open on a tab on my laptop for the full month and visited several different blogs daily – more at the beginning when I was full of enthusiasm but admittedly fewer toward the end of the month as I ran out of steam.

Some blogs I liked so much I decided to ‘follow’ them, but others that interested me not so much I just dipped in and out of – but I suppose that’s just how it goes? 🙂

April A-Z: Z is for Zeitgeist

When others in the future look back at this particular pandemic with the omniscience of hindsight, what will history show them?

Will it register as a mere blip on the retrospective radar, a grumbling glitch in the system, a muttered murmuring of dissent? Or will the long-term aftereffects of Covid 19, already proving so destructive to the health and wealth of so many nations, join forces with those increasingly clamouring voices warning of growing climate change to create a naturally emerging ‘spirit of the age’ surging up against all unnatural uses and abuses of our ailing environment?

Will humanity make good use of the lessons to be learned from this ongoing pandemic to grab the chance to change how we behave in the world, or will our hubris, arrogance and greed continue to blinker us to the damage we have already done to our precious planet including everything on it and in it? Much as we may think we just want things to get ‘back to normal’, perhaps in the long-term we may find that it’s no bad thing that life has necessarily changed so much over this past year… 

Who knows how things will go for any of us post-Covid… I guess only time will tell…

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

April A-Z: Y is for Yearning

It feels like what I yearn for most right now is the impossible… I want things to feel the way they did before the pandemic. I want to be able to feel easy around other people, not warily filled with ongoing anxiety about keeping my distance at all times and wearing a mask and constantly being careful not to catch or spread the virus…

I just want to go back to being able to meet up with and hug and hold close my friends and family without these oh-so-necessary limitations and restrictions. I want to feel OK to have people over to visit indoors and likewise be able to visit others myself, all of us comfortably and un-self-consciously relaxing and sharing and laughing for hours on end without a care in the world…

But what I yearn for most right now feels impossible… We have learned over this past year to live with the underlying fear that friends and family may unwittingly become the Trojan Horse that attacks our household from within if we get too close, and when it comes to people and possessions ‘Don’t Touch!’ has become our miserable motto, alienating us all so unnaturally from those we love most…

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…  

April A-Z: X is for Excess Deaths

From the beginning of this global pandemic there has been great confusion over how best to record Covid deaths. Countries across the world initially seemed keen to play it all down, showing how well they were managing the virus when compared to their neighbours, massaging statistics to sanitise and minimise numbers. Weaknesses and flaws in national healthcare and social care and welfare systems had to be hidden at all costs – usually paid for in human lives.

Official numbers may variously only include people who died in hospital or only those who tested positive regardless of where they died, effectively negating everyone who died untested, undiagnosed, untreated, unrecognised as victims of the virus. Or people with underlying illnesses who have contracted Covid and died either at home or in hospital may officially have that underlying illness named as cause of death on their death certificate, hiding that coronavirus has been involved in their demise.

But in the long-term, I wonder how will history view retrospectively these dubious, creatively cautious, collateral-damage global death-tolls? Will it simply cut through the politics of denial and pretence portrayed in official national numbers and look instead at the one set of figures that matters most in every country regardless of how they may choose to play down the devastating effects of Covid on their population – namely excess deaths above and beyond the norm as averaged out over previous years?

In my mind looking at excess deaths is probably the most reliable way of working out how Covid has affected any particular population. How many more people than usual have died in this period? Because surely that gives the most realistic view of how many lives have been lost as a result of this Covid pandemic, and not just due to complications of infection, questionable or otherwise. But also including people who have died of unrelated heart problems or cancers or other terminal diseases who have not been able to access healthcare in a timely manner due to the virus taking precedence over resources. Surely a death is a death, and each one has to count for something towards the final reckoning?

The world has undoubtedly suffered great losses over this past year, and these losses continue globally, however much we may wish to welcome a return to free movement and economic stability sooner rather than later. Restrictions cannot stay in place forever, but neither can we deny reality. Getting the see-saw balance right between prioritising potential health over wealth during periods of lock-down, then prioritising wealth over health when the economy reopens again isn’t ever easy, and both have come at a collective cost we have no real option but to continue paying for a long time yet…

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

April A-Z: W is for Working from Home

Seems like working from home every day

Has become the new post-Covid way

But it comes at a cost

Work/ life balance is lost

Will it be the new norm – who can say?

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…