Saturday 18 April 2020

"What did you do during the Great Pandemic?"

Hello from our tiny corner of the international quarantine to yours. I am trying to image what my readers are doing and what their little corners look like.

My parents have a big house and two small gardens, but the temperature keeps them in the one and out of the other. I imagine its the same for my paterfamilias brother, who is probably doing all his karate exercises and beating the stuffing out of his heavy bag in the cellar. My other siblings who, like us, live in small apartments, go for runs. They're all working from home. I'm working from home. Five out of five siblings are still employed, thank heavens.

What will you say when your grandchildren or great-nephews and -nieces ask "What did you do during the Great Pandemic?"

I will say, "Well, I was in Britain, and everyone was very concerned about food all at once. So first I collected as many tins as seemed fair, and then I started growing vegetables. I had never been interesting in gardening before, but after 10 years in a gardening-mad nation, I gave it a try."

"Would it not have made more sense, Auntie, to have become a virologist and helped to find a cure?"

"That is a very clever thought, and I hope you will study and train for such a useful career."

Anyway, an insightful doctor in Milan said that we should not dream about when this time is over but  truly experience and learn from it, so I shall return from the future and talk about yesterday.

Yesterday I went to work after we returned from Tesco with our sacks of compost, but like St. Martha Konfederacja a viable option and will my majority-American readership care? Which of my assigned stories should I do first? Why should traditionalist Catholics take an interest in St. Faustina?
My beanie babies.
I was distracted by many cares. How to send my homeschooled students their corrected stories, and how to correct their stories without giving them a deep distaste for story-writing? How much stick to give Poland's "Law and Justice" party for kicking the anti-eugenic bill into the long grass or "Parliamentary freezer", as the Poles call it? Is there a party more likely than PiS to pass the bill? Is

Soon I had a raging headache, which was worrisome as that is a symptom of the Vile Germ. However, I comforted myself that this felt like a work headache, but made sure B.A. wore his mask when he went to see a priest for confession. Mad props to the local parish priest for hearing confessions, by the way. When all this is over, the faithful will most definitely remember which priests took the risk, and which priests didn't. Anyway, I took two ibuprofen, stopped trying to do everything at once, and my headache cleared.

Our most complicated project ever.
After a productive day (three articles and an update on the Polish parliamentary situation), I collected B.A. and rushed outside to finish building the Vegetable Trug. B.A. did most of it; I mostly held pieces of wood still while he screwed them together. Then I screwed the west end of the trough to the frame, and I suddenly remembered being 20 or so, watching my idol of the time building a medieval  hoisting device in the attic of a Victorian-era college building.
B.A. and the trug.

As B.A. tightened the bolts, I rushed off to Tesco to get another bag of compost. I wore my mask for the first time and discovered that breathing through a thick fabric mask is not that simple. There was only a very short queue outside Tesco, and there was still compost, hooray. Today we will get the last of what we need--if there is any left, of course.

Depending on how long the quarantine lasts, or how long the pandemic lasts, really, we are more and more likely to become a generation that doesn't take supplies for granted. I suspect we will demand more from our holidays, which will be fewer but longer, more expensive, and in smaller planes. I sincerely hope there will be a resurgence in local manufacturing, but I've gone on about that before.

It was Easter Friday, so B.A. grilled up two delicious Scottish steaks delivered by the butcher on Monday, and he served them with brussel sprouts. I love brussel sprouts, so I will attempt to grow them for our Christmas supper. This is assuming we'll still be in quarantine at Christmas. If so, we will be glad of our homegrown vegetables, to say nothing of the two big jars of blackcurrant vodka steeping away in the sideboard.

Then I was too lazy to commit to a show, so we read the internet, and I talked to my parents on Skype. They had gone on one of their wild and adventurous drives to post mail and admired the local daffodils.


  1. Well, here's a peek into my corner.

    I've got three kids at home: a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a newborn. We were homeschooling already this year for the eldest, but things are still very different now as we can't go to our homeschool co-op, piano lessons, the library, etc. The children have not been outside our house (except to the backyard) in more than a month now and get a lot more screen time than they used to.

    My husband is the rector of our small Anglican parish (~50 people). Even before Ontario got completely locked down and gatherings of more than 5 people were banned, our Bishops closed all our churches as a safety measure. We are now livestreaming Morning Prayer on Sunday mornings (via facebook) from our living room couch, and all pastoral care has shifted to over the telephone. This also means that in addition to his regular duties, he is now functioning as communications director and tech support. We had just hired a music director who was supposed to start April 1, and then he had to lay her off. At least she can collect unemployment this way.

    We all miss having communion but I try to remind myself that for long periods of history most Anglicans communed about three times a year, so if anything we're just reverting to a historical norm. (I do still miss it though.)

    People have been buying up all the yeast and so I have started making sourdough for our family's bread. Shopping takes twice as long because we never know what the stores will have. I agree with you about not taking supplies for granted; it's still far too early to plant here, but I also hope to put in some veg. And, if I can help it, never be low on / out of toilet paper and other essential supplies again.

    1. Thank you! How interesting it all is. Three children and a husband working from home--what a lively house! I'll pray Ontario warms up soon. After Skype (oh, and B.A.!), the garden is my greatest consolation right now.

    2. And from my little corner:
      Four of us live in the house at the moment
      My husband and myself . We are retired and in normal times do a lot of travelling in our little camper. Hubby has just had an operation and is recovering, slowly.
      My daughter,who is out of work at the moment. She is a nurse but has suffered mental health problems so has come home for a while , which has not been easy. My son, the youngest of nine has separated from his girlfriend, so he is with us unexpectedly. He has a little boy who is heavily autistic, which brings it's own difficulties.
      we have had symptoms of Covid 19 so have been isolating in the house. Hopefully we'll be able to go out at the end of this week, that'll be fourteen days.
      My husband and I pray together everyday and join mass online. It keeps us cheerful and grounded. Jesus is with us through it all. What would we do without Him?

    3. Thank you! It sounds challenging!

  2. I'm working from home, but being self-employed, I have experienced a drop in income. After a few years of deliberating, I have decided to bite the bullet and go back to uni to upskill. Obviously this course will be delivered online.

    I have a roof over my head and no dependants, so I'm fairly lucky. But I'm feeling the walls close in right now.

    I'm taking the opportunity to learn some new skills, like touch-typing with an accurate technique. I can already sew, which has been helpful in mending things and making masks.

    1. I think I would be going bananas if I were totally alone at home. How can you stand it?