Living under COVID-19 (5): Holds on happiness

It’s nearly a year since I wrote a COVID-19 post. I nearly wrote one a few months ago when things were going COVID-normal smoothly, by which I mean our lives were minimally restricted, with daily life being as free as we could hope given the world-wide situation. We (I mean we Ken Behrens) were visiting friends and family around Australia. We were dining out, going to the movies and theatre, playing sport, visiting museums and galleries, and so on. Gradually, even generous distancing rules had been removed. Certainly, we were not wearing masks. (We were, though, still sanitising and checking-in.) I wondered what I could say, given life in most other parts of the world was still comparatively more restricted. Life was generally pleasant.

But then, Delta made its way here and we were not prepared because we – for, mostly, political reasons – were too far behind in the “race” to vaccinate, and it left us exposed. Now, our two largest states, and my little Capital Territory, are locked down. It is the right thing, I believe, to prioritise health and life, equitably, while we get our vaccination levels up – but it’s not easy. It is in this environment that I remembered the inimitable Jane Austen’s suggestion that

It is well to have as many holds on happiness as possible. (Henry Tilney to Catherine Moreland, Northanger Abbey)

I thought to share some of my holds on happiness …

Only connect (EM Forster)

For most of us, the best “hold” is connecting with family and friends. Those who, like me, live with supportive others are lucky to at least have built-in company, but even we need some variety. It’s been said ad infinitum, but how lucky are we, compared to those who suffered through the Spanish Flu or the plague pandemics, in being able to remain in quality contact with others through WhatsApp, Telegram, FaceTime, Zoom, and so on.

For me, WhatsApp chats replacing a regular lunch with friends, FaceTime sessions with our son, his partner and our grandson, Zoom catch-ups and meetings, and emails, blogging, and common old phone calls with our daughter and others, are keeping me sane and connected. They can also provide some joy. Have you ever tried playing hide-and-seek via FaceTime with a three-year-old? It can be done!

Other connections come from regular visits to our local PO to get the mail. We love our local post office workers. And to cafes for takeaway coffee and food. We love our favourite cafe owners too!

‘Twill do me good to walk (Shakespeare)

If connecting with people is important, equally so is exercise. It distracts the mind, keep us fit and tires the body (which is a useful thing in a constrained life!) Fortunately, we are allowed to exercise outside, and for most of us that’s walking. In some jurisdictions some sports are also allowed, but Mr Gums and I don’t do organised sports.

So, for us, exercise comprises walking in the nature park across the road, gardening, joining our zoomed Tai Chi classes – and, for me, doing yoga via my Yoga With Adrienne app. (You can also find her on YouTube if you are interested. She is delightful, and a good if imperfect substitute for my own wonderful teacher/neighbour.)

The thing about these activities is that, besides being good for our minds and bodies, they provide structure to our days. Structure, we learnt pretty quickly, is important to getting through endless days that look the same. Each morning, we say, “what are we doing today?” and make a plan of action (or inaction, as it sometimes is.)

Indulge your imagination (Jane Austen)

Exercise might distract the mind, but the mind and spirit also need feeding, and again, technology is helping us out. Of course, there are books, and they are my mainstay, as they are for many others. But, most of us need more – whether this be movie outings with others, live music gigs and concerts, theatre, festivals of all persuasions – and it is these that have been so affected by COVID-19. However, it is also in these that technology has been best able to help (albeit not ideal).

It is also plague season again in London and the playhouses are shut. (Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet)

I don’t need to tell you about streamed movies. It seems that every time I turn around there’s a new service. I have no idea where to start with all that so, although we are a technologically-focused pair, we haven’t chosen one yet. There’s enough available on free-to-air so far to entertain and inform us, because if there’s one thing we’ve been doing, it’s been keeping informed.

I have written in previous Living with COVID-19 posts about online writers’ events. I haven’t attended many recently, but I did join the ACT Writers Centre F*ck Covid afternoon (and have written about that.) The participants included established and emerging writers, and they were so generously open and articulate about their work and practice.

We have also attended webinars (including one with Jenny Hocking about the Palace Letters, which is well worth listening to) and online and streamed concerts from Musica Viva and the ABC. This short video link featuring recorder player Genevieve Lacey and harpist Marshall Maguire will give you a taste of one concert we “attended”.

We have passed up so many other opportunities. If there’s one thing about this lockdown, it’s that the arts world has done its best to stay alive and to reach out to us in whatever way they can. I can’t wait to give back by attending their shows and applauding their efforts – in person! I just hope they can all survive until then.

Meanwhile, wherever you are, how are you surviving? How is life looking in your place?

92 thoughts on “Living under COVID-19 (5): Holds on happiness

  1. Thank you for the glimpse into your world, Sue.
    I consider myself to be lucky to have worked through lockdown. The nature of my work means I’ve been busier than ever, and think the joke about ‘we’re not working from home, we’re living at work’ is funny because it is true.
    It’s the small things that bring joy for me. We play a nightly round of Uno after tea and after a hard day at work, the ten minutes of fun with my family is the highlight of my day. Otherwise reading, walking, baking biscuits and crochet. The baking and crocheting are similar in that I find the repetitive movement relaxing and at the end I have something physical to show for my labours (possibly making something with playdough would provide the same effect).

    • Thanks Rose. My Melbourne-based daughter’s work has been busier than ever too. l’ll tell her that “living at work” idea.

      I love the idea of after-dinner Uno with the family. What a lovely tradition.

      It sounds like you have all worked out a routine that works for you. You Melbournians have really had it tough, haven’t you.

      • It has been a long 18 months for Melbournians… but we’ve been really lucky in other ways. I’m grateful we’ve got such a good healthcare system and not to get political, but I’m also grateful that Dan Andrews has put health ahead of the economy.
        I won tonight’s Uno comp too, so that was also a win!
        You must be longing to see your daughter. I also have one interstate so am hoping to see her soon.

  2. Good to hear you are managing the lockdown. Hard to be surrounded by the plague state.

    I think this was me last year but now I am suffering from a severe case of lockdown fatigue. (Literally. I wake up every morning already exhausted.) As a Victorian outside Melbourne I haven’t had it quite as bad but in some ways it is almost harder yo-yoing in and out of lockdown as we have than being in one long consistent one.

    Last year I did a lot of virtual runs, joined virtual choirs and did a lot of craft. This year has been a lot of tv. 🙄😁 I am very lucky to have been able to work on-site which gets me out of the house and away from all the testosterone for a while.

    Can’t wait for the vaccination levels to set us free.

    • thanks for sharing MoSY. I can imagine that all Victorians are worn out because you’ve lived with such uncertainty. Hang in there. Surely things will be better soon.

      Great that you’ve been able to work away from home at least!

  3. Good on you for putting your lockdown experience in a posting for future generations. The nature park stroll is the perfect cover shot.

  4. I love this Sue (& not just for the fact that I spent my afternoon writing up my latest Covid Chronicles post for Mon or Tues night, depending on when I have time/energy to sit down for the final edit). I love how you used favourite literary quotes to describe your lockdown activities.

    I’ve still be working out of home the whole time, but have found more time for walking with Mr Books in particular, on my days off. He has embraced the cooking side of things this lockdown. It’s so lovely to come home from work, exhausted, to find him busy in the kitchen and dinner almost ready.

    I spent ages feeling guilty for living in the state and the city that reintroduced covid and delta back into the community this time around, but then realised eventually, that it was bound to happen at some point, some where, all the while vaccinations rates were so low and so slow. It could be said the only good thing about this lockdown has been the dramatic increase in vaccination uptake as a result. B21’s friends may not have bothered to get vaxxed, except for the promise that at 70% we will get certain freedoms…and the ready availability of A-Z for anyone prepared to take it after the media beat-up.

    • You can’t feel guilty Brona for the actions of individuals who have nothing to do with you. It was going to happen. We in Canberra knew we were living on borrowed time.

      It’s a worry that it seems to take experiencing lockdowns to make people take vaccinations seriously. (I’m not talking B21 here so much, as they are young.) Can’t WA and Qld see what’s happening? They *may* keep it out, but it’s unlikely, and they just can’t live closed off from the rest of Australia and the world forever. It’s interesting that Tasmania, which is probably the safest of us all, is doing well in the vaccination stakes. What gives?

      Anyhow, I look forward to reading your post. Glad you liked my literary quotes – and glad you have a Mr Books cooking for you.

      • I know what you mean about the other states Sue. Like them, up until a few months ago, we also went about life in a ‘COVID-normal’ way with few restrictions, thinking we were through the worst of it. We now know how quickly things can change.

        Watching the AFL grandfinal last night, with so many maskless people, so close together, made me feel very nervous (and a little envious).

        I hadn’t checked stats for a while either, but your comment about TAS made me look into it. Wow – they’ve hit 56% fully vaxxed. And NT is also going well at 51%. But WA & QLD at only 44 is a worry, although perhaps they have supply issues with so many doses going to NSW, ACT & VIC right now?

        I am a little nervous about opening up again in mid-Oct, but I think a big part of that is the introvert in me has had time to come to the fore again during lockdown. Putting her back in box so I can cope with the modern, fast, busy world again, is going to be hard work!

        • Being at home a lot, Brona, I check all these stats a lot – and ponder their meaning! I don’t think supply will account for that level of difference. Otherwise, how do you explain Tasmania. All those states will have received equivalent per capita amounts I think. The problem is WA is so far away, they feel safe, and Queensland’s Jeanette Young was so negative about AZ that there is probably a much larger hesitancy overall.

          Re opening up, I hear you. I don’t know about NSW, but I know that our opening up will be staged – 1 person per 4 sq metres, for a start, etc etc, as we did last year. If our ACT Government follows that, as they are saying they will, we’ll be comfortable, particularly as this time there will likely also be the masks we didn’t have before.

          I’m a borderline extrovert/introvert – most “psychological” tests I do have me hovering around the middle rather than being strongly anything. A wishy-washy person as I always tell people. So, part of me, like last time, is enjoying not being driven by multiple activities and commitments, but I do want to be able to be out and about again.

  5. Love the pics, Sue! I think those of us who do lockdowns alone and without family have to be resourceful in other ways. I was OK last year but fatigue has definitely set in this time, particularly with the lovely Spring weather and frustration at everything being shut again due to people coming from the city (who shouldn’t have) and poor housing for our nearby Indigenous population (for whom a fleet of caravans has now been provided as quarantine homes!) Don’t get me started…

    Music lessons via Zoom stopped when my PC hard rive crashed and I couldn’t replace it. I am thankful for the YouTube videos of Justin Johnson in the USA for his wonderful blues guitar playing (I love, love, love Blues!) and Josh Lane in Canada for his harp lessons and glorious playing (yep free plugs for two terrific musicians here!) Am I allowed to do that? Josh is masterful.

    Otherwise it’s lots of walking with the dog, distance chats with others outdoors through face masks, and some challenging YouTube talks from channels like Intelligence Squared.

    Got my second AZ jab a week ago, which is a huge relief! Was chatting with a friend in Sydney and she told me the major teaching hospital she works at is desperately short of nurses as so many have gone to work at the vaccination centres, where they get higher pay and better hours!

    But yes, I do miss my library/conservatorium of music/hairdresser/dog groomer/favourite cafe! Which is a very privileged position to be in actually. I am thankful! I could be in Afghantistan, or on a visa unable to return to Biloela.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience Sue. You know, I hope that future researchers searching the web for anecdotal experiences will find blogs like mine and read all the comments. I love your heart and care for others – a true nurse – and your reference to Afghanistan and the Biloela family is spot on.

      Of course you can share your favourite musicians that you are using on YouTube. I love the blues too.

      PS I think I’ve fixed the typos. There weren’t many, but let me know if I’ve missed any. I’ve deleted your “please fix” comment!

      • Thanks Sue! I’m so thankful I’m not a nurse having to work a shift in full PPE! I chat with a nurse in Texas who was utterly exhausted last year, on top of the awfulness of watching people die alone en masse.

        You might enjoy Josh Lane’s harp performances, his Harp in the Wild series has him playing harp in some lovely Canadian scenery!

        • Oh yes. I can’t believe what they have to do in terms of PPE. I wish those protesters etc would just stop and see what these people are doing to care for the sick and to try to keep them alive.

          I’ll search on Josh Lane later. I do love the harp.

        • Josh Lane does a bit of Bach on harp Sue – you might enjoy Bach’s toccata in D minor (lever harp). His Harp Tuesdays are mostly for students, but you should get links to performances he has done in Europe as well – he’s superb. I’ve been playing for 15 years now, nothing like Josh, I wish! There are a couple of Russian harpists who are astonishing too. Enjoy! Harp is a wonderful instrument!

        • Is this Josh Layne? I did find him and listened to a little bit, but will listen to more. Until this year I’d never really noticed male harpists. Earlier this year we went to a house concert with Alice Giles. She brought her period harp along as well as her modern one, and explained the differences, down to the different footwear she needed to wear. It was fascinating. How lovely that you’ve been playing for 15 years! You must be expert.

  6. Great post! I especially appreciate your reflections on the effects of covid on the arts sector. My husband is a performing musician who also runs a recording studio and despite some creative ways to keep things going, really as you point out, it’s the sector most affected along with tourism and hospitality. And yet as you also v say, it’s the creative and arts folk who have provided ways to keep us as all entertained and engrossed during lockdowns.

    • Thanks Denise. I so feel for those industries you name. We support as many of our favourite cafes/restaurants as we can (and of course, it’s nice to have a break from preparing three meals a day, seven days a week!) We try to support the arts too in ways that we can. I really hope your husband is managing to keep himself going – financially and in spirit.

  7. Things are getting better here, thanks to vaccination and “sanitary pass” (I don’t know the English for it)
    France has made the choice of living with the virus, keeping the schools open as much as possible, with masks and classes organization. For example, at my son’s high-school, you only encounter students who are at the same class level as yours, to avoid useless contacts and risks to spread the virus. Meaning that the Terminales (Seniors) are on the third floor of the building and don’t have classes on the second floor where the Juniors are.

    Let’s hope there will not be a very contagious ans vaccine resistant variant of the virus…

    I’m not sure that Australia’s choice to have 0 covid cases is sustainavble. It was a good decision in 2020 but now that we have vaccination and that we know this virus will be there for a long time, we need to find a way to have normal lives in spite of it and mitigate its impact.

    • Thanks very much Emma. Australia is now moving away from covid-zero. At least, most of us in the eastern states (NSW, Vic and the ACT) are. It was possible last year but we are realising that with Delta, it’s not now, and that living with the virus is what we need to do. The sensible leaders are seeing that. However, we need to get our vaccination levels up, and watch what’s happening overseas to see what restrictions we need, when we reach certain vaccination levels. I am not sorry about how we’ve gone because our death rate is so low, but it is requiring a shift in mentality now.

      Thanks for sharing some of the restrictions you are working to, to try to keep people safe. That’s really interesting. It’s sad isn’t it. Anyhow, these are the decisions we are having to think about now. Do you still wear masks?

      • Yes we still wear masks. Mandatory in school for pupils over 6 years old until university. And mandatory in shops, cafés, museums, cinemas, at work. In all closed spaces, actually.
        Nobody fights against that rule, it’s really well accepted.

  8. Here in the UK things are back almost to normal though its a new normal where many people are still reluctant to go back into the office or use public transport. But case numbers continue to rise because even now there are people who refuse the vaccination.

    Lockdown for me wasn’t too difficult but we are very fortunate in having plenty of places nearby to walk and a large garden project to complete. Plus as you say taking advantage of technology. But I can’t imagine how it feels to be in a country where there are repeated lockdowns and no end in sight. As far as I understand the Aus govt were slow to get vaccines ordered but are also struggling with low levels of take up.

    Interesting that you are doing Tai Chi via Zoom. I used to go to classes and really enjoyed them but I tried doing some via DVD and found it too difficult to follow

    • Thanks Karen. That’s interesting to hear about some people’s fear re returning to work or public transport. There was a similar reaction here earlier in the year when theatres for example returned to no distancing restrictions. What? Some stranger is sitting right next to me? Wah! It was weird.

      Re our lockdowns, I think there is an end in sight but exactly when that end is is still a little uncertain. It will start happening in October and November though. What restrictions will we still need? Masks (when/where). Social distancing (now much? in what situations?) Re vaccination, though, I would not say there’s low level of take-up at all. Our main problem was supply, as you clearly know. We have struggled to get enough, particularly given the AstraZeneca debacle which we did have enough of. There is still some lower take-up in the less affected states, but I think they will eventually see the light. In the main affected states, however, we are looking like achieving well over 80%. My place, the ACT, now has 85% of first dose for 12yo and above with more young people to come as they’ve only been eligible for a week. If people have first dose, the expectation is they’ll go on to have their second, so no, the issue is not take-up. I’d love to know where you are hearing that. Is it the protests about mandated vaccinations? They are a very small minority. Or is it the states that have covid-zero and are slow? I think they’ll take-up as they see the light.

      Re zoom and DVD Tai Chi, yes, you are right, it can be really difficult. But, I think we’re getting it. The teachers – our usual live teachers – are lovely.

      • I heard it via a friend whose son/daughter in law live not far from Bantry Bay. But to be fair that was from a couple of months ago so could be out dated. NZ is still struggling to get their figures up I think?

        Yep I’m with you re the theatre – not quite ready for that either.

        • Thanks Karen. I think there’s never been the level of hesitancy here that some places have had, but before this current wave the anxiety about AstraZeneca, caused largely by government messaging, resulted in many people wanting to wait for Pfizer. So, they were hesitant about a particular vaccine but not about vaccination. The wave we are currently in resulted in many , um new government messaging, reassessing the risks and benefits. I haven’t looked at NZ’s vaccination for a while, so I’m not sure where they are at or what’s driving their situation.

          Re theatres. Actually, I’ll be ready as soon as they open – with my mask. They did a great social distancing job last year. At least, the movie theatres did. Live theatre, not so much it seemed to me. I couldn’t understand their distancing regime at all.

  9. Good to hear you are coping ok with Lockdown. I think my mum is (coping) in Melbourne where she is able to nominate just one visitor (a woman in a neighbouring unit). It will be touch and go if her 90th can go ahead next Easter. Maybe only Victorians will be able to attend.

    I am living the Covid zero life over here in WA now I have given up driving interstate. I avoid the truckstops that interstate drivers use – a mate got caught out by an infected interstate drive and had to quarantine for 14 days.

    When Delta does arrive here it will spread like wildfire, no one is taking any precautions at all. I hope there is more urgency vaccinating remote WA Aboriginal communities than there was in NSW, but I don’t read the local paper so I can’t say.

    • Thanks Bill. It’s not fun, but it could be far worse, and I recognise that we are only a few weeks in, not months like Sydney, or months and months and months overall like Victoria.

      I’m glad your Mum is ok. It’s hard for people at the pointy end of their lives having their social contacts so limited for so long, I’m sure.

      Let’s hope Delta doesn’t get to WA though it’s hard to imagine it won’t isn’t it. Like you, I hope they have learnt NSW’s lesson and are actively vaccinating remote communities.

  10. Have to say that I managed through last year and most of this year’s lockdowns but no.6 is taking its toll – I’m tired and want to see family and friends, want to go out to eat, want to swim, want to go to the theatre and hear bands, want to walk with my friends without a mask… I know it’s the home stretch, and I’ll keep all the structures in place that have got me this far, but I am tired.

    • Thanks Kate. With family in Melbourne, I understand completely. We are so hoping we will get there for Christmas, which will be my first without any of my parents or older relations. Fingers crossed that this home stretch will be a short one!

  11. A really lovely post, ST ! – thanks from the heart. XO
    I’m equally amazed by the plethora of streaming services; and, having tried two, have cancelled out of Binge and settled, very happily, for the other – BRITBOX ! Yaaaaay ! Now I can turn to either that or the ABC’s iView on my laptop, and be entertained.
    Being an isolated old curmudgeon at the best of times, I find that C-19 has made little difference to my life; but I have been truly fortunate in my next-door and across-the-hall neighbours, as well as the building’s caretaker and his wife: as I wrote to one lot, “it’s so strange to find myself old enough to have lovely people like you looking after me: seems like last week when I’d stand up on the bus for old ladies !”
    My greatest challenge is to manage my specs, my mask elastic and my hearing-aids at the one time without losing my temper ..

  12. Thanks for your thoughtful and compassionate post. We’re very used to lockdowns in Victoria! It’s heartening the way my local arts community has kept going and people have supported one another, despite most events (including my own book launch) having to be cancelled or postponed until next year. We’ve become closer and more caring.

    I’ve been reading plague literature, and find it helps to give a different perspective. Perhaps some of your other readers have been too? The Plague, by Camus, Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice – this last not so much a plague novel, or novella, but one whose mood is governed by a cholera outbreak. (This is just my opinion of course.) I’m disheartened by the cruelty and callousness of some of the characters in these books, but there are sparks of light. I think I’ll try Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year next.

    • Lovely to hear from you Dorothy, but sorry to hear about your delayed book launch.

      The plague is one of my all time favourite books, and one of the few books I’ve read a few tmes. I also liked Geraldine Brooks’ book, but I haven’t read the other two, though you’ve reminded me that I thought last year about reading Defoe’s. I guess the point of these novels is the gamut of human behaviour and emotions isn’t it? I love Camus’pont, to paraphrase, that we are all sick of the plague but we mustn’t join forces with the pestilences.

  13. LOL Sue, I’m copying and pasting something I just recently put on Facebook:

    “Round about this time last year I made a desultory effort to keep a diary to practise my French. It only lasted a little over a month, but it’s interesting reading now, not because there’s anything exciting in it, but because there’s not. I was just getting on with it, doing my French classes by Skype, Latin by correspondence, a bit of cooking, a bit of gardening, lots of reading and writing, a bit of TV, supporting local eateries with takeaway dinners. Then the big excitement of click-and-collect opening at the library and even better, having a picnic with friends. Then worry about cases rising to 14 and fury with the #StKildaTraitors risking an outbreak. (How little I knew, eh?)
    Off it goes to the shredder!”

    So what has changed? Only that (1) classes were by Zoom until I broke my wrist and all my unavoidable medical appointments were always on the same day; (2) I watch the demonstrators on TV and wonder at the strangeness of living in a city where people like that exist and I never knew it till now.

  14. Lovely post, Sue! I love Yoga with Adriene but recently made a (rather lopsided, if you ask me) deal with my husband that if he gave up energy drinks I would go running 3 times a week. I have definitely been reading more recently and trying to be a bit more experimental with cooking, but it is a bit hard to distinguish the days from each other! I recognise that cafe, they are just lovely there! This lockdown has made me realise how lucky we have been the past year, but also how unprepared Australia was for Delta and the challenges of managing different approaches across borders. I hope you’re keeping well and I’m glad we were able to catch up at the NLA!

    • Lovely to hear from you Angharad. I reckon that’s a lopsided deal but whatever it takes eh… Haha.

      The days do blur don’t they. That cafe is great. We are very fond of them. And they have worked so hard and flexibly during our lockdowns.

      Care to share any cooking successes? Love to hear new ideas.

      And oh yes, re our catchup!

  15. What a wonderful post, WG! Love those quotes. We’re in the deep of a 4th wave here in Alberta, the worst province in terms of Covid cases in all of Canada! For me, nature walk is the best medicine (well, other than the vaccine). Surely, books and films, but even those I find short of supply, good ones I mean. So, I’m striving to come out of an ‘inspiration block’. Covid doesn’t help… not going anyway, let alone TIFF, cause I’m not even going to our own CIFF. Haven’t seen a movie at a theatre for over a year and a half! Several good ones I’d like to watch that are showing at FF, but not comfortable going to crowded places yet. So, yes, nature is a source of relief for me, esp. now as we step into Autumn. You’ll see what kind of natural environs my home is situated on my current post. 🙂

    • Oh dear, I didn’t know that about Alberta, Arti. That’s a worry. It’s interesting how this pandemic stress is affecting how we spend our time. I really hope you get to the “real” movies soon.

      Our little CIFF has been postponed.

      Autumn is my favourite season… Except that winter follows it.

    • I keep up with what’s happening in Alberta through Joe at Rough Ghosts… and apparently in the light of catastrophic case numbers after easing restrictions, Jason Kenney has suddenly reversed his opposition to restrictions!
      The only good thing one can say about that is that it offers an opportunity for other administrations to learn from it…

      • This is the problem, and I think for many countries too, and that’s the handing of the pandemic has been politicized. On top of it are the conspiracy theories that some still hold onto, despite all the tragic cases. I’m beginning to think we’re not going to end Covid but have to find a way to live with it. As for Jason Kenny, I’m afraid the measures that he has proposed are too little too late. And I think he will reap the consequence of his lack of leadership come next provincial election.
        On another note, I’m impressed that you’re keeping up with what’s happening in Alberta, a place so far away from you, Lisa! 🙂

  16. Pingback: The Covid Chronicles #13 – Brona (This Reading Life)

  17. On the one hand, the pandemic has made me confused about other people. I shouldn’t be confused because it’s more like the situation has given people the idea that they should express their every thought, and it turns out, at least in the U.S., that many people have terrible thoughts about other human beings.

    On the other hand, the pandemic has utterly changed my life for the better. Prior to, I didn’t talk much with my mom because I didn’t always feel emotionally safe around her. She could be controlling and nosy. Somewhere in the early days (March 2020) I decided I needed my mom and we reconnected. We started our book club and talk more often than ever before. I’ve learned that I cannot control other people so that I feel safe, a lesson which I realized is also how my mom felt and thus my own feelings of fear around her. We’ve also gotten to a place where it’s okay to criticize people in our lives without being mean. If someone does something rude or thoughtless, it’s okay to talk about it now. There’s lots of stuff like that that has changed in my life.

    • Fascinating insights Melanie. Have you read Camus’ The plague? It includes the whole gamut of human behaviour, but one of the main characters comes to the conclusion that there is more to admire in people than not. I think he’s right. The thing is that the most parts make the most noise.

    • Oops I sent that by mistake, Melanie, before finishing my response. That’s lovely about you and your mum. I love that you decided (realised) that you needed your mum. It’s interesting how much your feelings can change when you understand another person and see their flaws and insecurities, as just that, rather than as something more intentional or malign..I think reading can help us see and understand those. Anyhow, it is so wonderful that you have reconnected with your mother sooner rather than later. Situations like the pandemic can have benefits, hopefully ones that in the long run outdo the losses or negatives.

  18. It sounds like we have more or less had the opposite schedule to you and are now returning to normal. Even if restrictions were lifted a while ago in the UK, it’s only during the last couple of weeks, where it feels like it used to and it almost felt strange having to queue to buy lunch or no longer getting a seat on the tube.

    Of course, we now have a bit of an energy / fuel crisis, which means some people have to go back to working from home, because they can’t get fuel for their cars…

    I think, when you wrote one of your first Covid posts, I said how adaptable we humans are. That still holds and already lockdown and isolation feels like light-years ago. I heard some of the “experts” talking about a potential 4th wave, but let’s not worry about that right now…

    • Swings and roundabouts, eh, Stargazer? Love of it is due to the Delta variant, and some I think might be due to seasons. We are just coming out of winter, so hope that with summer and good vaccination levels we’ll be right for a while (let’s hope for a long time!)

      Your comment reminded me of one of the negatives re the lifting of our restrictions last year -the increase in traffic on the roads, the parking challenges, the crowded movie foyers! Right now, in lockdown, we are facing queues that are new to us – at the takeaway coffee windows. then the weather is nice, it’s pleasant but otherwise… we can make coffee at home, but often have to go to our PO Box and so treat ourselves to coffee at the same time.

      You are right, we are adaptable. Which is just as well, eh?! Let’s hope there’s no fourth wave.

  19. Hi Sue, you are coping better than me with lock down. I am in Melbourne, my volunteer work has stopped and I miss the people I worked with and helped. I do think we have to learn to live with it. I did not understand from the beginning the thinking that there could be zero cases. I think power has gone to too many heads. Other than that I do worry about the kids who are not at school. I have friends who are worried about their grandchildren who have missed out on socializing with other children, and their education. I have a good routine of running in the morning with my dog and doing many walks during the day. I have read more, and thank heavens the library is still operating and I can collect. I am also working in the garden and have so many ideas but can’t visit a nursery. Hopefully, I will be able to get to Tasmania in December to see my daughter and her family.

    • I possibly am coping better Meg, because this is our first this year and it’s shorter than yours. You have all done it tough, and I’m impressed.

      I’m not sure I agree with you about the power though. I like that our governments prioritised human life (albeit I appreciate all the mental health implications) over the economy. We did manage covid zero for a long time. l have been impressed that your Andrews and our Barr realised that zero is not possible with Delta and are repositioning their policies. I do appreciate that lockdowns are really tough. I so miss seeing my family in Melbourne, and feel so sad for them, but I’m also acutely aware of just how challenging all this is for the hospitals. I don’t want to see here what we saw in places like the US and Italy re completely overloaded hospitals, and I am so grateful that we haven’t had 60,000+ deaths (our equivalent of what happened in the USA). Can you imagine that? I really can’t. However, I agree that we have to learn to live with it, and now, finally, with vaccination levels getting to decent levels, we can. I hope Tasmania (and the other free states) will open up. It’s great to see that they, unlike WA and SA, are doing well with vaccinations, isn’t it? Fingers crossed for Christmas with families, eh?

  20. I did so enjoy your post, and then there were all the fascinating responses. Because here in rural Victoria people are permitted to move about outdoors, I make a daily circumnavigation of the beautiful local Botanic Gardens where I have taken to documenting the ducks on the lake. However during 2020 (remember that?) I sort of accidentally fell into exploring my own history while exploring my bookshelves, and ended up documenting all that. The result is a memoir to be published in 2022, title: TELLTALE.

  21. Struggling, Sue. This is the second year I’ve had to cancel plans to return ‘home’ to Tasmania, and I’ll be missing my 50 year high school reunion in November as well. We are hoping to be able to travel to Adaminaby by the end of next month: our yard will need attention and I am missing the community. I cope better when I spend less time on line. I am reading (less) and walking for 1.5 to 2 hrs each day (when it doesn’t rain). I am working on my second quilt since lockdown started, and it should be finished before the middle of October.

    And yes, I know how much more fortunate we have been in the ACT. I think the thing I miss the most is not being able to visit the Library.

    I am in awe of my neighbours: both managing home schooling with primary school children and working. I talk to two of my siblings on the ‘phone each week and my son, and I make plans with other friends for walking together when it is safe.

    And now I feel guilty for whining.

    • Oh don’t feel guilty about whining Jennifer. This post is the perfect place to have a little vent, so I’m glad you did. As vents go, it was pretty gentle! I’m really sorry about your not being able to get to Tasmania still. I think Tasmanians themselves are having a good time, comparatively, as they still have their whole state to explore, but it doesn’t help those who have family elsewhere or families who are elsewhere does it?

      As for 50th high school reunion. Mine was to be June 2020, and was rescheduled to November 2021 (Sydney). You can guess what’s happened!

      But, we have been luckier than you and we did manage two trips to Melbourne this year, between their lockdowns to see our family. That has ended up having to be more sustaining than I expected.

      I hope you can get to Adaminaby soon. Lovely neck of the woods. And good on you with your quilt. I have a couple of tops to finish, that my Mum made but I’m not sure I’m up to it any more really. I don’t seem to have the patience to do it.

        • I used to do patchwork in front of TV at night, but now I do blogging, reading emails … Anyhow, it’s good to do somethings queitly. I dont know about you, but I walk quietly, though of course during lockdown I’m mostly walking with MrGums so I wouldn’t listen to podcasts etc then even if I wanted to!

        • I walk quietly as well :-). On my own, and paying attention to my surroundings. When I walk around Adaminaby (along the Yaouk Road) I used to listen to music but I find it too distracting. There’s a quiet beauty along rural roads (mostly).

  22. Sorry to hear you are in lockdown, but glad to hear you are doing well in spite of it all. Here in Minnesota we are mostly business as usual with precautions. All classes at the university where I work are in-person but everyone is required to be vaccinated and wear a mask indoors. Most places of business require masks while visiting, some places have capacity limits to allow distancing, some events that might normally be held indoors have been moved outdoors, and the upcoming Twin Cities Book Festival is going to be a hybrid online/in-person event. COVID cases are high but it’s mainly the unvaccinated. Nonetheless, I avoid crowds indoors and out and wear my mask whenever I am outside the house and around other people even though I am vaccinated. So things are interesting to say the least!

    • Thanks Stefanie. I think what you are describing is how we will be within a couple of months – masks indoors, some capacity limits, some hybrid online/in-person events. It will be interesting to see how we all react … it will depend I guess on how the cases go. Do you have a high percentage of unvaccinated there?

      One of our issues will be travle, because some states are, or are essentailly, covid free and are not showing a willingness to open up to those who aren’t. Fortunately our kids are not in those states (hmmm… fortunately is a strange word to use here) so we hope we will be able to visit them by Christmas.

      • We are 58% fully vaccinated in MN and just over 63% if you include people who have only had one dose. The cities have a higher percentage of vaccinated people than do the rural areas, especially the more conservative parts of the state. But, with Biden mandating companies with more than 100 employees require they be vaccinated, I expect the percentage to keep creeping up.

        I hope you get to visit your kids for Christmas and that you all stay safe and healthy!

        • That’s interesting Stefanie. We started later than you but us and our two most populous stakes expect to be 70% fully vaccinated by mid-0ctober. My territory (urban only, really) and NSW (a huge state) are now over 80% first doses. We expect to be 8090 double dosed in November. A couple of states are behind that. Some of the more covid-free ones. Those residents aren’t seeing the urgency, but they probably will!

          We are watching the mandating process in New York. Mandating is an issue here but nowhere near to the level in the USA it seems.

          The sociologists etc are going to have a field day with all this for years and decades to come, I’d say!

  23. What a wonderful little discussion you’ve got going here, a reminder that even those bookish folks who are introverted (or, on the line heheh) are happy to chat in bookish company. I’m popping in because at some point I saw that you’d asked in a comment about how the vaccination rates were here in Toronto/Ontario and I’ve not been able to get back to that comment for some reason. (WordPress has been finicky and I made some changes because Bill mentioned his subscription had been disrupted and I was no longer receiving updates about replies to comments I had left elsewhere…and then it got more finicky. LOL) So, the rate in TO for age 12+ is 80% with one dose and 85% with both doses (including children both numbers are in the 70s) but still not enough to reach herd immunity (which apparently, mathematically, isn’t possible without the kids being eligible). There have been issues in the past two weeks with anti-maskers protesting at hospitals and disrupting healthcare which are disturbing but certainly don’t represent the opinion of the majority. We’re still masking up and taking all the same precautions and although this year has been harder than the last we’ve been very lucky overall. Take care and keep on keeping on. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Buried. I hope those tweaks will make things better for all of us using your blog!

      This elusive herd immunity! But I think the evidence is that 80% of 16+ yo doesn’t represent enough of the herd! Particularly given children transmit the Delta virus? Your numbers sound great. We have had supply issues with Pfizer and hesitancy issues with AstraZeneca but we will get to these numbers within the next two months. We’ve not had it as tough as you but we are certainly masking up at the moment and will be for a while I think.

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