I’ve noticed that lots of bloggers and vloggers and Instagrammers are posting their “Isolation Diary” these days. This is ours.

For many people these days of isolation are a shock to their system. Learning to slow down to a stroll when they are used to speeding through their busy lives. But I find that Hubby and I are quite easily falling into a strolling rhythm that is very familiar to me. I realized this morning that the rhythm we have fallen into is my parents’ rhythm. The busy but not hurrying, strolling, calm, companionable days of two people whom I love very much. And that recognition is itself comforting.

Of course, I’m not talking about the actual activities my parents did. We don’t live on a farm; there are no animals to care for, no maple sap to boil, no woodlot to cull, much to Hubby’s chagrin. He’d love to have a woodlot. But there is a garden to ready for spring planting. And he’s currently working on a ramp to more easily be able to haul our heavy Grummon canoe in and out of the river. Next will come a set of steps beside the ramp, so we can go for a morning paddle.

I do not spend my time in the same way my mother did: baking, crocheting blankets for all and sundry, pickling and preserving, wallpapering bedrooms, making curtains, or any of the myriad of activities my mother was so good at. She even turned her hand to making wedding cakes for a while. But I do knit and read, two interests we share.

And, like Mum, around mid-morning each day, I put my boots on and go out to find my other half, see what he is doing, discuss dinner plans, or grocery shopping. Or politics. This time of year, Mum used to cross the brook where my step-father was boiling a big vat of sap, or find him in the barn forking hay down to the cows if it was still too early for them to be in the pasture. She’d sit on a near-by log or lean against the barn door and they’d chat.

When our weather is fine like today, Hubby heads outside once he’s had his morning cup of tea. I tidy, do other chores, answer blog comments, stay in touch with friends on Facebook. Then I’ll take my cup of tea outside to see what Hubby is doing. And we’ll chat while he works and I sip my tea. Today he was lying on his back with his head stuck under the deck to see if he can figure out how to stop one corner that is sinking despite the fact that it was only built a couple of years ago. He sat up when we heard the killdeer that is nesting somewhere nearby. Then he pottered off to the garden and I sat on the deck to finish my tea.

Harvesting pussy-willows
Pussy willow harvest.

Our isolation diary contains lots and lots of walking. One day last week we walked the trail and hunted for pussy-willows. The annual pussy-willow harvest is a sure sign of spring. We came home with a beautiful bouquet as well as having accomplished our daily exercise.

What isolation diary would be complete without a Pussy-willow harvest?
We have a lovely bouquet. Now let’s walk.

I’ve been walking alone some days, listening to audiobooks on my phone. I’m currently listening to The Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner, a book which was recommended by both Maria and Wendy from York on a post a while ago. Surprisingly the book is read by the octogenarian author herself. I’m alternating it with an entertaining little cosy mystery series I happened upon a while ago. So as you can guess I am not totally averse to walking by myself… not at all. Ha.

My isolation diary includes lots of walks past these fields.
Geometric patterns in the fields nearby.

On Saturday, even though it threatened rain all day, I had a great walk. I actually love the monochromatic nature of the world in the early spring. The browns and tan juxtaposed against a cloudy sky.

Hillside in early spring
I love a good horizon shot.

And I wasn’t totally alone for the whole walk. I stopped to say hello to these two beautiful creatures.

Today's isolation diary contains a meet up with this beautiful horse.
Celebrity comes over to say hello.

I miss being around animals. I recall my step-father standing with his arms folded, leaning on the pasture fence, with Myrt, one of his horses, standing patiently near-by on the other side. He loved his horses. I’m sure he was discussing plans for expansion of the pasture, or telling her when they’d next go logging. I went with him and Myrt to the woods logging one time, and it’s one of my favourite memories. But on Saturday, I didn’t lean on this fence for long. I think that Ghost was sure I had a treat in my pocket.

Isolation Diary... today I visited with this friendly horse.
Ghost caught me unawares when she stuck her head through the fence.

Today, though, after I finished my tea, I strolled around back to where Hubby was building what he calls Project #333 in his efforts to make the vegetable garden neater. Every year he says he’s going to downsize the garden. I’m still waiting on that one. Here’s a peek at what we’re doing. I am only the assistant builder, as you’ll notice.

Okay, as my grandmother always used to say, and now my mother says, “Enough of that.” I stopped the filming because you didn’t need to be subjected to the discussions and machinations of assembling the other poles, and seeing if the whole thing could be moved without collapsing. It could.

Then I went inside to change because we were going for my first bike ride of the season. And after that, we had lunch, I read for a while, and then wrote this blog post.

Later Hubby and I will have a glass of wine, make dinner, and watch a little television, followed by more reading, and bed.

So that’s more or less what Hubby and I have been up to. Our “Isolation Diary,” more or less. That is when I’m not drinking tea and partying at the Chateau Laurier with you guys. Our days have fallen into a pretty mundane rhythm. But a rhythm that I find comforting. And which neither of us find boring. Not now that we can get outside, to do things, to exercise, or just to sit out of the wind on the deck in the sun with a cup of tea. Mundanity does have its comforts, you know.

And I smiled to myself this morning as I was drinking tea and standing talking to Hubby with his head stuck under the deck. It so reminded me of Mum and Lloyd, of their easy companionship. How they were two very different people who had their own interests and opinions, and yet lived a peaceful, companionable life together on the farm. And wasn’t that just what Mum needed after so many years of the stress of being a single, working parent with four kids.

That’s where I learned to be patient, I guess. Or at least that’s what Mum says. Being around Lloyd who never seemed to get ruffled. When things became chaotic, or panicky for the rest of us, he would sit down, and say “Well, now. Let’s just think the situation over a while.”

You know, our isolation diary looks pretty darned good. When I think over our situation, Hubby and I are lucky. We are able to easily get outside. We have things close by to occupy us. And we have each other. Of course, I’m worried about Mum, and about my sister who works as a pharmacist, and whose husband has Alzheimer’s. And about friends who have compromising health conditions. But we’re very lucky that our fears and worries are small compared to so many others who are not as fortunate. And we’re grateful.

What’s your “Isolation Diary” look like, my friends? Do you have a rhythm to your days? And do you find the mundanity chaffing, or comforting?

P.S. The book link to Lady in Waiting is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a small commission.


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39 thoughts on “Our Isolation Diary”

  1. Hi Sue! We’ve settled into a rythym, too. Richard gets up before me and when I wake up, we take a tea and coffee in the hot tub. Then we decide what tasks we are going to take on for the day. I’ve been sewing cloth masks for my kids and Dad, along with filter inserts I crafted out of a furnace filter. Hubby has been finishing the demolition of our upstairs bathroom which we started before we left for holidays in February. He also dismantled an old swing we had in the backyard. In between our “work,” we enjoy making some really delicious meals. We also have our wine/beer in the evening and are catching up on some great British shows on Acorn TV: Foyle’s War, Pie in the Sky, and Lovejoy. Life is quiet, but we are also enjoying the peace.

  2. Our Isolation rhythm is framed around our walks several times a day along the water with two dogs who are very happy to have us around more right now. In between, DH teaches chemistry to college students via the internet, and I read, write, and spend time on whatever chores are the most persistent. We love to cook, so we end the day with a glass of wine and a talk over whatever we are making for dinner. After dinner, more reading or a tv show on Smart tv and a last walk of the night, during which we check out the stars and talk about the day behind us and the day to come. Good health and blessings!

  3. I live alone so I catch up with family and friends all over the world via WhatsApp. We talk more now than ever before. I exercise, take long walks, read and watch TV. I like to cook so try to challenge myself to use what I have rather than popping out to get the necessary ingredient just like my mother and grandmother did. So far I am enjoying this slower, quieter pace of life.

    1. I think living alone adds a whole other set of issues for those sheltering in place. I’m glad that you are making it work for you, Maryann.

  4. Not much has changed for me ( I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing ! ), so I’m handling things better than some certainly would be.

    I have breakfast, go on-line or watch TV ( sometimes both at once ) then decide what to eat for lunch and later dinner. I’ll do a bit of housework and shop when I need to… It’s been weird seeing police stationed in supermarkets to guard against anti-social behaviour and selfish hoarding.

    I’m sorry to read about your brother-in-law’s illness as well as your concerns for your mother who’s a bit over 21 and I hope you’re all coping well with the obvious stress you must be experiencing.

  5. Yes we have adapted well to Isolation Living. It’s not too different from our normal life except that we aren’t allowed to drive up the road a couple of miles to The New Forest for our walks so we walk locally around the streets. My husband has hurt his back so is slightly frustrated as he can’t play his accordion at the moment but can play with his new music software which is a blessing. I am working in the garden, cleaning the greenhouse and generally tidying up. I can only work for a short time but the weather has been so beautiful that every day I do a bit more and like the tortoise I am winning. I am making clothes for my 5 year old grandaughter for her birthday and must get them finished soon as the post can be quite slow at the moment.

    1. It’s amazing how many people are using this time to get caught up with chores they normally would have little time to do. I keep thinking we should clean our basement… but I’m not sure the lock down will be long enough for that. Ha.

  6. Very nice to join in your daily routine . That video of you working together reminded me of us , except it can get a little more fraught & swearing can occur . We built a teepee one time too but ours holds a honeysuckle . The days here are pretty similar to yours . We’re up early , always by 7am then it’s juice & coffee whilst reading various news reports on the net ( & your latest post -on a good day ). After breakfast we walk the dog for a good hour & a half down our quiet local bridlepath , hopefully ‘ bumping into ‘ a few dog walker friends – at a very safe distance of course . We’re allowed one period of outside exercise a day – how odd that sounds . After that it’s gardening or work around the house , getting in touch with friends & family or foraging for food . We’re trying not to go out even for groceries so I add to the supermarket delivery order or phone the local farm shop for veggies etc . They’ll pop it in the car boot when we pull up so no human contact . Food seems to have become a slight obsession in that we give it far more thought than we used to do . I can see why diaries I’ve read of WW2 are full of food talk i.e. finding out where it is , getting hold of it , keeping it fresh & using it properly . In the afternoon we ease up & I read , do puzzles , listen to music etc & evenings perhaps TV , or sometimes a quiz . We join friends or family on Houseparty or Zoom where someone is quizmaster for the night .
    So far we are happy with this & not climbing the walls . The weather is pretty good & we are counting our blessings . Being well is more important than ever . So yes , I’ll settle for the mundane & comfortable . There’s a poem I like called Being Boring by Wendy Cope which when slightly altered could be relevant for now .
    Hope you are enjoying the book . Now he’s a man I could not have self isolated with !

    1. I have not done the video calling thing yet. That quiz night sounds like fun, though. I thought you might recognize any garden structure Stu could come up with. 🙂

  7. I was chatting on the phone with my daughter last night and we discussed how important it is to keep a record of these peculiar times – it will be something we talk about in coming years, with amazement. Whilst I loathe the reason for this sudden change of lifestyle, I don’t mind it at all. Were I worrying about the mortgage, had small children, or bigger ones agitating about their exams, parents alive to worry about, that would be a different story altogether. As it is, Mr Green, Susan and I have settled into a rhythm that fits. Mr Green is extremely busy (his work is linked to the building of the new super hospitals) and is hammering away at the laptop most nights till about midnight. But there is tea to make in the morning, then coffee, then a vague plan to sketch and maybe some eggs to buy, a walk to take (me morning, Mr G evening) to check all is well in the locale…early night for me, books, radio and then sleep in the strange silence. And repeat. I can chat with the neighbours over the wall, talk to pals over the garden gate, message my friends and family, speak to my brother in the evening as he sits in his garden in Sussex…it could, for us, be a lot worse. And I am thankful that it isn’t. We are experiencing a fabulous spring and I send thanks, daily, for that if for nothing else. Stay safe.

  8. Your isolation days sound quite nice actually. I also find myself thinking back to earlier generations, the pace at which they led their lives, and the more languorous moments they shared even with greater hardships they had to endure in general.

    While I am a city girl at heart, your ability to get out into naturally “social distance-enforcing” spaces is a source of envy for me. I have nowhere I can go where I don’t risk being very close to other people who may be out and about rather than staying put, and that includes making my way to a nearby laundromat or putting out the garbage which requires going through a small, multi dwelling courtyard, a gate, and down an alleyway. (Prior to social distancing, the multi dwelling courtyard was delightful.) One of the reasons I moved to a city was for the very density of hustle and bustle and population that now prevents me from getting outside. Oh well! Since rising at 1:30 this morning – welcome to my world of restless leg syndrome – I have been emptying boxes (Will it ever end?), going through files, running into the occasional endearing photograph or memento, and browsing 18th century American antiques on eBay just for the pleasure of the beauty of these objects.

    On to more coffee for me (and another stack of files).

    Happy Wednesday !


    1. I’ve wondered about a friend who has a severely compromised immune system and how the other tenants in her building are handling what she calls the “elevator protocol.”

  9. I’m on the waiting list at the library for The Lady in Waiting. Can’t wait!! I first saw her interviewed on The Graham Norton Show (which I love) and couldn’t believe what a personality she was, even now at an advanced age. Isolation is a great excuse for indulging our love of reading . . . without guilt. Happy spring, Sue.

    1. I remember that interview and her story about their honeymoon. How the other half lives!

  10. You are so productive! I feel like my days dissolve into following coronavirus news, taking my long walk and anguishing over what to make for dinner.
    Like D.A., I’m a city girl at heart and social distancing is killing me. But like you, I live in the country and can take long walks without running into anybody. For once, I appreciate it.

  11. I hate isolation. Absolutely hate it. The idea of putzing around the house, cooking, knitting, fixing the deck, etc. is horrifying to me. I am a caged lion, and so upset about the state of the planet. This post and the comments following are not helping me at all. I can go out for a walk but there is nowhere to go. No library, no rec centre, no care. I do read and listen to music, but it is not enough. I was in a grocery store briefly and talked to a clerk who was not busy, and that was the highlight of my week.

    1. Oh, dear. I feel for you, Anita. My sister is like you. She’s going a bit crazy working from home and looking after her husband who has Alzheimer’s.

  12. You guys are adorable. I recognize the working dynamic: my job is to “hold stuff” when we do these projects

  13. I am trying to get flower beds and garden fixed but allergies are terrible and have triggered migraines that my medicines cannot control. It’s so disappointing since this is the first time in years that I have time to really get things in order. Otherwise I’m following the usual pattern of reading and trying the new whimsical jigsaw puzzles with their strange piece shapes. I have to admit that hubby is much better than I am. My daughter is on the front lines as an anesthesiologist in a major US city so we worry about her, but thankful the rest of the family is safe.

  14. What a lovely and marvelous way to live and to enjoy life. I’m so glad you live in such a wonderful environment with such a perfect companion and thank you for sharing your day’s schedule. You are content and therefore at peace and able to enjoy the sheer delight of being alive. Bless you. I so enjoyed this post.

  15. You live in such a wonderful nature settings……it is a real luxury! We are going to change our apprehensions about what real luxury is,indeed!
    Staying at home in something between lockdown and self-isolation…..I can manage it. I’m a combination of an extrovert who loves people and going out, to communicate and work with people,and an introvert ,who needs a couple of hours every day to be alone,to read,think,meditate….. so,I have it now….
    I think that a lot of my activities would be different in future,even after these days,for more than a while….most theatres and concert halls are damaged in the earthquake,my physio is in the centre, where is dangerous to park because of things that could fall from the roofs and facades (maybe I will still be afraid to walk there-authorities are suggesting not to walk through some streets….)….we’ll see
    Stay well,

    1. It is a luxury to be able to watch the river in all its seasons. And one that we appreciate even more now. Zagreb has indeed been hard hit this year. Its inhabitants doubly hit. I am so sorry to hear of the damage to your wonderful city.

  16. Sue – that is my favorite of all your posts!!! So soothing. You and hubby together are so sweet!! (I almost wrote his name and then realized that you never really do that, do you? )
    Life has been chaotic – my sweet dad passed away yesterday, and your blog has been a wonderful support – many many thanks.
    xo N

  17. Ann in Missouri

    Your video is so, so peaceful, so comfortable, so familiar. We’re lucky that our husbands are/were the competent kind, the hard-to-flap kind, the kind kind. As you can imagine, I miss my husband’s company tremendously. But the sight of your easy companionship only gives me joy! Thanks for sharing it. <3

    1. We are very lucky. I still remember the post I wrote about “voices on our heads” and hearing the voices of loved ones who are gone. And you said you could still hear your husband tell you you had a great ass. That made me smile.

  18. I loved The Lady in Waiting when I read the book recently. She showed real insight into the social mores of the time. Though I think she was a bit too kind to Princess Margaret. I thought it was way better than Pamela Hicks book set just before her time.

  19. Your post is very comforting. We are doing the same here. Taking walks in the foothills where we live in Southern California in between rainstorms, it still feels like winter to us. Thank you for recommending the Lewis Trilogy, I’m enjoying it very much. What cosy mystery series are reading now? I find I can’t read gruesome or serial killer books anymore. I’m going back to Agatha Christie, which I read 40 years ago. Catherine Aird is pretty good too.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the Lewis Trilogy, Cindylou. I’ve been listening to a new series on my phone which I ordered from Audible… called the Cherringham mysteries. I’m really enjoying them They are narrated by Neil Dudgeon who plays the younger Inspector Barnaby on Midsomer Mysteries.

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