Wednesday, March 3

In one week it will be one whole year since the reality of the pandemic finally set in for us Canadians. At least according to my pandemic diary and last year’s calendar. On March 3 last year I had lunch with two friends at the new coffee bar here in Manotick. We washed our hands assiduously and then sat and ate and talked. I remember stopping at the drugstore to try to buy hand sanitiser on the way home.

Two days later I went shopping at Nordstrom. Liz’s brother was in town from Italy. He had been really helpful to Hubby and me when we were planning our Italy trip so I was anxious to meet him. Liz introduced us and we chatted about the state of things at home for him. I asked him about the coronavirus, for of course we’d been hearing about an outbreak in Italy. He didn’t seem worried. I bought a Vince navy V-neck cashmere sweater and a pair of Frame high-rise straight leg jeans with an unfinished hem. My spring wardrobe was sorted. Ha. I should have bought new sweatpants, but I didn’t know that Ottawa and the world would shut down in a week.

After I left Liz, I met my friend Susan at the Nordstrom restaurant for lunch. I washed my hands assiduously, in the new way we’d all learned, used my new purse-size bottle of hand sanitizer, and then sat beside her on the banquet and ate and talked. How odd that seems now. I would have savoured the meal even more if I’d known that it would be my last restaurant food until an outdoor lunch on a terrace in late July.

How times have changed. Today I was excited about going to Home Hardware to buy a new electric kettle. I’m telling you folks, that’s the second most exciting thing in my pandemic diary this week. At least I had a chance to wear my favourite navy cashmere turtleneck and this old scarf, which I love. And I also had a lovely chat with the cashier who has recently let her hair go grey. She looks amazing, and I told her so, even if I did get a couple of grumpy looks from people in the line behind me. I wanted to turn around and snap, “Just spreading some joy to a hard-working front-line worker, people. You might want to try it.” But I refrained.

The second most exciting thing in this week's pandemic diary. Dressing in real clothes to go to the hardware store. Uniqlo jacket and cashmere turtleneck. Holt Renfrew scarf.
Wearing real clothes for my kettle shopping adventure.

Thursday, March 4

I have been walking up a storm. And I mean that metaphorically. Ha. I don’t want to conjure up any storms. Yesterday, I strode down the paved verge on the main road in the sunshine. Still cold, but in the sun it was glorious. I am so so happy that we finally had our road paved. And that the government saw fit to give us a paved shoulder on the road. Now I can safely walk all winter, if I choose. The plow pushes most of the snow back off the shoulder and the remnants soon melt in the sun.

My goal for weekly cardio is usually 300 minutes, but lately I’ve been averaging about an hour a day, with one day off, and one weight work-out a week. The difference is that most of this winter, besides sitting on my exercise bike, I am getting at least one good ski in a week. And at least two brisk, heart-pumping walks. I like my solitary walks the best of all. I listen to my audio-book and keep my own pace. Hubby says I walk too fast for him. That it’s because my legs are so long. And I say it’s because he spends too much time peering around at the trail and the bush… is that a pileated woodpecker, wonder where that trail leads, oh look there’s a mushroom… kind of thing. Of course, on skis I can’t keep up with him.

Today, I tried a few outfits with my new green cashmere hoodie from Club Monaco, waltzed around the sunroom, and took photos for a blog post. Then I sat on the exercise bike for an hour talking to my sister Carolyn about Mum, and clothes, and Carolyn’s newly retired state.

Friday, March 5

Today the weather is brutal. BRUTAL. -22 °C with the wind chill. I cancelled walking with Linsey and curled up in the sunroom with my book. I am boycotting reading anything that is not gentle. And this week I am indulging my guilty (or not guilty) pleasure of reading old books. Old gentle books set in Scotland and which frequently digress into descriptions of gushing burns, and sheep on beautiful but lonely hillsides. I can’t help it. And, in fact, I don’t want to help it. We all need something to get us through these last months (hopefully) of isolation. We’re all different. I’m a bit like Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. Mrs. Wiggs “was a philosopher, and the sum and substance of her philosophy lay in keeping the dust off her rose-coloured spectacles.” When I told Hubby that, he just grinned and nodded.

So to that end, and at Jill’s prompting in a comment a while back, I’ve returned to the books of D.E. Stevenson. Thanks, Jill. I started with Winter and Rough Weather as you suggested. Loved it. It was just what the doldrum doctor ordered. Then I went back and read the two earlier books in the series, Vittoria Cottage and Music in the Hills. And I’m currently reading Anna and Her Daughters. Life is getting rosier with each book.

This morning I spent quite a bit of frustrating time on the phone and on the internet trying to get information about when Mum might get her COVID shot. Then this afternoon I had a long talk with the social worker in New Brunswick who oversees Mum’s homecare. What a lovely young man he is. So kind, and he always has good ideas. Plus he and Mum get along like a house on fire. So we will see what we can do about increasing her care hours without disturbing the parts of her care-puzzle that work. Plus he says Mum’s age group are up next in priority and that the government plans to give seniors over 80 their two shots in quick succession. Not making them wait for the second shot like the rest of us. I felt a ton better after I spoke to him.

Back to my book now. So happy that Hubby built me the lectern on my exercise bike. I can read and pedal at the same time. Then a weight work-out and I will feel that my day has been well spent.

Saturday, March 6

Today is blogging day. I always write a blog post on Saturday. I get up, strip the bed, put a load of laundry in the washer, and sit down at the computer.

Midafternoon I pedalled and chatted to my sister again. She said she’d been talking to Mum. She told Mum that we’d both been concerned about her, especially about her COVID shot, and that I was planning on making some calls. Mum responded, “Tell Susie not for the love of god to call the premier.” “The premier?” said Carolyn. And Mum quipped, “You know how she gets when she gets onto something.” I laughed so hard at that. I guess Mum thinks that I might move heaven and earth to get stuff done. Ha. Good to know.

Tonight was Zoom book club. I wolfed down my supper and poured a second glass of wine so I could log on. We discussed The Power by Naomi Alderman. A compelling page turner, if a bit silly, in my opinion. A book based around an interesting idea that could have been explored in a more subtle way, and would have benefited enormously from more subtlety. We all assumed that Alderman is a novice writer. Turns out she’s in her late forties, so youth and inexperience cannot be blamed.

Note to self: Never explore the Zoom filters when one is in the middle of a discussion. The meeting definitely deteriorated after that. Ha.

Sunday, March 7

Great walk today. The wind was cold, so I was glad to have my neck-warmer on, the one I can pull up over my face and tuck under my sunglasses. I am listening to the new Denise Mina The Less Dead. She is a great writer, and I usually love her work. But this book is too bleak for me this week. I am going to have to abandon it for now.

Talked to Mum this afternoon. Reiterated everything that the social worker and I discussed. He will either call or visit her this week. I told her that Blaine said hello. “Blaine?” Took her a minute, then she laughed. Blaine Higgs is the premier of New Brunswick.

Monday, March 8

Cleaning day. Hubby went skiing and I CLEANED. You can’t tell, but I have written that word with extreme derision. I hate cleaning. Had to jettison the Denise Mina book today. I couldn’t handle a bleak book and clean at the same time. So I downloaded the last in a series that I have been enjoying for a while. Cherringham is a cosy mystery series written by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards and read by Neil Dudgeon (of Midsomer Murders fame.) Each mystery is only a couple of hours of listening. I love them. Neil Dudgeon reads so well. And they’re set in the Cotswolds, and everything always turns out all right in the end. Perfect non-brain-taxing, gentle listening.

Tonight is “mud mountain truckers” night. I’ll try to explain. I mean, if I can. For I find it utterly inexplicable that Hubby and I are addicted to this foolish reality TV show about a bunch of loggers in British Columbia cutting and hauling logs.

A few weeks ago when I went to bed early with my chamomile tea and my book, Hubby watched this show for the first time. The next week, he asked if I wanted to watch a bit. “Su-re,” I said, and just in case I settled my book in my lap, and only kept one eye on the TV. Soon, my book tossed aside, I was engrossed in how the heck the Le Beau brothers were going to get that loader up the hillside where it had rolled and crashed, so the loader could load, and the trucks could haul before the spring road restrictions began. The suspense, I’m telling you.

Ever since, Monday is popcorn and mud truckers night. I can only explain my enthusiasm by referring to my childhood forays in the drill rig with my big brother and the ongoing pandemic. Ha.

Although I do have to confess that I have always wanted to drive a big truck. Just once.

Tuesday, March 9

Blogging day. I have no idea what I will write about today. I have been doing nothing. Or nothing interesting. Reading, walking, dreaming of spring, pedaling my exercise bike, talking on the phone, discussing dinner with Hubby, eating dinner, discussing how great dinner was, watching TV. That’s about it.

Oh, and this morning I ordered two lovely bright pink shirts for Mum. Hope she likes them. Hope they fit. And I hope they make her feel as if spring is just around the corner. Now I have to find a bright pink shirt for myself. But that can wait. The sun is shining. The temperature is above zero. Six degrees above zero in fact. And I am going walking. Walking is just about the most exciting event in my pandemic diary. This week… and most weeks. Certainly the most healthy. Today I have my cosy mystery to listen to while I stride up the road. I do try to set a fast pace. And then I have a cosy book to read with my lunch when I get back. I can’t complain.

Then I guess I’ll sit down and try and write something.

Walking on a sunny spring day. Most exciting thing in my pangamic diary.
See that? That’s mud. Spring can’t be far behind.

What’s your pandemic diary been looking like this week, my friends?

P.S. The book links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a commission.


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From the archives


In Praise of Hat Head.

Hats are back. Hat head can be a good thing during a pandemic, you know. When wearing a hat can disguise all manner of hair style and colour issues.

Recalled to Life: Reflections on September

I always feel recalled to life in September. As if real life has been stalled all summer. And cooler weather kicks life back into gear again.

Bye, Bye October: My First Monthly Vlog.

I'm excited to introduce to my first ever monthly vlog. A video about what Hubby and I are up to, what we're doing and eating and thinking. Hope you like it.

49 thoughts on “Pandemic Diary Week 52”

  1. My husband is hooked on Highway Through Hell. It takes place in British Columbia about a heavy rescue company that pulls out semis that have gone off the road! I’m not sure how the narrator makes it all sound so dramatic.
    I’m with you on wanting to read gentler books. Our public library doesn’t carry the authors you are enjoying, so I need to check them out on Amazon.
    How about a vlog of your weight routine. I’d like something I can do at home. Since having total knee replacement I can’t ride an exercise bike unless it is a recumbent style.

    1. Ah well… my weight routine is just something I’ve cobbled together from a couple of Shape magazines. It’s designed to do on my exercise ball to give me more core strength. But I am by no means an expert!

  2. Occasionally I run across a show called Heavy Rescue:401 about a towing company that tows big rigs that are stuck on the 401. I’ll stop and watch for about 20 minutes and then move on. It’s kind of fascinating. I’ve just finished my third Susie Steiner book about DI Manon Bradshaw. I really enjoy her writing. She’s excellent. I highly recommend her.

    1. Susie Steiner is excellent. I discovered her a couple of years ago, read her first two Manon Bradshaw books in quick succession and waited impatiently for the third. So I guess I second your recommendation. 🙂

  3. You make a mundane week in lockdown sound interesting , that’s clever . Plus it makes us feel that we are all in this together wherever we are . So no point in wallowing in self pity or wailing – well perhaps just the occasional wail . In time to come will we all look back & remember that first moment when we realised just how serious this COVID thing was ? We were staying on a Scottish island in an isolated cottage feeling far removed from the world when a shopkeeper told us there was a case in the tiny village & just yards from us . The family had recently returned from Europe . They isolated & all was well but it was scary at the time . The local shop immediately started rationing supplies & hand sanitizer was unobtainable . We decided to go straight home . They didn’t need visitors taking up the five patient beds on the island & if we were ill we wanted to be ill at home . Here we are a year later having had our first vaccine , feeling safer but still following all restrictions of course, for all our sakes . Thank heavens for the scientists .
    Like you I’m avoiding too much tension in my reading . At the moment I’m working my way through a few Richard B Wright books I’ve managed to get second hand from Canadian libraries ( Edmonton library at the moment ) Lovely writing , thanks so much for recommending him .

    1. Which vaccine did you get, Wendy? Our shipments of Pfizer have been really slowed down by EU regulations, or so I’ve read. We had initially ordered from the US but Trump put the kibosh on that. So we ordered from Europe. And we were supposed to start getting Johnson and Johnson from the US and now that’s been set back as well.

      1. You have to have what you are given here . Ours was AZ but some friends/family have had Pfizer . EU politicians were casting doubt on the AZ at the time of our jab , saying it was untested but we were happy to have it . Any protection was preferable to none & they’ve changed their tune now . I wish I could send you a dollop in the post . Must say though , the number of deaths here is truly dreadful compared to most other countries . Many wrong decisions have been made . So the AZ is sorely needed . Take care .

  4. Some weeks ago I eagerly watched Rick Stein’s Cornwall. You could say: nothing much happens, but it happens in lovely Cornwall. It was filmed during last summer but the pandemic didn’t dominate. If you can access it at all, I heartily recommend it. Fiction is beyond my brain at the moment so I am looking for interesting and gripping things to listen to on the radio and in the evenings I am re-watching Gilmore Girls. Again, nothing much happens but it happens in lovely Stars Hollow. It is cold, wet and windy at the moment so I am going – finally – to paint the shelves in my room-with-a-view. At last, a name for it.

      1. Thoroughly enjoying that show too. I can’t figure out how they have time for all their projects and their small children too. I suppose her parents do a lot of childcare for them. Isn’t that property spectacular? The setting makes me swoon. Lol.

  5. enjoyed this post. Every time i Manage o get out it is and adventure! reading lots. The only problems I see with this shut down, is that it is so easy to put things off manana! Because it feels like we have all the time in the world. Our second attempt to visit relatives in Alaska was cancelled yesterday. So we may have to figure out how to do Zoom just to visit.LOL Oh well,maybe next year? Although we have been saying that for a year now. Stay save and savor your adventures!

  6. Loved the bit about cleaning, Sue!

    You might like the Agatha Raisin stories by MC Beaton. There’s a quirky edge to them. I disliked a TV adaptation of them, but the radio one was so good that I read all of them with the voice of the actor who played Agatha, Penelope Keith, resounding in my ears.

    Hope you mum’s vaccination is sorted soon, before you need to call Justin.

    1. I listen to that MC Beaton series now instead of reading it. As much for Penelope’s Keith’s voice as the story. Love her.
      P.S. Your Justin comment made me laugh out loud. That would be really upping the ante.

  7. I am so glad I am not the only one to enjoy 401 Heavy Rescue (love Sonny) and Highway through Hell. The physics that those folks do in their heads fascinates me!!
    We also like a number of animal shows – the Incredible Dr Pol, and the Secrets of the Zoo are favorites. Sometimes when I can’t stand the news anymore I ask Don if we can watch something nice, and that’s what we choose.
    I am currently reading a FASCINATING book called Breath by James Nestor. Who knew the science behind breathing was soo cool, and mysterious as well. Take care all. I am reassuring myself that change is coming – weather, spring, vaccines, but I know that hope can be a dangerous thing!

  8. I laughed out loud at your portrayal of your walk together along the trail. On Sunday that was me, looking for tracks to identify in the snow, watching the partridge under the trees in the back field and so on. Husband made it to the beaver dam waaaay ahead of me then I fell face first into knee deep snow trying to catch up. Giggles ensued. Things like this make the restrictions fade a bit and make it somewhat easier. It is the meeting friends and family that is the most difficult but distance outings are not far off once the weather warms up more. It feels like forever since we saw them in real life. Last family day.
    I just finished The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly and really enjoyed the gardening connections. Now back to historical fiction based around the second world war in France and England. Presently it is Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhorn and next up The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron which is based on actual events.
    Do keep us amused with your wonderful stories of life in your ‘wilderness’. These keep me going and I eagerly await each one.

    1. Thanks, Diane. We have a beaver on the river in front of our house and we can’t figure out where his house is. I am going to check out The Last Garden in England… thanks for the recommendation.

  9. I too love D.E. Stevenson novels! Hang in there, Sue. We have reached the magic point for everyone in my family & close friends in my generation and older have had our 2nd vaccine, and thus can get together without masks. You’ll be able to HUG your mother soon!

    1. Congrats, Mary Katherine. After speaking with the social worker in NB I am pretty confident Mum will get her shot in April sometime. And we’re hoping to be able to go out to NB by the end of summer.

  10. I admire your stoicism and humour. Things are very different here in Sydney. No COVID cases via community transmission for more than 50 days, restrictions on gathering in public and at home have been eased, masks only required on public transport… so life is much more normal. We’re still hand-sanitising and logging on via apps to record our visits to shops, restaurants etc. to assist with contact tracing should it again become necessary but there’s a return to bricks and mortar shopping, eating out, visits to galleries etc. I wish the same for everyone everywhere soon, and may our run of good luck continue as we head towards winter.

  11. Thank you for sharing your diary. It is entertaining to read, and it sounds like you are making the best of our interminable situation. Of course I honed in on the clothes, specifically Frame jeans. Can you tell me your favorites? Is there a good boyfriend jean? I have never splurged quite that much for jeans, but now I am retired and what the hell why not. This is my new wardrobe, and I haven’t spent a penny on eating in a restaurant since July. Please do share some jeans advice. I am not as tall as you, and I am on the slender side, but not skinny.

    1. Well, now you have me thinking, Jeanne. I should do a jeans post. It’s time. Of course I’ll just be talking about my own shopping experience… not really giving advice. I don’t feel qualified to do that. My current Frame fav jean is the Le High Straight. I love how they fit me. And I may get another pair in a full length leg since mine are cropped. I should also say that boyfriend jeans and I do NOT get along. 🙂

  12. I think the hardest part of any lockdown is that although we may go days/weeks without seeing someone in normal times, it’s the fact that we can’t – either to just go for a meal out or to see friends and family. We run a B&B, so our winter time (Nov-Mar) is when we get to see family and friends the most, or to have our own holiday – but not this year.
    This lockdown over the other 2 we’ve had (Wales, UK) is that we’ve been preparing for when we can open up again… and Wales vs. England rules will vary. Which is frustrating. Probably the same as your differing states. My nephew lives in New Brunswick with his Canadian wife, so my sister has been unable to see them for 18 months – but their lockdowns seem to have been different to yours… probably more akin to our tiers that we had.
    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog – it kinda sums up how most of us are feeling, but more eloquently! 😉 Keep it up!

    1. New Brunswick has been very cautious since last spring and as a result has had very few cases of COVID. They closed their borders to more western provinces like ours which have many more cases. I’m glad they did that. At least I knew that Mum was relatively safe even if I couldn’t visit. We have tiers as well, but we’ve been stuck so long with too many cases to make much progress. I hope with so many people getting vaccinated that your B&B business is booming this summer!

  13. I love your posts Sue! I enjoy your fashion and humor in daily life. My husband loves to explore when we walk – nature, birds, animals and picking up trash; whereas I’m out to walk and get exercise! I too enjoy my solo walks with an audio book.

  14. My weekly pandemic diary has been fairly consistent. The weather has been lovely for walking as along as we stay out of the mud You are right Sue, that mud is a sure sign of Spring. I am just finishing up Norah Robert’s trilogy ‘Chronicles of The One’. I have never read anything by Norah Roberts but this trilogy was recommended by two Friends. It was an interesting read especially during the pandemic. Next, I will be on the lookout for a good murder mystery. On the lighter side, we have been enjoying ‘Stanley Tucci’s ‘Searching for Italy. It’s delightful.
    Thoroughly enjoyed your ‘pandemic diary’ Sue, it’s hard to believe we are at the one year mark…sigh.

  15. Love your post, as usual. I have a pandemic journal and we are almost to a year of self isolating. I got my first Pfizer shot on Monday (along with 8000 others). It was strange being among so many people, standing in lines, after avoiding being near people for so long. But it went well. I hope your Mom can get hers soon and you and Stu too.

    A number of years ago my husband and I got hooked on “Ice Road Truckers” for a while. It’s funny how you can get caught up in the drama.

    Going to look into some of the books you mentioned. We have had nice warm weather for the last few days, but cold and rain coming – time for a new book.

  16. Hello! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, even though I changed the title somewhat-lol! I also went back and read the previous two books and loved them as well. I have been so thankful to have these types of books to read this last year. They just make me happy! I discovered your blog last summer and had so much fun reading past posts. I found so many gentle reads based upon your suggestions. I can’t thank you enough…they helped me through some difficult days. Hoping for an early spring for all of us!!!

  17. A lovely way to spend a Friday afternoon. Sitting by the window, in the warm sunshine, enjoying reading your post.
    Have a lovely week.

  18. Comfort reading all the way here. I’ve been on a D.E. Stevenson run in the last few weeks, just finished the Mrs. Tim series and downloaded Vittoria Cottage about 10 days ago. Pym, Whipple, Thirkell, I love them all.

  19. My FIL in Moncton is 86 and has been registered for his vaccine. Is supposed to get it next week so your Mom should get hers very soon. It looks to me that those living in long term or retirement get vaccinated earlier then those on their own. It helps to have an advocate for registering and my FILs grand son has done a great job .
    We are watching ( and loving) Midsomer on PBS Thursday nights. I have never been a mystery fan but find this show interesting. I hear Endeavor is back on later this spring and we are looking forward to that. I am that person who reads cook books so have a pile beside me Everyday Dory and My Paris Kitchen are sparking ideas. As well I delve into the psychological aspects of food so have Women and Food and Eat Joy on my list. We have our wild grandsons to entertain us. Life is never dull when an earnest three year old reminds me, apropos of nothing, that I have a ‘big gina’ as in va-gina…. could never imagine saying THAT to my Grandmother.

  20. We finally packed a bag and got away for a few days! We’re snuggled into a tiny condo just outside Banff in the majestic Rockies. We snowshoed on Lake Louise and did a couple of beautiful winter hikes. Every evening, we were able to book 25 minutes in the outdoor hot tub all by ourselves. Tomorrow, we return to reality!

    1. Thank you for the instant Banff memories that popped into my head while reading your comment Elaine. Wonderful memories of Banff – amazing scenery and the colour of Lake Lousie all came rushing back, from my visits there. First as a family visit with my parents and riding the horses along the local trails. Second with my hubby, camping close by and hiking up the mountain hills to taste the Fresh Glacier fed spring water. After all it didn’t look it would take that long to reach it- Ha! The taste was worth the hike.
      Thanks Sue for another enjoyable blog. 💐Plus I have added more books to my “to read” list.

  21. Oh boy,it’s more than a year!
    I have to remember Cherringham-I’ve tried to listen to books,but it seems that I need to read to concentrate ,so far…but,I’ll try again
    Our café’s terraces are open but numbers are rising again,so I only socialize with a friend or two while walking (and now need dressier sneakers for wearing in dressier situations-like buying a kettle,or a tablecloth in my case :-))

    1. You’re not the only one who struggles to concentrate on talking books D . My mind wanders & I can get sleepy too . It’s a nuisance.

    2. I definitely think you’ll need dressy sneakers for a tablecloth outing, Dottoressa. 🙂
      P.S. Any word on COVID vaccines in your part of the world? Have you had yours?

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