COVID-19 Journal Entry 28

The other day I wrote about forgetting ideas that come into my head at random moments, and then remembering them; and then trying to record ideas instead so I don’t forget them.

Since writing that entry, I’ve developed a new system of capturing these ideas: I started a new Note in the Notes app on my phone with the title “Blog Ideas”. While setting that up, I found an idea I wrote a year or so ago that was meant to go up on Facebook, or here, but never made it.

So here.

Egg Salad Sandwishes

September 7, 2019

Usually when I want an egg salad sandwich, I think of Subway, and then talk myself out of going there because I usually have eggs at home so I can make my own. And usually I don’t want to do that so I go without. But not today!

P.S. My home made egg salad sandwiches are much better than Subway’s due to the 50/50 egg to parsley ratio.

COVID 19 Journal Entry 27

It’s been a while since I’ve kept a regular journal like this. I was looking back in my archive the other day (looking for evidence of the last time I read Mrs. Dalloway – there was none) and I was reminded that I used to practice my journal writing on a far more regular basis than I do now. It wasn’t daily, but it was frequent. It reads like I was writing for an audience of me – my voice and sass is clear. I still try to intill my entries with these, but I also try to make them intelligible to other readers – maybe not so many inside jokes – that is, jokes that are only jokes inside of my own head.

Writing a regular journal of my daily life is different than writing a journal when I’m travelling. With travel journaling I can fall back on just expanding my daily itinerary if I can’t think of anything else. Or just describe the scene around me. Everything is interesting when I’m on adventure.

At the beginning of COVID, when we had all just gone into lockdown, we were all on an adventure. Lots of new experiences to reflect upon. Now as I settle into the new normal, it’s less an adventure (ok, “adventure”) and more routine – and routine was what I didn’t want to be writing about when I stopped journaling. Routine isn’t interesting. I’d be writing the same thing everyday. Ironic maybe that I have even less to write about now that I’m at home most of the time, and yet here I am still writing about it (with, admittedly, some breaks). It’s like phone calls with my mum. We decided to up our weekly phone calls to twice a week, and we make fun of how we shouldn’t have anything to talk about since we aren’t doing anything. But one weekly one-hour call has turned into 2 two-hour calls per week. We still manage to find things to talk about.

Since I’m writing more regularly now, I’ve remembered some habits I should be following. I don’t know if I’m just older now and forgetful, or if i’m just way out of practice, but a really god habit I need to reintroduce is to write down any idea that comes to me right away. I keep thinking of really good ideas and then forgetting them, but not forgetting that I had an idea, just what it was. Then I get that hollow weird brain feeling where I know I’m missing something but can’t remember what.

I did this last week during lunch break during one of my office days. I was walking back along Cook Street after buying ice cream and had the greatest idea for a journal entry.

“This would make a good journal entry,” I thought to myself, and started composing. But then I was distracted by walk signals, and navigating around people on the sidewalk. I was even distracted by my organizing the rest of my work day – should I write said journal entry during my break later or save it for after work?

By the time I was back at the office, and stored my ice cream in the freezer, the idea was gone. I was back at my desk for a while before I remembered that I’d had an idea. But what was it? Nope. Gone.

I never do this, but I totally retraced my thoughts back to try and retrieve it. It was just that good of an idea. I had it before I approached the intersection with Pandora Street. Then I passed the man with the beard, turned my head away from him because the sidewalk was narrow and there was traffic. I crossed Pandora even though the light was flashing don’t walk, but I made it ok, and it’s a one-way street so no one was turning right. Then just a short wait for the next light to turn – I stared over a the bus stop and that’s when I decided I had a good idea for a journal entry. When I crossed Cook Street, a truck had to wait while I crossed – if I hadn’t crossed at the last minute across Pandora he wouldn’t have had to wait. There was fencing up around the grass along the parkway along Pandora. Was this where people had been camping at the start of lockdown? I hadn’t been over here to see. Then passing another pedestrian, but the sidewalk got wider along side the new condo building. There’s a new daycare on the lower level of that – I think that’s the one I read about because the residents of the condo are annoyed that the daycare kids can use their outdoor common area upstairs. Should I work of my journal now when I get back? I might have five minutes left of my lunch break. Or I could use my 15 minutes now instead of later…

I think by that point I had stopped thinking about the idea and then lost it. And I still had that feeling of a vacancy in my memory. (That’s a better way of expressing a “hole in my head” isn’t it?) I replayed my steps a few times. Was I thinking about it before my approach to Pandora? What was I thinking as I left the ice cream store? As I rounded the corner back on to Cook? When had I started thinking about it?

And the *POP* there it was. My fully formed idea. I typed it into the notes on my phone with an exclamation mark! I plan to write about it soon.

COVID-19 Journal: Entry 25

I accidentally got up at 5 AM is morning. I do sometimes get up at 5 to go for a walk, but today I forgot that I was up until 1:30 last night watching my new favorite TV show (“Hart of Dixie”). As I progressed on my walk I wondered to myself why I felt so sleepy, since the cool morning air and exercise peps me up early in the morning, and I then I recalled my scant hours of sleep. So. I truncated my walk slightly, walking only 1/3 of the way around James Bay, instead of my usual full circumnavigation, and came home to do some sleepy stretches in my living room. I had breakfast, read one online Vanity Fair article, some headlines on Google news, and then napped for two hours, from 8:15 to 10:15 exactly. I now have CBC Music’s “In Concert” on (in the Mountain time zone feed) and was wandering around my sunny apartment trying to decided what to do next when I started to compose this blog entry. Ta da!

I had a week off last week (not this week just past, but the one before that, the one with Canada Day in it) and as a consequence, I was away from my job office for almost two weeks. When I got back I eventually noticed that some bird has left a creative expression on the window by my desk…

The hearts are my own creative endeavours. The streak was made by a mystery artist.

Otherwise, I had a fine couple of days in the office this week. On Friday I went to Subway to collect my supper. I’ve timed it so that instead of going after work at 4:30, when it can be busy, I slip down around 3 or 3:30 on my break, when there is no one there, not even a server. They are usually working in the back and notice me after a few minutes, giving me some time to decide what I want. Or finalize what I’ve already decided on getting. Subway is right under our office, so I don’t worry to much about time. This week I was still scanning the menu and trying to decide when the worker came out – and the fans were loud and from behind the tables they have in front of the ingredients display it’s hard to hear so I think our conversation went like this:

Server: Hi! How are you?

Lindsie: Roast Beef!

COVID-19 Journal – Entry 17

Mushrooms.

I may have mentioned that I’ve started ordering boxes of produce that is delivered to my door (rather, the front door of my building). I can say “boxes” now as I have ordered 2 – in different weeks. They are set boxes so I can’t pick and choose to may my own combination of produce. Well, I could maybe email if I had a true aversion or allergy to something and get them to leave it out, but I am more keen on getting lots of stuff and trying it out.

Example. The first box I got had a half pound of mushrooms included. They came in a nice paper bag. I don’t traditionally like mushrooms. Ever since I was a little girl they were on my list of foods I don’t like. But as an adult I make an effort to try different foods, including those that I have never liked. This is sometimes to not make a fuss since I have to make a fuss already if there’s dairy involved, but also to see if maybe I like a food thing now that I’m an adult. It would be shameful if there was something I did like, but thought I didn’t and didn’t give it a chance.

Lately, being an adult, I’ve learned to not mind mushrooms on pizza or in spaghetti sauce, where they’re good an camouflaged. I’ve even bought them, but only 4 at a time – enough to cover a pizza in a loose layer and that’s all.

So this bag of mushrooms. I surveyed several mushroom-eating people of my acquaintance to find out what to do with them. The suggestions were stir-fry or on toast with cheese. Toast with cheese was ok once I put on both mayonaise and ketchup. I used up most of them by chopping them up real small, frying them with tomatoes and green peppers for pasta sause. Some of them I used on pizza. I did a stir fry with peas and quinoa (I think? I don’t remember) but that didn’t go over so well.

After using them up for a good part of a week and a half, my body started rejecting the thought of more mushrooms. I get a weird bitter feeling all over when I think about them. Too many mushrooms.

There were no mushrooms in the second box I got, which was delivered on Sunday. It’s a good box this week. The only thing I don’t know how to use is the sweet potatoes, which, like normal potatoes, I don’t really ever consider. So far I’ve made a sweet potato porridge (No.) and a sweet potato with pasta dish (Yes.) “Sweet Potato Fries!” you are saying. But those involve frying and hot oil is scary and I will not. There might be some roasted sweet potato happening if I remember I have them before they get old and soft. Or whatever it is that sweet potatoes do when they get old. Disintegrate. Spontaneously combust.

Sock of the Day

One foot was overly warm, I expect.

COVID-19 Journal ~ Entry 16

Socks of the Day

It has gotten warm the past couple of days. Yesterday was the day it snuck up on me and I wondered why I was sweating-doing-nothing in the late afternoon. The reason was that it was nearing 26 degrees and I was wearing heavy winter socks.


This morning I woke and it was already 24 degrees inside. I face easy, and so my apartment is heated by the the sun all morning. Conversely, my evenings are cool, and I thinks this to be a fine trade. As a bonus, I get the glare of the sunset reflected off the apartments across from me – all the light, but none of the heat.

My apartment was so warm in the afternoon yesterday that I had to escape for a while out to the balcony, which was equally warm but featured an occasional breeze. I don’t spend a lot of time on the balcony because it is quite exposed: neighbouring apartment buildings are quite close, but also I am a cool being and it’s too cold out there for most of the year. Generally I am out there only, as was the case yesterday, when the temperature is equal to or higher than it is inside.

I took a book out with me to read, and a tea poured into the right-sized travel mug so as to fit in the drink holder in my deck chair. The book wasn’t the one I’ve advertised here before (“Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie), which is still on the go, but another – “Quicksilver” by Neal Stephenson, which I started last summer and never finished. I have read it several times before but I still would like to finish. It’s an easier read. It does, however, have two massive sequels, which I am debating getting on to when I am done. I was going through my bookshelves recently and I have many books I haven’t read yet, so I may conquer some of those first. Or I might get to the small stack I keep on my dresser that have bookmarks in them at various points of completion. This stack was moved from my bedside table when they got too dusty.

Yesterday, just before fully acknowledging the heat in my apartment, I prepared myself a cup of tea. It was decaffeinated English Breakfast, and I’ll provide some background on why I was so ridiculously excited to be drinking it.

About a 18 month ago, I noticed that I was getting really dizzy for no apparent reason. It would approach is a sudden wave and I would have to spend the rest of the day in bed, unable to do anything. While I am used to dizziness – it’s one of the symptoms of my dairy allergy- this was different. My usual dizziness was never do debilitating, as in, I could keep functioning with my day, if maybe taking a break from any turning exercises in dance class. Anyway, I eventually noticed that these waves of dizziness were occurring just after I consumed caffeine, and so as an experiment, I eliminated coffee, tea, and chocolate. Also, fun fact: there is still a wee bit of caffeine in decaffeinated tea, and yes, I was reacting to that as well.

Most people I chatted with about this were sad for me, but I have never been a big coffee drinker, and my tea and chocolate consumption had mostly been confined to treats on the weekend anyway, as they trigger my asthma, and I like to be able to breath during my dance classes during the week. And once gone completely, I didn’t miss the highs and lows of caffeine; that I mostly drank coffee for the masses of sugar I needed to drink it; and spending more than I should at Starbucks.

I’ve slowly been introducing myself back to chocolate for the past few months with not too bad reactions, and yesterday I had my first real, albeit decaffeinated tea in almost a year and a half. It was glorious and coated my tongue is that tea residue or whatever it is that I had forgotten about. Result: small woozy-headed reaction, but not the full on dizzy I’d experienced before. I’m pretty pleased. I’ve been enjoying no-caffeine-involved-at-all herbal teas, but they are not the same as a hearty Earl Grey or English Breakfast. I’ll try another cup later in the week or next weekend. I don’t want to overdo it and have to cut them out completely again. And I might not try the full caffeine versions for a while yet. Or ever?

COVID-19 Journal Entry 15

I finally watched the BBC version of Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility. Look. Here are Elinor and Edward practicing physical distancing. Very responsible.

This week was the week with a headache, so I retreated to my cozy bed most evenings immediately following work. To watch the aforementioned S&S so not too bad. Oooh it was also the week where I got veggies and fruit delivered to my apartment in a box, so that was both entertaining and fulfilling. This made it so I didn’t have to go to the grocery store, so bonus.

Also, here is some ballyhoo from my facebook this evening.

COVID-19 Journal… Entry 14

These are the flowers I walk past on my way to work! They line the walkway leading to the main doors of the Empress Hotel. I love the colours! They look good as I approach, and then they look good close up too! Some of the tulips are starting to fall apart, but that adds to the chaos of colour that’s going on. Part of me wants to do a painting of it, but it is already beautiful and perfect in real life. A painting, even this photo, can’t recreate my delight of seeing these flowers every morning, in the context of the world right now.

Or maybe it can. Is that flower bed six feet across? To be considered later. Is that doorway always roped off? I think it is, but what if it wasn’t?…

Work has been happening, as regularly scheduled. I spend the first part of the week working at home, and then Thursdays and Fridays I’m in the office. This is my rotation so far – we only get a couple weeks’ worth of schedule at a time, because these are strange and unpredictable times.

Friday nights I’ve been getting take-out hamburgers for dinner on my way home. Earl’s has been good to me, but today I found that Bin 4 has a vegan dessert, so they win for now. They also have an app, so I don’t need to make a phone call* – though I did have some human interaction at the door of the establishment when I picked up my order. I think maybe I won’t be so interested in getting take-out if it’s raining, as both places I’ve gone to so far have us waiting outside.

*I don’t like making phone calls, even for burgers. However, making phone calls for burgers isn’t too bad. “I’d like to order a burger for take-out,” is how I started usually. And it went well from there.

Other things I’m thinking about:

I’m tired on the days I go into the office. My job can get physical on some days: I work with files- ordering them in to send to various requestors. These might be single files, but they might be boxes full, and moving them around for the day, or part of the day, can make for tired times. And then because I’m working at home for half the week, by the time I’m in the office there’s lots of files to organize. So it might be that I’m doing that for the whole two days. And then on top of this. I’ve been walking to and from work to avoid public transit (I totally meant to drive today but I completely forgot. It wasn’t raining, I guess? But parking has gone cheap downtown.) That’s about a 40 minute walk one-way. So I’ve been tired after work when I get home.

I keep meaning to watch Sense and Sensibility again. This BBC one. I will soon. It’s a good, meaty version. I keep finding other things to do instead of watching TV, like reading, writing, listening to podcasts, sitting and thinking, playing with my phone. New goal of trying to read book instead of playing with phone so much. Should maybe re-read Sense and Sensibility. I’m making my way through Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. It is rich like black forest cake, so I only consume a little at a time.

Socks of the Day

I needed socks to wear for doing ballet barre exercises in my living room. These work very well- not to mention the colour coordination I’ve got going on there.

November 1 – River Cruise

It’s a rest day today.

Yesterday was a 5ish hour bus journey from Emei Shan to Chongqing. Chongqing is a huge, beautiful city and we got to spend a couple of hours there before boarding the river cruise. There are many many many skyscrapers. We had dinner in an area that was recreated to look like the historical residences of where people used to live, but is now markets and restaurants. It was build in memory of the way people used to live in the city; everyone now lives in apartment towers.

The river cruise is much like other cruises, or at least like the one I’ve been on. There are several dining room, a bar, a gym, a cruise director, etc. My group has elected to pay for upgraded meals so we can have an assigned table in a quieter dining room. There are also several extra dishes per meal compared to the un-upgraded option, and drinks are included at mealtime.

We have docked at the moment for an on-shore excursion. Most of the boat is participating but not me. I know that everyone is gone because I went for a wander and all the lights are off around the boat, and all services have shut down. Also, I only saw staff. Very quiet right now. I’m resting in my room with my roomie. We ate some vegetable crackers for a snack to hold us over until lunch at noon.

Fun thing: we are all woken up at 6:30am by misic playing over the announcement speaker that we can’t turn off, followed by daily announcements in Chinese. The Chinese announcements went on for five minutes, while we only got the date and weather in English. We have a printed sheet with the announcements we can read on our own.

I’m at the point of the trip where I’m tired and am ready to go home, (just shy of the two week mark, which is the usual time for this) but I still have a week of interesting things to see so I’ll make due. I’ve sent some laundry to be done, so that should help me feel better, especially if it comes back neatly folded. I always have a secret fear that I’ll never see my laundry again… but I filled in the sheet with my name and room number, so that should help.

October 24 – On the bullet train to Xi’an – in which I will reflect upon yesterday’s trip to The Great Wall

Part 1 -The Great Wall – October 23, 2019

Great Wall day started with my lying awake between 3 and 6am or so as I had not yet adjusted to the 15 hour time change yet. I think I fell asleep for a bit because I woke with a start when the alarm went off at 6:30.

There was a bus journey to the wall that took 2.5 hours. During the ride our guide gave is our first Chinese lesson: we learned how to count from 1 to 5. He then gave us a lesson on the geography of China and a history of the of the Great Wall (I’m going to refer to it as “the wall” from now on.)

He also strongly suggested to us that instead of hiking up the mountain that we pay to take the cable car to the start of the wall. Some people were curious about the hike, but I had spent the day before complaining about going up too many stairs, so I was getting my money counted-out to pay for the cable car.

After getting off the bus at the site of the wall, we appreciated the size of the hill going up to the wall, and why they cable car was a good idea. To my eyes it looked like the height and steepness of the blue chair at Mt Washington- though it’s probably not as tall. I have no sense of these things and it’s been a few years since I’ve been skiing. Either way, it had a gondola type cable car that looked like it went straight up. Everyone got tickets.

**Side note: I’m really digging a packet of Prawn Crackers as I write this. I’ve had them before, but these are special because I have purchased them in Beijing. I’m not having any troubles eating in China so far. The only problem is when buying snacks in convenience stores I can’t read any ingredients. I’m being pretty cautious but I do ok: some dried fruit, fruit cocktail, fresh bananas, instant noodles. I tried some “purple sweet potato bean paste lunch buns” that turned out to be safe but they were really sweet. I’ve left a mostly uneaten package back in Beijing because I didn’t think I’d be able to finish them.**

The cable car slowed down but didn’t stop so we had to load into a moving car, and then whoosh started going really fast up the hill. Some of my tour mates in the car with me were scared but I wasn’t.

The Great Wall is long and winds up the mountain like a dragon. There are gates along the way that act as markers, 1 through 20. The cable car deposited us at gate 14 (to be fact checked – I can’t remember), which, according to our guide is the best section as it has been nicely restored.

It was a beautiful day for a walk on the wall. It was sunny and the sky was (mostly) clear. Entering through the gate, I was overwhelmed with the sight of the wall winding up a mountain of trees and vegetation just starting to turn colour for the fall. Also: many many people having their photo taken against this view.

The wall is a crazy walk. There are nice smooth bits but these come between steep steps, low steps, gates, and groups of people holding photo shoots. I had some trouble going down some of the high steps because the were steep and high and had nothing to hold onto! I would ‘bum down’ at the very top and then I’d be fine after that.

Our guide told us to walk at our own pace, and we didn’t have to walk the whole wall if we didn’t want to: we could do whatever our bodies could handle. He also explained how the last (maintained) section of the wall was the steepest.

It took about 1/2 hour to walk to the last gate before the steep part. I was walking with a woman from my tour group, and we decided to have a break and a snack before attempting the steep part. We were both secretly thinking to ourselves that we might not go up, but after a fee minutes we started up.

The steep part of the wall is a big staircase made up of stairs of varying widths, heights and depths. It is covered in people of varying levels of fitness going up and coming back down.

My tour mate and I went up pretty slowly, stopping to rest quite often. Sometimes I’d sit down to look back – it gets very very high and I didn’t want to go into shock when I got to the top.

I did have a mild panic attach around 1/2 way up as I thought about how high I was and how tired my legs were getting, and worrying I wouldn’t make it back down. I stopped thinking about that and kept going.

OMG the last part of the stairs to get up to the last tower was nearly straight up and you get up by climbing up high, and super narrow steps. Some people can climb these like normal steps. Other people climb them with hands and feet like a salamander up a wall. I used the latter method.

At the top of the “last” tower there are a lot of people celebrating, catching their breath and taking photos of the view. It is not really the last tower, bit is the end of the section that has been restored and it maintained.

I was out of breath and shaky from being tired, but also from being terrified of the height. I was OK though.

** Pause in writing to watch scenery from the train, have a snack, listen to a podcast, have a wee snooze, and to take a walk along the train to find a western-style toilet **

We spent a little while at this tower to rest, and to greet other members of our group who had already made it, and who arrived while we waited. The mountain view was beautiful and it was nice to take the time to admire it while catching my breath.

Another thing I did here was to look down at the stairs I had just climbed, and felt a bit nauseous about having a go down them again. Very steep and very high. I didn’t cry. Another of my tour mates assured me it was perfectly fine to ‘bum down’ if needed and go very slow.

For the very steep first part down, which I had just come up using my hands as well as my legs, I took many many very deep breaths (Dad suggested “take a deep breath and go” as his advice before I left for my trip and I applied it here) and bummed down very slowly for the first bit, and then a little quicker for the last few steps.

My legs were very shaky on the rest of the way down from over-use. I’m sure everyone could see how much they were vibrating. I had to sit down a lot to rest, and I clung to the edge a lot of the way down. At some point, however, as it got lower and the stairs were a bit more even I figured out that just focusing down at the stairs immediately in front of me helped- not looking up at the view that might be distracting and maybe make me miss a stair. I made it down safely.

The walk back along the wall was easy after doing the steep part, but a bit annoying with shaky-tired legs. Just walking fast seemed to be the solution.

After we finished walking down the wall and met up with some other members of our group we found a magical cave that was all lot up like a fairyland inside. It was a tranquil place to recover. It was also nice and cool – it was a warm day.

Then lunch at the wall, the bus back to the hotel, and the rest of the evening was spent exploring Beijing with my group – our last night in the city.

Part 2 – On the Bullet Train to Xi’an – Present day.

I’m on the bullet train between Beijing and Xi’an. It’s a 5.5 hour ride, giving me ample time to write. I was worried for a whole because I needed to pee, and I had only seen a squat toilet at the front of our carriage. But it’s ok! I walked back a few carriages and found a western toilet. There was even toilet paper! (I had taken a supply of my own just in case.) I was good to get up and stretch my legs.

In Xi’an the plan is to get organized at our hotel and the have a walking tour of the Muslim Quarter. Then dinner, I hope. I’ve heard dumplings are the thing here.

October 21 – McDonalds on Wangfujing Pedestrian Street

1:15pm

It’s jet lag day and this little McDonald’s hamburger is really satisfying. I’ve been craving one since I saw a McDonalds during my walk this morning. Of course they were only serving breakfast this morning so now I’m back at lunch time.

I was out too early this morning, walking along Wangfujing Street (it’s a pedestrian shopping boulevard – 15 min walk from my hotel) and nothing was open yet. It didn’t matter: I had to bail anyway to go back to the hotel for a lie-down. Jet lag! So tired! Can’t sleep!

Chinese McDonalds! Where the kiosk lets you make your order and sends it to the kitchen before showing you half a dozen forma of payment that you don’t have! Not even an option for cash. Lucky this is a tourist area and the nice girl came up making cash signs and prompted the machine to let me pay that way (like at home, I took my little slip to the cashier). For revenge, I paid with a 100 yuan note. Haha I’m such a tourist. (My order was 26).

There’s like, totally a mall connected to this McDonald’s. I’m going to look at it.