My office is on the corner of Fort and Cook Streets in Victoria. At street level on Fort Street there is an MLA constituency office, an H&R Block, a yoga studio and a Subway. My seat is right about the H&R Block and is currently identifiable by a number of brightly coloured hearts I have taped up in the window. When I look out said window I can see the apartment building and antique store across the street on Fort Street. I can also see the new condo/shops building on Cook Street. A restaurant or coffee place just opened this week on one of the corners of that and people have been spaciously gathered near there consuming something. I haven’t gotten close enough to see what the establishment is exactly. My co-worker looked them up and said they have smashed avocado and that’s it, so this could explain the popularity.
I took a walk along Cook Street yesterday morning (Friday, May 15) in the direction of the water and Cook St. Village. So… south. I had a tiny gift to deliver to a friend I hadn’t seen in weeks and weeks. I asked her if I could come drop it off at the doorway of her apartment building, which is just off Cook. She was fine with that. She’s been working at home for two months; we text occasionally and discuss how working at home is faring, and the contents of our delivered produce boxes, etc.
I made my delivery into her hands by both reaching my arm out and leaning back the rest of me. We had a short, well-distanced chat which was super lovely.
Later, at my lunch break, I walked in the other direction along Cook Street, up to the other village that is located on Cook Street. This was a scarier walk as the sidewalks are narrow with no grassy divider like there was in the other direction, and also there were so many people. It all made me a little grumpy. I went to get vegan ice cream from Cold Comfort, where they have set up a pick-up window, which was jolly. I got minty cocolate or something. I haven’t opened it to see how that is organized: whether it’s chocolate ice cream with mint, or minty vanilla ice cream with choco bits. Usually it’s the latter, I know, but for now it’s a mystery.
One thing I noticed while trying to line up was a cluster of young women… clustered. Not physically distancing at all. They were considering the menu, what to get. And when they decided, they all took individual spots in the line up as marked out by stripes of tape. So they went from a group, and then distanced, and then reconvened into a group and went to the park. So distancing when it was mandated, by the tape, but not otherwise. I was annoyed at them more for hanging out in a cluster by the menu and making it look like they were in line, so I got in line behind them (way behind them) but then it turned out that they were hiding the actual line with the tape markings and everything on the other side of the window. So while they were taking their time deciding, I could have gotten in line before they did!?? Stupid cluster.
I was reading my bird book today. My mum gave it to me last year last year or the year before from her collection of bird books because it’s about birds in Victoria and that’s where I live. I accepted it at the time but questioningly, as I have no interest in nature, which she knows and which I probably mentioned at the time. But I am interested in books, and it has illustrations of birds, not photos, which I find endearing and intriguing. So I have a bird book.
I also have a number of friends who, while I walk with them, will both notice birds and then identify them by type. (I was going to say that my friends “name” the birds, which sounds like they give them names in an “I’ll call you Ed” sort of way. But no.) I am always a little impressed by this, since I rarely notice birds when I’m out and about on my own (except for seagulls flying overhead) and I never know what they’re called. (I could name them though, if I wanted. For example. “Hey Ed, don’t poop on me.”) So I may have taken the book with this in mind, to learn more about birds.
It’s only sort of worked so far. I definitely notice birds now, even if I’m on my own. I’ve even stopped a few times to take a better look. I imagine at some point I will note down identifying features and run home to look them up in my book. This hasn’t happened yet. That connection is still to be made. I will notice birds. I will look at the book at random, other times. I don’t know what I’ve seen and I can identify them. It is a work in progress for me. I feel a big step was overcome when I started acknowledging the existence of nature, so I feel I deserve some sort of prize.
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
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?
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.
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
My stash of podcasts has dipped below 20 for the first time ever. See the proof above with the number hooked onto the orange icon there. The reason for this is theee-fold:
- I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately.
- I’ve had to delete a lot of podcasts because they were all about COVID-19 and I only need so much information. I subscribe to several daily podcasts and they’ve been almost exclusively COVID-19 related for the past month. Also, some of those are American, and I don’t need in-depth details/stats about how things are going there when I am already overwhelmed with the details/stats I my own jurisdiction.
- I’ve had to pause my subscriptions to most of the true crime podcasts I usually listen to. The graphic details included in these have been upsetting me lately, whereas before they were interesting and extreme stories.
Podcasts I’m Enjoying Lately
(these can be googled or searched for in your own podcast app):
This American Life – they’re talking about COVID-19, but in the style This American Life, that is, with cheery stories, or how everyday individuals are coping
Levar Burton Reads – Levar Burton reading short stories. At the end of each reading he reflects a bit on how the story affected him personally, which gives us permission to react to things personally, too.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – because let’s escape into a deep dive of history. I caught up on his latest episodes about the Pacific front of WW2 while making masks.
I made myself a couple of cotton masks last week just to have some and I finally tried one out today – it was the first time I’d been for groceries for a while. I do not like wearing a mask. It makes my face hot and my glasses steam up, even though I have some wire along the nose to prevent this. I got used to it, sort of, and I may just need to wear them more, but I don’t want to. But I’m having trouble remembering to cough into my sleeve, so it takes care of that. Also, I got a compliment, so that always helps.
I went for a walk yesterday morning just before sunrise. The only creatures I had to physically distance myself from were these geese. Confession: I try to physically distance myself from all geese, at all times, as geese are bastards. Beautiful and majestic, yes. Also bastards. I spotted these ones from a ways away, and considered crossing the street to avoid them. Instead, I got real close and took a photo. Correction – I was six feet away, at least. Additional information: this was next to the legislature.
As I walked (yesterday morning) the sun came up and the landscape turned pinkish. Delightful. I didn’t walk today because I woke up late and got up and did chores! such as cleaning the bathroom and washing the dishes.
I did overly good with food this week. I pre-made a bunch of food last weekend: fish-rice-beans dinner; quinoa salad for lunches at work; oatmeal for breakfasts at work; soup. And then there was leftover quinoa and rice to finish up. Upon calculation I realized that I would have to eat some of those thing at meals all week, and not have to make anything extra like macaroni and cheese. I think I managed to have some macaroni and cheese anyway??
On Wednesday night after work I meant to order and take out a burger from Earl’s- because it’s on my way home from the office and it’s a regular spot I’d like to support. This idea was quashed because I forgot my wallet at home (and I’d need the credit card in there to pay.. it took me a while to connect this fact to my plan to purchase food…) I got it on Thursday instead. Earl’s in downtown Vic has a table set up at it’s side door for take out orders.
My chest/ribs area hurt today so I thought I had a lung infection or something dire. As the hours went on, however, the pain developed and now I’m pretty sure I’ve strained my muscles doing a new Pilates exercise.
I texted with chums today. Susan and Amber, and also Mum. We are all dealing. Back in the regular times if I wanted to text someone I’d be all worried that my chosen recipient might be busy and I wouldn’t want to disturb them. And oh and fret. Not so lately. And we all commiserate.
List of things to do tomorrow:
- Go to work
- Do not go shopping at breaks or lunch
- Come home, without stopping for groceries on the way
- Phone Mum at 7pm because it will be Wednesday
I stayed in bed until three today. Mostly. I got up around 10 and had some food, but by the time The Queen came on I was back. After that, I just rested for a while with my eyes closed. Not napping, just thinking of things. Story ideas. Imaginary settings and happenings. Not obsessing or panicking or being paranoid or anything (as I made sure to emphases to Mum during our Sunday evening phone call. Just relaxing and being fine. It was a nice afternoon.
I have a really cozy bed. Oh, actually, just as I was about to get up at three, Jennifer Ehle started reading her daily chapter(s) from Pride and Prejudice on Instagram, so I stayed and listened to that for a bit, and then took her out into the kitchen so I could continue to listen as I did dishes. It’s nice to have something familiar (REALLY familiar) to listen to everyday. P&P is not stressful, and the parts that might be a little stressful (an elopement! merciful heavens!) I know they are approaching and how they are resolved. I also enjoyed watching Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Coat (I know all the words) for the same reason. I anticipate a binge of some Marvel movies soon, and probably more Jane Austen. My comfort things.
There’s still parsley growing in the pot on my balcony! I used some (but not all) for my parsley rice at luppertime today. Mmm. Parsley makes me happy. Also: paisley.
Look I’ve reached 10 entries of COVID-musings. How long will it go? Will I run out of punctuations for the titles? Stay tuned.