Crazy month of May 2020: my responses

My suggestion was that this meme might help preserve some of our experiences during the 2020 pandemic.

Here are my responses. I’ll collate everyone’s later in the week.

What are you most grateful for during this covid-19 crisis?

I’ve had a recurring mantra of gratitude that my mother is being well cared for and safe in her nursing home; that we returned to Australia on 7 March, ahead of the virus spread in India and before Singapore’s 2nd wave; that I have a roof over my head and that all our family have kept their jobs; that we are all well; and that our national cabinet has listened to the experts and taken action to keep us all as safe as possible. I’m very grateful to find Australia at the bottom of the coronavirus stats for infections and deaths, and high on the testing. I’m also very grateful to have Mr Cassmob beside me through all this.

What have you missed most during the full or partial lock-down?

I don’t feel like life has been too tough during the phases of lock down. By day 13 of my self-imposed quarantine (before the government made it mandatory) I was getting a bit stir crazy not being able to go out but got over it. We’ve concluded we lead pretty boring lives most of the time 🙂 I’ve most missed meeting up with friends and family.

Has your hobby sustained you during this time?

For sure. There’s always so much to do with family history – photos to scan, heritage items to sort, blogs to write, learning to be done. Inspired by the Legal Genealogist’s office organisation, I made a start and then got side-tracked by scanning which only led to more mess. My big task right now is to clean up my genealogy database which is in a tangle thanks to my ineptitude, computer crashes, programs no longer supported etc. I hope to have that sorted by mid-July at the latest, working one letter at a time – I’m up to the Ds.

What changes have you seen in your life over May 2020?

It was sad when we couldn’t just drive to the nearby beach – they closed down the access roads to the esplanade. Just seeing the beach is sustaining and soothing. I’ve been limited in times I can visit my mother, have been temp scanned each time, and sanitiser is everywhere – in short the aged care home has done a great job of being proactive and communicating with family.

We’ve bought more take-away coffees than ever before, just to help our local favourite stay afloat. I’ve even gone back to doing my own pedicures – gasp – the hardships!

With the Queensland government’s decision to permit movement locally, it’s allowed us to escape the feeling of being too confined. First stage was a 50km radius from home, then 150km and now anywhere in Queensland.

Have you been exercising more or less?

Much the same, which is to say, nowhere near enough. Now that the weather is colder, walking on the cold sand or wading at the water’s edge just doesn’t have the same appeal.

One thing I realised I’ve missed is that in Darwin we could go for walks along the waterfront and through the park…no need to get the car out.

Has the refrigerator been your friend or foe?

The refrigerator is always my friend but I’ve acquired an addiction to cookies and cream ice-creams 🙂

Have you been participating in virtual gatherings with friends or family?

A bit but not that much more than usual – it’s been about the phone calls.

Have you taken up new hobbies during the lockdowns?

Nope. Family history keeps me busy and I can’t quite imagine how people manage other time-consuming hobbies like quilting. I also can’t quite face the extra “mess” that might ensue. My other “hobby” is sorting out mum’s heritage items which pretty much come under family history as well.

Are you cooking or gardening more?

I’m blessed with a husband who loves to cook but I have made a cake or two – any more and I/we would only get fatter. We’ve also now got lettuce, tomatoes, onions, capsicums, more herbs, and eggplant growing…a little more than usual. Our fave coffee shop has also given us coffee grounds for the garden. Win-win.

Have you shopped more or less? Online or offline?

I‘m not a big fan of shopping so haven’t felt deprived by the lack of open shops or an inability to potter around Sunshine Plaza (ugh!). I’ve ordered a couple of things online and too many e-books from Amazon as I’m reading a book most nights (I don’t like the program the library uses for ebook loans). Offline, as I mentioned, we’re supporting our local coffee shop beyond our normal level – they are so friendly and efficient we wanted to help them keep their jobs. Our initial grocery orders were online as we needed to stock up after our holiday, but recently they’re short trips into the stores.

What have you found to be the strangest change to your life?

Not being able to just meet up with a friend for coffee and the structure around nursing home visits.

I am usually found searching various travel sites online and that’s pretty much disappeared. I’m used to that now but it was odd in the beginning…so why don’t I have more time? Oh yes, all those books I’ve read 🙂

How pathetic is it that we’ve missed being able to go on local jaunts to look at prize homes and see new suburbs?!

Have you found the changes and experience stressful/anxious/worrying?

Not really. I’ve felt confident that we’ve been well protected one way and another. There’s only been once or twice that I’ve felt discombobulated, rather than anxious etc. I was a bit concerned when I got what you’d normally say is “just a bug” but had the tonsil-tickler-test at the doctor’s direction, mainly due to concerns about mum. Luckily it was negative though I stayed home until I felt better again.

Update: I’ve realised that the biggest stressor for me during the past three months has been seeing mum’s health deteriorate since she had a stroke not long before the pandemic hit. She’s been very independent until this year so it’s a big change for her and for us with her care.

How have the closures affected your local community?

As we live in a tourist area, it’s been sad to see the decimation of businesses, especially coffee shops and restaurants. Our local “village” has lost, permanently or temporarily, a lot of shops. Our go-to lunch restaurant has closed indefinitely. On the upside, it’s been interesting to see how businesses have adapted quickly, putting up perspex barriers in front of the sales counters (perspex manufacturers must be making a mint), and providing medical scripts delivery and pickup. It was strange to see all the local playgrounds cordoned off so it’s nice to see kids on swings etc now.

Have in-person meetings been replaced with virtual meetings via Zoom, Skype etc?

Caloundra Family History has been very responsive thanks to the efforts of some members and meetings are all rescheduled as Zoom meetings. I think the societies that haven’t taken the chance to explore online meetings have done themselves, and members, a disservice.

Do you enjoy the virtual meeting format?

I’m actually enjoying the Zoom etc meetings. Our Caloundra society’s Share, Show and Tell fortnightly sessions are great and I hope they continue – so much more opportunity for sharing and learning with more time, rather than in our formal monthly meeting. I’ve also been able to attend a GSQ DNA meeting rather than have to drive to Brisbane, which never seems to happen. The massive availability of free webinars has been a fantastic learning opportunity to hear speakers world-wide. Of course, you miss the chance to just hang out with genimates but that will come – in due course.

Are you working from home instead of in your usual place of work?

Home is my usual place of work since I’m retired – another thing to be grateful for, along with having my own dedicated office space.

Have your habits changed over the past months?

Yes, due to not being able to catch up with friends, though the phones, and emails, have run hot over the months as we’ve kept in touch with each other. Especially in the earlier months of covid-19 (March-April), phone calls were a big time-ticket on my daily agenda. I still don’t exercise enough, and somehow I’m reading far more – a book completed most nights, albeit mostly my crime novel addiction. Of course I could be more productive and head to the study but I don’t enjoy sitting at the computer for lengthy periods as much as I once did. The change in the cat’s habits have affected me – he’s finally learned he can sit on my lap – which of course means I’m pinned down until he’s ready to move….it’s only taken him 14 years!

in the last six weeks or so I haven’t been devouring the covid-19 stats and reports with the same level of obsession on a daily basis as I did in March-April, but the sheer scale of the continually increasing numbers is overwhelming. Selfishly, I’m grateful that Australia and New Zealand have been well protected.

Have you had to cancel travel plans for pleasure or family?

Sadly, yes. Our early May travel to Darwin for a grandson’s birthday and a long weekend camping had to be cancelled. I can’t wait until the border lockdown to the NT is lifted and we can go give them all a HUGE HUG.

Do you think you’ll be able to travel in 2020?

I’m thinking that travel within Australia will definitely be possible, and maybe New Zealand. Whether we do the latter now, or not, remains to be seen – we’ve been before but have been talking about going to see family across the Ditch “soon”. Meanwhile, a few nights near the Darling Downs in a B&B with a fireplace might be on the cards in the near future – we can justify it as keeping local businesses afloat. The furry feline’s luxury accommodation has been re-opened so that’s no longer a problem. I’ve been thinking I need a trip to Rockhampton for family history so that might become a 2020 activity. With covid stats around the world, nowhere else on my bucket list is looking appealing.

Have you/others been wearing masks when out and about in your area?

Most people are not wearing masks as they’ve not been deemed necessary. I’ve mainly seen them in doctors’ surgeries.

Will you change your lifestyle after this experience?

Hmmm…I’m not sure. As I’ve mentioned our lives were fairly routine before and we’ll likely go back to that, meeting up with friends/family for meals or coffee. We need to be more strategic about what we want to achieve, and that includes travel. I’m grateful we’ve had the chance to travel so much in earlier years, so it won’t be too sad if we have to curtail our future plans. I’d like to say I’ll exercise more and get fitter, but I’ve said that many times. I hope to maintain a sense of gratitude for all the wonderful aspects of my life, especially the people.

It’s been interesting to reflect on the lifestyle changes over the past few months and during May as we move back towards more usual day-to-day activities.

We have been so fortunate in Australia that we’ve escaped the horrors experienced in other countries with covid-19 despite the economic consequences. It must have been such an horrific experience for those who’ve lost family and friends and not able to farewell them with traditional ceremonies. So many people have borne the brunt of the horrors and challenges from the health professionals to shop staff to the unacknowledged workers who keep our societies functioning. We have much to be grateful for.