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Keeping “Community” In My Personal Economy During COVID 19

My doorstep is a source of constant ding-donging, and parcel delivery.

Wth my son’s recent acquisition of a condo, he’s ordered the domestic accoutrements that he needs to make himself feel at home. My sweetie, the only one of us who is not deemed an essential worker, has been working from home, and enjoying the freedom of not having to go out to expose himself to the virus. He’s taken to ordering the cats’ wet food to be delivered, along with miscellaneous foofurah that will make him happy.

I admit that I do order from Amazon from time to time. I’m currently waiting for datura seed that I could not find at any of our local on-line offerings.

Mostly though, I’ve been trying to order from stores that I want to see open their doors again once this quarantine/shut-down/pandemic is over. Once a week I order from one of my favourite places.

I’ve placed a couple of orders with Wonderpens. Admittedly, I’ve never attended their location before. It was a thoughtful gift of fountain pen and fine writing paper notebook that hooked me.

 

It’s their Instagram feed @wonderpensstudioshop that keeps me interested and up to date with the products that they have available.  Their products provide me with quality stationary to that makes my writing feel more like an indulgence than work. From personal notes to novel outlines, I love using their high quality offerings.

When things call for something sophisticated for the palate, I turn faithfully to Hinterland Wine Company . Find them @hinterlandwine on Instagram.

hinterland.gif

 

‘Things’ these days, include A lazy Sunday lie in with brunch at the kitchen table, or binge watching old seasons of Game of Thrones. I always believe that you should have a bottle (or two of bubbles at the back of the fridge for occasions such as these. So why not indulge in something delicious and local?  Hinterland has been a favourite of mine since they opened. This week, it will be my treat to order a few more bottles to have on hand.

I first fell in love with their bubbles on a not-so-romantic getaway with a man whose company required copious amounts of alcohol just to keep me from pushing him out of the car…but I digress.  What kept me loyal and coming back to Hinterland for a visit was the charm of Vicki Samaras when she personally delivered a case of Les Etoiles, a few months later when I was single and able to enjoy their fine fare in the peace of good company.

Years later, when I took my sweetie to Hinterland in Prince Edward County, it was a giggly surprise to learn that Jonas Newman, Vicki’s husband and business partner, used to be his neighbour in Toronto. Small world. Delicious bubbles. What more could a gal ask for?

Pizza.

Another business that I enjoy ordering from appeals to a more base instinct; hunger.  Since I live in Markham, I don’t have much of an excuse any more to make it down to Terroni to pick up my very favourite pizza; The C’t mang.

c t mang

Admittedly, I’ve only ever ordered take out twice from Terroni. I prefer to sit in, mostly solo, and enjoy the pizza with a glass or two of wine from their delicious wine list.

But maybe a downtown road trip is due. After all, my favourite spot to hang out and drink craft beer happens to be Left Field Brewery. When they were open to the public, you could take in your own food to enjoy with their brew. Tucked in a sweet little spot in the east end of Toronto, it’s a cool place to hang out. In fact, last year for Mother’s Day, that’s where I took our twenty-something kiddos to hang out for a few hours.

left field.jpg

 

My personal favourite is their Bang Bang, a dry hopped sour.  The atmosphere is great for a casual meet up with friends, but barring that ,now that we live in the age of COVID, why not order some for delivery and hang out on your own back porch in the sunshine?

And speaking of back porches, the other local haunt that always cheers me up with it’s greenery and outstanding customer service is Kim’s Nature (Instagram @kims_nature). Curb-side pick up is available for your gardening needs. And really, who couldn’t use a little earth therapy? Seriously. Gardening, getting your hands damp in rich soil, and watching the lifecycle of a flower and vegetable garden are good for the soul.

 

I’m hoping that they open their outdoor garden centre this year if business conditions allow. Why? Because out of all of the places I’ve shopped in this neighbourhood, Kim’s nature have the heartiest plants and wonderful staff.

And I can’t forget my go-to take out when I’m hunkered down at my esssential workplace. It’s Abruzzo Pizza that my tummy begs for when it’s craving carbs and deliciousness. Located a short drive from work, It’s a family-owned business that has been around for just shy of 40 years. If it’s your first time ordering, get the Abruzzo Special. Get a party size, because you’ll want seconds and thirds.  Check them out on instagram at @abruzzo_pizza

Abruzzo

 

If you’re in the GTA, I hope that these suggestions inspire you to look into some of my favourite places and direct your spare cash to indulge in some of their treats.  If you’re not in the GTA, I hope that it inspires you to think locally and support your communities.

First and foremost though, especially for those of you who may not be lucky enough to still have a pay cheque coming in and are focussed on the necessesities, I hope you are well. I hope you have a strong, connected. loving community of support.

 

 

 

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The Frustration of Privilege

giphyI feel like a marshmallow snowman who was put down too close to the fire; blotchy and expanding at a frightening rate.

I stress eat at work. This week, a family sized package of Cadbury eggs  all but disappeared.  If you look at my suit pants which no longer zip up all the way, or the sagging ass of my ‘Rockstar’ jeans, you can appreciate where the chocolate went.

I’ve spent some time complaining about people who aren’t taking this pandemic seriously. It makes me sound holier-than-thou, and to be honest, I’m not. I’m a  middle-aged woman who misses her privileged normal.

Today would have marked my annual arrival on my favourite island. Right now, I’d be slipping under crisp, white sheets in an air-conditioned room, tipsy from rum punch, and nursing an almost-sunburn.  Instead, I’m ironing white dress shirts to take in to work tomorrow to get me through a week of death and destruction.

This whole social distancing thing is getting to me. It’s not because I can’t stay home. Au contraire. I fascinate myself. I can keep myself wonderful company in solitude. As a matter of fact, it’s my preferred state. I’m a writer, a reader, a baker, a needleworker, a gardener, and the toatler of tea.

When I’m in the mood for company, I prefer gin for conversations, and bubbly for the type of communication that doesn’t require words. I miss going out to write, to watch the world go by, and catch people’s idiosyncrasies while they’re not watching.

I miss feeling like a woman worth taking a chance on. I miss my pedicures, and spa days. I miss all of the things that I habitually do outside of my home.  I miss face to face conversations that have no agenda that take place in the kind of coffee shops that make me feel like an intellectual. That’s where the richness is.

I’m tired of tech and texts. I want to be close enough to someone I find interesting, that I can see the tiny tells that give them away. I miss connection.

I want certainty back. My little brain has never been good at flexibility. My father used to say that I would have made a great drill sergeant. I like order. I like procedure, protocol, efficiency.  None of this working-the-front-lines has any of that certainty right now. And I’m struggling with professional suppleness.

Today I almost upended a twelve year old on her bicycle. On purpose.

As she ran her tires up my back leg, I was required to take the headphones out of my ears and interrupt Tom Hanks’ soothing voice as he read Ann Patchett’s, The Dutch House to me. Her parents, I decided on the spot, were useless wankers.

I value my walks as private time. My house is a sanctuary of peace, except when there are two, twenty-somethings back at the nest and  a hubby who works from home.  During this time of duress, I like to have my phone conversations in private while I’m trying to walk off some of the Cadbury eggs.

giphy-1I take extra long, extra hot baths and use a plethora of face masks to try and erase the worry from my face.

I drink more; lemon water during the day to stay hydrated while breathing that hot, heavy breath through a mask, tea at night to calm my nerves, and on the weekends, I lean pretty heavily on gin to maintain my charm.

I want a weekend away in a hotel suite with a fireplace, and a giant bed with layers of fluffy white duvets. I want to be spoiled rotten with fine dining, really great wine, and a new piece of sparkly jewelry to remember the weekend by. I want the freedom to wake up late and not worry about what doesn’t get done just for a day or two.

In the past I had a small reserve of men upon whom I could call to relieve some tension; the olympic athlete, the bookworm, the suave European charmer, the hippie ( I always liked the hippies), the businessman, the stupid but handsome younger man….

I’ve traded them all in for one man whom I have accepted adulthood with. Lucky him. Being bound to our homes and workplaces, we’re getting a chance to get to know one another…again. Lucky us.  He has taken to his own long walk regime, a headset that signals silence, and watching television in another room.  I have established a hidden stash of gin.  Everyone’s happy.

As this social distancing continues, I’m reaching out to other funeral director friends from around the world. It hasn’t taken long to gather a list of friends who may be wanting to sit on a white-sand beach with me when the world heals, and celebrate with slushy drinks and suntans.  How’s that for privilege?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dispatch From the Front Lines

funeral director

This morning I waited in line to stock up on groceries, feeling thankful that in our home, none of us have lost our jobs.  I stand in the sunshine feeling grateful that I know I can stock up on what we need, and we don’t have to worry about how to pay for it.

As a last responder, my days are filled with assisting the bereaved navigate the uncharted waters of grief in the time of COVID. Other than those who harass us over and over with demands to breach mandated gathering numbers, I feel for each and every family who has to say good bye during such stressful times. The phone rings non-stop on top of the additional work of caring for those who have died from COVID 19. Despite the stress, I feel thankful that we share a strong camaraderie as funeral directors.

My days off are like a lifeline for me.  I need time to recharge and rest. I don’t stand in line to get necessities because I’m bored and need to leave the house. I do it because I have to.  This might be why I became irritated today by the  woman cruising through the store having a video chat with her gal-pal;  a precious face mask flipped down on her neck. A mask that a health care worker needs, and knows how to use.

selfie“Ooooooh! Should I get these?” She says, taking a video of the munchies on display, like her knob of a best friend hasn’t seen a bag of potato chips before.  And then she giggles, puts back the bag she just touched, and grabs another one for the camera.

I know, I know. You’re going to judge me and say that perhaps this woman needs some mental health compassion. To you, I bid a sincere, ‘pull your head out of your ass’.  This is not a time to social-media-up your ridiculous sense of self importance. As a matter of fact, it’s a time to get what you need and get the hell out of everyone’s way.

The mental toll of work has left me exhausted at the end of each day.  I haven’t had energy to talk to my pals or the focus to sit down and write in what feels like too long.

On Friday, changing from my uniform into my jeans and t-shirt before going home, I gave myself a stern talking to. It was a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps chat about getting my head right and devoting time every day to something energizing.  Walk. Read. Write. Call a friend.

People on the front lines are marching in to work every day despite feeling overwhelmed, frightened, and mentally fatigued.  People like me who care for the dead and the bereaved, bear witness to the pain and suffering that this disease leaves in it’s wake. It’s a lonely, hollow, grief that no one should have to go through.

self care

Please don’t be the asshat at the store treating this like a joke.

More importantly, if you are a front-line worker right now, I hope you have the energy to be just a little bit selfish; take time to let your body feel vibrant and alive, get some fresh air, make love, make art, sing in the shower…cry if you need to, and be vulnerable enough to let someone care for you.

 

 

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Purpose Doesn’t Need Pants

no pants 2Meh. I don’t need pants today. Not really. Or a bra.  My  first thoughts as I towel off after the shower.

These are strange days, strange days indeed.

I stepped on the scale…Crap…Stepped on it again, and again, and again… a different reading every time. I would’ve thrown it out the window, but now’s not the time to go shopping for a new one, I’ll take a two pound window of the-numbers-don’t-matter-your-pants-don’t-fit, and try not to devour any more ju-jubes today.

I’m as stress eater.  A reader. A crafter. A napper. A stressed out funeral director grasping at anything to make me feel like I have control of something during these challenging times.  A meditation student trying to let it all go.  It’s a fine balance. Chocolate helps.

Standing there in the bathroom, with my hair piled on top of my head, I wonder if maybe, trudging in to work every day is not my purpose. And then again, maybe it is. This pandemic after all, is what I’ve been trained for.

As I sit here with no pants or bra on, sipping my coffee and writing to you, I am thinking of all the people out there who are doing their best. You’re keeping yourself and others safely at a distance. And then I think about the people whom I deal with who are selfish and stupid and inconsiderate.

You can’t fix stupid. And right now, I’m not going to try.

What I am going to do is try to maintain the grace with which I handle myself day-to-day. That does not mean acquiescing to rude, ignorant people. It means  that I will state facts firmly, and maintain the directives that have been issued to me as a professional.

The rest of my energy will be directed toward maintaining calm, kindness, and a sense of purpose that we all must have at this time. Purpose: a word that self-helpers have heard a lot lately.  I like it.

During this time of fear, and stress, I urge you to explore the deep and fascinating scope of your purpose.

Just prior to stepping out of the shower and deciding that I didn’t need to wear any civilized clothing, I had a few moments under the streaming, warm water to think about my purpose.

Deciphering your purpose can be like assessing which fork-in-the-road to travel; the one smoothly paved with obstacles too far down to see, or the one with seemingly insurmountable obstacles right at the beginning.

Fear is a powerful motivator. But it’s blind sometimes. Discovering your true purpose requires you to be brave enough to keep your eyes open, while also relying on your intuition.

Purpose. May you discover it, define it, and live it during these unprecedented times…pants or no pants.

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Front-Line Obituary

stupidityIt is with profound apathy that I announce the passing of  Patience for ego-centric dickwads. It departed this world in the late afternoon. Patience is survived by it’s partners compassion and empathy who are also hanging on for dear life.

Patience began to decline with the onset of the recent pandemic of, “I just need”, “But I’m…”, and “Why Can’t I”.  Overwhelmed by the I, I, I’s and their Me, me, me partners, patience heaved one last sigh into it’s N-95 mask and departed.

That’s how I’d begin to write the obituary for my last nerve,  if I were inclined to write obituaries during my spare time.

Exposed to the public during the current pandemic, I have lost all patience for anyone who does not respect the social distancing directives and gathering maximums set out for everyone.  I have not lost my compassion or empahty for those who have experienced a loss, or people who are respectful of my life and the life of the general public.

Overwhelmingly I am confronted (yes, confronted) by people who think that somehow they are immune to the rules.

grumpy man

Overwhelmingly I also find myself thinking that it is not the COVID 19 virus that puts us at the highest risk, it is egotism (aka ignorance).  Individuals who think they are exempt from social distancing, and deserve more than essential services right now, are truly the stupidest people I’ve met…ever. And I’ve met some real idiots.

Do us all a favour. If you live with, talk to, or have occasion to stop some idiot from exposing front line workers to their childish pouting and time wasting, please do.

Front line workers are not out doing our jobs because we have time to argue with dumb-dumbs about social protocol and official directives.

If you are going to argue about your right to be anywhere right now, please, for the love of humanity, shut up and stay home. Pass it on.

 

 

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The Sanctuary of Your Car & 3 Movies that Might Save Your Sanity

car
Whoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a God. ~ARISTOTLE~

 

I wanted to start out by telling you how very fortunate I am to be able to slip into a state of zen about this whole pandemic. I wanted to charm you into believing that once I leave my workplace (as a funeral director – stressorama), that my home is a haven of peaceful solace. Instead, I offer you your vehicle as a hide-out, and your bathtub as a time machine – steamy water, candlelight, music, and memories of a delicious past….

The reality at my house (and likely the majority of others) is, that it’s a circus of emotion; sometimes gratitude is the pervading atmosphere, sometimes, tension, fear-turned-irritablility-and-anger, and sometimes happy-hour at unlikely hours. Mostly, it’s a combination of all of those things, depending on who’s in the room. Like now for instance…It’s just after 3pm, and I’m full-on gin and tonicing into the evening.

I’m trying to quietly hide in my writing/library room with a headset on (the universal signal for ‘please fuck off and don’t talk to me, I’m busy’).   Trying to get some peace and quiet (while CNN is blaring in the living room and my sweetie is passively aggressively putting away dishes because he thinks someone else should be doing it), requires new strategy.

While we mostly want to choke one another, there is one thing that has saved us all. That one thing? It’s  comedy.

My top three COVID classic comedy selections  (in no particular order) include;

The Big Lewbowski

 

lewbowski

 

Hot Tub Time Machine

 

hottubtimemachine

 

 

 

Mastermind

 

masterminds

 

Feeling helpless is clinically the worst case emotion for anyone exposed to trauma. The only thing that we can do now to act, is not to act (in other words, for the love of God and my desire to go camping this summer, stay the hell home), it’s tough to stay sane.  Maybe a good laugh will help release some stress, and get you focussed on ways, however small, that you can be of service.

 

 

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Stay Humble My Friends

coffee-cold-mug-winter

Humble. That’s the best we can all try to be right now.

Humble enough to be still, kind, and for the love of all that’s holy, quiet.

If I were a medical professional in the midst of this pandemic, I think that during my time off, earplugs would be as important as any personal protective gear during my time ‘on’.

You know what I’m talking about, the incessant chatter of  how this pandemic is spreading, what the symptoms are, and how long it will take before we can all get back to thoughtless, mass consumption.

After a most stressful five days of dealing with a sick person, a young man’s plea for a place to stay after being illegally evicted due to fear of the Coronavirus and worrying about my own job, I woke up this morning snug and warm among my fluffy duvets.

Bliss.

Until the chatter started. A thoughtful phone call to check in on my sick sweetie turned into an amateur COVID 19 medical conference right there in my bed.

I jammed an earplug in the ear that wasn’t on the pillow, took a few deep breaths, and then gave up before frustration set in. Earplug out, I padded down the stairs to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the solitude of morning.

This, after drifting off to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, wondering about the outward object of ‘adoration’ in the context of rapture…it’s ok, you don’t have to understand. All you need to know is that I was delighted to have had some time to submerge myself in the type of writing and thought that is all encompassing.  Something bigger than myself. 

The stress of the day washed away with my wordplay, and the ability to surrender to whatever comes next flexed it’s muscle and settled around me like a cocoon. I fell asleep with pen and notebook on my chest.

 

When you realize nothing is lacking,

The whole world belongs to you

~Lau Tzu~

 

I hope that everyone has that kind of escape right now; something that they love which gives them purpose.  Or even a guilty pleasure to binge on like The Tiger King , a raw example of chattering pride (pun no intended).

Being humble can come from a place of great joy, simple pleasures, or curiosity. Wherever it comes from, it can be a gentle teacher and an anchor in a world that seems to have gone mad. During times like these, humility can offer up a calm raft in the deluge of  uncertainty and change. It can also save you from yourself in ways you didn’t  even know that you need saving.