Week 6 is ending here. The week flew by as my colleagues and I dealt with posting lessons and checking work via Seesaw. A couple weeks ago we didn’t even know what that was. I am very proud of us for supporting each other as we learned this pretty much by ourselves (easier for some of us than others!).
I have been mostly focused on keeping up with my flock of little people and trying to make things less onerous for their parents, but I also am keeping an eager eye on the news. It seems to me we are about to enter a period that is going to be more difficult than the isolation stage. As we all hunkered down, stayed home and learned new ways of working and keeping in touch, we had a common purpose. Now we hear of this country relaxing restrictions and that country doing something else. Even within a region, these stores can re-open but those can’t. I anticipate all this causing division and discontent.
Now more than ever we need to be pulling in the same direction. We all want what is best for our parents and grandparents, our friends and families with weakened immune systems, the self-employed and those who have lost their jobs, the healthcare workers on the front lines… But we have never been in this situation before. No one knows what is best, yet. We can only take things one step at a time.
Let’s all pull together. This will be easier for some than others, depending on our situations, but let’s try. And maybe we can learn how to handle similar situations better, should there ever be a next time.
We are now in the fourth week of lockdown, but also the first week of spring break. The days all sort of meld together, but I am taking a break from checking school emails. While I don’t have to contact students during these two weeks, I do need to learn how to use Seesaw so I can add lessons, see the work students post and make comments. And I need to learn this by myself. Technology and I are not the best of friends at any time and I would not have chosen it as a partner in my isolation. But I have no choice. We will be forced to get to know each other.
In other news, I have been doing quite a lot of window gazing of late, notably while eating my breakfast, looking out to see what is not happening in the neighbourhood. All the window watching has led me to window washing. This is not my favorite spring cleaning task… if such a thing exists. I don’t actually mind the washing but it is such a messy chore. However! I am now in possession of three microfibre cloths bought at an H2O at Home party in the fall. By golly if they didn’t make this job quicker and entirely drip free! Hooray! But the best part – now I don’t have to clean windows again for a while.
Lastly, I have had a Stay Home revelation. Rather than grump about what I don’t have (a yard, for example), I need to look at what I do have differently. Therefore, I looked at the little balcony off our narrow kitchen which up until now has been storage space for brooms, mops and recycling (metal, glass, compost). I looked and I saw…potential. This is a balcony! I said to myself. It needs to be treated as one! The fact that it is just wide enough for one folding chair did not hold me back. Nor did the fact that it only gets a sliver of sun high up on the wall first thing in the morning. I made room for that one chair! I got rid of a few things. I shoved all the recycling to one side. I washed the floor (yuck!). And I sat on my balcony with a cup of tea. Right now that ability to sit outside for a minute is what counts.
In Belgium we changed over to Daylight Savings Time last night. (Back to a six hour time difference, Mom). A colleague of my daughter sent out a text yesterday saying, “Remember to change your clocks. You don’t want to be late for sitting in your living room!” That made me chuckle every time I thought of it. Got to find your pleasures in small things.
Friday the prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, updated the country to say the lockdown has been extended to April 19th and may well last longer. For me that means that spring break will be spent very much as the last two weeks have been. And to be honest, very much like my previous spring breaks. Introverts unite!!
Credit: Pikrepo, The Brussels Times
Wilmès also clarified what was meant by exercising in the proximity of your home. Police felt the rules were unclear. As quoted in The Brussels Times: “For outdoor activities, the aim is to keep moving. Meeting in a park and sitting there for a while is not allowed. People can only leave their homes for the duration of their physical activity and have to return home immediately after. Going to the Ardennes or to the coast for a day is not allowed.” (emphasis mine)
Even for Belgians, taking day trips to the country or the coast while ‘staying at home’ is stretching proximity in a small country a bit far.
As a friend mentioned last night in a video chat, so much has happened in the last week that last week feels like a month ago.
And yet a month ago measures such as canceling school trips seemed a bit extreme and the thought of closing school didn’t even cross my mind.
And yet here we are.
Today I went to my beloved, smallish grocery store to do a big shop. We’ve been going to the corner store for little things but it was time to stock up (NOT hoard). I like to go when the store opens because the small parking lot quickly fills up. Today I was there a bit before 8:30 and waited in a line that went out right out of lot. I counted and there were only 20 people ahead of me, but everyone respected the distancing rule so the line stretched out. When the doors opened, a fellow in a yellow jacket let people in in groups. It probably wasn’t even five minutes before I was inside, but if I hadn’t come prepared with a book to read while I waited, I bet it would have been longer.
Inside all was as normal. I could not find raisins (humph!) and the cheap whole milk was gone, but there was plenty of every other kind. I got what I needed and headed out, thanking the somewhat harried looking cashier for being there. She broke into a huge smile and said, “Oh, we all do what we can!” and smiled me out of the store.
I just finished The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, which I picked up at our school library before we were all sent home. It tells the story of William Kamkwamba’s desire to learn, and his amazing resourcefulness and resilience in the face of poverty and famine.
Even though he was barred from school due to lack of funds, and at one point schools were closed due to widespread famine, he continued to learn. At his primary school library, he happened upon some second hand science and physics books in English, a language he did not know well. Using diagrams and dictionaries, and lots of trial and error, he taught himself to build a windmill that provided electricity for his home. But that was just a beginning.
This book is a testament not only to intellect, but perseverence. William was given the nickname Noah by his family, saying that everyone laughed at Noah and his ark, but Noah saved his family from destruction. William was mocked and suspected for his bizarre inventions, but in the end he provided electricity and water for his family and also shared his inventions and good fortune with his village.
This was not the best book I’ve ever read, but it was an inspiring story.
As of noon today Belgium will be in a lockdown in an attempt to slow the outbreak of COVID-19. According to the prime minister last night, this means everyone is expected to work at home if they can. Children do schoolwork at home. Non-essential travel is discouraged (saw several people at the tram stop with suitcases this morning, making their escape while they still could!). Only essential businesses are open such as grocery stores, banks, post offices, pharmacies. I feel for the self-employed and small business owners. This is going to be tough.
For me and my family, things will be relatively easy. We were already told to work from home and practice social distancing. We can go out for exercise either individually or with one other person. So my husband is happy- he can still go for bike rides, but no more coffees with his buddy down the road. As for me, I can still take walks in the woods, which I anticipate will be needed more and more as our time of enforced togetherness continues!
On the positive side, for the moment the sun in shining. Hopefully all will act responsibly and the virus will not take a toll on lives, healthcare workers and services. Here’s hoping this will just be a brief temporary measure and things can get back to normal soon.
My scrooge secret is that I really, really do not like to put up the Christmas tree. I like having the tree (at least now that we have found a place for it where it isn’t in the way). I like looking at it and I love all the memories attached to the ornaments. But I don’t think it’s too strong a word to say I hate putting it up. So I put it off. This year when I finally faced the task, it really wasn’t so bad. In a recent Financial Times article entitled Time bauble,Edwin Heathcote wrote “Christmas decorations awaken our senses and memories…” So true. Now that the tree is up and decorated, I am sitting here looking at it and remembering. It truly is a tree of memories.
Growing up we always had a real tree, chosen from the Little League Baseball lot Continue reading →
Has anyone besides me ever done it before? Having never had a need for it, the question of whether or not it was possible never happened to arise until today. But I can now categorically state that it is possible to vacuum an oven and that doing so reduces the amount of smoke from burning particles that have spilled into unreachable places.
I have also decided to quit making my own granola. But I may renege on that. My husband says that perseverance in cooking experiments is one of my fortes. I’m not sure forte is a word I would have chosen to describe my continuing misadventures. But I may well try again after the memory of sweeping several servings of freshly baked granola off the kitchen floor, another serving off the stove top and who knows how much from the depths of my oven (hence the vacuuming).
I was inspired to granola-bake in the first place by my friend Amy’s email telling about making 10 cups of granola when her daughter was home. I thought to myself, “Ten cups!!” But now I see that if you are going to go to the effort, it’s best to make enough to last more than a couple of days. A question of where to store that much granola naturally arises, but as I have yet to make one recipe that I either a) really like or b) get out of the oven without losing half of it, storage has not yet become a problem.
My latest attempt used this recipe as a guide. I do tend to use recipes as suggestions rather than rules. I liked the texture but I’m still fiddling with the amount of sugar. Or I was before I swore off making any more granola.
If there’s anyone out there who regularly vacuums their oven, please let me know.
According to my Boynton Page-A-Day Calendar, February 10th was Umbrella Day last year. I fear that particular holiday did not make the cut this year (unless it’s of the traveling sort and will turn up in another month). Regardless, it is a day to be recognised in some way, especially this year. Continue reading →
Summer is coming to a close here. We have had a pretty calm and quiet time with everyone (for once) on vacation at the same time. Our main events included a very pleasant visit from my mother in July. In August, we spent a few days as a family in the Netherlands for a change of scene. I hear you. You are only repeating what my children said. The Netherlands? Really? Continue reading →
I have results! I have even taken my own pictures. I had expected the runner beans to be my winner in the growing contest, but at the moment it’s the poppies that have me daily checking their progress.
We’ve had extreme heat in our area recently, so I’ve been watering my little pots every day. I may have given the poppies too much because the leaves have yellowed, but there are flowers!
The other day, in a rare fit of green thumb disease, I bought a package of oregano seeds and another of poppy. I think I was inspired by the growing experiments we have been doing at school with my first graders. Their runner beans were running amok and we had to send them home. I missed inspecting the jungle each morning. So I bought my own seeds.