it’s beginning to look a lot like christmas – in isolation.

My Artistry has been elusive this week; it simply hasn’t wanted to come out to be exercised. Given the past couple weeks of pain in my neck, spiking workload due to covering for a peer, and my effort to find some passion in my volunteer efforts, I haven’t found the energy or focus enough to write. Time, has been something of an abundance (so much gone from my life and routines since March), so I can’t use finding time as an excuse for not writing, but a mind gone numb blocked my flow. As I seem to have found myself in a moment of clarity (and no, it’s not from being enhanced), I thought I’d take advantage of it, and give the keyboard a workout.

i see and use you every day, but I never get joy from you until I can let the Artistry flow

My writing this post comes some 16 or so hours after our provincial government introduced new isolation measures for the province (buh-bye isolation-light, we barely knew you), maybe this time I’ll call it isolation-tight, because the measures are greater (retail will now only permit 15% of fire capacity), but still have not returned to the complete lock down (isolation-max?) we experienced in March when The Pause began.

Restaurants will be closed to dining in; bars, gyms, casinos are also closing (I’m doomed to a prisoner’s haircut unless I can get to a barber before Sunday). I have to admit, I feel better with the new restrictions; it made absolutely no sense to me that if my partner and I were so inclined, we could have gone to the mall or a casino to meet and catch up with friends and acquaintances, but couldn’t invite them into our home, even if they’d been isolating themselves (this still irks me). Even though all social gatherings are now banned and there is a province wide masking rule when indoors in public spaces in place, I have zero doubt we’ll be seeing more protests this coming weekend.  My dark side is crossing it’s fingers and hoping that this winter’s worst snow falls occur on weekends; I suspect some of the vigor of the protesters will be dulled by frigid temperatures and blowing snow (will Chinooks bring protests along with their warm winds?). I take no issue with the right to protest, and if the participants are willing to take on the risk of the fines and what COVID might do to them for gathering un-masked, well Darwin’s theories will judge their actions (and the law, don’t forget the law).

Throughout The Pause, my partner and I have followed the rules and we’re grown tired of the reduced freedom, so I have no doubt that many have reached their breaking point.  I do agree that our rights are being temporarily limited, but for good very reasons (check the reports daily, those deaths are reason enough to suck it up and soldier on; the end is in sight, as Pfizer’s vaccine has just been authorized for use in Canada).  It is our duty as responsible citizens to comply with these orders.

I’m not onboard with those that feel when the pandemic is finally over that the restrictions on our movement and civil liberties will remain in place.  I do acknowledge the fact that income taxes were introduced as a result of funding militaries during the World Wars, and they (the taxes, not the wars) haven’t gone away, so the potential is real that there will be some changes that will be lasting, but they may well overdue for a planet that has become overcrowded.  This is a medical emergency; what has been done is intended to bend the curve now in order to avoid our health care system’s collapse due to being overwhelmed. When the pandemic ends, if my rights remain unreasonably restricted, I’ll remember that come voting time, but the possibility also does exist I might one day find myself joining protests myself (I hope that’s an entry I never find myself writing).

workers wearing protective gear bury bodies in a trench on Hart Island in New York City on April 9.

My motivation to comply can be found in the horrific images of mass graves being dug in New York state this past spring. I think of those new graves and I can’t help but think of other mass graves, but those were a result of violence, not an illness that could have had it’s potential to spread limited. I sincerely hope we won’t see images like the one above again, but it’s a long road to spring, and the case numbers at the moment don’t provide any reassurance that we’re trending in the right direction. I hope that when we see the new cases numbers in about 10 days time that we’ll see a drop and we’ll feel better about all we’ve had to sacrifice, not just for the season, but in the last nine months. If those numbers don’t reflect a bend in the curve, the only option left for to our governments will be to close up retail completely, to revisit whether the provision of non-essential therapeutic health care services will remain open, and potentially force a return to isolation-max(?) state.

My only masked face to masked face interaction with my fellow humans these days seems to come from healthcare providers, and our conversations always turn to how we’re coping.  These folks improve our quality of life and I’m glad that for the most part they remain open (if they’re in a regulated industry), but if a return to full lock down becomes necessary, I imagine that will end.  With isolation-tight I’ve got to embrace video conferencing more, as springtime remains months away, so I can’t go full hermit this time out.  I avoided video conferencing outside of work and volunteering time during The Pause as much as I could, but given the festive season, I’m going to have to likely change that approach in order to avoid Christmas and New Years becoming debilitatingly depressing due to the absence time with family (no matter how awkward and trying it can be at times, but god I miss it).

It’s still quite remarkable to hear that no cases have been transmitted via salons, dentists or chiropractic offices. The experience is different, especially at the dentist office where hygienists and dentists make a living staring down our largest aerosol generating orifice, With the staff gowned, masked, visored and gloved, I might not be completely at ease, but I do find myself reassured by their precautions. We need to keep it top of our minds that we are not alone in this, to take the opportunity to thank these individuals for what they do to keep us healthy whenever we visit (Santa, have you checked your ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ list? Please put these folks on the top of the ‘nice’ list, they have earned some thanks and spoiling).

there are heros amongst us; don’t forget them this holiday season, please take a moment to thank them when you encounter them, I know they’ll hear you

My mind keeps turning to life post COVID for hope; finding my way to a Caribbean island for a month long break and recovery has become a fantasy I like to indulge in.  Winning the lottery used to be my biggest go-to escapist fantasy, but a Caribbean escape feels more compelling than ever, so perhaps I’ll start doing some research and planning for fun, with the hopes that I might one day be able to pull the trigger on those plans, and give myself time for recovery and rest before entering into life’s new normal, post-COVID.

Until then, I’ve made some simple plans for Christmas: I’m going to smoke a turkey, bake some cinnamon buns from my grandmothers’ (yes plural, possessive) recipe, and lend a hand to my partner in making some simple shortbread cookies from her mother’s recipe.  We’ve already indulged some mutual childhood memories in making a batch of Hawaiian meatballs (the flavour was a throwback to my childhood, but certainly not a hi).  If I could just get the guts up to try making sausage rolls (filling and pastry from scratch) like my mother once did, I’d be fully immersed with nostalgia induced joy.  It remains to bee seen if I’m going find enough ambition (or have lost my mind sufficiently enough) to attempt other family Christmas feast staples like cabbage roles or perogies (if I drop off the face of the earth, either my Artistry will have departed me, or I’ll have fallen victim to my suspect cooking skills).

For a COVID Christmas, I want to surround myself with what is familiar and what brought joy into my life for so many Christmases before. I refuse to mope over isolation, because I’m employed, I’ve got a roof over my head,  heat to keep me warm, reasonable health (the journey to better health is still underway, although a little delayed by stress induced neck issues) and a couple fur-kids to enjoy watching fight and play; I’ve still got enough of my mental faculties in place that I prefer their playing over their fighting, but ask me again in February, and I might be willing to live stream their antics (cats and the internet were made for each other, right? Right?) for kicks.

I need to make the most of it, I will not become an even bigger hermit for the season.  Hopefully enough snow will fall this year to give us a truly white Christmas, so that I can break out the snowshoes to go out and enjoy a world beyond the four walls of home for some fresh air and building an appetite for our Christmas feast in isolation.

This Christmas I will make new memories that I never want to forget. I know that when life does return to a new normal, that I do not want to take for granted what we all went through and sacrificed in order to get back to a life more familiar and (hopefully) comforting.

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