Hubby Buns May 2020

Pandemic Ponderings

Because I’m retired and living in fortunate circumstances, I haven’t been directly affected by the pandemic. The worst effect has been the weekly grocery shop and having to cancel a week long holiday planned for the end of March. Boo-hoo.

But reading and hearing about what’s happening in the rest of the country and around the world has made me think about things. For what it’s worth, here are some of those thoughts…

  • The speed and magnitude of the lockdowns, quarantines, closures, and other measures was amazing. Maybe this will show us how to change in order to slow climate change, which is potentially a bigger threat than Covid-19.
  • The pandemic has held up a mirror to our values. In Canada, and maybe other countries, the most severe outbreaks have been in long term care homes, prisons, and meat plants. Quite different situations, but with some things in common — people in close quarters and/or workers who are poorly paid. Care home workers are kept to part time by their for-profit employers and therefore must work in more than one facility to make a decent living. Meat plant workers live in crowded conditions because they can’t afford better accommodation. Guess what happens.
  • Grocery shopping has become an improvisational absurdist play. People wearing masks dart around following arrows on the floor. If they meet someone else in an aisle, they recoil in horror, but can’t turn around without going in the wrong direction.
  • Every evening at 7 p.m., I grab whatever pot is in the dish drainer and a wooden spoon. I go out on my back porch and bang the spoon against the pot for several seconds. Then I do the same thing on the front porch. A cacophony of jingling, rapping, and banging resounds through the neighbourhood. No howling, although sometimes I hear a dog barking along. It feels like the right thing to do, but from another angle, it’s absurd.
  • Before the pandemic, most people were using reusable shopping bags. Now those bags are forbidden. Most stores here supply paper or single-use plastic bags. Paper bags are way less functional because they lack handles and get soggy if wet. But at least they really are biodegradable.
  • Vast amounts of PPE (personal protective equipment) are being used and discarded worldwide. Much of that stuff contains plastic. I don’t know how it’s disposed of, but I think incineration would be the best way, especially if it could generate energy. But I suspect the stuff gets landfilled, along with all the single-use plastic bags everyone’s using again. Masks have been washing up on beaches. Not good. On the other hand, fossil fuel consumption is way down.
  • When I read or write fiction now, I have to keep reminding myself it’s okay for those fictitious characters to go out and get close to one another.
  • I keep hearing that people are dreaming more. Some think this is Mother Nature sending us messages. I think it’s because people who are working from home or no longer working don’t have to hit the ground running any more. They can wake up slowly, which means they remember their dreams. Dreams are slippery things, quickly lost in the transition from sleep to waking.
  • Opening things up will be more complicated than shutting down was. By now, the people in charge may be getting decision fatigue. Let’s hope they don’t mess up.
  • The role of the car is being questioned. Does commuting make sense any more? Will people keep working from home, at least part of the time?
  • Even after restaurants, gyms, and spas reopen, are people really going to rush out and patronize them? Some may prefer to wait for the vaccine. Many of these businesses may disappear forever.
  • What if there is no vaccine, though? We may return to the situation that prevailed when “the plague” was an ever-present threat, like war and famine. (Or flood and fire.) In any case, there will be other viruses and therefore other pandemics.
  • Wearing masks when you have any kind of respiratory illness will become a normal practice. Designer fashion masks are probably available already.
  • On September 11th, 2001, when I arrived at work and heard that both the World Trade Center towers had collapsed, the first thing I thought was This will change the world. What’s happening now will change it even more.
  • People in the future will probably look at the late 20th century and the first couple of decades of the 21st as a lost golden age.

What about you, fellow bloggers? How are you weathering the pandemic? Are you looking forward to things going back to normal, or wondering if they ever will?

Image from Pixabay

Featured image: Hubby Buns baked May 2nd, 2020

65 comments

  1. This is great, Audrey. My favourite point is “When I read or write fiction now, I have to keep reminding myself it’s okay for those fictitious characters to go out and get close to one another.” Me too, or when watching TV, I think, they’re too close!! I´m in Spain and the government has created a 4 stage relaxation of the strict lockdown and all being well we plan to be back to “normal” by the end of June. The strict, policed lockdown has worked. I feel safe here. Take care and stay well.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I like that, Audrey – and love your description of the grocery shopping. Ionesco couldn’t have done it better. What weird creatures we are sometimes. It’s like that in my local small park. You eye up your projected direction of walk along a path – trying to guess which way the three or four other people coming your way are likely to go. Then set off, prepared all the time to veer from the path to avoid one or all of them and cross the grass instead, till you see that two of them are also heading onto the grass, so then you turn round and walk back the way you came, trying to figure out which way the three or four other people now coming your way are etc., etc. Madness – but necessary. Nice post. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Its great to read your perspective on our new lives, Audrey. I am working from home and so is my husband. Our home helper cannot come in so any time gain is used up cleaning and also home schooling our boys who are not going to school. I don’t mind being at home but think it is making me even more introverted that before. I feel I just can’t be bothered to try to engage with people other than on my blog and FB. Phoning or Zooming seems like to much trouble right now. I seem my older introverted son is also pulling away from socialising and turning more inwards. Even hubby seems to be calling friends and family less now.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I enjoyed reading your observations and thought provoking questions. These are very strange times. What I don’t understand is why people are in such a rush to ‘get back to normal’ when there is no cure or vaccine. The next few weeks will be interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They will indeed, Suzanne. Many want to reopen businesses before they go bankrupt, I suppose, so there’s that sense of urgency. I think a phased approach with continued vigilance and distancing is the responsible way to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Good thoughts, Audrey. I share your concern that in order to be safe now, we are accumulating masses of single-use plastic items that will end up permanently in landfills and seas. I have a friend that often says, what you gain in the straights you lose in the curves. I feat that what we are gaining from less air pollution, we will lose in plastic asphyxiation. This may be the lost golden age. In the States, we are facing the same dichotomies that you mention in Canada. The one good thing about this may be a regime change.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Like you, I’m in a very fortunate position however I am going to make changes to how I live based on the past two months i. Lockdown. If we all do a little bit it could add up to a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You’ve read some of my future history, so you know I rather predicted this sort of thing, although I didn’t expect the Plague Panics and the Fractures (the world splitting into smaller and smaller units) to start until the oil runs out and the energy grid fails around the end of this century. It seems a bit spooky that it’s all started within the scope of my lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this is definitely a Major Historical Event. It’s interesting what’s happened with oil. Some companies have decided it’s best left in the ground for now, which is a huge change (although probably temporary). Speaking of the energy grid, there’s a fellow named Dave Cline, who blogs as Anonymole. He’s interested in apocalyptic events, including coronal mass ejections that could destroy the electrical grid. He’s written a novel set in western North America after such an event. It’s not bad: Blue Across the Sea is the title. It’s available on Amazon.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have lots of opinions! LOL I agree with much of what you wrote, Audrey, but not all. First, climate change is not a threat. Earth’s climate has been changing back and forth for four and a half billion years. The average temperature has risen about 1 degree Celsius in the last two hundred years, but that’s because we’re still recovering from the Little Ice Age in the 1800s. “Anthropogenic climate change” is a political ploy. If you can keep people frightened and guilty, they’ll do whatever you want. Climate alarmists have been pushing this agenda for fifty years, and most people don’t question it. There are many scientists who have proven that carbon dioxide has nothing to do with climate change, but if they speak out, they lose their jobs or their funding, or both. And, of course, get yelled at on Twitter!
    Yes, commuting still makes sense. It’s only office workers who can work from home and I’m sure many of them would rather not. I would guess (no proof, of course) that people are less efficient when working from home as well. If you’re a grocery clerk, or a mechanic, or a factory worker, or a nurse, you still need to get to work.
    Yes, people are going to rush out and go to restaurants and gyms again. Perhaps not quite as many, though. I can hardly wait for my rec center to open, so I can get back to my swimming and water-fit exercises. And I guess that answers the question of whether I want to get back to normal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, the climate is always changing. From what I’ve read, the planet would have been a pretty inhospitable place 4 billion years ago and at other times since. That’s the thing — some of the changes occurring now (whatever the cause) will make life harder for many species, including us.
      Yes, working from home is possible only for those who normally work in offices on computers, but I wonder if some of those folks will want still to do parts of their jobs from home, now that they’ve proved it’s possible. It might make a difference for those paying big bucks for daycare, for instance. (Once the kids are back to school and the parents miss spending time with them again, that is.)
      I suspect eventually people will go back to the coffee shops, restaurants, rec centres, libraries, etc. There may be some hesitation at first, though. We’re in the very first stages of returning to normal (whatever that turns out to look like.)
      Thanks for contributing your thoughts, Lea!

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  9. Dream are slippery things — indeed they are.

    More disruptive than deadly is what I will think the historians will decide, someday. I have still not heard one media personality mention the pre-existing average daily death rate, either global or national. Does anyone stop to consider how many people already die everyday, regardless of cause? No. The media only focuses on the extremely narrow band of Covid-19 deaths, which, globally has not even reached 2 days worth of average total global dead.

    Imagine if we were to shut down the country based on the number of suicides, drug overdoses and auto-deaths? Just those three total way more than Covid. Naw, we’ll put up with those and dozens of other causes. We’re used to those.

    All this is just more fodder for fiction, no?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is an interesting point I’ve thought about at times, and definitely fodder for fiction and nonfiction alike. One other thing I’ve been wondering about is why the reaction to H1N1 in 2009/10 wasn’t nearly as extreme. OK, total deaths were fewer than 20K, but may have been as high as 280K, depending on how one estimates (according to Wikipedia, of course). I know I didn’t register it as a worldwide crisis, even though it hit my household. I wasn’t terribly sick, but my husband was. Even one of the cats had some sort of respiratory issue. You’re right, though. I guess car crash deaths are just the price of doing business, and the idea still prevails that folks who overdose or kill themselves just weren’t living right and are therefore expendable.
      Aargh! This line of thinking is an ugly morass, all right!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. There’s a lot to chew on here, Audrey, but I’ll focus on one thought. I am curious about how others will act post-pandemic. I’ve always been a hugger and a hand shaker. I don’t think I’ll give those things up, but others may not feel the same. I’ll try not to take it personally. When my gym reopens, I’m going back. I think it’s a bit of a risk-reward factor, but I’ve missed that a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s interesting how the lockdown has been a mirror on society; a time for introspection and where many of the habits we’ve taken for granted are revealed. What’s unusual for me is that it’s global – all my friends overseas, blogging friends (I guess the term there is ‘penfriend’) and others are going through it. And it’s a shared experience, even down to such mundane matters as how to get a haircut. That’s unprecedented in so many ways.

    I’m inclined to think that the situation won’t ease any time soon. I’ve seen figures such as two years of lockdowns and disruption predicted before a vaccine’s been produced in quantity. Undoubtedly there will be a different society at the end of it – and, as you say, the last twenty-odd years will be seen as a golden age. There’s historical precedent, of course: after 1918, the pre-war years (and especially the ‘golden summer of 1914’) were seen as glorious. I just hope that this time the world can get through it all without anything too much breaking along the way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, let’s hope things don’t unfold as they did in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. Although some say the economic effects are already worse than the Great Depression.

      Like

      1. My mother lived through the Great Depression, but the difference is, nobody was worried about dying from an unknown disease. She graduated from college in 1934 and couldn’t find a teaching job, so she took a cosmetology course and worked as a beautician for maybe a year. Then she got a job in a small prairie town in Colorado and said she absolutely had the best time of her life. She said everything was cheap, but nobody had any money. Her first car, a 1937 Ford, cost $600.00, and that was a major investment, since her first job paid only $100.00/mo. During the war, there was a lot of rationing. She said she never learned to like coffee until it was rationed! Ha, ha! I think things are worse today because we’re so used to self-indulgent living, and everybody is worried about dying.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. This may sound strange but I find it less disturbing to stay home than to step out into this strange new world. A world where people line up six feet apart to get into a store. A world where some where surgical masks. A world where many things we touch could make us sick … or worse. I will have to adjust but it may take a while.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel that way too, as though when I’m out in public I have to be on my guard all the time, not to get too close to anyone. Home is the only place where I’m safe, both from doing the wrong thing or getting sick myself,

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the idea of you all banging something at 7pm. We don’t have that here where I live, but I’ve seen teddy bears springing up on almost every letter box. The idea is to give little kids something to look at/look forward to, but I think it’s as much for us adults as them kids. 🙂

    I don’t know what kind of world we’re going to have post Covid-19. I used to love speculating, and writing, about the future, but that was all forecasting from a known base. Now? I /think/ digital communication will explode, but I haven’t a clue in which direction. I hope we forge a fairer, more caring, less $$-centric society, but when I hear idiots talk callously about herd immunity, I’m not even sure the human species is worth saving.

    One thing is for sure, we live in interesting time.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. ‘Survivalists’ and ‘End of Days’ folk must be having the time of their lives. One facet of the aftermath I am not looking forward to is the outpouring of even more Conspiracy Hoo-Hah and the neurotic pleas for ‘The Truth’, when it is under their frenetic noses, ie ‘Pandemics Happen’.
    I must admit to an odd detachment and sense of adapting, can’t say why exactly. Maybe it has something to do with the outlook of not ‘IF’ but ‘WHEN’ (although what exactly what sort of ‘IF’ was always up for speculation). It is need a very different time.
    Of course, so far the virus has not come knocking on our door, nor those of the family. There would be a whole different scenario to deal with.
    How much we will change in the aftermath is yet to be seen.
    It is a shame there is not a virus which attacks the toxins of prejudice, greed and hate, we could do with one of those.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t been directly affected either, but it’s certainly been interesting to observe and speculate. Many (myself included) hope for permanent change for the better, but realistically I’m not sure, knowing good old Human Nature. Good points, Roger, especially your last paragraph!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would like to think we could have a Hollywood conclusion to this, but sadly there will be the usual bigots blaming ‘other folk’, Conspiracy Oafs (and the opportunists who feed off of them) and of course those in positions of political responsibilities who made the wrong calls blaming everyone but themselves.
        Maybe though, just maybe, a large portion of the world population will take heed.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I am grateful each and every day to live in Canada and in Victoria. With a couple of notable exceptions our politicians have put partisan issues aside and rallied together amazingly well. We have received timely and accurate information from our politicians and health care experts that have guided and supported us through these trying times. I’m an avid pickleball player, and while that along with most other recreational activities have come to a halt, I’m fortunate to have a yard which is looking better than it has in years. A loss and a gain. Many of our normal routines will permanently change.
    South of the border, the situation is dire, with certain segments of the population ignoring the advice of their health care officials. As usual, the old and the poor will pay the price for those who demonstrate carrying guns, demanding their ‘rights’. I have never felt more fortunate to be Canadian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, John. We are lucky to be Canadian and to be living in Victoria. So few cases on Vancouver Island, despite all of us “older” people living here. I remind myself of that when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store.

      Like

  16. I too have been thinking of so many of your points and wondering what the new world order will be. So many of the things we had been slowly edging towards: no single-use plastic, more public transportation, communal living…now are banned for health safety. And as you say though no travel has brightened the skies, the landscape and ocean are being taken over by our ever-growing throwaways.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This was a really good post, Audrey. And, yes, Canada has a lot of work to do to make our prisons, meat plants, and retirement homes safer.

    How are the stock levels in your local grocery store? Mine is more or less back to normal now except for baking supplies like yeast and flour.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lydia. Grocery stores are fully stocked here. We got a sack of flour a couple of weeks ago, and could have bought TP if we’d needed any. The only thing that’s been scarce is bleach.

      Like

  18. I’ve been thinking a lot of the same things, Audrey, and am especially concerned about plastic overuse. I’m also seeing discarded masks and gloves in parking lots and on sidewalks these days. On of my local shopping centres allows us to use our recycled bags, although we bag the groceries ourselves, which is no big deal. The world will change, but some things will be better for it, others perhaps not so much. Experts say there will be a second wave and possibly a third, but whether they are less severe, the same, or worse is up to us. Individuals have more control over the future than they think. In some ways, this is an enpowering, creative time. In others it’s demoralizing, scary, lonely, and tragic on a scale I haven’t seen in my 64 years, but we’ll all learn something, and let’s hope those lessons stick. And,by the way, those buns look fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It will certainly be interesting to see how things change, and what choices we will make as that happens. I’ve also been wondering about public libraries; what will happen to the library as a community gathering place? Will their mission change into delivering electronic resources? Maybe physical items will circulate out of closed stacks, as they did a century ago. And those buns — my husband sort of improvised them, adding rhubarb, orange zest, raisins, and nuts. They tasted as good as they look in the photo, fortunately! BTW, I’m 64 too! Thanks for your thoughts, Debra!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, Audrey! You’ve raised a good question about libraries. Our local library offered many community events for all ages. Because transmission has been consistently low here in the Vancouver area of BC, they and other things will be reopening after the 19th, although I think this will be slow and gradual. Lots of planning going on right now, as it should be.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Also retired. My only real hardship so far is not being able to go to the library and meet with my writers group. It was nice getting out of the house to write and away from my wife who wants to talk or watch TV. My writing has taken a bit of a hit.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. If people in a city were told to keep their cars at home when the air quality got bad how good that would be. We did it for Covid so why not for the environment. Yes it is a
    n unforeseen plastic nightmare. – just when we’re all trained to use reusable!

    Liked by 1 person

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