Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

No offence to my hubby

I think back over the last three weeks. How is it possible that so little time has elapsed but so much has changed? The worldwide COVID-19 situation, our response, even our vocabulary (social distancing, self isolation…) are in constant flux. I have gone from no worries to big worries mixed with confusion, guilt, reflection and gratitude. I’ve had a frustrating number of false starts on this post. I don’t usually deviate from my travel and hiking themes but I feel the need to get a few things off my chest.

March 6: A family friend on her way back from vacation in Mexico stops by to visit my 86-year-old mom who is at a care centre. I am happy for my mom, who despite advanced dementia, recognizes her. I am not worried.

March 8: I attend a huge Zumba fundraiser (yes Zumba dancing is another passion). Some people hip bump. I hug. I am not worried.

March 11: I volunteer at our local multicultural centre, assisting newcomers from China and Iran with their English. I see a container of Clorox wipes to disinfect the desks. It gives me a niggling chill but I’m not too concerned.

March 12: I board a flight to Calgary for a long weekend visit with my sister. I considered postponing the trip, not due to coronavirus concerns but because the forecasted minus 25 °C temperatures might mess up our outdoor activity plans. I have a whole row to myself. Hmm, maybe I should be worried?

March 13: Our prime minister’s wife is diagnosed with COVID-19; my son and nieces’ universities cancel all classes; my mom’s care centre is on lockdown; the toilet paper aisle at my sister’s large grocery store is empty. It’s Friday the 13th–the blocks are tumbling down and it’s starting to sink in. But, when my brother-in-law suggests we cancel dinner reservations at a great restaurant I’m slightly peeved at what I think is alarmist.

March 14: Finally, after countless attempts, one of my travel articles gets published in The Globe & Mail, Canada’s largest newspaper. The full page story looks great. Will anyone read it or care?

March 16: At the Calgary airport, on my way back to Vancouver, I look for empty spaces; on the flight, I keep my flimsy scarf wrapped around my face; in the train, from the airport to the city, I repeat the mantra don’t touch your face.

March 17-19: Twice I go for a snow hike with a good friend who has just returned from Phoenix. She should be self-isolating but with uncharacteristically gorgeous weather we both convince ourselves that 2 metre social distancing is OK. The provincial government closes access to these hikes a day later and tells us that stuff like this is not OK.

March 20: I go to our grocery store to stock up before my son gets home from university in Ontario. He will finish the rest of the semester online. The aisles are bare. I scoop up the last few Brussels sprouts (even in a crisis they don’t sell) and a handful of sweet potatoes. There’s no toilet paper.

March 22: My son, our health officials, the stats from here and around the world have gotten through to me. I mostly stay home. My disinfectant spray is working overtime. When I go for a neighbourhood walk, I keep my distance. I’m really careful with our food supply–I bite off my hubby’s head for tossing out a bit of leftover pasta. I’ve reduced my toilet paper consumption (pardon the image). I think a lot about how wasteful I’ve been.

March 23: I have an uncontrollable need to clean out my drawers. Is it only because I have more time on my hands or is it that it gives me some small measure of control? My sock drawer is a disaster and I’m reminded of all the excess stuff I’ve accumulated. What should I do with all the single socks?

Today: I walk to a local beach. There’s just one man there with his dog. The snow-capped peaks look more beautiful than I’ve ever seen them, the clouds somehow more majestic. An eagle flies overhead. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? But today, I’m grateful for where I live, for my family and friends, for having the financial means to weather a rough patch, for the folks risking their own health to provide essential services, for technology that lets me stay connected and do online Zumba, for my brother-in-law who was not alarmist but justifiably cautious.

Tomorrow:…which is actually today. Before I could finish and publish my post, I over-zealously wiped down my keyboard with disinfectant. Now, the i’s and o’s don’t work. I’m trying to finish this off on an old laptop that’s giving me grief. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

I know I’m going to continue with my Brittany series. Writing about travel makes me happy and as James from Plus Ultra reminded me, travel stories “provide something positive to look forward to in these unprecedented times.”

All the best to you and your families.

Scenes from my last three weeks:

Categories: British Columbia, Places | Tags: , , , | 35 Comments

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35 thoughts on “Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

  1. I can relate to the context of your post so much, like in my case, I became a chartered accountant in January end this year, was searching job and on the verge of getting the desired job, the recruitment freezed due to covid 19.
    2 weeks ago I was fantasising and now, here I am, with no surity of my future with respect to job, or whether or not I will get one.
    Great post.
    -Rupal (India)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rupal! Thank you so much for reading my post and for sharing your own experience. Congratulations on getting your chartered accountant designation! I can imagine your deep disappointment after being so close to getting your dream job. Life is very different, and not easy for many, now and in the coming weeks and months. I wish you all the best and hope that when the COVID-19 situation gets under control, you will find a great job.Stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brian Foster

    Caroline, Wonderful recitation of what you went through. We did and felt much of the same. Just like ready about us. We made it back early, thank heavens and are at the cottage for self-isolation; day 8. Don’t think we’ll be going out much after that though either. Congrats on getting article published. Wonderful. Can you email me a copy? Would love to read it. Take care and hi to little Mikey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Brian and Barb! We’re glad that you are safely back. I guess being quarantined in your cottage is not all bad. I hope you have a hefty food and wine stash. I’ll try and remember to send you the G&M piece. Cheers, Caroline & Mike

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  3. While the specific details differ, I imagine many others have been through a similar trajectory over the past 2 weeks. I know I certainly have. I’m glad to hear you’re safe and I look forward to the rest of your travel posts! Living vicariously is keeping me sane right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Diana! I picture you doing handstands throughout your house. I still haven’t mastered it. As I’ve said to others, it’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone in my feelings/behaviours. I look forward to more of your hiking posts…I’m behind in my reading! All the best to you!

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  4. Hey Caroline, please carry on with your Brittany posts. Normality will return, and so will return things such as travel planning, fantasy football and commuting to work… Which I don’t really look forward to!

    Fabrizio

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Caroline, I’m reading fewer and fewer blogs about the pandemic because it’s more of the same; either adding to the hysteria or giving the same or even poor advice. I’m glad I read your’s though because you sound just like me, and most other people in the stages of understanding/believing the seriousness. It sunk in for us when they closed the ski resort and then a few days later didn’t even let us skin up. The national parks closure is really difficult, but I understand that Search and Rescue can’t waste their time and risk their own exposure right now.There are reports of large groups hanging out together in Kananaskis parking lots, clearly not understanding the distancing rules. We’re hoping we’ll have a great summer in the mountains, but then I feel guilty for wanting that when so many are fighting for their lives. Crazy times.
    Just read your article in G&M. Congrats. it’s a great piece!! Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Maggie. I struggled over whether to publish a pandemic post for that very reason. I also struggled with the writing until I finally came up with the timeline approach and then everything was easy and came spilling out. I’m glad it resonated with you…somehow reassuring that I’m not alone in my emotional pandemic stages. My sister told me similar stories about the crowds in Kananaskis and Canmore, especially last weekend in the beautiful weather. Surprisingly, the Canmore Nordic Centre is still open. My sis is an avid X-country skier and she goes early (on the difficult trails) when there are very few people. Speaking of feeling guilty, she and I were talking about looking forward to a summer where there’ll likely be far fewer international visitors to our often crowded beauty spots. Glad you liked the Globe & Mail piece. Hope you’re finding other ways to stay active.

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  6. First off, congratulations on getting published in The Globe and Mail – a full-page story in a national newspaper is a very big deal! For those of us outside Canada, do you know if they’ll put the article online?

    This post perfectly sums up the behavioral change that so many of us have had to grapple with in such a short period of time. I started to feel on edge two months ago as the case numbers blew up in China; my parents in Hong Kong talked about panic buying at the supermarkets with people scrambling for toilet paper and rice and other essentials, which was really a sign of things to come in the rest of the world.

    I was initially worried about my friends and family back in Hong Kong but now the tables have turned; Indonesia’s slow and uncoordinated response mirrors that of the US, except that this is a developing country and the public healthcare system will simply collapse when push comes to shove. Just today I watched a news report saying that Indonesia has only 4 doctors for every 10,000 people; Italy has 10 times more. It sometimes feels like I’m watching a car crash happening in slow motion and there’s nothing I can do.

    On a brighter note, ordinary citizens are heeding the general advice to stay at home. Bama and I have never seen Jakarta’s roads so empty and devoid of the usual traffic jams. Places of worship and entertainment venues have been shut all across town, so even as the national government dithers, at least leaders at the regional level know what to do and have the wisdom to act decisively. I hope the situation in Metro Vancouver is under control and that you and Mike don’t feel too cooped up in Horseshoe Bay. Thank you for the shout-out at the end!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi James! Thanks. I’ve had material published in smaller papers and in the Globe’s popular “First Person” column (unpaid) but this is my first time in the travel section (with compensation this time) so I’m pretty happy. Here’s the link to the online version but I believe the full story can only be read by subscribers: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/travel/article-the-maldives-for-less/. It’s an adaptation of the post I wrote about local island tourism in the Maldives.

      I can see how having family in Hong Kong and being much closer to the initial epicentre would have started your worries sooner than us here in Canada. When I first heard about Wuhan, I never would have believed we’d see the devastation that is happening now in other countries. Your stats on the number of doctors in Indonesia is sobering and your analogy of a slow motion car crash is right on. I’m glad to hear though that regional leaders are acting wisely and citizens are heading advice. Stay safe James!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, Caroline, how are you doing today? I loved this post and the way you write. So far we are doing fairly well in Ireland. There aren’t that many cases and we are still allowed to go for a walk, once we keep the distance from other people. (Given how rural Sligo is, it’s super easy, we hardly ever see people on some of the beaches in summertime.) Which is a very strong contrast to our friend living in Madrid. He’s ice hockey rink has been transformed into a morg and no one can go anywhere. We use this time to reflect on our lives and coming up with ideas on how to be better human beings and how we can make this world to be a nicer place to live. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and stay safe 😊 Aiva xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Aiva! Thanks for your kind compliments and sharing your experience. There are certainly advantages right now in living in areas that are more lightly populated. Being able to walk out in nature, I find, also helps. That is such a sad story about your friend in Madrid. I hope he and his family will be spared from contracting this virus.
      Self-reflection has occupied much more of my time than usual these days. I hope I can retain some of the things I’m learning about how I can be better person and environmental steward.
      Best to you and your family in Sligo.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. In the first week of March, I had a conversation with an Indian colleague at the office about Covid-19. He asked me how worried I was, and I said I wasn’t too concerned because I don’t belong to the “vulnerable” group. Then two weeks later our company began implementing work-from-home protocol, and since then things seem to be getting worse every passing day. I think it was last week when I realized that even though I don’t show any symptoms, I might carry the virus, and I could spread it to other people. The world will surely be different after Covid-19 where most people will probably wash their hands more often, among other things. But most of those amazing places we all dream of visiting will most likely remain unchanged. That’s why I feel that there’s no better time for us to share our travel stories to inspire us all to explore this beautiful world once the storm has passed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re all on slightly different timelines, but our trajectories in understanding the virus and our feelings and actions toward it have many things in common. Even though I’m much older than you, I made a similar comment to a friend earlier in the month: “It’s just another flu; I hardly ever get it and when I do, I can fight it off”. It seems so terribly irresponsible just a few weeks later. But you’re absolutely right, the physical world is a beautiful place, and the birds will keep singing and the flowers keep blooming. My next post will be back to sharing the beauty of France. Take care Bama!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. NICOLE BEISSNER

    Awesome as always!Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Haha, I like the social distancing rule for Canadians. It’s pretty simple yet effective!
    Stay safe and congratulations on the article, Caroline 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Caroline, we so enjoyed reading this diary and the thing is it is somehow so comforting to know we are all going through massive change. The drip drip of daily accumulation of evidence that a crisis is at hand was very effective writing. I think a lot of people took quite a bit of time to catch on to the momentousness of the situation. Because Viet Nam acted so fast and so efficiently it served to put us on alert at a time when many were thinking they were being overly vigilant. And of course in retrospect they were right on and as a result the numbers are low.

    Confused as to why a mountain in Vancouver would close? Surely if people maintain six feet of distance and are outside, that should suffice. Then again, Costa Rica has closed every beach, every nature park and so on….Tragically we are still in the early phases in the U.S. and Canada. Here in Mexico it is actually quite alarming as people are in total denial. Some restaurants are closed but many are open, as is was the market and everything else. Social distancing? It doesn’t even appear to be a thing here. We are on alert though and staying vigilant.

    Stay safe and healthy!
    Big hugs your way (virtually) and congrats on the article in the paper. Yes, yes, I we would like to read it!!

    Ben & Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Peta and Ben! It sure is interesting to read about the responses and actions of different countries and the compliance/non-compliance of their people. It’s a real study in human behaviour. It’s admirable that Viet Nam moved swiftly and efficiently. I have heard the same things you mention about Mexico from a friend who is renovating a recently purchased place in La Paz (Baja). It is worrisome but I know you guys are very careful.
      The closure of the access roads to our mountain hikes in Vancouver provincial parks seemed odd to me too. There are far more people walking in urban areas. However, I think it may have something to do with the fact that our mountain trails have a fairly high incidence of people getting hurt/lost, which puts a drain on needed resources. It has all been a bit haphazard what is closed and what is open, though more and more things are shutting down daily. I think most restaurants are closed except for takeout.
      I’ll try and remember to send you the article. Big virtual hugs to you too! Stay safe. Caroline & Mike

      Like

  12. I did my own COVID brain dump a few days ago; it just needed to come out, and that’s saying a lot given my recent blogging ambivalence! I like your approach here, showing the inexorable movement from being completely blasé to grudging acceptance to real worry, and then the retrospective looks at what we were all doing and thinking. On March 11, I had my nearly 90-year old parents at the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show, a massive event with crowds of people. Two hours after entry, we saw helicopters circling and an announcer began to repeat over and over again, “please stay calm, proceed to the gates, the rodeo is canceled for the year.” That’s when it suddenly hit me that this was for real!

    Looking back, I feel like an idiot! Luckily, both parents are still fine and are now home. Phew! Stay safe and healthy there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lexie, I think we’ve all beaten ourselves up and felt like idiots looking back at some of the things we’ve done or not done. Your experience at the rodeo with your parents is bizarre. The helicopters and constant announcement must have caused complete panic. I’m kind of surprised they handled it like that…but then, nothing is “normal” right now. I’m glad your parents are home safely. I think I remember reading that you drove them 2000 miles?! That’s some road trip. I must catch up on your COVID brain dump. Wishing you well.Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, what a lot you’ve been through. And yes, how quickly it all changed! We were happily travelling until the morning go the 18th, not entirely oblivious, but certainly not thinking it would affect us much. Now we’re in isolation for another 8 days and madly disinfecting everything over and over and getting our groceries delivered to the trunk of our car.
    Thank you for the beautiful photos of the North Shore, and the laughs.
    Stay safe and well.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alison I can’t help think about the huge shift in your experience over the last few weeks…from happily hanging out with the orangutans to getting your groceries delivered to your trunk…surreal! I should send you a sobering video on what to do with said groceries when you bring them into the house.
      The nice weather (until today) has helped lift my spirits. And, being “stuck on the North Shore” isn’t such a hardship. Best to you and Don in your continued isolation

      Liked by 1 person

  14. “God, I miss Brexit.” —
    That’s a really good one.

    Life has become a sci fi book. Surreal.

    Take care.

    Neil S.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I enjoyed this post Caroline. Possibly the toughest part about this situation is the psychological impact it will have on any one of us. So, we must look for the silver linings in every little thing and treat ourselves to all positives, even if it is just online. BTW, thank goodness for the internet. it sure has given me a lot of company. Stay strong. Lyn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lyn! It’s so nice to get your comments. I gripe about technology at times, but I agree, the internet and all our means of staying connected are godsends right now. I love my two guys who I’m stuck in the house with, but it sure is nice to be able to share, chat, vent, dance…online. All the best to you and your family! Caroline

      Liked by 1 person

  16. david@segueh.ca

    Caroline,A wonderful, funny post. Absolutely loved it!  Believe me, you are not alone in going through the “phases of COVID” as I can relate to more than a few of those episodes 🙂 We got back from Austin TX a little over two weeks ago now and ended our 14 days of voluntary isolation on Monday. Not much has changed though… 3 x home offices are churning during the day and the IT guy (me) has managed to not get fired – yet. Food and TP ok for now, hopefully we run out of each at about the same rate… ;)Have attached one of my ‘made up as I go along’ piano pieces, warts and all, for perhaps a little distraction from all this stuff going on. My way to be creative in these weird times…Take care, stay healthy!Dave

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Dave! Thanks for your enthusiastic comments. I debated long and hard about whether I should subject the world (or more like my few loyal readers) to yet more COVID-19 material. But for some reason, in this crazy mixed up time, I just had to dump out my random thoughts, fears, silliness…We’re all dealing with this is in different ways, but I’m glad (and a bit relived) that you can relate to some of my situations and responses.
      I’m sure the three home offices and your role as the IT guy is an adjustment. They can’t fire a guy who also creates such wonderful “made up as I go along” tunes. I’m listening right now. It’s beautiful and moody and hopeful all at the same time. Thank you for this gift. Best to you and yours. Caroline

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  17. Anonymous

    I love this piece of self-reflection. I just got back from a run, up and around Whyte Lake. Hardly a soul in sight. It makes me appreciate how lucky we are to have this in our backyard. Lots to be thankful for, I agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks M. It just came spilling out. I debated about posting it as I usually don’t like these self-reflection pieces (at least not for me). Maybe I’ll give Whyte Lake a try tomorrow. Hope we can up there together again soon😊

      Like

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