Sunday, March 29, 2020

Mosaic Monday #73: Lockdown

March 2020 will be forever fixed in my brain as the month our world was turned upside down.  It began simply enough.  Head Chef concocted comfort foods; we enjoyed winter splendor; I waited for my Dear Neighbor Friend to return from a trip to visit family and friends in California/Mexico. 
Steak Pie with Roasted Potatoes and Mushy Peas
Frozen waterfall - a 20-minute drive from our house
March 15 dawned bright and crisp; the dash temperature gauge warned us to layer up as we headed to the mountain for a play day.  
We couldn't get enough of the views and the time together.
So it was that we stopped for lunch later than normal, only to hear the news that the resort would be closing THAT DAY.  The resigned dismay hung like a pall over our Ambassador locker room; each of us had our own reasons to regret losing three weeks of ski season.  Word spread quickly through Whitefish, and locals thronged to the mountain that afternoon to get in the last few runs of the season.  Later, you could see the shock on people's faces as they cleared out their lockers, toting skis, poles, helmets and all manner of other equipment to their cars.  Little did we know it was just the beginning. (Montana had 4 cases.)

Maggie says "What's all the fuss about?"
Spousal Unit and I made the tough decision to begin self-isolation right away.  We skipped the traditional Ambassador St. Patrick's Day party, and chose not to attend the Employee Ski Day on March 20.  This was particularly difficult for my social butterfly of a husband!  After that, most organizations began dropping events, thereby resolving any dilemma.  All Masses and church gatherings were cancelled until at least March 30, following the Governor's March 17 directive limiting gatherings to less than 50 people.  Email starting flowing in from every organization that has my address - craft stores (buy supplies to stay busy), pharmacies (free delivery), Expedia (recommendations for current and future travel), the dentist (my appointment might have to be re-scheduled), my congressmen (join a town hall).  

Social media exploded with humorous videos, memes and suggestions for coping with everything from isolation to home-schooling to cooking EVERY DAY.  Of course, cooking is not a problem in our house, and I have never been more grateful.  For all those cooks out there - thank you.  And hopefully, like my Head Chef, you are finding some escape in the kitchen.
Breakfast frittata
For my part, getting outside delivers tranquility and restores my faith.  Nature continues on her way, oblivious to the virus.  I walk the "back forty" most days, and with no time constraints, I observe small things that I might otherwise miss.
Otter tracks - bottom picture is a "slide" mark going into the creek
Far right: coyote tracks

On March 20, the Governor closed high-risk businesses such as bars, restaurants and workout facilities.  Spousal Unit and I began to talk about alternative activities to keep ourselves entertained.  Hikes.  Cooking together.  Movie nights.  Spring cleaning. (How did that get on the list?)  And some distractions continued unabated, such as adult beverages!  If we can't go to the bar, we'll bring the bar to us! (Montana had 27 cases.)
Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but that same day I spotted a new bird visiting our suet feeder.  It came three times that day, but I haven't seen it since.  And I have been engaged in lengthy bird-watching, let me tell you.  It was a male Varied Thrush.  The still picture is from the Web, and the video is mine (not super quality, but proof that it was here!)  Isn't it a handsome specimen?

Andouille sausage - those tiles in the
background are two we are considering
for a future backsplash
On March 23, our kids (both in Ohio) became subject to that state's shelter in place mandate.  I have been so impressed (and relieved) by how they are handling the constant change and ongoing ambiguity.  Our daughter's theatre had to cease productions, and is adapting by streaming past performances.  Our son will finish his college degree from his apartment, and is highly unlikely to "walk" in the classic graduation ceremony since it has been postponed indefinitely.  That day, I was sous chef for Head Chef as we prepared Red Beans and Rice, with cornbread on the side.  I tried to add some levity by texting the recipe to the kids, complaining that we have no bay leaves!  (Click here if you need a refresher on how I named my blog!)  (Montana had 34 cases.)
March 24 saw Governor Bullock extending school and high-risk business closures to April 10, and reducing the size of gatherings from 50 to 10.  His announcement pointed out that the previous day saw a 25% increase in cases in Montana.  In our house, we took comfort in regular routines such as yoga, cooking, listening to music, and running on the treadmill.  The isolation also presented new opportunities, such as contacting old friends and starting up a genealogy project that has been on my to-do list for eons.  Spousal Unit offered to play Scrabble - you know we are in desperate times now - and I was only too tickled to accept (and win!)

Canada Geese have returned to our lake,
leaving adorable tracks in the snow
As many have pointed out, COVID-19 has affected the entire world in a way that has not been seen since the Spanish Flu of 1918.  Not even world wars or 9-11 suspended daily life to such a great extent.  Everyone has a story.  A wedding that has been postponed.  Small businesses that have been shuttered, putting their future in jeopardy.  Cancelled vacations.  People laid off from work, who are now struggling to pay their bills.  First responders and health professionals who continue to put their lives on the line for the greater good. In the moments when I get down, I try to remember that my "problems" are miniscule compared to others.  I am grateful that I have my faith.  I continue walking outdoors, reveling in little signs of spring.

The proverbial clouds of this crisis do offer some silver linings.  We were able to view our daughter's last show - Alabaster - via on demand streaming.  Otherwise, as with most of her shows, this would be a powerful performance we would have missed.  On a day that we would have normally been working on the mountain, Spousal Unit and I went on a hike in Glacier National Park.  I retrieved the trail cam disks for my neighbor, yielding innumerable fabulous wildlife photos.  (Watch for a future post for the hike and the critters.) A fellow blogger pointed us to live streaming coverage of a Barred Owl nest.  Even when Mama Owl is just sleeping, I find the background chirping and singing birds to be soothing.  A group is organizing a Virtual Catholic Women's Conference the first weekend in April, and I hope to participate in part of it with my daughter.  Ample free time has translated to more progress on my Violet Protest square.

And then, just as I sat down to begin to compose this post (March 26), the email arrived from Governor Bullock.  7.04 PM. "Today I issued a Directive requiring Montanans to stay home and temporarily closing all nonessential businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19.  The order goes into effect at 12:01 am on March 28 and will buy us time for health care workers on the frontlines to limit long-term impacts to the state's economy."  Yes, lockdown has arrived in Montana and will last until at least April 10.  Get the hot chocolate and light the fire, darling, we are here for the long haul.  (Montana had 90 cases and its first death.)
Ants emerge from winter "hibernation" - now that's a group hug!

The next day, Glacier National Park announced its temporary closure.  This profoundly impacted me. More dismay and more unanswered questions.  Will they continue working to process back-country camping applications?  Will the park re-open in time for our earliest application (June 15), assuming it gets approved?  When is COVID-19 likely to peak in the U.S. and in Montana in particular?  Out of a desire to maintain our sanity, we have been limiting our news consumption, but at times you just want some answers.  I think it is human nature to need "the light at the end of the tunnel".  We've pretty much accepted that we are not going to Ohio as planned on May 1 (our son's graduation was scheduled for May 3), nor to Grand Cayman on May 7 for a family vacation.  But I need a glimmer of hope that life will eventually return to normal.  (A friend texted me - on the lighter side, there will be no question what my natural hair color is!)  Perhaps it was to have an event, any event, scheduled, or maybe out of sheer defiance, I booked a hotel for August 15-16 so that we can attend the 102nd Annual Crow Fair Celebration Powwow & Rodeo.  Take that, COVID-19! (March 27 - Montana had 121 cases and 1 death)

What are you anticipating post-virus?  It seems selfish and cavalier to even think of these things when people are dying from COVID-19.  But I need to look past today and have plans.  I can't wait to see my Dear Neighbor Friend, and to exchange hugs.  To go to church again.  A sloppy burger with fries at a restaurant teeming with people.  Rescheduling our trip to Cayman and seeing our kids.  Dancing to the New Wave Time Trippers at the Great Northern Bar in Whitefish.  Hosting friends at our house for a dinner party.  In the meantime, I pray that you and your families are well.  Special thoughts to all those leaders and health professionals who are working diligently to protect us.  Keep the faith!  (At the time of publication, Montana had 154 cases and 1 death.)

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
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  1. What a time it has been for so many.
    You have hobbies, as I do, which really helps!
    Critter watching has saved me.
    Take care!

  2. Playing games at home is a good thing in Corona crisis. We play Monopoly and hear the Bee Gees... STAYING ALIVE. Really its gave me hope for a moment. We was young ...

    Happy MosaicMonday. Stay healthy 😘

  3. ..during good times I've been a homebody, my sweetie of 52 years and I get along well, life is different, but good!

  4. We started self-isolating and distancing well before the Washington State stay home order and non-essential business closures. Wayne and I play a lot of iPad Scrabble as Facebook friends. He's getting so good at it that we have about an even split on game wins. Our two main plans for the future (without specific dates) are to get back down to Arizona to check on our RV that we left in storage there in February. It was supposed to be only for a month but will now last through our fall 2020 trip (if there is one). The other thing we want to do is go home to Powell River. We have friends checking on our mail, condo and cabin but I really miss living up the lake and boating on the chuck. It will just take time and patience. - Margy

  5. It is a very scary time. Our state is riddled with cases, growing by the day. We began self quarantine on the 12th. My husband insisted. I have severe autoimmune issues. I am thankful. We are well, safe and maybe a little stir crazy but my faith is carrying me through.
    Our county is on curfew due to so many ignoring the stay home directive from 2 weeks ago. ALL non essentials shut down and folks are still running around. Now it's 0600-2100 or you could be jailed.
    Stay in and safe Angie.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  6. You have some very nice photos this week! I especially enjoy the one of the frozen waterfall!! Thank you! Stay well and have a grand week!

  7. We are leaving Florida earlier than planned because the Governor hasn’t and apparently won’t do what yours has done. We’ll be self isolating in our tiny travel trailer. We have all the necessities in it (except gas and Bill has gloves and a mask .) I trust the Gov of Oregon far more . .... and, looking ahead, it will be good to be close to family when this is over (I don’t for a second believe it will be by Easter though, !)

  8. I'm glad you are doing okay up that way. We'll all get back to normal eventually, it just might take a while to get there. The snow in the mountains sure is pretty to see...from a distance. Stay safe, healthy and virus-free.

  9. There is so much we can be grateful for in this isolation slow down world. Appreciating the simple things.

  10. Hi Angie. So quickly, so many changes. We started self-isolating on the 15th. A lot of scary changes but as the days pass and the less time the TV is listened to and the care we are taking to follow best practices helps. I find now at as we are just starting our 3rd week we are calming, resting, finding our routines returning slowly and taking up normal spring jobs at home. Grocery shopping is scary but one small grocery store has maxed safety, providing wash stations outside their doors, a guard/watch person to ensure hand washing happens, distance is observed. Inside staff constantly wipe down all surfaces and handles and cashiers are behind plexiglass walls, no cash is accepted, card machines are outside of the counter area and the floors are marked for distance and where to stand when lining up and then paying. Only their fresh plastic bags are in use. Staff wear gloves, have break times for frequent hand washing. Smiles are there, have a good day is in place. They will also shop and deliver or shop and hold for pick up. They have limits, sometimes are waiting for stock, limit number of shoppers in the store at any one time. I am grateful for their caring and safety provisions. I am grateful.
    Take care, hugs.

  11. They are saying that by 2050, most of us will be living in cities, but doesn't seem like such a good idea to be in close proximity when a virus is sweeping through. Having land and wilderness around you is certainly much more idea when it comes to self-isolating. I have absolutely no problem staying home. Thank goodness for all my hobbies. I manage to keep myself busy the entire day. Can't imagine how anyone can ever say they are bored when there are soooooo many choices of things to do. My husband has a harder time because so many businesses are closed. He has only been working half days for the past weeks. He is a creature of habit, with a pretty set routine, and that has totally been turned upside down. We have a curfew in place from 5:00 p.m. til 4:00 a.m. It's spring and weather is at its best but I'm not able to get out and take my long walks. Beach fronts are off limits, parks and walking paths closed. I had planned to come in May or June to visit my boys and my mom but obviously that is not going to happen now. I do think it is going to take some time for things to get back to any sense of normalcy. However, I also would like to think that valuable lessons will be learned from this pandemic. Business as usual is no longer serving us so we need to forge a new path when it comes to the way we conduct ourselves on a daily basis and how we treat Mother Earth. Stay well. Have a drink for me. I really could use a glass of wine right now. Actually, a whole bottle. :)

  12. We live dreadful times Angie. The state of emergy steps in Finland are similar to yours - elderly & risk groups must stay at home, yet walking in the nature is allowed - keeping in mind the safe distance. The borders are closed, as well theatres, museums, schools and many businesses... This influences severely on world economy... Stay safe 6 well.

  13. Your governor did the right thing, Angie. We are also under a "stay at home" order by our governor. It is disappointing, though, to see many not following social distancing here and some still believing this is a hoax. I fear this virus very much and we hope our hospitals will be able to treat all who fall ill with it. The curve here doesn't seem to be flattening. Stay well and keep busy at home --that is all we can do!

  14. Hello Angie, Our governor of Maryland did the same, I am glad we have a governor who cares about the people living in our state. I am thinking ahead, when we can all go back to normal. I do miss our favorite restaurants and I am looking forward to planning a road trip. Wonderful photos, the food looks delicious. Love the Varied Thrush and wildlife tracks. Thanks for hosting MM! Take care, stay well! Wishing you a great new week!

  15. Sorry that your ski season was cut short, Angie. This is like being in a sci-fi movie....unreal.

  16. I am glad to hear you and your family are handling the crisis sensibly and responsibly (and with a dash of humour), Angie. We too are taking the pandemic seriously and have confined ourselves inside the house. It's times like these that one is thankful for having a garden to find a refuge in and also many interests to keep oneself occupied indoors...

  17. Cheer!!! to happy family time.

    much love...

  18. We all have different ways of coping in times of crisis, Angie. The important thing is to protect ourselves and others, however, in doing so we must also take care to the best we can for our community. Your Governor deserves praise for acting relatively quickly and decisively in order to protect the people in his state.

  19. Our world and daily lives have been turned upside down. If only everybody would practice isolation in their homes and social distancing for the allotted time then things should begin to change for the better. Unfortunately there are those who are not heeding this advice and are continuing on as before. On the bright side you are blessed to do 'your time' in a beautiful home in a beautiful part of the world; as am I. All the personal stories of 'we were going to do this, or we were going to celebrate that etc etc are the unfortunate stories we all have. I feel so sad for those whose livelihoods have been lost and have lost beloved family members to this virus. I have the upmost thanks for all those healthcare workers who put their health and lives on the line to help the vulnerable and sick...they are the true heroes. On a lighter side, do I see a little glimmer of 'gotcha', 'the thrill of the kill' when you bet Spousal Unit at Scrabble. Why, Angie, I would never have thought that of you. =) Keep well and take lovely lady.

  20. I am looking forward to the forest trails opening again......most of them are closed now. I went to bed worried that the last few we hike will be closed when we get there. I need time in the forest...I can get through a lot if I can spend some time outside. It is worrisome for sure. My post is short this week. It has been hard to write lately. Thanks for your thoughtful post and for the party! Take care!

  21. I have little doubt that nature is enjoying this respite from human intrusion. This is a difficult time for everyone, but I suspect that it is far from over. Actually, other than for the lack of socialization, life has changed very little for Miriam and me. Fortunately we enjoy each other's company. I saw a post by a woman who has a busy career, as does her husband, with the result that under normal conditions they are apart quite a a bit. Now that they are together 24/7 she says, wryly, "This is not working out!" Perhaps that is true for many couples.

  22. Whiskey, cats and baking. Looks very similar to our house. But your view is better!

  23. I read a good article about the fact that because of this unprecedented time in our lives we are all in some stage of grief and it's good to recognize that. It's so good to have a relationship with God and know who He is and how He loves us and cares for us.
    "Just look at the birds". I enjoyed seeing the new species you saw at your place. I'm so thankful that I have good views out of all my windows. Social distancing is so much easier with the internet. I've rekindled card and letter writing. Dear is still painting inside finishing off the pantry and then has some tile to set in the Laundry room. All good projects while it is raining outside. When the weather clears he'll go gungho on the shop to try to complete it by September. Hopefully he'll be able to have some helper who can stay 6 feet away from him. So nice that you have a resident cook who is even willing to play Scrabble with you!! Aren't you glad we have electricity!? Blessings!

  24. We've been doing much the same as you, except my walks aren't in 3 degree weather. 3 degrees! I can't even imagine it. I wish I could play scrabble with someone; I've been playing slapjack with a 4 year old who cheats (really he just doesn't understand not looking at the card before he puts it down) and still can't beat his brother to the slap.

  25. This is a beautiful post. I hope those of use who are blogging this unique time in history will print the posts in a permanent Blog Book for our descendants to read.

  26. Your icy landscapes and waterfall are gorgeous!

  27. You have a beautiful blog. I am glad that I stopped by. At this time it is so good to share our feelings and our thoughts. Take care and be safe.

  28. Angie, I think along the same lines. I scan the headlines, read only a few, but I keep daily tabs of what's happening in my particular county. We've been under mandatory stay-home-people! since March 7, first by local decree, then the state. A tough, brave, and wise decision to make, for which I'm thankful. The first two cases in CA were from our county, both recovered. We're a small remote county but a growing population of commuters. I hope the number of fallen is fewer than predicted when we come out on the other side. I'm selfish. I want the Husband, Molly, me, and everyone I know, including you Angie, to be there with me. Big hugs.

  29. March 2020 has not been a good month has it! Amazing how everyone's life has changed so much - no matter what age we are.

    We all have to adapt the best we can, of course some find this easier than others.
    We are all in this together and we all have to do our bit!

    Eddie and I are so grateful for the internet and how it enables us to stay in touch with loved ones and friends.

    Take care.
    Stay safe, well and positive.

    My good wishes.

    All the best Jan

    PS I did enjoy seeing all of your photographs on this post.

  30. You summarise all of our fears and hopes Angie. The hardest thing is missing the grandkids. Knowing that they are all just a 15 minute drive away but that we must not go. Yes, we are making lots of soup and going to the shops for food only. Fortunately, the Government has said that booze shops are “essential” so they remain open. Perhaps better that we are all drugged or drunk to survive?

    Stay cheerful my friend. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Varied Thrush – wow! A twitcher’s dream bird.

  31. Beautiful, the music on the radio, Tom Pretty and the Heartbreaker, the wonderful mosaics, thanks Angie.

  32. Beautiful snowy views...and the Varied Thrush is lovely!

  33. Hello - just catching back on your news and stopping by to wish you well. We are too socially distancing - think the world over we will all become yoga experts!


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