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March 13, 2020

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Writing from my house at Round Hill outside of Annapolis Royal, NS. Just checked the NS Min. of Health site and they are reporting 226 tests for Covid and zero positives - so far, so good, but I doubt that will stand for long. We're a pretty mobile province - fights and ships coming in to Halfax. The town of Annapolis Royal, while small (pop. 500) has a lot of residents who travel all over. A large number of us are retirees - so a pretty high risk category. In fact, recently, the Health Minister commented on that vulnerability for the province - our elderly population.

I played at an irish session at a local brewing company last Sunday. It was busy. People seemed pretty laid back. I suspect that may change before long. I may have played my last session for awhile. This afternoon, all kinds of local events were being cancelled right and left. An upcoming theatrical production has been postponed to some future date after the director, who is also one of our town's physicians, declared that this was the right thing to do.

Much like you, I've made a conscious decision to "go hermit". Having experienced the SARS epidemic while living in Ontario years ago, it seemed likely to me that things could become a bit crazy. Being 65, living alone and with next to no family remaining, I am trying to play things safe. I don't worry so much for myself, but because I have two dogs with no one to care for them should something happen to me. Anyhow, I did stock up on food - slowly over the past couple of months (human and dog food). I figured that if this virus wimped out, I just wouldn't have to shop for groceries for awhile. Being a vegetarian, I put some thought into growing things in the kitchen, sprouting seeds for greens, and freezing some stuff ahead. Being a hermit will be no great hardship as I'm already such a loner.

Listened to an interview with PM Trudeau on The Current. He sounded reassuring - like they are trying to cover all the bases. I listened to DT at a media conference today. Had to turn it off after a couple of minutes. Don't think I'd better comment on that.

Like you my days - if I allow them - can be hermit-like, especially since I've finally managed to resume writing my current novel after a lapse of over a year. The complexities of writing fiction are an admirable hidey-hole.

But singing lessons are another matter. For more than four years, music ("from the inside" you might say) has absorbed me as my often feverish blog posts and comments will have confirmed. I realise this other world has made me selfish beyond belief. A few minutes ago I sent an agonised text message to V, my singing teacher, rambling on about the dilemma, hoping I suppose that rendering it in words might bring about a solution. Man proposes, Android disposes. The text was overlong and was rejected. A modfied version has now gone by email

And a solution has emerged. I'm the one who must cancel, I cannot (must not) leave it up to her. As this realisation zero-ed in on me my horizons started to widen. Why not musical discussions over the phone? At set times; recordings sent as email attachments? V also tutors children via Skype. I used Skype long ago but without the camera. Time to reinstall Skype and to buy a camera?

In fact, might Skype contribute something to the suggestions you raise in this post? Worldwide conversations for free. Just a thought.

As ever, I love seeing your art and I am comforted to hear about how you are spending your days.

(For what it's worth, I took voice lessons last summer over Zoom with a voice teacher and rabbi in Jerusalem named Minna Bromberg. It is different from learning in person, but it is still real.)

Yesterday I made challah, as I do every Friday. Then I spent most of the day helping my synagogue prepare to close down for some weeks. Today is the first day of being cooped up in the condo with my ten year old. I did leave the house to get a few groceries. I wiped down the shopping cart handle with a clorox wipe, and also my car door handles when I returned from the store, and my steering wheel. Is it enough? In two weeks I'll know.

For the last couple of years we have traveled to Florida in April, for a month, and I had been closely following the fares, when suddenly Covid-19 fears and reality hit. Of course the fares are now about 1/4 or less than 10 days ago (round-trip for 2 on JetBlue less than $95), but we've decided not to book or go until later, hopefully when the virus has died down. Like you all, our normal lives are filled with things we do at home, so aside from not shopping and going to the library or art gallery, life is not that much different.

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