Life Update March 2020

Me in 1977. Why? See below

For this post, I’ll backtrack and tell you what I’ve been doing since New Year’s. Notice I didn’t preface that by saying, “Now that I have extra time on my hands…” My new work-from-home routine has kept me as busy as usual.

Long-time readers will know I have an adult child who is genderqueer and transgender. That is, they don’t identify with being either male or female, and they have taken steps to change the body they were born into, through hormones and surgery. This is to get them to a place where they feel more at home in their body. Link had top surgery two years ago (details are here and here). They wanted to have one more surgery, which was the removal of reproductive organs – uterus and ovaries. That way, no more female hormones are being produced. Link was on a waiting list for surgery since September, and they were offered a short-notice appointment in January. They would need some home care afterwards (from me) so I hurriedly booked time off work and got myself to Toronto.

Many people in my life have expressed sympathy and they’ve assumed I must be grieving at the prospect of not having future grandchildren. I was surprised by that reaction. Link has never wanted children. I have not been spending my time hoping they’d change their mind – it didn’t even occur to me. I know so many other parents of adult children who don’t have partners, don’t intend to marry, don’t want children, or who have complete “fur families” with corresponding grand-cats and grand-dogs, that all those situations are normal to me. Where I live, 57% of couples do not have children, and Canada-wide, it’s at 49% (as shown here). People forget (or don’t know) that in LGBTQ+ communities, having nuclear families with children is still not typical.

Link’s surgery was very simple, laparoscopic with no complications and a one-night hospital stay. It was done at a regular city hospital, not a gender reassignment clinic. I stayed in town for 2 weeks, mainly to do the cooking, grocery shopping, housework and errands. Link gradually increased their walking each day and they were feeling pretty much normal by the end of week 2. We had a really good visit.

It was strange for me being in Toronto without Rom, without doing any personal shopping, and without planning any activities! Happily, one of Link’s cousins moved to Toronto, and we got together with them for a meal and enjoyed catching up. PK’s brother, Joe, also relocated to Toronto (he loves it!) so he and I spent a noisy evening watching the Superbowl at a downtown pub!

The identifying sticker!

While I was away from home, I used my phone exclusively. On the way back, I placed Rom’s ChromeBook in an airport security bin and left it there! I didn’t remember it until I was unpacking at home. Thinking it couldn’t hurt, I sent a “lost and found” report to Pearson airport. My home inventory had the brand and model number (I wouldn’t have remembered) and I sent a photo of a unique sticker that Rom had placed on the case (advertising guitar pedals). They located it the next day and couriered it back for $48. Considering the staff time involved to find, identify and package it, I was most pleased! The replacement cost would have been $250.

In February, Rom and I saw a long-awaited movie – 63 Up. It had been released in the Fall but despite my best efforts there was no legal way to watch it, except by subscribing to BritBox. I was thrilled to see the latest entry in the series. It feels like all the subjects in the documentary are my personal friends by now! What an historic piece of filmmaking the series is. A group of school children were filmed for a documentary at age 7 and every 7 years thereafter, until now, and future installments are still planned!

The most ice I’ve ever seen on the windshield

A few events broke up the month of February – a tremendous ice storm, a generous invite to see the stage play The Last Five Years, a deluxe Valentine’s lunch out, Pancake Day, and, of course, doing tax returns. The tax season opened Feb. 24 so why would I not want to get my refund as early as possible? That same week, I moved some money into a new investment to max out my TFSA contributions. I regret that – it could have stayed sitting in its low-risk little savings account ☹

On the first of March, we booked a trip to see Rom’s parents in the UK in June. Due to the age and health of both sets of our parents, we ensured all our flights and hotel stays were changeable or cancellable, and we didn’t buy tickets to any events, just in case. I very nearly spent a fortune on tickets to see Queen with Adam Lambert in London. Whew! I doubt very much the world will be OK for international travel in June. Even if it were permitted, I don’t expect we’d want to take advantage so soon.

Bay City Rollers ~ 1976 (Les at bottom left)

Les (centre) with his Bay City Rollers cover band (no other original members)

So here is a “blast from the past.” The Bay City Rollers were a boy band who were popular in North America for a two-year period from 1976-1978. I was a massive fan when I was 13. The original singer, Les, is doing a tour with a backing band, doing BCR hits. My sister and her friend got tickets, so I joined them. Les’s voice is in good form and he had a very competent cover band. He was self-deprecating, making lots of jokes about his age and (lack of) fitness. Since the songs were from my formative years, I knew them all. Sometimes I can be a bit “bah humbug” about reunion tours and nostalgia, but it was fun!

As I mentioned in my last post, we normally try to use up our groceries every week and never stockpile, which put us in a bad state for self-isolation. Before my workplace closed for what was then a 3-week shutdown, I spent an extra $150 on non-perishables. There was barely room for it all. I also had some routine car maintenance done, took out some emergency cash from the bank, and topped up my cell phone data!

Since Link was still not working post-surgery, we arranged for them to come stay with us for “the duration,” as we call it. I was a nervous parent since Link had to take transit to the airport, spend time there, take a flight and pick up luggage. Link said the transit and airport were like ghost towns, the domestic flight was ¾ full, but they were next to an empty seat. Link arrived before the two-week self-quarantine was required for people travelling between provinces, but we decided to honour it anyway. I was already working from home, and Rom is now WFH too but just for the 2 weeks.

Rom working at home

It has been most interesting watching/hearing how Rom conducts business! He is an IT guy and he now supports all the other staff who are working remotely. He does training and troubleshooting, and works out solutions for when they are missing software or equipment to do their work. He can “take over” staff work laptops and fix things. His firm is contemplating lay-offs soon, so we will see what happens.

As noted, my workdays are as busy as ever. I enjoy the variety – last Monday I made a pot of soup at lunch time, another day I went for a walk at 11, and so on! This week I start video meetings three afternoons a week. The rest of the time, I continue my projects. I like having structured days, and still having weekends.

My local rec centre has long since closed. They have put all memberships on pause, and they’ll extend them after re-opening. I have been sleeping an extra 1.5 hours every morning. I feel like a new person! Working out at home and going for walks.

The library (my workplace) has extended its closure until at least April 30 and the entire staff has a pay guarantee until then. It was just announced today that schools will also stay closed until April 30.

At the time of my last post on March 14, Canada had 250 cases of Covid-19. As of March 28, we had 2811. Gulp! My province has gone from 0 to 122, with 3 hospitalizations and no deaths. I hope everyone will stay home so we can keep it that way.

Wishing good spirits to all. I’d love to know how and what you are doing.

27 comments

  1. Jamie

    It’s lovely to hear from you, Dar, and to get a more extended update.

    We have only a few cases in our small area. As of yesterday they were saying 6 confirmed in the Snowy Mountains region.

    It hasn’t changed life very much for us, as the kids are homeschooled, I do uni online, I keep a bit of a stockpile, and my husband is an essential worker (at the hospital), so our days are mostly the same. The only difference is the after school activities for the kids (oh, and the lack of options at the supermarket). The boys don’t seem at all bothered to be missing gymnastics, soccer and tennis, but our daughter had her musical (Downtown) cancelled the Monday before opening night, and she is realising how often she actually leaves the house usually for gymnastics, work (at a cafe) and dance (three nights a week). It is funny to me because I have always said she is our child with the most social needs, but she had viewed herself as quite an introvert and homebody!

    The thing that has changed is my nervousness about my husband going to work. I’ve always felt he had a safe workplace, but now there is so much uncertainty about who could have COVID-19. He has had a beard for at least 7 years now but shaved it off on Friday so his PPE will fit/work better. He has started changing shoes before he comes home. We’ve discussed how we will isolate him if he becomes infected and the rest of us don’t. And of course lots of plans for how the imaging department can keep staff safe (and the department staffed) through it all.

    • That must be stressful, Jamie. I am glad you have procedures and plans in place. Good for your kids for staying home, because so many simply won’t obey – thinking they are impervious. Having a hospital worker in the family might be responsible for that? I trust your area will remain mostly unaffected!

  2. Thank you for the update. Hawaii’s figures are closer to your provinces, just a few more. We have had 11 cases on our island; three have left the island to return to the mainland (they were visitors who brought it along with them), others have been cured, and the rest are in isolation and under observation. No deaths, and no one is even in the hospital. Somehow we have to manage a move in this, but things are coming along and hopefully we can carry it off without too many problems.

    Having been retired for a while, our daily lives have pretty much continued along as they were, but our youngest is here now and having to adjust to being indoors all the time (Brett and I can go out for groceries and other essentials, or to take a walk, although that hasn’t happened much as it’s rained almost every day since we arrived on the island).

    We are hoping that things will have improved enough by June that we can get YaYu back over to Japan, although we won’t take any chances. There will be no work here on the island for her, but her brother and sister-in-law have offered to hire her again for the summer if it’s safe for her to travel. Time will tell.

    BTW, my son and grandson were set to visit Toronto this past week – my son won free tickets on Air Canada at a fundraising event. That has been postponed until June, at least – Air Canada is being very accomodating in letting them rearrange their travel dates.

    • Margie from Toronto

      Please let your son know that all big events have been cancelled for the city of Toronto until June 30th – just announced today. He might want to delay for a bit longer and check first if there is something specific he wants to do. We are in lockdown at the moment – schools have been closed for two weeks and they just announced today that the earliest they will reopen is May 4th – but that might be optimistic.

      • Thanks for this, Margie – I forwarded it to our son. He said he had been about 95% sure they weren’t going to get to Toronto, but after this he is 100% sure. Our grandson is very disappointed, and is taking it better than we imagined he would.

      • Hi Margie, We are in the same boat – school is cancelled for the same duration. I hear there are more announcements coming from Govt of Ontario this weekend, so we are staying tuned. Link expects to stay here until summer (July) and would be surprised if they were able to return earlier. After a dry spell with few events, Link purchased tickets to 3 concerts this Spring, and all of them were cancelled! Just as well, since refunds will be issued. I hope you’ve been able to stay home, stock the cupboards, and take care of yourself. Cheers!

    • Laura and Brett, I’m glad the 3 of you are together, safe and comfortable. I hate to be a pessimist but I don’t expect a return to normal life in June. My worry is that governments will open borders, airlines will reopen routes, and we will all be told, “Use your discretion.” I’m glad your son and his family are able to re-book later.

  3. I’m an ‘essential worker’ so in lieu of vacation (which was planned, but canceled), I’ve been working. The excess use of counter wipes, hand sanitizer, and soap/hand-washing at work has been tough on my skin (ironically, dry/chapped skin from overwashing then increases your risk factor for getting an infection) and the chlorinated scents those products give off give me breathing difficulties and headaches. Everyone I work with is staying healthy though, which is a Good Thing.

    Like you, I didn’t have much in the way of “stockpile” when the lockdown began. I try to avoid food waste as a general rule so don’t overbuy, but also we’d let our typical dry goods and non-perishable stores run through because we were expecting to be on vacation (and therefore away from home) for 3 weeks. Gah! I was able to replenish a little bit, but regular trips to the grocery store are still necessary.

    Because I’m still going out to perform my work, and am otherwise a homebody, the community-based restrictions haven’t made much difference for me. To stay home would be a luxury! My husband, however, is used to a very social existence, and it’s difficult for him to bear NOT going out. Quite often when I come home he talks my ear off for an hour or longer; he’s practically bursting from the lack of social interaction.

    I’m hoping these measures will work, and that we’ll all start feeling some semblance of ‘normal’ soon.

    • I’m happy to hear you’re both healthy and have a semblance of normal life 🙂 Staying at home (especially with paid work) really is a luxury. Rom also has a habit of talking a blue streak when the mood hits him!

  4. Hi Dar, Lovely to read you again. I’m glad to hear that all is well with you and yours. It sounds like a good piece of luck that Link is with you right now (though I guess that depends on how long it carries on and whether they really want to be back in their own place).
    It’s interesting to hear how for you and Rom your working lives carry on pretty much as normal just in a different place. My life has changed completely, and I guess maybe now much more resembles how people who aren’t retired envisage retirement to be. I realise that I had crafted a very busy retired life, and have now had to invent a way of live I’ve never lived before. Though keeping on top of the many supportive messages and calls seems to keep me as busy as can be!
    Good to hear that things where you are sound relatively ok. You’ll know from Rom’s family how things are here – not so good. I hope they and you all stay well. All the best, Deborah

    • Hi Deborah, I’ve been enjoying your posts. Not enough changes for me day to day, to allow me to post more often! Link is prepared to be here until summer if necessary (and I think it will be). They miss their friends, but wouldn’t be able to see them anyway. Rom has finished his 2 weeks of working at home and will return to the office tomorrow. His employer has laid off 20 workers, but he wasn’t on the list…

      My days have a lot of structure since I have enough work to keep me busy 9-5, five days a week. I am thankful to still have the feeling of separate weekends. I’ve been working from home for 3 weeks now and have at least 4 more to go, but I anticipate it being much longer. We are still getting occasional snow, and we had our first seasonal rainstorm this week. Only the crocuses are up! Neighbours are so eager to spend time outdoors that they’ve started their Spring yard cleanups weeks early. Take care!

  5. Hi Dar – pleased to hear all is well with you and Link is safely at your home and has recovered well from the surgery. Love that picture of you from 1977 – i am a few years older than you so at that time I was just married and making a home. My sister is more in your year group and a Bay City Roller fan – we are more Beatles, Stones and Fleetwood Mac.
    Some instinct told me to start gathering a few more groceries than usual before all the panic buying started here. I had made the decision last year to only buy what we needed and only had one extra can of beans, lentils etc in the cupboard but as we have now got the ‘pantry’ and just in time too I have managed to accumulate more dry and canned goods to see us through for a while.
    Being retired now our lives have not changed that much only the coming and goings to see my mum, daughters and visits to Scotland – all trips and travel have of course stopped so I have much more time as there is no packing and unpacking to do.
    I too think your June trip might be off…but you never know we may be surprised. When you do come over it would be lovely to meet up for a coffee (if we ever get to that point of socialisation again!!). We can travel to you if you are not coming up North.
    Until then stay safe and keep us all updated. I have only just got around to blogging again…had a few hectic weeks.

    • Hi Vivien, I am very happy to hear from you and to see you back at blogging. Your musical tastes were much better than mine in that era! You must have been a Wings fan, too? I did like Wings and Rod Stewart back then – and ABBA!

      Excellent timing for your new pantry – under other circumstances, you would have enjoyed stocking it up (and I hope you did).

      Thank you for the lovely offer. I don’t believe our June trip will happen, but if that’s the case, we will re-book later in the year. I’ll keep in touch!

  6. Joan

    As of yesterday, Michigan had 6,498 cases and 184 deaths. My county, which includes Detroit, had 3,195 cases and 83 deaths.
    I live in a “55 and up” apartment building and we have been on lock-down since March 16. I had a doctor’s appointment that morning. I stopped at the bank to pick up some cash just in case and took a wild notion to pull into Walmart’s where I never shop. They had just received a pallet of toilet paper so I got in line. I snagged 2 packages!
    When I got home with my prize, I discovered the signs posted everywhere. The community areas are all off-limits. We are permitted to pick up our mail and take out our trash but admonished not to linger in the hallways. 12 of my neighbors (in a 50 unit building) are between 90 and 96 years old so it’s important to protect them as much as possible.
    I have some items stockpiled but I’m almost out of bread and fresh fruit/vegetables and I ran out of sweets! The family doesn’t want me to go out to shop so I’m looking into grocery delivery.
    My niece works for a medical supply company. Her boss’s wife was exposed and they went into self-isolation. Eventually, because testing takes so long, they both tested positive. Lauren’s working all hours, covering his job and hers. I just pray she doesn’t get sick too.
    The weather’s been crummy and I’m feeling restless in my apartment all day.

    • Hi Joan, I hope you’ve been “hanging in there”! What a difficult time. So important to protect the vulnerable, but so much to worry about while staying in alone! I would like to hear how you’ve been doing with groceries – I hear that online orders have big waiting lists – and I don’t know if you have someone to shop for you. If I ran out of sweets, I would be so tempted to disobey orders 🙂 All the more reason to stock up! I bought all of our family’s Easter treats the week of March 16, just in case. Glad now! When the weather is better, is there anywhere you can sit or walk outdoors?

  7. Mary

    Good to hear that you and your family are doing well–glad Link is with you. Our state went into lock down last night–I haven’t been out of the house for three weeks, so no change for me. I’m in the elder category and retired, but DH isn’t, so he is the one doing the shopping and (sometimes) working. Still having supply issues at the grocery store but I had done a little bit of stocking up in mid February, so other than fresh items, we are mostly okay for food. Carefully rationing TP. 🙂 Other than not seeing family members except via facetime, my life hasn’t changed dramatically. However, I will say that I am no longer thinking long term. Whereas I was usually think of /plan for my next trip or family event, now I no longer anticipate that those events will occur. Don’t know if that makes me fatalistic or realistic. As always, I am reading a great deal–probably a book a day (don’t watch any TV)–and keeping up with my usual tasks including the use of an exercise video. My family are fine. Grandchildren are safe and loved. Absolutely nothing to complain about here. Not when so very many people are in desperate situations. Stay safe.

    • Hi Mary, I’m glad you’re well and your routine still works for you. In fact, congratulations on having a life that adapts so well to extreme circumstances! Since our June trip is likely cancelled, I am not thinking longer term either. Unlike my usual self, I am frittering away a lot more time online, on Facebook and YouTube and Spotify – but I am lining up more books to read!

  8. SarahN

    Not a short comment in sight – and not surprisingly!!

    I was offered a job at Sydney Water, so resigned from the funeral home, which I left for reasons beyond a new job. I have a two week paid period between the two as they ‘walked’ me, but will pay out the two weeks notice I provided (claiming covid). They knew the resignation was likely coming. So I’m at home and not working, and mainly enjoying it. The govt rules keep shifting and that’s been trickier – to keep up to date with, especially as now there’s penalties involved.

    Overall, I’m incredibly thankful for the travel I’ve done, the money I’ve saved, the life I’ve led. Cause all of that has led me to be ok now. And maybe I wouldn’t live alone if I knew I couldn’t go to work or socialise, but these times couldn’t have been foreseen!

    • “I’m incredibly thankful for the travel I’ve done, the money I’ve saved, the life I’ve led.” That says it all, Sarah! I hope these two weeks have been a welcome respite. I expect Sydney Water is an essential service so you’ll be working onsite and not remotely. Best of luck in your new position! Yes, those utilities call to you – maybe it is meant to be 🙂

      Other readers: Sarah is an engineer/engineering manager who previously worked for an electricity provider.

  9. Fiona

    Great to hear an update from you, Dar. Wonderful to hear that you and Rom are going well. I loved the 63-Up episode as well!

    Here, a couple of days ago we entered into a very stringent “Stay At Home” Order. Police are charging hefty fines for people found outside their homes without a “reasonable excuse”, like grocery shopping. 2 people were fined for sitting alone in stationary cars!

    I’m finding it hard to reconcile with the fact that the Prime Minister announced yesterday that schools will still remain open. We’re on term break but planning to be back in a bit over a week. My suburb has 52 cases and the adjoing ones (within a few kilometres) have 82 cases, 43 cases, 53 cases… We’re in a big “hotspot” and not even leaving the house, using up our pantry stock including long-life milk and frozen bread.

    • We are expecting stricter regulations to come into effect this week. We haven’t been out for the last 2 weeks, and we don’t really need anything other than groceries. I’m hoping we won’t be restricted from (briefly) checking on my parents and delivering things to them. Not the same as visiting and sharing meals together, but still something.

      You certainly are in a hot spot – I am finding your posts scary! I don’t understand your schools remaining open – I am assuming it is an economic measure so parents can keep working, whether they’re working for an essential service or not?

      To my surprise, the long-life soy milk we bought is just as good as the fresh. I have been wanting to bake bread, but so has everyone else, and yeast is sold out everywhere – I might have to resort to a wild yeast/sourdough starter!

  10. We are now just on a month of quarantine down here in California, and my friends in Washington have us beat by a week or two. Life has gotten rather strange and I’ve been documenting it on the blog just to maintain a small bit of normalcy.

    As much as having my chatterbox home with me all day every day isn’t conducive to getting work done, I’m also comforted that my family is safe at home where I can keep watch over them and we can absolutely minimize exposures. PiC has been out among people four times since we quarantined officially, only to pick up groceries and once to get something to fix a problem with the house because we simply couldn’t do without any longer. I’m glad I spent so much time bulking up our non perishables in February when I was fairly certain some disruptions were coming but wasn’t sure precisely what form they would take or how bad they would be.

    Our federal government is a continuous disappointment and I’m grateful that our state leadership has been decisive enough early enough to make a difference but I mourn for those vulnerable among us who are still exposed, unprotected, and suffering.

  11. I love that you are always there for your kid. From what I hear from my oldest, LGBTQIA2 kids don’t always have so much support.I’m glad that you are both able to work from home and that Link is with you. I know how frantic my step-mom was when my brother was not home and he was only a 30 minute drive away.

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