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Art Canada Caring for Humanity Cats Harbour City Newcomers Club Life during Covid 19 Nature Springtime Vancouver Island

Conquering Covid Carefully! Feeling Optimistic :-)

As Covid 19 vaccines become more accessible globally, and magic totals for ‘herd’ immunity become more of a reality than a dream; there is a new optimism about interacting with loved ones after a lengthy hug drought of over 15 months!

Hopeful for a Canada/Thailand reunion soon!

I selected a photo of Sophia (our rescue kitten) looking anxiously through the door and wondering what is happening, to introduce this blog post as it seems an accurate portrayal of Covid life during lockdowns.

What’s going on?

Sophia is extremely expressive and her antics generate laughs and discussions which truly brightened our days during lockdown periods.

The many moods of Sophia (aged 10 months)

In Canada, we are carefully observing the new freedoms we see exhibited via media in Australia, the United States and U.K. We are not there yet. In British Columbia, Dr. Bonnie Henry continues to be our amazing leader throughout this pandemic. My husband and I gratefully received our first Moderna ‘jab’ on April 28th, 2021 and are currently awaiting the notification that it is our time to receive the second dose.

Last week, with huge excitement and relief, we commenced stage 1 of a 4 stage Restart plan in B.C. with hopeful anticipation that we will experience a new “norm” and freedom by September, 2021.

Step 1 of the BC Restart Directive. May 25th 2021

The Covid 19 Pandemic has shaken the world and changed all sense of what we experience as “normal”. This blog post is driven by a grateful optimism towards the future, while remembering life and adaptations we faced in March 2020 when our lives suddenly changed…. Covid 19 arrived!

Mid March 2020. The first Covid 19 lockdown!

Prior to the March Lockdown….

My husband accepted a job as part of a team working in Hamilton, Ontario for a few months departing from Nanaimo in mid February 2020. I joined the Harbour City Newcomers Club in Nanaimo excited to meet new people and explore activities in this new location. My son, Alexander, had recently moved back home to Canada after working at Western Digital in Bangkok, Thailand for the past 6 years. He was hired just prior to Covid as a Manufacturing Engineer at StarFish Medical Consultants in Victoria, B.C.

In Early March 2020 Sophia enjoyed the many facets of being a kitten–from sleeping anywhere and everywhere, to discovering her world. She was particularly fond of munching fresh grass every morning before exploring outdoors.

Sophia’s life as a 10 month old kitten

As a member of the Harbour City Newcomers Club (HCNC), I was enjoying meeting new people, attending art workshops, and being creative using new paint techniques.

HCNC Paint workshops

In mid March 2020 we even participated in an Artisan tour checking out nearby galleries including a glass blowing studio. We car pooled together in vehicles and nobody wore masks! The following day, new lock down rules were implemented in B.C. It was the end of carpools, group meetings and indoor activities. This was the official beginning of masks and Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!

HCNC Art tour mid March 2020

Who would have anticipated that this hair appointment would be the last one I would have for nearly a year and this would possibly be the last time I would see my hairdresser without both of us wearing protective face masks?

Last hair appointment before covid! No masks!

In mid March 2020 the world as we knew it drastically changed! The unprecedented Covid 19 Pandemic arrived and people started to horde toilet paper, hand sanitizer, soap, masks, gloves, and canned food. Suddenly, there was a frenzy of uncertainty!

Covid Coping Strategies:

Thankfully, we live in a single detached home with a large yard near to lots of hiking trails and ocean access. Nature and Spring beauty bring peace and inner grounding during this unsettled and scary time.

Spring beauty around Nanaimo

Another of my favorite locations is Buttertubs Marsh. There is always a plethora of bird songs and diverse species to observe. If you are lucky, you might see turtles or Great Blue Herons.

Buttertubs marsh

My dad passed away in 2007. His favorite bird was the Great Blue Heron and it is always a thrill and comfort when they grace my day. This Heron at Buttertubs was very close to the trail.

Great Blue Heron

While I was active exploring nature and outdoor trails on Vancouver Island, my husband in Ontario visited Niagara Falls. Due to Covid lockdown… the highly popular tourist location was nearly devoid of visitors in late March 2020. What a strange and unusual experience!

Stunning Niagara Falls Late March 2020 during Covid lockdown

By late March 2020 we were starting to adapt to this initial Covid 19 lockdown. Sophia taught me to chill, reflect and sleep a lot. Puzzles and books were becoming a popular option to aid the passing of time spent alone. Stores were crazy places to avoid whenever possible. Masks were not mandated yet, but long lines and empty shelves were troubling realities. Schools and most businesses were closed during the first lockdown. There were constant disturbing news updates about areas hardest hit by Covid 19. North America seemed to fair pretty well initially, but that was to change as the Global Pandemic progressed.

Adapting to Covid 19 lockdown in late March 2020

While we embraced early signs of Spring on Vancouver Island, other areas of B.C. and Canada were still in the midst of late Winter.

Late March on Vancouver Island. The Moose photo was taken up in Burns Lake, B.C.

Daily walks and hikes outdoors were a welcome release. There are so many wooded areas, trails, lakes, rivers, and marshes to explore around Vancouver Island.

Nature walks minutes from my house in Nanaimo–March 23rd 2020

More nearby early signs of Spring to help a person feel grounded and grateful.

March 24th exploration near our home in Nanaimo

When the schools and playgrounds closed and people were confined to their homes, the hearts and messages of hope became more plentiful around our community.

Hearts in the windows and on rocks, and messages of Hope and Optimism. March 25th

As March drew to an end, it was clear that my husband’s job in Hamilton, Ontario would be terminating soon due to lockdown occurring in Ontario. Mark’s flight home to B.C. was booked for the first week of April. We were anxiously awaiting his arrival home.

Sophia was waiting too….

Suddenly, domestic and international flights were all getting cancelled due to the Pandemic. Mark needed to get home IMMEDIATELY before all the provincial borders were closed between British Columbia and Ontario!

Mark travelled home from Hamilton, Ontario (near Toronto) to Vancouver Island, B.C.

So after hours on hold with reservation centers, my husband managed to obtain a seat on an earlier flight departing the following day. Airport safety and protocols were pretty sketchy and the flight was completely full on March 31st 2020. Safety protocols certainly intensified prior to vaccines, as pandemic specialists learned more about this new Covid 19 virus.

My husband’s experience travelling from Toronto to Nanaimo during Covid lockdown on March 31st 2020.

There was no physical spacing in the airports or on the planes, so Mark wore a face mask and we mutually agreed he would go into voluntary quarantine for 2 weeks after he returned home. After our 2 week self imposed quarantine, we were both healthy and ready to tackle lockdown and Covid 19 life as a team together.

Healthy and ready to tackle this Pandemic as a team together! April 2020.

The future is optimistic and exciting, but let’s not forget the confines and struggles of this Covid 19 journey as we move forward and Carefully Conquer Covid.

The next blog posts will include more Nature, Canadian Animals, Exploration around Vancouver Island, Covid Wellness Strategies, Antics by Sophia, and Gardening. Stay safe and Keep on Smiling.

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Canada Caring for Humanity Cats Knitting Rescue kitten Vancouver Island

Blankets 4 Canada. How to help from your home.

I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities, freedom, and standard of life we experience living in Canada.

However, people’s journeys in life vary and not all are as fortunate as I am. There are so many ways to be kind and support others. This global pandemic reaffirms the importance of being kind, calm, respectful and understanding towards humanity.

While respecting social distancing, you can join an organization like “Blankets for Canada” where volunteers purchase their own wool and knit or crochet squares to create blankets which are anonymously donated throughout your community.

Creating my first “Blanket for Canada”

There are rules about the types of wool, colours, weight of yarn, size of squares, etc. You may select to just create squares and drop them off at a local pick up location, or create squares and sew them together prior to dropping off a completed blanket. A member from the not-for-profit registered organization checks the blankets, attaches a label, and drops off blankets at multiple locations including: Women’s Safe Shelters, Men’s Shelters, Salvation Army hostels, or city homeless street people.

https://blankets4canada.ca/ This is the Blankets for Canada link if you are interested.

Upon reading about this organization in a community newspaper, I joined the Nanaimo chapter as one of a team of members knitting or crocheting squares to improve the quality of life for struggling community members. Winters are cold and wet here. In addition to giving warmth, our goal is to offer love and hope.

So the knitting vigil began. Sophia (8 month rescue kitten) watched beside me sometimes playing with the wool or sitting on the blanket so I couldn’t knit!

Sophia watching the action!

While working on each square I contemplated the person who might receive this gift. I hoped they knew they were loved, important, and cared about. The squares accumulated and as I neared the goal of 48, I made the decision to also sew them together and complete the entire blanket myself!

So….Off I went to visit one of the head organizers for the Nanaimo branch of Blankets for Canada and received a lesson in organizing squares effectively and techniques to sew them together. My mentor was extremely helpful and encouraging.

Here is a short video of the Blankets for Canada process

The process to create a “Blanket for Canada”

It took an additional couple of weeks to organize the patterns and sew all 48 squares together…with Sophia’s assistance (of course).

When the blanket was completed I added a personal message. A couple of my friends had previously spent time at a Safe House while dealing with domestic violence. I requested the blanket be given to somebody at a Women’s Safe House and heard it was delivered to Haven House. I have no idea who received it, but I hope she feels loved and cared about.

The first 25 squares are knitted for blanket number 2. It will be ready for delivery when covid safety protocols open up again later this year.

If you have spare time during Covid lockdown, this is one idea of a project which could offer hope and love to another individual. Keep safe and optimistic my friends.

Northern Vancouver Island, Mt. Washington skiing, and Sophia assists with house renovations are the next blog posts coming soon.