Keep a level head

The Covid virus forced all of us to adopt new practices with respect to hygiene and social distancing to ensure we minimize the spread. At the height of the pandemic most resorted to wearing facial masks for even the simplest outing, you just couldn’t be too careful.  Now, despite the fact that this virus is currently under control in our province many businesses still, understandably, require the use of facial masks and very detailed screening; dental offices, hair salons, etc, where close facial contact is unavoidable, and this makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is the blatant fearmongering of those who clearly don’t know when to employ a sense of reason.

A friend was grocery shopping earlier this week and while browsing the shelves of food, a woman behind her sneezed. She did so in her sleeve and she was a good 10 feet behind. My friend says she was startled, not by the sneeze, but by the reaction of another woman ahead of her. The woman literally jumped back and pressed her back up against the shelves, as though lining up for a firing squad, a look of panic on her face. Do you think this reaction is just a tad over the top? What did she think would happen,,,,that the impact of the sneeze would blow her head off? For God’s sake, people sneeze, and we are at the height of allergy season. Could it be this panic-stricken victim is a prime candidate for curbside pick-up or home delivery?

Another friend said she inadvertently went down the ‘wrong way’ in the grocery aisle and was the recipient of several dirty looks. You know, this whole roadmap maze thing in grocery stores is new to all of us, and she’s not the first to ‘take a wrong turn’. I’ve done that myself and I hardly think it fair to condemn those of us who are still getting used to all the new rules.

I can’t help but think people are over-reacting. Yes, we need to be careful. We need to adopt new routines for contact and cleanliness, but we also need to be realistic. I’m puzzled by the lone driver who’s wearing a mask. He’s the only one in the vehicle and all the windows are closed. What’s he protecting himself from?

And I’m stunned every time I see someone out walking, alone or with a pet, and they’re wearing a face mask. There’s not a living sole in sight,,,why would they need a mask? Surely they can’t think that inhaling fresh air outdoors is lethal, and if they do, they’re beyond paranoid and shouldn’t be venturing out at all. What is wrong with these people? Have they no common sense?

Medical experts have made it clear face masks will not prevent you from getting the virus, they will simply protect others from your germs, whatever they are, i.e. if you aren’t sick you’ve nothing to spread to another. The donning of a face mask is recommended in many public places but is not mandatory. I have not been ill so I am not likely to spread anything to anyone else, so at the moment, I do not feel the need to wear a mask. That said, I always carry one with me so that should I find myself in a situation that requires one, I’ll be ready. I will not wear a mask when walking alone outdoors, and I certainly won’t wear one when driving alone in my car. That just doesn’t make sense for me but I will respect another’s choice in these situations because while it may be puzzling, it hurts no one. It’s just odd.

What I will not accept is the ridiculous over-reactions of those who make it their mission to target the rest of us in society who exercise a little common sense. We are being careful. We are mindful of others and committed to distancing, and should this dreadful virus spike again we will all exercise extreme measures as warranted but we will also act with a rational mind and a level head. Get real already.

The ‘second wave’ of this virus is predicted to hit in the fall, in line with regular flu season, and given that the symptoms are similar, I can’t imagine how these fear mongers will react then. (They’ve probably already ordered their cosmonaut suit.) I pray the predictions for fall are wrong. And I pray every day that a vaccine is developed, but until such time I will continue to practice caution in my daily routines to ensure I protect myself and others, however, I will also keep a level head because panicking will only lead to irrational behaviour and we already have enough of that in society without the pandemic.


The Finger of Blame

On a recent news broadcast our Prime Minister was seen kneeling with other protestors at a rally for anti-racism, and while this was clearly intended to be an act of solidarity, support, and compassion, it was instead criticized because he wasn’t social distancing. Had he not attended the rally he would’ve been blamed for lacking compassion (you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t) and I was disappointed that the opposition chose such a sensitive situation to call him out. Surely there are more relevant political issues to challenge? But call him out they did.

Several weeks ago we experienced a mass murder. It was horrific and many lives were senselessly lost, many families destroyed forever. The investigation is ongoing and the public are updated as to status and findings. Amid these updates come the accusatory comments from various groups blaming everyone from the police to rescue workers, to Canada’s emergency alert system for not advising the public sooner. The reality is that nothing like this has every happened here before and no one could’ve fathomed that it would. We can only help heal those who’ve suffered and work to establish a routine that will ensure this won’t happen again, i.e. pointing the finger of blame after the fact, is easy. It’s also counter-productive and serves no purpose.

Why then are we so quick to point the finger of blame? Does it somehow absolve us of any perceived guilt, or are we looking to make another accept responsibility? Sometimes things just happen and the constructive response should be to learn from it and move on. Maybe it’s human nature, and if so, what a shame, because the energy we spend pointing fingers could be better utilized working on solutions.

We blame our municipal government for delays in traffic due to construction, but if they didn’t repair the roads we’d blame them for damage to our vehicles caused by pot holes.

We blame factories for polluting our air, yet we buy every available gadget they manufacture because it makes our lives easier so if they were to stop manufacturing we’d blame them for taking away our gagets.

For that matter, we blame society for traffic and heavy volumes but you’d be hard pressed to find a home anywhere that doesn’t boast a minimum of 2 to 3 cars in their driveway.

We blame our education system for failing to provide necessary tutelage to our children when they can’t keep up with the curriculum, yet we forgo spending that time with them as parents because it’s more important that they go to hockey practice or dance class. And we blame our teachers for not giving the much needed individual attention to our children but if we hire more teachers to give them that better teacher/student ratio it’d raise our taxes and we’d blame the government for that.

Maybe we’re just a society of complainers, after all it’s easier to point the finger of blame than it is to do something about it.

At the end of the day we are all responsible for what goes on in this world, so maybe it’s time we stood up and took responsibility. I, for one, have been blaming the Covid virus for my weight gain. Isolation meant every day was spent planning the next meal (and eating it) and because we could go nowhere every day was Friday, so you celebrated with a couple of glasses of wine. (This regimen does not make for a lithe body) I see now there’s no one to blame but me for this (although I did search for a scapegoat) so I am accepting blame and doing something about it. I still spend my days planning my next meal but I’ve incorporated more veggies, less starch, AND I’ve switched to vodka (it’s lower in calories)

Small steps……taking the blame instead of giving it, isn’t easy.


Midlife, and everything leading up to it

Infancy to childhood, Mid-life to Menopause….why did the fun stop? We’re born with a clean slate – an innocent and impressionable young mind and from the moment we enter this world we start gathering information and developing ideas. A bright future awaits us all and life is good.

In our childhood every new experience is exciting and fresh. We exist only to play because this is how we learn. Eating is optional, experimental, and is needed only to sustain us through play. We have boundless energy and a vivid imagination, and life is fun.

In our youth we seek adventure, test our wings (and our parents), and are up for pretty much anything. We experiment with alcohol, junk food and a racy lifestyle because our bodies can take it, for now. ….and we’re still having fun.

Then, before you know it, we come upon our adult years and ‘boom’ responsibility hits us right between the eyes. Kids, mortgages, careers, aging parents; the whole nine yards, but that’s ok cause we’re still of sound mind and able body (and by now we have the means to maintain a fully stocked bar) Junk food now gives us heartburn but we still maintain a steady eating regimen of pizza and cocktail nuts – we just wash them down with beer and wine (cause it’s cheap and abundant). We have friends we can commiserate with, jobs we can immerse ourselves in, and hobbies to distract us. We’re thirty-something, invincible and life is still fun. Who knew it would end there?

We all have that birthday that hit us harder than any other. The turning point where we had to grudgingly acknowledge that we are, finally, middle aged and no longer societies ‘leading’ demographic. No longer will we set the trend – that torch has been passed (not willingly) to those 10 years younger than us (and they now refer to us as Maam and Sir)

What used to be natural highlights in a woman’s hair (I swear to God they were natural….at some point) are now defiant streaks of grey so we revamp our household budget to include monthly visits to have our roots covered. For me that ‘birthday of change’ was 35. I don’t know why, but turning 35 was a turning point in my life. I got rid of most of my clothes, invested in a complete wardrobe of denim, and sported sunglasses that my husband said made me look like Onassis (Aristotle, not Christina) I thought I was really happenin’,,,,turns out I was just really loosin’ it, and this was just the beginning. The forties awaited.

I can’t say it was just me. My husband hit mid life too, and while he didn’t radically change his wardrobe he did try his hand with a brush on dye for his beard, until he endured such a serious skin rash he had to stop. (What was once the distinctive ‘salt and peppering’ in a man’s hair was now either a bald spot or a more solid greyish-white, neither of which is youthful —- see, woman aren’t the only ones that succumb to vanity) He did however indulge with his passion for golf, investing in countless clubs; big ones, little ones, long, short – he had to buy new bags to house them all (we had no less than 11 golf bags in our basement…..and only 1 golfer in the house)

Throughout our forties we both noted a little slowing of our metabolism (ok, we put on a few pounds) and our clothes somehow didn’t look quite as sharp as they once did. Trendy fashion was now being replaced by elastic waistbands and sensible shoes, (who knew denim was so stiff…what was I thinking?) but eventually we accepted our progression to middle age, and just as we did, ‘boom’ – the fifties,,,, and this one packed a punch!

I hit menopause, or rather,,,, it,,,, hit,,,me. I spent the next several years battling the bulge, plucking unwanted hair out of various parts of my face, and swabbing down my sweat-soaked body. (I’m just a big puddle in sneakers) And like any rational middle-aged woman, I lashed out at a world that dared to be so unjust, raged against a God that would sentence any female to this hell (because 36 years of menstruation wasn’t punishment enough?) so I basically bitched (because if women didn’t bitch we’d explode) If I have to go through this, I’m not goin’ quietly, or alone!

And fortunately I didn’t have to…God gave me a husband to abuse. While I struggled with ‘the change’, my husband was going through a ‘change’ of the male kind. He invested in a wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts, bought a nice straw, rimmed hat, and traded in the family sedan for a ‘big ole Buick’, aka, a Geezermobile. (every Geezer has one eventually) We’ve gotten the 11 golf bags down to 7 (it’s a work in progess) and his snack of choice is now any kind of dip (cause nuts now hurt his teeth) washed down with a rye and ginger (his medicine of choice) I suppose I should be grateful. I have friends whose husband’s impulsively bought an expensive sports car when they hit mid life (because when he no longer turns the heads of young women he needs a car to do it). Others take up with a younger woman (but they’d better have money cause there a price for that arm candy) and if they go so far as to leave their families and settle down with their Barbie Doll, eventually she’s going to want to ‘nest’ and that puts them right back in the humdrum life they just left behind…..only now they’re 30 years older…. not so fun anymore.

I’d be lying if I said the Sixties don’t scare me. I am cautious. On the other hand the fifties were such hell, how much worse could it be? I will acknowledge one thing though,,,,,every decade, every change, and every challenge, humbled me. It made me more reflective, more tolerant, more appreciative of everything I learned along the way (although I would’ve preferred the Coles-notes version of menopause) What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger, and smarter, and better. I wonder, if we could be born with the knowledge we die with, would we have changed anything in our path of life? Maybe,,,,,,,,,, but would it have been as much fun,,,,cause isn’t that what life is all about?

woman exercise walking

Housework – man vs woman

The days are getting longer and the sunlight seems brighter, illuminating the filmy mess on my windows and heralding the arrival of spring. Winter leaves a mess inside and outside a home; a mess most men ignore. I look out the window and see a garden that needs tending, broken branches to collect, and a garage jam packed with lawn furniture waiting to be pulled out and hosed off. My husband looks out that same window and sees the arrival of golf season.

How can men be so oblivious to housework? They seem to notice when it’s dirty but they rarely ask how it gets cleaned or who it gets cleaned by, clearly preferring not to know. Most recently my husband commented on how dusty the house felt; said he could feel it when he breathed, then he looked at me expectantly, so I replied, “then why don’t you dust it?” (my breathing’s ok) He dropped the subject.

Later on I suggested we have our air ducts cleaned and he agreed. It hadn’t been done in years and this was a good project for him (after all, he brought up the dusty subject)….I had to remind him, several times, this was to be HIS project. (bet he was sorry he mentioned it at all) Now to his credit, he did shop around, got some quotes and called a local duct company to book a cleaning and once it was done he noted how much better the air quality felt. The only thing I noticed was the mess left at every duct opening, (funny he didn’t notice that) the mess I had to clean.

Like most women, I have a cleaning routine, and standards. I like my kitchen and bathrooms fresh, if for no one else but me. Men don’t seem to be as concerned about the cleanliness of their homes (or maybe that’s just their ploy to ensure they don’t have to do it?) Dust can gather on furniture, floors could stick to their shoes and laundry can be done on a ‘need to wear basis only’, unless it’s their golfwear….that’s a priority.

My husband and I have found our compromise. I do ‘most’ (ALL) of the indoor work, and he tends to the yard, but only after 18 holes of golf (that’s his compromise) Last week I spent a day cleaning floors and windows, a major undertaking, and once you start you can’t stop till the job is done. My husband returned home after his round and had lunch while reviewing his golf scores. Then he had to catch up on news in the markets (it’s very important he remain informed) after which he rested on his chaise (it’s been a busy morning) Eventually the noise of the vacuum cleaner disturbed his slumber enough that he had to get up (there’s just no getting any peace around here) and he headed outside to mow the lawn. (Yay!)

Satisfied I’d finally gotten him to do something around the house I tackled the closets. After about 15 minutes I noticed the lawn mower had stopped, so curious I stepped to the window to look outside and there he was lying in the hammock with his hat over his eyes, the lawn mower sitting in the middle of the lawn, mid stripe. (I would later learn that the sun was too hot at that particular time and he felt it prudent to cease all physical activity lest he succumb to heat stroke) I give up.

Maybe men have the right idea. Maybe women are too anal about cleanliness. Men seem to find more time for relaxation than we do and they don’t stress the untidiness of their home. I love the feeling of cooking in my freshly cleaned kitchen, or showering in my disinfected bathroom, and that motivates me to want to clean. Even my showering routines are thorough; washing my hair twice, applying conditioner, and scrubbing every inch of my body to get that tingly clean feeling. My husband can shower, shave, and dry his hair in under 10 minutes (so how thorough can he be?) and he’s good with it.

I guess at the end of the day we have to take responsibility for the standards we set for ourselves and accept that the expectation of these standards will dictate our workload. I will continue to clean, celebrating the results, and rewarding myself with a luxuriously long hot shower afterwards, and my husband will always be content to exert himself minimally (unless it’s on a golf course) then hose himself down in the garage.

I guess it all comes down to standards.