by Beryl Moser
“This is kind of fun, me staying here and cooking,” said Syd, as he was preparing the one and only dish he knows how to make, a Batter-Fried Zucchini, kolokythakia tigonita, taken from My Big Fat Greek Cookbook: Classic Mediterranean Soul Food Recipes by Christos Sourligas
You see, my boyfriend, Syd has moved in to self-isolate with me. I am 87 and he is 89. What am I doing during the COVID-19 pandemic? I started by cleaning drawers and cupboards. Then I received a note from my daughter asking if I was throwing things out because if not, then I was just shuffling things. I replied that I had thrown out two umbrellas and started a file of books and pamphlets to give to Dawson when the college reopened.
If the government’s plea to practice “social distancing” lasts long enough, I should be able to clean my entire apartment. Cleaning the fridge and freezer was an eye-opener, allowing me to throw out things I may have placed there many moons ago. I hope I won’t miss them.
Another activity many have supported is Netflix, but we have only watched, The two Popes so far. My daughter suggested, The Crown because there were 30 episodes of it.
Being a librarian I naturally started reading a few books, the first one being The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis. This is the perfect Canadian book about professors, the Canadian political system, chess, language and more. It won the Stephen Leacock award for humour in 2015.
I’m halfway through another book I found wedged into my bookcase titled BRRM! BRRM! by Clive James. Apparently my daughter had hidden it there some time ago. It is by the marvellous British writer Clive James about a Japanese man living in London who makes an exchange deal with a British man to teach each other their languages and customs. It is witty and funny but as a rather prudish person from Winnipeg, MB, I find there is too much emphasis on sexual activities.
My three children phone regularly to see how I’m doing and to tell me of their activities. My daughter-in-law, Klara, told me that my 23 year old granddaughter asked if she might go to play cards at her friend’s place and she replied, “Yes, you may go….but you can’t come back.” So there!
My son, working from home, has set up two computers, one for personal communication and one for work. At one point he was composing a note to me and got interrupted and switched to the work computer. Then, by mistake, he wrote, “Love Lionel” on the work one and it was sent to his manager! He typed “Oops.” She replied ”I figured.”
The phone is definitely a lifeline so I have been phoning friends in Chicago, Winnipeg, and Vancouver because they live alone and need some encouragement and diversions. They are usually pleased to get a call especially because some are not using e-mail. I am also getting calls from friends both in Montreal and elsewhere.
What do I miss? I miss the theatre classes at E.N.C.O.R.E. at the Catholic Centre, Centaur, Segal theatre, ballet, Montreal opera, The Metropolitan Opera movies, and pilates at Dawson College.
I skipped the hairdresser as well as two medical appointments at the Montreal Heart Institute, which I had been waiting for since 2018. When I phoned to cancel, the secretary said, “the place is empty” but I refused to go. She said the doctors were going to phone all the patients but mine did not. Probably he couldn’t reach me because I was talking on the phone so much.
I had tickets to go to Vancouver mid-April with my daughter so that was cancelled. I’ve also cancelled my June trip to Seattle. I do not miss flying or going on trips and am content to stay home. Needless to say, I am never, ever, ever going on another cruise ship.
One loss I feel is that my great-granddaughter, Gabriella Shoshana, who is almost one year old, was supposed to visit me for a week with her father but because of the outbreak the visit was cancelled too.
I got prescription drugs delivered by the pharmacy and will try to order groceries by phone when necessary.
On the positive side, March 8th brought us Daylight Savings Time and the snow is almost all gone. The sun is shining and some of us are able to go for walks around the block, remembering of course to keep 6 feet away from people walking their dogs.
The Chinese have lived through their massive coronavirus episode so I expect we will as well. I am filled with admiration for Francois-Philippe Champagne, our Foreign Minister who has spent two months rescuing Canadians from abroad where they are stuck.
The daily briefings by the Prime Minister and Christia Freeland and others has been marvellous and comforting. Congratulations to them for giving us accurate information. They give us hope we will get through this together.
Beryl Moser is the aunt of Barbara Moser, who was a flower girl at her wedding in 1953 in Winnipeg