Sunday, April 19, 2020

Life In Isolation, Report #3

Only a few days left of the original 4-week lockdown! Wednesday is the end date. Tomorrow (Monday) the government will make a decision as to what happens after that. Will we stay at Level 4 for longer, or drop down to Level 3? New case numbers have declined from a high of 89 per day early in the lockdown, to a low of 8 two days ago. (It went back up a little yesterday to 13 new cases, but all 13 were directly linked to prior cases and not community spread, so that's still good news.) The past few days, the Ministry of Health ordered random sample testing at supermarkets around the country, to check if they're missing any silent community spread from asymptomatic carriers. So far all that testing has come back negative, which is the best news of all.

A glimpse of hope
NZ's lockdown is clearly working. We really might be able to eliminate the virus within the country. So do we extend the Level 4 restrictions a bit longer to try and get new cases all the way down to zero? Or loosen up a little to Level 3, in which some businesses can re-open, and trust in comprehensive testing and contact tracing to continue controlling the spread? The PM and her cabinet have waited for the last minute to make an official decision because they want to see and evaluate the very latest data--a precaution I applaud. (I have been so impressed by NZ's handling of the crisis. Let's hear it for competent, compassionate, science-based government!)

For us personally, it won't make too much of a difference to our daily lives if we go to Level 3. Schools won't open to anyone but the children of essential workers unable to arrange other childcare, so the kiddo will still be at home, needing my help with his schooling. His break finished up after Easter, which was a gray rainy day but at least we managed an egg hunt in our backyard.

Easter egg dying station

The result of our labors. After the egg hunt, I made them into deviled eggs, but accidentally put in too much mustard. Google informed me it's possible to solve a mustard problem by adding some brown sugar. This actually worked. So it's not just the kiddo who's learning things in lockdown! 
School at home is going fine, the kiddo is enjoying the lack of uniforms and long bus rides and he's learning plenty. (Thanks to our online Japanese lessons, now both he and I know how to ask politely for English tea or green tea at a Japanese teahouse. Sadly, I do not like any type of tea. I will have to find out if there's some other Japanese drink I might like instead.)

Home schooling does make it awfully hard for me to get much else done during the day. The kiddo won't be going back to school until Level 2, and God knows when that'll be, so I just have to make my peace with the new normal.

Practical maths: using decimal measurements to make gluten-free cinnamon sugar baked donuts. Except I don't have a donut pan. Google claimed we could use a muffin pan and put little balls of crumpled up baking paper in the center of each tin to make the result donut-shaped. This was a lie. They did not come out looking anything like donuts. More like weird little cake things with jagged gaps in the middle.

Still tasty, though, especially with some salted caramel ice cream covering the chasm in the middle.
If we go to Level 3, everyone's still supposed to stay home and in their "bubble" if at all possible, i.e. no socializing in person. ("No playdates?" wails the kiddo, bereft.) Restaurants will remain closed. Drive-throughs are allowed to open, but our little town doesn't have any of those. (The nearest McDonalds is an hour away in Queenstown!) Maybe we'd be able to get take-away fish & chips from the local cafe, which would actually be exciting, since it's been ages since I last ate a meal I didn't have to make.

Businesses will be allowed to open if they can sell products online with contact-less delivery, which means we could maybe order more stain for our house. (We've run out, and we still have lots and lots of staining left to go, ugh.) No motorized or open-water hobbies allowed, meaning no boating or kayaking on the lake, but we'd be allowed to go swimming or fishing from shore, and maybe hiking on a real trail, woo hoooooo! We're heading into winter now, and the weather's getting iffy, but I'll take any mountain exercise opportunities I can get. (Oh goodness I am hoping we get to Level 2 by ski season, though!) 

Woke up this morning to lovely lavender and rose light, with fresh snow on the mountains. 

Anyway, life goes on. I'm still trying for an hour of writing every day, and still saving my sanity with Revolution Yoga. But I still struggle with worries about the world's future, and anger at people who still refuse to take the virus seriously. 

When I read accounts from doctors in COVID-swamped ERs (like this one, and this one), I often wish our news wasn't so sanitized. I know they're not filming much in affected hospitals because of privacy and safety reasons. Yet I feel like all of us who are healthy should witness the truth of the lives lost. We don't see the patients gasping desperately for air, dying of viral-damaged lungs and hearts and kidneys, so it's easy to dismiss the deaths as dry statistics. A comment I saw on twitter really struck me: imagine if we had a zombie outbreak, but we never get to see the zombies, only healthy people talking about them. That's what it's like now. We see the global death toll steadily rising, but we don't see the dying. Only doctors and nurses do, and it's shattering them. Also killing them, even as many are asked to work without proper protective equipment. Calling them heroes does nothing to make up for that.

So yeah, when it's a cloudy freezing miserable day and we're all stuck in the house together getting snappish and mopey, I read r/medicine and r/residency and r/nursing to get a stark reminder of the reasons for the rules. If staying in Level 4 longer ensures NZ's doctors and nurses never have to fight such battles, I am all for it.

Reading report: I finished Weave the Lightning, which lived up to my hopes. The magic system is quite intricate and complex, which I enjoyed but (fair warning!) might put off some readers. I took Russian all through high school and university, so I enjoyed the Russia-inspired feel of the secondary world, and the circus setting gave me fond memories of HBO's Carnivale. As will surprise nobody who's read my own books, I particularly enjoyed the two main characters' gradual transition from suspicion/animosity to tentative respect/friendship and eventually to a deeper relationship. I often feel like YA novels rush the character relationships, but Weave the Lightning does not, hooray. The story does end on a fairly cliffhangery note, but of course I don't mind that either--I look forward to seeing what happens in the next book.

I haven't yet decided what to read next. At bedtime, the kiddo and I are together reading one of my long-time favorites, Patricia McKillip's Cygnet duology. We're on the 2nd book now, The Cygnet and the Firebird, which I love best of the two, and it's so cool that the kiddo is loving it also. Oooh, this part of parenthood is the best. Wish I could go back to my younger stressed-out, sleep-deprived self during the difficult screaming baby days, and assure her that everything will be okay, the kiddo will be fine and the coming joys will more than make up for the exhaustion and tears. Alas for my lack of a time machine. Instead I shall soak up every instant of joy I can, to save against future challenges.     

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic report Courtney and a very Happy Birthday
    Love from Mathilde and Manfred