EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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Bright side

I've stayed home almost all the time for a month. I began getting dreary last month, especially because of persistent dark, cold, rainy weather, the kind of which we say most days from October to February. However, I have not been bored, really. 

I have been tutoring a variety of students online, which takes a lot of messaging and prep for each session. Some of my groups have been communicating a lot; we had several meetings over the past two weeks, resulting in the need for more messaging and writing of documents. I've also been taking more phone calls than usual.

Both my mobile phone and laptop showing their age lately, I knew I had to shake it to replace them before they stopped operating altogether. It turned out smoothly. I found a refurbished computer online and it was delivered by post soon after. Today I bought a phone and it is functioning well after a quick switch of SIM cards and a few steps for set-up. I feel accomplished at the success of these purchases and reboots, especially since I have never bought a gadget without getting tech service at the place of purchase. System changes and start-ups seem to be simplified nowadays.

On Thursday, I handled three hours total of teaching and phone calls with an employer, then prepared for and opened up an online meeting. We talked for 90 minutes. 

The weekend is no different in terms of time and energy spent at chores, communications and maintenance. It was necessary to send out some documents I had initiated, discussed and written a few days prior. Although a morning tutoring session was canceled, I had one to give in the early afternoon. Everything seemed to happen at once, during that 1.5-hour tutorial. The computer arrived. I received work-related text messages and phone calls. A parent arrived with a pay-cheque. After the tutorial, I went to deposit the cheque and run a couple of other errands. Queues stretched for about a half a block outside the food stores and bank. People appeared frightened and tense. Medical clinic staff refused my offer of precious N95 masks, which I had been keeping for emergencies at home.

Wanting to hear the latest about the COVID-19 pandemic, I tune into the state briefings and media questioning each morning. However, all the repetitive information and questions, plus all the speculation and alarm, make me feel stressed. I have been turning off these broadcasts earlier and earlier after no further new information is announced.  I can only take so much.

I resigned myself to another food run on Saturday, but vowed to  hike to the supermarket  during "seniors time" early in the day, when there is no line-up and plenty of stock can be found on the shelves. Mission accomplished there, I returned home to push through a load of laundry. Then it was time to turn on the new computer and, fingers crossed, activate it and the servers and other apps I most frequently use. It took nearly three hours, but went remarkably smoothly. I am using the new laptop at this moment; it is faster and more convenient than my older one, and it does not over heat like the older one.

Finally I got a chance to relax yesterday afternoon. Avoiding the news programs, I sought documentaries on Youtube. Subsequently, as dinner was heating up, I searched for CBC films. CBC has opened up its "Gem" online streaming channel for use free of charge. I found a gem of a flick, indeed: "The Red Violin", a joint project of Montreal and European film makers with Canadian stars Colm Feore and Sandra Oh among many others, as well as Samuel L. Jackson in a surprising role, and multilingual European actors of whom I have know nothing before. I recommend this movie. It follows the path of a violin from the circumstances of its creation in the 17th century to its purchase at a monastery for musical orphan boys, from its theft by Romas to its transfer to a famous and eccentric soloist in the 18th century, and from the soloist's butler transport to China where he sold it and a wealth family adopted it, through the Mao revolution and, finally, included in a recovery of old, European instruments in China and transported to an auction house in Montreal. The intriguing diversion was most welcome. I felt quite relaxed after viewing it.

I chose today, Sunday, to go for a lengthier bike ride. The weather turned fair and the rich boughs of cherry blossoms beckoned. I set out after breakfast. That's when I collected the N95 masks from a cupboard and slipped them into a backpack to give to a local nursing home. I also planned to shop for a new phone, without intending to make a purchase on this day. The intensive care nursing home and hospice lie on the other side of a school and park, an easy distance from my place. I rang the bell at the door and held out the bag with the box of masks using long tongs. The person who opened the door was very glad to get them. 

At the big box "drug" store, I locked up my bike to a fence, wrapped my face in a silk scarf, and joined the queue inside the mall. I quickly spotted the Britta tap filter cartridges and picked up a couple of food items, then made my way to the electronics department. Gazing around at the fare on display, I did not think I would buy anything today. Despite my reticence at making an immediate purchase, the sight of a friendly service rep eased my trepidation enough to permit me to inquire about the phones on hand. The helpful staff assured me that switching phones would be relatively easy, without necessitating a trip to the phone network service provider; all I'd have to do was put my old SIM card into the new gadget. While I talked to the engaging fellow, a younger staff member dug around and came up with a lowish-priced model of a reliable make. I bought it.

It took under an hour to glance at the manual, plug in the new device, and install the old SIM card. (Gosh! I almost pried open the wrong slot. I started to excavate the on switch but stopped in the nick of time when I realized it was not a card port!) I have made one call and received one call; it is working fine.

The next task was getting back to this blog. I have been receiving many requests to keep writing. Thanks for all your positive comments and encouragement.

When I opened up this blog page, I had envisioned sharing some insights about the significance of this health crisis but got into an account of my last few days in "isolation." I will follow that with some observations and reflections of the crisis next time.

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