A year ago today I went to Costco. We had a birthday party for my grandma’s 85th birthday.

We had four travel-related cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba. Four.

We debated canceling the party, but didn’t. My mom, aunt and I went to Costco, picked up a cake, and saw a guy wearing a full face respirator mask.

I mean. We thought that was a bit overboard. We were just there to check out if they’d restocked all the toilet paper and other stuff that had sold out with people lining up like mad on the infamous Friday the Thirteenth. (They had. It was pretty uneventful.)

I had not really considered that’d be the last time I’d go to the store for a few weeks, never mind a whole year.

First my doctor’s assistant asked if I was self-isolating. I was. Then my doctor told me to self-isolate. She’d semi-revoke that 3 months later, probably realizing the length of the situation at hand was potentially interminable, but it’s been a year and I’m still avoiding the general public, mostly because I don’t have to go anywhere. Severe asthma may not be as big of a risk factor for severe COVID outcomes as once thought, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not one. If I don’t have to go anywhere, why risk it?

It’s been a year of learning, of scientific innovation, and of science finding better answers—sadly causing some to lose faith in science because the evidence changed, or finally feeling emboldened to show their true colours because of widespread “acceptance of pseudoscience and conspiracy theories taking even deeper hold as people lived their lives online. PSA: Science can change our opinions, that means it’s working. Masks help. Vaccines work and help more.

(And if my vaccine has a microchip in it, I just want it to have debit, thanks!)

It’s been a year of outdoor visits with only a few friends. A year of FaceTime, Facebook, and Zoom catch-ups. A year of reconnecting and probably less losing-touch than I’d have thought—aside from a couple people I’d begun to reconnect with, we’d sadly already lost touch. At least we are now rarely at a loss for conversation, with the weirdness of COVID-life always a fallback option. And of course, a year of Guide Dog Murray visits every month or two that really help speed a week along.

I need more hobbies I’ve discovered. I’ve tried jigsaw puzzles thanks to Lana and I don’t hate them like I thought I would. I still haven’t baked any sourdough yet, but I’ve made bread. And cake. And hand pies. And ice cream—a lot of ice cream.

Hand pies made today: National Pie Day 2021

At some point last spring I pulled my Nintendo 2DS out. I tried Animal Crossing: New Leaf, eventually getting a Switch Lite for the full pandemic experience of New Horizons. That held me for about 8 months but I’ve now moved onward to Pokémon, at least for awhile. The video games though have, perhaps unexpectedly, led to reconnection with several people, for which I am grateful.

I’m past ready for the unprecedented to be over. I’m sure we all are. To be a year in and still know going to a restaurant like we did just over a year ago is quite a long way off (at least it is for me) is rather bananas.

It’s been a weird—and in ways wild—year. And there’s at least hope in sight that things may return to some sort of normal during 2021, and more-so, for 2022 when maybe we can see people’s full faces again.

Kerri wearing pink jacket and blue Winnipeg themed face mask

And as always; thanks, science. Thanks doctors and nurses and researchers. Thanks all frontline and essential workers. It’s been a year, and I hope you all know how much we need and appreciate you.

Oh, and I wonder if that guy in Costco with the full respirator is still wearing it or if he’s downgraded to something else.

Here I am, twenty-nine.
I’ve not quite moved to “social distancing” proper yet—and I likely won’t for awhile. I’d say I’m still closer to something resembling self-isolating, but given I saw a friend today, outdoors, I’d not say I’m quite there still, either.

The pandemic birthday.
Michelle in Singapore and Elisheva in Israel sent birthday greetings before midnight. On Sunday, Guide Dog Murray came back to visit, so just after midnight I took him outside and we went to bed. I woke up to Murray sniffing my face, to more texts and Facebook posts and messages and tweets (and LinkedIn messages – I love y’all but that’s a weird function of LinkedIn?), and went back to sleep after taking the pup outside.

My aunt, Linda, gave me an ice cream maker last week – she could not wait any longer to give me my birthday present as she’s had it since like January. So I got up eventually, after cuddling with Murray on the bedroom floor (prepared nicely for him with foam puzzle mats, pillows and a blanket), and made ice cream.

Then I groomed Murray and brushed his teeth and made him all fancy puppy to see his Daddyface AKA Steve. 

The people who make it special
But first, lunch with my mom, grandma and other aunt, Karen.
We took Murray for his last visit of the visit (weird?), to have Subway and Jeanne Cake squares in my grandma’s back yard. I mean, Murray wasn’t having Subway or cake. The weather was perfect, though, and despite putting Murray on his long tie down he didn’t really go anywhere except briefly getting somewhat “stuck” (confused) under a picnic table, he didn’t really wander anywhere—as he tends to if he’s on a tie down.
We visited awhile, Murray got his goodbye pats, and then we went to take him home, with a detour to pick up Steve, wearing masks in the car, and going to the park for cupcakes (for Steve and I) and coffee (for my mom and Steve). Amusingly, I handed Murray’s leash back to Steve as we headed across the park, Steve using his cane, and as soon as we sat down he handed Murray’s leash back. Hello, isn’t this dog bored of Small Fry by now?

We ate cupcakes (second cake of the day), watched the geese (note: geese are terrifying), and saw the physical distancing enforcers wandering the park in their vests once. They didn’t talk to us as we sat on either end of a bench and on a lawn chair. Eventually, we put our masks back on and got in the car to take Steve and Murray home, thankful for the visit and having Murray over for 4.5 days to shift my focus from pandemic/work/Animal Crossing to a better set of Murray/work/Animal Crossing (and I think I played less Animal Crossing, honestly – in exchange for playing with actual doggo animal?)
It was one of the most “normal” things I’ve done in the last 3 months, a lovely visit with one of my favourite people and my favourite dog—and still, so, so abnormal. So abnormal I haven’t done those things for months. That I still haven’t gone into a store. That everyone is positioned so strategically, clearly differentiating couples and families and those who don’t live together.

I got home to find a text from Kayleen confirming I was home. At 6:55 – 15 minutes ahead of schedule – a bag from Stella’s Bakery appeared at my door, containing a piece of chocolate tort and a slice of chocolate cake. There was another, yes, another cake in my future so I held off, but damn, does getting cake from a friend delivered to your door make a person feel special! (I hope we are actually able to go places with a more reliable sense of safety for Kayleen’s birthday in August – even if we still have to stay 6 feet apart).

My aunt, Linda (of the ice cream maker gift!) came over for a visit, cake and home-made ice cream. (She also left with homemade strawberry sorbet – talk about a great gift, it’s been used twice already since I got it on Monday!). Cake #3 of the day was Jeanne cake but with strawberry curls. The cake was super cute, but I’ll admit the chocolate ones taste better. Also, a few hours after this I’ve eaten a few bites of cake #4, Stella’s torte, and cake #6, Stella’s chocolate cake, but I am still very full of other cake and also pizza despite it nearing midnight.

Oh yes, while my mother put candles in the cake, there was no lighting or blowing out of candles. Because honestly, why did it take a global pandemic for us all to figure out that eating a cake someone has breathed all over is kind of weird?  

While opening some gifts from my parents, Daryl called. This led to the delightful missed call of Daryl leaving his “lounge lizard” version of Happy Birthday on my voicemail, which I will tomorrow figure out how to rescue out of my phone somehow. Daryl’s mom and I share a birthday, and this year he got to sing for me on my birthday as he did for her for many years which is super special! Of course, this little surprise on my voicemail meant my mom also got to enjoy the recording, exclaiming “You have such NICE people!!”

Yes, I sure do, don’t I?

Looking… somewhere.
So. Twenty-nine.

I’m not at all sure what I’m looking for this year, or what it will bring. I do know twenty-eight led me to many amazing people and things, including Kayleen and working with Deb and Daryl. 

Given the state of the world right now, I’m certainly looking ahead but to an unclear spot on the horizon. I don’t know what this year will bring and I’m not going to try to guess. I hope for more stability. Twenty-eight was a pretty great year, and despite its uncertainties, I hope twenty-nine is similar, bringin friends new and old, new opportunities, and new puppies.
Okay, honestly, I’d be cool with more of the same puppies… or puppy.

The last time I did a 12 of 12 was in 2016. I may have been one of the last hangers-on of this thing I learned of through my friend Mike. 12 of 12 was a thing where we took, for months on end, 12 pictures on the 12th day of the month and blogged them. (This is my 26th 12 of 12 on this site, and I did others on old sites. I kind of can’t believe it.)

So at 12:23 AM I texted Mike my first picture and said “12 of 12 lockdown edition, you in??”

I got a text back at 12:24 am: “Let’s do it.”

12:23 AM

Good night. Had to show off my awesome dinosaur bedding, purple blanket from Steve, handmade octopus from Keri-Lynn (who swears she will never make another so I feel special), and guitar my cousin Dean made me long ago. Oh and the decorative painters tape that’s been on my walls for years.

9:38 AM

Morale boost flying across the country. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds took to the Manitoba skies this morning. Great view from our deck on Manitoba’s 150th birthday.

10:47 AM

Little Animal Crossing before I get to work. Got bored of the Trudeau press conference today which means the options are either work or video games.

12:30 PM

Editing my fourth-ever podcast for work. Still needing to google things to remember how GarageBand works.
Also I need to clean my MacBook screen.

1:08 PM

I was going to listen to a live recording of the Rational Security podcast because I’m a giant nerd, except it’s not til tomorrow and I have another Zoom scheduled then. Whoops.

2:01 PM
 
The video version of the podcast above. Little did I know at the time I’d have to do the tags all over again on both YouTube and Facebook because I didn’t update the title in the video intro and had to fix it, export it, and re-upload it.

6:27 PM
Happy birthday, Manitoba. My province is 150 today.

7:39 PM

We got a grocery pickup slot today. Giant strawberries that are delicious!
(If you care about our level of pandemic, yes, we are disinfecting most packaging, such as the strawberry clamshell I placed my strawberry atop.)

8:24 PM

Giant strawberries. Tiny watermelon. 

10:29 PM

Actual footage of my expression when I realized I bought this tropical shirt on the island twice.

11:59 PM

I love having cute CNIB Guide Dogs on my kitchen calendar! Hiya, Potter!

—–

Thanks for joining in on a slice of my lockdown life. Check out what Mike was up to (his is a lot more interesting, and pretty, than mine!).
Anybody up for a 12 of 12 resurrection? If so, I hope June is a bit more interesting! 😉

Manitoba is beginning to open up. I am continuing to stay home.

I don’t really have words anymore, but I will not be going to a patio, a store, a mall.
And I am pleased to see that many Manitoba businesses are continuing to serve customers in safe ways until we figure out better what is going on with COVID-19.

Breaking the monotony.
Week 6, last week, I had a non-human house-guest. Now, I understand there is possibility that pets may spread COVID-19. Steve and I had both been home for 5+ weeks. We felt safe enough that we do a distanced handoff of Murray, wearing masks, so Murray and I could entertain each other a bit.

I somehow got work done last week which was shocking as I generally just want to stare at/cuddle Murray when he comes to visit. He also got lots of walks between my mom and I, and got a change of scenery. (Okay, he practically takes himself for a walk. I honestly clip him to my belt loop sometimes, and he does nothing more than casually glance at other dogs – meanwhile a man asked if I wanted to trade dogs (obviously not), and I saw a woman struggle getting tangled in her dogs while I just kept walking with my perfect Murray – seriously, makes me so damn proud. To all the people at Guide Dogs for the Blind and volunteers that were a part of his journey – beyond amazing work going on there.

Okay I know you just care about the pictures, here’s the sweet pupper. (I am trying to figure out how to embed the album, but this an API is apparently more than I can handle at 10:59 pm?) 

 

Thanks Steve for letting me have him for a few days. He can come back and visit anytime. (But I hope we can have coffee again sometime, too. I mean, human we, not Murray.) 

Gifts from the Internet
Last week’s gift from the internet is this delightful remix of Ontario premier Doug Ford calling protesters at Queen’s Park “a bunch of yahoos”, and getting remixed.

And I would be a terrible blogger if I didn’t mentioned the original Canadian pandemic remix “Speaking Moistly”. 
It is a key part of the Canadian COVID-19 pandemic experience now.

Yeah, shit is serious out there. The internet is keeping many of us some degree of sane (especially those like me who have not been in a public place for 50 days.)

Oh, my last gift from the Internet (that I had to pay for) was that I finally entered 2012 and downloaded Animal Crossing: New Leaf for my 2DS. With everyone talking about Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I had to refresh myself of the basics of what it was about. 
It’s been very worth the $32 thus far and I’ve only had it like 24 hours. 

It seems like as good of a day as any to document the (partly strange) unfoldings of my life as they occurred today. 

1) Back to the old blog roots, I should first say I had my first pumpkin spice latte (iced, duh. But light ice.) of the season today. Honestly, while it was totally fine, I think there’s better stuff at Starbucks. But that still could be because they changed the pumpkin spice stuff all those years ago.

2) I had my annual visit with the psychiatrist for my ADHD meds today. She has moved her practice to her house and this is the first time I was there instead of the clinic. She once brought her dog to the clinic, but it turns out she has TWO DOGS and they have beds in the room she sees patients in, and when she told me to go have a seat in the room for the patients, I did not actually have a seat but went and crouched on the floor and visited the dog that was laying there all chill.

The other one seemed less chill about the whole thing, but also that was sort of nice because she was the greeting committee as soon as I walked in. Also as I left, I told my doctor about the 19 dogs I met while canvassing in the provincial election. Just in case she had any doubt I liked dogs, or anything.
But yeah, why is THIS the doctor I only have to see once a year? She has DOGS. 

3) I had a couple of phone meetings, which is a thing that happens when you work with people who live in BC, for a BC-based organization. (I am still pretty darn thankful they were like “hey, let’s ask this Manitoban to work with us”, because they are awesome.)

4) Here’s the weirdest story. As I was heading out for a NDP constituency meeting tonight, this kid on his bike stopped at the end of the sidewalk as my mom and I descended toward the street. 
He looks at me and says “Do you go to my school?”
He is like, SIX.
Child, I am TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS OLD, no, I most certainly do not go to your school, though I did more-and-less than TWO DECADES ago.  

I am used to people thinking I look younger than I am, but this is a little extreme.

And now I have a headache. I would say it was from the sheer confusion about this child’s question, but honestly, I’ve had it off and on since this morning, so it’s perhaps best that I stop writing (not that it will probably help.)