Dear Diary – Covid-19 reflections, and homemade bread

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In New Zealand we are now 10 days into our country-wide lockdown. I feel the need to reflect here in words to remember an astonishingly strange time we are living in. As I type, NZ has 950 cases, and the good thing is, we are not spiking exponentially in new cases. The last few days the rate of new cases has been more linear – around 70-80 new cases per day, so maybe…just maybe the Government’s decision to act quickly and hard is going to pay off. We have had 1 death, and currently 10 are in hospital with 1 in ICU.

Then my attention turns to the world (for a brief moment as one doesn’t want to raise anxiety), and I am so sad to hear of places like Italy, France, Equador, the UK, New York etc where the reports have not been as rosy. There are thousands of deaths and cases rising at an alarming rate. Health care systems are pushed to overload, mortuaries cannot handle the bodies and people are not able to have proper farewells.

from As of Sat 4th April 2020.

So what have we been doing to keep sanity alive and well? Actually I am pleasantly surprised with how well everyone is getting along…still…after 10 days in each others’ pockets. It could be the age, it could be a miracle, it could all end tomorrow…but for today I am lingering in the beauty of harmony and time well spent together. So what have we been up to?

Lots of baking and cooking.

Yesterday we cooked up a tub full of grapes from my dad into juice, and today I bottled it. We had some with our dinner with bubbles (carbonated water), and although it was still warm it was delicious!

The kids were desperate for more of “Poppa’s bread”, (his loaf only lasted a day) so I dug out his recipe and today we made a half recipe of Poppa’s proper bread. Not bread-maker bread, not rushed break that is hard like a rock, but proper bread that takes time, good thoughts and care. I love how the recipe used a very precise measurement of 2 milk bottles – the old glass ones that were delivered to the door in exchange of little tokens.

Alex helped me, and we chatted about memories when the kids would go to mum and dad’s on a Monday (staff meeting day), and dad would make bread with eager little helpers. Alex remembers eating the dough off the spoon…ewww. We took turns kneading, and left the bread to rise in a slightly warmed oven (heat up the oven to a low temperature like 30 degrees, then turn off, and put dough in the oven, in the bowl). The dough rose beautifully and we patiently waited as long as we could for the loaf to cool before having it for dinner. It was still pretty steamy, but delicious and very satisfying!

A couple of days ago, Elizabeth made focaccia bread, and dukkah from scratch. It was magnificent with our own olive oil, and the beautiful dish all the way from Jordan…maintaining authenticity of course!

There have been a lot of lego creations – this lego challenge was put out, and Alex made his way through a couple of days of challenges.

Of course there were the birthday’s. Daniel’s on the 28th and mine on the 29th. My boy turned 13…this is not how he expected to celebrate his grand entry into teenage years. But in his usual gentle way, he was not perturbed. It was a very different birthday, but we were able to make it special with our own party, and board games. I even made a virus cake…! Let me just put it here in writing, that in our family I am the supreme champion of Balderdash, and 5 Second Rule. Just putting it out there!

Going out for groceries was an event in itself! Prior to the birthday party, I went to Rangiora, but the queues for Pak n Save and Countdown were quite long, and being a cold day I turned around and drove home. I thought to myself…grrr I don’t have the energy or time for this. Then I stopped myself in the irony of what I had just thought. I have all the time in the world at the moment, but my usual sense of impatience was still deeply engrained. Oh and it was cool seeing tons of teddy bears in windows of peoples’ houses as I drove past. It’s a thing. It’s a NZ thing based on the story ‘We’re going on a bear hunt”. This is so kids have something to look at / count as they go for walks…in their family bubble of course. So I came home and shopped at our local Supervalue in Mandeville. No milk, or bread by 4pm in a day, but everything else pretty much there. I am very happy to support local at this time! They have X’s on the floor to help us all maintain good social distancing, and plastic shield for the checkouts. Locals who have 3D printers have been helping out by printing more screens (and face screens for medical staff) to help with demand.

This tramping neck scarf came in handy…even if research is showing that fabric may not stop the pesky virus, at least it will stop coughs and sneezes. Maybe I just feel more secure like cuddling a teddy bear at night. (My daughter is pictured above before the wearing of masks became more of a thing)

Petrol is down in price. I saw a funny meme today – “Low petrol prices is just like a bald man winning a hairbrush!” Oh and the roads are empty! It’s so quiet. We were out playing bat-down in the yard, and noticed that our voices echoed. I hadn’t heard of this massive echo before – obviously bouncing off the poplar and pine nut trees that line the boundary of our property. The only thing we could put it down to was there was no other noice to kind of absorb our voices?!

We have had plenty of time to bask in the warm autumn sun…with Archie our bearded dragon.

And then there’s the video calls. We have had lots of video calls. Some for school, some as staff just checking in on a daily basis. Some for church meetings, devotionals, church services and so forth. In the pic is my boy connecting with other kids in a Bible study run by our Pastor. There has been lots of connecting, lots of intentional community which has been great.

So there we have it, diary. I am not focusing on the cupboards that haven’t been cleaned (yet), the garden that hasn’t been weeded (yet), the tons more preserving that could be done, the workouts we could be doing (although the boys have been on bike rides, and Elizabeth has a daily workout she follows), but focusing on the togetherness we have at the moment. The relationships deepened, the memories made, the fun games and puzzles, bat down in the evening after dinner…doing what we want to do, whatever comes naturally. Nothing forced, nothing to schedule. I’m loving the change in pace, soaking in the now. Working to the beat of our own drum. Together.

Be strong, be kind.

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