You might be thinking I’m being a prolific blogger this morning as this is my 5th post but the truth is I only planned to write about the one year anniversary of changing practices due to the pandemic.
I started the morning on routine maintenance to my website – genealogyatheart.com and in the process, somehow noticed that 4 older posts, 3 since June, had never posted. I don’t know how that happened so I hit the “publish” button and see that 3 of the 4 are live. Going to figure out when I’m done with this blog what’s up with the last one! Three were on strange events and one was on volunteering to identify WW2 vets. Since the past year has definitely been strange and there has been so many unnecessary deaths it seemed fitting I discovered the drafts this morning.
Was it the technology or the person (me) that was responsible? Don’t know! I usually like to find out the reason for mistakes to prevent them from reoccurring but on this beautiful almost spring morning where I’ll be losing an hour this weekend anyway, I’m choosing to focus instead on the future.
It was 1 year ago today, Friday the 13th, that I spent my last day in person at my education job. I was supposed to meet a genealogy client and do volunteer work on the 14th at a local library but that was cancelled due to the unexpected covid-19 closures. Like most of the rest of the world, I had spent March 11th bringing home items from work that I thought would be essential to use to continue doing my job from home and on the 12th, discovered there was NO hams, turkeys or toilet paper left in the first 4 grocery stores I stopped in on my way home from work.
A year ago, my guess was the pandemic would last about 6 weeks. Yeah, don’t ask me to make any forecasts! I based that assumption on the amount of time since I had first heard about Wuhong’s cases – towards the end of January – and watched with amazement how quickly they were building hospitals. By March, they had stopped so I guessed wrongly that it would just take a short time to get up to speed in providing medical assistance and our lives would be back to “normal”.
That gets me to the ham and turkey on my shopping list – I thought I’d hunker down at home and my meal planning to get through lockdown was influenced by my childhood upbringing. The grandchild of immigrants and the child of a Great Depression parent, we always had a large pantry in the basement known as the fruit cellar. I’ve blogged before how it got it’s name – that’s where my grandparents kept the illegal vino they were producing during prohibition. By the time I came along it held canned goods, soda “pop” bottles in case company came and spices. An extra chest freezer was housed on our enclosed front porch with a doily over it so it didn’t stand out. It was always filled. This was all beneficial to avoid panic buying before a snowstorm hit. Cooking a huge meal mid day Sundays resulted in having food for the rest of the week. I figured we’d have a ham with the fixings and then Monday, use leftovers for sandwiches, Tuesday would be omelets, soup from the hambone on Wednesday and Thursday, any remains mixed with macaroni and cheese on Friday and the week was almost through! I would do something similar with the turkey and chicken to get through 6 weeks of lockdown. Except, I couldn’t find turkey and ham.
I do have a large pantry and an extra fridge in the garage but I never kept them as well stocked as my grandparents did theirs. My shopping foray last March changed that practice and I scrounged for whatever I found left in the store – 3 corned beefs, 2 whole chickens, some ground beef and hot dogs. I found the ham and turkey at the 5th store I went to which was the one closest to my home. The toilet paper was discovered by a suggestion from another shopper at Big Lots. My bookkeeper at work had found hers at Staples. This was clearly a tipoff that that world was changing in a strange way.
I pivoted my education job by working through what was supposed to have been my week off for spring break. I was up and running with that quickly and easily with a plan to keep the students engaged the week we were transitioning to online learning to give the teachers time to get their lessons prepared. My genealogy business was placed on hiatus but I decided to keep writing the blog.
Reflecting on the past year, my biggest surprise is that I’m really okay with working from home. This has been the longest time since adulthood that I haven’t been on a trip or to a visit to a library. I’ve got several ideas of where I’ll do research once the world reopens fully. I’m okay with being patient for when that happens. In the meantime, I’ve created a list of where I need to research, what I need to find and some of the archives I’ll be visiting.
Thinking back, I now have no idea how I endured for years the long commute I made 5 days a week. I’ve only topped off my car with gas 4 times since last March 13th. Sometimes I would have to stop for gas more than once per week. I have spent the over 2 hours per day that I had lost driving on other tasks. Initially, I spent a lot more time on my education job but now that I’m in the groove, that has lessened. I’m now using the extra time to listen to podcasts and do my own personal genealogy research. I updated my family’s cookbook and included a section on Pandemic cooking for future generations. It’s got a great substitution chart – can’t find cake flour, here’s what you do! We also switched our hydroponics to aquaponics, took in 2 hens that were hatched 2 weeks before the pandemic at my school and froze the loquats and lemon juice from our neighbors tree for use the rest of the year.
I am amazed at how much genealogy research I have been able to do by being housebound. Granted, much has been because of the dedication of staff at archives who have done look ups for me over the past year. Due to the special offers that were available last spring, I took advantage of mining through online resources I hadn’t explored before. That was an awesome use of my time and money.
I donated some of my time by volunteering and I’ll blog more about that soon. I also donated some cash to organizations who were extremely helpful and are now in desperate need of funds. I plan to do more of this in the future.
By working fully from home I was thankful that hubby and I had renovated our home in the past few years, especially our office. We had to make some adjustments but that was mostly due to our primary jobs. I use a whole lot less paper (and printer ink!) then when I was working outside of the home. I’ve cleaned all of our closets and reorganized the kitchen and bath cabinets for efficiency. Those tasks I always put in “some day” category as in “after I retire.” Now they’re done and that will give me more time later.
I also now understand why my grandmother always washed her hands when she came in from leaving the house and why she changed her clothes after attending a funeral. The lessons she learned from the 1918 flu epidemic stayed with her 40 years later. I wonder if I’ll be doing the same.
Take this week and think about how you and your family have changed routines and practices. It is amazing how flexible and versatile we all are. No matter what the future holds we will be taking these characteristics with us. That gives me hope.
Turning lemons into lemonade takes some amount of work but it’s worth the refreshing result. As my grandparents would say, Zdravlje – To Health!