From Our Small Corner in Maine

Normally, I publish three posts a week, with one of them being a photo for wordless Wednesday. But these are not normal times, and for a while, at least, I will be publishing more posts than usual. This will help me make sense of things in my small corner of the world and leave some kind of record of what we did and what we thought. It won’t be complete, of course. No one record ever is. But it will be my contribution to these extraordinary times.

As of this date—March 17, 2020—President Trump is finally taking the novel coronavirus seriously. It took him a very long time to figure out that he couldn’t bully the virus into submission. The virus doesn’t give a hoot about President Trump. It will go where it can and infect the powerful as well as the weak. Now, let us hope that President Trump actually does something useful. There’s talk of a stimulus package, and I’m praying that some of the money will go to people who really need it as opposed to all the usual rich suspects.

Maine is fortunate to have a strong, smart woman—Janet Mills—for governor. Today, according to NBC News, she “has requested that the Small Business Administration help Maine small businesses get supportive loans to overcome the loss of revenue during the COVID-19 concern….Additionally, Mills sent emergency legislation that would temporarily extend eligibility to unemployment to workers that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.”

In Maine, as of today, thirty-two people have tested positive for Covid-19, and three are in the hospital. So far no reports of death, and may it stay that way.

Our children are well. (Picture me knocking furiously on wood.) Dee, who lives in New York City, is working from home and can do so indefinitely. Shannon and Mike, who live in Asheville, North Carolina. Tomorrow, Shannon will begin working from home, and Mike will, too, unless he is considered a mandatory employee.

Clif and I have been staying safe and sound in our own snug home, and so far, at least, life isn’t really that different for us than it usually is. We are both introverts and homebodies. Even in normal circumstances, most of our time is spent at home. We cook almost every meal that we eat, so we can’t even say we miss going to restaurants. Although we are introverts, we do miss getting together with our friends, and I have been staying in touch electronically, through messages and phone calls.

While we are well supplied with food and toilet, I have found that there are some things I didn’t think of. For example, the Sunday newspaper to read and then to use as a starter for our wood furnace. As a result, we have been scrounging various sources of paper.

But yesterday I looked outside and saw a solution from nature—pine cones scattered throughout our backyard.

Out I went to gather them.

Clif used some pine cones this morning, and he said they worked really well. Because of the pine cones, Clif didn’t have to use nearly as much paper as he usually does to start the fire.

A moment of triumph for me. I spent a happy hour in the backyard in weather that was brisk but pleasant. The yard is mostly free from pine cones, and they have been put to good use.

What have you been doing in this time of the novel coronavirus?


59 thoughts on “From Our Small Corner in Maine”

  1. Hoping not to be put into lockdown I am still going about on half empty buses to do shopping and such. I visit an old lady,91, and took her the paper today but on the end of my stick so as not to get too close and perhaps infect her! She was sad that I couldn’t go in for a ‘cuppa’.

  2. Staying home and puttering online, which is not so unusual, but I have started to force myself to get back to writing the book which I have written maybe half or three-quarters of but then ignored or didn’t like or whatever–I hope I do it.

    Stay well.

  3. In France, as of today, we have to carry a paper around with us which we have filled in and signed ourselves, having ticked the box which best explains why we are out and about. You are allowed to go out to work if you can’t work from home, and to buy food, medicine, petrol (nothing else is open now anyway). You are allowed out briefly to exercise on an individual basis or to walk your dog in close proximity to your home. You can go out to check on a vulnerable family member and for reasons of health, which I assume means a medical appointment. If the police stop you, you have to show this self-signed document, or face a fine. i would say ‘only in France’ but you have to do this in Spain too where they are also checking on you with drones.
    I am spending far too much time on the internet reading about the latest developments and am finding it hard to settle to anything while I worry about my daughters in the U.K.. However, I did make some blueberry muffins yesterday, we do have pine cones and, if we run out of paper, they will be going on the fire. πŸ”₯

    1. Holy cats, Tialys! I wonder if that will happen here. With our grotesque administration, it’s anybody’s guess. Fortunately, the governor of our state is smart and levelheaded. We won’t suffer as much as some other states. I, too, am spending more time on the Internet reading about the latest developments. Hard to focus on anything else. In a way, I think this is an understandable and reasonable response to a horrible situation that could be with us for a long time. Stay safe, be well.

    1. We haven’t had newspaper delivery for years. We have always gone to the store to get the Sunday paper. Won’t be doing that for a while. I am now following your blog and should get notices in my email.

  4. I am glad we are aloowed to work from home and hence it’s just change in location. We are making good use of business skype. Meetings are going as scheduled. Deadlines are always in our minds πŸ™‚
    Take care Laurie.
    I am so glad to know about pine cones.

  5. Like you, life is pretty unchanged for us, as we are no longer working. My weekly yoga class is cancelled, but our instructor is working on a teleconference app that may enable us to attend from home. With the internet, much of work and life can continue. The upside is, think of all the carbon that is no longer being burned as folks drive about, one silver lining positive for the planet.

  6. Glad you found that pinecones work for starting your fires. I’m an introvert but must get out a little more than you so the idea of three weeks minimum of this is not something I’m looking forward to. Will I do it? Of course. And, I pray we don’t see anything like the UK confining of three months for the senior crowd or the France/Spain signed paper and fine.

    1. Right? Even though I am an introvert who stays home a lot, I do miss getting together with friends. Thanks goodness for social media and blogging friends. They really do fill a need.

  7. We are still operating semi-normally here in New Zealand – closed borders, no gatherings of over 500, some offices closed, some open. I work for the education regulator, and we are working with institutions about action plans. My ‘customers’ are the polytechnics, who are pretty well sorted with what they are going to do. The government has allocated funds to small businesses and those on benefit, which is marvelous. Jacinda Ardern, our Prime Minister, is wonderful at PR, and has been great at giving out information in a rapidly changing environment.

    1. Yes, wonderful! Your leadership is ever so much better than ours. Of course that bar is not high. Just telling the truth is a huge improvement. Stay safe, be well.

  8. Life is much the same for me, apart from not running erands for my kids and their kids. I have to say I’m really enjoying it so far, although I am spending a huge amount of time watching and listening to News – which I normally avoid.
    Laurie – tip for home made firelighters: roll up all spare paper, envelopes, cardboard packaging and stuff empty toilet rolls with this roll of paper – they make brilliant firelighters – just in case you run out of pine cones. πŸ™‚

  9. Life around here is changed, of course. Most events are cancelled now, even some as far in the future as May; whether or not the virus still is a threat then, it’s impossible to prepare for them properly. Restaurants and bars are open in my county, but many are limiting themselves to take-out and delivery. There’s much less traffic on the roads, and despite the schools being closed I’ve not seen kids on the streets, which half-expected.

    My own routine hasn’t changed much. I’m going to work every day, but since I work on the docks by myself, I’ve been socially isolated for years. I take my own car to the marina, put in a day’s work, greet an occasional boat owner or contractor, and then come home. It was glorious today, with sunshine and blue skies, and swallows twittering everywhere. I’m so glad to be able to get out and work, and to spend the days outdoors without worrying about the complications that come with offices, cubicles, telecommuting, and so on.

  10. There will be so much hardship resulting from this virus and the measures taken to avoid infection. If people can’t get aid they will be out of work and homeless before very long. And what will happen in Africa where there is so little help for ordinary people?
    I have been getting on with ordinary household chores. Work is calming and distracting. I have spoken to my mother a few times and will be visiting her tomorrow with whatever shopping I can get for her. I am someone who is considered at-risk because of my asthma and the drugs I take to suppress my immune-system; I will be having to isolate myself very soon I expect, which will make it difficult to care for Mum. She cannot afford to stock up with food and certainly would never consider panic-buying.
    I attended a meeting at the vicarage this evening where we tried to think of ways to keep in touch with all our church members and also try to reach out to people in the villages who don’t attend church but might need help or someone to talk to. Fortunately the villages here are pro-active in that kind of thing and I can’t see anyone being left on their own without help.
    Take care, Laurie and Clif!

    1. Wonderful villages! People often do step up to the plate when they are called. Important to remember that. Best to you and your mother. Please keep me posted about how you are all managing. Stay safe and be well.

  11. A great idea to use the pine cones Laurie! In Scotland life goes on for us without underlying health issues or symptoms and we practice ‘social distancing’ i.e. keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between people in shops, on dog walks and wherever else we need to be. This feels a bit weird and is done with a lot of good humour. Restaurants and cafes are only open for take away, but like you and Clif, we are home-birds and prefer home cooking. Stay safe and well and make sure you get out and about for some exercise! xxx

    1. I was rather proud of myself for thinking about using pine cones. Yard work is calling us outside, so no danger of being inside too much. Stay safe, be well.

  12. Pine cones will burn like crazy! Good for you for noticing them. I’m working from home now and not doing much else other than walks and internet exercise groups. I have some very clean closets and files! Hoping people will stay in and slow things down.

    1. Oh, me, too! Yes, those pine cones really do burn like crazy. Clif just has to remember to wear gloves when starting the fire so that his won’t be covered with pitch afterward. πŸ˜‰

  13. I love your pine cone solution… I bet they have a lovely woody smell too.
    I imagine Mainers & others in very cold climates are much better at storage than we are… this is the first time we have thought of buying food for a month.. but I think we have nailed it now.! (We don’t really have much storage capacity. )
    The one thing we will do is grow more vegetables.. when our kids were young we grew a lot of vegetables and have reduced this now with just the two of us.. so we will try to become a bit more self sufficient in that way. .. so good comes out of crisis! Best wishes to you and Clif.. many you have warm fires and sunny days.

    1. Yes, we have to be prepared for blizzards and no power. Still, there has been a fair amount of panic shopping and hoarding, so we are not immune to the fears that are striking everyone everywhere. Best to you and yours! Stay safe, be well.

  14. I am sure it will be creativity, like using pine cones, that will get us through. I hear rumours that the UK will lockdown on Friday night so am going out to get some fresh stuff. Otherwise I am carrying on as normal.

      1. I got everything I needed but some of the things my neighbour asked me to get her were sold out – long life milk and baked beans! Many of the shelves were empty. Crazy!

      2. Same here! Glad I stocked up several weeks ago when the shelves were absolutely full. Felt a little foolish, that I was overreacting. Not feeling foolish now.

  15. Yes, pine cones, which also contain some pine pitch, do make great fire starters!

    Out our way, we are seeing the strange results of panic buying going on in all the stores. I have seen lots of Corona beer going down the supermarket conveyor belt recently. It is interesting to see what people think is important and what they hoard. Necessity is the mother of invention, and resourcefulness, so those of us affected by others hoarding truly necessary supplies will have to get creative.

    Live music has dried up. No venues open to play at now, and no one present to listen.

    My dentist canceled my routine cleaning appointment, which quite understandable.

  16. Loved the pine cone idea!! Our total cases jumped to 336 today and like you I spend a lot of time at home and have been surprised at how difficult it has been to adjust to not being able to go places and worrying constantly when going out for essentials. I’d love to support our local restaurants trying to stay open right now with carry-out orders, but I haven’t worked up the nerve to order out during these times. I drove by my favorite breakfast spot today and I may have to finally order some French toast to go soon. Glad to read your children are able to work from home and that you guys are staying safe!

  17. Necessity is the mother of invention. We have scheduled a “dinner” over skype Friday night with some friends. Unfortunately our older son works for the City of Chicago and as of now must work from his office. Our daughter-in-law is working from home, though. Our son’s partner works in a lab so she can’t work from home. He is unemployed for the moment. Whatever happens, I suspect Trump’s goose is cooked. People’s lives are being directly impacted by real problems, not made up phantoms, and Trump is demonstrating how useless he is in a real crisis. But we’ll see.

    1. Yes, yes! Hope you and all your family stays safe and well during this time of plague. I sure hope you’re right about Trump. Let us hope there is a silver lining in this ugly cloud.

  18. When I think of Maine, I think of Rocky shores and lighthouses. It is nice to see a different perspective.

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