Did you know that the original meaning of quarantine is a 40 day period imposed to prevent illness, such as when a ship came to port with ill people on board? Jim Crace's novel Quarantine uses the idea to explain the 40 days and 40 nights Jesus spent in the desert – a retreat but also a cure. So we've done our 40 days and are getting restless.
Mind you, the weather has done its bit lately to keep people indoors so perhaps those crazy beach scenes will cease as it's more about a brisk walk in a parka than a picnic on the sand now.
I have a busy Monday. First my piano lesson - with the laptop propped up by the keys, I lean down so that my face appears when I talk to my teacher. She carries her laptop over to her piano to demonstrate something. It's not as good as sitting side by side but I'm persevering. It feels as though my progress has slowed considerably, but could also be that my concentration hasn't been very good as I feel a bit keyed up and distracted by the situation.
Next, a telephone debrief for VSA. This is work that I've been doing for some time and I find it interesting to hear what returning volunteers have to say about their experiences and to check that all is well with them on their return. The virus plays a part here too today because VSA brought most of the volunteers home from the Pacific just before restrictions came in.
I write and send my report and have some lunch before driving into town for shopping. First I note that the coffee supplier is open and can sell me a strainer for my favourite teapot. I could also buy a takeaway coffee, and they do very good coffee, but I don't want to drink it standing in a cold drizzle in the carpark so I forego that. I also find that the post office is operating from a table in the doorway with a begloved staffer behind a perspex screen – those perspex guys are minting it! - and get stamps for my friend.
The queue outside the vege shop is only three people so I join that but it seems to take forever. I sanitise my hands with my own manuka honey sanitiser but I'm guided to the sharply chemical-smelling one at the door before I go in. I choose what I need and go to the checkout. With a heightened awareness of 'germs' I'm a bit critical of the process: the staff member handles each item to weigh and price it and the counter is damp from the previous customer's produce. However, they would have handled everything to stack the shelves and I'll be cooking or peeling most of it.
Next, off to the supermarket where a longer queue moves faster, and I move faster because I know what I want and where everything is. I put the basket in my car and take my empty bottle to the milk machine. Excellent, all stocked up.
I drive round to deliver my friend's stamps and we chat through the window as we do each week. We're both looking forward to having a haircut and on this wet windy day I'm sure mine is all over the place. I express my frustration that none of the government websites can tell me this simple thing, when can I get my hair cut? You'd think that would be the top FAQ now that takeaways are available but no one has put it in.
When I get home and put away the shopping I find I've forgotten several essentials, like eggs and cheese, even though they were on my list. So much for my resolution about shopping once a week even when the restrictions end!
The afternoon goes pleasantly with reading, knitting and phonecalls to each each of my children. They both have their babies in their arms while we chat so I get to hear babbling and even a bit of crying is a nice connection. It's my son's first day of parental leave. Before their baby was born he and his partner agreed to share the six months so today she was working from home at the dining table while he schooled and wrangled the two little boys and walked the non-sleeping baby up and down. Both parents even got some work done and the advantage of this regime is that mother and baby don't have to be separated. Silver linings!