The Virus Diaries: Weeks Four and Five

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You may have noticed I missed posting an update last week. Well, we’re all doing fine over here, health-wise, but I have noticed my mental health slipping a bit. Basically, I’m finding it hard to come up with the motivation to stick to a schedule with things, so I save most of my energy to meet deadlines at work and then tend to run out of extra energy to spend on my hobbies as the week wears on. But I’m back this week!

How is everyone doing in lockdown/quarantine/isolation? We’re starting to get a little stir-crazy. We dread the rainy days because going outside with Elliot is a necessary part of our routine. And we’re certainly settling into a routine of sorts. We’ve managed to grocery shop about every week and a half, although I have some ideas to help stretch that. I got my ten pounds of rye flour and five pounds of cornmeal from a local farm and I’m looking forward to ordering wheat flour and rolled oats once I work through my current stock. I’m definitely feeling a little bit “Little House on the Prairie” with my food preparation efforts. Last time Dan went to the store, they were out of a lot of things, such as most types of frozen veg, so I think next time we shop, we’ll try freezing our own fresh veg. And I’ve decided to start a victory garden in two large planters in our garden.

We shall see how that goes. I’ve also been eyeing the weeds for potential fresh veg sources. I know we have a nice crop of chickweed growing in our yard, as well as the ubiquitous dandelions. And I think there’s a patch of mugwort, but I need to do a bit more research to make sure I’ve properly identified it before I do anything with it. Plus, I’ve been trying to regrow some scallions that I used just the greens from for scallion pancakes. My mental state is much better on weeks when I can make scallion pancakes.

I do miss takeout. Sadly, because of my underlying condition, we’ve opted to avoid delivery and make all of our own food at home, plus my favorite Sichuan place isn’t delivering out to us right now anyway. Perhaps we’ll crack on that in the coming months, but it’s been over a month since we’ve had anything but home-cooked food (although we do rely on some frozen convenience foods for lunches, since Dan usually has to make that while watching Elliot).

I’ve been making a lot of bread and I continue to experiment with ratios of rye to wheat flour in my no-knead bread for the best combination of flavor and texture. And we have plenty of homemade broth, plus an extra chicken carcass in the freezer and a whole chicken to cook this week so I will be able to make more easily. Soups with dried lentils are a great lunch option when I make lunch since I can toss broth and lentils in a pot and just let them simmer until we’re ready to eat. Along with some homemade bread, it’s a fantastic lunch. Although, I have made more than one joke about how we’re slowly turning into medieval peasants.

The past two weeks, I’ve also gotten back into sewing and embroidery. I decided to make cloth masks for myself and Dan. Dan’s was the most important because he goes out to the store, but I figured I should have one for if I ever venture out of our yard, if only to normalize the wearing of masks. I hand-sewed them, and made one extra for my mother (although it was really the first one I made that turned out a bit too small for Dan’s face because of his beard). And then I decided to do something fun, so I pulled out my scraps from the sewing basket and started looking for inspiration for an embroidery project. I’m currently using a golden brocade silk to make a gothic embroidered pillow, inspired by the story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The pattern and color of the fabric reminded me of the story, so I chose to embroider on a black hellebore because it’s poisonous and sinister, but also has folk uses as a treatment for insanity. And then a friend suggested pairing it with some hemlock leaves as an accent. Once I have the embroidery finished, I think I’ll sew it up into a small cushion, although I don’t rightly know what I can use to stuff it right now, but perhaps I shall just have to wait to completely finish it until later.

In the realm of things I shall have to remember to finish later, while planning my project, I originally wanted to do a beetle embroidery, and I bought the most beautiful embroidery pattern, but ended up unable to transfer it to my fabric, so I think I shall wait until I can go out and get transfer supplies to do it right. It’s frustrating to be limited to what I can find in the house, but also a boon to creativity in a way. I’m hoping to have the same flash of inspiration that I had when I came up with the hellebore motif when I put together my container garden since I’m once again limited to what we already have on hand (plus, hopefully, some seeds, either purchased or harvested from some local produce).

As far as mental state goes, I wanted to make a bit of a confession: I think the lockdown is triggering my disordered eating a bit. I’ve noticed myself skipping meals and snacks and realized I’ve been eating much less than usual, not because I want to lose weight, but because I’m worried about running out of food. Some mornings, my only food until lunch is a cup of masala chai, like the one in the photo. Even though we have a fully stocked pantry and our stores have not shown signs of being dangerously empty of food, I am worried. I hope that the garden will help alleviate some of that, but simply putting words to it is helping me think a bit more rationally and eat what I need. It helps that Dan has also noticed, if only because I am unpleasant to be around when I’m hungry, and has been reminding me to eat something. But I imagine these are feelings that are coming up with a fair number of people around the world at this time, and I hope that hearing about it helps people not feel like they’re being silly or weird. Hopefully we all keep our pantries stocked and our bellies full.

I think I shall end here. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks and an even more interesting month. I hope my readers are all doing well! Perhaps next week I’ll come up with a more structured post to try to encourage me to post. Perhaps something like “things that have gotten me through lockdown” or some such.

One thought on “The Virus Diaries: Weeks Four and Five

  1. I am looking forward to a take away tonight. It will be out first take away during the lock down. I hope your favourite take away opens back up soon and you can feel safe enough to order some. Xx

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