It seems to me that most people are singing the self isolation blues. The common complaint heard over the phone these days seems to be “I am so bored”. Most of us are at the ten or twelve day part of our fourteen days of staying isolated.
I agree it is really hard to find something to do to occupy us for days on end but we have to alter our thinking that we really need to be entertained to keep us happy. I think most of us spent the first few days at home by catching up on those jobs that we had been putting off for ages, the boring jobs of cleaning out closets of no longer needed items. arranging photographs in albums, doing some long awaited mending, in fact all those jobs that we put off because we have something more interesting to do.
My first few days at home I did a thorough house cleaning then I sorted my winter clothes and put them to the back of the closet, bringing spring and summer clothes nearer to the front, in the hope that I would soon be wearing them. I went though drawers and took a look at swimsuits that I put away last fall, hoping they would be in good enough shape to wear for another season. I swim almost every summer day so like several suits to alternate. Many of the ‘not too bad’ items of last fall look decidedly thread bare in the spring sunlight, so out they went.
One of my favourite pastimes are crossword puzzles, but they only entertain me for so long, so I took to playing solitaire on my PC, engaging for a while but after an hour of putting a red five on to a black six, it gets boring. I love to read but keep full length books for vacations when I can read for hours and not be interrupted, well I thought, this is a kind of holiday, so settled down to a book. Trouble with reading is it makes me drowsy so it was a couple of hours of reading then a ten minute nap. I did this several times through the day and found that I didn’t need to sleep at night. Laying there, wide awake in the dark is extremely boring, so after a couple of sleepless nights, I restricted my reading times to two hours in the morning.
I still need to walk my dog and do that twice each day. Down to the hike and bike trail, walk down to a bridge, cross the river and then walk back the other direction, through the park and back home. This takes me about forty five minutes then home for coffee. After dinner it is shorter walk then back in the house in time for Jeopardy, where I pit my wits against the contestants.
This sort of routine goes on day after day and I feel rather like a hamster on a wheel. My life seems so mindless, just trying to keep busy. How did our parents manage to live this kind of lifestyle right through two world wars? One of the reasons they were never bored was because they didn’t have time to sit around. Their laundry took all day to wash and then hang outside to dry. No machines to assist with this so quite often they would have to move laundry to and from the line to avoid the rain. All clothes were of man made materials that took forever to dry and then all needed ironing. Most husbands wore white shirts with collars that had to be scrubbed before laundering, then starching and ironing. No permanent press convenience for our moms, even handkerchieves were boiled, dried and ironed, and forget disposable anything. Laundry was a major chore.
Cooking meals was also a long chore, daily shopping because nobody had refrigeration, so meat, if available, was a daily purchase. This was supplemented with huge amounts of potatoes and veggies, to disguise the fact that the meat was of such minute quantities. In those days there was nearly always a steamed pudding for dessert, so the evening meal must have taken much of the afternoon to prepare.
Women of the forties didn’t have many labour saving devices and certainly no television to watch, but evening would usually see the whole family sitting listening to the radio, listening to a comedy show or some form of light music. Kids didn’t wander off to their own rooms to entertain themselves as the only heat would be in the kitchen or living room, the family spent time together until it was time for bed.
Our parents didn’t have much of anything but didn’t have time to be bored. In Europe sleep was quite often interrupted by the air raid siren, which meant a bombing raid by the Germans. Children were taken from their beds, blankets would be grabbed and the whole street would assemble in an air raid shelter, sometimes for an hour or two, sometimes for all night. The daylight would see them emerge and go back home, but sometimes their home was gone, destroyed by a bomb.
We are also living through a war, the enemy doesn’t bomb our homes but it can destroy our spirits if we let it. This state of affairs is very likely to go on for some time as each country battles with our common enemy. Instead of the military we have an army of doctors and nurses who are fighting a real battle. Instead of griping about being bored, lets see what each one of us can do to make life better for ourselves and those around us. We will come through this war, maybe not in the next few weeks but like any battle, it will end one day, so lets hunker down and get ready for however long it takes.