Days of a Plague Day 22, April 16 - Day 28, April 22

Day 22, April 16. I'm loosing track, so I will note them here.
* February 3, Diamond Princess quarantined at Yokohama.
* February 28, first confirmed case in New Zealand.
* March 5-14, there were five positive cases for ten days, prompting now-celebrated Ashley Bloomfiled to reject all kinds of measures because, "We [are] not there yet," which is why I am not a fan. Always reactive, even when proven wrong, (need for testing, PPE guidance/rules regarding supplies to medical professionals, and lay people wearing cloth masks,) he's adamant. We could have done even better.   
* March 21, Jacinda announced the four alert level system. Two cases, #40/#41, tested positive in Nelson.
* March 23, Jacinda announced we would be entering Level 4 on March 26. (In retrospect, with each of her announcements, we entered Level 2 on March 21, Level 3 on March 23.)
* March 26, we started the "initial" four weeks of Level 4 isolation.
(EDIT) * April 28, we moved to Alert Level 3. The most notable change is the reopening of food pickup/delivery.
(EDIT) * May 14, we moved to Alert Level 2. Reopening of different organizations are staggered; school on Monday, bars a week later. For all intents and purposes, most businesses are open under a slightly loosened social distancing rules. Focus has moved to tracking.
(EDIT) * June 9, we moved to Alert Level 1. This allowed us to "go back to normal" within the borders, while the borders stay open only to returning NZ citizens and residents, and people with special dispensation, mostly business-related. 

Today would have been another great day for weeding, but I noticed I was slow-cleaning the kitchen, reorganizing the stocked-up food boxes, even though we've taken out little. I have it in my head I must be in the house at 1PM to watch the update, FOMO, even though on days we caught up at dinner time, we were not struck down by lightening.

I have been trying to revisit "Syrie", which consumed me before Corona, but find either I can't concentrate, or the initial idea has morphed beyond control and I don't recognize it as a continuation. The latter I don't mind at this stage, if it morphs it morphs, if not it'll return to whence it came, but I would like to record what I considered, tried, liked, or discarded, until early February, (was it? or late?) before I forget. And I'm having a hard time remembering.

I feel I've been kept on hold. I read about Corona, learned what we can do, changed the way we do a few things; tried to keep Ben home, which started a week later than we had hoped but it happened; we entered a nation-wide lockdown. Jacinda explained how Level 3 works, and the world is elated we can have non-essential mail order and takeaways, (so am I,) but she's had to repeat we don't know when we can get out of Level 4. And for us, little will change. It's been a dress rehearsal for Ben's retirement, with better finances.

I should be carrying on my normal life Plague or No Plague, but I started thinking about Anticipation/Participation/Appreciation. How excited I was when we learned we'd finally go into an official lockdown, and how comfortable it was for us, but then it became normal, almost anti-climactic, and now we're looking at exiting this so soon. We've been lucky, the Plague has not brought any substantial impact on our lives, or to Nelson as much as I can tell from the small window that is the Internet. Ergo, (though I might get hit by lightening to say this, but,) anti-climactic; hardly life-changing.  

Bacon and eggs, seaweed, tofu and sesame dressing salad, and borlotti with sumac for dinner. Ginger wine toddy instead of tea, because I'm so sick of healthy eating.

These days I'm washing hands the proper way between twice and four times a day. We don't go out, nobody or no foreign objects enter our house, so what's the use. But tomorrow we'll have our first veg delivery from a new guy including 10kg of something called peacherines; I can get ever so pleased by little things now. And I like this.
Day 23, April 17. One of us is slow and old and getting too-stupid-for-this-century, while the other is doing OK in most departments. In our normal lives we enjoy food shopping, reading labels on packages, comparing, and discussing. Online-order/delivery had not entered our life, especially after reading how hard it is to score a delivery slot unless you're ready to order at midnight when the supermarkets release time slots, (I didn't even know there were such things,) and how "priority" people have had to wait many days even if they can get it at all, never mind the oldies without Internet.

Jacinda started talking about Level 3 midweek, which isn't very different from Level 4 where we still are, but the nation started to feel cautiously buoyant. Wondering what we can do to support small local businesses while in Level 4, and make things easier for us if possible, I came across the many, many veg and/or fruit deliveries in Nelson. We've always had milk and eggs delivered and that resumed, so next in urgency was fresh veg. I visited the website of the first guy mentioned because he's just down the road and he's new. We ordered enough of the usual suspects for a free delivery. And then I read about their "peacherines" and had to place a second order, you know, just so I can have yet another excuse to stay in the kitchen.

I'm exhausted. I gardened not for a long time but a bit of sawing and butchering mayhem on a slippery slope. I also spoke with Kathryn on the driveway, 2 or more meters apart, for maybe an hour. Lovely. I gave her some peacherines, and she gave me a jar of her peaches. We had the peaches with yogurt and cinnamon before Ben's pumpkin soup for dinner.
Gardening/hacking was good, albeit the job unfinished. The rest of the evening, prostrated in the narrow strip between the rocking chairs, Ben and the coffee table, I thought I'd like to pick up a book I suspended weeks ago. That was a refreshing thought, even though as usual I almost let my laptop fall on my face chasing numbers and curves. But there is tonight.
Day 24, April 18. I don't know how you vegetarians do it. We've had milk, eggs, bacon and some days cheese, but we haven't had a nice chunk of meat or fish in days. I realize it's supposed to make us feel healthier and "lighter", but we have become weak at our psychic knees. I think some protein shopping is coming up tomorrow.

No 1PM update. I felt abandoned, while the country is celebrating, unduly, the prospect of moving to Level 3.
Day 25, April 19. Today was unusual; we were both exhausted, in unison, for no reason. I caught the 1PM update, in which I learned we'll hear from Jacinda at 4PM tomorrow if we are moving to Level 3. Chatted some more with Kathryn, whose son is going to weedwhack a steep slope under our apple trees for us, after the slope dries from the recent rain. Then we ventured into town: the PO box, (nothing), the usual bigger supermarket, (because Ben's more used to it,) but not finding several important items, to the one we like better. Then we came home and performed the ritual: I denuded veg packs and wiped down other boxes and packaging while Ben showered. He carried everything upstairs, washed the veg and put packages away while I showered. I did the laundry, and together we transferred all protein, (which comes in thinner plastic wrapping we don't like to sanitize,) into our own containers. And washed our hands again.

We rewarded ourselves with the first pack of potato chips in forever; it was delicious but was gone oh-so-soon. And we had steak for dinner, which pleased Ben very much. If we ration wisely we shouldn't have to go to the supermarket for nearly two weeks; we certainly paid as much.

More cooking duty the next few days. The oven-baked peacherines are growing on me. I am obsessed with food and food preparation, but I think it gives me focus.

But today, I also thought about weaving.
Day 26, April 20. We decided Ben overdid with meat/fish shopping yesterday. Today we froze some, he smoked a bunch, (while working,) and I made chicken curry, and slow-roasted more peacherines and concocting a chutney-esque version. This went on until shortly before the 4PM announcement.

We will be in Level 4 until the end of next Monday, then try out Level 3 for two weeks. Our lives won't change much because Ben will still work from home and the sort of things we can do, e.g. food shopping, won't change, but some people, like Volume, will be allowed to go to work as long as they can follow social distancing rules, contact-less service. We will be allowed to take our car and go a tiny bit further for exercises, though. Ben came home from work a little early and we had a bit of sake to... celebrate knowing where we stand for now.

We just caught her Facebook live which she does in the evenings every now and then, often after big announcements. She smiles a lot, but like any live chat, she looked serious trying to read questions.

As terrible as a global pandemic is, and so many places have it so much worse than in Nelson, New Zealand, Ben and I are convinced Jacinda has made it easy for us to behave well. Bless our Prime Minister.

I know other mainly English-speaking countries want Jacinda as their head of state, or envying New Zealand for having her at the helm. I can understand this, but I've been giving some serious thoughts to this, and her way of running a country in this global pandemic compared to others I read about. I'm not sure, however, if her ways will work elsewhere.

New Zealand has its own very wealthy lot, hate groups, and right-wing/religious lots, and some here have even adopted the litigious culture, and many have adopted the American Right Wing language since W Bush's days. Some comments towards her have been as despicable. But fundamentally New Zealanders are descent and most pragmatic, and because of the size, when push comes to shove, everybody tends to want to help each other. At least in electing Labour three years ago we did ourselves a great favour, not only for the Plague, but the eruption of a volcano and a mass shooting which also happened in her time. And the electoral system and redistricting must work well enough nobody is raising serious questions for now. (We had a census two years ago and I think we have new districts for this autumn's general election.)

[EDIT: New Zealand reviews its electorate every five years. It appears not directly related to census, as the last review was in 2019/20.]

Also, her language helps; not the overblown, not divisive, not catchy to please the media, but simple and straight-forward: "Be kind," "Team of Five Million", etc. Remember, this is the country where the two largest islands are called North Island and South Island. And then the idea we should behave as if we all have Corona. I think these comes form the fact she's a "normal" person, having grown up in a "normal" household, who otherwise lives a relatively normal life. Although I'd never underestimate the steely political astuteness that's another part of her, either.

I always think back to Jacinda bringing up the fact Clarke wore a Gisbourne charity shop dad sweater when they brought Neve home.

New Zealand is a nation, albeit small, so it's not all great, and certainly not "100% Pure". I don't agree with everything the government is doing, it's timing, scope, and I can't stand a couple of folks in the current front line, but it's a government, I trust these folks to be doing the best they can under the circumstances to protect as many as possible, and I have no problem abiding by their rules. (And a few more of our own just to be on the safe side.):-D
Day 27, April 21. After yesterday's massive food prep effort, mealtime requires assembling salads and heating up protein for the foreseeable future. When Ben started to get restless waiting for me to make the first move to get dinner ready, I was disproportionately agitated, shouting something like, "Do we have to eat again??" And then realized how wrong/bad/rude that was. Not to Ben, exactly, but as it is there have been millions/billions of people without enough food due to poverty/famine/war, but now there are more even in the First World due to corona-related loss of jobs and businesses. So, I won't complain. But I wouldn't mind eating less often.

In communicating with a client about her latest commission, I was overwhelmed by how little I remember of my recent past pre-Corona, how my life has become mired in this lot of news, not Brexit and Trump before it. I felt sad. And then I needed a nap.
Day 28, April 22. (Photo taken on Day 25.) Today I was thoroughly sick of envying friends who have Corona-cleaned their houses there were nowhere else to clean. So I started with downstairs this morning, the laundry, en suite and my work space. And then the stairway, and part of the hallway upstairs. As usual, I got less done than I had hoped, but it's not nothing. It is what it is. I'm also leaving a trail of unfinished projects, the patio, the agapanthus and miniature kowhai on the driveway, what else... I've been thinking a lot about work, about weaving. That's also not nothing. Tomorrow we're supposed to have rain, so I'll continue with cleaning the house, shall I?

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