Keeping despair at bay (part five)

Any complacency I may have been feeling about living in a pandemic green zone for so many months has now left me. While the number of infected people here remains low compared to the big cities of the province – we broke into three-digit numbers only a couple of days ago – they are big numbers compared to our steady low rates of the early months.

However, while we had hoped that our community would stay at the yellow zone we were bumped up to a couple of weeks ago, it seems more likely that we will be orange or maybe even red for the holidays, putting whatever modest plans we may have made for the festive season in question.

Time to double down on the keeping despair at bay strategies.

Breathe, breathe, breathe

My fifth yoga class was my best yet, although anyone watching would be hard-pressed to identify exactly what pose I am holding at any particular moment. I feel as though I look like an ominous black blob on my mat whether in a child’s, happy baby, corpse or other pose, surrounded by women in pink, lavender and turquoise attire moving crisply from one distinct position to another.

Fortunately, there is no one watching, and I have become very comfortable working away at my own pace, taking breaks when I need to, and ignoring everyone around me, which may be the best thing I get out of the class.

We are on a two-week holiday break now, but I hope to be spending even a short time every couple of days twisting and stretching so I don’t lose the small amount of momentum I have built up.

Please Mr. Postman

Around this time every year, I find myself stalking the mailbox, keen to see who has thought to send me a card. I love nothing more than holiday cards from politicians. There was a time when I could count on at least half a dozen of them: the carefully posed family photo, usually including at least one kid looking like they would rather be having a root canal, the painfully correct greeting, the stamped signature. However, Doug Ford’s Conservatives don’t seem to go in for that sort of thing, so the card haul this year has been a bit paltry.

Fortunately, my eye doctor, insurance carrier, RRSP investment advisor and a few other folks I do business with have come through, as have a couple of my siblings and a few friends, so I won’t complain too much. And, maybe next year I will send cards, which just might lead to an increase in the number I receive.

All the little lights

What’s not to like about outdoor festive season lights? From tacky to spectacular, modest to extravagant, these displays light up our neighbourhoods and warm our souls.

My partner and I have not yet embarked on our annual tour of outdoor lights in our community – we are waiting till there is a bit of snow on the ground for that – but we kicked off the season of lights last Friday with a trip to see the now famous downtown Napanee extravaganza.

When I told my daughter that we planned to get some takeout burgers to munch on while we checked out the lights, she encouraged us to drive a little farther to Burger Revolution (“flavour is freedom”) in Belleville. The menu boasts burgers with names like Chevre Guevera, Malcolm Xtreme, Propaganda and Utopian, plus a secret menu only to be found when you go to the store, which features locally sourced ingredients, with farmers, bakers, cheesemakers and others listed on the restaurant walls. Our burgers and onion rings, which we ate in the car, were freshly made and delicious.

Fully sated, we headed off to Napanee, where we were not disappointed by what we saw: a downtown that looked as though it had been gift wrapped in lights.

Inspired by what we had seen, we spent the weekend filling our house, inside and out, with lights.

Spirits to keep the spirits up

Last night, we watched Brandi Carlile’s “Still Home for the Holidays” virtual concert.  She, her band and their families live together, and their home was aglow with lights, lights and more lights. The concert was (for me) an almost perfectly eclectic blend of songs for the season.

The musicians were drinking sparkling wine, and my partner and I were sipping bourbon, but if I had planned ahead a bit more, I might have gone for a mug of hot mulled wine.

Here’s an easy recipe: Place 1 bottle robust red wine, 1/3 cup honey, 3 sticks cinnamon, 5 whole cloves, 6 – 8 cracked cardamom pods, 2 star anise and the peel and juice of 2 oranges in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes to blend flavours, strain, then pour into mugs and serve.

Brandi’s show, which you can watch anytime between now and December 29th, costs just $15 U.S., so get yourself and your housemates a ticket, string up some tiny lights, grab a mug of mulled wine, wrap yourself in a blanket and settle in to enjoy the music. It will keep despair at bay for at least a few hours.

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