Home Alone Together

Well, here we are, Posy and I, home alone together in our little cottage in Tasmania for an uncertain period of time, but likely for a number of weeks at least. I took Posy out of school two weeks ago so we have had plenty of time to shake down to being alone alone together. Posy loves being at home. She has been agitating to get back to homeschooling ever since I sent her to school age six. She thinks she was shortchanged by being the only child in the family who didn't do proper homeschooling time. Well, now is her chance.
The truth is, homeschooling now looks exactly like homeschooling did at our place ten years ago. In other words, it's a disgrace. Posy sleeps in, scrambles through her required curriculum as fast as she can, then reads, watches movies, bakes black forest cakes, tends to her succulent collection, and over the last three days she has taken up embroidery. This is not the kind of embroidery my grannies did. Her latest effort is a denim patch for her hoodie which reads EAT THE RICH. So obviously, political economy is being covered as well.
I have to say, I miss the six hours of the day that were once child-free. Not because I don't enjoy Posy's company - I very much do, and I'm glad to have an excellent companion to be home alone with, but I do miss that sensation of being completely and utterly alone. Still, there is plenty to be thankful for. Posy moved into the attic a few weeks ago, so I often have almost all of the house to myself, I have a garden, we have a house full of food and we have a safe roof over our heads.
For those readers who aren't Australians, here is the state of play in Oz right now in these times of covid-19. No-one who is not an Australian citizen is permitted to travel to Australia. Any Australian returning home is quarantined in a hotel as the 'guest' of the Australian government for a period of two weeks. The state borders are closed. Any residents returning home across state lines are required to self-isolate for two weeks. As of the Monday night just passed there are to be no gatherings of more than two people indoors or outdoors (excepting your own household, of course). There is to be no travel except for buying groceries, delivering groceries to the vulnerable, seeking medical attention or exercising. The shops are closed, the streets are deserted. Dogs are suddenly getting more walks than they have had in years.
On Monday I delivered two weeks' worth of groceries to my parents and filed their prescriptions at the pharmacy so they can get their medications delivered. I left them with strict instructions not to leave the house. They have been very compliant, only going for their daily walk out towards the countryside and not towards the high street of their little country town. Good parents.
Paul and I have been self-isolating for the last two weeks. We could see the writing on the wall and decided not to wait for official shut downs. Still, those two weeks have seen me with a constant low-level agitation, due to making lots of decisions. I hate making decisions. Do I take Posy out of school? Do I quit my last gardening job? How do I respond to social invitations? Should I leave the house at all for anything except groceries? I did take Posy out of school, I did quit my last job, I said no to all the invitations and felt like a party pooper, I didn't go to the library on the day before it closed when library patrons could take out 30 books for six weeks. It almost killed me not to do that. I did get the gas bottle refilled. I did pick up the parts for the broken wood heater so Paul could fix it.  And then I stayed home and worried. Now that everyone has to stay home and there is no wiggle room to do almost anything, I am actually relieved. No more decisions to make, just stay home and work in the garden and write and make dinner.
Paul is up in his mountain cabin, relieved that no-one can come and bother him as he has a huge work project to finish by the end of April. He sits in front of his computer screen and codes, and when he wants conversation he talks to the skinks, the birds, the wallabies, the bees, and occasionally he picks up the phone and calls me.
So that is where we find oursselves right now, reading, weeding, planting, preserving the harvest. Posy continues to dye her hair a new shade every other week, I am beginning a new novel, both of us are procrastinating on cleaning the bathroom. It is good to be home alone together. We have each other, a nice black dog, a tortoise shell cat. We're doing the best we can by staying home and baking snacks.
And here is where I raise my tea cup to the people who are actually keeping the country running. Turns out it is the nurses, the doctors, the farmers, the truck drivers and the supermarket shelf-stackers* who do that, so many thanks to you all.
*Oh, and the folks at the toilet paper factory. Well done, you chaps.

Tell me about your days at home in this time of uncertainty, tragedy and oddity.


Anonymous said…
I have been home for almost 3 weeks; I am extra cautious as my daughter works at a grocery store, so if she is exposed I will most likely be also (we live together), and with that in mind I made the decision to self isolate, and not contaminate others. We are both still healthy. There isn't much change in my routine as I became a bit of a hermit after my husband passed but I find myself missing the contact with the community of women that I has sustained and nurtured me in the last years: my knitting group, sitting with my mother having happy hour, visiting with my oldest daughter and grandson, face to face talking.
I continue to be sustained by all my blogger "friends," for which I am incredibly grateful.
Interesting how quick life's focus changed for us all. My hope is that all of this makes us better, more aware and connected.
Be well, Jo. Stay safe, and healthy.
Jo said…
Patricia, I am sure many people are realising just how much we all contribute to each others' well-being now that we are without each others' day-to-day physical presence and support. I am so grateful to still have a daughter to hug every day, and I'm glad you have that too. I feel very sad to not be able to hug my parents or my daughter who lives in her own household across town.
I am also very pleased and sustained by the very lovely community of friends here at All the Blue Day and in other places on the internet as well. You stay safe and healthy too xx
Deborah said…

We're in self imposed isolation and have been for a week as my husband has compromised health. Regional borders have closed which means I can't visit my mother in the country and our son,in Kalgoorlie can't visit either. We're lucky our Federal and State Governments moved quickly to limit the spread of CV-19, but WA has the added risk of cruise ships needing to off-load ill passengers.

Meanwhile, we garden and do house maintenance,email and text as well as talk to friends on the phone, go for walks and take the dog to the park especially when we think there wont be many people there, like dusk. Luckily we have been able to get food home delivered by Woolworths, have lots of books and have found good things to watch on Netflix.

Although I miss so many things I do regularly, I am also enjoying this slower time,doing things without a finish time, not feeling the usual pressures of a busy life.

Keep safe, stay well,
Kathy said…
We have been a bit like you...I don't usually go out that much anyway, no restaurants, shopping except food shopping and Bunnings etc so apart from seeing my family and my friends for a coffee it's business as usual at our house. The kids are feeling it more than I am because we are upon school holidays and not going out and seeing their friends is hard on them. I quite like having them around to be honest. It would be nice to go for a bush walk with them however bush tracks have been closed which I completely understand. I am a list maker and do-er however with everything going on it's a little hard to concentrate. Elise Joy on IG who is the Queen of Goals has been encouraging her "3 things" during this time. Her husband is in the Navy and he deployed 6 weeks ago so she is at home with her two small kids and with everything going on she has put her "3 things" goal into place. So write down 3 things you want to achieve that day and then at the end of the day you will feel like you are achieving something. Of course you can do more however having done 3 things feels good...Yesterday my 3 things were 1 Clean out the chicken coop which was a big job 2 go shopping [hadn't been in 10 days] and 3 with the meat I bought make hamburger patties and marinate the chicken and put in the freezer. The day before 1 was mop the kitchen and ensuite floors [note I did not say whole house because I may have put that off] 2 make yoghurt and 3 do the washing. It gives a little structure to achieve things while our minds are all over the place. Stay safe. Kathy, Brisbane
Jo said…
Deborah, it's great that you have managed to get home delivery for your groceries - that makes everything so much easier. Hope you have a lovely quiet time together for the next few weeks, but it must be difficult not being able to see your mum.

Kathy, oh I hear you on lists - I am such a list nerd. My productivity goes through the roof when I make a list, mainly because I love ticking things off! I confess to writing absolutely everything on my daily list, including the things I always do anyway, like walking the dog and making the bed, just so I can tick them off:)
Beznarf27 said…
And the cleaners...everyone always forgets the cleaners! Hi Jo. It feels strange to be part of this enforced self isolation when self isolation is my daily routine all week. I did have to stop working a few weeks ago thanks to covid (I am a cleaner) and the business that I worked for shutting their doors for the duration but it feels like we are living our normal life encapsulated inside a little "normal" bubble floating around inside a sea of "strange". I have been walking Earl every day and he loves his big walks on the weekend again. He and I have both missed them as I didn't have a huge amount of energy after working to do big walks as well. I started noticing the pine mushrooms last week and started picking some. I now have a huge collective of dehydrated slippery Jack mushrooms for flavouring and seasoned salts and powders and feel like an enormous bald squirrel hoarding pine mushrooms (that all the locals keep telling me are poisonous lol) for the long winter ahead. The uncertainty is palpable. When are we getting to buy your last novel and where is it going to be sold Jo? I have plans to gift it to all of my relatives this year so hopefully its before Christmas. Catch you when all of this craziness is over <3
Jo said…
Fran, and the cleaners, of course! I have been looking very carefully at all the photos of slippery jack mushrooms on the foraging wild edibles tasmania fb page, but I haven't been out to hunt any yet. Paul is foraging heaps of what are possibly field mushrooms in his forest (he has been eating them for years but we don't know what they are called!). It's great when other people believe that what you are foraging is poisonous:)
My novel is still in the process of going through several sensitivity readings as I have incorporated a number of characters and events into my story about which I know not enough and don't want to offend anyone/appropriate stories/knowledge/culture etc. However, it is a slow process and understandably other people don't necessarily share the sense of urgency that I have to get this show on the road!
Yes, absolutely, cup of tea together on the cards when this current unpleasantness is ended.. enjoy those long walks, though obviously not today due to madly inclement weather.
Maudy said…
I am working from home - and attempting to blog about the chaos that is working from the dining room while the other three people aimlessly wander about. It's ok except for endless video conferences. Lordy. Three so far today and two phone calls. I am exhausted!

I read a thing about the first eleven days being the hardest then after that, it improves. I'm on day 13 now, and I think it is getting easier.
Jo said…
Maudy, I guess we can all get used to anything. I guess. I'd really like to have another adult on the premises, but that's not an option right now. Tassie schools finish tomorrow and today I am basically holding Posy's hand all day while she finishes a major assignment Her school managed to go on-line early, one of the few public schools that has done so because it is a bit of an experimental curriculum school. But it still means me wielding the stick/waving the carrot to get things done. Bring on tomorrow afternoon and school holidays:)
All the best with the video conferencing thing. I don't know what it is that makes them so much more tiring than talking to someone in person. I absolutely find the same thing, even with people I love, let alone colleagues or strangers.
Anonymous said…
I never thought of myself as "elderly and vulnerable" before coronavirus blasted our normal to smithereens! Here at home we carry on pretty much as we always did, except for missing the occasional coffee with friends, and drop-in visits from our out-of-town son. Also, sadly, our WA-based daughter and son-in-law have had to cancel their visit in a week's time. Goodness knows when we will see them again.

One thing I have noticed is that I really, really want fish and chips at the beach. Considering that the last time this happened was about nine months ago (we live inland), you wouldn't think it wwould be a high priority, but now that I cannot have it, oh, how I want it!

You and Posy are well-equipped for isolation, and I'm sure Posy will be able to relax and enjoy the school holidays with her mum when The Big Assignment is over.

Keep safe

Linda in NZ
Mary said…
Like other commenters my days are similar to normal in that my partner and I live in a very rural area and generally lead a very home-oriented lifestyle. I do miss the physical library and the occasional lunch with friends or family. I work part-time but have only gone in a hour or two since the state of emergency started, to keep up with paying bills. I've made two grocery store trips in the last three weeks, both at 7am to try to avoid crowds. It's full-on spring here(Georgia,USA,) so it's lovely just walking in the woods with the dog and gardening. I do worry about my daughter and her family in Brooklyn, NY, since NY is the US virus epicenter now, but they are staying in, working from home and having groceries delivered. We do a lot of Skype calls so I can visit them and keep tabs on my 11-months-old granddaughter. I cheer Posy's embroidery anarchy! Thanks for your online presence.
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Fun times. Paul has the right idea! :-)

Hey, I don't know much about children, and have endured far too much education (and don’t recommend Uni these days due to debt and over supply issues), but far out if Posy can cook, sew, knows something about plants, and can make pithy political commentary - then I reckon you've done something right there. Most adults I've encountered don't know how to cook and that is a sad thing because food is good.

My mum (who was a single mother) taught me how to cook (and clean the house) for the family from about the age of twelve. It didn't do me any harm.

I'm enjoying plenty of time to work on projects about the farm, but yeah I have been subject to plenty of distress from people due to my work. It has been a bloodbath out there for small business, and I doubt that things will return to normal (whatever that is) anytime soon. Despite that I'm enjoying the changes as society has suddenly slowed down is less noisy, and I'm having lovely chats with all sorts of people. A month ago, that didn't happen as often.

Have you got your winter vegetables in yet?

Fertilised the garden beds two weeks ago (what a crazy race to get the compost before things shut down). Planted out all the seeds last week, and I hope they are not being washed away by the heavy rain outside right now... Oh well.

Scored 15 cubic metres of mulch over the past few days! It is a daunting mountain of organic matter, but much appreciated and should feed the orchard.


Meg said…
I've noticed all the dogs out walking their owners too, Jo. Dogs who've never been walked before are off, tails a-wagging! Our dear elderly Labrador, Sir Steve, thinks it's all such a lark with so many new friends to meet along the path as he does not need to keep his social distance from his fellow canines.

At our place, Hubby has taken over half of the study as he is now working from home. Son is home from school and will learn at home for the foreseeable future. I've still gone in to work my part-time teaching job but will probably do that work from home after the school break depending on what school looks like in the new term. And Sir Steve dog is still guarding the fridge ... when he's not out walking or rolling on the grass in the backyard.

Jo said…
Linda, I know my parents would be in complete agreement with you over the 'elderly and vulnerable' thing, however, they are being very sporting about it and having a bit of a welcome quiet holiday form their busy lives.. the hardest thing is not being able to see family though, isn't it? I don't know when I'll see my oldest two who are in Melbourne, but I'm very thankful that we have so much technology to let us catch up in other ways.

Mary, I do think it is a good thing to be a homebody right now, and to be used to doing home-based activities such as gardening and cooking. People whose daily activities are all based outside the home are having a much harder time of getting used to this new normal. Spring in the Georgia woods sounds delightful, and it must be so good to be able to be out in it.
It must be hard having beloved children in NY at the moment, though it sounds like yours are well set up and organised. I am sending you a virtual worried-but-optimistic fellow-mother hug from Tasmania:) x

Jo said…
Chris, now that Posy is home she is agitating even more to be homeschooled. Her idea is that I will teach her English, Paul will teach her Maths and she will apprentice herself to a herbalist for career prep. I imagine there are worse pathways to adulthood..
Yes, winter garden is almost all in. I planted a lot of seeds a couple of months ago and have been planting out the seedlings over the last few days. I have fielded a lot of calls from people who want to know what they can plant now, and here in Tas the answer is almost nothing unless you have established seedlings, which of course are all sold out at the shops. Snow peas, broad beans, garlic, onions are about it for seeds here as it will be too cold now for seeds to get enough growth on to bulk up sufficiently for winter.
Also, I'm not sure what all the people are thinking who ran out to buy all the seedlings to start vegie gardens in case of a food shortage or something. There is very little available except maybe lettuce that will give a harvest within about three months of now.. I imagine though, that it's a bit of an ancient memory thing - in times of danger, the safest thing to have is a garden full of food.

Meg, there is so much family togetherness right now! All the best for yours as you work and school from home. I hope you can all find a wee space to hide in. This is where living outside a big city comes into its own as we have gardens and parks and forests to inhabit as well as our homes. Greetings from Benson to Sir Steve. He sends a lazy thump of the tail!
GretchenJoanna said…
All that you describe about your household sounds very cozy and positive, "disgraceful" autodidact behaviors included. We are all learning a lot, even if we don't know quite what it is. And may never...?

Mine must be one of the quietest households containing two people, but there is much inward activity. And both of us have family to keep up with every day, at least with their voices and words. No matter how much potential for good there is in all this confinement, it's just plain hard to get used to, and we find that every day turns out to be a fresh challenge to the psyche.

Good strength, Dear Jo! XOXO
Jo said…
Gretchen Joanna, 'every day turns out to be a fresh challenge to the psyche', oh yes, these are such true words. We are in a place of the unknown, and for us, unprecedented restriction. The pain of separation is real, and the anxiety and grief is palpable, both for those we love and for the suffering of the wider world.
Anonymous said…
I'm catching up reading blogs backwards. (That I am catching up shows my psyche has calmed down sufficiently that I can do more than just potter and walk and all other manner of de-sloughing the mental exhaustion of the last few weeks of last term.)

If I were Posy, I'd want to be homeschooled too. Though, if I were you, I'd enjoy my aloneness during the day. We have a large house but everyone at home at the same time all the time is leaving me wanting some time by myself. Lucinda

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