31 March 2020

Day 6 of lockdown due to COVID-19

Nearly one week on to a four-week lockdown here in New Zealand. I think I'm getting the hang of our routine. Actually mine hasn't really changed much because I'm still working full time. I just changed location.

I started work again at 8.30 so I can log off earlier than I would usually do (I normally arrive home at 6.30pm on account of commute time). I am essentially regarded as an essential worker so I've been given access to work remotely.

Things are pretty much the same today, except for a few things:

My daughter has picked up a new hobby - knitting. My wife was looking for stuff that my daughter can do, and she found this knitting kit that I bought more than a year ago. She took to it immediately, and spent most of the afternoon working on her hat, which took just an afternoon to make!

She's already started making a scarf, which I'm assisting her with. It reminds me of my grade school project when we also knitted a scarf.

It may sound strange that we were knitting clothing for cold climates when I come from a tropical country. But I lived in Baguio City, which is a lot cooler than most cities in the Philippines since it's a city in the mountains. The temperature drops in December, and it can go as low as 8 degrees Centigrade in February.

It was a warm, sunny day so we were able to take our lunchtime stroll, and saw some more houses with stuffed toys on display.

In the afternoon, I was able to do some gardening too.

So yeah, things are falling into a routine somewhat, so there's some semblance of normalcy. Which is good, especially for the kids.

We are due for a visit to the supermarket though, so that will be another experience.

Here's a couple more photos from the day before the lockdown:
The regular rice we purchase have sold out, so we had to but Jasmine rice instead.

There was an extraordinary amount of people driving through McDonald's, which was set to close.

I'm a bit stressed out to go to the supermarket, actually, because there have been reported cases of customers abusing supermarket staff. These sort of situations can bring out the best in people, but it can also bring out the worst.

There's been 58 new cases today, bringing the total to 647.

30 March 2020

Day 5 of lockdown due to COVID-19

It's the start of a new workday, so I got up at 6.30am, prepared for the morning, then went to work at 8.30. It wasn't as hectic as last week so I managed to catch up with some of our backlog.

This week, I decided to move to our dining area. I was actually using my daughter's study table last week but I found the leg room too restrictive and was giving me back pains. I do wonder if the office table I ordered will ever arrive, since office supplies stores are categorised as non-essential. My online order did come through, so I was hoping it would be on its way. At any rate, the dining area has been transformed into an office for now. The added perk is that I'm only a few steps away from the pantry!

Today's also the start of free exercise sessions at 9am. I'm already at work by then so my daughter took charge of exercise duties.

The rain has finally given way to the sun and so we were able to go out for some exercise. We saw more houses with stuffed toys displayed by their windows.

It was back to work shortly afterwards, then I logged off at 5pm, which gave me time to do some gardening and re-potting of my growing collection of succulents. Here's one in a re-used ice cream tub:

After dinner, it's another episode of  a series we're watching on Netflix, then a bit of reading, then it's off to bed soon.

I'm liking this routine because I'm able to work early and finish early, and so I'm able to do other stuff afterwards. With the end of daylight savings time just around the corner, this is indeed something that I welcome.

I have also started searching for a way to get A Storm at the Sea of Galilee, be it by poster or by colour by number. I think I will prefer going by the latter; it will be an activity I can have with the family and display the result by the doorway. Obviously delivery will be a problem, so I'm bookmarking sites where I can order it from.

Today in New Zealand, we had 76 new cases of COVID-19, with a current total of 589.

29 March 2020

Day 4 of lockdown due to COVID-19

We normally go to mass at 10.30am but since all sorts of gatherings are now prohibited, we opted for the online version as well. We managed to catch an early morning mass from the Philippines.
It was looking to be another gloomy day so I was planning on taking it real slow today. The morning was uneventful. We played more XBox games and just spent quality with the family.
Lunch was special. We had a picnic. But since going to the park on extended periods of time is now allowed, we had it in the living room instead.
I had my siesta shortly afterwards. When I woke up an hour later, the sun was streaming through the window! We then decided to go for a stroll and stretch our legs. Other people had the same idea and we saw some families and other people walking their dogs, or going for an exercise. We'd wave hello to each other and keep our distance.

The other thing we tried to spot were teddy bears and stuffed toys that adorned the windows of our neighbourhood. My daughter had fun identifying the characters.

This one's different:
The family:

The sun was still out when we got back home so I decided to do some long-delayed gardening. I have a cherry blossom tree which my CFC household gifted me when we had our re-org last year. I potted it up, but I think it's time to be planted on the ground but haven't had time do so. I think the timing was just right because it had developed a healthy root system when I removed it from its pot.

I also have a Japanese maple tree, which has been living in a pot and needs to be planted on proper soil. I was thinking of making a bonsai out of it but I don't anticipate having much time for it, so onto the ground it finally stayed!
I've also planted some bulbs, in time for spring.
I thought it was a productive late afternoon overall. So it's back to work tomorrow.

There's been 60 Coronavirus cases today, making the total 476. There's been 1 death.

There are currently 8 strains of Coronavirus.

28 March 2020

Day 3 of lockdown due to COVID-19

We woke up at 5.45am, in time for the special Urbi et Orbi blessing by Pope Francis at 6am. He shared in his message to the faithful, the story of Jesus calming the storm as narrated in the Gospel of Mark. His words ring true in today's circumstances, as people cry out to the Lord: "do you not care if we perish?" Such a powerful message.

Now is not the time of God’s judgment, but of our own: “a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.”
This reminded me of Rembrandt's stolen "Storm in the Sea of Galilee" painting. I would like to hunt down a replica of this painting to display in our home to remind us of this event in history, and more importantly to remind us of what is truly important.

The Pope also offered plenary indulgence at this time. This is of significant importance, especially to those currently afflicted with COVID-19.

After the extraordinary blessing, we stayed in the bedroom as it's quite a wet and chilly day today. We were able to catch the holy mass broadcast at Vatican before finally going to the kitchen for breakfast, with my wife and daughter cooking Champorado.

We decided to take it slow today. We stayed home the whole day. It's been raining incessantly anyway so that's a great excuse to hibernate. Which I did, for a couple of hours in the afternoon after I tidied up a bit.

In between naps, we brought out the old XBox and played motion games.
These dancing games and sports titles are so much fun! It's been a while since we last played and today was the perfect opportunity for it. In fact, it's already past 11pm as I write this blog,  but my daughter is still playing Kinect Sports.

Sometime in the afternoon I asked Kuya to help me with mending our bean bag. There's just too little styrofoam balls in it and I decided to add the extra ones we have in the garage. The zipper is broken so I asked Kuya for help with operating the sewing machine.
Lunch break!

We've been watching this Korean series "Who are you: School 2015 via Netflix. We finished the series today. The storyline was interesting, and is just the second Asian series we have completed together. The songs are also quite catchy; I'll try to add those in my playlist, next to my ever reliable 80s soundtrack.

We also watched this adaptation of the movie Annie in Netflix. My daughter likes this version, but I prefer the original.

There's 83 new cases here in New Zealand, making the total 451.

27 March 2020

Day 2 of lockdown due to COVID-19

Yesterday was more eventful than today. I started work at around 8.20, and ended past 6. It's understandable though because there's a lot going on, especially due to the nature of my work. But this time I made sure to take even a five-minute stretch break every couple of hours, and half an hour lunch.

A major 'casualty' of this lockdown are the community spaces, such as the Library. We tried to visit and hoard some books but were too late. My consolation is that we have other books here at home that we can read in our free time anyways, so all is not lost.

Someone started this trend of displaying stuffed toys - primarily teddy bears - by the windows of homes. Kids in a lockdown situation may well find it difficult to cope with staying indoors all the time, and even when they're outside, there's a limit to where they can go. So these displays are a cool distraction. My wife and daughter decorated our window with some of our stuffed toys, with each one representing us. Guess which one is me.

Yesterday was such a bright, sunny day that even if I ended work at past 6, there was still enough light outside for us to do a little gardening. I repotted a couple of plants and weeded out our small patch of garden.

Yesterday we also dared to walk a couple of blocks down our main street. This is not a violation actually, because people are allowed to take a stroll for exercise for as long as you stay local. We passed by a couple of cyclists, someone walking their dog, and a family of 4 who waved hello from a distance. Today was a bit gloomy so we stayed inside most of the time.

Tina and Christine are having a nice time with their cooking session, and they even brought me piping hot coffee and this banana toast concoction they love making. Yum. Must take a photo next time.

Today there are 85 new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, with a man in his 70s in intensive care. There have now been 368 cases, with 37 recovered and 8 in hospital.

This is a far cry from just the 5 cases we had less than a month ago. That time seems so far away now.

26 March 2020

Day 1 of lockdown due to COVID-19

Tonight marks the end of the first day of a 4-week nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19. It still feels so surreal, like we're taking part in some experiment and that this is not our current reality.

In the lead-up to today, people have been panic-buying inspite of the government's assurance that supermarkets and other essential businesses will remain open. We did not go all out ourselves, but just bought some extra items so we don't have to go out too soon to replenish. The irony of it all was that people were so close in proximity to each other that chances of getting infected would have exponentially increased!

Needless to say, stocks of pantry staples quickly became scarce. All sorts of rice have gone, even those for sushi. We were planning to cook pasta on some days, but those flew off the shelf too!

As we prepared to work from home, I was starting to discover that my daughter's desk was not a good fit (not enough leg room, desk space, etc) so I decided to drop by the local office supplies store to get one. This is what I found:

I had to order online instead, as nearby branches have also sold out.

On the day before the lockdown, social distancing started to become the norm. The queues were longer but were now more orderly. Customers were requested to wipe down the trolley handles and to disinfect hands before entering the supermarket.

The queues were extraordinarily long. There was a 150% jump in supermarket sales, and this is comparing with the busy Christmas season.

A virus scare though won't deter plant parents from bagging a bargain. Monsteras were being sold at half price at a Bunnings, so I did a little lunch trip to buy one for a friend. Nada. Hoping not to waste the trip, I dropped by KMart to buy some weights for home exercises. All weights gone! It was seriously ridiculous. And you should have seen the McDonald's drive-thru!

These are uncertain times indeed. I've actually been working from home since the start of this week, so there's a bit of normalcy there. The added bonus is that I can finally play music while working, and have my lunch on a plate instead of a lunchbox. But when you're alone working by your desk, you don't notice the time and it's a bit difficult to squeeze in some stretching or rest breaks.

Day 1 has been uneventful so far. Lots of work... it's actually even busier than when I'm in the office. But starting tomorrow I'll try to set some stretch breaks. That desk I ordered couldn't  come soon enough.

Today, there are 78 new cases here in New Zealand, bringing the total to 283.

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