Easter Bunny is Essential Worker

PEI Premier King message from Office under Public Health Act in consultation with Public Health Officer, Thursday April 9, 2020

You gotta love it. Early this morning, I was reading my emails (97 in the cue – I can’t be that far behind. Really?) and was caught off guard by one of the most recent entries in particular, a subject line from our Premier, stating “Province deems Easter Bunny Essential Worker”. I started chuckling to myself. What in the world? It sounded weird coming from our island leader…good one Premier. I get quite a few communications from the provincial government as I like to keep informed of what is going on in and around the province and local communities; so this one caught my attention. Easter Bunny deemed as Essential Worker!! But then I quickly realized…holy lightning. Absolutely. It was Holy Thursday yesterday and Easter draws near !? Easter? My family. Church. Traditions. Easter bunny. Easter egg hunt. Easter meal. Easter gathering.

Shaking my head to clear the cobwebs, this is Good Friday and Easter Vigil is tomorrow and what? I have been so preoccupied of late with other things to be mindful of Holy Week and Easter Traditions as a person of faith (and Easter and family traditions as a mom and Rara) and in this, it is my cross to bear. Good Friday, where a Christian stands at the foot of the cross as marked by Jesus Crucifixion and death on a cross long long ago, leaving of himself or herself something there, and in turn bringing something of Christ Jesus into his or her own life. But the traditional gathering of the faithful will be partaking in Good Friday celebration in a way not done before…at home. I can only imagine how the Christian Churches (or any Church or ecclesial group) are responding in prayer and Traditional practices as the coronavirus-19 sweeps its path of harm and despair for many. To hear the pleas. If ever there was a time for prayer of strength and courage, it is now as Easter draws near. We are people of hope even in the darkness.

Turning to the other tradition of Easter, I cannot help but thank the Premier enough as a mother and a Rara (grandmother in grandson’s language term for me) for communicating something that impacts the young children and families on the island. The underlying message of compassion and care for Easter traditions of family gatherings, Easter bunny, Easter hunts…of course the Easter bunny is an essential worker. The fall out from the coronavirus impacts the very fabric and essence of the island community and its hospitality. The Premier reminds me of the editor of the New York Sun in 1897 and the letter received by a little girl about Santa Claus’s existence and his response to her, “Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus.” Hope. Assurance. Belief. The communication from the office of the Premier is a significant message in light of the unknown, carrying on a tradition that is important regardless of circumstance…deemed essential. Reminder that life continues and when faced with adversity we need to find ways to help people grapple with something beyond their control. But also, it is an important reminder that the health and safety of the island has to be maintained still which Easter characterizes – social distancing.

Pondering for the day – So today I think of traditions as Easter draws near and what is essential. I know I am not going to be able to make a treasure hunt or watch Easter bunny hide Easter eggs or set the table for a meal prepared for by loving hands (many hands make light work). Nor sit in pew at Easter Vigil in the darkness to see the candles light up as, one by one, the candles collectively bring us into the light. I won’t hear the voice of Amen as newly baptized and confirmed say YES to becoming a Christian. Nor will I. My favourite and most welcomed tradition is when family gathers at the dining room table and they are safe. Knowing my loved ones are with me and I can see them, hold them, be with them. But this year it is not going to be that way. Okay then. Putting things into perspective. So standing here, what is deemed essential? For me? For you? For all? Blessings and prayers.

FYI: On a side note, I just want to say to the Premier that I really do not want snowplow workers to be an essential worker anymore. Okay. Why one might ask?? I SPOKE WAY to SOON yesterday as I look outside my window this morning and SEE a blanket of SNOW covering the ground and the wind howling away as I take note that the forecast for today is snow…all day. Are you KIDDING me!!! Just saying. Be safe and healthy.

Morning sunrise

Can’t wait to see you once again. Good morning.

By far my most favourite part of the day is the early morning especially when the sun comes up, rising over the horizon, peeking its face while spreading its rays of delight, over the nooks and crannies hidden in the dark. Kick my heels and alleluia. I have a smile on my face as it is the fourth day in a row with me singing in my head (my voice is appreciated only by my grandchildren) “Oh Mr. Sun, sun, Mr. Golden Sun please shine down on me…”. A cheery little ditty to begin my day as no need for a coffee fix. Not that there is anything wrong with coffee mind you, but it is not my choice of drink. Never had a cup of coffee. Tea maybe but tea does not really do it for me either. Morning is my pick me up.

But, I do have to say my childhood memory of the smell of coffee made over a campfire when camping with my family ,,,heaven on earth. I remember waking early in the morn in the tent, crawling out of my warm sleeping bag, peeking my head out as I unzipped the tent flap, to see my dad either building a fire or lighting the Coleman stove to get that coffee started. I would see the coffee grinds percolating up into the top of the coffee pot as water bubbled up into the glass tip lid, letting the coffee grains ooze its flavour into the hot liquid. No matter where you were at the camp site, that smell surrounded you. I guess that is my version of Tim Horton’s long line up for a morning wakeup call.

Not necessary. I am a morning person, not so much for my daughter who lives with me (that is another story for another time), but when my foot hits the bedroom floor, I am ready to go. Like this morning with the sun shining in, I realize it is Thursday and garbage/compost day. Oops. Even though I consider myself a morning person, does not mean my whole body wakes up at the same time. Heading down to the calendar, I need to see G or C noted, so I know which container I need to roll up the lane. Its a G. Maggie May, of course, is at my heels ready and waiting (reminder that I have a few more days of self-isolation until I can really walk walk). Yeah. You gotta love your dog or at least my dog because she is ready when I am ready – attached to the hip. Literally at times.

Anyway, I am out the door and wow the air is fresh and crisp as the sun filters through the woods surrounding my lane. Excellent. The golf course and fields across the way has the sun casting its glory, clear and bright. Lovely. Early morning sunshine show-off the heavy dewdrops (frost this morning) laying on the ground. I am grateful for the frost this morning because traipsing up to the top of my lane, pulling on the large black wheeled container for garbage is not fun when my lane is soft and muddy from spring thaw. Down side about living out in the bush and leaving the lane in its natural state of red dirt, the permafrost does havoc to the lane if you drive your vehicle on it. Crater like ridges caused by vehicles makes the laneway rough for a few weeks. Welcome to spring. Woohoo. And funnily enough (FYI) a silver lining of being self-isolated, no one comes to visit. There you go…good news story.

Pondering for the day – I am not sure what you feel is your morning sunrise, what wakes you up to greet the day? In three sleeps (grandchildren talk) I get to greet the morning sunrise, get up and trek down to the shore and witness the day come to life as the sun peeks up (for however long) above the sea’s horizon to begin a new day. Blessings.

Praise for Education

You got this.

Finally, it’s sunny out, melting some of the snow and allowing me to see the grass beneath. Hope. My daughter and I are still in self-isolation, or at least for me, and her being in the same space…well we are all in this together. Lets adapt. Having just got off of FaceTime with my daughter and her kids, I am thinking of my earlier brief conversation (brief is the operative word) with my 9-year old grandson as he shares that he was working on his on-line grade 4 work that his teacher has created for him and his classmates. Of course, anything to do with teaching, I am all ears. It is a passion of mine even though I am semi-retired from teaching (doing a bit of subbing or was). And now, my grandson’s education takes on a new look as his classroom teacher has had to adapt to her circumstance. This certainly wasn’t in the textbooks and curriculum of BoEd 101. But teachers breathe, its all good.

Oh I do feel for you as teachers (and students and their families for sure). Todays educational environment reminds me adaptation is the mantra of late. This takes me way back (with a smile mind you) to my first teaching experience in northern Ontario on a Native reserve, 300 km north of Thunder Bay. You could only get there by flying in on a Beaver or Cesna airplane which either landed on the gravelled runway or nearby lake (or in the winter you can drive your car over bush roads and frozen lakes). Greeted by the principal, he put us in the bed of truck with luggage, bouncing precariously on a wooden bench, heading towards the compound of the school buildings and teacherages. Out of my element. Oh yes. Did I want to teach? Absolutely. Was I ready? Yes and no. It was the best and worse experience I had in terms of teaching but it taught me that teaching is more than the lesson plans. To me, I think it was more about adapting to my students, the environment and their situation. I can honestly say BEd program did not quite prepare me for my first teaching assignment.

Just imagine entering your very own first classroom. It turns out to be 30 grade 6 ELL students of 20 boys and 10 girls, a local Band hall of the Reserve out in the middle of field (one long rectangular clap board room), kicked over outhouse at the side of the hall, shared space with an disgruntled grade 7 teacher with 30 ELL students, 15 student worn-out double desks, no teacher desk, 1 to 3 ratio of dated text books, one box of broken chalk for a broken chalkboard, two pencils per student for first term, be a kilometre away from the main school buildings, have a limited amount of paper to make work sheets from a mimeograph drum machine (ink all over my hands- oh those were the days), and to top it all off, work with an outdated Canadian curriculum that was not really relevant or supportive to the local Native community. No go-to places to get back-up material to enhance learning. No Scholar’s Choice or Walmart or Staples or Indigo or Dollar Store/Tree or Michaels. Nope. Not even a Tim Horton’s – and I am not even a coffee drinker. One store only – one-stop shopping Hudson Bay General Store. But in the end, what did I learn about teaching…to adapt and modify to work with what I had and what I knew.

Oh the good old days. So my heart definitely goes out to the educational community who are working through and adapting to their present circumstance. Bless your hearts and praise to you all especially teachers. It cannot and will not be easy because that is not your reference or your learning environment. This is not a normal situation so the way of doing things may be outside the box. That is okay. Give yourself a break and know that your efforts are important. You make a difference, remember that.

Teachers have a powerful voice. There is a wonderful poem written by a child to a parent and has been adapted to teachers called When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking. It reminds me of the impact teachers have unbeknownst to what teachers may think. Students pay attention. I would want to find out what the situation is at each home so that you can adapt to the needs of students environment (print, on-line, combination). I would also be making calls to each of the students each week (maybe call at least 2-3 times per week to check in by setting up a date and time). Why? They need to know you care, calm them. Maybe send emails through gmail accounts, find some way to assure its all good, you are okay, let them know their friends are okay, let them know their own things in desk or cubby or locker at school are safe, let them know other teachers/support staff/principal/VP are okay. Check out food programs available when necessary.

Just remember you are not alone. You got this.

Pondering for the day – Let us think of those in the front lines especially the parents/relatives of students in your classroom (or in your own family). They may be on the front lines serving the island: medical staff, truckers, long care facility care workers, volunteers with food programs, drivers, waste management, essential business staff, custodians, and any who serve others. Blessings to you all.

Just thinking of my folks

At my folks and sister/hubby’s place

I have been thinking of my folks today as I read a text from my oldest sister of another one of the antics of my parents at home. I want to say antics because it masks their reality of getting older. Instead of me being true to the situation and accepting what is that their health is declining. This is not what they signed up for. Oddly enough, I am thinking of that Skype conversation I had with my dad last week. He took me up to his bedroom to talk (thank the Lord for iPads) and I could see he was tired and worn. Made a joke saying that he is not as strong as he described how mom was getting harder to carry (do not say that to mom dad- just saying). Looking at him, I saw sadness in his face as he shared with me that he did not see this coming. He and mom planned to do a bit of travelling, bothering us (haha), going to different places and seeing friends. When he began his thought with “Well…” and did not finish, I hurt for him in that moment.

I do realize that I am being selfish here because there are so many people who do not have a mother or a father in their lives as they have long since passed. And I pray for them. But in my world this day, blessed with parents still living, I am once again reminded of the preciousness of life. Over the passed year or so, a significant decline in their health has been evident as my sister sends details of the ‘antics’ of what has been going on (like today). Appreciated C. Last year, she and her hubby, bless their hearts, bought a house with the folks, and have taken on the role of caregiver. For that I am eternally grateful for. (That is a whole other conversation for another time.)

But, boy it sucks big time; yes I said sucks because it does. I tear up because I know that life given to us is fragile and a gift. The human body is such a miracle of creation in itself, put together, functioning its parts in ways that are indescribable as witnessed three weeks ago when holding my newborn granddaughter in my arms…unbelievable joy to be hold. Now my folks are at the other end of the stage of life, where a body grows old and tired and sometimes brings more complicated health issues. My mother has been diagnosed with dementia, an invisible kind of disease that slowly takes her away, both physically and mentally, from the person we know her to be. And my dad, oh my dad, a man that has beat cancer, has to watch his wife slowly become someone he is not used to being with (it is the only way I can describe it right now) and who has not ever taken on a role of caregiver. Patience is a virtue and my dad, well lets just say…nope. Dad will always be a Mr. Fix it kind of guy, full tilt and little pause. My mom, on the other hand, has always taken on the role, so generously and patiently, of caregiver for all. But now, if she really knew what was going on with her and her behaviour (for I do not know if she does), it would be such an indignity to her. It is not mom. And to all of this, I feel a great sadness deep in my heart for her and dad.

One feels lost, walking in a wilderness, not knowing what is before you. That is how I feel with my folks right now. Lost and helpless. I know they are taken care of as my sister is ferocious in her demeanour. She is kind of like my dad in a way and works to make things work. Goodness help their household (just kidding C). I know that worrying is not going to solve anything (but feeling sorry for myself and worrying too – yeah I am going to for a moment or three). But in the end, I believe God is here, holding my folks gently. They are not alone and however I can help…ask. I always try to see the good in things that are happening. One of my favourite mantras to my girls is “its all good” so somehow I have to find the good. Humour helps. A bit of wit in times of yuckiness (is that a word??) and this is muddy up to the neck. So thinking of my folks today and their antics now and beyond, I have to smile with love (or I will tear up which ever comes first). It is not a funny time but it is my folks reality now and getting my head around it. Holding on to my sister saying,”I got this. Not. But I got this”. Yes you do C.

Pondering for the day – With thoughts of gratitude and hope those who struggle with health and well being with their loved ones near or far, may strength and courage be given to you this day and know you are not alone.

On Your Own

On my own

I am wondering if we can see the good in the chaos bestowed upon us in the wake of our current way of living demanded…social distancing. The term itself, social distancing, is not really new for the medical profession has always encouraged the practice of removing self from others when sick or coming down with something. I can think of this scenario playing out multiple times whether at home, at work, an event and be asked “why are you here?” as you look or sound sick; or jokingly a person, making a cross with their fingers, stepping away from you saying, ” Stay away from me, I do not want to get sick.” Funny. Well let me see…NO. At this very moment, the non-practice of social distancing can have ramifications of epic proportions beyond human comprehension…and that my friends is the new. Funny…not so much. So how does one see the good in all this? The beauty of the human condition is that we are social beings by our very nature, and l -o – v – e to be with others (or most do lets just say). And in that, there is the rub. It is not to be. We have to practice that which is not in our nature… .to be on our own, alone in many cases (my girls would say to me mom must be loving it – I really like my own company – just saying). Nevertheless, the selfishness of wanting to be with others, and I mean that in the most gentlest of ways, we cannot ignore what is being asked of us. Of course I feel like breaking out like… I really want to hold my 8 month old granddaughter in my arms and give her a scooch; I want to play with my 9 year old grandson who likes to play jostle with his Rara (my grandma name); and yes I want to see my family who live eight minutes around the corner from me. What else? Well..oh…Okay. I would like to go to Coles, spend time in looking at the latest book releases or sit and be served food at the Starlight Cafe because I want someone to spoil me. Sorry daughter J, but I do not want supper prep to be my turn. AGAIN. And no daughter N, I do not want you to come over and walk around my home with your family so I can see them and not touch them. Love you for that but that hurts my heart. Love you though. So, not today, Karen, not today.

Thank goodness for cell phones, landlines, Skype, FaceTime, social media tools, and such to at least feel connected to family and friends, colleagues, and whomever, wherever. My self-isolation has another week to go and I am not sure what comes next. Putting things in perspective…I am praying for strength and knowledge. I can be a part of the solution. HOW?? Stay at home…I can do that. Wash hands…I can do that. Respect the wisdom being given…I can do that. Walk in my own yard only…I can do that. It is not about me. What is that phrase, ‘there is no I in team’; no there is not. So if being on my own (or at least living with my youngest of daughters is it for awhile – oh Lord give me strength (just kidding) – then so be it. If I have to stand away from others (to other side of sidewalk) then so be it. If I am limited to social outings, then okay. If I go for a walk , I greet with a wave or go the opposite way (not funny). Be on my own, I can do that.

Pondering for the day – Let us pray to have the courage and patience to do what is being asked of you and I. There has been so much that has changed as we do not know what we do not know. On the island, as in everywhere else, real hurt and fear have been taking place and I cannot even begin to fathom the extent of the suffering and loss. But there is good coming out of this for you can see it in the practices and messages all around. And for that, we have to believe it is all good.

Hearing the Waves

Trekking along the cliff of the north shore

Not sure if you live near a large body of water but in the winter time here on the island, there is a quiet silence that comes with the stillness of the waves from the sea. Just like so many other signs of winter, the movement of the water ceases in its roll. But yesterday, and certainly today, I smile to myself as I can hear the roll of the waves coming in along the north shore, as it echoes its dance on the sand and rock, over the cliffs, beating its own drum. That sound is oh so welcomed. And with it comes the knowledge that the ebb and flow of the season of spring has begun once again. Of course you would not know it based on the surrounding fields nearby or around my own little home nestled amongst the woods; the snow spreads and covers steadfastly the ground. And I do not mean a skiff. Regardless, I hear the waves and so very thankful. For soon the build up of ice along the shore and cliffs, will melt away and once again I can do my daily walk with Maggie May, my little gray schnoodle. She loves to walk and she is a great companion as long as you do not mind the hundred stops along the way. For me I just keep going as Maggie May does her thing for I know that she will not let me out of her sight for long. But all of that is put on hold for now, as I wait in self-isolation. Even when that is done, what next?? You do not really appreciate things until such time as they are taken away or not available to you. Not complaining here but accepting a reality. Life as we know it changes in a blink of an eye at times.

Right now being confined to the markers of my lot and not beyond, I am going to listen to the waves echoing their song. Hoping that one day soon I’ll be able to make that trek down my lane toward the sandy/rocky shore of the bay, then climb up the side of the cliffs to walk along the tractor trail of old, following it until I can’t. Before I turn to retrace my steps, I will look across the largeness of the sea toward the top of the cliff across the craggy inlet, that holds a century old Cape lighthouse standing tall and erect to its duty. I look forward to that day.

Pondering for the day – Let the waves roll in, listen to the sounds around you. It is amazing when you just stop, pause to hear and be still.

Paradox Lived in March

Spring has sprung!!! Not so much

This is my first real post on my blog website so let’s give this a go. What can I say? There are so many things whirling in my head right now because of the mass chaos weaved in with celebration that has happened over a period of one month. Thanks March for providing a spread of life’s paradoxical nature. Sidebar, I am in self-isolation for 14 days (on day 5 now) so I have the time to sit and have a mind bomb of thoughts swirling in my head. Where to begin? Well let’s start with the month of March. You did not come in like a lamb at all with your 40 cm+ drop of snow and me shovelling off the deck and lane, over a period of two days. Thank goodness for the snowplow guy and his John Deere snowblower and blade. But you did go out like a lamb, with a few snowflakes mind you. I’ll take that. Then Spring came quickly but do I see the sprouts and tips of buds of branches?? Not so much. Spring has sprung in Ontario and Quebec but not really in New Brunswick nor PEI. How do I know that? Well I just got back from Ontario, driving 18 hours straight, to get home because of the coronavirus-19. While driving along the highway (even in the darker part of the early morn) you can see evidence of a barren ground, no snow to be found until I got to Quebec city area and beyond heading into New Brunswick and lastly PEI – yep snow everywhere. However breathing in the air, you get a note of spring air with its little bit of warmth and freshness coupled in the crispness of the day. Favourite by far, rolling down my window and sticking my hand out to grasp spring in my palm. But that is for another time. Anyway, I had to leave Barrie ON after three weeks because it was time. Why you ask? Well the most precious paradox in the midst of the chaos of the pandemic, my eldest daughter just gave birth to her first child, a baby girl…celebration. paradox. coronavirus-19. She was due on March 12 so I came the Sunday before because you never know with babies. Thankfully I did because if I came any later or flew in, I would not have been with her because of the seriousness of the spread of the virus 19. It was like in one week, the week I came, chaos spread…hospital no visitors at all, social distancing enforced, grocery shelves depleted of toilet paper and disinfectant, senior hour at grocery store, gloves on, businesses shut down or closed, lay offs abound, essential and non-essential services identified, taped symbols on floor to tell you where to stand, schools and day care centres closed indefinitely, gates on businesses locked and chained up, and highway signs STAY HOME and WASH HANDS shout at you as you travel down the highway. Chaos!!!! Yet here I was, holding my granddaughter in my arms, a miracle of life – God’s reminder of the graced moments we are given. All the joys and gifts of new life held in my arms but also watching and feeling my daughter and her partner scared (me too) of how to make sense of what is happening. Scared of infecting baby and themselves as they begin a new chapter of life. So yes March you have brought with you a crazy joyful chaotic scary unbelievable no words kind of month for me and my family. Here I am now in self-isolation, disinfecting and washing my hands, in a self imprison on own my property for two weeks (probably longer), unable to see my daughter’s family or sister’s family now for who knows how long. But thanking God and being so grateful for the governments across the provinces for being proactive, moving beyond reactive, to find ways to make sure we all play our part. For the grocery stores and other services that are out there, allowing people to have what they need but also putting measures in place, enforcing them if you will, to get on board. This is a real issue beyond the scope of human comprehension. Patience is a virtue and being well informed (not social media frenzy kind of informed) but keeping up on what is asked of us and why.

Pondering for the day – Is this the new norm?? I do not know but it certainly has provided me with questions about the preciousness of life. And maybe even food for thought in how we live this life given. It’s all good, it has to be and so I welcome you April.

Me in 45 Seconds: Introduction

How does one introduce oneself to another? Do you start with funny or witty or quick or brief to the point. Let’s give this a go and read fast.

My name is Karen Pond (note my blog site) with six decades under me of lived life. My three daughters had in their own gentle way indicated that Facebook is not the platform for lengthy narrative writing and said I should create my own blog site. They see me as a writer. And let me tell you that is quite humbling.

I thought about blogging and its purpose. It allows a person to put out in to the universe, or wherever it goes, own thoughts and/or images, visibly. That takes courage. But also, in blogging readers bounce back to the writer, their own response. I like the idea that people and circumstances can be my companions, awakening me to pay attention (or at least to consider).

Having been an on-line instructor, one of the gifts of reading the participants posts and in turn, writing a response to said posts, I can ‘hear’ and ‘see’ the person through their thoughts written down. And that there is a way of conveying messages that can be life-giving even when the writings may not be so encouraging. We do not come with a blank slate.

Why now?

I have come to a point in my life as a recently retired educator that I have some time and believe I have something to say. I want to capture some things in a meaningful way for me and hopefully others receive a nugget or two.

What would the blog be about? Well for starters I know a little bit about how to be a mother (or not), grandmother, friend, colleague, sister, daughter, widower, homeowner, city and rural dweller, walker, photographer, reader, parishioner, planning events, caregiver, nature lover, woes of cooking, living with dementia, growing older, weddings and baby showers, pet owner, ….zerotohero. I am inspired by life around me, being present to the moment, and listening to experiences of others while living on the island as I have moved from Ontario to Prince Edward Island when I retired. Who would have thought?

Who would read this blog?

You.

And maybe share you with me if something connects in what I write about and bring me to a new pondering. You’ll find that I love to ponder on things and enjoy narrative writing. That is what you will find here…not fiction so much.

Prompt me. Just a little bit of a background story. I have a “red pen” companion that reminds me why I am writing in a public forum. When I was younger as a child and teenager I think many of my teachers had a preoccupation with using red pens to highlight the wrongness of my writing. There must have been a big sale on each year (I love post-it notes, just saying). I might not have been the best writer, technically or otherwise, but I had something to say. And I took those red circles and double edged red lines to heart. In those moments, those red markings were like permanent scars etched deeper into my hands. It took a long time to see hope.

Let me just say… delivery is everything, word and deed; it impacts you.

Welcome to Karen Pondering.com.