A Good Home

Close Connections in a Crisis

My sister is making masks for a local hospital, the same hospital where my 5-month old  granddaughter will get her standard vaccination against certain diseases in just a few weeks.

My sister’s voluntary mask-making reminds me of women in this area in earlier decades — and in all of Canada, actually — women who knitted thousands of socks for our soldiers in Europe during the second world war.

Because — make no mistake — we are fighting a war, and one that’s getting closer each day to a community near you and me. We are bracing ourselves for an enemy that we cannot see, cannot hear.  And for the first time, it truly is a world war — every country is affected.

We can’t opt out or remain neutral. It finds us wherever we are.

Italy, my ‘second home’ when I worked in television, has been among the worst countries affected. Two days ago, I turned on the radio, heard an Italian-based senior journalist I know, and learned that 71 doctors there have died from COVID-19 so far.

It shook me up, and I thought about the many friends I made in that country: the co-workers in television; the shopkeepers I came to know and like.

Suddenly, my connections with far-flung family and close friends seem more urgent, the need to renew or nurture them more significant. I dare not say it, I barely can think it, but I don’t know how many of us will survive this terrible plague.  I want to be in touch.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden - chairs and umbrellas CU

Closer to my actual home, I buy pots of flowers every spring and summer from a local nursery. Owned by an elderly man of European origin, the nursery depends almost entirely on the annual migration of seasonal workers from the Caribbean.

I see them talking with the owner, whom they call “Papa”, and I sometimes stop to eavesdrop on the banter between them.  He seems as dedicated to them as they do to him.

But none of that affected me much, except as a charming detail.  Until now.  That man is too old to manage his nursery on his own; he needs his workers and they need the income. Whole families in Caribbean countries – including Jamaica, my country of birth — depend on their earnings at places like these in Canada.

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - late blooms1

Less important perhaps, I — and my neighbours and friends — won’t be buying these flowers. Won’t be strolling through the long aisles bordered by containers of violets, geranium, lobelia and other flowers spilling over their sides and making us smile. For gardeners, meandering through the enormous greenhouse and talking with the owner and  friendly staff  as we make our choices has been a rite of spring in these parts.

Even closer to home, my neighbour is a firefighter. He got called in last week to sub for colleagues at another fire station when someone got COVID-19. 

“Do you worry about your own safety?” I ask.

He tells me he feels safe in the protective gear firefighters wear. But I still pray for him every night. He and his wife and two young children are cherished friends.

Another neighbour and his wife live in Mexico in winter.  When Canada gave the ‘snowbirds’ 2 weeks to come home, they caught one of the first flights and went into quarantine for 14 days. Days ago, we were overjoyed to see them in their garden and waved what felt like a long-distance ‘welcome home’.

Another neighbour, a lawyer, is normally busy at this time of year with real estate deals. But houses aren’t selling much these days — who wants to walk through a stranger’s house, not knowing what germs they may touch? Not knowing if they will even have a job next week?

Fear of the virus affects my husband’s business too, one which depends on face-to-face interactions. He won’t lay off his staff, I know. It means we have to watch our family budget. Every dollar counts.

We all want to support our local businesses – the supermarket, the nursery, the bakery, the bookstore. We want local people to have jobs. But more and more, we are staying home for fear of contracting the deadly virus and are instead ordering online from big business. It’s not our preference, of course.

We’re not building bomb shelters — unless you count all the things we are not doing, all the ways in which we are protecting ourselves in order to stay safe. But like people living in times of war, we are also cherishing existing connections and perhaps making a few new ones.

This week, we started a local Facebook group for our street. We had planned to share stories about our countryside neighbourhood and our good fortune to live here in the bosom of nature.  So far, though, the posts getting the most response are the ones sharing tips about how to get through this frightening time. Perhaps equally significant: neighbours who’ve rarely talked to each other are communicating.

Some of you know my philosophy: that bad stuff often paves the way for good things to happen in response. I hope this is what will happen. I hope the better angel within each of us will prevail, that we’ll be able to preserve the best of our way of life, while letting go of the worst of our human behaviours.  And I hope my loved ones and I  will be around to see it happen.

Stay safe, my friends. Stay well.



A Good Home


Written by Lauren Reyes-Grange and me, in a fit of stay-at-home induced madness. Our apologies for breaking all the rules of verse: 


This stay at home thing and the boredom it brings

Could make a sane gal a real misfit

I like my home, don’t get me wrong 

But I’d like a brief chance to miss it.

Blog Photo - Baby story tidy living room

I know it is right, it’s a mighty big fight

To flatten the curve we are facing

So, home we will stay, keep Covid at bay

And practicing 6-feet of spacing.


I’ve never “spring cleaned” so completely

Or folded my laundry so neatly

We must sound like a family of bores

Fighting over who gets to clean the floors. 


Days stuck at home could make you rant 

While wearing elastic-waist pants

20 days now since I last wore my jeans 

Maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem.


Yes, there’s cooking, there’s baking, 

There are crafts to be making

And the following day 

There are leaves to be raking.

Blog Photo - Garden early Spring - leaves on bed

Now as the days blur into nights,

And the nights turn back into days 

Our home looks littered with now-empty boxes

Of all the snacks we have grazed. 


But let’s say thanks for “at home” time gained 

Knowing that many aren’t so lucky

Their work is essential, and they can’t complain

Even days when they’re not feeling plucky


God bless all of the frontline workers 

And all of the work that they do

Please keep them well, please keep them safe

In their efforts to see us all through.


We must do our part in this very great fight 

And while we might wish we could roam

Let’s pay with the small tasks to keep us alive

Social distance and staying at home. 

A Good Home, Gardening, Gardens and Wildlife

Bees on Snowdrops

The pollinators are out and buzzing around!Blog Photo - snowdrops bunches

And since snowdrops are the only flowers blooming right now, the bees are to be found there.

Blog Photo - snowdrop bunch 3

I didn’t know snowdrops were attractive to bees and other pollinators, but there they were!

 They will have many more blooms to choose from soon, as milder temperatures have arrived in this part of Ontario.

Blog Photo - Bee on snowdrop 2

Mindful of pollinators over-wintering in the leaves and dried stems of last year’s plants, we kept the leaves on the garden beds until this week when my husband got to work with his trusty rake. I helped a little, but he said he enjoyed doing this alone, so I left him to it.

A Good Home, Spring

Salmon Going Upstream

Since we are all self-isolating, the biggest excitement around here this weekend was watching the salmon go up the stream to spawn, as they do every spring.

They are swimming against the current and it forces them back, but they keep trying. Once in a while, you can see them jump above the obstacles in the water and the stream bed.

A cell phone was used to record this (so not the greatest pix) but you can see the darkish shadows of the salmon in the water.  Look closely to the left of the island, middle of the frame. 

A pair of mallards also made their annual springtime return to the stream.

A delight!

I hope you’re staying safe and well.