It’s been a while since my last blog post. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been so busy in the garden I haven’t had a chance to sit down.
Reality is I’ve finally been hit by Covid, so I haven’t been in the garden at all for days.
The weeds are growing, the pests multiplying, and time is ticking away in the spring planting season while I’m indoors sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose.
It’s not the end of the world, of course, but it is frustrating.
However, there have been positives of an enforced rest.
I’ve never enjoyed the flowers outside my windows more. Right now, the pansies are a riot of purples and yellows throughout the flowerbeds, the snow-in-summer is a frosty carpet of blooms, the geum is flowering with the richest red, columbines are opening their blooms, and best of all, the irises right outside my office window have started to bloom. These plants were rescued from the school I work at when their location was due to be paved over. I had no idea what colour they were, and it turns out they’re a gorgeous purple—my favourite iris colour.
I’m appreciating anew the security of having plenty of preserved fruit and vegetables from last year and spring vegetables in the garden. No matter that we’re not allowed to leave home for a week—everything we need is here.
I’m appreciating the care of other gardeners who have offered help and dropped off fresh lemons for us.
I’ve gotten some sewing done, which is unusual at this time of year, when I’m usually occupied by the garden.
I’ve read several books—always a bonus.
Now that I’m feeling a bit better, I’ve been able to get some writing done. I was disappointed Covid took me away from editing my next book, because I felt like I was on a roll. But a few days away from the computer gave me time to more deeply consider the changes I needed to make, and the edits I’m now making are going to lead to a better book. That’s a win!
Most importantly, I’m in isolation with my husband (who is also sick), and the extra time together is a gift.
So in spite of the fact there is a mountain of work awaiting me in the garden, getting Covid hasn’t been a complete disaster. Eventually I’ll be well enough to get back to the vegetables and the weeds, and they’ll still be there for me when I do.
Lockdown grocery shopping is always a bit frustrating. Our local grocery store is calm and safe-feeling. There’s never a line out the door, and social distancing is relatively easy. The problem is the store is small (little choice in brands—you take what you can get), and the prices are high. Under normal circumstances I do my shopping at cheaper, larger stores in the city.
So during lockdown, I buy as few groceries as possible and limit expensive foods like cheese and butter.
Which is why last week’s baking challenge was an iced cake with no butter.
I based the cake on a whole-grain pumpkin cake recipe from the King Arthur Flour Wholegrain Baking book. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup each of oil and butter, so I simply used a cup of oil instead. I’ve done this before with other cakes when I needed to make a cake for lactose intolerant friends, so I was confident it would work well. It did, and the cake turned out light and moist.
The icing was more of an issue. I wanted a nice thick icing, not a simple glaze. What I really wanted was a cream cheese frosting, but I had no cream cheese. To get the cream cheese frosting flavour, I used yogurt instead. I drained about a third of a cup of yogurt for a couple of hours to thicken it. Then I blended it a spoonful at a time, along with a teaspoon of vanilla, into 2 1/2 cups of icing sugar until I hit the consistency I wanted.
It wasn’t a butter icing—it still had the feel of a glaze more than a frosting—but it spread on thickly, oozing slightly over the edges of the cake and drying to a beautiful glossy sheen. Best of all, it had the lovely cultured tartness of a cream cheese frosting. All in all, a darned good icing on a fabulous cake.
And it didn’t cost me $7.95 for a block of butter. An excellent lockdown experiment!
New Zealand outside of Auckland got the news we were hoping for yesterday. As of Wednesday, we will move to Covid alert level 2, which means we can all return to work and school. This level 2 is more restrictive than previous level 2s, because the Delta variant is so much more transmissible, but we’re all looking forward to the increase in freedoms.
A shout out to Auckland, which remains in level 4. You are all superstars! Hang in there, and thank you for your mahi. It can’t be easy, and my heart goes out to you all. Kia kaha!
Once again We reach the end Of lockdown’s Boring grind.
We’re headed back To work and school For which we all Have pined.
So vaccinate and Wash your hands And over all Be kind.
Don’t forget To don your mask And wear a Smile behind.
I’m lucky to have only one, relatively self-sufficient teen at home for lockdown, but I feel for parents of young children. Good weekend weather will have been a help, but homeschool fatigue will make the coming week difficult.
Desperation grows As the Days Tick By.
Worksheets that The school sent out Make The kids Sigh.
Hard to be upset about lockdown when the weather is beautiful. In fact, I was a bit disappointed I was asked to go into work today. I would have jumped at the opportunity on a rainy lockdown day, but today … well I would rather have been in the garden.
Spring has sprung It’s time to plant Your vegetables and flowers.
The birds are busy In the trees with Twiggy nests and bowers.
Hoe in hand I soon forget The viral threat we’re under.
With bright warm sun And growing things The season’s full of wonder.
After 65 poems, I’ve run out of the building wrap I’ve been writing them on. I’m amazed it’s lasted as long as it did—who would have thought the builders would throw away that much useful material?
In preparation for the exhaustion of my construction waste supply, I’ve been repurposing some magnet boards I made years ago for Bugmobile programmes. I now have a pair of chalkboards that I’ll attach to my makeshift fence out front. Now as long as my chalk holds out …
I’ve finished off the very last scrap Of discarded building wrap.
You might hope that I am done— More lousy verse won’t see the sun.
But you know what they always say— Where there’s will there’s a way.
Tomorrow’s verse won’t look the same But it’ll be just as lame.
All of New Zealand south of Auckland is now at alert level 3. To most of the rest of the world, level 3 is simply “lockdown”, but to us it represents an important easing of restrictions. Just like level 4, we have to stay in our bubbles, work from home, and not travel, but in level 3 we’re allowed to sell and purchase items that aren’t food or medicine, provided we can do it online and have contactless delivery or pickup.
I was terribly smug at the start of this lockdown, knowing I had a quilting project underway, for which I had all the supplies I needed. On day 1 of lockdown, I spread out the top, batting and backing, only to discover I was 14 cm short on batting. Horrors!
I’ve spent lockdown making do with other craft projects—things I never particularly intended to make, but had the supplies for. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to finally be able to order that narrow strip of batting I need for my quilt.
We go! We go To level three— A lot like level four. But it’s nice to Click and collect From your favourite store.