My third and fourth months of quarantine.

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Okay so it’s only been 4 months, although it feels like many many more. I honestly think I should stop calling this “quarantine” since it’s a pretty inaccurate term. But as I am currently still unwilling to think of this life as completely normal, the title stays for now.

I posted my 1st and 2nd months, but then completely forgot about anything after that. I admit, I was probably partially trying to avoid the foreboding thought that life as I know it might be completely over. Well, enough of that depression. Onward! We’ll be beginning this post back in Mid-May, and bringing us up to Mid-July.

What better way to show the passage of time than to show the incredible growth of our garden. We have harvested plenty of beans, carrots, radishes, beets, and have discovered that the cucumber seed that we planted has been taken over by a rogue Mammoth Russian Sunflower seed that must have been buried in the dirt. It is now about 8-9 feet tall and is most definitely not the cucumber we expected…

We did some sorting back in May that involved parts of my childhood. Here’s a quick highlight photo of my absolute favourite Hotwheels/Matchbox cars and my super adorable Gameboy Advance SP backpack. I think it still looks great on me.

I decided to try making some Mennonite doughnuts, and while I think they weren’t the best recipe, they were pretty good. Thankfully we were also able to finally see some friends over a couple days, including a nice big circle of people at a local park. I was happy to be able to make a snack to pass out for the first time in months. I enjoy making people happy with food, and it was sorely missed.

I was able to see some friends as we did the whole “social distancing parking lot meet-up”. I discovered that it’s actually quite comfortable sitting in the back of my car, so I am happy to know that for future meet-ups or camp-outs!

For a number of weeks, I also spent some time painting the majority of my in-laws house. When I learned how to paint my own home, I discovered that I actually really enjoy painting! I didn’t know this before, and I am quite happy to know it now. I really enjoy the peace it gives me, forcing me to focus my mind on one task instead of living life as I usually do, constantly bouncing from thought to thought over a hundred different tasks. It forces me to slow down and be in the moment, which is something I have never been able to do.

These next few photos don’t show everything, or even many finished sections, but they represent random moments over the past couple months when I stepped back to contemplate my work. There’s a before, two in progress and one finished. Mostly, everything has gone from brown to light grey/white. Sidenote: I’m not done yet! I’ve got a couple rooms and a ceiling left to go.

Along with the painting also came a project of ripping up a floor. Let me clarify that I am incredibly grateful I only had to tear up this one small ensuite floor and my in-laws did the rest of the flooring through the house. I enjoyed learning how, but that’s about it…

At least I got to paint the vanity in-between tearing up the floors. That, I enjoyed!

Also at the end of May, I embarked on a new adventure of making my own vanilla extract. All it takes is vanilla beans and vodka. I split and cut the beans, submerged them in vodka in a couple mason jars and popped them into the cupboard. To be truly amazing, they need to age for an entire year, but I will begin using them whenever I run out of the artificial extract, probably around the 4-6 month range. I’m very excited to always have real vanilla for the future.

May 25 on the left, July 25th on the right. This is the minimum amount of time to develop flavour, but I am not going to open it yet. Patience will pay off in the long run!

For the month of June, we stopped eating sweets/ice cream/baked goods. So here we are at the end of May, having our last couple treats!

In the first week of June, I deemed the quarantine beard to be disgusting and far too scruffy. It had surpassed it’s handsome phase and started going downhill quickly. Here I am with peak beard growth right before shaving.

With my in-laws renovating their home and us still trying to set up our home, it was exciting news when IKEA opened up. We went early with Andrea’s mom and beat the long social distanced lines, and ended up with quite a haul!

Soon up was Father’s Day, where we built a phenomenal charcuterie board and I made a crepe cake with lemon white chocolate mascarpone cream and Andrea’s homemade strawberry rhubarb jam for filling. It was delicious!!

I took some time to organize my work area in the garage at some point while creating a nice knife sharpening corner so that I can sharpen some knives for camp. I’ve gotten much better while practicing, and was finally able to move on to doing a couple of my own good pocket knives. I’ve been really enjoying learning how to sharpen knives, and I am glad to have the tools to do it correctly.

I have also found myself watching my wife interact with animals of various types. The deer really didn’t mind her getting closer and closer. One of them even started walking towards her before calmly heading back into the woods. Almost a Disney princess moment. Also she really loves goats, and gets to see these ones every week when we pick up vegetables from a farm.

I needed to fill up all my spice containers and when I started unpacking my spice cupboard, it just seemed to keep coming. I’m not sure how I ended up with so many spices, but I do know that I use all of them pretty regularly. I love spices and herbs. Flavour is one the best things in life.

When June ended, we celebrated our month without sweets by going to Birchwood Dairy on a perfect grey day. I say perfect because it wasn’t actually raining, but it was grey enough to keep the crowds away while we ate our delicious ice cream.

Not pictured: When I ran away from my ice cream to help a couple people push their car down the road to help them get it started and then when I got back, discovered an email from a pastor that was really heartwarming, and then a girl from camp came over to say hi and talk about her new job at Birchwood. It was a really fun day full of love, happiness and best of all, ice cream!

This next photo represents the new reality of working from home or wherever I happen to be, at any time of day. Very glad to still have work, even though it’s not at all what I wish this summer was.

I was very glad to make a couple trips to deliver the new “Camp in a box”. I had some great conversations with people while delivering them, and was very glad to play a very very small role in helping some kids enjoy a piece of camp this summer.

This summer has been weird and while it’s not the summer any of us imagined, especially as we have both been on a combination of CERB, Students grants, and Government wage subsidies. It hasn’t been the best summer, and it’s definitely been filled with unforeseen problems to solve but I continue to look back at all these photos and am reminded that there’s constantly good things happening in and around our lives. I hope the same is true for you.

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