Isolation Journals Day 56 Quarenterms

Your prompt for today:
Compose ten neologisms inspired by the year 2020. They can be shorthand expressions you’ve been using when texting with friends and family. New coinages to describe novel quarantine behaviors. Old phrases that now hold new meaning. Outdated expressions from youth you’ve rediscovered since moving back in with your parents. Expletives that emerge from a primal place—ones you didn’t know could be unleashed by the presence of an unmasked stranger in the frozen foods.

Bonus: Slip your neologisms into as many conversations as possible today and see if they go… bacterial.



Covid Hair – hair designed by yourself due to lack of hairdresser. Could include poorly cut bangs, small pony tails and self dye jobs.  Best example when Canadian Prime Minister appeared with Jet Black hair – several days later toned down to his black brown

Blonde extinction: The loss of a whole subset of society who believe that they have more fun. Finding out black and brown  part widening  is the new blonde and is almost as much fun.

Quarent-hat –  a covering to cover Covid Hair. Worn outdoors and indoors.  Removal will cause comedy moment

Movie review Zoom – invented by a friend to get 2 sets of sisters and one mutual friend to discuss movies each had watched on their own. Sister personalities and rivalries stand out.

Pandemic University – not invented by me but attended. A group of writers, looking for inspiration joined for classes.  Fees paid help writers make ends meet

Furtive shopping – masked bandits hurry around shopping aisles hoping not to meet others and have to talk, mingle or stay in the shop too long.

 Meter-estimate – checking your distance between people by imagining a meter, some measurement you really only use in sewing.  Six feet makes more sense, but being Canadian we pretend we know more metric than we believe

Distancing Meter blaming – looking at others who don’t seem to know the length of a meter inching ( or is it centi-metering ) up in the lines thinking the line will go faster. Eye rolls often accompany this.

Button pants : This was coined by Pluto the dog and if you haven’t found him on the youtubes, go do so. He comes from Canadalands ( also a new word ) and is funny. Advice is you best try on your button pants weekly to make sure they still do up. Other words that we will use in the future are ” the googlies” the “Americalands” and so much more.

Swipe right – as in Tinder – said to someone who has never even heard of tinder or used it, to get gallery view on Zoom. First time used got some funny looks at me – wondering what I was doing on Tinder.. not !

Covid Chalk art – decorative writing on many side-walks to cheer others. Most recently to honour the Snowbird Acrobatic team who had a dreadful accident where one was killed and one injured.

Graduation street banners – for cancelled graduations banners of graduates faces and names line main streets and parades

Birthday Parades – decorated cars drive down various streets celebrating the birthdays of children and adults alike.

Clorox- farewell – the act of grabbing a Clorox wipe ( Homemade or hoarded ) as your guest gets up to leave, and disinfecting her way out to the inside door handle.

Graphaholic – the obsession with knowing the infinitesimal move the graph has made towards flattening or curving downward

Cuomolove- new obsession with the two Cuomo brothers who dominate the news.

Bookshelf distraction : the art of looking at all the bookshelf backgrounds and examining to see if they are real or if you can decide the reading preference of the presenter. This leads to rewinding of the tv show as you didn’t listen to what was said.

Bookshelf envy; If you do decide its real, this leads to bookshelf envy, design critics, and random buying of more intellectual looking books.


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Isolation Journal Day 55 Why we Journal

Your prompt for today:
Write a journal entry about why you journal. Are there certain stories or forms you gravitate toward? People or places you prefer to leave out? Do you imagine anyone reading your entries? Do you notice a difference between journaling with prompts and without? As a private practice or one you share with others?


Journaling has been one of my life failures.

I have a diary I wrote when I was twelve. It was one of those “Dear Diary” books with tiny little lock and I kept it hidden from my family. Of course, it would be secret, but I certainly wasn’t telling my diary a lot of secrets! – the typical day would be “I babysat for ___’ I got 35 cents.”  “School was good”. “My friend did this”. “We went to the lake”. No secrets, no good literature, no Anne Frank moments.

I did a form of journaling when I wrote weekly letters back home from my venture to Newfoundland. My husband kept my letters and I kept his. I recently re read them and they mark the highlights of that year, and the beginning of a love of 48 years. I wondered if they would be an incrimination if my children read them, and I guess not, so I still keep them.

I love little journal books. I collect them. I actually intend to write in them. I start and then I forget and lose the plan. I even bought a five year “One Line a Day” to document my life so I could keep straight in my feelings, my husband’s health and my life.  It has scattered entries in it.  It’s back on my coffee table begging for attention.

I was a little more successful in journaling after I gave birth to a tiny premature baby who died despite all medical effort, the following day. I wrote in journals, and I wrote poems and I poured my feelings into these books. It was raw and emotional, and at the time, feelings that others didn’t seem to want to hear. I could silence a room very quickly by mentioning her name. I made people uncomfortable. I still needed to vent, so I wrote in the journal.  I had to pick it up the next year, when my twin pregnancy was deemed ““the most difficult pregnancy my doctor had to deal with’. I wrote my fears and wrote again when my fears came true. I stopped when I adopted my daughter, and then within 12 months gave birth to my son. There may have been a few entries when I was pregnant again and very fearful.  Journaling ended in 1982. Some poems were written in the years of parenting two toddlers and a school age child.

In 2012 it seemed good home-based business practice to start a blog.  There were only so many business-based topics, so my writing morphed into a blog about my feelings, my life, my past and things I decided I had a great need to write on. Some of it was social justice, some grief, some about the news of the week.  I would simultaneously post on my Facebook page.

People started saying that they enjoyed my posts. People encouraged me to write. But, really, it was a sporadic and I was really just playing with this art.

My sister sent me the email from Suleika Jaouad on April 1st.  She was going to do this so why didn’t I too. My first reaction was that I was surely to fail at keeping this up too, but I signed up anyways.  She sent me her prompt from day one. Reading her journal entry (Letter to a Stranger) opened my eyes and opened my world to daily discipline in writing a journal entry. By the way, her day 1 entry was great – comparing shopping in Covid to the Handmaids Tale perfectly. But she didn’t enjoy writing it.

I thought of using all those nice journal books, but instead did what works for me, and put my answers to the prompts on my blog, with a couple of exceptions. All have been posted to this group. I did stop the automatic blog posting to my Facebook page as I feel sometimes, I put too much up there and I have tried to be the sober face of Covid19 on my FB page, with some humour.  I didn’t think most of these topics were needed there right now.

My sister stopped journaling after that first one.  But she encourages me in my blogging and reads many of the posts. Sometimes I swerve off the prompts in order to finish a story. Sometimes I need to read some of the others take on the prompt. But most days I get an idea almost right away and write away.  Sometimes I worry that I am waiting for feedback – for validation, but as I read all the journal entries of my new friends and fellow journalists, I feel I am learning more about the others that post, and not focused on what people say about my post.   What a wonderful variety of writing styles and topics, and pain, and pain being the catalyst to healing.  I salute you all.  I start, too, to understand my life through these prompts, and to see where I have healed and where healing still needs to come. Sometimes I am aghast and other times amazed at the feelings these prompts evoke.   I am so glad I ventured on this 100 day.

I intend to use this lovely group to jump off to a regular journaling (on my blog) and perhaps even further. I like prompts. I think they have really helped me to move forward. As most of you know I joined the Pandemic University out of Alberta but open to anyone) and learned that some of what I right is actually a technique, and some could be much more effective. I have learned from fantastic writers, bought some of their books, and have a list of articles bookmarked to read.  They plan a summer program. I will be there!! I have had fun being a student and learning from real writers and poets.

So, thank you Suleika and all the writers on The Isolation Journals  for writing, reading, for commenting and for just being there as this all evolves. You are special and your writings will mark my isolation time and bring a smile to my face. I have read some very sad stories, but the overwhelming story seems to be survival and resilience.

I like that. It’s my story too.





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Isolation Journal Day 53 Start at the beginning

Your prompt for today:  
Start at the beginning. Catalog all the difficult moments you have survived, from little things to the big things. Write about how you worked your way through adversity, and how even if it doesn’t feel like it, you’re still charting that course forward.

This is a place marker. not sure the answer to this prompt should be here.  its a long list of my challenges and griefs.. and it is monumental  that I am saving this space for it.



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Isolation Journal Day 52 Beyond the Grave

Your prompt for today: 
Imagine you are able to speak to someone in your community, family, or lineage, even after you have passed on from this earthly plane. It is a person who was born after you were gone, so you do not know them personally. But they are able to find the message you have left behind. What would you say to them? What things do you want them to know about you, about this moment we are in, and perhaps about life and time as a whole?


I don’t ever think I will be a great grandmother to a twenty one year old.  That would make me at least 101 yrs old! This is written to a fictional great -granddaughter  

Written May 22, 2020 – to be opened on your 21st birthday.

Dear Great Granddaughter,

When your mom tells you about 2020 and about surviving the Pandemic, she will have stories to tell you about not going to school, going on Zoom calls with her teacher, doing schoolwork at home and not being able to see her cousins or friends. And she would tell you about when her daddy stayed home and worked out of the spare bedroom in the basement. She was a child of 10 but she still had stress and worry, though hopefully that is not what she will remember.

Hopefully you will not experience a Pandemic in your lifetime, but I wanted to write you and tell you a little more about living through what we called Covid19.

You would think that with all the internet and television we have in 2020, we would have seen it coming. But, you know, we didn’t really. We saw all the illness in China and knew it was an epidemic, but China seemed a long way away. We had other crisis’s like that before, there was H1N1 influenza in 2009, SARS in 2003, and Ebola in 2014.  We had even prepared for a computer and mechanical shutdown in 2000. People thought everything would just shut down because machines were only programmed for years staring with 19.  Look up Y2K and you will see how silly we seemed.  So, we were kind of used to threats that didn’t really affect us. We went on with life, saying “poor China, poor Italy, and then poor Spain”, but not thinking we would be affected too.

Then we watched as many people got ill in several countries and the health system was overwhelmed. That was scary, but I still didn’t really believe it would come to Canada.  But it did. It arrived in the United States and Canada about the same time.  We would start to see cases go up exponentially. The doubling effect was very frightening. Soon the news was taken over by stories of Covid 19 and the number of people infected and the number that died.  Your mom and aunties said once “Is that all we talk about is Covid 19” – and it was, until we learned to live with the news, the uncertainty and with risk.

Our leaders and health officials didn’t really understand the magnitude of it and how fast it could spread at first, but when they did, they went into action. It was far from perfect, and I hope our revised Pandemic planning guide will be you – I guide I hope you never need.

I was very pleased with the Premier of Saskatchewan who asked us to stay at home and issued a public health emergency as soon as the cases doubled. It was early, but it made me feel safer. Saskatchewan’s numbers remain low as I write this, due to his quick action.  Soon all of Canada was on stay at home orders. That didn’t mean we couldn’t leave our homes, but it did mean we left very infrequently.

Because in 2020 I was in my 70th year, I was considered at higher risk than younger people, so I stayed in my house except for a weekly grocery trip. I ordered groceries online for the first time, and like most people that could, I took a daily walk. At times I was bored, but soon I found things to do in my house and learned to hold get-togethers on a new platform called Zoom. This way we could see each other but it was hard not to be able to meet together in homes.  Holidays were cancelled, airports and the US-Canada were closed to all but essential travel. Graduations were held online, and Birthday parades happened instead of parties.

We watched as the President of the United States continued to think like we did in March of 2020. He thought the virus would go away or that it wasn’t that bad.  We felt sad, when they didn’t see the leadership we had, and the consistent way of helping people to be safe.  In particular, I again was so glad for our health care system where we didn’t have the extra worries of whether we had health care on top of worrying we would get sick. They had millions of cases, and although Canada had way too many, and could have acted sooner, I felt that we did a good job in most Provinces containing it. Though not everyone thought our Prime Minister was doing the right thing all the time, we watched him set an example of social distancing and wearing a mask that helped us to follow the rules.

It was all so strange, and new, and to be honest, somewhat frightening.  Millions lost their jobs because nobody could go to the places of businesses. Restaurants and shops learned all about ways to do take out and delivery and a new word “curbside service”.  We were so excited when we could finally get our hair cut, that we had coined a new word “Covid hair” for the long shaggy, uncoloured hair on everyone’s head.

But you know, a funny thing happened when we all had to “stay at home”- people started to appreciate the people who served in our grocery stores, banks, and take out restaurants. We started to see that many things could be done online or virtual. We wanted to shop local and Canadian.  We stood 6 feet from each other in line ups and in talking, and tried to figure out when to wear a mask.  Many people started working from home, setting up their computers to do the work that they normally would do at an office.  People started dropping gifts off at other people’s homes, or bottles of wine for health care workers. In big cities, people would stop and sing or yell or clap on their balconies or front steps to give appreciation to health care workers that were working so very hard. People started asking everyone to “Stay Safe” instead of just saying goodbye.

I worry about how all this is affected you and your parents.  I don’t know how many generations (maybe even yours) will pay for all the hand-outs that the government felt was needed. Sometimes it just seemed overwhelming to us all, and I hope that your generation isn’t dealing with a huge debt because of it.

Some of the things I am telling you we learned to do, will be commonplace now or even in the past.  You might laugh at some of the new things that are not at all new to you.

I don’t know what else to tell you about our Isolation days. I do have some advice for you though.  Simple things. Take life a day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Do the things you want to do. Enjoy life, love God and your neighbours as yourself.  You never know if there will be a time when you will be told to “shelter in place” so take the opportunities as they come to see the world and be with the people you love.

Your great grandmother, Terry






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Isolation Journal Day 51 A To-feel List

Your prompt for today:
Write a “to-feel” list. Start by naming your deepest yearnings and aspirations. Then take a moment to reflect on each—to study your own feeling compass, teasing out the nuances of what each contains with more depth and specificity. You can make your list as a row or column, or lay them out in a fluffy brainstorming cloud. Feel free to use colors and to get creative.


A Quarantine Quilt 

Now, take a look at your list. Are your priorities, habits, and rituals serving these feelings? What steps can you take to honor the items on your “to-feel” list?A program I follow uses the following needs for humans.

1. Certainty/Comfort
2. Uncertainty / Variety
3. Significance
4. Love and Connection
5. Growth
6. Contribution
As I look at my life, I see that I am physically ready to enter my 70’s, but not REALLY ready mentally. I found looking at these human needs, recognizing that each one has been more prominent in different decades of my life. There were days when Certainty and Comfort were my greatest need. Significance certainly lead the pack in times when I felt enveloped by motherhood and also when I was building my nursing career.
Although when I looked at these a couple of years ago, I found that although I need all of them, I want to concentrate and fix my goals on a couple for the next few years.
Some days I think: “how did I get so old” and count the remaining years allotted to me to complete my goals. Other days I feel young and vibrant and ready to aim at my goals.
Love and Connection is strong in my life right now, with a caring family, wonderful friends and connections to groups that enrich my life. Though romantic love is in my past, and I cannot see it in my future, the other connections are strong and stable. My three grandchildren are treasures in the love and connection need.
Certainty and Comfort is important to me. I love the comfort of my life, my pensions adequate for the life I lead. I enjoy my home, though thought of selling at some point, as two homes are hard to keep up. As I have on a plaque in my bedroom “ I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know Who holds my future. My faith in the certainty of God has made a lot of difference in this need. I know that no matter what happens, I will be okay.
There is enough Uncertainty and Variety in my life to stimulate me and keep me from being bored. Also Growth – I believe in life long learning. There is often something I am learning to do – things I always marked as blue jobs and felt no need to do them. I have learned ( sort of ) how to use a hammer and screwdriver, have painted rooms, and am quite determined to fix things that are needing repair. Don’t look too closely on the patching job I did on my wall in the bathroom, but I did it.
I have learned to quilt in the last year and now I learn all about Covid19. I am a new political fanatic. I belong to a book club and a Covid only Movie review zoom. I hope I have enough years to travel and learn about other countries and cultures, and hope that the world will be safe enough for me to do it.
One of the strong needs I identify with is Contribution. I felt a loss of this upon retirement from a long nursing career but I soon figured out “ who I was if not a nurse”. I still haven’t completely figured out where I should put my volunteer time. Recently I started helping serve meals at our local mission for the homeless/needy.
Writing seems to fulfill a few of these – Contribution, and Variety and perhaps Significance. Thanks to all of you for your encouragement in that area. With my new friends on the Isolation Journals, I am learning about other lands and cultures and lives. I am also learning to write more effectively and to be brave enough to share my feelings and thoughts.
These feelings (needs) will move in and out of prominence as my life changes, but I believe they represent how I want to live the rest of my years.
reference : The Ketogenic Switch by Deborah Murtaugh
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Isolation Journals Day 50 The Secret Life of Things

50 days of journalling.. it has indeed been a journey – and one that I am glad I embarked on.  It is healing, and satisfying to write, and to learn from my fellow journalizers.

Your prompt for today:
Imagine you’re not home (already a leap) and a friend you don’t know well is staying in your house. This friend looks around at all your framed photos and trinkets and coffee table books but they stop at one object and can’t figure out why it’s on display. Maybe it’s a strange drawing or a plastic piece of fruit or a coaster with Elvis’s face on it. Write a little narrative essay explaining the backstory of this item and why it has meaning for you.

November 11, 2018 was a tough day.  It was not quite three months since my hubby had passed away.  But more so, November 11, is Remembrance Day in Canada (and Armistice Day in the United States). Gord’s dad was a veteran that didn’t say much about his time overseas. He was an airframe mechanic and served in England. Remembrance Day meant a lot to Gord, as it did to his dad. He put on his poppy as soon as Hallowe’en was over and wore it faithfully from then on. He attended every Remembrance Day Ceremony. One year when we were away for Remembrance Day, we were in a store where the lights went out and all went silent for a minute at 11 am. We stood, at attention, awed that the store would do this.

Remembrance Day 2018 was spent at my sister’s winter place in Arizona. I had accepted the invite to go to her lovely home there, despite being divided over whether it would be hard to do, or just good to have company in my aloneness. It was mostly the latter. She understood me so well, since her Cliff had passed away 2 years earlier. We talked freely, and I was doing well.

At least I was, until I noticed that the prominent reminders of Remembrance Day that I was used to didn’t seem to be the same in the USA.  Poppies were not on everyone’s lapels. Nobody stopped at 11 am to observe the 11th hour 11th day 11th month.  There was no service to be watched. Even though I wasn’t as faithful as him in observing this day as he always was, it just seemed empty, and lonely and I was feeling my grief.

We went to an outdoor market and then into a beautiful decorator store on the street where the Sunday Market was held.  It was a beautiful store and my sister was picking out things for gifts and décor. I loved shopping in there, and found many things I would like, but my suitcase was so full, I couldn’t take any more purchases home. So, I wandered around admiring the store.  Off in a corner was a Christmas corner and in a narrow spot by the Christmas tree I found a perfect ornament to take home. I am not sure why I even went in that tiny space, because my hips barely fit in there and I was in great danger of finding out if the store had a “if you break it you own it” policy.

The ornament spoke to me. It said “How Great Thou Art” one of my favourite old hymns and one that was sung at Gord’s memorial service.  A tree ornament!  Then as I was paying for that, I noticed another ornament that said “Joy”.  Just the day before, a friend of my sister’s had told me her motto as a widow is “Choose Joy”  I bought that too. It all seemed just right.  It seemed at the time, as if God had placed some elements of hope in my day, to remind me that I would indeed be “okay”.

When Christmas was over, those two ornaments didn’t make it in the box to put away, but instead hang on my family picture collage.  The collage hangs by my dining room table where I can see my family pictures and these ornaments –my treasures.

A stranger looking through my home might think that is odd – to have two ornaments there – not particularly Christmassy, and really not part of the picture gallery. They might also notice two small metal initials – T and G – memories of my daughter’s wedding that I like to hang there too.   And they might wonder what special meaning those have to the owner of the house.

And by the way, they might notice the Santa hanging on my garden door too. He was forgotten in the putting away process this year, but if he’s been there that long he might as well stay till Christmas comes again, I suppose.  Doesn’t everyone need a Santa hanging around?

Have I mentioned that decorating might not be my forte?  I tend to keep things I love and hang them where it suits me. And that makes this my home.


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Isolation Journal Day 49. The Architecture of Memory

Your prompt for today:
Think about a memory attached to a specific room in your childhood home. Write about the feelings and/or lessons you extracted from it that anchor you even in the present day.

Moving away from home. It’s the most looked forward to event, yet perhaps the scariest.  My move from home, was to the Royal Alexandra Nursing School Residence.  I went from a pretty green bedroom, with green and white flowered wallpaper to hospital pale yellow. You know the colour- it was on almost every hospital room wall in the 70’s and probably still.  Dull, almost dirty looking, plain.

To save space, a single bed slid under a bolster to make a couch for friends or studying.  Behind the bolster was a small shelf for our personal treasures. We had long counter, opposite the bed, with a sink on one side. Two chairs were supplied, one for comfort and one for study.

A small closet with room for just a few clothes and seven uniforms was just as you opened the door.  One garbage can and one goose neck lamp were the property we were required to maintain. The garbage can make a nice ice bucket, so we found our own garbage cans – hopefully to add a colour to the bland room.  Florescent lights on the ceiling made for good study times but didn’t make for a warm cozy feel. A bland beige curtain hung on the fairly large window overlooking the parking lot.

Decorative items were sparse. A Mateus bottle with a candle in it was standard in most of our rooms. The party the bottle was stolen from, not worth remembering. One picture hung on the wall, chosen by the residence to brighten up our rooms. We had a list of things that were required to come with us which included a good alarm clock and a hot water bottle!  Our starched cap was always perched on the back of the couch, ready for wear, with the obligatory white bobby pins to pin it to our hair.

Down the hall was a shared bathroom and showers. The look of partially dressed girls, perhaps only in bra and panties and hair tied up in a towel going up and down the hall was odd, but soon became a norm.

There was a row of pay phones down by the common lounge. Three of them for the fifty of us that lived in that hallway. Personal phone calls were transferred up to one of those phones by the housemothers who knew all about our lives and dates. A call through the intercom in our room, or the common lounge told us we had a call. We would tear down the hallway to answer that phone-call.

No boys were allowed upstairs! I heard rumours some were let in through the first-floor windows, but not to my fifth-floor tower. There was the yearly Interns raid – unannounced but anticipated as the interns (mostly men then) ran through our hallways with buckets of water.

I spent three full years in that small room, but it never really felt confining. I had a big city and a lot of new friends and new experiences.  I was training for a whole new world of adventures.



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