Rituals

Now that all of our habits are under scrutiny, I really notice how important these habits and rituals are to us humans. Maybe you habitually go to the grocery store on Saturday mornings and shop for the week. Maybe you habitually get up at a certain time during the week, do habitual things to get ready to go to work, and then do habitual things when you get home again. Rituals and habits give us the calm illusion that life is ok and there is nothing to worry about.

And now we can’t do most of those things, while we wait for the wave of virus sickness to pass over us, or to hit us.

I’m living with DB and his elderly parents in a small house. When you live this close with people you really learn their habits, or at least the habits they hold on to in a time of crisis.

This morning, Sunday, I came downstairs to find both parents-in-law dressed as if going to an afternoon party or possibly to church. Every other day they also shower and dress for going outside the house. Which they don’t do. But they are ready for it just in case it’s a possibility.

So far, during these 3 weeks of not going out, I have stayed in sweats all day only once. Only once! It seems that if others in the house make the effort to shower and dress then that is the least I can do to keep up the atmosphere of normality. So I do this.

My in-laws have other rituals that they stick to no matter what. Every day at noon we put a table cloth on the dining table and pull out all the bread and stuff to put on bread and make tea and fresh orange juice and have lunch. They bow their heads and do a silent prayer before and after lunch. DB and I silently stare at our plates. Maybe DB is also praying. I don’t know. After lunch we put everything away and fold up the table cloth and put it in a drawer. We repeat this exercise at dinner. Every single day.

Well, not every day any more because we have asked for Sundays off from the ritual. Can we please come downstairs whenever we want on Sundays and take care of our own breakfast and lunch on Sundays? Of course that is fine. A small concession to the daily rituals.

My new habit: from Monday through Friday in the mornings from 8-12 I spend time doing useful things for our household, or soon to be new household. I research washers and dryers to find what we want and where to buy them and who is still open and delivering. I do banking. I found us a guy to sand and oil our wood floor in the new house. And I do what chores I can around here like laundry or looking for something to cook for dinner that everyone in the house would like.

In the afternoons during the week I do what I want. Lately I’ve been going upstairs and watching something on Netflix and knit. Or listen to a podcast and knit. Or spend time on Ravelry. In any case, it is my time to do what I want to keep sane. Lately the sun has been shining bright upstairs in that little room and that also makes me feel better.

DB is working from home, so he stays downstairs and sets up his “office” on the dining table, between the meal rituals, setting up and tearing down his laptop, mouse, keyboard, notebooks, etc. Twice a day.

These are our new routines. Our new habits. And we count our blessings that we can hold fast to them while others are not so fortunate.

The above photo is my Foldlines sweater. I’m just a few rounds short of dividing for armholes. I’ve been working on this pretty exclusively the past few days because I really want to finish it before it gets too warm to wear it. It’s going to be a really warm sweater! Worsted weight yarn knit on size US5 (3.75mm) needles makes a pretty dense fabric. But it does show the stitch pattern really well.

Knitting every single day is a habit that I hold on to even harder in this time of crisis. As long as my hands and head are busy creating something beautiful, I can still have hope that everything will be alright in the end.

Top 10

top of the dike this morning

A friend asked on Facebook “Why am I not knitting?”. She’s an avid knitter and a knitting designer. It was totally out of character for her to not be knitting. I ask myself, “Why am I not writing in the blog after a good start and lots to write about?”.

The answers are probably about the same – these are strange days that give us emotions we aren’t used to feeling and energy that moves in different directions than we are used to. Every day I think about what to write here but I don’t have the mental energy to actually do it. I think going forward even if I don’t write something I will at least post a photo a day. I do take at least 1 photo every day. That is a habit that hasn’t been broken by this virus situation.

Today marks 2 weeks and 1 day since I arrived in the Netherlands, living in my in-law’s small house, in a small bedroom, in a small town. It feels like a lot longer mostly because every day is a new reality. News from the government every day. A message from the King. Yesterday complaints from mayors because they have no power to enforce the “social distancing” without stronger rules from the government and stupid young people still gather in groups (MOSTLY young people – some older ones too).

In light of all the negative news, here are my top 10 reasons I am happy to be where I am:

  1. I can walk 30 minutes from the house and be in (albeit a small piece of) nature. The beach. The dunes. Some wild animals.
  2. I can walk 10 minutes from the house and watch boats on the North Sea come and go and hear and watch sea birds fly.
  3. The air is super clean which is good for my lungs.
  4. I don’t have to worry (so far) about being well taken care of medically if I get really sick and it won’t cost me any more than my 300euro deductible. No matter what.
  5. While there was a little hoarding going on here a week ago, that has settled down and we can buy whatever we need from the grocery stores in town. Which are walking distance away.
  6. Even though we are cramped in this small house, we are saving money until our own home purchase is final.
  7. DB has a good job and is not in danger of losing it due to this crisis. He can work from home easily. This was not our situation in California where my job could have been terminated at a moments notice.
  8. I can catch my breath from the past 3 years of stressful life. This virus crisis is stressful, but in a very different way. I have no control over how this will play out and so my stress about it is less. My stress level from commuting long hours on SoCal highways and working in a crappy job and being the main wage earner was far more stressful. I’m knitting 2 sweaters and a pair of socks – all at the same time!
  9. The political leaders in the Netherlands are much smarter and level headed than those in the U.S. They don’t make nonsense statements or make such outrageous lies that the population doesn’t trust them anymore. In fact Rutter’s ratings as a leader have never been higher.
  10. I never, ever, feel afraid that some idiot in Walmart is going to start shooting.

DB and I do go out every day for a walk. Yesterday, Sunday, we walked for 2 hours which I’m not used to and had sore muscles afterwards and still today feel it. We walked 50 minutes to the beach, then walked along the beach northwards to Huisduinen and then through housing areas to home. Here is a photo from the beach yesterday.