More Adventures in Social Distancing

So March has drawn to a close, and for some of us that means we’ve been social distancing for the better part of a month. I hope you’re all safe and well, and that you’re finding new ways to entertain and amuse yourselves. For me, this weekend marks my second full week at home.

Since my last post, in addition to the coronavirus situation, Zagreb was struck by a pretty serious earthquake. This was last Sunday, and I’m happy to report that my friends and family are safe and well, and that nobody sustained any major damage to their homes. Needless to say, it’s been a pretty strange experience and people are still recovering from the shock and the damage, all while continuing to follow the guidelines on social distancing. Everyone is lending a hand and looking out for friends and neighbours, which is just amazing to see. This isn’t the first time Zagreb’s been struck by an earthquake this size, so I know that we’ll rebuild and recover.

But despite the earthquake the majority of us are still confining ourselves to our homes, and finding new ways to deal with the virus and the earthquake simultaneously. For me, that mostly means following my routine, although since Sunday that routine has on occasion been punctuated by brief tremors lasting a second or two, which have seen me leap up off my butt so fast that I’m pretty sure I’ve left little cartoon dust clouds behind me once or twice.

So in the midst of all this I’ve been looking for new ways to distract myself, and there’s a few that are proving pretty good…

Adventures in Social Distancing: Week 2

1. Back to School (AKA Look at Me, Ma, I’m Learning!)

A couple of years ago I had a pretty serious problem with free online university courses. Fresh out of uni after finishing my undergrad degree and working in retail, I was in desperate need of intellectual stimulation. Not to mention that having spent four years at university, I was not used to the lack of lectures, seminars, and assigned reading. At the time iTunesU was a pretty big deal, and some of the best universities were uploading free lectures onto the platform. So I began scouring the internet and put together a list of some fifty-odd online courses I wanted to take – and because it’s me and I get a kick out of stuff like that, I also added checkboxes so I could tick off the ones I’d finished.

Well, I listened to lectures from some of the world’s best universities – Yale, Oxford, Harvard – and stumbled across some amazing professors and fascinating ideas (a standout one was the course on science, magic, and religion from UCLA on Youtube). It seemed like I was well on my way to becoming a real Renaissance lady (minus the ridiculous neck ruffs), what with all the arts, science, and technology lectures I was listening to.

But then I enrolled in a postgrad degree and I no longer had the time (nor the patience, quite frankly) to listen to university lectures all day long. So I gradually weaned myself off the habit, and for the past three years I haven’t felt the urge to return to it.

But given the current situation there’s been a lot of talk about online courses, and a lot of universities have opened up otherwise paid ones for the public. So a few days ago I began scouring these lists and stumbled across some really interesting courses and topics. Some of them are on platforms where you have extra materials and discussions with other students (Coursera and Edx are the ones I’ve been using). So I’ve dug out my old checklist and added a few new courses to the list… and off I go, back to uni! Whether my short attention span will allow me to make it through each of these courses in turn before the virus situation calms down, I’ve no idea. But I figure at the very least that I’ll spend the next few weeks learning something new, and at the end I’ll be able to say I took a Harvard course and actually understood… 85 per cent of it? I’d be pretty happy with that.

2. Adventures in Gardening (AKA I Made a Big Pile of Sticks!)

I’ve never had the greenest thumb – or if I did, it was probably just some leftover icing from a particularly colourful cupcake. Suffice to say that between being a bookworm and just incredibly lazy, I’ve never really been the outdoorsy type. But since I’ve been consigned to the house, I’m taking every opportunity to get outside. Luckily we have a big garden and orchard, so I don’t need to stray too far.

Since the only plants I’ve ever owned all seem to have died under mysterious circumstances, I’m not allowed too close to the living things, so I’ve started doing odd jobs around the garden while the more responsible among us take care of the plants, the theory being that even I couldn’t succeed in killing buckets of rainwater, sticks, and the compost bins.

Thus far my major job has been collecting all the sticks and branches that have been pruned from our fruit trees in preparation for spring (other hands wielded the secateurs and saws, for obvious reasons). So after a week’s hard work, I’ve basically succeeded in making a big pile of sticks that will gradually be fed into our tiny compost bin. And I’ll be honest, I’m quite proud of it, although sadly even these poor twigs and branches didn’t entirely escape my cursed hand – once the pile reached a certain height, it slowly by surely began to topple over. Sigh.

3. Winter Wonderland (AKA Oh My Gods It’s Snowing, What’s That All About?!)

Okay, so strictly speaking this isn’t something I was doing, although I did spend a lot of time peering out my window in wonder, so I’m counting it. Basically, this week it snowed in Zagreb, which did nothing to quell the fears of those who felt, between the virus and the earthquake, that the Endtimes might be on their way. And while it was very pretty, and as an Australian I still have an instinct to peer in wonder at the fluffy white flakes falling steadily outside (although my aforementioned laziness prevents me from pulling on my boots and running outside to make snow angels like a five-year-old, more’s the pity), I must admit I’m glad it didn’t last very long. We had a lovely white blanket over everything for a day or two, but it quickly melted and the weather warmed up again. Which is just as well, because that big pile of sticks in our garden isn’t going to make itself.

So there you have it – Week 2 at home has gone by in a bit of a blur. I can’t say I’ve had an idle moment, which I think under the circumstances is a really great thing.

How about you? How have you been keeping busy this past week?

6 thoughts on “More Adventures in Social Distancing

  1. You’ve had an eventful few days, I can see: in the UK news of the earthquake has been swamped by domestic reactions to coronavirus, but I’m glad to hear that damage and injury hasn’t been as bad as it might have been (though I gather there’s been one death). It’s a terrible cliché to say it, but stay safe. Despite a temperature I’m as right as rain, as has my partner has been to a large extent, and she’s now able to go out where we were both self-isolating before. Thank goodness for books and social media and, for you, online ways to keep your mind active! After weeks and months of nonstop rain (and flooding) in the town our garden is dry but it’s bitterly cold, so I don’t feel guilty lying on a sofa, wrapped in a blanket with a book or three and a phone — and blogs. 🙂

    • Thank you! :) Yes, I can imagine with everything going on in the UK the news of the earthquake didn’t really make the headlines. Your information is correct, there was one death, sadly.

      I’ve been keeping up with the UK news since my sister lives there and things really do seem to be getting extremely serious, so I’m glad to hear that you’re also finding ways to stay safe and entertained at home! And sitting on the sofa and reading seems like the perfect way to wait out this whole situation! :)

  2. a futile search for toilet paper and viewing the reappearance of moles with anger and trepidation… we have a pretty large yard and live out in the country so they’re a perennial problem… interesting about the earthquake and surprising to hear that they’re not uncommon… with the Med basin diving under the east european block they’re not unexpected (Turkey in particular) but i don’t recall that there have been lots of them in the Croatia/Albania region…

    • Ah, yes, the now-daily struggle with toilet paper… Luckily things don’t seem to be so bad here in Croatia, I’ve only once seen an empty shelf of toilet paper since the crisis started.

      I’ve been here three years now and I don’t recall any tremors since I’ve been here, but I do remember when I was visiting Croatia about ten years ago there was a very small earthquake (probably around 2/3 on the Richter scale, nothing serious) and people were talking about it; I remember I didn’t even feel it, it lasted for just a few seconds. So I don’t think they’re particularly common here – the last time there was an earthquake of this magnitude in Croatia was 1880, so we’re all hoping that this means Zagreb is safe for the next hundred years or so…

  3. Sadly the earthquake news didn’t make it all the way to Australia, so glad to hear you and yours are safe and well.
    We’re only into day 2 of stricter lockdown in NSW, and I’m feeling a bit stir crazy. Have been for a long walk this morning (it’s beautiful autumnal sunny days here right now – very hard to stay inside!) and repotted half the pots (saving the rest for tomorrow). Will have some work to do on Friday, but until then…..

    Nice to hear your news.

    • Thanks, Brona! :) I used to love autumn in Australia so I totally understand how hard it is to stay inside when the weather is that lovely. I hope the work goes well, it can be a great distraction under these kinds of circumstances.

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