Making the best of longer isolation

Our prime minister, Mark Rutte, gave a press conference yesterday and all measures that had been taken to combat the Corona virus have been extended from April 6th till April 28th. To quote the statement:

“The extension means that sports facilities, establishments serving food and drink, childcare centres and other locations will remain closed until 28 April inclusive. Schools will remain closed until at least the end of the May school holidays. The ban on events still applies until 1 June.”

It’s all getting more and more grim.

Total number of confirmed cases: 12,595 (+845)
Total number of confirmed cases who are or were admitted to hospital: 4.712(+722)
Total number of reported deaths: 1.039 (+175)
The number of patients admitted to hospital and the number of deceased patients reported in the Netherlands are increasing less rapidly than would have been expected without measures in place. The province of Noord-Brabant seems to have moved past the peak of new hospital admissions. Hospital admissions are still increasing in Zuid-Holland, Noord-Holland, Gelderland and Limburg.

We live in Zuid-Holland so we’re still getting the worst in this part of the country. It’s no surprise that the measures have been extended and, listening to the press conference yesterday, chances are that the measures will be extended even longer after that date. We’ll have to wait and see. I’ve got to say that with all the criticism I have had in the past of our PM and his policies, I do feel like he is handling this crisis very well.

So, at the very least, we have another 4 weeks of this isolation thing to go… I am extremely grateful that Mr Esther and I both have steady work and a steady paycheck. Not everyone has that luxury and very many don’t have work they can do from home but this stay at home thing is not a holiday either like many in (social-)media do seem to suggest. So many ads and social media posts giving well-meant advice to combat boredom and I keep on thinking, “Really? Is no one else working except for hospital & care staff, grocery store staff and Mr Esther and I”? I really don’t have time to read 10 books a week, watch 20 Netflix series, do full time meditation retreats and play indoor games all day (even if I do have a day off work today). I’m not so much bothered by boredom, rather I am affected by restriction. Our world is large in virtual life but very small and confined in real life. And even then I am lucky that I have a good home life, a good internet connection, am healthy and not lonely.

I hope all these measures to stay at home will help stop the spread of the disease, I hope that all healthcare staff and all other people that work so hard to keep everything going get through this unscathed, I hope that all those who are now not able to work or fear losing their jobs and businesses stay well, I hope that those who have difficult at home lives or no home at all come through this alright and I also hope that in all this darkness we can also try to see some light now and again. With so many people here and around the world getting sick and dying, and these economic problems looming, and our home lives and contacts being restricted, life can be a little demoralizing. So, for me as a cup half full sort of person, I’m tyring to make the most of the little things, like enjoying a geriatric 15 year old cat in the sunshine in our back garden…


…or taking a walk with my home office colleague while keeping our distance from others…


Our black cat is happy that we’re home all day as it means she can always find someone to stretch out on (mostly on my daughter who, by the way, is bored)…


… and faithful reader Squirrel sent me this picture of her son which made me smile and that she asked me to blur and share on my blog. She says, “My son is creating 3D printing masks at home, in his narrow student studio, during spare times.”

Radagast son1

And last but not least, sharing a gorgeous Richard Armitage in Uncle Vanya image might help a tiny bit as well with cheering up. It’s topical too, as he is a doctor.

20200327 RA in Uncle Vanya2

If Dr. Astrov really were a good doctor, I’m sure he’d say, “Take care of yourselves and each other!” and I second that. Here’s to making the best of at least another 4 weeks in isolation.


Home office during Corona

Just finished another video-conference-call this morning. This is the background of my dining room my colleagues have come to know.


I also wear special glasses for looking at a screen and I keep on brushing the hair out of my eyes. Guess I will need to cut those bangs myself as the hairdressers are closed and I suspect will be for a while. And oh my goodness, only when I see myself on screen like that (almost every day) do I realize how many grey hairs I already have! I have considered colouring but it’ll just be too much work keeping that up and actually I don’t think it looks too bad. It does mean that I’m growin’ old here and it’s visible.

Anyway, third week of isolation here has started. I was out and about a bit on Saturday, fulfilling my mother’s need for some entertainment but keeping my distance, but it all feels so weird. Stayed in again yesterday, had some fun looking into old David Niven movies (I can’t recall anymore how I got to David Niven but it’s been fun!) and ordered pizza in the evening with the delivery guy keeping his distance while dropping off the pizzas.

Over 10.000 confirmed cases in The Netherlands now with close to 800 deaths but it looks like the measures are working and the increase in contamination is levelling out a bit. Tomorrow we will hear whether or what extra measures will be needed or whether the measures can be decreased. Alas, I don’t think the latter will be happening. There is a real fear here that we don’t have enough emergency care beds available for the still awaited peak in Corona cases. Some care is already being shifted to Germany (thank you, Germany!) as they have offered help in providing emergency care. I wonder how long that offer can stand, though.

After the first two weeks were quite mad with work, things have settled a bit, thank goodness. Work and home life does get muddled more now that we’re all home so much. For instance, this morning, an irritated Mr Esther jr because printing paper has run out, Mini-Esther feeling like she can’t escape all those conference calls we do, a call from my mother because some family drama is unfolding on our family chat group that I hadn’t seen yet. The good thing is that I get to kiss my home-office-colleague (Mr Esther) a few times during the day, so that’s something!

So much for another Corona crisis day report. Gotta stop procrastinating and get back to work now.

Shopping in Corona times

As of today, here in The Netherlands, there are 7431 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 2151 of these people are in hospital and 434 people have died. Numbers are still rising here although yesterday and today they have said the rise seems to be a little less steep due to all the measures taken. Measures here in The Netherlands to prevent the spread of the Corona virus were tightened three days ago, like not being allowed outside with more than 3 people in a group, the rule to keep at least 1,5 meter distance strongly reiterated and the shops must take measures to ensure people stay 1,5 meters apart.

I ventured out to the stores in the little mall across the street yesterday, we needed some groceries and I had a trip to make to the post office, and sure enough things looked different in the shops. There were signs, like this one I saw as I passed the butcher’s where not more than 5 people are allowed in at a time and they are told to keep a distance.


Other shops had marked the floors where people queue, indicating the 1,5 meter distance…

At the supermarket there were markings where you can queue for the shopping carts and a guy in an emergency vest was checking that not too many people went into the store at the same time…

I use a self-service scanner to scan my groceries and the scanner tells shoppers to come alone (so not in groups) and has a 1,5 meter warning text…


At the self-service check-out there are partitions so contact can be avoided…


I ran into a neighbour at the store and we stood and talked to each other for a bit with that distance between us. It felt weird.

Today, after a very busy day working from home, Mr Esther and I walked to a DIY store (a bit over a half hour’s walk away) during what would normally be rush hour on a Thursday afternoon. There were some cars, a few occasional bikers (normally you’d be run over by bikers while walking on a bike path at such a time!) and virtually no pedestrians in the streets at 5.30 pm. It’s almost eery.

Our little family ended the day yesterday by playing a game, which is lovely, but I wonder how sick we will get of Rummikub by the time this ends.


It looks like our reality will continue to look like this for a while. I so hope it will all help keep the virus somewhat in check so that the hospitals can keep up. We are living in such surreal times right now!

Close to you & 104 days of summer

So, yesterday I mentioned Choir!Choir!Choir!. Today I saw there is an Australian equivalent called Pub Choir. Due to Corona they have now dubbed themselves Couch Choir and they made this video of 1000 people singing the same song from their homes. A quote: “A few days ago we asked the internet to stop misery scrolling for a moment, and to sing with us! Over 1000 people from 18 countries submitted a video of their performance of “Close To You” (Burt Bacharach) in just TWO DAYS.”

This gives me goosebumps. And what a job to edit it all together into this one video! I’m in awe.

Measures here in The Netherlands have tightened, so even less people out and about and everyone stuck inside like us. My husband works on the couch and for calls goes upstairs to the study…


… I work mostly at our dinner table as the sun streams in there…


Mr Esther junior has been enjoying his time off from his internship and with no classes from school yet to fill things up, he is getting some well-deserved rest and sleeps a lot, besides gaming, watching videos and taking a daily long walk.

Mini-Esther was having an exam week this week (last exam week before her finals in May) and went to school yesterday and this morning to sit for those exams under strict regulations of hygiene and keeping a distance. Just after she got home this morning the Ministry of Education announced that the central final exams in May will be cancelled altogether. Grades will now be determined by average exam scores from during the year. Those grades were always going to be 50% of your final exam score, now those grades will be 100% your final score. Schools have till June to organize how they’ll finish the last round of regular exams. For my daughter this means the rest of her exams this week are cancelled, school will determine how to organize the last 4 or 5 exams still due within the next few weeks. Mini-Esther’s grades are very good, she’ll do fine in the last exams still due so, in effect, this means she has already passed her finals! This takes a lot of pressure off for finals and the girl is very happy!

The Phineas and Ferb theme song now springs to mind with soooo many days off now for the kids with nothing to do:
“There’s 104 days of summer vacation | And school comes along just to end it | So the annual problem for our generation | Is finding a good way to spend it”

Phineas and Ferb is one of the very few kids cartoons I have also enjoyed watching with them over the years. Our kids alas won’t have the amount of freedom outdoors those two cartoon characters had – I hope they don’t get too stir-crazy.

#StayAtHome music

It’s just after midnight here, so this qualifies as a Sunday post now.

Mr Esther and I were catching some of the news on German TV and at the end they showed this wonderful clip of the Serbian National Theatre Orchestra playing together via conference call.

More artists have been singing songs or giving stay-at-home concerts on social media, from Pink to Coldplay to John Legend and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Vulture has a a whole list you can scroll through and pick up whatever you fancy:

This is when the internet and social media are totally cool, I just love this. Happy Sunday listening everyone!

Modified to add that the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra here in The Netherlands has also made a video together playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”.

This could be a new orchestra trend in the making. 🙂