This is and isn’t about COVID-19.
Partly I want to stay in touch with my blogging friends. Partly I want to share a story I read about Nancy Russell. This is my clumsy effort to combine the two. To the Russell family: I am so sorry for your loss.
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Research continues on my Caroline Maben Flower story.
Why am I still in research mode? Especially since at the end of August, I had more than enough to finish the story about her remarkable life as the “Lady Prospector” in Cobalt and Porcupine.
Around that time, the local genealogical society announced that they had digitized the early editions of the Cobalt Daily Nugget. Access is by paid membership, and I’m trying to cram in as much screen time as I can before the end of the year. And as these things go, every time I’m about to call it quits, I find another little tidbit about Caroline’s time here in Northern Ontario.
I’ve been able to confirm that yes, she was in Cobalt and yes, she owned not one, not two, but multiple mining claims in several townships in both the silver and the gold mine camps.
In most cases, what I learned supported what I already knew from her letters and her scrapbook.
But when I found the news item illustrated here, I realized that I had drawn the wrong conclusions about her. I had figured that from the comfort of her New York studio, she had hired people to do the hard work for her.
I was wrong. She was there!
I had been pressuring myself to finish this project. After finding this revealing item, however, I realized that I had to continue reading the archives. As I wrote to a fellow history buff, there is no point trying to kid myself – I know if I write the story about Caroline without checking each and every page of the Nugget up until the time of her death, I will not be able to live with myself.
Eye strain leads to heart strain
What that means is that I am behind a computer monitor most hours of the day. Especially now with summer over. My eyes are feeling the strain of intense concentration while reading less than ideal newspaper reproductions. Dry, itchy, puffy eyes, with neck and shoulder pain. Yup, I need to limit my time on the computer.
But what would I do instead? Baking and cooking means eating the results. And yes, that’s a bad thing. Remember, it’s too cold for much outdoor activity. Housework? Oh, my, you are funny…
When I considered reducing time on the computer, my anxiety increased. For one, I love historical research. It keeps me engaged and involved in a meaningful pastime. A great deal of my time is spent helping others with their ancestry searches. If I didn’t have this work to occupy my time, I would be lost.
I really and truly panicked when I read this piece about Nancy Russell, a 90-year-old woman who couldn’t face another lockdown in her retirement home. After the first wave, Nancy, who was an active woman both in mind and body, barely survived the restrictions. “She was just drooping,” [her daughter] Tory said. “It was contact with people that was like food to her, it was like, oxygen. She would be just tired all the time because she was under stimulated.”
Nancy’s mental and physical health declined to the point that when the second wave loomed, medically assisted suicide was approved.
Stops you in your tracks, doesn’t it? Don’t know about you, but it makes me ashamed to complain about the pandemic-related restrictions. And I don’t complain much at all because we are lucky here in our remote Northern community.
But I am tired. And that’s a worry.
I have been sitting on this post for a few days now. I’m going to hit the publish button but I’m afraid that this piece is tone deaf, confusing, and outrageous in that I equate my petty situation with Nancy’s.
All I can say: it’s 2020.
Today, I opened the newspaper archives and began searching again. It was a good day. I found this:
Categories: Mining Heritage