Here are the drawings of the fifteenth week of daily sketching:
Back in February, we left the country for a short Mexican. We came back on March 1st to a different world. We had to self-quarantine for 14 days, then went right into confinement without a chance to see our family.
It is when the idea of organising our first Facebook Messenger dinner popped up. When we talked with family upon our return, everyone was enthusiastic to try this new concept so we went ahead with it. In the end, even if we missed the hugs and kisses, this first online dinner was a huge success.
I talked in a previous blog post about our first On-line holiday get-together, now I will share some of our experiences of the last two months and give you a few pointers on how to organize them.
The first thing to do is to create a Messenger group with the people you want to meet. Then you set a date and time.
I recommend using a laptop that you set up about two and half feet from where you will be sitting. If you are a couple, the easiest way is to sit on one side of the table and setup the laptop on the other side.
Elevate the laptop by using a couple of books so that the camera is looking at you straight on instead of from below. Ipad and telephones can also be used but there seems to be issues with sound and the image on the screen is not as interesting to look at when you spend a certain amount of time together.
Make sure you run a few tests to see how you are positioned on the screen before preparing the meal. Most of the food should be prepared in advance since the key to these dinners is to be present. You don’t want your guest to stare at a blank screen while you are off cooking on your own for 20 minutes. Simple meals are the easiest. Remember, what is important here is sharing with your friends.
You can match menus or choose a theme, or don’t. Your imagination is the only thing limiting you from inventing all kinds of themes and fun things to do.
One of the advantages of meeting this way is that everyone has to be much more disciplined than when you meet in person. All must give others the chance to talk since only one device per couple is being used.
From the first time we did it with our family, we were hooked and wanted to repeat the experience with friends.
So a few days later, we got three couples together. One of the girls was at first reluctant but she got over it quite quickly and after a few technical false starts, we all enjoyed our evening.
One evening, one of a group of 4 couples we have had dinners with, organized a wine tasting. The preceding few days were spent getting a wine tasting criteria chart together and messaging back forth with mounting excitement about the menu and pairings. That evening was so entertaining even if most of us abandoned the tasting chart after the second glass of wine.
Another time, we had planned a seafood dinner with some friends, our different dishes were discussed and sharing of the recipes ensued.
We organized a dinner with our friends from Prince Edward County. This lasted about 4 hours. We had not seen them in over a year and we would never have done this if it wasn’t for the Covid crisis.
It is not the real thing for sure but there are some advantages to dining together virtually. First, it is amazing how each person’s personality comes through the screen. There is a loosening of the self after a while when you are in the comfort of your home. We discover people in a different way, expanding our understanding of each other.
Surprisingly, when we see ourselves through a device, most distractions are absent between the other person and you. Masks are falling off, a wonderful side effect, as we are contemplating our own finality. Honesty becomes the norm. Our allegiances with certain people are confirmed. I have discovered new sides of friends I have known for many years. Always, we end the supper feeling a deep sense of connection and nobody cares what shoes you are wearing.
I must say these dinners demand a lot of concentration and are very tiring. When you meet a group in person, you can always zone out and nobody notices but during these dinners, everyone is paying attention to everyone as you also have to deal with different sound volumes and other technical mishaps. You have to be 100% present. Also, in the joyful excitement of connecting with friends, we eat and drink more than usual. Everyone knowing they don’t have to drive or get up early the next morning certainly helps with this.
Being social animals, we all feel a strong need to connect, to share our ideas, news about the family, various experiences past and present, thoughts and fears about the Covid-19.
For those of us who are physically being kept away from our family and friends, have lost their jobs or are afraid and anxious, these virtual dinners are like therapy as we tell our friends we love them and feel their love.
We are lucky to be going through this pandemic during this age of technology. To me, these virtual dinners are priceless. They give us a feeling of normalcy, something to look forward to. We laugh a lot during these dinners and there is an intimacy rarely felt as we realise that there is no distancing with minds.
I hope you give virtual dinners a try and send me a note if you have questions!
The paintings this week were inspired by nature as it is always my favourite subject. I have painted my clivia in different media in the past. It flowers abundantly several times a year. I captured this version in watercolour.
I noticed the hyacinths were out during one of my walks so had to paint some. And then, I decided to change theme and start a series on the ocean, sea life and manmade, which you will see in future weeks.
Thank you for reading and stay safe!
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