• The Emerald City Social Committee

Share Your Story #4: "Community During COVID"

Dear Neighbours,

I’m not even sure where to start on the topic of COVID-19 and how it has affected my life, and our condo community. It seems like such a vast topic that I could discuss forever, yet, I’m not sure what I have that’s new to say. Words like “un-precedented”, “self-isolation”, “social distancing” are already so over-used and tiresome, and we seem to only be at the beginning. Yet, this is our reality – this is un-precedented, we should self-isolate, and absolutely need to socially distance.

Rules & Residents

We are lucky that our Residents, for the most part, seems to understand the importance, except that one Resident who still decided to defy the two-person per elevator rule just to go three floors down… yes, I remember you. It made me both sad and mad to see that disregard for the rules that are not only in place within our condo, but the whole of Canada by now. These rules are meant to keep everyone safe (yourself and others), and this is imperative in a high-density community such as ours.

Due to a handful of Residents who choose to disregard social distancing rules (elevators, loitering in the lobby despite signage, etc.) force us to become stricter with enforcement by exploring options such as legal letters (with hefty charge-backs) or reporting the offending Resident to the authorities (who fine people $750-$1000 for violating social distancing protocols). This is not what we want to do and the kind of Board we want to be – I don’t want to end up punishing our Residents for not following basic rules meant for everyone’s health and safety. Please, please, voluntarily take these government-mandated protocols seriously and don’t put us in these positions. There is no reason we can’t simply wait for another elevator (I’ve never had to give up more than one so far!), and not loiter in the common elements to socialize.

We understand that you may be lonely (we are, too, and we especially miss the neighbours we’ve made friends with), but there are so many other safer methods you can use to touch base. I have been regularly texting and email with my friendly neighbours, and though nothing can compare to actually seeing them, it gets me through my day. Some of my neighbours have amazed me by reaching out to ask if I’d like some of the goodies that they’ve baked, offering to drop it at my door or leave it at theirs. Despite being apart, I’ve never felt more together.

Me, Myself, and COVID-19

I’ve been doing ok with everything, to be honest. I’m trying to take it one day at a time (for the most part), while putting together goals (some small, some big) for the foreseeable future, and making sure that I regularly keep in touch with as many people as possible (family, friends, co-workers, neighbours).

I haven’t gone out to stores except for once in the last 4 weeks, and have relied on my freezer (which is full of frozen fruit, veggies, and meat) and my pantry (also full of goodies, which I just organized and mentally inventoried!). It had been my goal for a long time to focus on eating all of the food I had accumulated, and this is obviously a perfect time.

Cleaning out my pantry also helped remind me of what was in there, and gave me plenty of ideas as to what meals I can make (egg fried rice is one of my favourites – uses up all sorts of little bits of leftover, and the crazy amount of rice I’ve somehow collected!). I’ll include my method (can’t really call it a recipe!) below:

Andreea’s Fried Rice “Method”:

1) The rice has to be cold, not freshly made. No negotiations there! Best is one day old, better is two. I always use white rice, whatever variety I have on hand.

2) My “toppings” often account for a third to half the volume of my cooked rice, so eyeball how much cooked rice you have and you’ll know about what amount of toppings you need. This is totally to taste though, so if you prefer a different ratio – you do you! Fried rice is very forgiving and hard to mess up!

3) I chop up my toppings into itty bitty pieces. Some of my favourite toppings include: leftover meat from yesterday’s meal (especially delicious when using crispy chicken strips!), various onions, peppers, broccoli, corn, etc. This is a great meal to use up leftovers and experiment – try whatever you enjoy!

4) Here comes the cooking part: I heat up oil in a large skillet (should be a wok, but… the constraints of storage brought by condo life living), and add the toppings that require cooking, putting them in bowls when finished. Once all the toppings are cooked, perk up your already-cooked toppings by giving them a quick go in the skillet, too. Add oil as needed.

5) When all your toppings are cooked and crisped, and your skillet is empty, add a little oil and then your beaten eggs (optional, but I think it’s the best part!). Cook the egg while scrambling it in the pan.

6) Once the egg is cooked, add the cold rice. Break up the egg and rice in the pan, until everything is evenly distributed and “fluffy”. Add oil as necessary to “fry” the rice a little. Add soy sauce to the edges of the rice in the pan, letting it sear for a while to get that good crisp. Mix and repeat until the rice is coated to your taste – but be careful as soy sauce is salty (this is why I don’t add any additional salt to the recipe).

7) Once your rice and egg are cooked and seasoned to your liking, add your toppings back to the skillet and mix.

8) Serve fresh – but also delicious reheated… so I always make extra for those midnight snacks! Enjoy!

I’ve also spent some self-isolation time in Prince Edward County, which is about two hours east of Toronto, working with my family on building a log cottage. This has been in progress for about two years now, and has been a true labour of love. Putting as much time as possible into building has been one of my big goals during the quarantine, as the location is remote and ideal, but I also have a bit of extra time and opportunity to concentrate my efforts on getting it done.

It is also incredibly relaxing to just stare at the beautiful waterfront view, which often hosts the most spectacular sunsets.

Like at the condo, I haven’t visited with my local neighbours for a while, but some were kind enough to drop off treats so we know they’re thinking of us. It’s wonderful seeing people come together without being together, and it makes me appreciate my neighbours in ways that words can’t describe!

I think that’s really the only part I have a hard time with, not actually being around people. I miss socializing, going out, laughing with friends until someone snorts only so we can laugh even harder. There were so many things I feel like I took for granted, and so many people whose regular presence I got used to and really miss.

I can’t wait for things to go back to how they used to be, as soon as they can safely do so. It’ll be different, likely even difficult, in the interim, but we’ll get there!

So, that’s my story… what’s yours? I can’t wait to hear it, so I’m really hoping you’ll share!

(email your story to

All the best,

Andreea Birloncea, President

Of Emerald City One – TSCC 2368

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All