Friday 29 May 2020

Plague Days. Pt.4

It was more than two months since we came home from a family celebration in Toronto. It was touch and go as to whether we were going to make it, the Chinese virus was a concern, but not yet of the magnitude it was soon to assume. It was good to get together with the family, particularly as it's likely to be a long time before we can do it again. The lock-down was in effect by the time we got home and we were locked-down, confined to indoor living ever since, apart from urgent necessities such as groceries and pharmaceuticals (and an occasional visit to the liquor store!). Shops were closed apart from the above and they were rapidly depleted of essentials such as toilet paper, paper towels, and disinfectants of all kinds including bleach. Food was never scarce apart from a few of the canned goods shelves that looked a little depleted.  
We started our new routine the next morning. Panic stricken we reviewed our breakfast cereal supplies. Phew, there was a large double box of Kellogs Allbran Flakes - with two scoops of raisons! Thank God we shop at Costco. We were a little low on tea, which is serious for a tea-drinking family. Our well stocked basement food supplies were lacking little and our toilet paper and paper towel supplies had been well topped up, just before the crisis began.   Nevertheless, I got on line to the Amazon grocery division and ordered a load of non-perishables that we didn't really need.
"I don't think we will have to go out for anything until next week," I said, "Although I will have to go out for some liquor sometime soon."
The newspaper didn't have much to say about anything else besides Covid 19. Much meaningless Data taken out of context.
"Hey! It says here no need to wear masks for protection. That doesn't make sense to me!" I yelled to Irene.
That was just before Trudope gave away 16 tons of personal protective equipment to China, subsequently leaving Canadian health care providers unprotected, while our fearless leader barricaded himself in his palace to self-isolate! He appeared daily to give a fifteen minute lecture before retiring to rest. He and most of the politicians started using face masks not long after informing the public that they didn't need them. . Makes sense that even minimal protection is better than no protection at all. But you really need to be a genius to figure that out.
Soon after digesting breakfast and the depressing news in the newspaper it dawned on me that lunch was on the horizon.
"I'll make lunch," I cried out enthusiastically, even though my culinary skills are strictly limited. I managed to rustle up a couple of tuna sandwiches. We still had five cans of tuna left out of a six-pack, so I wasn't worried about starvation. This couldn't last more than a couple weeks!
The weather was cool but sunny so I went outside to the little lot behind the Condo and started my spring cleanup. Gardening was never my thing but somehow I seemed to be enjoying it now. Weather permitting I spend all the time I can outdoors on my deck.
By about day three we were getting a bit bored, hoping for something a little more exciting than Netflix or Roku and the daily monitoring that we get by our kids. Don't get me wrong, we appreciate the concern and the conversation. But we have to be careful not to worry them that we are subjecting ourselves to deadly risk running around to Loblaws to pick up up a few groceries. Masked up as we are, I think we look like a couple of geriatric bank robbers.
The excitement did come and it came in the form of a plumbing catastrophe. We were just washing up after supper, (we usually wash the dishes thoroughly before putting them in the dishwasher, its one of the rules of the kitchen, over which I have no control!),when the top of the tap snapped right off. It was no small leak and as I turned the water off, I had visions of three months, or maybe six or even a year before we could get a plumber in this era of plague. My experience in the past was that it often took a long time to get a plumber out so when my furnace / air conditioning/water heater company suggested an insurance policy, I did something I rarely do regarding that sort of insurance. I bought it. I'd used it a couple of times and they were prompt, polite and efficient but it was small stuff. Now let's see how they perform under 'lock-down'.
I phoned a 1-800 number.
"Good evening," said a pleasant voice. "How can I help you?"
I told her about my problem.
"Any leaking water right now?" she asked.
"No, I turned the water off. I know these are difficult times, but I hope you can get someone out fairly soon."
"What city are you in?" asked the voice.
My heart sunk. She's probably somewhere in India, I thought. "London, Ontario," I grunted. Wouldn't want her to send the plumber to London, England. Silence for a moment.
"Would you like the plumber to call tomorrow between eight and twelve am or between one and five pm.?"
I told her.
"He'll phone a short time before he arrives."
He did, and introduced himself. "I'm Bob the plumber." He beamed. "Tap needs replacing." he said after a brief physical examination.
We weren't surprised.  
"Normally I'd just have you have a look at the catalog and make a choice but the wholesalers are on lock-down for co-vid. I have two or three models in the van, if you'd like to have a look," he said.
We looked, we thought, we bought. An hour and a half later we had a beautiful new state of the art kitchen sink faucet. Not exactly what we might have chosen under other circumstances, but we were spared the torture of thumbing through catalogs to try to decide what would best suit our twenty-seven year old kitchen sink.
I'm looking forward to our next plumbing emergency I made sure to know how to get Bob the Plumber.
Meanwhile, life went on, a potpourri of phone calls, zooms, advice from the kids, advice to my growing virtual medical practice, a bit of scribbling here and there so that I would know what i think, going to bed later and later and getting up later and later without even having the excuse that we used to have before Netflix, Prime vision and all the other twenty four hour movie channels that "All the good movies start at midnight,"
 The days continued to roll on much as before with the coronavirus counts not looking good but recruiting fewer new cases daily. Meanwhile we continued to wash our hands mercilessly , not touch our faces, shop once a week suitably attired with masks and hand wipes to keep us safe, carefully avoiding those who didn't maintain the two meter distancing. Some didn't, pushing in to squeeze the tomatoes and anything else squeezable and many not wearing masks. Life was starting to get a little boring and I have found, over the past three-quarters of a century,that because the Gods hate a vacuum, it's never long before that space is filled.
I'll tell you about that next week!A Man Having Problems With A Leaky Faucet – Clipart Cartoons By ...

Friday 22 May 2020

Tomorrow - A Poem. by Y.Y.Htims.

I like listening to the birds now
No time for that before
They talk to me from a tall tree
Just outside my door

I sometimes talk right back to them
And they reply to me
Its not some random twittering
I know, I know the tree.

The traffic roars down Richmond,
Some think it's just a curse
Bad as it is I know darn well.
Its going to get worse.

When men no longer roam this earth,
And we'll soon see to that,
The buildings all engulfed by dirt
The skyline almost flat

The birds that sing on Richmond,
Will just keep singing on,
And never even notice,
That all of us are gone.

Image result for picture of atomic explosion

Friday 15 May 2020

Plague Days.

Coronavirus FAQ | COVID-19 - Consumer ReportsPlague Days.

It's interesting how quickly I have become used to the coronavirus shutdown. I'm a little disturbed to hear it called the 'Corona' virus because I think it a bit racist to associate the name of a fine Mexican beer with the vile virus from China. I strongly approve of the name, China virus though the Wuhan virus is equally fitting. Since China brazenly lied and cheated about its origins and dispersal and so unashamedly condemned millions to disease and death, the name should serve as a reminder to the West of what to expect of China in the years ahead. Even Canadians have become embarrassed by the kow- towing of our security council seat seeking' Prince' MIinister.
The thought of a shutdown to a normally gregarious individual such as myself conjured up visions of my wife and I imprisoned in our condominium, with nothing to do except drive each other crazy. What were we going to do all day?
Normally, I'd be up and out to the "Y" or the Aquatic Centre about three or sometimes four times a week. I always felt swimming was good for both body and mind. My objective was to be in the pool by eleven am and swim, if not quite like Johnny Weissmuller (The Tarzan of my childhood and an Olympic athlete) at least actively for an old curmudgeon. I used to feel fit after my efforts. But that's not all there was to it. I developed friendships with a motley crew of men and women, nearly as old as me and we would retreat to Tim Horton's for a coffee or sometimes lunch. They were often quite lengthy lunches during which we would regale each other with the extraordinary adventures which we had endured in our lengthy past. The fact that many of them had become somewhat embellished with the passage of time in no way detracted from entertainment value. The library attached to the Y was modern, well designed with appropriately equipped cubicles where after browsing the shelves one could comfortably retire to read or write. Frequent visits to Chapers/Indigo to buy a book or a magazine and have a cup of coffee or browse some of their other interesting wares provided some enjoyable time. Most of all, missing my Saturday morning London (Canada) Pen Club meetings at Williams Coffee Pub, where I had been meeting with a growing cohort of 'Pen-Nuts' like myself for nigh on twenty years created a huge gap in my life. We used to boast that we had never cancelled a meeting and never would unless Christmas day fell on a Saturday.  
"You meet every Saturday all year round?" my friends and relatives would say. What do you talk about?"
My answer would depend on the questioner. To some I would simply say 'pens', and watch while they digested that.
To others I would say 'we talk about pens for a while, and then we solve (almost) all the current political problems of the world.' It is a forum that includes Canadians from all walks of life - professional, technological, craftsmanship ( should I say craftpersonship?) tradespersonship etc. etc. 
This is where one hears what every cohort of Canadian supports. I did suggest to the members of the club that we change the name to the " London (Canada) Pen and Philosophical Society". They all laughed heartily and that was the last ever heard of that suggestion.  
To begin, the whole 'lock-down' was as novel as the virus. It was quite science - fiction-ish to begin with. Even in the second biggest London in the world, empty streets in the middle of the day was strangely reminiscent of the post atomic holocaust that some science fiction film makers imagined. They had seemed ridiculously far-fetched in those distant post WW2 days. People were starving, hoarding food and other essentials for survival and doing everything they thought necessary to ensure their survival. It was interesting to note that in the 21st century, toilet paper and paper toweling seem to be the main pre-occupation of the 'victims'. I am sometime compelled to tell the snowflakes, that growing up in Ireland, I clearly recall, as a little boy, watching my Grandfather cut up newspaper into symmetrical squares, puncturing the right upper hand corner and threading string through them and hanging them from a hook in the bathroom. I must admit, the wipes were not quite as luxurious as the 'snowflakes' require, but I do not recollect a single individual suffering any irreversible damage from using them. I still find it difficult to understand how soft toilet paper assumed such importance. Perhaps it is an indication of just how important 'softness' is to this generation of Canadians.
The Plague has caused me to reflect on some of the major decisions I have made in my life. I had a number of options to deal with, both personal and professional. As a liberal in my early years, who is now described as being somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun, it is becoming increasingly easy to understand how that transformation took place. Canadians, in those days, were rugged individualists. Fair, kind, considerate, but tough and determined. I received nothing but fair and balanced treatment. My initial treatment in Regina, Saskatchewan still amazes me.  
My sponsor at the RGH was a previous WW2 fighter pilot who was as tough as nails but as compassionate as anyone I have ever known. Immaculately, but not formally groomed, he walked around with a carton, not a package, mind you, of McDonalds Extra Cigarettes in his hand and he smoked like a trouper. He cared about patients, he cared about nursing and medical colleagues and he held politicians in the contempt they deserved, though I do feel , without any evidence to corroborate it, that he did have a bit of a soft spot for John Diefenbaker, if only he had a bit more testosterone.  
When Jamie had his first myocardial infarct, in the middle of the night, he quietly got out of bed, got in to his car, and drove to the Emergency Room at the Regina General Hospital.  
'I think I'm having an MI", he said.
He was admitted from Emerg and a couple of hours later he had a cardiac arrest, recovered, went back to work a couple of months later. He continued practicing medicine for several more years until he succumbed several years later.  
When as a very young physician I joined the Medical Arts Clinic about which I have nothing to say but good, I noted that of the sixty odd Doctors there was not a single 'Jewish' name, maybe they didn't like Jews? I said to Jamie, "I think I should tell you I'm Jewish." He looked at me blankly and said."So ?" I just felt stupid!.
It wasn't long before vicissitudes of the plague made it clear, even to a young Octogenarian who voluntarily (almost) quit work when he was seventy-eight and was still 'compos mentos' at eighty-four that he still had a role to play. Education, despite views to the contrary, is not solely reading, writing and arithmetic. Believe me, I am not under-estimating their importance. But when one or two generations after WW2 many don't know who was fighting who and putting their lives on the line for what, there is little doubt that although we (the Good Guys) won, at a terrible cost, the present generation don't, or maybe can't or perhaps don't want to understand. Could it be we made things too easy for them? I am sufficiently vain to think I still have a little to offer.
When Moses descended from the Holy Mountain, with those two holy tablets to see his tribes worshiping the 'Golden Calf', he was shocked and he should have been shocked. I, a lifelong agnostic, can't help seeing a parallel between the worshipers of the Golden Calf and today's generation who worship their own Golden Calf.
But back to the Plague. I lived the 'locked-down' life religiously for the first few weeks, more for the protection of society than of my wife and myself, despite being in the highest risk group (We're 84 - not too much to lose!). I'd get up in the morning and over breakfast read almost the entire National Post. Never had time to do that before I was retired - and even after I retired. Suddenly, I had time to look beneath the surface of all the sycophantic grovelling of the Elites, the lack of leadership, the destruction of the economy, the abandonment of morals and commonsense, the social engineering to attempt to change society into something subservient. Horrible! I almost cancelled the newspaper. But I didn't. After all, one needs something to do during a plague.
More next week.