Well we’re all trying to smile and grin and bear it, or is that bare it? I once heard a situation described as hanging off a cliff with people dancing on your fingers and peeing on your head. Don’t look up!
More than a few of us know the feeling and there’s not much comfort in realizing we’re not alone. It’s raining and sleeting today, one of those miserable dark damp days when a warm sandy beach with palm trees seems to only be a distant fantasy. In the newsletters I receive from places like that, there are gringos like me down there complaining about Covid travel restrictions and how they are stuck down there. Well, bitch on! They want to come home, I’m willing to trade places if that helps them.
No civil war II has broken out south of the border, yet, and it seems, for the moment all is calm, all is bright. Ain’t it nice? On that note here are local recent images taken in the ongoing pursuit of finding beauty where we’re planted. Look all around, we live on a beautiful planet. So far, it’s still free to appreciate things.
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
At the best of times, there is inevitably minor power-hungry bureaucrats trying to save us from ourselves and so empower themselves. Our current virus has apparently given some of them a sense of license to post dire signs and try to impose closures wherever possible. We are not a species with high primal instincts of self-preservation anymore but really, I do not need to be incessantly reminded to go home, hide in a closet, put my head between my knees and kiss me arse farewell. I get it! OK?
Those who don’t understand by now, never will, so we may as well let the gene pool cleanse itself a bit. I was encouraged to learn that in some places where it comes down to which victim needs a ventilator, a smoker will lose against the non-smoker. Sad, but fair.
Sorry but I’m getting a little fed up. Folks, sick and dying is sick and dying, wherever you are. Don’t give me any crap after what your local infection percentile is. I just spoke with a nurse from tiny little Tahsis, (Population about 248) a village way up on the remote west coast of Vancouver Island, next stop Japan. They’ve had a confirmed case of Covid 19. If you want to having a pissing contest about who has the worst situation, please, walk on by. We’re all in this together. Dead is dead. Got it? Every community I’ve ever lived in has, by someone’s declaimation, the worst hospital ever. So stop it already. Lighten up eh! Look for some light.
Today is a flawless spring day. The sky is cloudless, the breeze is light and warm. It’s a T-shirt day. (16° C /61°F) The air is filled with pollen. Folks will be sneezing, coughing, farting, blowing their noses and all thinking they have the big C. I swear that soon we’ll have officious little-minded people on the street corners in fluorescent space suits, with 2 meter long grabber sticks, leaping out to install a headbag on anyone so cavalier to venture out.
Our premier goes on television to tell the proletariat how to properly wash its hands, to stay indoors but also get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Yep, I’ve broken out into some good old blue collar epithets more than once.
It is Good Friday and struth, usually the weather is cloudy and stormy. My fundamentalist parents used to explain that it was God reminding us of what a terrible day it was when the evil ones executed Christ. That the bad guys were the local religious factions of the time seemed to elude them. “Hurry up, we’re late for church!” But then, which army has not had God on ITS side? I am presently wading though a novel called ‘Stones From The River’ by Ursula Hegi. It is set in Germany during the era leading up to the second world war. I can only read a few pages at a time about the darkness of spiralling self-serving values, terrible behaviour, attitudes and practices of many inspired by Mr. H and the boys. The country had doomed itself before ever marching across any border. My personal cynicism can draw parallels to the mass mindlessness of our present pandemic. The ripple effects of this panic and terror will be far-reaching and with us for a long time. As the Australian man said, “Brace yourself Sheila!”
Our governments are trying to bolster our spirits by throwing money at us. Funds they don’t have and we will pay, and pay. There will be little happiness for a long time. Historically, countries pull themselves out of a crisis by starting yet another war. Pay attention! That’s all I’ll say now that I’ve depressed everyone even lower. While we ponder the extent of our weakness it is also a time to consider our strengths and develop those to a higher level. Kindness has no substitute and even a little has far-reaching implications. Common sense is clearly not common, so it is time to take a breath and think things through before letting someone else’s knee-jerk stupidity dictate the direction of your life. Smile. It’s Easter. Eat chocolate. It’s bad for you!
I understand how I may come across as crass and insensitive. In actual fact, I am an emotional flower and I am saddened when people demean their own god-given potential by refusing to think and feel for themselves. This blog finds me in mourning. Covid-19 took one of my few heroes and human inspirations this week. John Prine, gone. Oddly, a lot of folks don’t know who this incredible singer songwriter is/ was. His music will live on and on. He was of more value to me than any politician. Here’s a link to one of my favourite Prine songs:
I am just a dumb-assed average guy who is not entitled to dispense uninformed opinions about things like a pandemic. I know that I know very little. I understand also that I am free to challenge, at least for myself, the edicts and mantras of others who thrill at the notion of control over us. I tend to be reclusive normally so the idea of social isolation is not new or unusual. I’ve practised it often at sea and ashore and continue to be a loner. I don’t mind my own company at all. Crowds induce an instant psychosis for me so I avoid them if at all possible. So, I am not about to join arms with a few strangers and go staggering down a city street kissing all the door handles we come upon. My concept of common sense may be skewed by other’s standards, but it has kept me alive for several decades.
I am blessed to live in a small coastal community where with a few minutes walking I can be in a forest that will surround me all the way to the west side of Vancouver Island and the open Pacific Ocean. I think there are only two or three logging roads to cross on the way. To be in some apartment in any city must be a horror even if you live up in the free air of an upper floor. You have the gauntlet of those possibly-infected elevators and stairwells to pass through to get down to the streets in order to see which stores are now closed. There are probably highly-stressed people in uniforms with hands on guns watching you carefully. Then you have to return home, up through the labyrinth of passages to your retreat where even your water supply depends on someone somewhere running a pump. Just think of what it might be like to endure this in a place like India or Syria. We are the lucky few. Dreary, depressed, flat-broke and in debt, plans and dreams shattered, we’re still doing alright so long as we don’t panic.
There are plenty of movies about pandemics, there are many apocalyptic scenarios and of course the strangely popular zombie themes. The notion of the world we are now suddenly living in has fascinated and entertained us for a long time. We seen fascinated with doom. Be careful what you wish for. Here we are. Sadly, our national leaders do not inspire a lot of confidence and so we all endure this terror with a sense of fear and rising panic. A US aircraft carrier captain has been dismissed for informing his massive crew that a few cases of the Covid virus had broken out in the very close quarters of the ship. He is punished for being responsible and respectful of his charges. Yep, military intelligence. And of course, there is the incredibly expensive US Navy hospital ship ‘Comfort’ sitting nearly empty in downtown New York. Well, I did not promise to not ask questions.
If there were squadrons of bombers or UFOs overhead, or masses of invading troupes in the street we could see something, some-one to push back against. A virus is something we cannot see or fight with any tangible effort other than the feeble measures we can think of. One day, one moment at a time, it is all we can do. Self-love and loving one another is a worthy endeavour many of us need to grasp or relearn. This is the perfect opportunity. And remember, don’t believe everything they imagine. Flower photos, for the time being I’ll stick to that.
…”They lived in a country where believing had taken the place of knowing.”
The main street is nearly deserted. I pulled into one of many available angled parking spots across from the pharmacy. As I reached for the door-handle there was a blur in the spot next to me. A small car pulled in as if it were a brake test zone. The young woman driving was wearing a surgical mask. Had I been a second earlier I would have been mince. No mask would have helped me.
There’s a weary old joke about a person who quits smoking only to be run over by a tobacco truck. We fixate on one peril and ignore several others. Think of all the near misses one endures while out driving on any road. You have no control over the other driver and what a single twitch of their hand could do. Danger is all around us, at all times, we cannot escape its presence even as we obsess about the perils of our present pandemic and all the social issues of isolation versus contamination.
Most of us would go completely around the twist if we lost our electronic and cyber web of information and distraction. I was on the phone yesterday with a friend from South Africa. He talked about my recent blog and the sad news of the wolf Takaya. He then related a similar story about a hippopotamus that went walkabout and was eventually shot. The story is about ninety years old but simply by googling “hippo shot in South Africa” I had instant access to several accounts of the legend of Huberta. It is truly amazing how the internet evolved so quickly to become the wealth of information (and lies) it is. Even more incredibly we take it all for granted, accepting whatever is presented as truth.
Yesterday morning we awoke to the sound of a train on the roof. Actually it was a burst of rain and sleet which gave way to another sunny morning. The next onslaught of precipitation came just after Jack and I had launched ourselves on our morning wander. Of course. Like the few folks out with their dogs, we all respectfully maintained a two-metre radius and it is suggested that we not even pet each other’s canine for fear of transferring heeby jeebies that way. There are dark aspects to people’s behaviour certainly but that seems outweighed by the goodness and graciousness demonstrated by most but the symptoms of analytis are evident at the best of times and those folks put themselves in a place of auto-distancing by default.
Lollygagging, remember that word? It sits on the shelf just after heeby jeeby, not far before malinger which is a bit before a box marked “Redneck Terms” which are often single-syllable four-letter words far more commonly used, especially in times like these by crusty old dudes like me. Folks will come to understand “Cabin Fever” if they don’t already. That in turn may erupt into a wild rage far more insidious than any virus. When we can all come up out of our lemming holes again, perhaps we’ll find the world a little better place with a newly re-found respect for each other and ourselves. How long those lessons last will be up to each of us.
This morning Jack and I were out and about in the cold crispy air and misty light of early morning. We met no-one else. There were not even any cars on the road. It seems very strange indeed.
Despite my cynicisms about media information here are three online items which might provide some comic relief, dark as it may be.
The first is from New York City where throngs of people crowded together on bridges and the waterfront to see the arrival of the US Navy hospital ship ‘Comfort.’ There are several photos which show folks with mobile phones held high, trying to record the moment.
The next is about the ‘Resolute,’ a small cruise ship in international waters off the coast of Tobago. It was accosted by a Venezuelan navy patrol vessel, the ‘Naiguta’ which demanded the ship allow itself to be forced into a Venezuelan port. Instead the ship, which had been built with an ice-breaking bow, rammed and sank the naval vessel. There were no lives lost and the story cheers me immensely.
And finally, a horrible story from Texas. On an interstate highway a tractor trailer load of toilet paper crashed and burned. Photos show flaming rolls littering several lanes. Hot wipes!
And so another day drags on, hopefully we all find something to smile about. I hope the spring flowers bring a little cheer.
“Humanity is not without answers or solutions regarding how to liberate itself from scenarios that invariably end with mass exterminations. Tools such as compassion, trust, empathy, love, and ethical discernment are already in our possession. The next sensible step would be to use them.” ― Aberjhani, Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays
A molten dagger of sunlight found its way behind the curtains and crept across the wall toward the foot of the bed. Another crystalline morning. The world outside is eerily quiet. Quarantined. There is no frost until the sun rises a little more then instantly everything is covered in whiteness. Then the sun’s radiation burns it away again with a sweeping line as it climbs into the day ahead. A Covid dawn. I like to be up before dawn, it’s the best part of the day. However, I’m still struggling with the long-term effects of whatever flu bug I’ve had. Hopefully I have the right cream for bed sores but sleep seems to be what the body demands. Apparently many others endure a similar affliction. It is not the Big C but it sure is debilitating.
Overhead a few contrails lazily dissipate in the flight corridor which parallels the length of Vancouver Island. Unless those are military aircraft on international routes someone is still making commercial flights. This evening, minutes ago, I looked up to see a jet’s thick contrail aligned with the North Pacific Great Circle Route; bound somewhere in Asia I’d guess. The sun had set behind the island’s mountains but its golden glow rendered the long thin cloud iridescent in the azure sky. On the same flight path, four cranes silently winged their way Northwestward, their elegant black silhouettes contrasting sharply with the long glowing cloud tens of thousands of feet above.
My most indelible photos ever are embedded in my personal hard drive. They’ve all been viewed when there was no camera handy; of course! So they sit in the back of my brain. As I wrote this, those birds descended with their wings set to land in some field or marsh to feed and rest for the night. Usually, cranes honk distinctively, calling for more of their kind already on the ground. Their silence seemed strange; maybe they knew they were the first of the spring migration. Maybe they were going to do a red eye and fly on past the coughing, sneezing hordes below. Life goes on.
This old ranter is stuck. This is a time to be especially careful with one’s words. I’ll keep my criticisms to myself. The internet can be a fantastic tool or a weapon. The information available is staggering and imagine enduring this pandemic without all the ready information, whether accurate truth or blatant lies. It is up to each of us to be discerning about what we choose to believe but think of going through this event without the advise, news and entertainment. That was how it must have been with the Spanish Flu pandemic. Well, I’ve long felt an obligation to try and bring a little light to other folks, be that with humour or questions that I think need to be asked. I’ll do my best to brighten your days…and so too mine. This all shall pass and a day will come when we ask each other, “Remember that spring of 2020?” Yes, really!
Here’s a link to some pertinent Australian humour. That continent has, within the last year, endured massive wildfires, severe drought and flooding and now Covid-19. Still there is humour to be found. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ia0bfWbOLjY
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt March 4, 1933
With all the media’s doom and gloom, from our present deadly global virus pandemic to the endless hordes of victims from war and famine, there’s not a lot of cheer out there. My personal issues are pathetically tiny in comparison but it all wears a person down until there seems no point in anything. One of those little things was that my Goldfield Nevada radio station was no longer live-streaming. For weeks the repeated message was about an error but with no suggestion whose it was. But I kept checking. Apparently it was down for upgrades. I can’t describe the boost I felt on a recent morning when there it was again, loud and clear! It doesn’t take much to cheer me up. I love this small-town mid-desert station with its eclectic play-list and refusal to be slick. It works for me. Burros, blues and country music and then a little bit of classical…can’t beat it with a stick!
I won’t begin to discuss our current global health situation. I don’t know where to begin. Who do I trust? Already being in a state of personal cheerlessness and lingering flu, yes still, I don’t want to damage any of the peaches you may still have on your tree. I doubt that any of us find humour or confidence in the news from anywhere. I think of the tens and tens of millions of us culled by the Spanish Flu a century ago. That was before casual global air travel. And we didn’t learn a thing.
Friends have gone off on their boat to escape the madness and that merely underscores my own situation. For decades I always had an “earthquake plan” at a nearby dock and boy do I feel naked without that. If I had a boat that’s exactly what I’d be doing as well. I think a couple of weeks without any news would be wonderfully restorative. And… I suppose if folks start tipping over by the score there’ll be all sorts of boats available simply for the taking.
For the last two weeks the sky has been clear and cloudless with a chill dry wind blowing. It seemed ominous, even surreal for this part of the world. This morning, the breeze eased enough for me to unzip my outer jacket. Then I heard it. Struth! A mourning dove. Its soft “hoo, hoo, hoo” was the sweetest music I could imagine. It was a little personal cheer for me. That sound is the instant harbinger of many things “desert” and of warmer days to come. There is hope.
In consideration of all the panic-buying of things like toilet paper, I’m heading into the woods to collect a few sacks of moss. No-one seems able to explain the fascination with all that loo paper. Maybe that will be our new currency. I can image board meetings at companies like the Purex Tissue Company. “Well folks,” says the chairman, “I am happy to report that this quarter’s earnings are really shitty!” They all double over in laughter. Then I heard about a pre-flight announcement. “Welcome aboard folks, this is your captain. The weather is fine, we should be about one hour enroute. I also should let you know that I have chosen to work from home today.”
I am especially bemused by politicians who want to assure folks by promising to throw money at them. Governments are always presenting themselves as a source of wealth, which they never are. The money that they are assuring folks is coming doesn’t exist. It is your money and they haven’t extracted it…yet. What bullshit! But we’ll baa the myth and wade on into the swamp. I am a bit of an expert on government financial matters, I have operated a deficit budget for years. I know that debt begets debt and I also know that to have a growing national deficit all the while declaring a surplus is a grand chicanery; especially when we believe them. I sometimes have the terrible thought that I was a politician in a previous life; no wonder the Gods punish me. Seriously, throwing money at things seems to be our eternal solution. If we had not tried to operate on a business as usual plan, we may well have impeded the spread of this plague. Global travel should have stopped at least a month ago. The donkey is long gone from the barn. But I say it again, maybe that’s what all that toilet paper is about. Commerce first, now turn you head and cough.
Meanwhile, there before the cameras, stands yet another “Official” scratching their eyes and wiping their nose while telling us not to touch our faces. And wait until the world realizes it can survive nicely without the eternal pandemic of sports! For more comic relief you have to chuckle at the many travel companies currently promoting their wondrous packages. “It’s a strange world we live in Master Jack.”
A friend and fellow blogger sent me this YouTube link.
As the Covid 19 Virus has officially been declared a “Pandemic” and toilet paper wars surge around the planet (silly people) I continue to seclude myself at home with what I’ve decided previously is called the Schlitzvirus. Mexico, home of Corona, apparently has the lowest global incidence of this insidious bug. Jack and I go for our regular outings in the cool spring weather but I still feel too wobbly to get out and live it up after ten days of this. Apparently I am far from being the only one with a similar affliction. Fortunately old Jack is quite content to sleep twenty-two hours a day so we plod into spring with little alacrity.
After a long dull winter I’ve finally finished my latest video. Here’s the link: