Pandemic Sept 28th Down the Rabbit Hole

Looking at things in a totally unicorn and rainbow way, the pandemic has given us some unique opportunities to explore life. Before we get to what The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has done, let’s look at the state of the world.

Seems there’s a resurgence of cases worldwide as the second wave begins, with the tiny country, San Marino, having the highest death rate per capita at 124.3/100k. Honestly, this is not a prize to be proud of. Canada is at 25.2 . US is at 62.96

Now, in BC, for some reason, we’re having an election. It’s a wonderful way to spend time and money during a pandemic, especially during a rise in cases. Meanwhile, housing sales are going crazy, and prices are, once again, through the roof. Honestly, I don’t really understand how this is possible, but then I’m still stumped on how they get the caramilk in the caramilk bar, (the answer is here.)

Locally, gas is around $1.24, disinfectant wipes are still hard to find, but little else seems to be consistently out. Schools are back in session, and for some reason, every school district has different rules on when and how they report Covid cases. That’s like having 30 husbands define what color blue the wall is.

However, back in our house, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has taken on creating a family tree.

Now that is a rabbit hole of epic proportions, especially if you have the patience to sort out how Ancestry.ca works.

To be successful, you have to be part detective (“so, I’m hunting for Bill Smith who could also go by Billy, William, Will or the Blue Mountain serial killer,”), part full-on OCD researcher, (ok, so this link leads to another link which has a link to a link that’s linked to another link of links that has a link to something linkie,”) to part tenacious bull-terrier, “wait, a week ago, I read something in a 1920’s newspaper about a Bill Smith who was eaten by cannibals in New Guinea, so I need to find something on the cannibal named Burbie so I could track down if this was indeed the Bill Smith I’m looking for.” (Sadly, spoiler alert, it turns out New Guinea cannibals didn’t really keep a lot of records.)

In other words, to be successful, you have to have the traits of someone who would work at a library.

I have to say, I’ve been super impressed by her research. She’s read obituaries, marriage certificates, birth records, and newspaper clippings, found photos and army records, and even tracked down hints at long-buried secrets.

I get the excitement. I mean, who cares if you find Joe who was born and did nothing, but what if you find an ancestor who porked Queen Elizabeth or one who was a notorious sheep thief. Or both? And had a peg leg?

What if you found someone who had fled the civil war in the states, a widow, who trekked with her two, young children westward, found a husband, wagon-trained it to Oregon while braving hostile Indians and outlaws, built a home, literally, then, made her way to the Okanagan?

That would be so cool, right?

But sites like Ancentry.ca can only do so much. To know someone’s history, it has to be written down, or told to someone who then, you know, writes it all down.

My guess is that a lot of people on her tree have amazing stories to tell, but those stories are lost in time. Obituaries will tell a little. John Smith was an accountant for 40 years, married Doris Jones, had 22 children, and was president of his local legion.

Boring, right?

Ok, but to know more, if you don’t have a written story, you have to go deeper. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World does just that.  Legion, you say? Hmm, that means he was in the armed forces. Oh, wait, there he is, Italy, 1943-1945. What happened there, Joe? Oh, good lord. The Canadians did that? And the woman he married, interesting, she had an Italian name. Did he meet her there?

Lots of fun stuff. However, it does take a TON of time and dedication.

My mind explodes after a while

Having lost my Auntie Ruth, my Uncle Jim, and most recently, my amazing Auntie Marg, I hate that I won’t be able to hear any more of their stories, of how they met their spouses, of children lost, of epic journeys taken, of hope and heartbreak.

Building a good family tree is a great way to connect with family history, but for everyone out there, it’s just as important to record the stories you hear so that they can be discovered by future generations, so that someone can find that story and rush to your husband who’s right in the middle of watching The Good Place and say, with great excitement,

“I just found out about one of my ancestors who….”

By recording and remembering, we honor those who’ve come before us.

At least that’s what I think.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world.

 

 

 

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School and Work – Pandemic Sept 12th 2020

Social distancing? Ah, not looking like it.

Both more normality and more craziness came to this world, like we couldn’t have a bowl of ice cream without a side order of murder hornets.

Last week, the kids all went back to school, and while I won’t rant about the epic failure of administrations to get needed supplies to classrooms, to manage how students showed up, to inform parents (or teachers) what was going to happen, or provide a safe environment, I will say the teachers did a fantastic job.

I mean, they were like the rebels fighting Darth Vader in the opening of Star Wars (New Hope). They geared up, likely bought their own equipment, and certainly would have loved to be someplace else, but they showed up and got slaughtered.

My goodness. Mad respect for the teachers.

So, thank you to all the teachers who worked last week.

In the rest of the world, a lot of countries are seeing an uptick in cases, which is not good news, while overhere, Dr. Henry seems to be becoming increasingly worried about the record number of new cases and many people’s ‘ah, who cares?’ attitude.

Antarctica, however, remains Covid free. I may be moving there, soon.

But elsewhere, the world continues to get really weird. In LA, they’ve banned trick or treating (which I find odd since everyone pretty much wears a mask on that night), and it seems that peace is breaking out in the Middle East. I mean, talk about crazy. It’s like cats and dogs deciding to love each other and make babies called dats.

But wait, there’s more. Currently, BC has the air quality of Delhi (due to the wildfires down in the US), and a plague of moths that swarm around anything that creates light.

It’s like the universe is telling us to stay inside and binge watch Netflix shows. Personally, I suspect Netflix has secretly unleashed all these things to force us to watch Coffee and Kareem.

Locally, both our boys went back to school, and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World went back to work.

For The-Youngest, we weren’t really given a lot of choices, either he went back to school, or he’d lose his place there (and since the schools are over capacity, who knows where we’d have to send him if we took him out.)

So he’s got school from 9-2, two classes a day, 5 days a week. He’s basically doing a year’s worth of learning in 10 weeks. It’s focused learning, and likely as fun as drinking a bottle of concentrated organic beet juice, but it is what it is.

For The-Oldest, most of his college classes are online, and he’s ok with that. The only in-person classes are concert band and improv band, which kind of makes sense since doing band by Zoom would be like having a shower in your clothes. Without water.

However, he LOVES his teachers so far since they share his obsession with music, music history, music theory, music composition, and musically music-ness. After his first day of school, he literally ran around the house so excited to be with HIS people. It would be like me living with hobbits.

For The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, the reopening of libraries was less of a sh*tshow than the schools, but there were still a lot of things that needed ironing out. Most people, however, were delighted to have the libraries open, and several became a little emotional that they could take out books again.

Better safe than sorry.

Despite all the challenges, some things got back to normal – little kids were excited about getting library cards, grumpy old guys complained about insignificant things, and no patrons understood where to find biographies (Gordon Ramsey might be in cooking, Churchill in the war section, and no one has yet to figure out where the hell Maya Angelou’s books are.)

Fun times.

How is everyone else coping?

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Returning to Normal – Pandemic Sept 4th 2020

The older I get, the more surprised I am that I haven’t actually seen everything.

If I had to make a list of signs that we’re getting back to normal, at the top of the list would be going back to school, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World returning to work, seeing a movie in a theater, and being able to fly off to Italy and eat Mama Linguini’s pasta on a Venice canal.

Sadly, one of those things is still not really possible, but the others, well, yes, they are totally doable now (with restrictions, of course.)

But first, let’s look at the world: The stock market has almost returned to pre-Covid days, oil is back around $42, the price of gas is 1.29-ish, housing prices have rebounded, and they are selling here for over asking price.

WTF?

As well, all grocery stores are open, but disinfecting wipes are still hard to find. Finding hand sanitizer, TP, and Kleenex, however, is no longer an issue, the Canucks are playing hockey again, and Anheuser-Busch’s dog beer has sold out.

All signs that things continue to move towards normal. Or abnormal depending on your thoughts on the whole ‘dog beer’ thing.

However, in the super-cool department, a supercomputer may have figured out how the super-nasty Covid works. Here.

Ok, so that’s all fair and fine, right, but why does this matter? It matters because if they’re right, Covid unleashes a bradykinin storm (which is better explained here), AND we have about a dozen meds to deal with such a storm.

How cool is that?

Sure it’s not a vaccine, but dropping the death rate would be kinda cool. You gotta love computers.

More locally, and with fewer supercomputers doing our thinking, it looks like school is a go for next week. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, like a case of shingles, but there are a variety of options, which are not particularly well explained, again, like shingles.

There’s homeschooling, which I would love, but would only teach them history since I totally don’t get math, science, woodworking, or sex education.

The next step towards actual schooling is Distributed Learning, which is basically online schooling. Sounds like a good option until you realize that your child will not necessarily be able to have the teachers from his school do the teaching, wouldn’t have all the electives available and would have to be at home bugging you about the bradykinin hypothesis.

Then there’s what’s called Blended Learning, which is like making a cool milkshake then mixing in something that’s sat in your fridge for 9 months.

Basically, it’s school for a few days, then assignments are assigned, then the kids go home to work on them for 2-3 days. For some reason, the belief is that kids will stick with their bubble-groups, not rush out to play or talk with friends in the schoolyard, always wear masks and practice social distancing, and, oh yeah, believe in the Easter Bunny.

Then there’s what we are doing at The-Youngest’s high school, which is … school basically as normal. Full time all the time, and please forget what the province or the school district is putting out.

A lot of teachers are quite scared about this approach, not that I blame them in the least, and hearing some of their stories, like classrooms without proper protective supplies and lack of leadership on how to do all of this, I am a little worried for them as well.

So it looks The-Youngest will be back to school where he can see his friends, again, get positive reinforcement from his teachers for being a great student, and have his ass-kicked by a gym teacher, telling him not to slack-ass those situps.

It’s not perfect, no, but I know the teachers will do their absolute best.

And then there are the movie theaters.

Tenet – One of the most complex and mind-bending movies I have ever seen

Yes, The-Oldest and I braved a movie theater. We saw Tenet in the IMAX with about 20 odd people.

Now, that IMAX theater is HUGE, but they only sold about two dozen tickets, or so so we had a TON of spacing between the seats. Honestly, I felt safer there than in the crowded aisles of our local Save-On where someone is taking off their mask to sneeze onto the Campbell soups.

So, little by little, we’re returning to normal. We’ve gone on a staycation, we got our haircut, we took a BC ferry, and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World returned to work, which was both terrifying and exciting.

More on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world (yes, I’m looking at you boomers who yell at staff for having to enforce rules set out by the government.)

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Pandemic Birthday pt 2

Video editing…easy-peasy, right?

With two weeks left, I had a 5-page spreadsheet made (ok, it was handwritten), a great collection of vidhug videos, and a brilliant plan to make my own video of why The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World made everything better.

That was the good news.

What I didn’t have were the people NOT on facebook, about 50 videos from people who wanted to contribute, no clue how to use video editing software, and no way to reach the super important Baba so she could record a message.

It looked like I’d taken one step forward, then two back, slipped on some ice, banged my head, forgot my passwords, then pooped myself.

So I made a list. Bug people. Sneak into old-folk’s home. Get boyz to help me with video editing. Eat lots of donuts.

I knew I could get at least one of those things done, but the others…?

I hated bugging people, but I had to. Like Francis Ford Coppola obsessively making Apocalypse Now, I had to get it done! So, my apologies for harassing people a lot. Blame the box of donuts and 14 cups of coffee I had each day.

Then, I contacted people to get non-facebook ways of getting in touch like email addresses, telephone numbers or names of people who once knew someone who once talked to someone who once saw someone who once heard of someone who might have seen the missing person.

Slowly, but surely, the remaining vids began to come in, which made me so very grateful, and my non-Facebook friends began to reply. But Baba, yeah, that was going to be tough.

First of all, even talking to her might let the cat out of the bag. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World chats to her at least once a week, and I could just see Baba saying, oh, and that husband of yours came by and we did the most wonderful surprise video for your birthday.

But since she was on lockdown, how to even get that video?

Oh, I know the residents sneak out. Heck, I saw one making a run for it with her walker (if ‘run for it’ is the right term.) So getting Baba to sneak to the gate might be doable. I could also sneak in like some chubby ninja, but was that the right thing to do?

In the end, the problem was solved by a family member who said they could phone up the home and get THEM to take the video! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. He took on contacting them, bugging them, and reminding them, and in the end, I got a video of Baba wishing The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World a happy birthday.

I was super happy. The vidhug part of the birthday plan was working.

Now all I had do was figure out video editing and find photos of the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World. The latter would have been easy in the old world, but with her home and always wondering what I was going, why I was looking in the closet, why I was asking about her photo box, well, it wasn’t easy.

At one point, while she was in the shower, I found which box had all the photos, took it downstairs into my dungeon, then replaced the box with the exact same box so she wouldn’t notice. Sadly, she sees everything, remembers where everything has been put, and instantly notices if something is out of place like a movie continuity supervisor.

But when I got those photos, I began to make my video of awesomeness.

So with a week left, I tried to learn video editing programs. First I tried Photoshop video, but that was like a monkey trying to learn the correct lyrics to The End of the World as We Know It.

So I tried out a few other programs, finally settling on Filmora. It wasn’t super fancy, but it was built for stupid people like me. Satisfied, I worked on adding pictures, special effects, and text to that video while more vidhugs rolled in.

2000 hours later (well, it SEEMED like 2000 hours), I had our personal video done and gave it over to The-Oldest to add a musical score. The last of the vidhug videos came in, and I was able to finish that project as well!

Things were looking up.

I had 86 vidhugs, complete with a Baba message. I had a 20-minute video with an amazing musical score. I had a 30-minute video from her mom filled with amazing pictures of her growing up. Hell, I had cake, I had flowers, I had a card, and The-Oldest had shaved.

We were good to go, right?

Not quite. I still needed something more. Something special for the actual event.

So the boys and I came up with a plan at the last moment. The-Youngest took his mom shopping on the day of her birthday (not shopping for her, you understand since that’s a bridge too far for him, but for some bike parts), while The-Oldest and I transformed our family room into a birthday-mega-theatre, complete with blackout curtains, purple balloons, and streamers.

And movie popcorn.

By the time she got home, we had done all we could.

Sure there were a few tears when she opened the cards. More tears as she listened to the song her son had written about her, and tears during the videos, but they were tears of happiness, of joy, of thankfulness.

But I cannot tell you how happy The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World was to see her birthday videos. To see all her friends and family was gold. To have them all wish her a happy birthday, made her cry. To listen to their stories, hear them sing, watch them form a human pyramid, or light a cake full of candles made her laugh and smile.

We’d done it. All of us, her friends, her family, and her boyz. We’d given her a great 50th!

So, thank you everyone for making The-Kindest-Loveliest-Prettiest-Smartest-Girl-in-the-World’s birthday so special!!!

I know how busy everyone is so I really, really appreciate all the time and effort taken to make and send her a video.

The best of times

So much love was shown that it’s kinda overwhelming, but it’s so awesome to see all the love she puts out into the world reflected back at her, strong and bright.

I’d like to share the video, but we wanted to get permission from everyone who contributed (a few already asked that we keep their message private), but once we have that all sorted out, we’ll send out a link.

In the meantime, thanks again for proving there is still so much good in the world.

Until the next blog, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world.

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Pandemic 50th Birthday

I talked to The Rock, and he totally said he’d do this for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World.

Oh, we had great plans for an incredible 50th birthday party for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World: Maui. An epic luau with kālua puaʻa (pig cooked underground). And The Rock with a bunch of half-naked Hawaiian dancers.

Sadly, the pandemic shot that plan in the head, buried it in a pile of garbage, then pooped on it.

So, as with most of 2020, it was time for plan B.

A ‘Something special’ plan B.

First up, I wanted The-Oldest to write a song, especially for her. It was his first commission. $50. (Though he said he’d do it for free, I thought it would be fun for his first paying gig to be for his mom.) He got to work on that right away.

Then, what else could I do to make her 50th special?

It hit me around July. If I couldn’t bring The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World to the party, maybe I could bring the party to her. Virtually.

Being me, I researched options on how to do a video where everyone could wish her a happy birthday, but it wasn’t until I sent my first requests for videos that I found a good platform. See, I’m terrible at learning new things, being old and no longer the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

The idea of learning a video editing program was very daunting, so when someone suggested Vidhug, it seemed to do the trick – It was easy for people to upload, and this was vital since I knew some of the people would be like me, about as comfortable creating a video as James Cordon doing Tom Cruise’s stunts.

With the easy-peasy platform chosen, it was time to send out requests, but being me, I still worried something would get buggered up, so I started a month earlier than her birthday.

I sent out messages to her friends and family on Facebook. That was about 25 messages right there, but that was easy. I knew those people, I have them as friends as well (those who haven’t blocked me), and I knew they’d LOVE to help out.

But was that enough?

No.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has lots of friends. LOTS!

But how to find them all?

So I snuck onto her Facebook. She has 346 Facebook friends!

Fracking hell!

She had her library people that she loved, her PCB people, her TSI people, her high school friends, her elementary school friends, her book club friends, her exercise friends, my friends who seem to like her way more than they like me, and at least one friend who was a hobo who she thought needed a friend.

Some of them I knew from all her stories, but there were, like 20 Michelles, so how was I supposed to figure out how she knew them? See, nothing on Facebook helps organize your friends despite everyone who wants their friends in neat categories. Like me.

Ok, it might just be me, but whatever.

Then, I thought, well, I could message everyone and see what happens, but spamming 347 people would likely fail, so I sought help. I contacted a library person I knew, a super kind person who I’m not sure I can name, and another amazing woman who helped put together The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s high school reunion. Those two helped a ton, contacted whole groups on my behalf, and corralled the cats to contribute.

My quest had begun. Everything was going as I hoped. I would get tons of vidhugs, and it would be awesome, and they would all come in on time and I would…

Well, a ton of people sent out videos quickly, but with all that’s happening, quite a few didn’t. After two weeks, I had 52 out of 167 sent. Hmmm.

Some had probably got lost in FB junk since I had to blind message people with “hi, this is ****’s husband, and I’m stuck in Nigeria and need $100 to get my bank account, which has $20,000,000 in it. If you…”

But with 167 messages out there, I had to make a spreadsheet with who had replied and who hadn’t. Similar to a Santa list.

I bugged them like I was Russel Brand on cocaine.

Sure I got blocked by another 20 people, but whatever, I was on a mission!

Then it hit me as I filled out the spreadsheet, and consulted the family tree, not everyone was on Facebook!

And, worse, one of the most amazing people, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s Baba was in a home and they’d just gone back into lockdown, again!

How was I supposed to make a video of her if I couldn’t see her?

To all this stew of stress, I added my own personal brand of tasty stupidity –  I’d decided to also make a video of why her being born made the world a better place. That meant I had to find where she’d stored all her pictures, then learn the one thing I vowed I wouldn’t have to learn – a video editing program.

Cool, right, but maybe, looking back, not super necessary.

But I was fixed on making this an amazing day.

Our first birthday together. Whistler 2013. A success!

Although I started out great, by me expanding and complexifying (gosh that IS a word) everything (something I may have done once or twice in my life) horrifically, it began to look like I was going to bugger this one up.

Was I on track to create the worst 50th birthday ever?

More tomorrow…

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Pandemic Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I feel like a bandit whose mom made him wear a mask.

It’s day 133 for us – so where are we at?

Well, I have to say if you look around, you’d say yes, the pandemic is over… but more accurately, a ton of people are just fed up with having to do pandemic stuff, so they just don’t.

Sadly, there is still no vaccine yet, though as soon as there is, there will be those who don’t want it because it’ll turn them into lemmings or something.

In Canada, however, our border is still closed to the US, though there are some sneaky loopholes, like saying you need to have sex with your wife/husband or want to travel ‘through’ to get to Alaska. Or both.

Oddly enough, though, someone in the CDC said that the safest way to have sex was to use “glory holes.”  Honestly, you can’t make this sh*t up, no one would believe you (hence the link).

In BC, we’ve been smug about our infection rates, but they’ve been ticking up with 32 new cases just yesterday. Dr. Bonnie looks like she wants to spank people.

As well, locally, masks are not mandatory but are a really, really good idea.

Personally, I hate ‘mandatory’ anything, but relying on people’s sense of civic duty or sense of one-for-all-and-all-for-one is like relying on them to not pee on the toilet seat or leave dog poo in someone else’s garden.

So let’s talk about masks because while more people could definitely be wearing them, I have noticed something.

Some of the masks are dead cool.

It’s becoming a thing.

I noticed while making my first visit to a mall on Monday. Now, Oakridge wasn’t busy at all due to construction on the streets around it, construction on the mall itself, and construction on the construction. Hell, it took me 15 minutes just to find a way in!

But once inside the mall, there was someone with a mask, directing people traffic like a human flood gate. He had a cool black mask that peaked up the bridge of his nose, and a wide band that wrapped around his head.

Me, for the first time, I had my surgical mask worn properly, blue side out, the strings wrapped tightly around my ears, making me look like some sort of angry chihuahua. Being Canadian, I went where I was told, wearing a mask like I was told, and not sticking my fingers in my eyes like I was told.

Others in the mall wore brightly colored masks or floral ones. One whole family had the proper N95 mask in sexy black and walked around with a swagger like Stallone who’s just machine-gunned an entire cartel of villains. Another person had a mask made out of rainbows and sparkles like it was made from Beyonce’s runners or Madonna’s underwear, jus kidding, Madonna doesn’t wear underwear.

It was awe-inspiring just how many different masks there were, though personally, I’m still shocked that wearing a motorcycle helmet hasn’t become all the rage, but whatever.

All the staff at the Apple store had masked up, many with very decent-looking masks, and all kept their social distance like I was carrying Steve Job’s ashes or something.

Don’t get me wrong, it was good to see them all masked-up, all wiping everything down, all using every conceivable mitigation measure, but it was just so different from my local grocery store where I count it as a good day if the mask-less staff aren’t sneezing on the snap peas.

I mean, hey, if I don’t eat my veggies, maybe I should wear them!

So, I think it’s time for a new trend to be pushed by someone with influence, like The Rock or Kylie Jenner. Make cool masks cool to wear.

Yah, you heard me right. Design something amazing, Louis Vuitton, like a handbag for your face, with bejeweled pockets for your phone, credit cards, and tampons.

Make something sexy, Calvin Klein. Make something manly, Josh Brolin. Someone, somewhere, make something funny, like a mask that gives me a jawline.

Come-on.

Do it now.

In the meantime, be safe, be healthy, and respect the new world. Oh, and wear a mask as if other people’s lives mattered.

 

 

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Pandemic Saturday, June 27, 2020

For us, another visiting day in the exotic land of the Ogopogo.

For the rest of the world, a pretty typical day of chaos and weirdness. But since you’re likely reading about all the rioting and the Minneapolis city council defunding the police but hiring private security to protect themselves, let’s just deal with kinda cool stuff.

In Ethiopia, a 114-year-old monk survived the coronavirus. HERE. If I was his age, I think I’d be happy if I survived a trip to the bathroom, so he must be ecstatic to have beaten the pandemic.

I want a cake like that.

Meanwhile, Augie, the world’s oldest golden retriever had his 20th birthday. Look at his face. He looks like how I feel these days.

In BC, along with hotels, campgrounds, and parks, the film industry is reopening.

Personally, I’m skeptical that there’ll be any social distancing, especially with the extras as they are stuffed into tents like lies into a politician’s speech. However, I’ll keep an eye on this one as I’ve had some fun being in the background of a few films.

Here, though, we were on the second day of our visiting vacation. Today, it was The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s dad and step-mom. Her dad, like her uncle, has a legendary garage, a place so cool it’s his go-to place to smoke a pipe, have a quick drink, and think about how to torture his son-in-law.

Her step-mom is a bundle of energy who has lost 80lbs since retiring by avidly exercising, eating right and quitting things like smoking. It’s like she’s found a new ‘her’ and has taken to traveling to places like Vietnam and Thailand, golfing like a pro and baking more pies than whoever invented the pie chart.

The trip began well enough. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World said she “Had a shower that massaged right down to my brainstem,” which I would have thought was a terrible experience but apparently that’s not so. The water pressure in our hotel was epic.

We picked up breakfast in our room, again, and were on the road by 10. Traffic was heavy, a great indicator of how people are thinking about the pandemic, but we made good time and arrived in time for lunch.

We had a great time, doing our best to socially distance, and even had our first meal out. We went to a golf club restaurant where they had few enough people that we could sit safely apart from the golfers in their tartan sweaters, white knickers, and yellow socks.

The highlight of the visit was the homemade pie afterward. Gosh, that was good. The-Oldest, however, would say the highlight was his graduation gift – an expensive watch. Now, remember, his generation has trouble reading a clock on the wall that’s not digital, but he LOVED the watch, even if it took him a good 40 minutes to figure out how to put it on (his brother looking on and laughing the whole time.)

Now he can know the time without having to get his phone out. If you see him, he’ll likely wave his hand at you so you can see the watch, so ask him any time you see him. “What time is it?” “What time is it now?”

I tried to tell him it would measure the greatest resource he had, time, but he’s 17 and has all the time in the world, doesn’t he? All 17-year-olds believe they do, don’t they? All old guys like me know otherwise.

On the drive back, being so full, we didn’t stop at any shops, not even Tickleberries (what a name, right?) or Granny’s bakery. However, we managed another quick visit-and-run with The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s mom and step-dad, then we retired back at our hotel. Due to the pandemic, the room hadn’t been cleaned or restocked, but you know what, that’s not really that bad, all we really needed was more towels, and they brought some up.

The-Oldest’s nifty backpack and new watch. He is set for life, now.

Supper was pizza, (picked up), and we all retired to watch our own shows on our devices. The-Youngest continued his quest to watch every single video on rollercoasters, twice, while The-Oldest worked on beating his latest Mario game and answering the question, what time is it?

All in all, a good day. I was exhausted from all the socializing, (see golden retriever picture above), but The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World looked like a new person, smiling, her eyes bright and sparkling, a bounce in her step.

That made this trip totally worth it.

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Pandemic Friday, June 26, 2020

Nothing like a tasty tower of pancakes

Going on a trip helps me reset my life a bit, you know, take a look at things that are working and not working. Not working…my diet, so over a plate of pancakes, I thought long and hard on the best way to do better. Then I thought maybe my first step on that road might not be eating a plate of pancakes. Then I thought, as all great procrastinators do, I’ll start the reset tomorrow. Or when I get back.

Because today was all about seeing family.

It’s why we’d driven out here. It’s why we decided to risk expanding our social bubble. It’s why we had more cleaning supplies than your average crime scene clean-up crew.

Being me, I was up at 6 and went out into the world to find coffee. I found pancakes instead, with a side of coffee. I ate at Denny’s, right beside our hotel, and I ate in the dining area –  the first time since the pandemic began.

Being me, I was a little anxious, but they’d done a pretty good job of retooling the restaurant to safely open up. They had hand sanitizers at the front, wait-staff with masks, and most foods had to be ordered from a menu on your phone. Condiments like salt and syrup came in small containers or packages. Knives and forks came in napkins and a guarantee from the waitress that they have been adequately cleaned.

I guess that’s the key here. Do you believe the restaurant has done its best to mitigate the spread of Covid19?

When the family got up, we ordered take-out, and I went out to pick it up. Most restaurants by now have pick-up down to an art form. It was an easy ‘get and run.’

Then we drove down to Peachland to visit The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s family, part 1. Her mom and step-dad live in a seniors complex, so we made sure to wipe ourselves down very thoroughly before entering. Plus, The-Youngest was banned from taking his hands out of his pockets and from touching things like elevator buttons, paintings, door handles, walls, light sockets, flower vases, or any pets he found.

We didn’t spend much time inside, just enough for The-Oldest to receive his graduation present – an amazing high-tech backpack that’s theft-proof, can recharge anything, and I’m pretty sure has helicopter blades that pop out the top so he can fly like Inspector Gadget.

Outside, it was warm but overcast and windy. Like really windy. Covid19-wise, the wind worked in our favour. Napkin-wise, not so much. In fact, the wind blew so hard, it blew away paper plates full of chips and 7 layer dip.

But being there with The-Cutest-Baby-in-the-World and the rest of the family made for a great few hours. The boys played on the rope swing over the lake, even though the water looked about as warm as black ice.

Everyone nearby practiced proper social distancing, and, entirely to my surprise, so did the other kids waiting for the rope swing. No wonder there are no cases here in the Okanagan.

Next up, though, was a longer deck-visit with more family, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s own Uncle Jim (I think everyone has their Uncle Jim). Now, I could go on and on about how cool this guy is, hell, the car he built alone makes him a cool as Coolie McCoolster with a cool drink on a cool day, but suffice to say, I think everyone had a good time.

1949 mercury 2 seater

I got to see Jim’s car, his amazing garage (that would give NASCAR a run for its money), and listen to his stories about being a 911 operator.

Add to that an epic feast, his super lovely wife who may just be one of the nicest people in the world, and his funny son and wife, and it made for a great afternoon and evening.

Oh sure it was hard to hear people sometimes due to everyone sitting about as far apart as a deck would allow, and sure, the boys got a little bored having to listen to adults talk, but I know it emotionally filled up The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World like I get filled up by a good pie.

So far, very much worth the trip and the constant hand sanitizing.

 

 

 

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Pandemic Thursday, June 25, 2020

Not sure about the gloves

Road trip!

With Dr. Henry saying stage 3 is now upon us, we decided to take do a small, socially distanced, and entirely local vacation. We went to see The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s parents (and the Cutest-Baby-in-the-World.)

Before that, though, what’s happening in the rest of the world.

(HERE) The Germans are bailing out their airline, Lufthansa, which is not a cheap thing to do, and I’m not even sure where their planes can fly to at the moment, but it stops the company from going down in flames. To all those looking for refunds, I feel for you, but the reality is, the airlines are broke. It’s like asking your two-year-old to pay the mortgage, they’ll just giggle, smile, and poop in their pants.

In Thailand, gangs of monkeys have taken over the city of Lopburi. Now, this is something you can’t make up, but since they stopped getting bananas from tourists, the locals, in fear for their lives, gave them twinkies and stuff, but now the monkeys are hopped up on sugar like angry 12-year-olds playing Call of Duty and have gone all Planet of the Apes. Seriously. (HERE)  They have made a theater their HQ, they go around spray painting things, and hunt in gangs looking for fizzy drinks and sex, not unlike me when I was 17.

In BC, “The new phase allows for non-essential travel within the province and for hotels, resorts, RV parks and other accommodations to resume operating, as well as some overnight camping.” I note they do not mention anything about monkeys out of fear of a monkey take-over.

It’s good to see us easing up a bit more as the majority of people are doing their best to stop this pandemic. Still, that majority is sliding every day, so we made our choice to go on a non-essential trip (though I would argue going to see your mom and get a hug is pretty essential – ask the monkeys).

The weather was brilliant as we drove over the Coquihalla. We had packed the car full of water, food, and a giant container of wipes like we expected to wipe down all of BC. When we stopped for food, we went through a drive-thru and ate at a concrete table in the windy town of Merrit.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World drove the whole way, we had a ‘family mix’ of music on Spotify, and The-Youngest ate almost our entire stash of snacks (and still ate a full meal at the DQ drive-thru in Merrit). Having someone else happily drive allowed me to see the scenery for a change, as when we slowed in traffic, I could look at all the other drivers beside us and judge them.

It’s a good sport, being all judgie, and it may become my new favourite. I mean, I can do it while social distancing, so that’s a plus, and it’s something I can do while sitting down so you know it’s sustainable.

In a way I used to do it before the pandemic, sitting in a café, quietly listening to a first date or someone explain why they thought the world was flat or that CNN is still a good news organization. But now, while I can’t always hear what’s going on, I can roll my eyes at someone picking their nose in the car or chuckle as a middle-aged mom rocks out in her car to Grease.

There’s some solid gold entertainment to be had if you just look.

But for the whole journey, I won’t lie, we were a little anxious.

We made sure we cleaned our hands right after getting more gas. We made sure we touched as little as possible (which for The-Youngest is like asking a politician not to cut other people’s salaries before they take a pay cut themselves.) And we made sure that even when we got to the hotel, we cleaned it like we were having the queen over.

Meal in Merrit

All I can say for sure is that we’ll do our best – as we have done since day one – because the reward is worth the mitigated risk – Family time.

Until tomorrow, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world.

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Pandemic Friday, June 19, 2020

It’s really what we make of the time.

It’s been 100 days since this adventure began.

100 days ago, we went into isolation ourselves, and I wrote my first quarantine blog.

100 days ago, you could still cross the border, still go to the movies and eat popcorn, or still go see a concert.

Now, no concerts for a while, no going to the movies (though you can order popcorn through skip the dishes), and no crossing the border to the US (not that we’d want to at the moment.)

During those 100 days, I won’t lie, we went through some tough emotional times. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World was laid off and will likely not be working until the new year, or perhaps not at all if the crazy-ass mayor has his way. The boys were kept away from school, which delighted one and horrified the other (The-Oldest actually hating that he was going to miss his epic grade 12 year.)

During that time, oil prices dropped into negative territory, though they have since rebounded to about $40.00. We saw the stock market plummet 38%, a drop greater than the Great Depression. It has since mostly rebounded as well, sitting at 25,871, still down from the pre-Covid 29,551. We went from being a two-car family to a one-car one, I had to cancel all my D&D games, and we couldn’t eat out.

Shopping during our isolation involved delivery services for about 20 days. After that, we hit the stores about once a week, mostly terrified of catching and passing along the infection.

Now, I mask-up and go in the morning any day I want. TP was impossible to find for months, as was hand sanitizer and bacterial wipes. When Covid hit the food processing plants, hamburger and chicken were hard to find for a few days.

Now, today, I found hand sanitizer, and I’m pretty sure I could get TP or any of the feminine hygiene products needed.

100 days ago, the fear was real. We were amongst the first (for better or worse) to step away from the world and try to ‘flatten the curve.” My thinking at the time was selfish – if I’m being honest. Eating Kraft dinner was not a hard thing to do, but I’m not sure I could survive watching another woman I love die.

I did, however, lose my Uncle Jim (and in December, my Auntie Ruth), and in the last week, a great uncle of The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has passed on, but I didn’t lose my wife or either of the boys, and for that, I am very grateful indeed.

So, hey, we made it this far, as did so many in BC. We did an outstanding job flattening that curve, baby, and now we can go get our hair cut, go to the mall if we want (we haven’t), and even see our loved ones who’ve also been in isolation.

It’s been 100 days since The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has seen her 96-year-old Baba, but today we saw her. Even if we couldn’t hug her, and had to sit 6’ away, (which is, apparently, the exact distance where she can’t hear a word we’re saying), even though we had to mask-up and meet outside, even though we could only have 30 minutes with her, it was the best conclusion to our 100-day story.

I’m not sure what the next 100 days will bring, but I am very proud of how our family handled this crisis. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, in particular, was exceedingly positive and cheerful, putting up with 3 stinky boys for longer than I thought her sanity would last.

I won’t say this has been a good time since I’m pretty sure no one wants to live through a pandemic, an economic collapse, AND no visits with loved ones, but the good times we had, the challenges we overcame, I will never forget.

From the blanket fort we built, to my experimental cooking, to our TV nights (watch Upload, it’s amazing), to our shared dinners, and the goofy plans we’d make when this is all over, we made the best we could out of a bad situation.

Still true

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