Quarantine Sunday, May 24, 2020

Mon, dieu, the grass, she needs cutting. How can they not see that?

Hello, bonjour. This is Vegas the Goldendoodle, though I prefer Vegas the Princess.

It is day 73 of the pandemic, or as it should be called, day 73 of retraining my humans.

I will not lie to you, they are not that smart, especially the fat, old one. Did you know they can’t get my name right most of the time? They call me Veggies, Veg, Vegimatics, the Veginator, Veggers, Vegster, Veggie-veg, Weg, Wegies, Wegimatics, the Weginator, Weggies, Weggers, Wegster, Weggie-weg-Mcweggies (like I’m Scottish), little girlie or old girlie.

Old girlie! Is that not the worst? However, at least I am no longer called the Spazadoodle.

So you see what I have to deal with. Mon Dieu.

Before this whole thing started, I had them trained pretty well, but something had to change with them being home all the time. Now, I need a treat every time I see one of them. In the old days, it was only a treat when someone came home, but since they’re home all the time, the rules, they must be different. You’d think this would be easy.

But no, I have to bark at them every time they come down the stairs or enter my daytime sleeping room. Worse, sometimes they just pet me, like I am asking to be petted. Unbelievable.

Then there’s the new rules for feeding me. Having them at home all the time, making noise, nearly stepping on me, patting me in the wrong places or failing to pat me every hour, well, it is enough to stress out someone of my age. So, I ask for some human food because I need, how do you say, compensation.

But when I go into the kitchen, wagging my tail, looking at them with my big brown eyes, do they feed me that hamburger? Non. When I sit nicely, do they feed me a plate of spaghetti? Non. When I bring them a valuable chewy and drop it at their feet, do they give me some super delicious and wonderful smelling Ukrainian sausage? Non, non, non.

Sometimes they give in and feed me tiny morsels while they gorge themselves like alley dogs, but somethings they just stare at me like cows trying to figure out how rockets work. It can be very frustrating.

However, I am making progress on being carried up and down the stairs in a timely matter. It turns out, they seem to like to be barked at. Who knew? So, when I am ready to be properly carried up the stairs because, you know, my joints, they hurt, all I have to do is bark. Loudly. And like little puppies, they come.

As well, this whole, stuff-me-into-a-stroller-thing has stopped. Why they thought this was a good idea is beyond me. So I can’t walk to the park, it hurts too much, but jamming me into a rolling prison wasn’t the answer either.

They need to carry me.

This, they simply do not understand.

Worse, sometimes they just ignore me. Why they do this, I do not know, but I think I will have to kick up my silent farting campaign to a whole new level to get them to notice me.

In the meantime, I will continue to teach them how to treat me better. I am, after all, in charge of protecting the house, chasing away the Orange Cat, barking at the paperboy who has decided to return, and making sure no one sneaks in at night to steal my chewies.

It’s a tough job, made tougher by the fact that I hurt most of the time and sleep a little more than when I was a puppy. Still, even if I am 13 years young, I won’t give up trying to teach my humans to be better humans.

Now, I must rest and dream of racing, leaping over the fence and finally getting the Orange Cat.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world.

 

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Quarantine Friday, May 22, 2020

Day 71 of our Covid19 Journey: It’s getting more acceptable to go out, but what do you find when you go out?

In BC, the Aquabus and False Creek Ferries resumed service today. I don’t know how many people were on them, but they’re running like little ducks in a choppy pond.

Here in Langley, the BC government put a cap on the number of cars that could go to a drive-in. I hadn’t thought about seeing a movie that way. Gosh, it’s been YEARS since I saw a drive-in movie, and then it was largely a way to make-out that didn’t get you almost arrested by the cops – long story – but maybe it’s something to look into. (The movie, not the making out…. Although…)

Before I get to my day, however, I need to pass along more good news. The-Oldest won yet another scholarship! He now has his entire first two years of college paid for and a good chunk of the next two years, depending on where he goes (I hear Mars is pretty pricy.)

However, me, I had to make a trip to Richmond to visit my bank. Like the pre-Covid days, traffic was heavy. Lots of trucks. Lots of cars. Didn’t see a lot of buses, but I wasn’t exactly taking a bus route.

The bank was open from 10-3 and now had heavy plastic from counter to ceiling, in addition to the plexiglass protective barriers. Staff all wore masks. In fact, the only person I saw in Richmond not wearing a mask was some weirdo brushing his teeth in front of the bank window and spitting out goop onto the sidewalk. Masks seem to be the thing to do.

I had masked-up, of course, but I have a huge challenge wearing them. When I breathe, which I like to do, I fog up my glasses. So, I fiddle, and I shift, and I readjust the mask as best I can, but as soon as I find a perfect fit, I have to talk, and the mask is shifted, again, and I go all foggy.

It’s something I’ll need to work on. I may use a snorkel.

But in Richmond, and indeed in most of Langley, a lot of businesses had reopened. Yesterday, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World managed to get her hair cut and coloured. She couldn’t have been happier if I’d bought her a life-sized chocolate statue of Jason Momoa. I suspect a lot of women feel that way.

Me? I don’t need my hair cut for a bit. I look awesome with longer hair. Older, maybe, but still awesome, dammit. Plus, I get to wear my old-guy hat (which I secretly love), so I may never get my hair cut. Full Dothraki, here I come!

Honestly, though, life seemed a lot more normal. Is this everyone’s experience? Or am I just used to all the un-normal stuff like standing on an X on the floor while waiting for a cashier, not using any cash since it might be contaminated by viruses and greed, or getting insanely excited when I find masks for sale?

I dunno, but I do know I saw more people in parks, I saw pictures of kids having birthday parties, and there’s even talk of the NFL coming back (I think they’re going to make it a dance-off or something.) Still, I can’t help wondering what will happen in the next few months. Will The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World get her job back? Will too many businesses fail and drive our economy into a depression? Will I ever be able to leap up in a dark theater and shout, hey, see that fat guy running past the car, that’s me?

I guess tomorrow will bring what tomorrow will bring, and despite my strong desire to control the world (indeed the universe), I have to learn that, like agent Coleson in the Avengers, I don’t have any power at all.

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

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Quarantine Monday, May 18th 2020

The world is shifting back towards normal, though that new normal maybe something completely different.

40 years ago, today, Mt St Helens erupted. Oddly enough, I had forgotten that event, but let me tell you, I’ll never forget this pandemic.

It’s why I’m writing about it.

It’s why this matters to me (if no one else).

In our own sleepy, Canadian way, we’re pushing through an incredibly difficult time, and it’s to our credit that, for the most part, we’re all doing ok. We’re trying to find a way back to normal.

Some things are going in a good direction. Next week, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World will be able to get her hair cut. It’s like she’s won a lottery or has a day applying suntan lotion to The Rock – she’s super excited.

Next week, the boys will find out about attending school again, though in what capacity still seems up in the air. Neither boy actually hates the idea, but I’m a little apprehensive due to the lack of mitigation I see in the young kids these days (gosh, I sound old there, but whatever.)

For example, today, The-Youngest and I went to a mountain bike park. Not that I did any biking, good lord, no, (I was in charge of filming), but it was sunny and warm and bright, and we can do these things, again – albeit with restrictions.

I even met some people I knew. Automatically, I reached out to shake their hand then had to pull back and do an awkward fist-bump. I mean, I’m totally used to awkward (if there was an award, I would have a golden plaque and some sort of statue with its pants down) but now even the few social skills that I have are no longer used. It’s like I’m in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, didn’t read up on the culture, and I’m at least partially drunk.

The-Youngest had a blast at the park, however, even catapulting off of ramps into the air like he was being chased by scary clowns with razor-sharp teeth and chainsaws for hands.

But social distancing at the bike park was a challenge. The-Youngest did his best, but as it got busier and busier, more kids lined up to do the scary jumps, and when he left a 6’ gap, other kids crowded in like New Yorkers onto a subway train in rush hour.

The parents were nowhere to be seen, and clearly, social distancing meant nothing to the kids lining up.

Dr. Henry would have been appalled.

I think, though, that we desperately need to return to what we knew. I think it’s a human need. We like safety and security and normality, but we may not be able to get all three.

As for The-Oldest, he’s in love with movies that aren’t bound to traditional story-telling rules. So, today, we watched No Country For Old Men. I love most of that movie (especially the villain, ‎Anton Chigurh), but it’s one of those movies that makes me feel stupid. Like I want to say I know what happened and why it happened and what the dream meant at the end, but I don’t have a clue. Really. We watched the ending 3 times, and I still don’t know.

I guess I feel a lot like the sheriff who finds himself in a world he doesn’t quite understand. It feels like I’m in a cold fog and can only make out the misty version of a world I knew. Oh, I can put on a mask to go shopping, I can wipe down everything I touch, I can plan and worry, but that world that I grew up in was teetering on extinction before the pandemic, and now that extinction has been pushed into overdrive.

No more sneezing into the buffets. No more handshakes. No, how’re you doing, hugs and kisses. No playgrounds full of laughing children. No concerts where I complain about how loud the music is. No sitting in restaurants where I listen to other people’s conversations and secretly judge them. Nope, that’s all gone. And more.

I know it could be worse. We could be fending off raiders who want our gasoline or trying to shoot zombies in the head with crossbows while it’s raining acid, but the world is changing, that is for sure.

At least we get the hairdressers back.

But until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world.

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Friday, May 15, 2020

In these challenging times, it was great to be able to celebrate some good news. 3 bits of good news, to be exact.

But first, today, the BC Ferries are set to resume trips to Nanaimo, and (the bigger one), schools are set to reopen on June 1st. Personally, having seen how kids social distance at the skateboard park and in cars, I’m thinking we’ll not be sending our kids to a lot of classes (but there’s still so much to be worked out for this to be a final decision.)

Find out about the schools HERE and the ferries, HERE.

Another quick observation about re-opening schools – didn’t we just force the teachers to become mini-IT experts, online course creators, social workers, and counselors to both the kids and the parents? That’s a LOT of work, and now they also have to work on some sort of regular classroom curriculum and police mitigation as well? Are we asking too much here?

Anyway, on to the good news.

In times like this, we set the bar low. Good news, no one I knew died today. Good news, it was sunny outside. Good news, no one forced me to watch Cats.

Then we got some really good news. The-Oldest won the Sharon Stevenson musical scholarship for $10,000. That will pay for a year at university or nearly two at college. He was so happy, he actually walked around the house singing and doing some sort of Singing-in-the-Rain dance.

He had worked hard on that scholarship, but they also recognized that he has genuine talent, and wanted to help him succeed. How cool is that?

To reward him, we wanted to do something special. For me, that would be, umm, like a large milkshake or dinner at Earls. For The-Youngest, that would be going to Playland, you know, when it opens. For The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, that would be a day free of stinky boys, I think.

But for The-Oldest, it was watching West Side Story.

Have you seen this? It was a bit of a chore to watch. The-Oldest, however, loved the music, of course, getting super excited about tri-tones, dissonant chords, and the elaborate musical theater of Leonard Bernstein.

Oh, the things we do for our kids.

Then, the next day, today, we found out he’d won the Langley Community Music School’s Young Composers Competition. Boy, did he work hard on that one, and pushed himself to create something utterly unique. It’s a great prestige win for him, something that’ll help build his musical resume.

To reward him, well, he didn’t really want anything. I mean, according to him, we all watched West Side Story together, yesterday, and that was enough (but not enough for us.)

See, it’s one thing I really believe in. We beat ourselves up A LOT over our failures, yet treat our successes with a self-deprecating shrug. We need to celebrate our wins with as much fanfare as we can muster.

So, we bugged him for a couple of hours, and finally, he came up with White Spot, one of our favourite Pre-Covid19 places. We ate food we hadn’t eaten in 64 days. A double burger for me, a salmon burger for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World. Spaghetti and (proper) meatballs for The-Youngest, and for the contest winner, chicken strips.

Ha.

The last bit of good news was The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World feeling it would be safe to go see a friend (based on the latest from Dr. Henry – HERE.)  She’s been stuck with us morons for two months, and while her sanity seems only a little tattered, she hasn’t been able to get filled up by her family and friends.

So, tomorrow… her first venture out. Social distancing will be strictly enforced. No hugging or kissing. No sharing of food. She’ll bring her mask, her sanitary wipes, and lawn chairs so they can sit far enough apart.

She needs this, though, as crocheting, binge-watching Schitt’s Creek, and plotting my murder isn’t really satisfying her social needs.

Anyway, all-in-all, a good day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, so I wanted to share some good news for a change.

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

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Quarantine Tuesday, May 12, 2020

So where are we at, shopping-wise?

In the world, Elon Musk opened his plant in California and dared the state to arrest him. He also said his stock was priced too high (not long, ago), and that he’s selling all his possessions. I suspect his robotic brain is malfunctioning, and he needs to reboot.

In BC, Dr. Henry is giving dating advice. Here. It’s kinda like advice from my grandma, “So pick somebody, see if it works and then take your time.” I can’t wait to hear her shopping advice.

Anyway, here in Langley, I went shopping. Remember, as always, my experience is anecdotal and before coffee.

I arrived early. (With all the other old people.) I wiped down the cart. (There’s stuff to do that with outside the grocery store.) I had a wet, disinfectant wipe in a baggie in my pocket for disinfecting random things like milk-fridge doors and small children.

I wore a hat to hide my crazy, old guy hair. I mean, I can actually make my hair look ok, but without a lot of product and a comb (yes, a comb!), I look like Southpark’s Kenny after being electrocuted. Without a hat, I frighten children way more than usual.

Inside, unlike a few weeks ago, TP was on the shelves. As was Kleenex, paper towels and pretty much all forms of meat we’re used to eating.

A few items could still not be found – mostly cleaning products or wipes (though I did find wipes a week ago). Other items were sold-out, like shreddies for some reason, but I suspect that’s due to someone like the-Oldest needing to buy all the Shreddies in the world as part of his apocalypse supplies.

That’s good. Lots of food. Lots of fresh food. Lots of bread. Lots of chocolate and vitamins and milk. And Spam. I bought a can that The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World will mock me for buying.

Social-wise, most of the people seem to be able to read the arrows on the floor. That makes social distancing pretty straightforward but slows up a shopping trip immeasurably. I mean, back in the day, which was, like January, I could get a full cart in about 10 min. Now it takes a good 40, because, hey, people are slow, unused to looking for some items (you know how long it takes me to get feminine hygiene stuff), or just morons.

Being me, I point out the arrows on the floor in a nice way. It could be this is their first time in a store in 2 months, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. Could be they’re blind. Could be they feel like the rules don’t apply to them.

Most of the one-way violators are just doing a quick grab in the first 4’ of an aisle. That seems ok, to me, but start wheeling your buggy towards me, blocking my way, and staring at the shelves like it’s the first time you’ve seen organic, free-trade rhubarb syrup, then if I’m not wearing a mask, I have to speak up.  I use my old retail voice and retail smile, but if they’re paying attention, they’ll see murder in my eyes.

If I am wearing a mask, I point at the arrow on the floor and say, “Shoooorbubbing dawung maay.” They usually get the message.

As for masks, I wore mine today, as did about ½ the shoppers and about 2/3rds of the staff. 100% of the cashiers wore them, but the stockers or the ones who pull online orders, not so much.

There was a guard at the entrance now. He said hi to everyone in a very nice way. I wanted to ask him if I can get him to taser people who bug me or shoot people who are going the wrong way, but I was wearing a mask, and he wouldn’t be able to understand me.

But honestly, except for the asshole telling everyone about the one-way arrows, people are mostly super friendly and accommodating. Even better, I’ve not seen anyone trying to hoard (though me buying 19 chocolate bars might seem like it, I’m not, I’m just a piggie.)

All in all, there seems to be less of a sense of panic and desperation. People are going about their shopping lives, mostly complying with the new rules.

I guess that’s the best we can hope for – that most do their part.

Gas, by the way, was about 94 cents today, which seems like the new normal, hamburger (lean) was $14.09/kg, and 2%milk, $4.79/4L. The roads were completely empty at 8am, the parking lots had very few cars, and everyone’s lawn was mowed along my route. Honestly, I’ve never seen the neighbourhood look so good. It’s like the queen is coming. Or The Rock.

When I got home, I still wiped down all my groceries, still worried I don’t have enough pasta to feed a 1,000 people, and still disinfected myself like I’m going into surgery. It’s my way of respecting this new world.

And that’s what it’s like. Better than a few weeks ago, but still not back to a time I loved so much, a time when a man could use his reusable bags, literally run through the grocery store, and not be judged if he bought 19 chocolate bars (ok, not judged AS HARSHLY.)

One last thing, though. I want to thank everyone for their kind words about my Uncle Jim’s passing. I find loss like this hard to process, and I had to spend a day or two kinda curled up in a ball and feeling sad. Heck, when I lost my wife, I basically spent 3 years in that ball, but I’m back in the world, now, so watch out one-way-arrow-ignorers, I see you.

Anyway, thank you all for saying such nice things.

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

 

 

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Quarantine Saturday, May 9, 2020

My Uncle Jim. A funny, amazing, self-made man I deeply admired and loved.

I had planned on talking about us doing Mother’s Day today, but instead, I found out some bad news that kinda got to me.

In Canada, we lost 2 million jobs. Less than feared but still a staggering number, moving the unemployment rate to 13%.

In Langley, our the Army and Navy store will be closing forever, (as will all of them across Canada) after 101 years of operation. I fear more businesses will follow.

But the bad news that got to me was the death of my Uncle Jim.

I don’t know if anyone remembers, but I was making a book for him about our trip to Disney World last year. I had finished it in early March, but it took a while to arrive. Why so long? I’m not sure, could be problems shipping cross border or less staff at the publisher, but it didn’t arrive until Wednesday.

Sadly, I didn’t deliver it until today.

I drove out to his retirement home, hoping to drop it off. I think I did a great job making a book of our adventures in Disney World, Universal Studios, and the Kennedy Space Center. I reworked some of my blogs, edited pictures, and obsessed over fonts, page colours, and spacing. But it was done, and I hoped he’d love it because, without him, none of those adventures would have been possible.

At the home, I knew I couldn’t actually see him, due to the restrictions nowadays, but they told me to drop off the book just inside a small entrance room. I did that, disinfected the book, and placed it on the table the home had set up, along with a note for Uncle Jim.

Then I left, but as I got in the car, a staff member came running out. She told me that he’d been taken to hospital, that I shouldn’t leave the book here. In hindsight, she said a lot more with her look and her body language, but I wasn’t seeing what needed to be seen. When I asked what had happened, she couldn’t say, and when I asked what hospital he was in, she said I should speak to the family.

It was all there. I just didn’t see it.

I emailed my cousin, asking if his dad was ok?

He wasn’t. He’d passed away. He was 92. I don’t know if it was due to Covid19, but in the end, does it really matter? He’s gone. He never got a chance to see the book. I never got a chance to thank him, one more time, for all his generosity.

Fuck! Fucking hell, fuck!

First, I lost my Auntie Ruth, my mom’s only sister, in December of 2019, and now I lost my Uncle Jim, my dad’s only brother. That generation of my family is now all gone. All their memories, all their history, all their stories, gone. Forever.

I won’t lie. It wrecked me, today – On what was our Mother’s Day. On what was The-Oldest’s day for a scholarship interview and a recital (virtually) of his composition for the Langley Community Music School.

What should have been a great day… became full of heartbreak.

I did my best to make Mother’s Day work, (more on that tomorrow), to be supportive and enthusiastic for The-Oldest, and to offer my heartfelt condolences to my cousins who’d just lost their dad, but it was hard to keep it all together.

Today, I lost a man who could tell a funny anecdote that would make you laugh so hard, you cried, and begged him to stop. I lost an uncle who helped my mom out after we’d lost our dad, back when I was 16. I lost a friend who shared a love of travel and story-telling, and who had perhaps the greatest head of hair I’ve ever seen.

I am sad because I no longer have him in my life, and I mourn the loss of all the stories he never got to tell me. He lived a great and full life, but gosh, I wished it could have been a little longer.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Jim. You can be with your wife now, and be happy.

Until tomorrow, say safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world. (Oh, and give someone you love a hug for me, or listen to one of their stories… you just never know.)

My auntie Ruth, my mom, my dad, and Uncle Jim.

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Quarantine Thursday, May 7, 2020

Picture of us getting ready to go for a drive

Ok, I’m officially becoming my grandma. I’m insanely excited about going for a car drive tomorrow with The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World.

However, let’s catch up with the rest of the world, first.

Here in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a $4B program to top up the wages of essential workers. This is a great move, but since we’re Canadian, it’s being given to the provinces to sort out. In other words, here’s some cash, don’t spend it on drugs and beer. Hugs and kisses, Uncle JT.

In BC, we’re betting that people don’t need government hand-holding in the next phase of the COVID-19 fight. That sounds awesome, but by the fact that we had to tape off playgrounds to stop people from using them, or had to threaten people with fines in Stanley Park, it’s kind of like trusting your teenager to have a group of friends over while you’re on holiday when half of his friends just got suspended for drinking and burning down houses.

Here, like I said, I’m insanely excited about going for a car ride with The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World. We’ll be going on a heritage tour of Surrey. We’ll likely get a coffee from Timmies, stop to take a few pictures, and follow the map to exciting locations from Surrey’s history.

Now, a year ago, I would have wanted to do something similar, only in France or Italy, but now, yeah, now Surrey seems pretty exciting.

Find the route here.

Today, though, I managed to see a friend. We did proper social distancing but had a great time sitting in the sun on his porch complaining about the world like grumpy, old guys. Well, technically, he’s not old, but I am and you only really need one grumpy, old guy for this to work.

As well, I managed to snag a container of wipes on this week’s shopping trip. Like when Indiana Jones found the Arc of the Covenant, the wipes had a golden glow and I’m pretty sure I heard harps playing.

What was even cooler, though, was the fact the 3 people before me only took 1 container each. There was no attempt to take more or have the other person with them take one, nope, each group only took one. I was super proud of our little community spirit.

Which leads to me to my last thought. When you look at the numbers, some of them are shocking. Ignore the number of cases because that’s based on testing and countries not lying, (I mean, North Korea having zero cases, come on), but instead focus on how well we’ve mitigated, handled those who’ve been sick, and kept the death toll down as much as possible.

Canada, deaths per million, 112. US 232. UK 451. Belgium 726 (I blame the French fries with mayonnaise). But dig deeper and BC is about 25. Not bad.

A big thank you to all my fellow BCers and all the health care professionals for doing such an amazing job. Seriously. Now, keep up the good work!

So, until tomorrow, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world.

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