Pandemic Friday, June 12, 2020

Grad time!

Yesterday, in a world kind of going nuts, we had a cool milestone.

I guess other parts of the world had milestones, too. In Seattle, there’s a new country. It’s called Chaz. You can get pizza there and plant gardens and smoke up. Sounds more like a frat house to me, but whatever, I think I want to make my own country now. I’ll call it Joe-ville, and everyone will be required to dress up as a hobbit.

In BC, you’ll see a lot more people dining on sidewalks or on bike paths so that we can open our restaurants. I think this is a great thing since I like eating outdoors, and a lot of restaurants have been hammered by this COVID crisis.

Locally, the big event for us was The-Oldest’s graduation. Sadly, due to social distancing, I couldn’t be there, and I won’t lie, that hurt a bit.

Not that I wasn’t invited, but they only allowed 2 parents to attend, one to be on stage and switch over the tassel, and one to take the pictures.

The-Oldest put on his best pants, his newest shoes, sported a new haircut, and even tied his own tie. Seriously, that last part was impressive. Then he donned his robe, figured out how to put on his hat, and sorted out the whole tassel thing.

He seemed… oddly unexcited. Not even nervous.

Not so for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World.

It was a hard day for her. She didn’t want to cry at this event, and that’s like me not eating a chocolate donut while attending a chocolate donut festival where they give a prize of unlimited chocolate donuts to the person who eats the most chocolate donuts.

So let me relay the tale as best I can. When they arrived, the grad committee explained what would happen, that The-Oldest would have to give a GOOD hug for the picture, not some weird, awkward teenage boy hug, and smile, and stop fiddling with his tassel.

The-Oldest got to see his most favourite teacher, someone I will actually name since he’s helped The-Oldest a lot, his music teacher, Mr. Fawkes. Here.

To his credit, The-Oldest gave his mom a big hug, didn’t trip when he walked across the stage, and only mugged it up a little when it came time for pictures.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World held it together until the very end when he was heading out to his dad’s. He stopped, turned around, gave his mom a hug, and told her that he loved her. Not that usual, yah, love you too, I guess, but a deeply felt, I. Love. You. Thank you for getting me here.

2020

At that point, I mean, who could not lose it?

So that milestone has now come and gone. He’ll be off to college soon, and his next big adventure will begin. Personally, I think he’ll LOVE the post high school education. He’ll be with people who love music with the same passion he does, who want to create and be creative, and who will likely think he’s a god (his words, not mine.)

Until the next blog, be safe, be healthy, and be respectful of this new world.

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Pandemic Saturday, June 6, 2020

Canadians on D-Day, June 6th, 1944,

See, I changed the title.

It’s day 86 for us, and we’re still hanging in there, though I may be running out of pants that fit me.

In Victoria, they have declared that the island is free of the virus. I’m not shocked as being a former Islander myself, we hated anything coming from the mainland, so I’m sure the Islanders kicked up their immune systems just to spite that Vancouver Covid-19.

Around our neck of the woods, gas has sneakily crept up to $1.12, but if you’re clever and look around, you can find it for $1.08. You can also find people playing tennis, bobbing around at the bike park, and even on the monkey bars (and not always kids, I should point out.)

From our deck, today, I was happy to hear the sound of kids playing and giggling and having a good time. I can’t put my finger on it, but there seems to be a lot less tension, at least in our little part of suburbia.

Now, don’t get me wrong, in the US, they seem to have gone insane in many cities, and God knows what that nutjob in North Korea is doing, but here, we’re at peace, mowing lawns, power-washing driveways, and waving at our neighbours (and secretly making sure their dogs don’t poop in our yards.)

June 6th, though, is a special day for another reason. It’s D-Day. On this day in 1944, the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy and began the journey to take Europe back from the Nazis.

Of the 5 beaches where the Allies landed, the Canadians had one of them, Juno Beach. Living next to the US, it’s hard sometimes to realize just how much Canada used to punch above its weight. We took Juno beach, went on to take the city of Caen, and eventually fought our way through the Netherlands to free the Dutch.

I’m very proud of what we did and that we never shied away from the hard stuff (hell, there’s even a good argument to be made that we always seemed to get the ‘hard stuff’ since the Great War.)

I was actually lucky enough to go to the D-Day beaches in 1994, for the 50th anniversary, and I won’t lie, I was brought to tears when I visited the cemeteries. It’s easy to forget how young most soldiers were, and reading the small obituaries broke my heart. I can’t imagine losing The-Oldest to war. Or The-Youngest. What a terrible thing.

So, today, I want to honour the sacrifice that was made by our soldiers and sailors and air force. Men and women. My dad was in the RAF, my uncle, who I’ve recently lost, was in the Merchant Marines.  I had other uncles who joined the Canadian navy or flew bombers against the Germans, and aunts who worked as nurses or as supply clerks.

I even had the pleasure of meeting a man captured by the Japanese, a man who had survived the horrific abuse afflicted on him, then forgiven his captors.

A sense of great sadness fills me as more and more of that generation passes on, but I treasure those still with us.

So, if hugging ever comes back in style, watch out, the normally unhuggy Joe will likely hug the hell out of his friends and family.

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

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Quarantine Thursday, June 4, 2020

I feel like a 1930’s bandit whose mom made the mask for him.

More signs that we’re returning to normal, or at least a new normal.

My first thought is that I’m not sure the blog should be called ‘quarantine’ anymore since I’m kinda wandering out of the house like a mouse afraid of a big orange cat.

But what else to call it? Pandemic 2020? The 2nd Great Depression? Joe’s Guide to Weight Gain?

I dunno.

Moreover, I wonder if there is one definitive bell-weather marker for this pandemic being over.?

Should it be that they took down the tape around playgrounds? Allowed protests? Let churches and mosques and synagogues and temples re-open? Opened up the movie theaters so I can eat my weight in buttery popcorn and feel explosions rattle my bones in the IMAX seats?

*Shrug* I’m not really getting a clear message.

Looking at the numbers, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of spikes in deaths. Does this mean the pandemic is over?

I’m confused.

Here in BC, the schools were re-opened. We chose not to send our kids, mostly because they had about as much desire to return to school as having their nose hairs cleaned out by a weedeater, but also because it would still represent a risk that’s not worth taking. It’s like playing hockey without a jock. I mean, you can protect yourself without it, but the downside is nasty and rather life-altering.

In the grocery stores, I can find TP on a regular basis, the other day I found brown sugar and whole wheat flower, and I’m pretty sure I could find spam if I was looking to spam-it-up a bit. Vitamins are also plentiful on the shelves, the meat counter is well-stocked, and while the bulk bins remain closed, I can offset those bulk bins by bulk buying chocolate bars directly from the shelves. (“Did you mean to buy those 22 chocolate bars, sir?” “Why yes, yes I did. It was that or a forty of whiskey and a shotgun.)

Still hard to find are – webcams, cleaners, wipes, and high-end virus-proof masks, but simple masks are now in good supply. I feel like those items will be bouncing back, too.

As well, despite my wish that someone somewhere would forget about taxes, the property tax department got their act together and sent out new statements. It was kind of like being in Tokyo and hoping Godzilla wouldn’t step on you or bury you in his poop, but in the end, you couldn’t avoid it.

However, when I contacted the municipality to clarify my final total (since I am about as good at working my way through on-line bureaucracy as not finishing a plate of pie even when I’m full), the phone was picked up on the 3rd ring. A real person answered. The real person had the answer in about 20 seconds.

I couldn’t have been more stunned (or delighted) if someone had announced I had the lead in the next Lord of the Rings movie (though it’s more likely that I’ll be the fat orc killed by some errant elven arrow).

Lastly, the Royal Conservatory of Music offered online exams for the first time in 134 years. Not sure they could have done online exams 134 years ago, but online exams are good news for The-Oldest who just has to clear this last hurdle to be accepted to his music program at college.

Everyone can now poo as much as they want.

So, things here are progressing, slowly for sure, but I like to think they’re going in the right direction.

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

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Quarantine Wednesday, May 27, 2020

SpaceX. We saw  this launchpad when we went to the Kennedy Space Center

Some big wins today, but I had a terrible realization.

First, though, let’s see what’s what in the world.

The-Youngest and I set our clocks to watch Space X launch its first manned rocket into space. Nature, however, had other plans, and it was postponed. Elon Musk decided to rename his child from X Æ A-12, to Mothernaturesucks12.

I do wonder sometimes in my darkest moments, after a couple of pints of Guinness, if we are not a virus trying to infect the universe. Right now, the universe is pushing back hard, but I have faith in our ability to thrive and infect other worlds.

In BC, White Rock will be reopening its beach and pier. Seems to me like trusting teens with fireworks and gasoline, but I guess we have to trust the public to be respons…oh hell, I can’t even say it without snorting out a cynical laugh.

In Langley, the fire department is doing birthday drivebys. Not for kids, I think, but hot girls. Ok, no, I’m wrong, sometimes it’s kids, too. I wonder if they’ll do one for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World?

Here at home, my peppers are still alive. That’s a miracle akin to Star Wars and Star Trek fans agreeing on which of their latest movies sucked more.

Also, The-Oldest did his capstone presentation (that final big project every grade 12 has to do.) He freaking rocked it. In fact, listening to him from the other room, I was stunned how well he spoke, how well thought out his ideas were, and how well his hair looked. He was 0% goober and 100% adult. Wow. Just wow.

His presentation, perhaps not surprisingly, was an album of music he’d made, but it was music based on his emotional journey through childhood. It made The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World cry. Who knew that he had emotions, let alone an impressive self-awareness.

I’m very proud of him.

As for The-Youngest, the poor bugger had to go back to the toe doctor because his toe isn’t healing. The doctor performed some sort of medieval torture on him, cutting off excess skin and stuffing cotton batting between the skin and the nail. It looks awful. He was, however, very proud he didn’t make a sound.

I guess all that goalie-ing is finally paying off. He’s so used to pain that he can shrug off this brutal toe-butchery. I’m proud of him, too. I’m counting this as a win.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World remains a bit in limbo over her job. I know everyone is working on a plan, and that they have to factor in union rules, workload, as well as health and safety concerns, so this is a big job. Still, uncertainty sucks.

My terrible realization was that I no longer have any good advice to give, so I’m giving advice from lyrics. Today’s nugget? Down in Jamaica, they got lots of pretty women, steal your money, and then they break your heart. (from On & On – link below)

Seemed like something The-Oldest needed to know.

But he already knew it.

Oh, well. Sorry, pretty Jamaican women.

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

 

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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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