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?


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.


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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Pandemic Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Diago, the super tortoise.

Well, I have a cure for the pandemic blues, but first, what’s happening in the world?

In Ecuador, ‘Diago, the giant Galapagos tortoise whose tireless efforts are credited with almost single-handedly saving his once-threatened species, was put out to pasture Monday on his native island after decades of breeding in captivity.’ HERE

At one point in my life, I would have thought saving an entire species by having sex with every last woman would be awesome (human women, not tortoises), but now I just think how exhausting that would be. No wonder he retired to sit in his study, smoke a cigar, and watch MASH reruns. My hat is off to you, sir. Well done.

In New Zealand, they had their first case since announcing they were 100% Covid19 free. It reminds me of cleaning the house only to have someone race through it with dirty paws. Yes, Vegas, I’m looking at you.

Sure, Vegas doesn’t mean to be a pain, like the person who visited NZ infected with the virus, but we need to stop them and wipe their feet before they go anywhere. Metaphorically speaking.

Locally, gas is around $1.25, our grocery stores are out of oatmeal (are so many people now eating the stuff?), and traffic seems to be back to normal – which is to say, heavy. More people are in parks, most without masks, and more are definitely in stores, also without masks. Seems masks are not much of a thing anymore despite what our lovely Dr. Henry says.

I also see a lot of older men now wandering the stores like me. They stare at something on the shelf, confused, then look at their shopping list, trying to figure out if that’s the organic grain-fed anchovies from Antarctica that their wife absolutely needs for her next recipe.

It got me to thinking. Maybe they’re being sent on impossible missions on purpose, like bringing down the Death Star or getting through to the Shaw help desk people. Maybe their wives have had enough of them at home, shuffling around, reorganizing bathroom cabinets, or recounting how far tougher life was back in the day. Maybe their wives just needed a few hours of peace and quiet, and what better way than to send them to that very foreign place, the grocery store, and have them hunt for Timorian vanilla hemp milk. Some, I think, never make it back.

But as for the cure for the blues, well, it’s a visit from your family that you haven’t seen or hugged in 6 months. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World was beside herself with happiness at the prospect of hugging her mom, seeing her little niece, and having some quality facetime with people she loves.

I tell you, don’t underestimate the healing value of a hug. Or laughing as you chase a 1 1/2-year-old who’s full-of-beans around the house, trying to stop them from getting into mischief.

It was solid gold fun.

We kept our bubble small, and if the truth be told, we knew the people we saw had practiced healthy mitigation procedures, so we had very high confidence that none of them had contracted the virus.

However, I think we all needed that social contract for our sanity. I mean, who could not laugh when you ask a 1 1/2-year-old where her nose is, and she sticks her finger right up it?

Anyway, like a remote getting a new set of batteries, we feel recharged here in our little part of the world.

It’s a good feeling.

So, until the next blog, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect this new world.

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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.


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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