Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (and Whimsy)

Posted on March 30, 2022 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet


The Covid Couch


Sometimes, it is very difficult to describe something you’ve witnessed. It’s even harder to describe feelings. Over many years now in this space, I have shared many stories with you about places I’ve been, people I’ve met, and some of the weird and wacky experiences we all encounter at some point in our lives. I have tried to describe phenomena like a lightning strike. Yes, I was in our house when it was struck by lightning eight years ago. I have attempted to capture the majesty of the Northern Lights and the Grand Canyon with limited success. I have taken you to vastly different places in the world from one of the hottest (India) to one of the coldest (the Arctic). How does one describe love, loss, elation, or depression?

Some things simply defy description.

Eleven days ago, I was in Halifax visiting a friend. Both of us are music lovers and decided that it was time that we venture out and catch some live music at a well -known Halifax pub. The fact that we had to make a reservation, led us to believe that some Covid protocols were still being followed. We would discover that reservations were needed because a very popular two-man band was playing and after two years of no live performances, seating would be at a premium. Of course, this was a mere two days before the province of Nova Scotia was going to drop mask mandates. We dutifully wore our masks entering the pub and were escorted to our table – a ring side seat just a few feet away from the band. There was no distancing of tables, and the place was packed. The table immediately beside us had approximately 16 people. Even before the music began, you could tell that they were in a mood to party. That feeling permeated the room. Of course, once seated and with a beer in hand, nobody was wearing masks.

I’m watching you nodding your heads knowing what’s coming next.

An experienced band knows how to play their instruments… and the crowd. The first set had many great singalong tunes, but none that one would consider high octane. Shots arrived at the adjacent table and the volume level went up noticeably. The mood was terrific, and it was so great to see everyone wearing broad grins.

During the first intermission, I approached the stage (masked) to chat with the two band members, people I know very well. They were in top notch form.

The noise level in the pub went up several decibels as alcohol flowed freely. It was only a matter of time before the dance floor was occupied.

So, bye, bye, Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry”. American Pie is hardly a song that will blow the roof off a drinking establishment but if you want to get the crowd engaged, then this Don McLean classic is a sure-fire starter.

“Goddam them all, I was told, we’d cruise the seas for American gold” We all know what happens when you combine matches and gasoline. This was the song that ramped up the energy level in a big way. People were singing as loud as they could, clapping their hands, and banging glasses of ale on their tables.

“Oh me, oh my, I heard me old wife cry; oh me, oh my, I think I’m gonna die”. The band had found their groove and the crowd was eating it up.

“Sometimes we’re bound for Liverpool, sometimes we’re bound for Spain, heave away, me jolly boys, we’re all bound away. When a complete stranger tries to wrangle you on to the dance floor, you know the party has neared its zenith.

“And I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the man who walks a thousand miles, to fall down at your door. Da, da, da, da, da, da; da, da, da, da, da, da; da da da dun diddleun diddle un diddle uh da, da”. Those of you who remember pinball machines recall that if you shook the machine too violently, it would “tilt”. By the time the boys finished their second and last set, the entire room was a bit tilted.

Do you ever get that gnawing feeling that you’ve done something that you might regret?

As we exited the pub, I turned to my friend and said that if we didn’t get Covid after this experience, we weren’t likely to ever get it.

Two days later, we both had Covid.

It might not surprise you that many other people at the pub that afternoon also received a positive test result.

Many people have said that the symptoms of variants are much milder than the original virus. I beg to differ.

Please bear with me and allow me to try and describe how it must feel to be hit by a bus.

(BTW. After last week’s Words of Wisdom about Covid, I vowed to myself never to write another word on the subject. “How did that turn out, Len?”)

Two days after being in the pub, I felt “off”. You know that feeling when you know something is brewing but you can’t quite put your finger on it. The day after this onset, all of the well- known Covid symptoms started to emerge. Despite having two negative rapid tests and knowing that my friend had tested positive, I decided to book a PCR test and was fortunate enough to get one that very day. The next day, I woke up and found that a bus had roared through my bedroom overnight and landed on top of me. I did another rapid test, and it came up positive, as did the PCR later that day.

Most god-fearing Canadians have at one time or another, consumed too much alcohol. If you haven’t, bravo! You don’t have to read this paragraph. Now, I didn’t wake up with nausea that might be brought on by doing multiple shots of tequila, but I did have a headache that must have been spawned in hell. Trying to get out of bed was excruciating. Even trying to process a thought was pain inducing. Persistent cough. Check. Runny nose. Check. Congestion. Check. Fever and chills. Check. Achy joints. Check.

WARNING. FOR MEN ONLY. Most septuagenarians have to get up at least once a night to pee. I haven’t done an exhaustive survey, but I believe most men do their business (#1 anyway!) standing up. Finding the toilet bowl while semi-conscious is typically an act of faith. Much to the chagrin of spouses or partners, a man’s aim is not always on the mark. Now when you crawl out of bed and your body is shaking violently with chills, finding the bathroom is tricky enough let alone finding the toilet bowl. Sorry, ladies for this rather crass visual.

You can’t fool this old dog. I know every woman reading this post read the last paragraph.

We all know what happens in small towns when someone dies. There is an outpouring of concern and goodwill. This includes transfer trailers full of food showing up on the doorstep of the deceased’s family. I have discovered that being sick with Covid evokes similar gestures. As a courtesy to the residents in my building, I felt it necessary to tell them that I had tested positive. I also told my children and siblings. Soup, casseroles, homemade biscuits, and a variety of sweets appeared at my door. It was, as they say, an embarrassment of riches. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I also lost my sense of taste and smell. I didn’t mind scarfing down tuna casserole that I couldn’t taste but to eat a dessert in this condition would border on blasphemy. Joni Mitchell said it best: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.” As of this writing, my sense of smell and taste have not returned.

By the end of the week, almost all of the symptoms were gone, and I was left with something bordering on the common cold. The good news is that I now have an additional layer of protection in addition to my vaccines and booster shots.

Many people exhibit very mild symptoms with Covid. I naively thought that I would be one of those lucky people. This is not meant to elicit sympathy. No “pity party” required.

“Oh me, oh my, I think I’m going to die”.

Not quite yet!

Have a great weekend and hello April.

P.S. There will be no public shaming. I am pleased to report that yesterday, I finished writing the first draft of my book about the north. It will be, by far, my biggest book. There are presently in excess of 80,000 words but after a serious culling, it might be more like 70,000 to 75,000. Stay tuned

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on March 23, 2022 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet


“The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind” 

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

We’ve all heard this distinctive refrain many times. We first experienced it when we were children and then relived it when we had children of our own. What would life be like without a road trip? Easier on the nerves for one thing! There is nothing like travelling with a car full of excited children as you head down the highway with your hardtop camper heading to a campground. As much as you try and cajole your children, you are telling them a bold-faced lie when you suggest to them that it will only be a short time before you reach your destination.

It’s sort of like Covid.

“Are we there yet? Is this damn thing over? Can I resume my normal existence?

Ubiquitous. Adj. Present, appearing, or found everywhere.

Snap quiz. If this was 10 years ago, what would be the items that you might see most often discarded on the side of the road? A Tim Horton’s cup would be at the top of most people’s list or a McDonald’s wrapper. You would also likely see a few empty Keith’s beer cans and in this part of the world, an empty Captain Morgan rum flask would be a certainty. Speaking of Tim Horton’s, their loyal patrons are none too amused that the coffee chain has abandoned their “Roll up the Rim” cardboard coffee cups. “Say it ain’t so.” Company officials tell us that it is because of Covid. They don’t want staff handing lipstick smudged pieces of the rim. Consumers have far more troubling conspiracy theories, but I must admit that I haven’t sat in a Timmies in a while to hear the armchair “roll up the rim” experts expound on their theories.

Unmasking Covid.

A few days ago, the province of Nova Scotia announced the lifting of many Covid restrictions. The gloves are off, and so are masks.

Last week, I was out for my daily walk. Recent rains and mild temperatures melted away most of the snow, exposing the dregs and detritus of another winter, including blackened clumps of snow, soggy cigarette butts, and plastic bags.  The usual suspects were laid bare but then I started noticing Covid masks and because small things amuse me, I thought I would start counting the discarded face shields, all the while thinking about the people who left these face coverings in their wake.

Undoubtably, many of the masks ended up on the ground by accident. They may have fallen out of a lady’s purse or a student’s knapsack. Others might have fallen from a coat pocket after a trip to the grocery store. I think more than a few, may have landed in a snowbank on purpose in an act of defiance or outrage. One can imagine (no we can’t) an exhausted health care worker leaving the hospital after spending a 12-hour shift in an ICU, treating a Covid patient, and having had to wear a hazmat suit, only to be accosted by thugs protesting mask mandates. Rather than just throw our masks on the ground as a health care worker might be inclined to do in utter frustration and despair, a few people may have been inclined to roll up our masks and stick it in one of two orifices of the protestors.

So, what are the stories of the people who once wore these seventy-four (74) masks I spotted on my 90- minute walk?

Here’s a sample. All stories and characters are fictional.

During the pandemic, Jill was considered an essential worker stocking shelves at a grocery store. Jill was not eligible for the CERB or any other government programs. She had to go to her marginally above average minimum wage job and be exposed to shoppers, many of them annoyed because (gasp!), the store had the affrontery to place directional arrows in the aisles, upsetting their well -known route around the store. Jill, indeed, may have been one of those mask tossers at the end of her shift.

Jack was entering grade 10 when the pandemic struck. He was well into his school year when he was sent home in March of 2020. He did his schoolwork as well as he could from home but with poor internet, distance learning led to many a frustrating day. The rest of his high school career was like a revolving door, with school opening and closing in fits and starts. Somehow, Jack and many other young people like him, will feel like they got short-changed on their education when they graduate later this spring.

Molly is a musician. In 2020, her promising music career came to a grinding halt. The talented singer and guitar player had every single gig cancelled for the balance of the year including dozens of live performances, her bread and butter now that the music industry had been eviscerated over time making CD sales as extinct as Tasmanian emus. Things look more promising heading into the summer of 2022, but two years is a long time without a gig and the oh so important element of a live audience.

Suzanne is a single parent with three young children. She was busting her ass working in a pub trying to give her children the best that life could offer when the pandemic began. She was good at what she did and the salary plus tips gave her a better than average living wage. In short order, she was homeschooling three children and living on 30% less income. She was grateful for the Federal income support and like many single parents had always been a good money manager. But being surrounded by her children 24/7 brought its share of fatigue and agitation.

Martin is a senior citizen and suffers from depression and anxiety. Thankfully, his public library had been his refuge for many years, giving him a place to go for friendship, free internet, and a reason to get up in the morning. Sitting at home and watching daily press conferences for the better part of two years has been very detrimental to Martin’s health.

Julie and Jeff had been dating for years and finally decided to get married. It was scheduled for June of 2020. They booked a facility in the Highlands of Cape Breton and had many outdoor activities planned for their guests. A well -known Celtic band would provide the music for the reception. Excitement was building for this epic day in their lives. Covid dashed these dreams. They had to make a choice of a very small event with only a handful of family and friends and no live band or postpone. They decided to delay and hope to get married in the summer of 2022.

Eric was admitted to a nursing home in the fall of 2019. At 90 years of age, he had a number of physical problems including mobility issues which forced the family into the difficult decision to put him in care. Eric settled in quickly but not long after, started to display some symptoms of dementia. His large extended family, many of them who lived within a few hours of the home, were very attentive to their father. It was not uncommon for him to have two visits in one day. When Covid struck, nursing homes were some of the earliest facilities stricken with the virus forcing them to go into lockdown. No visitors were allowed. For days on end, Eric stood at his window wondering why his family had abandoned him.

That’s only 7 of the 74 masks. One can only imagine the stories of the remaining 67 and the millions of others around the world.

Many of us have been inconvenienced by Covid but for so many others, Covid led to unimaginable despair, destruction, and death.

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

We’re getting closer to returning to normalcy but we’re not quite there yet.  The next few months could be difficult with the relaxing of restrictions. Covid has not gone away and there will be more sickness and death before we reach the endemic stage of the virus.

Spring has arrived and a time for renewal.

Hopefully we are close to unmasking Covid for good.

Have a great weekend.

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Week45 Podcast – Episode 9

Posted on March 21, 2022 under Podcasts with no comments yet

In this episode, Pete and Len chat about the start of a road trip across Canada in September of 2018. Lots of photos and memories of Victoria and car troubles in Nelson, one of the most beautiful cities in Canada.


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