This is a photo my beautiful wife, Pam, took last night of beautiful Harrison Lake. I have decided to use it as my new profile cover photo. Unfortunately the profile picture of my aged yet airbrushed face blocks the best part of the Harrison sun set. Oh well, not the first time my face has diminished nature’s beauty.
A Journal of the Covid 19 year. I have just returned from one of my many daily walks along the the lakeside street of Harrison Hot Springs. It is so surreal to walk along the lake and by empty closed businesses that you usually see bustling with visitors this time of year.
Perhaps because tomorrow would have been my 65th birthday if I had not decided to cancel and delay it for five years because of the virus, or perhaps because of the much greater time that we are all spending in our homes now, I find myself much more reflective and thinking about growing up in Levack, Ontario, a town of 3,100 just a little bigger than Harrison Hot Springs). I hope that being reflective of your past is not a sign of impending death. In any event, my walks today remind me of every Sunday in the small town that I grew up in . At that time there was a provincial statute in Ontario requiring Sunday closure. Although I always recognized the problem with imposing a day of rest based on on one faith on citizens of many faiths and often no faith, I did lament the change in the law allowing Sunday openings. Sunday closures created a day when family members would generally be together, rather than individually racing around to jobs and other commitments like all of the other days of the week.
The Covid 19 virus shutdown of most businesses has created that situation every day of the week and reminded me of the closed Sundays of my youth. Don’t misunderstand, I like shopping and being busy on Sundays. The extra day of work has probably improved our collective material wealth. I am a much wealthier consumer because of it. And yet if there is one positive result of this gloomy virus pandemic, it is the forced creation of time for family and reflection. Maybe one day per week of that wouldn’t be so bad.
I promise this is my last doting Daddy post. While I lament social distancing (unbeknownst to me I really like being around people) and lament that my major isolation time project is slowly and pitifully marking my UFV final exams (I now am officially late in turning in marks), my daughter Lauren is making the best of the family isolation, with the positive attitude that I aspire to have.
April 30 at 7:07 PMI passed some time yesterday drawing this. I’ve found that this is a great time to work on developing different skills and interests. I’ve started drawing, practicing calligraphy and hand lettering, learning new dance/acro skills, hiking, relearning how to play the piano, learning ASL, and much more. I hope to come out of self isolation with all sorts of new skills and hobbies that I otherwise wouldn’t have had time to learn. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during this time.
A Journal of the COVID 19 year. One of the realities of the pandemic is the cancellation of all of the spring and summer events to which we usually look forward. Recognizing this reality of cancellation I have decided to cancel my May 4th birthday. I mean the birthday itself. Not any party. I could easily proceed with a party of all my friends and family and not have numbers that would cause provincial health chief Bonnie Henry any concern. And I could manage appropriate social distancing and still hold the party in a broom closet. My decision to cancel my birthday is not for distance compliance but out of solidarity with all of the other cancelled events. My next birthday will be delayed for five years, out of principle. As a result I will not hit 65 until May 4, 2025 rather than next week. I recognize this is a sacrifice, but this pandemic calls for sacrifice.
The five year delay in celebrating my birthday is in fact very little sacrifice for me. Why should I celebrate my birthday? What accomplishment is attaining 65. It’s not like I found a cure for cancer or a new vaccine for Covid 19. All I had to do was breath for 65 years, and I almost messed that up. So, in summary, I will not be having a birthday next week, no matter what the Facebook birthday reminder says. And yes, I continue to post on Facebook while avoiding marking my final exams.
I am a dinosaur. Not only do I write using full words and sentences (a rarity on social media) I have no real understanding or appreciation of the modern technological world. My sons play electronic games with people from all over the world. I hear youngest son Adam talking to fellow gamers throughout the night. My daughters interact with their friends throughout the day by various online means. For them, social isolating is not that isolating. Today I was introduced to my kids’ Tic Tok accounts. They and most of their friends have posted numerous lip sync and dance routines. Now I know what the kids are doing up in their rooms all day. Even our dog Griffin has a Tic Tok account. I feel so left behind. And yet I can’t imagine myself lip synching and doing dance routines. Imagine, a dancing dinosaur
A Journal of the Covid 19 Year. “May we live in interesting times”. This is one of my favourite curses. Although attributed as a gem of wisdom from China, it probably arises from 19th century English literature.
It certainly seems to be a curse that is prophetic of our present times. Although there is a reasonable hope that the virus will not be as deadly in British Columbia as it has been in other parts of the world, the death and suffering from the virus will be followed by significant changes in our world. Imagine the businesses that will not reopen, The workers living paycheque to paycheque that will not financially survive, even with the announced government assistance. Consider the likely step back from globalization now that we realize how many products we need that we do not produce, and that the market is far from “free”. Also consider the effects of a record Canadian federal deficit likely between 100 and 200 billion, and what that will do to future taxation levels and reduced government services. Not to mention huge provincial deficits that are occurring. No mention of interesting times can avoid a reference to the leadership of the worlds most powerful nation. The United States is suffering from a dysfunctional and deadlocked governmental system, plus they have elected one of the most “interesting” presidents of their history.
The belief that life, economics and our personal finances will return to normal quickly seems overly optimistic. The economic effects will endure. Retirement plans will be delayed. Personally I am now looking at freedom 80 instead of my planned retirement age of 75. We will continue to employ social distancing ( will someone please tell my wife Pam that you don’t have to socially distance within the same family unit). We will continue to be wary of each other. And we will continue to be wary of the United States.
I hope that from these interesting times we learn to be less focused on money and consumer goods. More focused on family. Less focused on pointless busy-ness and more focused on time for reflection. More grateful for Canada and the level of leadership we have seen in our province and nation and more determined to protect our sovereignty and encourage production of those products that we need within Canada. Less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about others in our society. Historically, times of crisis have brought people together. If these wishes come to pass then these “interesting times” will not be for nought.
Maybe I’m just an optimist, or maybe I’m just trying to avoid marking final exams this week end.
A Journal of the Covid 19 Year.
This is an unprecedented time when we are confronted with so many events and changes that are occurring that we have never experienced before in our lifetimes. Sometimes it is the most insignificant of matters that come to our attention and linger in our consciousness. Like haircuts.
On Thursday my fourteen year old daughter Lauren cut the hair of her mother, her sister Jordan, and her brother Adam. She also gave her own hair a trim. Although her brother Andrew is not an intended subject it appears that I am expected to undergo the procedure this weekend as well. I should note that the haircuts she has done are excellent.
Anyone who knows our family dynamics is aware that Lauren can do anything. Truthfully. She is a rare combination of her mother’s intelligence and competence and a high level of confidence. The confidence comes from a unique level of confidence builders including her family, the members of her church and a series of extremely supportive teachers. She has always been told that she can do anything and as a result, she can. I love all of my children equally and immensely, but they are all different and everyone in our family buys into what I call “ the myth of Lauren”. Everyone depends on Lauren, with no jealousy from her siblings, and she has been given opportunities and responsibilities well beyond what one would expect for her age. She is instrumental in helping me teach my five UFV courses online (made necessary by the virus) . I sometimes worry that we put too much pressure on her but she looks forward to every challenge and looks for the next envelope to open. In any event, like any doting parent, I easily digress when writing about my children.
Did I mention she is going to cut my hair this week end? This is a meaningful event to me. In my entire life my hair has been cut only by professional barbers. Even as a small child I was sent to a barbershop by my parents. I had one barber until I graduated high school. Then the late Brian Ross in Abbotsford for almost thirty years. Then Karl in Abbotsford until he died. Then...... well you get the point. My barbers have been probably the most long lasting relationships in my life. Wow, that’s a sad self reflection.
Admittedly cutting my hair has become a less time consuming job. But nonetheless, one more first will occur to me this weekend. Am I concerned? No. I know she will do a great job. And after all, I am all about looks and appearance.
Who knows, maybe I’ll make my new haircut my new profile photo.
A Journal of the Covid 19 Year.
There is no avoiding the feeling that the last three weeks or so have felt like an extended family funeral. Each morning starts off with the thought of the virus and the difficulties and limitations that it will impose on the day. Much like the death of a loved one all thoughts on any other matter quickly return to the gloom of the pandemic. Whether it be thoughts about the significant loss to investments and savings, or the significant impact on business or in the case of many people actual job losses, there is the feeling of a major step back in life. And then, of course, most importantly there is the risk of severe sickness and for some, death. It is difficult to put a good face on the situation, although extended family closeness and more time to relax are small consolations. And then there is the uncertainty.......
Juxtapose this gloom of negativity with the upcoming Easter weekend. Good Friday and Easter have always had a significant meaning to me. I know that to many Christians the holiday symbolizes sacrifice and redemption. Many conservative believers focus on the resurrection as being part of their personal salvation. I have always focused on Easter as being a time of new beginnings and fresh starts, not surprisingly placed at the beginning of spring. A time of endless possibilities. And yet this year, possibilities do seem limited and extremely uncertain. In fact, even being able to take advantage of a sunny weekend seems limited.
The challenge, of course, is to overcome the uncertainty to our health, our finances and our routines that we encounter this spring and focus on the timelessness and promises of Easter, and of spring itself. This time will pass and leave us with those lessons that we are able to take from it. Perhaps our concern for material advancement will reduce. Perhaps our happiness index will surpass the importance of the stock market index. Perhaps. Life will go on. And the flowers will grow. And the grass will grow. And hopefully we will grow.
Photo by Pamela Palmer