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.
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.
My wife Pam and I in an effort to do more things together than just parent have of late been trying to schedule going out to a movie theatre every second weekend. That and restaurant suppers with friends comprises our joint social lives. The problem, however, is finding a good movie to watch.
We have approached several films with open minds and been disappointed. We avoid extreme violence and superhero movies, which together seem to represent two thirds of the available movies.
Although I have no designs on becoming a Facebook movie critic, I did want to extol the virtues of the film we saw last night. Up to last night I felt that “A Beautiful Day in The Neighbourhood” about Fred Rogers was the best movie I had seen this year. The film we saw last night was the British movie “1917”. It was impactful.
Firstly it was a great film. Like most British movies, it’s lead characters were actors, not Hollywood celebrities, and they skillfully caused me to feel great empathy and concern for them. The movie held a tension throughout, and I was startled several times throughout the movie, causing me to mildly jump in my seat. In a manly way of course. I generally prefer not to be startled at this age lest it cause a release of bodily fluids.
Secondly, the film was impactful. It’s graphic portrayal of the battlefield, dead lands, and abandoned bodies provided me with a reminder of the misery of war in general and the First World War particularly. The identification that the actors achieved with me caused me to think how I would not have survived that food, those trenches, crawling over bodies, and how would I have managed to shower twice per day. I did think of relatives who died as young men in 1917 in Europe. What misery.
I do not like the glorification of violence or war. This film did neither. The film deserves the Academy award, but more importantly we should all see it to remind ourselves of the misery, desperation, and pointlessness of war. See it. Invite a world leader to go with you. Enjoy the beauty of your day!
One New Year’s resolution out if the way. After about sixteen years since the last time I went downhill skiing, I went with my wife and two daughters to Manning ski resort today (my sons staying at home to exercise their fingers on electronic games). Pam had purchased me new skis and ski boots. It was exhilarating and no falls and no bone breaks! There were immense amounts of new snow.
My sixty some year old body can still ski and my heart can still handle the thrill of skiing faster than my abilities. This will be the first of many.
One small issue arose however. Just before I stopped skiing when we started to pop out kids left and right I purchased myself a new expensive ski suit - a one piece that stopped snow from getting down my back. I wore my twenty year old like new suit today only to have three different episodes in the ski lift line ups where people (usually young) yelled out that I was wearing a “onesie”. Apparently no one else does now. Disco was mentioned.
Those of you who know me well know that I am all about appearance and fashion. I was devastated. Even I noticed that my onesie seemed to have a slight bell bottom flair at the bottom. Looks I’ll be heading back to MountainEquipment Coop one more time. I seem to be spending a lot of money just to eventually break a hip.
On a serious note, it was a joy to ski with Pam again and my daughters for a first time.
Good luck on accomplishing your own 2020 resolutions
An eventful day. Lauren, Jordan and I left Harrison this morning to go to the Gay Pride event in Abbotsford. I then dropped the girls off at an overnight birthday party and proceeded to return to Harrison and the Arts Festival. We had an excellent supper at the Black Forest restaurant and then proceeded to tonight’s arts festival concert, the Hamiltonians, an excellent group from North Carolina.
During supper Pam informed me it was our anniversary. She then proceeded to advise me what she bought me for our anniversary and what she bought herself as an anniversary gift from me.
Pam deserves a better husband. I’m not totally sure what I deserve.
My nine year old son, Adam saw me reading a news article about Boris Johnson’s campaign to be prime minister of the United Kingdom and I explained to him the rise of nationalist and anti immigration leaders, at the conclusion of which he shared his philosophy with me. He explained to me that people were like chocolates. There are white ones, brown ones, black ones etc. He concluded that you would never want a box of just one type and you would always want as many chocolates as possible.
I will have to consider this philosophy. In any event it does not surprise me ( or anyone that knows Adam ) that his world views are based on things you can eat. And he developed this philosophy without ever watching the movie Forrest Gump.
My father died in 1992 but I see more of him in myself each year. He was a hardworking honest man who rode the rails between Saskatchewan and British Columbia during the depression working on the railway and farms as work became available. He displeased my mother’s parents in Abbotsford by marrying their daughter. They were farmers who had much posher English accents than my father’ s family’s “h” dropping Yorkshire accents and had grander plans for their daughter than a rail rider from Saskatchewan.
The second picture is from 1966 when my father achieved 25 years as an underground nickel miner with Inco, where he worked until his retirement.
My father was was honest, hardworking, non judgemental and accepting. He never worried and never cared about how people perceived him. He never had pretentious and never lusted for wealth as long as he had what he needed. As a result he was content and never wasted a minute attempting to impress.
My father always had more respect for someone who earned their money from their own effort rather that the labour of others. He believed that we all have an obligation to put in society than we take out.
I did not value his consistency of view, honesty, and strength of character nearly enough in my arrogant youth. I value them more and more each year as I age and although I see more and more of my father in myself each year, I strive to see more. I have a way to go. Happy Father’s Day to a father who passed away on 1992
Photo by Pamela Palmer