Planning a long distance covid birthday…

I have always planned the kids’ birthdays well in advance and this was still true for Colin’s upcoming 24th birthday. I found a handful of neat things I knew he’d like but was stuck for a main item to put in the gift bag. No biggie, I knew I’d find one soon. And then the lockdown hit, complete with it’s essentials ban. In previous lockdowns I could browse through stores like Walmart and Dollarama but, in this one, I couldn’t browse anywhere! I began to panic then reminded myself the ban lifted at the beginning of June so I’d still have time. Then the ban got extended until two days after Colin’s birthday. I have ordered him something online and it’s on it’s way. According to the website, it’s heading towards a “DHL ecommerce distribution centre” and has been since May 28th. Deep breath… deep breath… it’ll get here when it gets here. Everything else is tucked away in my room.

And whatever’s left is up in the air. Will we be able to go up and visit him once the lockdown’s been lifted? I know we won’t be able to go inside (thanks to covid I’ve only seen his apartment via zoom and photos) but could we stay in the front yard or sit on his patio? It would be nice to see his patio. If we can physically go there I can whip up a batch of cupcakes (so much easier to serve on a lawn than cake) but will they let someone deliver cupcakes from a local bakery if we’re stuck at home an hour away and can’t be with him? There’s no point in even asking until I get a bit more information. And so I wait. And think maybe I should start pinpointing out which bakeries are even near his country home and which bake cupcakes soon. I looked a little earlier, long enough to know not to bother asking about cakes as everyone is all about the theme cakes and I don’t have a theme cake budget. I have a plain, no sprinkles, chocolate cupcake budget. Luckily that’s Colin’s favourite.

present timeI wish so much that things were back to normal (whatever that is) and that in 1 1/2 weeks Colin would be showing up here all set to play with the cats and camp out in the living room. That I could take him in the backyard and show him where the rabbits live and take him on my neighbourhood walk by the creek and show him the duck pond (with a crane, swans, and geese), the tiny waterfall, and the farm. We’d take the bus to visit all the family and stuff ourselves with burgers and fries. And he’d sit at my kitchen table, pulling out item after item with excitement, eager to see what was next until all that was left was remnants of tissue paper and the bottom of the bag. Then we’d watch Doctor Who, or go visit my friend, or stuff ourselves silly with cupcakes, but we’d have fun at the very least.

Hopefully we can do some semblance of this next year for his 25th birthday but for now we’ll just have to piece the days together as best we can and make this his best covid birthday yet!

Just the essentials…

I understand why the lockdown occurred. Covid-19 rates skyrocketed in Ontario and hospitals were scrambling. Children’s wards were closing, with children being shunted sometimes hundreds of kilometres away to the nearest Sick Kids, while adults took their place so the adult wards could be turned into covid wards. Nurses who had worked with infants for several decades were suddenly caring for eighty year olds and space was running out. Something had to be done.

But this is what happens when a province elects someone solely because they’re collectively mad and the person in question is “not a politician”. They voted in Dumb from the “Dumb and Dumber” team of Ford brothers and got this result.

In the beginning Ford closed all the playgrounds across the province then, faced with the uproar of millions of parents, quickly opened them again within the first 24 hours. He also gave the police carte blanche to stop any car or pedestrian at will and ask them where they were from and where they were going. Police departments immediately posted notices saying they were not following this permission and that one fizzled as well. It was the non-essentials ban that stuck.

The theory is simple. If you’re only buying the basics then you’ll be in and out quicker and have less time to spread or catch covid. But what are essentials? Obviously food, baby supplies like diapers, toiletries, kitchen stuff (garbage bags, tin foil, saran wrap, and wipes), and pet supplies. Oh, and with summer approaching, gardening supplies. But what else? Nothing according to Ford.

Blackie started taking pain medication a few days after the lockdown started. She gets one pill divided in two for morning and afternoon, which means I need to put her afternoon food in a storage container in the fridge until 4pm. The only problem is my storage containers are narrow and deep. I could just go to Dollarama for a couple more but storage containers, which are designed to keep your food fresh and ready to use, aren’t essential. Neither are clothes, which means there’s going to be some naked kiddos in the next few weeks when they go to try on last summer’s clothes and absolutely nothing fits. You can buy a can of soup but you can’t buy the can opener to open it nor the pot to cook it in (I guess if you were born rich and have kitchen staff you wouldn’t even think of kitchen “essentials”). You can buy as many chocolate bars as your heart desires (and wallet allows) but you can’t buy a candle to soothe your soul. No sun hats, no sunglasses, no books. Mental health experts are extolling us to invest in ourselves to lift our moods. Try out different crafts… pamper with scented candles… decorate with pretty artificial flowers. All non-essential. All not available. Ford’s health experts said to make sure people had access to safe outdoor activities – so he closed the provincial parks. They suggested he reopened them. They’re still closed.

lockdown clothesThis is a ban that excessively impacts the poor. We talk about curbside pick up and online shopping as if that were available to everyone but it’s not. There are many people who don’t have a computer. Many who have a cell phone but have a cheap company with unreliable service. Or have a very small data plan that runs out before the middle of the month. Or have no data at all and they’re only online at McDonalds or Tim Hortons or any other place with free wifi. And there are still people who don’t even own a cell phone. I don’t have a car so curbside pick up isn’t an option (although I can manage to grab an item at Pet Valu) but I can order online. But what about the people who can’t do either? Someone commented recently on Facebook that The Children’s Place was excellent for buying children’s clothes online and I’m sure it is. But, honestly, someone who’s shopping the discount rack at Walmart is not going to be able to afford The Children’s Place. The rich go on Amazon or Wayfair or The Children’s Place or Bata or Indigo while the poor look at barricades and strips of plastic. There’s only one group truly being affected by the ban and none of Doug Ford’s friends are in it.

No, wait, there’s two groups. There are also the people working behind the counter and dealing with all the people who just want a pair of socks, or a spatula, or birthday candles for their four year old. I’m sure all those people really wanted those items and had really big feelings about them but the staff are not the ones who set up the ban, nor are the they ones enforcing the rules. Not even the manager, Karen. I’ve heard of people not just screaming at the staff but screaming at them, throwing money, and taking the damn spatula on their way out. What are the staff going to do with the money? They can’t even enter the spatula into the cash register. You’re mad at Doug Ford, remember? Not 21 year old Sarah who’s saving up for college. She doesn’t even know him.

The ban was supposed to be finished on the 28th and has been extended to June 2nd. I truly hope it’s over then and I can browse the kitchenware aisle and decor aisle in peace and pick up a 24th birthday card for Colin. Covid cases are dropping and people are lining up to get vaccinated. I got mine exactly four weeks ago and most of my family are done as well. Only two weeks and two days to go (not that I’m counting or anything). Hopefully we can get our clothes, books, spatulas, and birthday cards in peace. Hopefully the covid rates keep dropping. And hopefully we vote Ford out next June. Maybe, in the meantime, someone can make him a picture book detailing what things are essential to us ordinary folk just in case.

Another spin around the sun…

oldI was brushing my teeth last night then could feel a wave of doom hovering over me. I snuggled Smudge, who purred and drooled all over my hand, read a good book, ate vegan ice cream, chatted with my Mom and Colin on the phone, and listened to quiet music. The wave stayed, crested and silent, and once in bed, I slowly slipped into an exhausted slumber only to wake again at midnight. The wave crashed as I got up, drowning me in terror barely before my feet hit the floor. This time breathing and quiet music were not going to cut it, not on their own. So I took some Ativan, listened to some tunes, and finally crashed. It wasn’t until morning that I realized today’s the first anniversary of me moving into this apartment.

Back in 2012 I picked out an apartment for Colin and I to live in. I fully figured that he’d need to stay living with me so I picked an apartment that seemed perfect for us. Two bedrooms, two balconies, lots of closets, two storage lockers (one en suite), gym, indoor and outdoor pool, nearby library, and lots of shopping. We had three grocery stores plus a Giant Tiger (with a good size grocery area) all within a 10 minute walk plus a Dollarama, Value Village, and three drug stores. It was convenient and, between the two of us, affordable. I just hadn’t factored in one thing. I couldn’t handle living with Colin.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Colin dearly. He’s an amazing person with great insights into a lot of topics but we often disagree (especially over politics). And I’m not interested in Reddit. I’m really not interested in hearing about the Men’s Rights Forums on Reddit. And I completely, absolutely, do not want to hear about their topic of the day at 3:30am. Colin knows he’s only supposed to wake me in case of emergency. Unfortunately he seems to thinks that big feelings are an emergency and will do anything, up to and including flicking on and off my lights and yelling at me, to keep me up to hear why he has big feelings. I have explained the difference between emotions and the apartment burning down more than once, he simply doesn’t see the difference. To him they’re both BIG. We also have completely different standards on clutter, where I prefer none and he prefers decidedly more. Which is why, when I was offered this apartment back in the beginning of 2019, I hesitated for a moment and then took it. The town was farther away from my family and I’d never set foot in it but the unit was subsidized and it would just be the cats and I. Saying “yes” felt awfully like jumping off a cliff but I still did it. And, with that, I changed our lives.

Moving here was such a huge change for me. Not only had I left Colin behind in a half empty apartment, I’d also left behind close friends and supportive groups. Our closest grocery store and Dollarama were a five minute walk away before; I could see Metro from our windows. Now they were between 20 minutes to a half hour away. We were supposed to have groups and activities start in my new building then covid hit a month later and everything got canceled. We had exactly one card night. Thankfully I became friends with my neighbour because the options for making friends were very small. And just as thankfully, groups reopened on Zoom so I could still see my old friends and discuss new topics. I even joined a zoom exercise group with my parents and began singing karaoke with friends via Facebook chat.

Getting used to the size of my apartment was another issue. I joke that it’s my tiny apartment but it really is just that. More than one person has described it as “a one bedroom but it’s kind of like a bachelor”. It’s open concept but has a separate bathroom and bedroom. I’m used to it now, and moving the kitchen table from in front of the hutch to right in the centre of the kitchen helped, but there have been several times the smallness of the apartment has triggered a panic attack. I’ve spent quite a bit of time this year buying relaxing decor. It wasn’t just out of some need to shop. Thankfully time and feeling soothed have made a difference. Every corner I look at holds something I love and the apartment has slowly become home.

Covid curtailed a lot of exploration too. My new town has quite an expansive old downtown with lots of small shops and little cafes. In pre-covid times my Mom and I planned on doing quite a bit of window shopping and ambling until we found a place to eat. Hard to do when everything’s closed. There’s a Thai restaurant I’ve been planning on ordering from for over a year now but they don’t do delivery and have fairly odd hours. Maybe this summer?

newAs for now, I’ve got an online grocery store to shop through, I’ve sorted out the bus system, I’ve found several nearby walking paths, I’ve got a dentist, doctor, and optometrist, and I’ve got three local Dollaramas and a Winners for happy shopping. Life is starting to settle and, thankfully, it’s settling well.

I have no idea what’s going to have happened by the time February 5, 2022 arrives but I hope I have some amazing things to write about and a whole lot less covid outside my door!

Freeze Peach and covid…

There are some things that really annoy me. That pull tab companies place on the jars’ protective covers. You know, the one that never actually helps open the jar and just gets in the way? People who sniffle on the bus… for the whole ride (especially when they refuse an offered kleenex). People who blast their music at 1am in an apartment building (my dresser decor should not be dancing to your music).

Then we get into the people who think it’s their god-given right to harass other people because it’s “free speech”. Seriously? How are you any more freer by telling queer people that you hate them than when you kept your mouth shut? What happened other than hurting people you don’t know (and often people you do)? The answer to both questions would be nothing. You’re not really looking for free speech, you’re looking for carte blanche to bully.

Free speech is about freeing yourself. It’s being allowed to speak your truth. It’s being allowed to say what’s wrong with the government without reprisal. It’s the ability to criticise the police without getting arrested. It’s the right to stand up for yourself and others and say “we are here and we deserve a place in society where we can be safe and equal”. If you’re wanting a space to stand and say “I am better than this group. I don’t think they should have the same rights as me. I want their rights removed”, that’s the exact opposite of free speech. But time after time there are assholes who declare they want to claim that Black people cause their own problems because [insert weak excuse here] or First Nations people are “stealing” government money or trans women are transitioning solely to sneak into women’s washrooms. Explaining to them that they’re wrong is, in their opinion, “going after their free speech”. Telling them they have to stop a) telling lies and b) discriminating against these people results in huge flailing tantrums because their rights are being challenged. Nevermind that they were the ones trampling on someone else’s rights, their right to incite anywhere from dislike to outright hatred of another group has been put into question and that’s not “fair”.

We as a society need to stop listening to false logic and start focusing on what hurts people and what doesn’t. Does a trans woman changing in the corner of the change room hurt anyone? No. Does a group of people harassing her outside the change room door while telling everyone in the vicinity (and online) that she’s a pervert who’s there only to prey on their little girls hurt anyone? Hell yes! These two sides are not equal, hatred or damage wise and I’m so tired of people acting like they’re the same.

And then there’s covid-19 and the dreaded masks. My first three masks were handmade by my Mom, two strawberry patterned and one plain cream. Then I got one with maple leaves while camping this summer… following up with three more pretty ones (plus a Christmas one I’ll hopefully never need again). The hook beside my door is full and there’s often a mask or two on my bathroom counter ready to be washed. They’re a bit of an annoyance. They can suck into my mouth and nose when I breath at times and they fog up my glasses, plus blowing my nose or getting a quick sip of water is a challenge. But they’re comfortable enough. They’re soft and don’t pull anywhere.  Meanwhile anti-maskers act like they’re the anti-Christ. I don’t get it, they’re a piece of fabric and a bit of elastic. They’re not dangerous, or painful, or difficult to wear. But anti-maskers talk about people breathing in a stew of their own wet germs as if they’ve never worn a scarf before. I have one friend who saw a man slip into the grocery store with a mask on then take it off so he could come up behind people and yell “baa” in their ear. Like a sheep, right? Because they were all “sheep” for wearing masks 🙄

I must admit that I didn’t do a tonne of research but what little I did showed a 70% reduction rate in transmitting covid-19 using social distancing and wearing a fabric mask. That’s a hell of a lot of a reduction. With odds like that, what’s the harm in putting on a piece of fabric? There’s a good chance you could be saving someone’s life, maybe even your own. And there’s no downside other than a bit more laundry and some foggy glasses. But on the anti-maskers side they get a tiny bit less laundry, clear glasses (at least until the scarves get pulled out), and an upswing on the chance of killing Granny. I know which side I stand (and it’s not the side yelling “baa” at unsuspecting strangers while they pick out cereal). I mean who sits there and thinks, “I don’t like being told what to do. I mean I follow road safety guidelines, wear my seatbelt, pay for my purchases, cross at crosswalks, put my garbage at the curb on the designated day, and keep my lawn neatly mown but I’m damned if I’m going to put a strip of fabric across my mouth to keep myself, my friends, and my loved ones alive. That’s government interference and I don’t do what the government tells me to do. I’m not a sheep!”

And while refusing to wear a mask while vulnerable people are dying irritates the hell out of me, there’s one thing that really bloody, fucking pisses me off. And that’s ignorant nazi analogies!

absolute fucking outrage

There is a black and white photo taken after one of Hitler’s speeches and, in it, there’s one solitary man standing in a sea of other men. He’s easily noticeable because he’s the only one who’s not saluting, in fact he’s crossing his arms. There is no record of who his is. Two families claim him. One paints him as a man with a Jewish fiance (who he could not marry due to German law) and two little girls. The other as a man who refused to salute in every situation due to religious reasons. For whatever reason, humanitarian or religious, he stood alone. He’s seen as a symbol of defiance. But this complete and utter walking lack of intelligence did a horrible photoshop on the picture as if to claim he was the sole person fighting against the tyranny of… wearing a mask to save your neighbour. Around eleven million people died during the Holocaust. Eleven million!!! That’s six million Jews and five million assorted people from neighbouring countries (like Poland and Serbia), people from the LGBTQIA community, people from the Roma community, autistic and developmentally delayed people, and prisoners of conscience (like Unitarian Universalists). So many people murdered, starved, tortured, and worked to death and this shit for brains person wants to compare standing up against all that, at the risk of death, to refusing to wear a mask while going in to pick up a Pepsi, at the risk of not being allowed in the store.

DO THEY NOT SEE THE DIFFERENCE???

How can they not see the difference between standing up against a totalitarian regime who’s taking your neighbours away and loading them into cattle cars and a bored 20 year old saying, “You have to wear a mask. There’s a box by the sanitizer.” How deep is their need to feel oppressed… to feel like the lead in their own exciting adventure story… that they’ll make up stories like this? They think the government, “big pharma”, and scientists are all working together to microchip them by covid-19 vaccine while they carry around a phone that has their entire Amazon shopping history, credit card information, and can pinpoint their location within a few metres. They’re worried the vaccine will make them sick while walking around maskless during a pandemic. Have they ever met common sense? Even waved at logic from a distance?

Dear anti-maskers (and anti-vaxxers for that matter). No matter what Barney and/or your mother told you, you are not special. You are not one of the chosen few who are smart enough or daring enough to peek behind the curtain and see the truth for what it is. You have not discovered the secrets that scientists, big pharma, the government, Monsanto, the illuminati, etc don’t want you to know and you certainly didn’t find it via YouTube, a personal blog, or a blog pretending to be a news site. The government is not one big political entity. It’s multiple governments over multiple countries and those countries have multiple governments as well. In Canada we have our federal, provincial, and municipal governments and they can all be from opposing parties. So, no, they are not all working together in one huge formation. Some are barely tolerating each other. Some aren’t even tolerating each other at all (written as bombs detonate somewhere in the Middle East). And big Pharma isn’t a thing (which is why we have umpteen dozen competing covid vaccines). Yes, there are big companies. Yes, they’re out to make money. But, no, they’re not working together. And there’s no way every single health care worker around the globe is keeping major secrets. Multiple someones would tell a spouse or family member or friend and the secret would soon be out. Same goes for scientists. They aren’t mysterious people who live in labs, they’re your neighbour with two kids and a pet bunny. I’m sure conspiracy theories makes you feel special and important and quite intelligent, like you’re playing spy except for real, but don’t you think it’s time to be special, important, and intelligent on your own merit and not because you’re believing someone else’s fantasy tale? It will feel even better, I promise. And, seriously, don’t you ever, ever compare yourself to a resistor in WWII Germany. You’re risking, at the worst, getting banned from Loblaws if you’re mouthy enough. That is nowhere near the same category as “starved and forced to dig your own grave”. Don’t be that person.