Sunday, May 3, 2020

Saskatchewan, May 3, 2020

Well, life continues, not my life but someone else's sort of life.  It is all still bullshit and we continue to jump through hoops.  Tomorrow, Saskatchewan starts reopening with dentistry, optometry, physical therapy and chiropractors but not massage therapists.  Weird.  My optometrist gets close enough to kiss me when he has his tool, no, not tool, his piece of equipment... no not that either, whatever that thing is called when he has to look deep into my eyes.  My massage therapist touches me but from arms length away but she can’t open yet.  With the second re-opening phase on May 19, clothing stores can open but originally a customer couldn’t try anything on - I thought this was Covid, not ebola... nor could we return or exchange.  Why even go to a clothing store?  May 15, just in time for the weekend, golf courses can open but initially couldn’t rent clubs or pull carts - the simplest things ever to clean.  Someone woke up because now we can try on clothes and pull carts will be available.  I get that it’s new to everyone and the government is petrified about doing the wrong thing but....opening campgrounds but only every second spot?  Aren’t they already at least 6 feet apart?  Or keeping beaches and playgrounds closed?  Why go camping?  Oh well, at least we can get together in “virtual households” and that means deciding who you are going to “ pick” and sticking with them.  They can come over but personal distancing is still required.  Our world is so messed I’ve seen articles helping people through the possible rejection phase if you aren’t picked by your friends.  Holy fuck people are messed!

As for me, I just carry on.  I was out to Jane’s for 6 nights because HAYES EDDIE WALL was born on Earth Day April 22.  He weighed 9 pounds 9 ounces and is 21 inches long.  Jane and he are doing fine-

Much to my surprise, Nico and Andi absolutely adore him and want to hold him and kiss him all the time-

I don’t know what’s up with Andi.  She never likes to look at the camera.  Maybe she thinks she’ll lose her spirit - she sure has a lively one!  

I also happened to be in the right place at the right time to watch the North Saskatchewan River break up.  In the morning it was plugged with huge chunks of ice and unfortunately there were a few moose fighting through the ice blocks and swimming in the cold cold river.  Apparently the ice was jammed further east at the Paynton ferry-

After supper we looked again and there was a cow moose and two calves as well as another adult standing in the water.  They are hard to see-

Then almost magically, the river started to clear -

By this time the moose had laid down in that cold, icy water.  They were gone in the morning and Mitch is 99.9% sure they died.  Such a hard life.  

Hayes continues to be the main attraction-

Nico and I made cinnamon buns-

We walked on the ice that had been forced onto the shore.  It’s vertically frozen and breaks apart in sharp blade like pieces-

We picked crocuses-

And went to a wiener roast birthday party and lit the Christmas tree on fire-

April 30 was nine years since Nico died-

so keeping with Covid rules, only a few of us could gather at the cemetery.  We had pizza and carrot cake-

The kids had a ball running wild through the tombstones and luckily it was a warm evening-

It’s hard to believe it’s been 9 years.  I remember when he first died, knowing that time would pass but not knowing what life would be like.  In a blink of an eye it will be 19 years then 29 then I’ll probably be planted beside him.  

Jane and the kids spent the night, I guess they’re my bubble family.  We decorated cookies when Jane went for groceries.  Andi just licked the icing off-

Hayes continues to be an awesome baby - he rarely makes a sound and sleeps well during the night-

I’m in Saskatoon for a few days visiting my parents and then will go home and wait.  Wait for warm weather and wait to catch the virus and get this over with.  

Friday, April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

So life, or a form of it, is continuing in spite of Covid.  Saskatchewan has had only one new case the last couple of days and many have recovered.  Moe is talking about slowly re-starting the economy - he’ll let us know the plan next week.  Meanwhile, Easter has come and gone-

and a former student of mine, Colby Cave, has died.  He was 25 and died of a cyst in his brain.  He played hockey with Boston and Edmonton and was just a wonderful young man - always so friendly. He died in Toronto so the day his family - Mom Jen, Dad Allan and sister Taylor came home, we parked along the highway to show our love.  There were reports of 15 km of vehicles along Highway 16.  Many people wore jerseys and had signs-

Including a fire truck that led the procession-

Meanwhile, I’ve been working at Sask Hospital and April 15th, not only did we continue to have our temperature taken but we had to start wearing a mask.  I felt like a handmaid in Margaret Atwood’s book.  It was smothering, itchy and hot.  I’m learning that I don’t handle change very well, which is quite interesting considering the style of travelling I do but once I had my mask on, I instantly hated it and told my boss that I didn’t want to work any more until all this bullshit was over.  He said he’d see what he could do and I think did nothing.  However, as the day disappeared, the mask didn’t seem so bad-

I spent today at Jane’s.  She is going crazy with not being able to even take the kids outside because it’s been so cold and windy and it doesn’t help that she hasn’t been feeling the best.  Today might have been her worst day - nausea and more cramps.  After the kids had a sleep, we went to the ranch and Doctor Nico “helped??” Mitch remove the stitching from a cow who prolapsed, that’s why he’s wearing gloves.  After, we went walking amongst the cows who still have to calve, then side by siding checking on the new calves-

The kids are so funny - each has a walking stick and they love being with their Dad!

So back to the idea of change.  This winter, I was really excited hopping on a bus and moving to a new location but I was often disappointed in my new place.  Once I’d been there a night, it was fine and would end up being perfect - as was the new town or city, but initially I didn’t like it much at all.  The same thing happened this week at work - the first day I walked in and had to fill out a form and have my temperature taken - I was pissed off.  Then again with the mask.  I have to learn to just hold on/hold back my dislike and after a few hours, react.  This seems to be a new reaction to change for me, a weird one actually and I’m wondering why it’s happening.  Is it because I’m getting older and am set in my ways?  Is it because I’m privileged and my life shouldn’t be disrupted?  I’ve always thought I go with the flow and know that I always suggest to others to just give something new some time but it seems that maybe I’m not following my own advice.  Maybe I’ve always been like this and have only become aware.  I’m not sure but I’m not liking my reactions very much.  I guess now that I’ve recognized my issue, I can adapt - at least I hope so!

Looking forward to getting back to some sort of what was.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

How Much Longer? April 7, 2020

So I’ve been home three and a half weeks.  My self isolation is over, I’ve been out to spend a few nights at Jane’s and now I’m back at my place.  I’ve joined my gym online - Pipes, so am trying to work out at least four times a week.  I FaceTime a lot and iMessage too.  I play a lot of online Scrabble, read books, drink booze and smoke pot.  It’s legal now so I can actually write that.  I’ve even been back to work a couple of days.  Life is however, at a standstill and I still can’t wrap my head around what is going on.  The fear, the 24 hour news channels, the lack of commercialism - no stores, no salons, no gyms, no bars, no golf courses, no restaurants, no nothing, the self isolating, the six feet of separation....

And my feelings about it all?  Well, I really don’t understand it.  Justin Trudeau is staying in isolation.  What the fuck’s he afraid of?  “The people” are demanding to know how big this government thinks this will get - and they appear to not want to say so you know that means a whole bunch of people are probably going to die.  There was a mathematician on CTV the other night explaining a formula based on this and that saying that 33,000 people could die in Ontario alone.  Oh.  I did a bit of googling and found that in 2018, 88,000 Canadians died from cancer, 53,000 from heart disease, 13,300 from accidents and 8511 from flu and pneumonia.  That totals up to 154,811.  I realize Covid is a new and separate category but...

I also know another government concern is overloading the hospitals and ICU departments.  So far in Saskatchewan, there are 260 cases from 14,722 tests, with 3 deaths and 88 recoveries.  2 people are in ICU.  

I hear of people who are anxious, confused, stressed, afraid and unable to think straight.  Some people are unhealthy and think they are more susceptible to getting sick than others because of their health.  That is a true possibility and deserves extra care.  However, I think that for a lot of people it is the fear of losing control.  So many of us believe we are in ‘control’ of our lives and this is falsely maintained by structure, habit, employment, spending and the dream that I’m going to do ‘this’ ‘when’.  Most of that has come to a standstill and the world that we knew may never return and so for those who define themselves by what they do, where they go, who they see and what they buy, this must come as an identity shock.  Maybe it’s time for a self reset and a true inward look at who we really are and what is important.

And fear itself ... what is it anyway?  Feelings of fear are real - the heart might beat faster, we might break out in a sweat and adrenaline is pumping through our veins...but why?  Fear is based on something perceived, imaginary even and the more one watches tv, the more fearful they might get and when somebody is afraid, they become paranoid and anxious.  They can’t work, they can’t sleep....all because of an idea.

I don’t want to sound like Donald Trump - ignoring what’s happening.  And I am doing my part - rarely going out and when I do, keeping my 6 feet of separation but.....

I’m more worried about the consequences of what’s happening.  The markets have gone to shit, stores are closed so people are unemployed - they can’t pay their rent because they don’t get a salary.  True, the government is stepping up with a wage subsidy program and the CERB so people hopefully will have something left when this is all over but it will cost us dearly for many years to come.  We are spending billions in the first four months but what happens if we need the same support in months five to eight?  Can we truly afford more billions?  

And what’s up with Justin continuing to self isolate?

Good news is that Austria and Germany are relaxing, however slightly, their lockdown rules.  We can’t destroy the economy for Covid.  Don’t get me wrong - it’s real and dangerous for some however, I’m not so sure it’s as bad as it’s being made out to be and I believe that is because people don’t have control, it’s unknown and that’s scaring the hell out of them!

I’ve been reading a lot and watching videos that present different viewpoints from Canadian news and I’m not saying they are right - just something to wonder about:

Who knows for sure?  Just keep washing your hands and don’t get spit on!


I thought it was spring!  We were golfing April 10th last year!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Home, not so Sweet Home, March 20, 2020

So I’ve been home 7 days and have been in isolation - well not really complete isolation because I was with my parents a couple of days and Jane and the kids for four days.  I’m not antsy - there’s piss all to do outside in -20 with the wind, my couch is comfortable and I have wifi.

Yesterday I vacuumed my place and my deck.  It was covered with bird shit and dirt, the deck that is.  My garden box lost a lot of soil due to wind erosion so I’ll have to cover it this fall.  I think someone in my building is feeding sparrows so they dine on their deck and shit on mine.  At least the pigeons didn’t spend the winter couch surfing like last year although there were two fluttering around this morning.  I’ll wait for it to warm up to wash everything off.

Besides that, I play a lot of Scrabble online - they’ve discontinued the real Scrabble app and come up with some new one that allows you to win points and diamonds that burst into points and other bullshit like that.  I think it’s a sad society that needs that kind of stimulus to play a game so I skip through all of that as fast as I can and dream of the good old days.

Oh and my Mexican sheets - the best sheets I ever slept on were in Bucerias so I made a special trip to the factory in Guadalajara to buy some.  They are yellow and look great in my room but even after washing, it felt like I was in a barn sleeping on straw bales.  So right now, they’re back in the washer in hot water and I may just keep on washing them until the fibres break down a bit, if they ever do.

I have also been watching tv - something I just about never do.  I like to watch the Riders and golf and pay close to $100/month for that luxury.  So I watched Schitt’s Creek - WTF I say, The Office - not quite as bad as Schitt’s Creek, Seinfeld which was really funny, The Simpsons - too whiny for me and Everybody Loves Raymond - I liked it.  Believe it or not, they were all new to me.  I’ll check out some more today.

I also watched Donald Trump address his people this morning.  I laughed - what a funny guy. The Chinese Virus - it is I guess and maybe it wouldn’t exist if they didn’t eat such weird shit.  Everyone is working really hard, really hard.  I liked how he spoke like a person, not a political robot and he stressed how Mexico isn’t being treated any differently than Canada at this time anyway as both borders are closed.

So, I guess I have another week left to spend by myself although I read today that symptoms present after two to four days of exposure.  I guess they don’t really know and we are lucky they haven’t suggested a month or a year of self isolation.

And the really bad news?  Based on my wine consumption last night, there is no way my supply will last another week....

Monday, March 16, 2020

Home! March 15, 2020

Well, my 2019 - 2020 winter trip is over.  I enjoyed four and a half months in western and northern Mexico.  I saw a lot:  beaches, canyons, the inside of buses, Colonial architecture, Air BNBs, beaches, Oxxos, mercados, street food restaurants, bars, museums and did I say beaches?

I stayed in 24 different places, rode in luxury coaches, old retired school buses and mini vans, in the back of pickups, in planes, trains, Uber and subways.

I fried a lot of omelettes and camarones, drank a lot of beer and spent way too much time in the sun.

My favourite place was Zihuatanejo and La Ropa Beach, however the interior Colonial towns: Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Queratero, San Luis de Potosí.... were beautiful too.  

I met so many interesting people along the way - new ones everyday and occasionally old friends.  

My Spanish improved to the point I could go on a Spanish speaking tour and understand.  

I enjoyed travelling alone again, I never once felt lonely - bored maybe but never alone.  

Will I go back?  Most definitely.  Mexico is a hidden gem: it’s a five hour flight from home, the dollar is very strong to the peso, the food is unbeatable, the Spanish is excellent, as is the climate, the culture and the people.  The public transportation might just be the best in the world: it’s convenient, frequent and cheap.  

Next winter I’m seriously considering staying home.  I have a couple of larger trips still in my head but I’ve been away for 6 years and had a great run.  I think maybe I’m missing out too much on watching my grandchildren grow up - Nico’s already 4!  So, that’s what I’m thinking right now but when it hits -40 next winter, I might be booking the next fight south!  For now, I’m looking forward to being at home, visiting with family and friends, meeting a new grandchild the end of April, golfing, motorcycling and being grateful for the life I have.

I am a bit confused by the fuss over the Coronavirus that has more or less shut down the world. I am supposed to be self isolating for the next 14 days because I have just returned from somewhere else. It’s quite unbelievable really.  Fear has gripped the world and it’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out.  

We celebrated March birthdays in Saskatoon today.  My Dad was 90 on March 9, Nico was 4 on March 3rd and Andi will be 2 on March 26th-

Jane and I went to Costco and when we came back, Andi had crashed on the living room floor-

I’m looking forward to spending time with these two little rats!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Ciudad de Mexico, 🇲🇽 el trece de Marzo, 2020

I was on my way by 8:30 and my first stop was at a street stall for breakfast.  What a selection!

Nearby was a cool clock known as the Ottoman Clock.  It was given to Mexico in 1910 which was Porfiriate or the Centenial celebration of the War of Independence.  The Ottoman Empire was showing their gratitude to Mexico for accepting migrants from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Turkey-

I was on my way to Calle Regina, known for it’s street art and along the way there was a lot.  I was walking through the music store part of town and there were paintings on most doors.  I was lucky to get here before the stores opened because once their doors are up, the paintings are hidden for the day-

Right at the start of Calle Regina is the Parroquia de la Natividad de Maria. It was interesting how the sun was shining directly on Jesus-

The side walls are very ornate-

This church even has a pipe organ-

Homeless sleep near the church. For the size of the city, I have only seen a very few-

Further along was the green wall of one of the many universities. I like how the bike and tricycle are also on the wall-

More street art-

After, I was on my way to Palacio National when I spotted this flower. I have seen this grass everywhere - here, in Central America and in the U.S.  In fact, I brought a plant home once from South Carolina but I’ve never seen it flower-

Beautiful buildings along the way-

From one side to the other of the Zocolo-

The Cathedral-

There were a few demonstrations:  oil and gas, unions and university students manifesting just to manifest. They had extension cords strung across the sidewalk and one woman was cooking breakfast on a hot plate while sitting in the entrance of her tent-

The National Palace has been the seat of the government since the 16th century.  There are many courtyards but few are open to the public-

The main attraction are the murals by Diego Rivera which are found on the second floor and in the staircase-

The parliament-

The mural shows the history of Mexico from 1521 to 1930.  It’s 4800 square feet and was painted by Diego Rivera between 1929 and 1935.  The work is actually a triptych which means three murals forming one picture.  On the right side is pre-Hispanic Mexico and the life of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl who is wearing the green headdress of Quetzal feathers.  On the right side, men and women are working in arts and crafts but on the left, Huitzilopochtli, another god, leads war, destruction and slavery-

On the left side of the staircase , Diego demonstrates the Marxist ideology and critiques Mexico post- revolution.  Capitalists exploit the workers and it’s all controlled by New York bankers.  We can see class struggle and the destruction of the Church which leads to a new dawn with Karl Marx at the helm.  The rising sun promises a new future-

The middle mural shows the history of Mexico-

The mythical eagle holds the atl-tlachinolli, water and fire which are symbols of war-

The Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire-

The evangelization-

The Inquisition-

Other murals in the hallway show The Arrival of Vernan Cortez in Vera Cruz.  He founded La Villa Rico de la Vera Cruz in 1519 and it was the port of entry of the conquerors, the Christian religion, cattle, black slaves and the European culture.  It’s hard to see in the picture but the child on his Mom’s back in the bottom middle of the picture has green eyes-

Feather work and gold smithing were talents of the Zapotec culture in the Oaxaca region-

Maize, yellow and blue was the main staple.  Cocoa beans were used as money for trade-

After about an hour, I took the metro to the Anthropology Museum.  I wanted to visit the rooms of the states I had just been to but found that most of the country has similar artifacts however in the west they did a form of stack burials where the corpse was positioned with its head to the east and many gifts were left to help the person transition to the afterlife.  Sometimes others- family members or the Shaman were buried with the dead person-

I like the mosaic work on this mask-

He’s kind of cute-

I took the metro back to the historical centre and travelled most of the time in the women only cars.  There’s a sense of calm here, one doesn’t have to be on guard all of the time-

I had lupper at a restaurant my landlord suggested - it’s a beef, chile and cheese burrito that was very good-

Next to the restaurant is a sculpture by Pedro Friedeburg, a Mexican artist-

I came back to my house and enjoyed a couple of beer up on the roof.  I’m catching the bus tomorrow morning to the airport for my 12:30 flight via Toronto.  I have mixed feelings about going home - I’m always a bit sad when my trips are over.  They seem to go by so fast but I guess that’s because I’m having a good time.  I like to go home to see my family and friends but I do find it a bit boring there.  Yes I go to the gym, walk, ride my motorcycle, golf and work but ‘real’ life is different from ‘travelling’ life but I wouldn’t want to be away year round - I want to be ‘Home’.  I am thankful that I have the opportunity to travel like I do.  The corona virus is destroying the world - fear is an emotion that is created from the imagination.  What if?  What if?  We can drive ourselves crazy with scenarios that aren’t likely to come true.  Things at home are going to be quite different from when I left.  I hope I’ve got enough toilet paper!  

  Cancun, Mexico to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,     December 31, 2023 I was up at 4:30 and walking to the bus depot by 5:30.  I wore my headlam...