What a year! Last year at this time we were so looking forward to a better 2021 as 2020 brought us the Covid pandemic. Well, the pandemic is still controlling our lives, some more than others. Hopefully, the new year will bring us health, happiness and an end to Covid-19.
The Good Things from 2021
A few good things did occur in 2021.
My husband (finally) retired, after 42 years of service with Bell Canada. On the horizon for the past few years, he decided to stay on when Covid hit in March 2020 as we could not do much else. Almost two years later, he had enough and bit the bullet.
Just in time for another positive thing that happened…
Our fabulous trip to Cabo San Lucas was a highlight. After much deliberation, we got away in mid-November. In retrospect, luckily we got away when the getting was good, as travel restrictions hit hard again shortly after our return.
On a less personal note, I was reminded last night when watching Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen,and Don Lemon hilariously bring in the new year in New York City, that introverts may have actually enjoyed the pandemic. Usually much more serious on CNN, Don Lemon let loose and shared his feelings on the matter, recounting how he enjoyed the less hectic “home time.” Anderson Cooper also enjoyed the fact that he shared more “bedtime” routines with his young son. Those were heartwarming admissions from some very busy, famous people! Perhaps the following New Years resolution will be on their list:
The summer and fall of 2021 were great weather-wise too, with warm temperatures extending right into November, very unusual for this part of the world. We spent more time at our family cottage than ever before, in fact, our docks were not removed from the lake until very late in October. The increased cottage use was partly due to the fact authorities were recommending staycations, but also because one son and daughter-in-law were working from home, so could just as easily work from the cottage as from their home. I loved the extended weekends and the extra time with them and their adorable children. Fresh air, sunshine, and somewhat isolated, the cottage was a perfect spot to retreat to.
2021 did permit me more time to spend with my other grandchildren too. Although online school was in the past and my eldest grandson started junior kindergarten in September, he and I had lots of adventures together before school started. My eldest granddaughter and I took the opportunity too to visit the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit here in Ottawa this past September.
Although 2021 did not provide me with another grandchild to cherish, (the first year in five to do so) I do have another on the way early in 2022. Maybe this baby is predicting 2022 will be a better year!
Resolutions for a New Year
New Year’s resolutions are always easy to make but harder to keep for some reason. Make yours reasonable so you can maintain them! These are great examples of sustainable, healthy resolutions:
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry right now. Christmas morning and hubby and I are sitting here, alone, with our turkey still in the freezer. The presents are all wrapped, placed lovingly under the tree, and stockings are stuffed, but no other family members in sight. Covid restrictions have put a kibosh on our Christmas plans.
Isolating and Covid Restrictions
One son and his family are “isolating” after a positive covid test. Both hubby and I have “symptoms” but we are not convinced they are Covid-related. Testing is not available so we will never know. Isolating is still recommended.
As a family, we decided it prudent (and law-abiding) to cancel our Christmas plans.
Two other sons and their significant others are symptom and positive test-free, so permitted (according to provincial restrictions/rules) to attend (scaled down) Christmas get-togethers with their partners’ families. I don’t begrudge them their holiday plans, but it does feel weird. And quiet.
Covid Restrictions Outside of Canada
The kicker is that I just read a Facebook post of a relative in Texas whose family attended a family reunion. Her husband and daughter tested positive earlier this week and she was feeling ill. I’m not sure which happened first. The difference? They don’t have the same isolation/quarantine rules so positive tests or symptoms don’t appear to slow them down.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t begrudge them their celebrations either, I am just really ticked off that our governments (federal and provincial) are telling us to stay home if positive, feeling symptoms are even been in contact with someone that has tested positive…..
…And jealous, I am realllly jealous, even moping, feeling sorry for myself, getting greener by the minute.
Enough about me though, I really feel bad for business owners forced to turn away patrons to try to control the herd immunity that is not only imminent but a healthy thing in the long haul.
Who is right? I believe Canadians, in general, are more cautious etc etc, but is that a good thing? Are we turning into an over-cautious, judgemental, economy-tanking, Negative-Nancy or Debbie-Downer country?
Merry Christmas wherever and however you are celebrating. Or not.
If you were asked to rhyme off the ten commandments, supposed rules of God in Christianity, I am willing to bet “thou shalt not kill” is one of the ones you could quote.
Canadians are heartbroken and disgusted after the sickening discovery of 215 bodies of indigenous children recently at a residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. The fear is that this horrific discovery is just the tip of a genocidal iceberg.
Residential schools were created in 1876 as free boarding schools for indigenous children, funded by the Canadian government and run by the Catholic church. In 1894 attendance became mandatory, until 1947, although the last school only closed its doors in 1996, not that long ago. The intention was to enable the children to adjust to Canadian (rather than indigenous) cultures, to convert the children to Christianity, and to civilize them. These schools were intentionally located far away from indigenous communities to limit the children’s contact with their families, fully immersing the children in their adopted (supposedly superior) culture.
Forced to speak English or French, the children were stripped of their ancestral languages and heritage. Rumours of physical and sexual abuse were rampant within the residential schools. Children that ran away were severely punished upon their return, if they returned. Many went missing, never to return, so it was reported. The dead bodies cropping up are telling a different, more sinister tale although poor record keeping and unmarked graves will make it nearly impossible to unearth the whole, ugly truth.
Back to the ten commandments. How can any religion or culture that proclaims to follow the rules of Christianity participate in such heinous acts of abuse, torture and genocide on innocent children? It makes me sick! How could those that did survive those torture-filled years ever lead normal lives afterward?
How and why are the perpetrators not held accountable for their actions? An apology is severely insufficient. This was not a single act of abuse or a simple mistake, but years of racially motivated, discriminatory, criminal acts.
This post is a scathing (but accurate) article from Rex Murphy in the National Post. Not my words, but many of my thoughts and opinions!
The country is in an economic coma. The House of Commons is a movie set. We are shamed in the international community. And the list goes on.
It’s a mess. It’s a shambles. It’s an embarrassment. It is the worst ever by any reasonable measurement.
Judging by their performance on the most important files, the current bunch in Ottawa would need to hire a consultant to figure out how to get wet in a thunderstorm, and set up a task force to study how to tie their own shoes.
Look around you. Canada is in the biggest, most persistent and threatening crisis since — well since ever. The long-term care homes are under a blizzard of mortality. There is heartbreak in every small business in the country. The worry and anxiety level of most everyday citizens — especially those not shielded by uninterrupted cheques from provincial and federal governments, and those not serving as a member of a legislature — is at an all-time high.
On the Covid Nightmare
This government hoards any real details about what vaccines are here, how many are “secured” on paper only, and what they have promised to pay for them, as a miser hoards gold. Every press briefing on this most important of concerns is a dance of evasion, platitude, confused projection and sometimes just pure ignorance of what is actually the case.
They are the most deliberately obfuscatory, opaque, access-of-information-allergic administration under the democratic sun.
One year into COVID our venerated House of Commons is a disemboweled, non-functioning, neglected wreck. The targeted disrespect of the absolute and central symbol and instrument of our democracy has no parallel. No “minority” government has ever operated with the smug insouciance and patented, virtue-perfumed arrogance towards the Commons as the Trudeau government. This is, when we step back, their biggest sin.
Shutdowns and Cabinet Shuffles
Since 1867 no prime minister has abandoned the House of Commons and downgraded its significance for so long a period and for such obviously self-centered and political opportunistic reasons. It is so much easier, so much safer, so much more convenient — to walk from the bedroom to the one-printer office and mail in platitudes and arias of evasion via Zoom
What other government has parted ways with a governor general, and to top it off, a governor general brought in by the world’s No. 1 “male feminist” as a role model for young women and girls? The same male-feminist who conveniently loses all his top-performing female ministers. Someone should do a “gender analytics” study on Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.
Not to worry. It has lost a finance minister over ethics charges during the mightiest spending binge since the Big Bang. An attorney general, the prime guardian of our rule of law, was hounded out because she would not bend the rule of law. The most qualified and respected woman, a doctor of medicine no less (in other words a real doctor) could not abide staying in so carelessly unethical a cabinet. Thus, at the very time Canada would have wished the most competent person to deal with a once-in-a-hundred years medical emergency, Dr. Jane Philpott is not even in the government.
Meantime Seamus O’Regan, the Trudeau cabinet’s favourite nomad — he takes up and puts down portfolios with the “greatest of ease,” leaving no impression behind as he goes — burbles on, during a pandemic, about planting two billion trees. Imagine, two billion. We only have about 300 billion already! Priorities I guess. Repeat after me the holy incantation: climate change, climate change, climate change. It’s better than a vaccine.
Hostages in Chinese Prisons
We have two hostages in the tyrannical torture houses of Chinese prisons. Those poor, suffering and tormented men must truly have been uplifted — if any news ever reaches them — to learn that their government, during a world pandemic, was collaborating with the Chinese government to “jointly develop a COVID-19 vaccine.” Remember the line from Casablanca — “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world …” — and Insert “countries” for gin joints. Of all the countries in all the world why did the Trudeau government pick …. China? Incompetence can’t cover it. We need some term that speaks of dedicated and determined, merciless and staggering wrong-headedness: the purblind leading the purblind.
We have had no budget in two years. (Actually we have one now, this article was penned pre-budget release, but unbelievably irresponsible) We have spent more than any other government, by far, in our history. We have no idea where all the money has gone. The auditor general has been denied the resources to even keep track of a portion of it. There is no coherence, or trust, between the majority of the premiers and the prime minister. We have been offered occasional delights, like the celebrated comic opera of the WE brothers and the (temporary) $43-million gift to them to administer half a billion dollars of your money.
The Liberals have given far more time and dedicated energy to the Derek Sloan affair (whatever that was) than the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, and the emergent threat of Alberta leaving the Confederation. (Query for serious panel discussion: Is Canada safe from Bidenism?) Alberta groans while the Trudeau government spends over $36 million for “stay-at-home chairs” for its civil service.
This is the worst Canadian government ever. Can there be any question?
The country is in an economic coma. The House of Commons is a movie set. We are shamed in the international community. Contracts on COVID are all Top Secret. There is zero reliability on any projection made by a minister or the prime minister on where we are on vaccines and distribution. Rideau Hall is shortly to be listed on Airbnb. Farmers have been hit by fuel and carbon taxes. Newfoundland teeters on bankruptcy. The West has never felt so far out of things. I could go on.
Is this what was meant when the rosy words were first pronounced: Canada’s back?
To calm yourself, however, there is always this: Climate change.
Climate change. Climate change. Two billion trees. Two billion trees. Home chairs. Home chairs. Derek Sloan.
I never realized before just how much of an extrovert I am. Or perhaps it’s the strict rules we have been instructed to live by that I bristle at. I never have been good at someone telling me what I can and cannot do, or when I can do them. I am getting lots done, things I have been procrastinating about forever, but not on my own terms.
I am missing the social interaction we take for granted that enriches our daily lives. Whether it’s chatting with neighbours, meeting friends for lunch or coffee, or stopping into our favourite stores. I miss the actions and all of the people that make them so special.
I miss my grandchildren so much, and their parents too of course. The sunny smiles, hugs, and laughter from the children and the amusing anecdotes their parents share with us are what makes my world go round, usually. My world feels like it has turned upside down, with me holding my breath until it rights itself.
Compared to others, my life is relatively good. My family is safe and healthy.My landscaping businessmay get a late start this season, but my freelance writing can fill in the extra time. And, my own gardens may get some extra TLC.
This extrovert is just impatient for this nightmare to be over. In the meantime, perhaps I should try channeling my inner introvert so I might enjoy the few things left we are allowed to do.
As an update, my gardening business did resume in May, although I lost several clients as they were either working from home and able to tackle their gardens themselves, or had to give up my services due to budget constraints. My own gardensdid indeed benefit from the extra attention as suspected, although they generated more expenses than income. I was not able to pick up as many freelance writing projects as anticipated, again mostly due to clients’ reduced budgets.
Nine months later, memories of 2020 became a poem in a recent post. Many things remain the same or have evolved, been reinvented, or reinstated, but some have changed. Some in a positive way and others not so positive.
The judgement, finger-pointing, blaming, and ugliness has ramped up to an all-time high. Family get-togethers are still taboo, especially since our immediate family members total 12. As one son stated, “he can work with his brother, but cannot have Christmas dinner with him.” Where is the logic in that?
As for the positives, a hot summer meant more time in the lake at the cottage. Socially distanced from our neighbours, it was the place to be. Family members came to visit, but not all at once.
In July, when it seemed like we had “flattened the curve,” we were able to gather for at least one birthday celebration this year when our second grandson turned one…
Sadly, it was only the second time these five cuties were able to see each other since March.
Also on the positive side, we (as a family of 12) have decided that since I have been assisting our 7-year-old granddaughter with her online school and allowing our almost 3-year-old granddaughter to visit weekly to give her mom a break after the birth of their new baby, (our 5th grandchild, a celebration in itself) that we would continue this support system by allowing the grandchildren to visit. This decision was made despite the fact that Ontario residents have recently been told not to permit anyone outside of their household into their homes. As a support system for my family members that are considered essential services, I feel it my duty to do whatever works for them, and I take great pleasure in the visits.
In fact, I believe my mental health and that of my precious grandchildren rely on these visits.
After all, I am still an extrovert. That will never change.
Mental health issues have become much more prevalent during the Covid pandemic. Unfortunately, these issues have not (yet) been given the respect they deserve. I say yet, because I hope someone in power will step up and recognize the increased need for help.
This group in Canberra, Australia has stepped up to address mental health in a big way. MIEACT or Mental Illness Education Act was created in 2014 but is recognizing the increased need for mental health support during the pandemic.
I saw this post on Facebook recently where MIEACT describes the ways to improve your mental health:
Did you know that you can consciously create opportunities for your body to release Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphin, increasing your wellbeing, stabilizing mood, improving motivation and increasing connection?
That’s lots of ways to make yourself feel more cheerful and healthier!
According to AtlasBiomed, endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin are all “happy hormones,” chemicals that are released within our bodies naturally sending positive, feel-good messages to our brains.
Good on MIEACT for sharing these ways to improve our mental health. Hopefully, the rest of the world can step up too to recognize, support, and tackle mental health issues in their areas of the globe.
I worry about the short and long term effects of this covid pandemic on our children. Social distancing does not come naturally to them. It is difficult enough for us adults, but we (most of us) can see and understand the reason behind the rules. We also do our best to explain these rules to our kids and grandkids.
When we were not allowed to hug or touch each other I would tell my grandkids that “grandma is sick and doesn’t want to make you sick.” This little white lie worked, but I could see the confusion on their sweet little faces.
The primary (pun intended) lesson learned in sending our kids to school at four years old is supposed to be the development and practice of social skills. You know, stuff like sharing, trading, empathy, taking turns and more. How can they do this if social distancing is their new norm?
What lessons are they going to learn instead? Don’t touch, don’t get too close, don’t care, and god forbid, don’t share. Will they learn anything beneficial? At what point are we doing them more harm than good?
Parents are facing a dilemma. Most families need two incomes to stay afloat financially, and cannot afford to have one parent stay home to look after young children. Single parents have even less choice. Daycares offer the same risk and discourage social skills as schools are doing.
So, what is the answer? Perhaps a Covid related, government issued benefit for a parent to stay home to care for, nurture and educate their young children. If we can pay any previously employed adults to stay home even though they could/should have returned to work, why can’t we pay parents to stay home? Of course, like a maternity/paternity leave, it would have to guarantee a job upon their return to work.
With Covid restrictions and precautions gripping our world for several months now, with no end in sight, online learning or e-school has become popular. It was a tough call, but my son and his partner (both essential service providers) decided to keep their eldest child home from school to reduce her (and the rest of our bubble’s) chances of contacting the dreaded virus.
Me a Teacher?
In high school, (waaaaay back when) one of my career goals was to be a teacher. That goal was stymied by lack of money in the family to support a university education. As I was fifth of sixth children applying for government assistance, the pickings were slim. I worked several jobs each summer and through the school years to scrape barely enough money together to attend college. Community college and medical laboratory technology was my reality.
That might explain why this always-wanted-to-be-a-teacher Grandma is embracing my new role as online supervisor to my seven year old granddaughter on the days her mom works or has an appointment. The teacher is online with the kids too, so I am just backup in case assistance or guidance is required, close enough for me.
In addition to the online learning I am helping my granddaughter with, I am creating lessons of my own to teach her during her breaks from the online stuff. Fun (to me) things like botany, geography and piano. She has shown an interest in my gardening business, so for her recent birthday, I gifted her with a mini greenhouse kit and some tulip bulbs.
Thegreenhouse kit came with all necessary components as well as instructions on how to grow plants from seeds. The seeds however were not included, so we collected some from my gardens…
When the seeds were all planted and peat pots were labelled, we decided to keep the greenhouse on top of our fridge as warmth and distance from little brothers is recommended for the success of this lesson.
Much to my delight, she has also shown an interest in learning how to play the piano. My eldest son (not her father) attended piano lessons at Music For Young Children years ago when he was just a toddler. I was the adult attending with him, so learned basic piano too. Fast forward almost thirty years to where I am sharing what I learned with all of my grandchildren, but as the oldest this particular granddaughter is able to grasp the concepts and has already mastered Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Music is indeed the universal language!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning
Back to e-school and the online lessons we are both learning. I must admit I am impressed with the online program (OCDSB) my granddaughter has access to. Her teachers are cheerful and as organized as they can be, considering they are teaching six and seven year olds. At the beginning we encountered a few issues, like login failures, link errors and inability to get our French accents to work. That’s where my learning came in; having never used a Chromebook, I was not familiar with the language options on it. I may be an old dog, but I can learn new tricks.
Three weeks in things are going much smoother, in fact more and more children are joining the classes every day as the number of Covid cases continues to rise. Of course there are disadvantages to online learning, the main one being lack of physical contact with their friends. Although during the breaks they can be amusingly chatty, some kids more than others.
The main advantage is the computer familiarity for the kids. They have learned to log in, navigate between tabs, create their own favourites list, copy and paste links, alter the size of fonts, as well as the keyboard layout and the function of different keys, etc.
Their “jamboards” are cool, an interactive screen created by Google, where they can play around with ideas, much like a white board in a meeting, except it’s online.
They do get breaks often so their eyes and brains don’t get too fatigued, including 5 minute dancing sessions. A favourite dance tune is The Gummy Bear Song, although I bet their teacher is sorry she introduced them to that one…
Tulips will be next for my offline lessons, planted outside with banana peels to deter the squirrels from digging up the bulbs. We have both been saving banana peels in our freezer in anticipation of planting. I usually wait until just before the ground freezes to plant to reduce the temptation for the squirrels. As my dad used to say “squirrels have to eat too”, just not my bulbs!
I also want to teach my granddaughter basic geography with the help of an atlas and a large wall map my son used to be fascinated with, if I can find it. We used to have a globe around here, but think it is long gone. This idea came to me yesterday when she thought Florida was in Canada.
Any other ideas for offline, supplemental learning would be greatly appreciated!
With a second wave of the Covid-19 virus leasing its germs upon us in this pandemic, it is more important than ever to keep our immune systems as healthy as possible as we head into colder weather.
My gardening business keeps me (very) physically active during the summer months, and I soak up lots of vitamin D, both important requirements for keeping our immune systems functioning at their best.
However, during the (too) long winter months here in Canada I spend my days freelance writingwhich does absolutely nothing for my physical activity or vitamin D levels. Instead of working in the sunshine and fresh air, digging, lugging plants and soil, I am indoors, sitting in a comfortable chair with my laptop.
Netflix movies are also more tempting on cold winter evenings, accompanied by a glass of wine and snacks of course.
When I was sick last February, we were just coming off a miserably cold and icy winter, meaning my immune system was probably at a low from lack of physical activity and vitamin D. My consumption of junk food was enjoying a winter high too.
I know it is hard to be motivated in our winter months to get outside, but I plan to keep reminding myself to do so this coming winter. Perhaps scheduling a morning walk with like minded neighbours is called for.
I won’t pretend I will completely avoid the high carb comfort foods, but I can limit them. Continuing my healthy practice of a hydrating and nutrient-packed green smoothie every morning into my gardening off-season should help too.
I’m sure you’ve noticed, we are now four (!!) months into a pandemic. Although lots of things have changed in these past 4 months, many others are slipping back into our lives now that we (some of us) are into the (many) stages of reopening. Stage three began here in Ontario last week. While many of us welcome the reinstated freedoms, many others are still feeling uneasy. With spikes in our provincial “numbers” that unease can only get worse.
I realized one of these slippery slopes at the grocery store recently, the third time in one week, although I wore a mask each time. In recent months I restricted my outings to a grocery store once a week or even once every ten days. As well as the grocery store, I (gasp) went to a few other stores last week too. I won’t however, be going to any (indoor) restaurants or bars any time soon, will stick to ordering online and pickups.
To say it has been a rough four months for many people and businesses, is quite the understatement. My own business, although more of a hobby than a salary dependent business, has slowed down considerably. The heat wave played a part in that, but the slowdown is mainly due to the fact that lots of clients decided to do their own gardening while they were stuck at home.
The silver lining in a reduced workload permitted me to spend more time in my own gardens that I now refer to as Gardens4me. Another consolation has been the ability to spend more time at our family cottage. My daughter-in-law is on maternity leave, so we have been heading up there with her two children while our men folk go to work, then meet us there on the weekends. Tough job, I know. The heatwave (so far) this summer has encouraged these extra cottage visits.
Now that we are permitted to, I also am using any extra moments to spend time with my five precious grandchildren. This picture was taken at one grandson’s (far right, on grandpa’s lap) 1st birthday celebration…
As you can see, I have fully embraced my gray Sliter roots, pun intended. My dad was totally white by the age of 30 as were many of his siblings and my own. My children and their cousins are now sprouting grays too.