Sunday, 20 September 2020

AH, COME ON......

If you remember the scene in Love Actually when Colin Firth stomps in frustration as someone steals into the taxi he was about to take, you will know what I look like most of the time lately. My feet are aching! Better than grinding my teeth or swearing, I guess. Does anyone tell the truth anymore? Does common decency not exist anymore? Oh, oh, I feel the need of a rant coming on.



The Drumpf announced this week that Canadians wish to open the border, but, god bless him, 🥴 he has insisted that it remain closed. Yah, right?? Apparently, given our massive cases of COVID 19 up here in the great white north, we pose an imminent danger to the U.S. Ah, come on! Where is the truth? That over 80% of Canadians have pressed their government to keep the Canadian-U.S. border closed is a well published fact.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a revered American icon who wisely and diligently served her country on the Supreme Court. Within a mere 12 hours of her death, McConnell and the Drumpf had politicized her passing, discussing the pushing through of a nominee to fill the vacant seat. Ah come on! This one gets to me the most. Where is the decency? Can Americans please be given a chance to mourn! How repugnant and disgusting can this White House get?  Oops! That would require another rant!

Did you know that global warming does not exist? According to the Drumpf, the California forest fires are a result of the Democratic Governor not having the forest floors raked. Ah come on! The truth, please. Mr. Drumpf, how exactly should California rake 3,451,428 acres of FEDERAL land. Just asking. A 4.5 quake rattled Southern California yesterday. I am now waiting for the Drumpf to criticize the Democratic Governor with not lubricating their fault lines.

Meanwhile in Canada:

When Erin O’Toole was forced to get tested for COVID in Quebec because of long waits in Ontario, he lashed out at Mr. Trudeau for not providing speedier tests nationally. Ah come on, Mr. O’Toole can we talk about truth? I had higher hopes for you than this. The fact that you were able to be tested almost immediately in Quebec belies the fact that federally we have an issue. Be honest; you couldn’t attack your provincial Conservative counterpart; you need his support. Better to take a dig, no matter how falsely based, at the PM. More importantly, though, if you are truly unaware that health care is a provincial responsibility, god help the federal Conservatives.

Throughout the pandemic, I have been pleasantly surprised, Mr. Ford, by your strong wartime leadership. However, you lost me when you blamed this year’s school turmoil on the teachers’ unions. Ah come on! Please don’t become a clone of Mr. Drumpf when it comes to accepting responsibility. The teachers’ unions were never consulted by you or Mr. Lecce during the process. Planning for this year’s school year was left until the last moment and then dumped on the school boards with little direction. And please don’t tell teachers to step up to the plate like our wonderful medical workers. Teachers have not received years of training nor experience in wearing gowns and masks nor in dealing with infectious diseases in the classroom. As the professionals that most of them are, they are stepping up and they will learn, but with little help from your government.

Okay, I feel better. Rant over and I didn’t have to stomp. My feet are relieved.




Sunday, 9 August 2020

ANXIETY AND YEARNING

How are you dealing with this pandemic? As much as I am loathe to admit it, I’m not ‘doing this’ very well. 😢 

Some days I hop out of bed, determined to enjoy the great day ahead of me. I’ve got this, I think. And then, as with this week, I feel burdened down with anxiety - the pandemic, my daughter-in-law and grandchildren returning to school, recurring COVID spikes worldwide, the future economy, the U.S. and Mr. Drumpf, the explosion in Beruit..... Can I just please crawl back under the covers and emerge when this is all over?



I have so much to be grateful for - a healthy family, a husband with whom I enjoy spending time, food on our table (albeit probably too much), financial freedom, the opportunity to read even more, and keeping in touch with wonderful friends via email, Facebook or over coffee. That I have so much for which to be thankful only adds to my guilt when I yearn for those moments I can no longer enjoy. Perhaps too often I indulge myself in remembering what I miss.

I miss travel - everything about it: the pure joy of maps spread out on the table, books piled beside my chair and an iPad humming as research begins for a new trip; hearing Jim say, Book it Dano! 😂 ; sitting in my plane seat waiting for that exciting moment of takeoff; the wonder of meeting new people, learning about and visiting the culture and history of a country, trying new foods... Sigh!

I miss my cooking classes at the Passionate Cook. An evening of meeting 11 other people, drinking wine, listening and watching Lisa talk food, and enjoying what is always an extraordinary meal.

I miss swimming and UxPool, an hour of simply being in the water, intense exercise and my swimming buddies.

I miss hugging friends and family. Let me assure you that this pandemic is unbearable for a hugger.

Most of all, I miss my family. No planned Thanksgiving in St. John’s with Christopher and Stephanie. 😢 No sleepover weekends with my grandchildren. 😢 No family dinners with Matt, Michelle and the kids. 😢

I know! Suck it up princess. Okay, okay, I’m trying!  I imagine wrapping up all of my I misses in a box. When the pandemic passes, I will be able to open my box like a giant gift, savouring more than ever and never again taking for granted what I so yearn for.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

JUNE....TOO SOON

As I watch Tropical Storm Cristobal work her way up the Gulf of Mexico, I am reminded of an old Caribbean poem:

June too soon
July stand by
August you must
September remember
October all over



This year in Barbados, as sands transported over 5000 miles from the Sahara Desert on bursts of strong winds, left a thin layer of dust everywhere and created breathtaking sunsets, I remembered 2001 when we last experienced this phenomenon on our island in the sun. My cousin, Michael, predicted a severe hurricane season that year. When questioned why, he explained that the hot layer of air spinning off the African continent increased the chance of vertical wind shears and thus hurricanes; the dust was evidence of those potent wind bursts. He added that Barbadians from years past, without understanding the meteorological reasons, would predict a year of bad storms when Saharan dust arrived in the spring. Hurricane Michelle Category 4 in November (yes, as late as November) 2001, moving slowly and stalling frequently, left widespread devastation over Central America and the Caribbean. One of the worst storms in Caribbean history.



The day after a glorious Bajan evening of pink skies, I commented to our apartment manager, Christina, about how beautiful the evening had been.
Christina: Sand from the Sahara is in the air. Be ready for a day of dust.
Moi: Bad hurricane season?
Christina: For sure!

Three named storms this year before June 7 and the NOAA’s 2020 prediction of an above-normal severe hurricane season sure lend legitimacy to those Caribbean wisdoms of yore.



Now, should we discuss Gramma’s chicken soup cure-all? 😂 




Monday, 1 June 2020

CAN I START AN AVALANCHE?

At least that can’t happen in Canada. How smug we Canadians are, me included, as we sit in the great white north witnessing the violent riots south of the border and passing judgement on our neighbours. Don’t rush to pat yourself on your self-righteous Canadian back yet or believe that racism does not exist here, that we are a nation of absolute cultural tolerance, because we most definitely are not.



😡 May I remind you of the Asian front-line ER nurse who was recently spat on and verbally assaulted.....by a 60-year old white woman.
😡 May I remind you of the Orthodox Jewish students who were assaulted on a Toronto Street.
😡 May I remind you of the plethora of reports of young Muslim mothers wearing the hijab who have been verbally insulted in front of their young impressionable children on Canadian streets.
😡 May I remind you of the disabled senior indigenous woman who was dragged from her vehicle and slammed to the ground by a BC RCMP officer as she wasn’t, on his instructions, exiting her car fast enough.
😡 May I remind you of the now highly successful NHL player who found himself often isolated at training camps and whose abilities were initially doubted simply because of the colour of skin he was in.

Our son, Christopher, is one of the most liberal, accepting, open-minded people I know; he is my inspiration. As a teen, alone on his way to meet friends, Christopher was crossing the foot bridge from Ontario Place to the CNE. Approaching him from the opposite direction and pointing at him were four black youth. For a flicker of a second Christopher wondered if he should be concerned about his personal safety. Worried, that is, until the young men hugged him and cheered, Yeah Barbados, Mon”. On Christopher’s t-shirt was the Bajan flag. Would Christopher have suffered that flicker of concern had the four youth been equally well dressed, but white?

This February, as the coronavirus garnered increasing concern, I stood in line for the registration desk at Markham Stouffville Hospital, maintaining the recommended 6 feet of social distancing. Fine, right? Sadly I am loathe to admit that when a Chinese woman joined her Caucasian husband already in front of me, I immediately increased my social distance by twelve feet. Why? Did I really believe that all Asians carried the virus? Driving home I was forced to admit that I was in denial if I thought that I harboured no racist thoughts. Damn! I thought that I was better than that.

How often have I been in social situations where I have heard a racial slur, but not wishing to cause any problems, have allowed the slur to pass? How frequently in Barbados have I witnessed tourists assert their perceived superiority by insulting locals because of their skin colour, but have not called out the racist?

My actions are not good enough.......not any more. If I ignore intolerance, if I don’t stand up to it, it won’t simply vanish. Racism and cultural intolerance will only fester and grow if I bury my head in the sand. Masai Ujiri, President of the Raptors stated today that, to overcome racism we must raise our voices.

A very wise friend once told me that, it just takes a pebble to start an avalanche. I need to be a pebble. I need to root out the latent intolerance which exists in my psyche and I need to call out racism and intolerance when I see and hear it. Want to help me start an avalanche?







Sunday, 3 May 2020

SEETHING DISGUST

Thinking that your personal freedom outweighs the health and safety of your neighbour isn’t really a freedom issue. It’s entitlement. Any high school civics student could explain it to you. Your freedom to swing your arm ends when you hand hits my face.

I’m sick of this, he screamed at the young lady attempting to administer hand sanitizer before he entered the grocery store. Ignoring all floor directional arrows, he stepped within mere inches of customers to reach across them and grab items, manhandled pieces of fresh produce and sniffed them before choosing one, and yelled threateningly, What? at any shopper who dared to look at him askance. His behaviour was thankfully short-lived as the store manager arrived to escort him from the store. His, What about my groceries? was met with the manager’s calm,  I am sure we are capable of finding where to put them back, sir! My silent cheer almost morphed into a happy dance. Thank you Uxbridge Vince’s.

The disgust I felt at this yahoo’s actions pales, though, in comparison to the seething rage I experience when watching protesters in downtown Toronto. Whoever you are, this one is for you. If there is a group of more self-absorbed individuals in Canada right now, I am not sure where to find them. Kids at home too much? Spouse getting on your nerves? Desperately need a haircut? Oh, I know.....you miss boozy nights at the local pub with your buddies!


Can we juxtapose your uneducated, ridiculous demands with the number of Canadians who have tragically lost their lives to COVID 19, most having battled the virus alone in the hospital? How about the families who have lost loved ones? How about friends and family with compromised immune systems? I have an idea. If I am to lose a family member to COVID 19 because you find protocols too inconvenient to follow, how about you choose one of your family members to sacrifice? Fair is fair!

Most importantly, how about the sacrifices of our front-line workers who, nearing physical and emotional exhaustion and risking their own lives, head back daily to the frontlines? Frontlines? Yes, we are at war. We just can’t see our aggressor. I can only assume that an invisible enemy is too difficult a concept for you to grasp.



You’ve endured two months at home? Awww, poor babies! You have no bombs raining down on you, a full refrigerator, internet service, instant communication with family and friends, and the ability to enjoy the outdoors, albeit slightly limited. Damn it, even your liquor stores are open! This is a cake walk compared to your parents and grandparents who survived not mere months, but endured years of fear, the trauma of family separation, the loss of loved ones and strict rationing during World Wars I and II. 

It was a time of crisis; it was the same team, the same fight. We are facing a crisis now. It should be the same team, the same fight. Sorry you are inconvenienced, but get over yourselves. You are pissing me off.  Better yet, head to the U.S. where the President will encourage your protests. Just remember, there is no health care to cover you when you come down with the Coronavirus.  


Monday, 2 March 2020

TRAVELLING IN THE SHADOW OF THE CORONAVIRUS

One week today, God willing as my mother used to say, Jim and I will be in beautiful Barbados. Christopher and Stephanie fly in from St. John’s the next day and Matt, Michelle, Morgan and Zachary arrive on the Saturday for Spring Break.

This trip has been over a year in the planning and is eagerly anticipated by our whole family. Christopher has even taken a partial sabbatical in order to be present. No celebratory party, we told our kids. Our chosen 50th Anniversary celebration was to return to Barbados as a family, to spend time with Christopher and Matthew where they grew up enjoying their Spring Breaks and a Christmas and to watch our grandchildren, Morgan and Zachary, experience for the first time the island of their heritage. What I did not anticipate was how emotionally I would become invested in returning to my island in the sun.

And then COVID-19 cast its menacing shadow over the world of travel.



How does one remain informed but not glued to the mood-dampening, often panic-creating media coverage? Get off the internet; turn off the news? Will that calm my mind? But then how do I remain informed? How do I find the balance between obsessive worry and taking this health threat too lightly? A number of our friends have already cancelled European cruises scheduled for this summer. I totally get it. Jim and I are of the at risk age group. Matt and Michelle justifiably worry about Morgan and Zachary. Damn. Why now?

What was it that the Roman philosopher, Seneca, said? We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. Dig deep, Daf; let those nightmarish worries go. Be practical, I tell myself. Be 100% aware, educate yourself, take appropriate precautions and then get on with living. A frantic bunker mentality is also not healthy. Jim has always lived by the philosophy that it is a waste of emotional energy to worry about whether the sun is going to come up tomorrow.

Modern Canadian passenger jets have HEPA filters which filter the air of respiratory droplets. That said, packed in our carry-on bags will be hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes. We know the many areas to wipe down on and around our seats and to avoid the washroom, but if nature insists to immediately use hand sanitizer when we return to our seats. Common sense tells us to stay away from anyone coughing or showing signs of respiratory illness. I can only hope that such a person would be not allowed aboard. Thus far that has been Canadian airline policy.

Our destination accommodation is not of the sort ripe for spreading illness. It is not a cruise ship, currently referred to by some medical experts as floating petri dishes, nor is it a giant resort where we would be surrounded by strangers. Our two apartments are directly on the Caribbean and fully open to sea breezes. Little time will be spent indoors. Our modus operandi in Barbados has always been outdoor activities and living. The vast majority of restaurants are al fresco. We know to wash, wash, wash our hands. Hours of swimming and snorkelling in the sea should assist with that. Sunshine, laughter, exercise, sea breezes, fresh air, and healthy foods can only bolster our immune systems. Oh, and although she may be scrubless, we have our own personal lovely nurse.....Stephanie. ❤️



Excuse the language, but f**k you COVID-19. I will be alert. I will be cautious, but I refuse to be paralyzed by fear. Bring on Barbados. I am soooo ready.


Friday, 28 February 2020

LADIES and GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE BEGUN OUR DESCENT.......

Window seat, left (port) side of the plane. Don’t forget!

At 5 hours and 10 minutes, the flight time from Toronto to Barbados is not inconsequential, but it is one that with my eyes closed and with knowing only the time that has elapsed, I can tell you exactly where we are. I love and anticipate every moment of this flight. For me it is the ritual of anticipation necessary before setting foot on my island in the sun.



Take-off, chatter, coffee and breakfast kill the beginning few hours as we head over New York City air space and then bank south over the Atlantic picking up the Caribbean beam. At 2 1/2 hours, nose pressed to the window, what I am waiting for is the first sighting of the ocean colour change from dark, menacing navy/grey to vibrant, welcoming turquoise blue and the appearance of little popcorn-like floating clouds. Like the sunshine and sparkling sea, my mood brightens.



I know that we are closer when Antigua and Barbuda come into view below. Small green and brown land masses rising from the sea, they are circled by white lines of waves and brilliant turquoise waters. Look closely enough and white sand beaches are even visible. Excitement!

Just a bit more flying time. If you are conscious of what is to come, you can feel the subtle beginnings of Air Canada’s approach, and then what I have been waiting for, the First Officer makes his announcement, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have begun our descent into Barbados. Please take your seats, place your seats and trays in the upright position and fasten your seatbelts. Yesssssss! Now my nose has become one with the window, eagerly waiting for Barbados’ north point to come into view.......and then there it is. I can’t help it; I know I am a sap, but my eyes well up with tears every time. Almost home.

Window seat, left (port) side of the plane. Remember? And now our seat selection pays off. The flight approach to Grantley Adams International Airport tracks down the Bajan west coast,



 banks sharply at the Careenage allowing you to peer directly down into the sea 😲 and then levels out paralleling, our favourite, the south coast in. 



Sit on the left and Barbados is laid out before you. Sit on the right and you are still looking at the sea. With mounting glee, I identify favourite locales along the coast. At Ostins, Air Canada crosses over land and descends to the airport.



Exiting the plane, sunny warmth and the smell of jet fuel hit you. Sounds crazy, but at that moment I love the pungent smell of jet fuel. 



Step on the tarmac, head towards customs, hear the lilt of Bajan accents and smell the sweet salty breezes. Home at last! ❤️🌴🌞😎🇧🇧