Today is Sunday July 5th. Kia ora katoa.

It has been 5 days since my last blog. In that time, we went to Napier for my daughter’s IDP last Wednesday.

We drove North on Tuesday, in weather that was not great – it rained most of the way. We had lunch on the way – I had tomato soup, and JD a sausage roll. We shared a delicious apple and tamarillo cake for dessert.  The menu had changed, and the best cabinet food was already taken, but it was a nice stop. In Napier, I realised that I had left my black trousers in Wellington. These were to be the basis of what I was going to wear! Never mind, we had dinner at Café de Laos, where it was very quiet.

The next morning we were due at Hohepa (the boardroom at Clive) by 9:30 am. This was a different IDP to any I’d experienced previously! Our daughter was brought across, and sat by me. She looked well and happy and said my name beautifully.

The meeting went well, interrupted by my daughter needing to go to the restroom a couple of times. Afterwards, we took her back to the Rose Weavery, promising her that we would take her out for dinner that evening. We visited the art teacher, and the shop, where I bought raspberry jam and some cheese.

Then we headed back to Napier to eat lunch and buy a newspaper. I looked at Farmers’ for cheap black trousers, but there were none.

It was very cold that day. It was on the verge of raining, and there was a very cold wind. We had a rest at the motel. We picked our daughter up as agreed at 5 pm. She looked wonderful. Then we drove to Lone Star (at her request). I had an idea that they didn’t open for dinner until 5:30 pm, but they were well open and had several guests there already. They welcomed us again, and we were pleased to see how busy they were on a Wednesday night. Vicky had a hamburger tonight, instead of her usual fish.

Afterwards, we took our daughter back to her house where (allowed inside again) we had a lovely chat with one of her carers.

The next day, Thursday, it wasn’t quite as cold, but it was raining steadily. It seemed a good idea to drive back to Wellington, there really wasn’t much to do in Napier in the rain.

It rained steadily till we got past Woodville, where we had lunch. We got safely back to Wellington.

Everywhere we went things seemed to be humming, and people were cheerful, in spite of the cold weather.  We couldn’t play compact discs in the car, so we listened to the radio, trying in vain to find the National programme. I was horrified to hear a female host swear on ZB. What is the world coming to? It was the day we learnt that David Clark had resigned his position as Minister of Health, and we listened to seemingly endless reports about this.

Other than that, things seem to be going along swimmingly. There are few, if any, new cases of Covid 19 in New Zealand, and testing shows no community transmission. This is amazing. Here, we get none, or two or three cases daily, all from New Zealanders who have returned from overseas and are in quarantine.

Sadly, overseas, the news is not so good. In Australia, cases have increased by a large amount, with alarming increases in Victoria. Last night we heard that some suburbs are to go back to lockdown (although you can still go to work), and nine tower blocks are to be sealed off, immediately, with no one able to go in or out, for perhaps two weeks and a minimum of five days. These are to be guarded by police, and presumably food and medical supplies will be provided to the residents, often living several to a small flat.   There had also been some breaches of the quarantine system.

In the US, jaws continue to drop as records for new coronavirus case infections are burnt through each day.  Well over 130,000 deaths have been recorded. Americans are appalled to learn that they aren’t welcome in Europe (they need our tourist dollars!), or even by their neighbour, Canada. This is truly shocking. Then, too, there is the stunning news that Russians paid bounties for American soldiers killed by Afghanistan’s Taliban, and the continuing stories and protests about racism in America (and elsewhere). Added to this, is the opinion polls, which show Biden increasing his lead over Trump as candidate for President. The 4th of July celebrations have been very muted, shut down altogether in some areas, wilfully going ahead in others. Independence, what independence? From what?

What to worry about first? The Lincoln Project puts out a series of searing ads, day after day, and while these aren’t subtle, they look very effective. The President, meanwhile, shows little if any concern for the virus, although evidently his eldest son Donald’s girlfriend, Kimberley Gilfoyle, has tested positive. It seems that many people in the US are truly scared, and taking some kind of precautions; others, especially followers of the President, cast caution to the winds.  This is just so terrifying for us, looking on, to say nothing of American people trying to live their lives, and find food that’s safe to eat. One article in The Atlantic magazine claims that Trump is turning the United States into a “shithole” country. The US looks increasingly isolated.

With regard to the coming presidential election in November, I worry that the President, now that things are looking bad for him, may react as a cornered  bull and retaliate further. He has already shown scant regard for human life, for race, for history, for anyone except himself and maybe his daughter Ivanka.…And how is the election to be held? Will mail-in ballots be allowed across all states? What kind of security is being put in place? Who is responsible? Will (neutral) observers be allowed? We all look on at “American Democracy” with a sense of horror. No wonder many despise this system and don’t even bother to cast a vote, although the American people are told repeatedly (by Comey, Bolton and others)  that the election is the correct mechanism to make their voices heard. Will they use it? Will they even be able to? We have seen long lines of people waiting to cast their vote at state primary elections.

In New Zealand, there is a note of resilience, of optimism. We have faced hard times before (remember when Great Britain joined the EEC?), and had to diversify, many times. This has been another crisis (one we’ve weathered rather well), and most people are well-placed to weather this one and rebuild as necessary. After all, Lord of the Rings Tours were only created and became popular after the six (!) Tolkien movies were filmed here. That was a need that created, and was addressed.  I am sure this can happen again. Meanwhile, several film crews have been allowed to enter this country. In the meantime, locals can enjoy beautiful scenes and explore their own backyard without the crowds of overseas visitors.

It strikes me that for many of us the coronavirus lockdown here has received an interesting response. It’s accepted that there are five main stages of grief. In my experience, grief is multi-facetted: there are may different ways of looking at any issue, many different perspectives, ranging from anger and negativity to acceptance and perhaps seeing advantages of a changed situation. I feel that for many of us this has been our response: initial shock, changing to hope, endurance, acceptance, and then being thankful to be so well looked after, to have had the opportunity to slow down, and to look forward, without the fear that envelopes so much of the world, even as many countries are relaxing their restrictions. I still have not spoken to anyone who thinks our lockdown was not a good idea.

That’s all for now. Nga mihi nui.

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