Hopes and Prayers

Today is Sunday November 15th. Kia ora katoa. Kia kaha!

My tears of joy, when I heard a week ago that Biden had won the presidential election in the US have turned to tears of frustration and despair.

Why am I upset again? Trump is refusing to concede to Joe Biden, and the coronavirus pandemic is worse than ever.  Trump does nothing about it, but meanwhile Biden has set up a coronavirus taskforce, named Ron Klain as his chief of staff, and has many fine people in mind to do the many jobs that he will appoint people to do. Biden has been gracious, and has spoken well. Every time I hear him, he goes up in my estimation. There is great relief that he has worked in the White House before; that he’s been a Senator; that he knows his way around, despite his age, and that unlike Trump, he is actually good at making deals. For a 78 year old, he seems to have plenty of energy.  I hear only good things about him. I sincerely hope that he stays well, and alive.

Many overseas leaders have congratulated him on winning the presidential election, and now being “president-elect”, but few republican politicians have. As Joe Biden said, memorably, it is an “embarrassment” that the US is in this situation, that the transition can’t forge ahead in the way it would like to.

Trump’s lawsuits are failing, and yet he has millions of supporters, who echo his claim that the election was somehow rigged, or stolen from him. Biden received many more votes. There are fears of a literal coup breaking out, while a metaphorical one is underway.  It occurs to me that if he (Trump) really loved his country so much, he would take steps to prevent so many of its people getting ill and dying.  It’s ironic that steps being taken now to manage it, such as mask mandates, shelter-in-place orders, and closing of certain facilities, seem to be much more readily accepted than previously. I am hearing no more silly talk of ones’ “freedoms”.

Back here, it has been quite a busy week again. It has been cold and windy, although it is very warm today.  My Tai chi class on Tuesday was very pleasant, although it was raining outside; I sang hymns on Wednesday morning, and confess I did not know any of the tunes! On Wednesday afternoon I got my hair cut, and on Thursday morning I had singing. On Friday we had our art session, and I painted people dancing in the streets, with the US Capitol in the background.  There was great rejoicing, but no MAGA caps, no American flags, and no guns: just pure joy, tempered by relief.  After painting we went to a café. Although I didn’t feel great beforehand, I enjoyed it once I was there.

Overshadowing all this has been severe flooding in Napier. We received messages from Hohepa and from our daughter’s house to say that they’re all right: this time, Clive has been spared the flooding that it sometimes gets. The Napier CBD was badly hit, and suburbs like Pirimai, Marewa, and Onekawa: the New World there (where I often shop) was badly flooded. So we feel for all the people there. Two Hohepa community houses had to be evacuated. Still, there is Hohepa land up in Poraiti, and households are easier to evacuate than Hohepa Clive.  I am reminded, again, that much of Napier is below sea-level. This problem is likely to get worse as sea-level is predicted to rise.

I have been doing some reading lately. I reserved several  books at the Library, and after waiting for several weeks, they have mostly come in at once, day after day. I have read Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile, and quite enjoyed reading it; I am now reading Marilynne Robinson’s Jack. I have read two reviews of Jack, and, while nothing much happens, it is a good read.  The library allowed me to renew it, and I am taking it slowly.

I also have on the go Dan Carlin’s The End is Always Near. I find his material on nuclear power frustrating, but his ancient history less so.  It’s interesting that this book was published in 2019 before coronavirus took hold of our lives: he says, that could never happen, thanks to modern medicine, but it just did. Although we are somewhat insulated here in New Zealand, it continues to affect our lives, and those of our loved ones.

I have Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome to read: I listened to a very interesting podcast featuring this author; I also have a Cold War spy story, Steve Vogel’s Betrayal in Berlin (not started yet, it just looked interesting at Unity Books).

Superseding all these, I am reading Anne Enright’s Actress, her book about her actress mother. I picked this up yesterday, and needless to say, I am engrossed in it. It’s always good to have several intriguing books on the go!

The Dom Post have put up their prices again. We’ve been through the “this is a luxury we can’t afford” argument, settling it with I really enjoy the puzzles, and I need to read the obituaries. It’s very important to know when friends and acquaintances pass away, as happens more and more frequently now.  It’s cheaper to get the Dom Post delivered, than to buy it at the shop. But the errors in journalism are so annoying – the headlines, to grab attention, the undue emphasis on individual emotional struggles – “heartbreak” is a much overused word.  At least they have stopped talking about “Covid refugees” (many of those returning – New Zealanders – have plenty of money and are buying houses sight unseen); there was talk about Napier houses being “inhabitable”, when clearly “uninhabitable” was meant. This has now been changed.  There has been some good investigative journalism, too. Well done, Dom Post. I suspect the new editor, Anna Fifield, is making a difference.The paper has shrunk, too, as many things have been let go: movie listings, TV film reviews, much of the previous stuff.  Nevertheless, I should like to give the new editor a go, and continue to support the newspaper.

It has been a concern last week (and continuing into this week) that the internet, and many of the applications I use, are running really slowly, if at all. Last Tuesday I could not send email messages to my daughter’s house in Napier. Calendar has been having issues; Stitcher which I use to listen to podcasts is not working properly. Everything takes ages to load. Chrome works sometimes better than others, sometimes not at all.  Some podcasts run for a while and then stop, and simply won’t go again. I liked using Stitcher, which shows how far into the podcast you are, but I don’t use it anymore.  This also causes frustration.

Meanwhile, the agony continues, as to when and how Trump will leave the White House, and when the transition will formally begin. Thank goodness there is lots of experience in Biden’s team as to how things should run, especially matters relating to national security. So much of the rest of the world’s security depends on this.

That’s it for now. Nga mihi.

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