Being Thankful

Today is Tuesday November 24th. Kia ora katoa.

It is several days since I last blogged. It has been quite a busy time, but I have been feeling quite anxious, too, for various reasons.  I guess my main concerns have been the worsening coronavirus pandemic overseas (we continue to live here in what I hope is not a fool’s paradise!), and the stalemate over the US Presidential election. Apparently today it has been announced that Biden is the “apparent winner” of the election, and the transition is to begin formally (I would say “to formally begin”, but that would be a split infinitive: something I can’t bring myself to do!)

I have been to my usual activities: Tai Chi, hymn singing, and my regular Thursday morning singing. I have been to Queensgate Shopping Centre, and immediately wondered why – it’s noisy, busy and chaotic. The reason I go there is they have a rather nice H & M Store there. I was interested that all but one of the counters was cash-free; I wanted to pay by cash, so I had to wait for the one counter that would handle my purchase.

Last week got very busy. On Thursday, I enjoyed having lunch with some friends. On Thursday evening there was an impromptu meeting with some Hohepa folk.  This was welcome, but it was in Kilbirnie. Nevertheless, we went, and I enjoyed it. On Friday my cleaner came (necessitating a tidy-up first!), and two cousins came for afternoon tea (one of them was down from Auckland). On Saturday afternoon there was a birthday party out in Te Marua (an event which had its own challenges); on Sunday we went to see the film “Secret Impressionists”, and shared savoury and sweet pancakes afterwards.  The paintings were just wonderful. Some are privately owned, and I had seen none of them in real life. It struck me how Renoir painted beautiful and happy women; Monet didn’t paint any women; Berthe Morisot was a wonderful female artist; and I don’t know of any paintings by Picasso of happy women.

This morning we had to leave extra early. I was shocked to read a death notice in the newspaper of someone I used to know quite well. Evidently he died of cancer although I didn’t know he had been unwell.  I want to send flowers, but evidently the family home I last knew has been sold. I have to admit I feel quite unsettled by this. The funeral is to be on Thursday morning, so I will have to miss singing that day. I feel I should definitely go to the funeral. Perhaps I can leave a card with the Funeral Director tomorrow.

This morning I went to Tai Chi, my second-to-last class for the year. Four of us are to have lunch together next week, after the last class.  I will then look forward to Summer Tai Chi at the Aotea Lagoon, weather permitting.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to catching up with a friend. On Saturday one of my grandchildren has a birthday party.

Overseas, the Covid 19 statistics continue to be nightmarish.  The US is affected all over now; in the UK, a four-week lock down has been imposed, with a three-tier system to follow, which seems incomprehensible. The good news is that some vaccines (three, at this stage), look promising, heralding an escape from this potentially dangerous situation. While here in New Zealand we are able to go to cafes, churches, concerts, and cinemas; play sport, and live pretty much as normal, but without overseas travel, even to and from Australia.

It is now Friday. The weather is quite warm, although quite windy too. Yesterday we went to the funeral of an acquaintance of ours. Sadly, although there were wonderful tributes, there were no hymns or prayers.  It rained throughout.

In the US, the presidential transition is underway, with amazingly steady, thoughtful, intelligent, well-educated people being appointed. There has been little, if any, pushback to these appointments. America (well, some Americans, and the rest of the world) exhales a sigh of relief – there is something to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving. I feel we are edging towards Biden’s inauguration as President on January 20th, but there are still several days to go till then, and there’s still some apprehension, despite the so-far laughable legal efforts to cast doubt on some votes.

What is it with Thanksgiving?  What a strange celebration, with dried up turkey, far too much sugar, and suggestions for starters, soups, and desserts. Then there are the queues at airports. Dr Fauci suggested skipping Thanksgiving this year: someone said, if you celebrate this year, you may be facing empty chairs next year.  They have the perfect excuse not to make a big deal out of this.

Then there’s all the money spent, on food, travel, followed by Black Friday sales and hard on its heels, Christmas.  There was lots of money given to various election campaigns. Yet millions are in poverty, there are long queues at foodbanks, the water and air quality is just awful, and public health is not great. How come there is lots of money for some things, and none for others? The other night I watched “Hillbilly Elegy” on Netflix. Apparently after JD’s grandmother died, they found 19 handguns at her home.  How come buying guns is even a priority? The film is hard to watch at times, but I had read the book and wanted to see what they did with it. I’d have to say that in my judgment, it’s a good film, enhanced by the amazing performances of Glenn Close and Amy Adams.

I am reading Jack, by Marilynne Robinson, and Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome.  That book has a lot of statistics!  But it’s interesting how it takes climate change and disease into account as being big culprits in the roman Empire’s downfall. That’s it for now. Ngā mihi.

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