Down Under

Today us Monday May 3rd. Kia ora katoa.

It has been very cold here in the mornings (and evenings), but quite fine and sunny in the daytime. We are still waiting for our Covid 19 vaccinations, and watching with horror the nightmare scenarios in India and South America. In Chile, where they have been proactive in getting much of the population vaccinated with their first jab of the Chinese vaccine (apparently it is only 60% effective), many people are still getting infected with Covid 19 and the ICUs are barely coping. In India, the crisis continues, as there is a major shortage of oxygen, and people keep dying (although the death rate per million people there is less than in many other countries).

It’s now Saturday May 8th. It is my second granddaughter’s 6th birthday today. It is the first time that I won’t see her on birthday.  I sent a happy birthday message, and her mother sent a beautiful photo of her at rugby. This afternoon she’s to have a pool party. I will see her again tomorrow.

Last year we were very honoured to visit her on her 5th birthday. New Zealand was at level 3, so she couldn’t have a pool party, or any of the usual rites of passage: last day at kindergarten, school visits, first day of school. She graciously invited us into her “bubble”, to share her birthday with her and her lovely family. When school reopened, she had to be dropped off at the school gate, so starting school was quite hard, at first. Kindergarten had been a very welcoming place, and then we went into lockdown. Now school was different. She’s settled in well now.

What else has been happening? It’s generally very cold in the mornings, but sometimes quite fine and sunny in the afternoons, necessitating quite a change of wardrobe. While the sunshine is always welcome, the nights can be challenging. It seems to get very cold around 5 am, before it warms up as the sun rises and shines into my bedroom.  I like to sleep with it not too warm, but sometimes I throw covers off, and then dream about being really cold, only to wake and discover that I am really cold. Ah, the vicissitudes! Sleep is a gift, I’ve decided. One is so grateful when one sleeps well. For the rest, I’ve learnt not to worry about it.  I can always listen to podcasts.

Last Tuesday my Tai Chi classes resumed for Term 2. There were 7 new people, and some old faces. It was nice to get back into it, although I didn’t have a great night beforehand. I had done no practice whatsoever, a fact I tried to disguise.

On Wednesday morning I had hymn singing, and had coffee with the organist afterwards. We had an interesting and wide-ranging discussion, following on from a discussion about the movie The Father, which has made a huge impression on me. Then I had my hair cut at lunchtime, and JD and I lunched at a café, sharing a panini, a small pie, and an apricot slice. On Thursday I had singing again, and an eyebrow shaping later that afternoon. This was a day that began really fine and warm, and turned to persistent rain, cold and wind after lunch.  I was going to catch the bus that left Johnsonville at 3:17 pm, and went up to the bus stop in plenty of time, only to see one rush past at 3:09 pm. I couldn’t make any sense of Realtime on my phone, and waited, getting colder and wetter, not daring to move to a bus stop with a shelter and seating in case my expected bus did come after all. It did eventually turn up, so perhaps the earlier one was a school bus, or driver training. Whatever the short delay, I wished that I’d wrapped up more warmly!

On Friday my cleaner came, and afterwards we went shopping at New World in Thorndon, always a good experience. The car park and store were quieter than sometimes, but it was still pleasantly busy in there.

With respect to Covid 19, the odd case still pops up, in Australia. Recently there were three cases in Perth, and one (now two, I think) in Sydney. The Trans-Tasman travel bubble seems to adjust depending on new cases – in Australia.  I guess many will be saying the New Zealand government is being too cautious, but looking at what’s happening in India, and now Nepal, where Covid 19 has infected several at the Mount Everest Base Camp, you can’t be too careful. The T20 cricket season has been suspended, but one New Zealand cricketer, Tim Seifert, has been diagnosed with Covid 19, and moved to a private hospital in Delhi. The rest of the squad are due to fly back to New Zealand, and presumably, to quarantine on their return.  There is criticism of Modi’s behaviour, and while he’s been punished by losing election in West Bengal, he’s continuing with a huge new Prime Ministerial development in the capital. Much of the rest of India is in dire straits, after its earlier supposed success against Covid 19.

Australia has imposed dreadfully cruel rules on Australians returning from India: a fine of up to $60,000, or 5 years’ prison, or both. This seems truly draconian, and has been denounced by others, but the Aussie government is standing firm for now. Where and how did they learn to be so harsh, to their own people?  You might say they should have come back by now, but I’m sure that many, like our children, took their chances and decided to stay. Had they known things were going to become so difficult, and that here in May 2021, Covid 19 would not be under control world-wide, they may have decided differently.

Having said that, recently in England there were only 4 deaths from coronavirus reported overnight.  England is cautiously reopening – its pubs and gyms. I read somewhere that one in 400 have died there due to Covid 19, and although seeming extraordinarily high, this figure may be accurate. In Nepal, almost every second Covid 19 test is positive – a very high figure for this nation. Although it is mountainous, and many small towns and villages are not readily accessible, there is not much in the way of a health system. These countries – India and Nepal, supposedly places of enlightenment, are now confronting a deadly disease, one which sickens many people and kills some of them. Even if you wouldn’t mind having Covid 19, you certainly wouldn’t want to pass it on to anyone else, or not see anyone; and who would look after you?

In the US politics continues to be very strange, despite Biden doing wonderful  things for the country. The Republicans, now firmly in the grip of the Former Guy (as he is now known), is seemingly about to purge itself of Liz Cheney; Mitt Romney was recently booed at a Utah Republican convention. While many of us would have despised Cheney and Romney for their politics, and seen Dubya as an evil person, the former two are now looking like honourable people, who stand up for their principles; Dubya has redeemed himself, somewhat. Oh dear, One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Many States with Republican control of local government are passing draconian voting laws, so how on earth can Democrats have any hope of winning contested seats, where they may have had a chance in the past? Commentators talk about 2022 elections as if it were still a recognisably uneven playing field, not one where liberal votes have way less chance than before.

On that dismal note, I’ll end this piece. I received a lovely Mother’s Day card in the mail from our daughter. That gives me cheer. Ngā mihi.

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