Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s back to 1 we go

wild weather westerday in Wellington’s Eastbourne

Today is Tuesday June 29th. Kia ora katoa.

It is freezing here today. A polar blast has seized the South Island, and Wellington too, bringing snow to parts of the city. This morning websites variously gave temperatures in degrees Celsius as follows: 3, -2, 4; the Stuff site says 7 now, but it is really cold outside. It took quite a while to warm up inside, too, despite having hot showers and wearing extra layers of clothing. Note: my computer now says the temperature is 6 degrees Celsius.

Yesterday (Monday), forecast to have a cold start at 5 degrees, was really warm and balmy: I went out for lunch without a jacket or coat, and in the afternoon had to change into cooler clothes. The sunshine at lunchtime was so sharp that although unwilling I had to move out of it. But last night there was a huge peal of thunder, and a very heavy rain shower, that woke me. I must say I find these changes a little disconcerting: it would be appreciated if we had some consistency for a few days!  Despite the cold wind, planes just keep coming in, flying overhead, so it must be a southerly wind.

Yesterday three old friends visited. It’s nice to spend time with people you’ve known for a long time. We especially enjoyed talking about our grandchildren, all enjoying a degree of trust (one hopes!) and challenge. Spending time with them is gratifying and pleasantly tiring. We do things we didn’t do with our own children. Why not? Well, we were working, always tired, and generally preoccupied with getting through the day, after meeting essential commitments.  Entertaining our friends, it was nice to get out the good china, cutlery and glassware again. I didn’t drop anything. The tablecloth and napkins weren’t stained. There were no worries about it not being warm enough, although when we said good bye it was already cold and windy outside, in contrast to the fine, warm weather earlier in the day.

Tonight at midnight Wellington moves back to Level 1 for Covid 19. There are still no new community cases of Covid 19, and it has not been detected in the wastewater. So that’s good, although in Australia cases continue to rise (29 new cases today), and the Delta variant of Covid 19 is causing great concern around the world. The Australian person who visited Wellington has been diagnosed with the Delta variant, and his partner has now been diagnosed with it too. There was concern last yesterday that two close contacts of an infected mine worker from the Northern Territory of Australia were in Wellington: apparently they have both returned negative Covid tests (for now!). 

The vaccination availability is causing concern. While some people in Wellington have been vaccinated, many have not, and the country is due to run out of vaccine next week. It’s also expecting a new supply; meanwhile, Group3 (which includes us) is now advised that we will be asked to make appointments from the end of July. So the whole situation is a cause for concern. While I am relieved that there’s no apparent spread from the Australian visitors’ escapades, I can’t help feeling that we’ve just dodged a bullet, but that the coronavirus is waiting to catch up with us. It just doesn’t feel right that we should be in this situation. Do we feel guilt, perhaps? Or just apprehension? The virus has loomed to the forefront for us, after being in the rear-view mirror for the last year or so. Sure, we’ve refined our precautions, by wearing masks on public transport (well, most of us do); scanning wherever we go (and adding manual entries if the phone won’t scan the QR code); being extra careful not to touch surfaces and wash hands whenever we come home. I feel a bit anxious again.

Here in Wellington, there is another crisis to deal with. In addition to the wintry blast, there are very high waves on Wellington’s South Coast, and some shoreline residents have been evacuated. A state of Emergency has been declared for some coastal areas. It’s very good to have someone in charge, and that people are able to evacuate relatively safely.  The Desert Road is closed, and the situation in the South Island is quite bad, with extreme cold and road closures. Evidently some have lost power – I certainly hope we don’t here. Goodness knows how anyone survived the freezing conditions in Texas a few months ago.

It has been brutally cold here. You go into a room, and wonder why the heater’s not on, only to find it’s on High!  I tried to heat some food in the Microwave, and it took ages. I tried to make some toast, and had to keep toasting the bread.

Meanwhile in the US they have been having a heat wave. The heat continues to break records in Oregon. People are trying to check into hotels which have air conditioning. It’s a reminder that human beings struggle with extremes of heat and cold, and are very dependent on a power source for heating or cooling.

It’s now Wednesday June 30th. I had a really good night’s sleep – I was woken at 7:45 am by the alarm on my phone! That hasn’t happened in ages. I count it success if I don’t wake till 6 am. Today the weather is much, much better, although my computer says it’s 6 degrees Celsius. It feels warmer than that. It’s overcast, with a slight wind, and cold, of course, but it’s kind of nice to wear my puffer jacket, with the hood up, warm gloves, and a scarf, and feel not too uncomfortable outside.  I feel a bit protected, wearing gloves. The weather yesterday alarmed my sons overseas, but the real drama was on the South Coast and the road to Eastbourne, where some people had to be evacuated and waves washed over the roads.  There was some snow, too, and hail in some areas. For us, it was just bitterly cold. I was even cold in bed, and had to get up and have a warm shower before dressing warmly. Shawls and rugs were needed as well. I know I’m repeating myself here. I’m not having a “senior moment”.

This morning, given that I had slept much better than usual, and the weather was so much improved, I went to hymn singing.  A few other brave souls were there as well. As usual, it was lovely, and I was pleased that I went. Afterwards, the nearby café had several empty tables, so I had morning tea – a scone and a long black coffee.  After that I caught a bus into town, where everyone was masked, and you didn’t have to tag on and off.  Perhaps this was industrial action? Who owns Snapper, I wonder? Never mind, it seemed like a kind gesture, for those who don’t have a gold card.

In town, I thought about going to Unity Books, and decided against it, because Mr Covid from Australia went there.  Bother!  It was one of the first places I went to when our lock down was lifted last year, and we could go further than two kilometres from home again. There are very few nice bookshops left in the Wellington region.  Of course I don’t need any more books, but it’s nice to handle books and decide what to reserve from the library.

I did some shopping and caught a bus home, walking the last distance from the shopping centre. Only one passenger was unmasked on the bus.  It doesn’t seem too much to ask, to wear a mask on public transport, does it? After all, you’re protecting not just yourself, but others too, including your own family and friends, and especially, the bus driver.  

In Australia, there are 34 new cases of Covid 19. Here in New Zealand, there are no community cases, and one in MIQ. At 1 pm Covid response Minister Chris Hipkins and Dr Bloomfield give another press conference on the situation with vaccines.  Dr Bloomfield sounds amazingly reassuring. He’s very good in these situations (usually). We are reassured that the current supply is being well used, and will run out next Tuesday. They’re of course hoping that the next supply  will arrive as scheduled, and vaccinations can continue. Meanwhile, given the current scare, I think we’d all be relieved if we’d all been vaccinated. 

The Hohepa Family Weekend is now not far off – an occasion of hugging, singing, dancing and general joy and celebration. There’s even to be a Ball, a “Red Carpet” event, and we’re invited to be “dressy”.  That’s something to look forward to – I hope the music’s not too loud – and I hope it’s not too cold. Even better, it’s free of charge. Koha appreciated. As always. I do enjoy an opportunity to dress up. Hopefully I won’t be expected to talk!  I don’t want to appear anti-social, but in my experience, it’s hard to have a conversation at these events. Perhaps Hohepa management will limit some activities, in terms of greetings, to high fives, elbow contact, or better still, “namaste”, where one bows to the other person, with both hands joined, so you can’t shake hands with them. That’s something I’m totally comfortable with.

My granddaughter in the US now has her own email address, so I can communicate with her by email. I enjoyed writing letters to her – the whole issue of “snail mail”, writing legibly, being creative in another way, finding appropriate things to write – the old-fashioned art of letter writing. I now like to think our correspondence has transitioned to email, which is much easier for me. There is much to be thankful for.

That’s it for today. Ngā mihi.

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