Today is Friday September 3rd, 2021 Kia ora.

Today has been a fine day. It was memorable because Access had rostered a new cleaner to come – at 1:40 pm.  Consequently I got up and raced around changing the sheets and towels, and putting other washing on, emptying the rubbish, and folding and putting away clean washing. At least we had time to have lunch before she came.

The lady who came, on time, was very nice. I showed her where everything is kept. She was pretty efficient, and got on well with JD – always a bonus. Whether she’ll come again, I don’t know. Meanwhile under Level 3, JD is quite busy again. A new listing came online today, and many people want to see it. Under the present rules you can only have two viewings per day, so that keeps things manageable. Poor vendors, there’s nowhere much for them to go at present – except to the supermarket. There are lots of phone calls.

In overseas news I learnt that there has been severe flooding in the north-east of the US, affecting New York and New Jersey very badly, in what is being called the tail of Hurricane Ida, which wreaked such terrible destruction in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. The death toll from this flooding kept rising: it now stands at 44 (September 3rd, 2021).

In Australia, the figures are still dire, and growing: Victoria has 208 new cases, and one death; NSW 1431, and 12 deaths; Queensland has no new cases.

In New Zealand, we learn at 1 pm that there are 28 new cases, all in Auckland bar one, which is in Wellington (thankfully, a close contact of an existing case). The Deputy PM, the Hon. Grant Robertson, and Dr McElnay present this news. There are 43 people in hospital, including 9 in High dependency units, and 3 on ventilators.  Aside from this, there are the usual silly stories of people going outside their permitted zones, and being stopped by police: Level three is not level “free”, one of them said. It’s encouraging that the total of new cases is less than yesterday; the question remains, however, of concern about new community cases who are not linked to an existing case. Evidently there are some, and it’s a worry. Someone with Covid escaped MIQ in Ellerslie, and walked to their home, but were dobbed in by a family member, so no great drama there.

The other big news of the day concerns a cyber outage, affecting NZ’s third-largest ISP (Internet Service Provider) – an organisation I’d never heard of: Vocus NZ. We had noticed during the morning that something was up, with email and other online features behaving strangely; then, weirder still, there was a stabbing attack at a West Auckland Countdown supermarket, where 6 people were injured, and the perpetrator was shot by police: “Isis-inspired lone wolf  shot dead after stabbing six shoppers”, reads the headline in the NZ Herald. The victims are all in a critical condition in hospital.  The attacker, we later learn, was a very troubled refugee from Sri Lanka.     

It’s now Saturday. There are 20 new cases of Covid 19, all in Auckland, so the total is going down nicely. Sadly, an elderly woman (90) has died in North Shore hospital. She did have other conditions, but it looks as though she died of Covid 19. 43 people are in hospital, and 7 in Intensive Care.

It’s now Sunday September 5th.

Late last night I received an email from a friend of ours. It said that he would be speaking at a service at St Matthew’s in the City at 9 am. This morning I did some research, and found that this was indeed so, and I could watch this service on Youtube. I duly did so and was very impressed. It is exactly one year since my friend’s funeral was held in this same church. Auckland was under lockdown then, but as it was Level 2 restrictions, they could have 50 people at her funeral, and we were invited. This morning was a very poignant occasion, bringing back all kinds of memories.  He spoke about home – what does it mean to you?  I heard about the importance of being at home with yourself, and of being at home with God.  There was discussion about our being guardians, or custodians, perhaps, of this beautiful plant. What is our oikos, exactly? I read the Hohepa Flier the other day, and it featured a woman moving into her new home, a chalet!  This was a huge time for her. I’ll make sure to ask her how she’s finding it, next time I see her. I am quite frustrated with my home, although I have to admit that during lockdown it’s ideal; JD and I can be comfortable in separate rooms. I’m also relieved that we didn’t get rid of things, although we will have to, very soon.

After this I was able to watch the church service here via zoom. The minister commented on clothes and zoom backgrounds – I doubt if anyone realised I had a jersey on over my pyjamas.  Ah, the mercies of zoom!

It’s Father’s Day here, and I posted a photo of my daughter’s card wishing her father a happy day, and a photo of him, on Storypark (our messaging application).

Today there are 20 new community cases of Covid 19, the same as yesterday.

It’s now Monday, September 6th

Last night we learnt that a patient at Middlemore Hospital has tested positive for Covid 19. This is causing concern. This morning I learnt that a pupil at Auckland’s Diocesan School for Girls has tested positive.  Neither of these locations were places of interest, as I recall. Today at 1 pm we expect to learn today’s new numbers, and at 4 pm the government’s decision is to be announced regarding further restrictions. It’s widely expected (and hoped) that the rest of the country, south of Auckland will go to level 2.  We’ve been reminded that Level 3 is not level Free, as the police have stopped multiple motorists from travelling. Thank goodness they continue to monitor the situation.  I feel that this government’s lockdown decisions have wide support. We’re now being compared with Taiwan, which had a very low vaccination rate, yet managed to stamp out Covid 19/delta.  The press here are going on about the government’s disastrous (i.e. rather slow) approach to vaccination.  I think they’re making too much of it.

In Australia, Victoria has 246 new cases; NSW 1,485 and three deaths. No, that was yesterday. Today NSW records 1,281 new cases and five deaths. In New Zealand, there are again 20 new cases, and forty patients in hospital.  This time younger people are getting very ill, and I think there are more in hospital here than previously.

This morning I listened to a Skullduggery podcast about the Supreme Court’s action in not restraining the new Texas abortion law. Podcasts, still quite obsessed with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, are now quite horrified by this draconian new law.  Michael Isikoff talked about the “Taliban-controlled Texas legislature” – I believe I made a similar point recently about the mediaeval approach to women shown here, never mind Afghanistan.

I also listened to another podcast about Afghanistan, which focused on Biden’s treatment of US European allies and the UK. I must admit that I found this distressing: remember how NATO nations rushed to support the US when it invaded Afghanistan, on the pretext that it was providing shelter to Osama bin Laden and Al Quaeda? While the decision to invade was surely ill-considered (remember how Dubya was going to “Bomb Afghanistan back to the stone age”, not realising that it was already a very backward country), yet NATO allies hastened to support the US. There are some very short memories out there, as there were about Ukraine.

I am reminded again of the cruelty (and kindness) of many Americans. Violence, which I had thought was widely seen as not being acceptable in any circumstances, is condoned, even recommended there. In some charter schools corporal punishment is allowed.  Biden talked about taking Trump behind the bike shed; Madison Cawthorn has recommended violence; and then there are the vaginal ultrasounds widely used on women. I can thankfully say that I never had a vaginal ultrasound. It sounds quite unpleasant to me. A book was recently published called The Cruelty is the Point, by Adam Serwer, an award-winning journalist at the Atlantic magazine.

I also read an article in the LRB about the Puritans, which also mentions their extreme cruelty. Remember the Salem witch trials? The word puritanical remains associated with religious dare I say bigotry, and a strong sense of moral rectitude.  The landing of The Mayflower is still celebrated today. The Puritans became “free” to practise their own particular type of tyranny, just as today the US remains a country of huge contradictions.

The injunctions in the Bible about loving your neighbour and being kind to the poor (which occur in many places) seem to have been forgotten by Evangelical Christians today, more’s the pity. The Good Book also says that the Love of Money is the Root of Every Evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

This morning we walked to the local supermarket. It’s milder now, but not sunny, and not raining, either. The store is quite busy, but I can buy bread – Vogel’s and Mohlenberg.  The shelves seem quite well stocked today, but I could only buy a large container of dishwashing detergent. I declined, although I need it: a large container is just a nuisance (and very heavy to carry home).  I must admit there’s a bit of a “devil may care” attitude to my shopping now – I am perhaps more generous than I would usually be. Normally I’m strict about not spending too much.

Today we had sandwiches with hard-boiled egg, avocado, and green tomato chutney. They were very nice. I haven’t tried to make cheese scones again. I should have been reading books, but I’ve listened to lots of podcasts and tried to get through my pile of LRB offerings (That’s the London Review of Books). There is some gold in there (some dross, too, I’d have to say). I’m torn about renewing my subscription. Perhaps there’s an online version that’s cheaper.

We await the 4 pm decision. That’s it for now. Ngā mihi.

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