Single figures (briefly)

Today is Wednesday September 29th, 2021. Kia ora!

Today I would have to admit I’m a bit down. Yesterday there were 8 new community Covid 19 cases – we were in single figures! But there was concern about Covid being detected in Tauranga’s wastewater. Authorities in Tauranga are concerned, but there’s so far no further news. Anyone who has Covid 19 symptoms in Tauranga is encouraged to get tested.

Yesterday was quite a busy day. A plumber came in the morning to check the shower in the en suite bathroom. Since the power outage just over a week ago, the taps in the en suite have been running slow, and the shower has been really frustrating: it’s been hard to get the water hot enough, and the flow varies – you think it has come right, and then it goes strange again. It transpires that we need a new valve. The plumber went away for a while, then came back and fitted the new valve. I’m pleased to report that it’s made a huge difference, and the water flow is now much greater.

Meanwhile, I had a friend visiting that afternoon, and a cousin wanted to return a book I’d lent her. I needed to go up to the local store to buy some dairy milk for my friend (we don’t usually have dairy milk in the house).  You can’t buy anything in a rush these days – but suffice to say I got the milk, the new valve got installed, JD got to his appointment, the book was returned, and all went well. I even washed the dishes and tidied up a bit. My friend and I drank English Breakfast tea out of my beautiful new green cups, and we had a lovely chat. We talked about our loved ones overseas, and how the coming here of the delta variant of Covid 19 has changed everything. We can understand their weariness better now. Last year, in 2020, I used to joke that while our children overseas and their families are tearing their hair out with frustration, at least they didn’t have to worry about us. We were safe here, and life in Aotearoa has been almost back to the new normal.  Now that’s all changed. We, the fully vaccinated, are now too scared to go anywhere, or do anything much. Would we feel safe at any kind of gathering? A cinema, a concert, a restaurant or café, a church service?  We go to the supermarket and buy things we don’t really need, because, after all, what else is one to do?

Yesterday there were 8 new cases of Covid 29. Today there are 45 new cases! That is devastating!  I was quite upset when newspapers like the Guardian did not highlight yesterday’s  good news; today, that 45 is the biggest number of new cases we’ve had in a while. Yesterday there were no new locations of interest. Had we turned a corner? Today there are new places of interest – another shopping mall, in west Auckland. A patient at Waitakere Hospital, who had gone there for another test, tested positive for Covid 19. Meanwhile, conspiracy theories abound. Every time there is some new development, voices of criticism are quick to shout that the government should have done x, y or z; should have planned better; should have had prior knowledge. And yet we have all proved to be wrong. There’s still so much we don’t know about why some people are much more infectious than others; the most infectious time seems to be before you know you have covid; and hey, you change your approach as you go along, as the news keeps changing. It’s true though that the best behaved people (fully vaccinated, careful) are probably the wariest about using their so-called “freedom” to stimulate the economy. Much as we’d like to sing, go to church or the movies, and eat out, we’re terrified of any gathering greater than two or three. We daren’t plan ahead:  my daughter in Hawkes Bay has her next birthday early in December. I wonder what we’ll be allowed to do then, or at Christmas?

Our singing leader advised that she’ll be holding the last singing session on zoom for term 3 tomorrow morning. Then we’ll have two weeks’ break for the school holidays; after that, it may be clearer whether we can meet physically again.  So that is quite depressing: a zoom appointment is an appointment, even if it just involves putting a jersey over one’s pyjamas. Now we’re in that weird in-between phase, when many zoom sessions are now meeting physically (which is scary), and others are cancelled. While we love to see our grandchildren, the school holidays can be a rather fraught time.

Speaking of shortages, they are starting to bite. Here in New Zealand, coffee beans are short again, although you can still buy most other kinds of coffee. Evidently pasta is in short supply, although that doesn’t really affect us. Some metals, such as those used for making computer chips, are in short supply, Something’s happened to the fertiliser supply (I’ll have to listen to John Dickerson on the gabfest podcast again to find out the exact details).  Most of the world is heating up, but in China, coming right after the property company Evergrande being in major financial difficulties, (causing protests, unusual in China), there have been power cuts. 

The major shortages are in the UK, where policies of Brexit and the pandemic have combined to create predictable shortages – of most things, many foodstuffs, lorry drivers, and now, a severe petrol shortage. Christmas turkeys may well be scarce as well. My son used to say he and his wife could buy from local markets – now they’re complaining about shortages as well. As the UK goes into winter, and facing the fear of extreme cold and short days that brings to many colonials, the shortages are causing alarm. It’s all very well for Lady Colin Campbell to claim that the autumn weather continues to be marvellous: long may it continue! Presumably she’s not too fussed with trying to buy food to feed a family. I’m also aware that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex flew by private plane from California to New York and back recently, despite professing to care about climate change, and despite the fuel shortage in Great Britain. Some cancer patients couldn’t attend clinics because of the fuel shortage.

I well remember the three day week that was on when we first went to England in December 1973. There was a lot of terrorism back then, and North Sea oil had not yet been discovered. Opec had just been set up.  I was deeply struck by the apparent poverty in England, as well as the immense wealth, too. Of course, the wealthy could get around the gas shortage then – one toff bought up the local petrol station. Problem solved. We were stacked over Heathrow Airport for a time, and I remember the rows and rows of Coronation St type terraced houses we flew over.

While we were there we saw many wonderful sights, amongst them Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London. I remember being rather appalled to find that my husband’s great aunt had a wooden bench top (now she was not hard up). We went to a New Year’s Eve party at a pub in Kent, and caught the hovercraft on New Year’s Day to. Calais. We then (somewhat hungover) caught a train to Paris Nord. I later discovered that this was the Gare du Nord.  There are many memories of that wonderful first trip overseas, but I was hugely disappointed not to see the British Museum – it was closed, because of the 3 day week.

So, really, the shortages here aren’t too bad. We’re ok, but we would like to feel safer from the unseen enemy, as we wonder if each site visited will be the move towards disaster. Most people are wearing masks. We don’t have major shortages here, yet; raspberries have not appeared on the scene, but asparagus has, and avocadoes are cheap and plentiful. There is lots to be thankful for.

In the US, the Democrats are discussing (wrangling over) Biden’s plan, but there is a debt ceiling crisis which demands attention right away. Yesterday, no Senate Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling (I.e. fund what has already been spent, such as Trump’s tax cuts). Even Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney voted against this. What kind of madness is this?  Their names are already blackened, surely things couldn’t be worse for them? These two have voted with republicans more than once recently, to my intense disappointment. I guess the Dems will sort things out somehow, and they don’t need me to stress about their issues.  It also seems that the Arizona audit of the presidential election, which actually give Joe Biden a bigger win, has not slowed down the former guy at all from lying about the election result.

The answers to all these problems is that time will tell. Is today’s figure of 45 new cases of Covid 19 just a bad blip, or a sign of things to come? What should the government do next?  Will they get lucky?  In Australia today, Victoria had more new cases (950 and 7 deaths) than NSW (863 cases and 15 deaths).  The number of deaths is certainly shooting up. This has a dire effect on the medical staff, who have to deal not only with dying patients, but with their distraught family members as well, who cannot be with the dying person in the way they would wish. Thankfully here we have not had many deaths from Covid 19, thus far,

That’s it for today. Nga mihi.

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