The office at Mar-a-Lago

Today is Wednesday August 31st, 2022.Kia ora!

 It was a beautiful fine day yesterday, although cold in the morning. There was a heavy frost – I looked across at a field steaming, seemingly on fire, but it was the frost being warmed by the sun.

I visited a friend in the afternoon yesterday, catching the I pm train from Johnsonville.  I got myself to her house, and back again on public transport, and felt very proud about that. There were no cancellations!

The covid 19 report yesterday wasn’t too bad: there were 2,464 new cases, and 11 deaths. There were 314 people in hospital, and 4 in Intensive Care.

On the deaths being reported, one was from Northland, two were from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Nelson Marlborough, one was from Canterbury, one was from West Coast and one was from Southern. Three were in their 70s, five were in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, six were women and five were men. There are now a total of 1884 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19,

There were also 128 new cases reported at the border.

Today on Wednesday I got up early to go to hymn singing, and then I met a friend for coffee. It was so nice, we had a good chat. Afterwards I went to the New World supermarket in Khandallah, hoping to get more Olivani dairy-free margarine; they don’t have it here, either. Then JD picked me up. 

In news today, Senator Lindsay Graham has threatened riots if former president Trump is indicted. Riots!  People are really shocked by this.  Meanwhile, it’s reported the Wall St Journal (owned by Rupert Murdoch) is wondering if the FBI search gathered up all the remaining classified documents. I am wondering why they didn’t carry out their search sooner; evidently they’d asked for these missing documents several times. The story gets worse and worse: it seems that Trump, far from storing these documents in a secure location, had them all over the place, and sometimes travelled overseas with them. He wrote on some of them. The FBI is reported to be doing a “damage assessment”. 

Mikhail Gorbachev has died at the age of 91. Who could forget President Reagan’s begging “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”  That would be the Berlin Wall, which divided Berlin into East and West; I remember the horror when this wall went up. In 1974 JD and I went through Checkpoint Charlie.  The wall seemed permanent, then.  I remember the grey, colourless nature of the East, as opposed to the colourful nature of the West: living it up, for tomorrow they might die.  There was enormous fear that the Soviets would invade. I watched a documentary on Gorbachev a few years ago; I got a biography out of the library, but it was a large tome and I didn’t read it all. He was a remarkable, if conflicted, character.  I guess he’s best remembered for ending communism, and the Iron Curtain; despite a pronounced swing to the right in Hungary and Poland, the Baltic countries are independent, Ukraine is fighting to retain its independence, and everything is very different indeed. The communist governments crumbled so quickly!

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 2,244 new cases, and 288 people in hospital, including 2 in Intensive Care.

A further 17 people with Covid-19 have died. Of the deaths, two were from the Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one from Taranaki, one from Whanganui, three were from the Wellington region, four were from Canterbury, one was from West Coast and one was from Southern. One was in their 50s, two were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and 12 were aged over 90. Of these people, nine were women and eight were men.

In Ukraine, Ukrainian forces are attempting to retake Kherson.

I haven’t been able to catch up with all the news.

It’s now Thursday September 1st.

This morning I went to my Thursday morning singing group.  There were 28 people there! It was lovely. I was exhausted, before and afterwards, but it was heartening to be there. A friend of mine from my hymn singing group was there too.

In the afternoon I had a zoom meeting with Hōhepa. 

Everyone i.e. most people, especially Americans, are shocked to see the photo of classified papers strewn on the floor in Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago. It’s generally assumed that he will be indicted. It’s become apparent that the documents weren’t stored correctly, and that they had been sought for months, despite one of his solicitors signing a document to say that all government documents had been returned. It’s been pointed out, repeatedly, that the documents didn’t belong to Trump, they belonged to the American government, specifically the National Archives. I was shocked, furthermore, at the carpet: surely the former president would have a more attractive carpet in his office?  On Fox News Karl Rove said that Trump was not permitted to take documents from the White House.  There are huge fears for human intelligence (i.e. spies) abroad, as well as whatever other secrets may have been divulged. Trump has made various claims, including saying that all the documents had been returned, when evidently they hadn’t. Evidently Trump claims to have information about French President Macron’s sex life. As he’s a good-looking Frenchman, I don’t think any of us is too surprised, or overly interested.

It’s now Friday September 2nd.

This morning someone came from Access to do some housework. Accordingly, I changed the sheets and towels, emptied rubbish bins, and generally tidied up. Boy, am I tired. Hopefully this feeling will pass.  I told people yesterday that it wasn’t fatigue so much as weakness.

In China three large cities have been locked down – because of Covid 19. In Chengdu 21 million people are locked down; other areas have also been affected. They test everyone there, and always find some asymptomatic infections. I always find that really strange, and it casts queries over the effectiveness of their testing. I don’t know of anyone who had Covid 19 here without any symptoms. Meanwhile, here, the government is thinking about scrapping mask mandates. Many countries have reduced the isolation period from 7 to 5 days.  I guess that’s understandable if one has Covid 19 mildly, but for some of us it takes months or weeks, not days, to get over it.  But there’s no question that the rates of new infections, hospitalisations and deaths are going down. Today there are 1,800 new community cases, and 269 people in hospital with 3 in Intensive Care. There have been 10 further deaths.

Among those who have died, one person who was in their 60s, one in their 70s, six in their 80s and two aged over 90. One person was from Northland, two were from Auckland, one was from Hawke’s Bay, two were from MidCentral, one was from Wellington region and two were from Canterbury. By now 1910 deaths have occurred as a result of Covid 19. Yesterday 2 deaths were reported.

In Russia, the chairman of Lukoil, Ravil Maganov has died after falling out of a 6th floor hospital window. His company had been so bold as to criticise the Russian military exercise in Ukraine, and express sympathy for the victims. This seems very strange indeed, and very unfortunate. He’s reported as being the 8th Russian energy executive to die suddenly this year, and the second from Lukoil.

It’s reported that there are still hundreds of people with the virus in hospital across the country. They are in Northland (four), Waitematā (44), Counties Manukau (25), Auckland (50), Waikato (38), Bay of Plenty (nine), Lakes (seven), Hawke’s Bay (three), MidCentral (13), Taranaki (three), Wairarapa (four), Capital & Coast (17), Hutt Valley (five), Nelson Marlborough (four), Canterbury (31), South Canterbury (five) and Southern (seven). In Wellington there are still 17 people in hospital!

The government is to review New Zealand’s traffic light system in two weeks.

On Saturday we went shopping to New World in Thorndon.  It was raining and overcast, but very busy at the supermarket. They had raspberries!  We bought lettuce, bananas, coffee beans, quiches, salads, peppermint trumpets, and bread. On Saturday evening we re-watched Morning Glory on Eden, bemoaning the fact that on Sunday there are much better offerings. This film seems dated now, but Harrison Ford was very good indeed, I thought. I quite like Amy Adams but she was very AHDH here, I thought.

In the US, more dreadful facts emerge each day as a result of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago.  Some of the folders, marked classified, were empty. Where are the contents?  David Brooks agrees with me that the carpet in Trump’s office there leaves something to be desired.  And apparently there’s a public bar in Trump Tower that has been redecorated as a 45-themed bar with a Classified folder on display. People are asking if there are documents in New York, or at his Bedminster Golf Club.

In Ukraine, the Ukrainians are tight-lipped about their ventures in retaking areas taken by the Russians. The International Energy Agency has been allowed to visit the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, but there are conflicting reports about their difficulties, and how much they were allowed to see. The plant is presently held by the Russians. Everyone is holding their breath, as this is a particularly vulnerable site; a strongly built site, but the Ukrainians didn’t expect it to be shelled, or its backup power generators to be damaged. The Russians have closed down their Nord Stream 1 pipeline; although this was not unexpected, the Russians initially said it was for maintenance for a few days. Now it seems it will be permanent – apart from supplying Hungary, of course.  I think the US needs to export fuel to Europe, but it seems this will happen next year. In the meantime, Europe is in for a cold winter.  The summer has been terribly hot; perhaps their winter won’t be so severe as usual. Some are turning to nuclear power – Germany is reported to be re-opening their nuclear power plants, after closing them. I think nuclear power is terribly dangerous, in any case – it’s fraught with risk, but what if you have a drought, or flooding, or an outage, or an earthquake to destabilize the foundations? We read this morning in Jeremiah 18:1 – 12 about the clay in the potter’s hands, and about how God can fashion the clay.

It’s now Sunday September 4th.

It’s fine and sunny, and it’s Fathers’ Day.  I made a video of JD opening our daughter’s gift to him, and posted it on Storypark.  It didn’t work quite the way I’d intended!

This morning I went to the Johnsonville Uniting Church – a really difficult place to get to, but they had a huge turnout, and had to keep bringing more chairs. The Cantate Ladies’ Choir was there too: they sang Bruckner’s beautiful Locus Iste, Dona Nobis Pacem (I wanted to join in!), and a Negro spiritual song. There were perhaps 12 voices, including a beautiful soprano. Where were the male voices, I wondered? 

The Rev. Reg Weeks took the service, and preached – or gave a reflection. It’s always a joy to listen to him.  Afterwards, I had a long black coffee and a cheese scone at the café at Johnsonville Library. I thought that by going a bit before lunch time, it wouldn’t be so busy there, but it was, and I had to sit on a stool, not a proper chair. It was very nice, though – their cheese scones are pretty good. Then I caught a bus home.

I hesitate to wade in about the Sussexes, again, but Meghan’s two podcast episodes on Spotify and an interview in something called The Cut have aroused interest. By the way, I haven’t listened to any of them, and I think it’s really bad form to dish anyone – be it the Royal Family, Africa (didn’t Prince Harry rather like Africa?), Australia, New Zealand etc etc.  It strikes me that her whining is very like Trump’s – always the victim, with nothing positive to say.  Neither of them is prepared to move on, or look forward. They wuz robbed.  But nobody points out that after having a baby most of us are really  fragile for a while. Some have post-natal depression, which is truly awful; may of us are uncomfortable, with stitches in strange places, sore, leaking and large breasts, and desperately trying to get back into our pre-pregnancy shape; meanwhile, most new mothers don’t get much sleep; and then there’s the whole issue of adjusting to having this new little person not kicking around inside you any more, but having their own life and space and taking up rather a lot of room! They can also make quite a lot of noise – distressing noise, at that.  Leaving the new baby is such a guilt trip, too, and everyone wants to give you advice – much of it contradictory. I remember after I gave birth to my fourth son thinking that I could safely ignore advice, I now knew what I was doing.  But surely most people know this is a fragile time – you don’t just expect to be the person you used to be straight afterwards; that pre-birth person has gone, no matter how settled your baby is.

Anyway, I look forward to Archie and Lilibet being teenagers, and wondering why they don’t know their cousins or grandparents. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of grievances.

That’s it for now. More Covid 19 news tomorrow. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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