Daring to Hope

Democrats did better in the recent mid-term elections than predicted by the polls

It’s now Saturday November 5th, 2022. Guy Fawkes Day. Kia ora!

It’s fine and sunny today. I wonder if there will be a formal fire cracker celebration; I think it’s been deferred to the Matariki midwinter celebration. There have been some fireworks around here in the evenings; they happen  again on New Year’s Eve.  I wish they’d be restricted to a specific date!

We went shopping yesterday, so no shopping today. I rang a friend of mine who’s had covid; she’s better now, but still coughing. She did get to see a doctor at her medical centre in Willis St.

It’s now Sunday November 6th.

Matt Hancock is to appear on the Australian “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here”.  Opinions are divided on this, but most views are that it’s a really bad idea. When it comes to Mike Tindall, married to Zara, Princess Anne’s daughter, that’s a different matter. For one things, he’s not a Working Royal, and he’s not on the Civil List. Furthermore, he’s (or was)  a sportsman.  Matt Hancock, on the other hand, is a disgraced member of Parliament. He was filmed snogging his secretary while he was Minister of Health.

I went to church this morning. There was hardly anyone there – there’s still many affected by Covid 19, but it’s a beautiful fine sunny day again, and quite warm, too. What’s happened, Wellington? Summer after all? 

Going to church was a lovely experience. My friend was playing the organ – we sang familiar hymns including What a Friend we have in Jesus and There is a Redeemer.  He played before the service, for the entrance, for the hymns, for the offering, and then afterwards. It was quite beautiful.  The texts were from Job 19: I know that my Redeemer Liveth, and Luke 20: 27 – 38: God is not God of the dead, but of the living.  The sermon/homily/reflection was quite wonderful too.  These texts both reflect the resurrection, both from Job in the Old Testament, and Jesus addressing the Sadducees in the Gospel.  The minister spoke about the difficulty of imparting the Good News of Jesus’ salvation, and the kinds of questions one may get, often around why does God allow suffering? The book of Job provides some answers here. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord”. I recall the words of Peter in Peter 1, 3:15 : “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give an account of the hope that is within you, but with meekness and fear”. I know for my own part I don’t want to annoy anyone.  I think that meekness is really important.

Later I think again about John Milton’s wonderful introduction to his epic poem Paradise Lost: Of man’s first disobedience….

Later that day we had lunch at Kaizen Café in Porirua. It was lovely there, although they’ve changed the menu. I couldn’t have their delicious cheese omelette any more, so I had Eggs Benedict, and brought rhubarb shortcake home for afters.

It’s now Friday November 11th.

I haven’t blogged for several eventful days. On Monday morning I went to my exercise class in Ngaio. There had been a fatal accident at Khandallah at the intersection of Station Road and Cashmere Avenue, and consequently the road there was closed and the Johnsonville Line trains not in operation. During the morning, the trains were operating between Wellington and Ngaio; around midday they were cleared to go through to Johnsonville. I was thankful that JD drove me there and picked me up afterwards. We bought fresh croissants for lunch.

The Covid 19 report was published on Monday at around 1 pm.  It read as follows: there are 20,522 new cases of Covid-19 in the community and 18 further deaths this week. Of today’s community cases, 2483 were reinfections. The seven-day rolling average of community cases is 2926 – last Monday it was 2343. As of midnight yesterday, there were 323 people in hospital with the virus, including eight in intensive care.

Of the deaths being reported today two were from Northland, three were from Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Wellington region, one was from Nelson Marlborough, four were from Canterbury and two were from Southern. Two were in their 30s, one was in their 50s, two were in their 60s, one was in their 70s, six were in their 80s and six were aged over 90. Of these people, 11 were women and seven were men.

Today’s figures compare with 16,399 new cases, 41 deaths and 243 people in hospital, six of them in intensive care announced a week ago.

There are still many cancellations of commuter train services, trains replaced by buses, and bus cancellations, mostly due to sickness, or staff availability. This continues to be very frustrating for anyone hoping to use public transport. Meanwhile, there is still lots of Covid 19 around, including new strains. My son and his family had very different symptoms of Covid 19 from my husband, myself and another son’s family members; they didn’t have the cough, but had high temperatures and muscle aches. Covid is still very much with us, with many having avoided it to date, only to get it now. Although it’s fine and sunny most days, and we can be outside, there still seems to be a lot of sickness around and spring allergies are causing some havoc.  There are very few masks around.

On Tuesday I had hoped to catch up with one of my sons and his daughter; I discovered that they were all in various stages of having Covid. I needed to get out of the house, so I went to town and visited Unity Books, where I looked at several beautiful books, and resisted the impulse to buy any.  I did reserve several at the library, however.  I caught buses there and back. I had a toasted cheese scone and a cup of coffee, but things still don’t tsate as good as they used to. I blame Covid 19.

On Wednesday morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. One couple had recently returned from a trip to Switzerland for important family events; they had had all kinds of trouble with their international flights – a salutary warning. After that, we had our Te Reo class in Khandallah. It was lovely – we learnt about foods – an easier topic, I think!

Afterwards I went to a friend’s house for lunch. After a delicious lunch, and admiring her garden (it was another beautiful day), another friend gave me a lift home.

That night we got some early results of the mid-term elections in the US.  Fortunately, Republican candidates did not do as well as expected, although final results are still being tallied; control of Congress is yet to be determined, and the Georgia senate seat currently held by Raphael Warnock and competed for by Herschel Walker is to go to a run-off election on 6 December.  There are some successful democratic governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Louisiana, Kansas and Maryland.  It seems Lauren Boebert may lose her Colorado seat. Kari Lake’s run for governor of Arizona is yet to be determined. It seems that if Congress does go under republican control, it may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for Kevin McCarthy, who has made en enemy of Marjorie Taylor Greene.  To the rest of us, to many in the world, it seems quite ridiculous that a majority of Americans don’t see Joe Biden as a wonderful president, and most democratic candidates as being far kinder, more sensible, and more grounded in reality than their republican counterparts. Don’t people care about democracy?  If you don’t have a democracy, you don’t have freedom to elect bad politicians out of office, or do anything to enhance life, liberty and the pursuit off happiness for all citizens.

Apparently Trump is upset that candidates endorsed by him did not do better. Even Fox News dished him, apparently.

Meanwhile, the COP 27 climate conference has been going on in Egypt. UK PM Sunak decided to go, after all, since former PM Boris Johnson was going; Alok Sharma, who hosted the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow, is going too, but evidently he’s no longer a member of Parliament.  British government signs on the climate front are dispiriting, especially under PM Sunak.

There’s also been embarrassment with Gavin Williamson, who has now resigned. No honeymoon, then, for Sunak.

In the Ukraine, it’s been announced that Russian troops are to leave the city of Kherson, the first major city to be occupied by the Russians.  So, that sounds like good news, but the Ukrainians are suspicious. Is this a sign of the Russians seeing and accepting the truth, that their forces, especially the new conscripts, are quite ill-equipped and pretty useless? Meanwhile, many of the utilities have been damaged and it’s very cold in Kyiv, where there is little electric power and fresh water. It’s already very cold there. It’s been reported that negotiations are underway between the US and a Russian representative, not Putin. So that is heartening.

On Thursday I went to my other singing session in the morning.  It was nice, but of course there are major worries about Covid 19, still, with some people being very cautious and others just so over it.  We are rehearing for a concert at a local rest home next week – if it can still go ahead. I was supposed to catch up with an old friend that afternoon, but we put it off till next week.

Today (Friday) we were received some alarming news: one of my daughter’s flatmates has Covid 19; well, despite being symptom-free, there were two red lines on this person’s RAT test. I later spoke to a staff member there. The house is to isolate for a week; it’s quite a large house, so there’s no difficulty in keeping separate.  Having said that, I hope we don’t hear in the coming days of more people being sick and needing care.  Even more prayer is in order: my daughter was the only member of my immediate family who hadn’t had Covid 19. I do feel better after having met her doctor, and now that Paxlovid is available. Still, she has a heart defect, and I really hope and pray that she stays well.

At midday we went to our Art Group, where we had a lovely session. We even met someone who works in the Disability sector.  We painted with acrylics – someone gave an interesting demonstration. Afterwards, we had coffee and a snack, and then JD and I went to the post office to post a parcel to family overseas. It’s quite a mission: I was pleased to have JD there to fill out the customs form. They require heaps of information, and although the form is a bit larger, it’s still really hard to fit all the information in. I’ve been putting off posting this parcel, not because of the cost (!), which is alarming enough, but it seems such hard work to post a parcel!

We have been watching Season One of The Empress on Netflix, about Empress Sisi (Elisabeta), who was married to Emperor Franz Josef. This is a mostly true story about the early days of their marriage, and it’s fascinating, too. As one of my podcasters said, she was the Princess Diana of her day. She had three daughters and one son, Rudolf, who died tragically with his mistress in a suicide pact, immortalised by the film Mayerling. Hence the long-lived Emperor had no direct heir.  Anyway, we await the second (and future?) series with some interest.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

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