Struggling On

General Pavel, now in charge of the special military operation in Ukraine

It’s now Monday June 27th, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I have been listening to a very interesting podcast about a man whose grandfather was in the Nazi SS.  One of his daughters came to Scotland after world War II, and married a Scotsman; they had a son and a daughter, and the son has written a book about his grandfather’s history, and his relationship with his grandfather (and his mother).

It’s a Monday morning, so the news sources are quiet today, as they continue to digest the latest news: the January 6 Committee hearings in the US; the US Supreme Court’s ruling making abortion illegal in the US; the loss of two by-elections by the Tories in the UK; and the continuing war in Ukraine. Ukrainians are now taking heavy deaths as well as casualties, and there has been a bomb strike in Kyiv, killing one person.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin has appointed a retired over-weight General Pavel, aged 67, weighing perhaps 20 stone over the military operation in Ukraine. The former general Alexander Dworkin (?) is now – where?  There is much mockery of General Pavel, known as General Lunchtime; he certainly doesn’t look fit. We are still to see how effective he’ll be.

It’s now Tuesday June 28th.

This morning I went out with one of my sons and his daughter. It’s raining steadily, but we went to Commonsense Organics in upper Tory Street. It was a treat to go there, although the prices are steep. I did get some Hōhepa Danbo cheese there. It’s rather nice, and very hard to come by. 

This afternoon, I’m due to go to an afternoon tea for a friend who died recently. Sadly, there was no formal funeral for her.  She was always very proper and beautifully attired; hence I have made some effort over my appearance, wearing a scarf, jewellery, and make up. There were lots of elderly folk there – perhaps 60 people.

In the US, now that the Supreme Court has struck down Roe, stopping a federal right for a woman to have an abortion, protests and discussions continue. Many states have so-called “trigger” laws that now come into effect, making abortion under almost any circumstances illegal in that particular state.  This Supreme Court ruling displays gross ignorance about the often perilous journey to have a child – which, once you’ve given birth successfully, could be black, gay, transgender, abnormal, the wrong sex…as well as being “normal” and being a delight. All kinds of things can go wrong, which would endanger the mother’s life, if not treated. Any pregnancy (and its after-effects) can be an emotional roller-coaster. The cruelty is just beyond belief.  Is anyone talking about (male) vasectomies? No, I thought not. Have they been outlawed? No, I thought not.

You’d think the anti-abortion right wing in America (i.e. the Republican Party, the Catholic Church, evangelicals and others would be pleased. After all, they’ve won a great victory in getting Roe struck down. Bit no, they’re far from satisfied. They want to see abortion completely outlawed in all states. And they’re coming after gays, gay marriage, and contraception too. Woe betide that a gay person has republican parents. As JD says, there aren’t many votes in success; there are far more in outrage. In my view, Americans are so absolute about such matters, where in my experience there are so many grey areas – as many women have noted. There’s the issue of ectopic pregnancies and other failed pregnancies, where mothers need medical care and sympathetic counselling and advice to get through such tragedies somehow. Much of this will be illegal, and those providing such care are terrified of getting prosecuted for “murdering babies.” It seems such a shame to add needlessly to existing sadnesses in this was.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t great.  The person who leads us for singing on Thursdays has advised that one of her daughters has Covid 19, and consequently she’ll stay away on Thursday this week. Most committee members advise getting someone else to stand in for her.

Today there are 8,082 new community cases, and there have been 16 deaths, including one of a person aged between 10 and 19. There are 383 people in hospital, including 7 in Intensive Care.

It’s reported that of the people whose deaths were reported today, four were from Auckland, two were from Waikato, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from MidCentral, two were from Taranaki, one was from Wairarapa, one from Wellington, two were from Canterbury and one person was from the Southern region. One of the people who died was aged between 10 and 19 years old. Three people were in their 70s, six were in their 80s and six people were aged over 90. We’re not told how many were women and how many were men.

The locations of today’s community cases are: Northland (169), Auckland (2584), Waikato (465), Bay of Plenty (274), Lakes (111), Hawke’s Bay (257), MidCentral (217), Whanganui (76), Taranaki (251), Tairāwhiti (87), Wairarapa (88), Capital and Coast (744), Hutt Valley (301), Nelson Marlborough (281), Canterbury (1,225), South Canterbury (107), Southern (733), West Coast (55). The location of three cases is unknown. There are reportedly 94 new cases at the border.  Those numbers still remain stubbornly high. I bought a new set of RAT tests this afternoon, seeing we have only 3 left; the price has gone up. I looked up the website for obtaining free ones, and you have to either have symptoms yourself, or be a close contact of a positive case. So that rules us out for the free ones. We live in hope, that we don’t see the second red line. It seems you can get false negatives with RAT tests, but if you test positive – you most likely do have Covid 19.  And there don’t seem to be many if any asymptomatic cases here.

The 383 hospitalised Covid patients are in Northland (four), Waitematā (71), Counties Manukau (43), Auckland (56), Waikato (33), Bay of Plenty (five), Lakes (19), Tairāwhiti (one), Hawke’s Bay (nine), Taranaki (10), Whanganui (three), MidCentral (15), Wairarapa (nine), Hutt Valley (13), Capital and Coast (20), Nelson Marlborough (13), Canterbury (32), South Canterbury (four) and the Southern region (23). The average age of hospitalised cases is 63. There are 20 (yes, you read that right) cases in the Wellington area!  And 13 in the Hutt Valley. The two DHB hospitals in Wellington are Wellington Hospital and Kenepuru Hospital, so that’s pretty dire.  The good news is that we should be able to have second boosters – next week – from 8 July (that date being six months since we had our first boosters). The All Blacks team, and their coaches, have been badly affected by Covid 19. I believe they’re due to play Ireland (who beat them last time, I think!)

The January 6 Committee has a surprise session tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon US time. We don’t know what it will be about, but we’re all agog, after previous dramatic hearings. Apparently one of Trump’s lawyers, John Eastman’s phone was seized by the Feds.

In Ukraine, a busy shopping centre in Kremenchuk was hit by a missile; it’s reported that at least 18 have been killed. This was hardly a “military target”.  The Russians seem to be winning some territory, but JD says, as I suspect, that they’re Pyrrhic victories.  They aren’t really winning.

It’s now Wednesday June 29th.

During the night I didn’t get a lot of sleep. As the night wore on, I saw snippets of Cassidy Hutchinson’s evidence to the January 6 Committee: dramatic and alarming.  Shocking, really. I read about Trump’s letting armed people into his rally; Trump losing his temper and throwing his lunch (not for the first time, evidently); a lot of text messages; and Trump physically attacking (“lunging at the man’s neck”) a secret service officer who tried to prevent him driving The Beast. Mark Meadows does not come out of this well. I look forward to seeing and hearing lots of reflection about this.

Meanwhile, 44 people died in Texas in a truck that should have been refrigerated (and evidently wasn’t), and Texas Governor Greg Abbott has politicised this dreadful incident. Honestly, the pro-life party has little regard for life.

This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. Thankfully traffic is not a problem at present, as it used to be. We sang Holy, holy, holy, and a beautiful hymn by John Milton (Let us with a gladsome mind). There were familiar and beautiful tunes.

After this I went to catch a 10 am bus into town. There were several of us at the bus stop, but the bus was several minutes late. It wasn’t cancelled, though; my phone told me it was running late, and eventually it turned up. At the Railway Station I caught a bus to Brooklyn, having just missed the one I wanted to catch. I got to the Penthouse just in time to see a French Film Festival film. Maigret at 11 am.

It was a very good film, although I don’t know that I’d recommend it. It stars Gerard Dépardieu as Chief Inspector Maigret, and several beautiful women, including his hard-done-by wife. He is over-weight and not very attractive, although he’s quite sensitive as he goes about solving the murder. Evidently he and his wife lost a daughter themselves – one senses a deep grief there.

Afterwards I had a cup of coffee and a cheese roll, then caught a bus to Wellington Railway Station, and then to Churton Park.

Shortly after 1 pm today’s Covid 19 report came out. There are 7,829 new community cases and there’ve been 15 more deaths. There are 385 people in hospital, including 8 in Intensive Care.

Of the people whose deaths are reported today three were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Lakes, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Taranaki, one was from the Wellington region, one was from Nelson Marlborough, one was from Canterbury, one was from West Coast, and two were from the Southern region. One person was in their twenties, one was in their fifties, five were in their 70s, three were in their 80s and five were over 90. Of these people, six were male and nine were female.

The people in hospital are as follows: Northland: 4; Waitematā: 70; Counties Manukau: 42; Auckland: 57; Waikato: 30; Bay of Plenty: 7; Lakes: 21; Tairāwhiti: 1; Hawke’s Bay: 12; Taranaki: 10; Whanganui: 1; MidCentral: 15; Wairarapa: 7; Hutt Valley: 13; Capital and Coast: 24; Nelson Marlborough: 12; Canterbury: 39; South Canterbury: 3; West Coast: 0; Southern: 27. The average age of hospitalisations is 63.

There are 100 new cases at the border.  I can’t now get the data about the distribution of these new cases, but they’re alarmingly high; higher than they have been in Wellington and Hawkes Bay.  Apparently the B.A.5 sub-variant of omicron is now prevalent in New Zealand.  Along with flu, and Covid 19, and it’s being winter, the health services are under extreme pressure at the moment.

Since I got home, I’ve been listening to Cassidy Hutchinson’s amazing testimony, and US journalists’ reactions to it. I have grown to really enjoy hearing Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the January 6 Committee, introduce each hearing. He is unfailingly polite, and a tad old-fashioned, introducing Deputy Chair Liz Cheney as the “gentlewoman”. At first I doubted this quiet Southern gentleman’s ability to chair this group, but I think he’s been quite amazing, and a good counter-foil to others on the Committee.

It’s now Thursday June 30th.

This morning I listened to the Hacks on Tap podcast with Sarah Longwell (of the Bulwark), and then to the Bulwark podcast, where Charlie Sykes was speaking to Lawfare’s David Priess. All very interesting. After that I went to my Thursday singing. There had been considerable drama over what would happen, since our leader’s daughter has Covid 19, but in the event we had a stand-in who was very good.  Afterwards I got a lift to Johnsonville with a friend of mine, and then had lunch at the café at the library. I met my cousin there, and then she dropped me at home.

This afternoon I’ve been digesting my new Listener, and listening to – you’ve guessed it -more podcasts. It’s fair to say everyone in the US is still reeling at Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony to the January 6 committee, which was aired yesterday. She was an aide to Mark Meadows, the former president’s Chief of Staff. Today the White House lawyer Pat has been sub-poenad by the committee. I didn’t mention Trump’s obsession with crowd size, and his readiness for his followers to bring arms to the rally – after all, they weren’t going to hurt him.  Many Americans are saying they thought they couldn’t be shocked any more – but now they have been.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t great. There are 7,423 new community cases, and there’ve been 19 further deaths. There are 411 people in hospital, and 6 in Intensive Care.

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

There were also 206 new cases at the border. Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson has been diagnosed with Covid 19.

I can’t now see there the individual cases are located, but I know they’re increasing again. Although Aotearoa remains at Orange status, there seem to be very few protections now. Here in Wellington, at least people still wear masks.

At present President Biden is in Europe, and Sweden and Finland are to join NATO, the differences with Turkey having been resolved. The war grinds on, but Putin has achieved greater strength and resolution in NATO.

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

Matariki 2022

The none stars of Matariki

It’s now Saturday June 25th. Kia ora!

I haven’t written for several days. We went to Napier and saw my daughter there, but it’s been wild and cold weather this past week; not so cold now, though.  It was very good to see her: she’s very well, and wearing (and keeping on) warm clothes! It was strange in Napier:  Café de Laos and The Boardwalk Restaurant seemed to be permanently closed, despite having been busy and seemingly thriving concerns. The motels all had No Vacancy signs out, but when we went shopping on Wednesday there were very few people in the shops.  At Farmers I bought two pairs of gloves, and two very soft jerseys, one for me (pale green), and one for her – blue! She tried it on, and opted to wear it. We had lunch at a busy café, and dined at the restaurant where we were staying. There were other diners there, but we were well spaced out.

The IDP meeting was held via zoom. I fired up my computer early, and it worked just fine – probably the best zoom session I’ve had. All attendees zoomed in. Then we took our RAT tests – negative, thankfully, and went to pick up our daughter – not going into her house.  It’s good to see that Hōhepa are still taking measures to minimise contact, and keep everyone safe.

In Napier there seemed to be very few people wearing masks, except in shops and cafés. But then, their Covid 19 infections are much fewer than here in Wellington.

It was a rushed trip, but our motel had a quiet heat pump, and a spa bath as well as a separate shower. It also had rather nice toiletries. We ate delicious omelettes on the way north, having driven past my favourite café – sadly, closed. On our return, we went to a café we’d been to and enjoyed previously – now under new management, but the food was all right.

The new Transmission Gully highway is superb!  I think it’s wonderful, and the expressway is ever inching closer from Pekapeka to Te Horo; there are changes around Otaki, too, both before and afterwards. Perhaps next time we drive north this road will be completed. There are lots of road improvements along the way, too – and lots of trucks.

The January 6 Committee hearings have been mesmerising, as each new showing builds on the previous one’s revelations. Ones that spring to mind immediately include the testimony of Rusty Bowers of Arizona, the testimony of Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman; and yesterday, the testimony of Rich Donohue and others at the Department of Justice. It is all just horrifying, and most of the testimony comes from Republicans, who were loyal Trumpists. The Committee is still gathering testimony. What happens next?  The FBI has executed search warrants on the home of Jeffrey Clark, the man Trump was going to make Acting Attorney General. While we are digesting the startling and terrifying implications of this, I learnt this morning that the US Supreme Court has rescinded Roe, making abortion illegal in the US; furthermore, Justice Clarence Thomas has warned that other rights are in his sights: gay marriage, contraception, and some sex acts. At this unbelievable news, we are all reeling. In the US, there are, predictably, huge protests. While I would prefer not to have an abortion, it happens, and it should be safe and legal – the state has nothing to do with personal morality.

Yesterday was Matariki,  celebrated for the first time as a public holiday. In Napier, there were bonfires set up along Marine Parade. I am not one for early morning starts, but there were celebrations all around New Zealand.

Today we went shopping at New World in Thorndon. It wasn’t too busy. There were no raspberries, alas, and no potato-topped pies, but there were good salads. We got bread and ice cream, and bought pies for lunch. 

Yesterday there was no Covid 19 report, so today’s report covered yesterday as well. There are 8,638 new community cases, and there have been 24 deaths. There are 316 people in hospital, including 4 in Intensive Care. The total number of deaths is now 1,455.

Eleven of those who died were in their 80s, and seven were aged over 90. One person was in their 50s, one in their 60s, and four were in their 70s. Thirteen were men and 11 were women. Most of those who died were from the North Island: six from Auckland, three each from Waikato, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki, and one each from Bay of Plenty, Wairarapa and Wellington.

The new community cases detected over the past two days are in Northland (217), Auckland (2693), Waikato (522), Bay of Plenty (295), Lakes (131), Hawke’s Bay (256), MidCentral (256), Whanganui (94), Taranaki (195), Tairāwhiti (76), Wairarapa (99), Capital and Coast (811), Hutt Valley (338), Nelson Marlborough (343), Canterbury (1401), South Canterbury (93), Southern (723) and the West Coast (90). Five cases are people from unknown areas. There were also 211 new cases at the border over the past two days.

So the totals are still pretty crazy.  A friend of mine went to a family gathering last weekend, and many of them have Covid 19. 

It’s now Sunday June 26th.

This morning I went to church. There were few people there, but it was quite wonderful. We had lots of organ playing, including a Trumpet Voluntary by John Stanley played at the end of the service. A friend of mine who passed away recently had told the organist she would like this played at her funeral; in the event, there wasn’t a funeral service at the church for her, but it was lovely to hear this played. I looked up the composer on my phone, to find that he went blind from an accident when he was two.  Nevertheless, he was a fine composer and organist.

The sermon today was interesting; the gospel text was the last verses of Luke chapter 9, where Jesus seems unfeeling in telling would-be disciples to follow him, and not bury one’s father or say goodbye to one’s family. The point the minister made was that Jesus would take care of things, provided one put Him first.  The minister also spoke very carefully about the Supreme Court ruling in the US, where the Roe v Wade ruling has been overturned. He spoke about the difficulty of loving those with very different political views. The other reading was from Galatians 5, about loving one’s neighbour as oneself. I have to think that the Supreme Court’s ruling demonstrates supreme cruelty to women, and a lack of trust in their ability to make decisions. JD and I spoke about our decision-making when I was expecting our daughter, and the risk (admittedly small), that she would be handicapped (as it turned out, she was).  This was not a difficult decision for us; we would not terminate the pregnancy, but we were given medical information in a non-judgmental way; our decision, our chosen way forward would be respected whatever it was.  We might have to wrestle with our consciences, but the state, far from condemning us, would provide suitable medical care and support.

The actress Sharon Stone has spoken movingly about her experience of miscarriage, that it is both a physical and emotional kind of grief and distress. Surely there should be sympathy for women in these situations, where the whole experience of child-bearing (and child-rearing) is fraught with mixed emotions – mainly joy, but also pain and discomfort; although reliable contraception is more readily available, the whole process is random. All one can do, really, is not use contraception, and leave the rest to God/nature/chance or whatever you believe in. It’s so ironic that the time of ovulation (the peak time for getting pregnant) is the time when the woman tends to feel most like having sex.

Later, in Prayers for Others, the person doing this named and spoke about the stars of Matariki.  She also spoke about floods in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and in China too. I thought she spoke very well.

After church, seeing that I’d missed my bus, I had morning tea – a long black coffee and a cheese scone. Then I went to catch the next bus. It was fine and sunny by now. When the bus came, it rushed past me and past the bus stop! I had to walk very fast to catch the bus, hoping that one of the passengers on board would ask the driver to wait for me.

The Covid 19 report for today is as follows: there are 4,429 new community cases, and there’ve been 6 deaths. There are 332 people in hospital, and 7 of them are in Intensive Care.

Of the deaths, it’s reported that one person was in their 50s, one in their 60s, two in their 70s, and two aged over 90. Five were male and one was female. Three were from the Auckland region, two were from Canterbury, and one was from Waikato.

There were more new community cases reported in the Canterbury (741) and Capital and Coast (413) DHBs, than in the Auckland region, where 409 cases were reported. Today’s other new community cases were reported in the Northland (91), Waikato (274), Bay of Plenty (129), Lakes (65), Hawke’s Bay (121), MidCentral (122), Whanganui (39), Taranaki (105), Tairāwhiti (20), Wairarapa (48), Hutt Valley (169), Nelson Marlborough (185), South Canterbury (76), Southern (356) and West Coast (29) DHBs. There were also 86 cases recorded at the border. Those numbers remain stubbornly high.

In Ukraine, the war drags on. There seems to be a great deal of misinformation. Lithuania is not allowing passage to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad (formerly Konïgsberg),  and consequently Putin has threatened them. However Lithuania is a member of NATO, and so they shouldn’t be too afraid. President Zelensky continues to travel around his country, and bravely address the nation every night, as the war drags on. More effective weapons have arrived, reportedly, but distribution and training are an issue, before they can be used effectively. Putin is rumoured to have changed his military command yet again. Threats and brutality continue. Russian forces are said to be in control of the city of Sievierodonetsk. This situation is just so sad, while Vladimir Putin looks increasingly unwell. What a strange place the world is.

That’s it for now.  We hope the Covid 19 figures will improve here, as many activities try to run themselves again after two and a half years of cancellations and postponements.  What a handbrake Covid 19 has been. Till next time. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Collaboration

The January 6 Select Committee in the US

It’s now Wednesday June 15th, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I didn’t have hymn singing. I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee, but we decided to cancel. I spent what seemed like a lot of last night being concerned about my Thursday singing group, where someone has diagnosed positive for Covid 19. This morning, reading the Dompost, I learn that Joe Bennett has it too.

This afternoon, thrusting caution to the wind, I went to a French Film Festival movie:  Adieu, Monsieur Haffmann.  It was a very good, if very sad, film. It starred Daniel Auteuil as a Jewish jeweler, in Paris in the 1940’s.  It was quite intense, but had a kind of happy ending (which I won’t give away here). Suffice to say that I wondered during the film just how it would end.

Although there were quite a few people there, I felt quite safe, sitting by myself with no one uncomfortably close to me.  Coming home on the bus was a different story. I caught a double-decker bus to Johnsonville, and while I got a seat, the bus filled up with many standing until we got to Johnsonville Library. That wasn’t a very comfortable trip for me.

Yesterday a new edition of LRB came in the mail. I think it’s the last one I’m entitled to. It has lots of reading, but I started by reading a review of Tina Brown’s new book, The Palace Papers. Suffice to say this review was not kind to the Royal Family.  Still and all, many of us enjoyed the Queen’s recent Platinum Jubilee.  The British do these ceremonial things rather well.  What would you have instead?  Italy has beautiful art, France has wonderful food (if you can get it), Spain has wonderful buildings: and they’re all different, and well worth seeing. I haven’t mentioned other European countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria. I would so love to travel to Europe again. Each country (and area within  each country)  is so different: Scotland, Catalonia, Basque country….

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t too bad. There are 5,554 new community cases, and there’ve been 11 deaths. There are 368 people in hospital, and 7 of them are in Intensive Care.

Today’s community cases are in Northland (138), Auckland (1659), Waikato (372), Bay of Plenty (194), Lakes (76), Hawke’s Bay (179), MidCentral (223), Whanganui (54), Taranaki (188), Tairāwhiti (46), Wairarapa (71), Capital and Coast (506), Hutt Valley (219), Nelson Marlborough (227), Canterbury (839), South Canterbury (76), Southern (442), West Coast (40), Unknown (5). There are also 70 new imported border cases.

It’s now Friday June 17th.

Yesterday I had singing (my other singing), and although one member had notified us all that she had Covid 19, there were 18 people there.  It seems that the lovely lady that diagnosed positive was probably not infectious when she came to choir last Thursday. It seems that no one has caught Covid 19 from her. Nevertheless, there was some concern – largely on my part, and two non-singing participants who had texted me about the situation. Afterwards some of us had lunch at the café across the road. Then I had a haircut in Mana at 3 pm.  There was hardly anyone there, but as I waited for JD to pick me up afterwards, some people sat uncomfortably close to me in the waiting area.

Afterwards, I went shopping but, annoyingly, forgot to buy bananas.

Last night I did not sleep well. I listened to lots of podcasts, but I can’t remember how they ended, so I’ll probably have to listen to them again. I felt quite unwell and wondered, again, if I have Covid 19.  I put it down to fatigue; I can still smell and taste. Someone from Access came to do some housework. I changed the towels and the bedlinen and folded JD’s washing and hung up the clothes he’s left in the living room.  We had hard-boiled egg (and avocado) sandwiches for lunch. They were yummy.

Some thoughts:  there is lots of reaction in the media about Prince Louis’ behaviour on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the parade and the fly-past, and then at the concert where he played up. Actually, he’s four, not three, but surely it would have been unkind to deprive him of any of this ceremony? I think his parents were very wise in choosing which activities their children should attend.  I think he’d be furious when he grows up to find that he’d been deprived of attending the one-off platinum jubilee celebrations: after all, there’s unlikely to be another platinum jubilee celebration within his lifetime, or before he’s an old man. I still remember not being allowed to attend my grandfather’s funeral, even though he was a strong Christian, died in his 80’s, and was buried after a Christian funeral. It was thought at the time that children shouldn’t attend funerals.

I am enjoying reading the Troy book by Stephen Fry, although enjoying is not quite the right word. After a stalemate of ten years in the Trojan War, there’s been some duels, and how Hector (Trojan) has killed Patroclus (Greek), great mate of Achilles.  This is the middle of the book, and Achilles, with new armour created by Hephaestus, is having his aristeia. While this is a beautiful word, Achilles’ fighting is extremely brutal. Spoiler alert: it does not end well. It’s nice now to know something about this story, having studied Homer’s Iliad and some of the wonderful art and literature it inspired. It’s hard to believe that such beautifully depicted people were capable of such brutality.

There have been more shocking revelations from the January 6 Committee about the events of January 6, and the events leading up to the insurrection on that day.  Representative Loudermilk has given tours, although previously asserting that he did not; Mike Pence’s bravery in defying Donald Trump in spite of the death threats against him, and the phone call from Trump calling him a wimp, a is looking ever more heroic, although he chose not to testify to the January 6 Committee.  He spoke about Daniel 6 (this is where Daniel and his friends are thrown into the lions’ den, and emerge unharmed);  but nobody cared about Mike Pence except journalists: although his support for Trump was despicable, in my view, other Republicans should surely care about his welfare. It seems to me the Republican Party, far from being conservative, are way out there in their radical and extreme views.

It’s interesting that while Barr and other conservatives are prepared to say they knew the election was soundly run, and that Trump had lost, and claimed they’d told him so, the so-called “big lie” that Trump had really won has been perpetuated, and is now firmly believed by many republicans, some of whom have been elected to public office.  That’s a huge problem for everyone in the US.  It’s fascinating too, that the 2016 election, widely thought to have ben influenced by Russia, is now (and was then) regarded by republicans as sound.

It’s now Saturday June 18th.

Last night I slept much better than the previous night, although I had trouble getting to sleep. We watched an amazing film about Ray Charles on Bravo, where Charles was played by Jamie Foxx. The music was superb, but it was hard to watch the film at times.  I went to sleep while listening to a The Rest is History podcast episode about Cleopatra and Antony. It began with Tom Holland quoting the marvellous speech from Shakespeare’s play: The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne…” Soon after this I must have gone to sleep. 

When I woke up this morning, it was after 7 am.  I listened to a replay of The Rest is History (two episodes) about Watergate. I had heard them before, but it was good to listen to them again. I well remember the Watergate political crisis and the long time it took to resolve. Many people were disappointed when Nixon was pardoned by his Vice President turned President, Gerald Ford. What a time of upheaval it was: huge protests against the Vietnam War; civil rights and abortion were, as ever, present issues; assassinations were huge; former Vice President Agnew had resigned in disgrace; no wonder no one trusts US politics or US government. Then there was the oil crisis of the 1970’s, and the Yom Kippur War, and lots of terrorist acts. After this came President Jimmy Carter, the Iran hostages, then President Reagan and the Iran-Contra scandal. Barr (then Attorney General) pardoned Oliver North and anyone else that had been convicted; unlike the Nixonian crisis. What? 

I am reminded that JD and I took our first trip overseas at this very unsettled time. We had, of course, a wonderful trip, although we were both unwell for part of it. But we survived, and it was memorable. I remember our first major overseas stop in Hong Kong, and on the television we saw Kissinger looking anxious. As the broadcast was in Chinese, we had no idea what he was saying. At breakfast the next day, six anxious-looking Asian people seemed to be in attendance on us – terrifying!

Yesterday there were 4,869 new community cases, 370 hospitalisations, and 16 deaths (although two of the deaths were much earlier). I spoke to a friend on the phone. She had been to a family gathering last weekend, and several people now have Covid 19. Others are close contacts, and are isolating. Covid 19 is very much still with us in Wellington. Shall I go to church tomorrow, or zoom in instead? I’m planning to go to Hawkes Bay next week, so I want to keep well for that.

Today there are 4,404 new cases and there have been 11 deaths. There are 356 people in hospital and only three in Intensive Care. The 11 deaths occurred in the last 3 days.

One person was in their 40s, one was in their 50s, five were in their 70s, one was in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, four were women and seven were men. Three came from Auckland and two each came from Wellington and Canterbury regions. There was also one person each from Tairāwhiti, Lakes, West Coast and Southern district health board areas.

Today’s new cases of the virus were detected in Northland (126), Auckland (1318), Waikato (287), Bay of Plenty (177), Lakes (72), Hawke’s Bay (101), MidCentral (155), Whanganui (42), Taranaki (123), Tairāwhiti (46), Wairarapa (42), Capital and Coast (396), Hutt Valley (172), Nelson Marlborough (191), Canterbury (654), South Canterbury (60), Southern (411) and West Coast (30). The origin of one person newly infected with the virus is not known. Fifty new cases of the virus were also discovered at the border. The numbers are coming down, slowly; there’s still a lot of Covid 19 around, alas.

It’s now Sunday June 19th.

It was predicted to be very cold today, but in fact it’s not too bad. I went to church wearing a thick jersey and a woollen jacket over it, but I was quite warm in the church and didn’t put on my raincoat until I got outside, when it rained again. Afterwards I made my way home (two buses via the library, where I picked up a book I had on reserve), and set about turning the heaters on at home before I had a cup of coffee.

I finished reading the Troy book this afternoon. Picking up on my previous comments, Achilles kills the great Hector, in revenge for the death of Patroclus, and drags his dead body around the walls of Troy with his chariot. King Priam of Troy goes to Achilles to beg the body of his son, so that he can give it proper burial, and the two men end up weeping together. Homer ends his Iliad here. Fry goes on and tells about the legend of the Trojan Horse, and the Greek defeat of Troy. One of the escapees, Aeneas, goes on to found Rome. Vergil’s great epic poem The Aeneid tells his story.

What a tour de force Fry’s Troy is! After JD has read it I should like to send it to my eldest granddaughter. Note: Fry does use some sources, but not in an academic paper type way.  He does have lots of footnotes, but you don’t have to read them for the story to make sense. He tells a rollicking good story – I don’t disagree with anything he says. Once again, I’m so glad I did a wide-ranging university paper on this.

In the US, Dr Anthony Fauci has Covid 19. In Ukraine, the increasingly bloody war drags on. 

The film Adieu, Monsieur Haffmann, and the shocking revelations of the January 6 Select Committee both demonstrate the dangers of collaboration – between the Germans occupying Paris during the Second World War, and all the people in Trump’s circle who went along with his “big lie”, yet now claim to have told him the truth, that he had lost the election, and that Biden had won fairly.  The dreadful lawyer, John Eastman, said he should probably be on the pardon list. And nobody but journalists (and Mike Pence’s lawyer) care about his physical welfare. I did find it disturbing that he told his lawyer he looked forward to meeting the Founding Fathers in Heaven; and then that he compared himself with Daniel in the lions’ den.  No modesty (or much insight) here, then! Some hero.

That’s it for now. No Covid 19 report today. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Accountability (Again)

It’s now Saturday June 11th, 2022. Kia ora!

Yesterday we went to our Art group. It meets monthly, but we haven’t been for ages, sometimes because we couldn’t make it, then came lockdown; one time we tried to go (late), but couldn’t find a carpark and went shopping instead. This time the presenter was bringing paper and pens for sketching, thus eliminating my need to prepare things to bring.  We did sketches of the Queen’s afternoon tea with Paddington Bear. It was great fun. Afterwards, we had coffee and a late lunch. It was another of those days when it was wild overnight, but then fine and sunny in the afternoon; I was scared I may have overdressed for the occasion.

Last night I watched and re-watched coverage of the January 6 (2021) Committee presentation.  It was very effective – I’m still digesting it. Amazingly, I learnt new facts, that I did not know before:  the stunning evidence of police officer Edwards (an attractive blond)?; the fact that Trump was advised by several people  that he had lost the election; Trump’s endorsing of the calls to Hang Mike Pence; his frustration when Pence took control and tried to get the attack called off;  and his refusal to do anything to manage the situation despite requests from Don Jr, his daughter Ivanka, Fox News hosts, and many Republican politicians. Oh, and we also learnt about pardons being flung around, from a flippant remark by Jared Kushner, and Trump’s offering a pardon to Kelly-Anne Conway. The animal channel refused to screen this footage, which was ably presented by Liz Cheney, after a moving introduction from January 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson.

Wow! It’s been quite a week. I wept over the Uvalde shootings, and enjoyed footage of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations; then UK Prime Minister Johnson “won” his confidence vote (but this victory may be a Pyrrhic one); there are multiple reactions to the UK Royal Family’s treatment of the Harkles (they dished the RF first, by the way).  There is some reaction to the cost of the Jubilee celebrations, but the Tory government has given huge contracts to their mates for various services that haven’t exactly delivered (such as PPE supply and the Test and Trace ap). Now it’s reported that Palantir has the contract for IT with the NHS. Palantir is the spooky software supplied by the creepy Peter Thiel. There are fears of its use already to spy on people and invade their privacy without their being aware of it.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 5202 new Covid community cases reported today with eight people with Covid dying and 332 people in hospital. Four of those in hospital are in intensive care, says the Ministry of Health.

Today’s deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid in New Zealand to 1311. The seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 13.

Of those who died, two were from Bay of Plenty, one was from the MidCentral district health board region, one was from the Wellington region, two were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury; and one was from the Southern region. One person was aged in their 60s, four were in their 70s, one was in their 80s, and two were aged over 90. Three were women and five were men. The average age of those in hospital in the Northern Region is 62.

The new community cases were located in Northland (132), Auckland (1430), Waikato (351), Bay of Plenty (207), Lakes (70), Hawke’s Bay (153), MidCentral (250), Whanganui (64), Taranaki (164), Tairāwhiti (19), Wairarapa (45), Capital and Coast (506), Hutt Valley (237), Nelson Marlborough (184), Canterbury (766), South Canterbury (84), Southern (410) and West Coast (56). The location of a further two cases is yet to be determined. There were also 72 imported cases reported.

Saturday was a quiet day for us, but there has been really wild weather for the last few days – heavy rain storms, wind, and some thunderstorms, interspersed by fine, calm, sunny spells, when you think that the stormy weather’s gone away. Not so.

It’s now Sunday June 12th.

There was to be a funeral celebration of friends’ of a friends special needs son in the afternoon, but we didn’t know the parents well, and I was reluctant to go. I went to church physically, instead, and there was a forum afterwards about the future of the church, and some quotes for earthquake strengthening.  I must say I found this discussion pretty frustrating.

Then, finding I had just missed one bus, I went to a nearby café for coffee and a scone. After that, I did some shopping, and went to wait for the next bus. The weather chose that few minutes for a heavy shower: I could not put my bags down, or sit in the bus shelter – it was awash, shelter, seat and all. My shoes were wet. Fortunately the bus wasn’t cancelled, and came on time. JD met me in Johnsonville. There were a few sad souls at the shopping centre, it wasn’t busy.

It’s now Monday June 13th.

This morning I went to the dentist, for my annual check up. Fortunately, there is nothing wrong – I said that I hope my teeth outlast me!  Afterwards, we shared lunch at an almost empty café on The Terrace.

Yesterday we caught up with one of our sons who is overseas. He, his wife, and their two children have all had Covid 19 (not too badly, thankfully), although his daughter still looks a little peaky (as we would have said in the old days).  This morning I rang a manager at Hōhepa; they’re all right, but hit quite heavily not by Covid 19 now but by the flu. Black Caps captain Kane Williamson has Covid 19, as does Princess Charlene of Monaco. Today there are 4,413 new community cases, and there’ve been 5 deaths. There are 352 people in hospital, and 9 in Intensive Care.

The cases in hospital are in: Northland 10, Waitematā 37, Counties Manukau 34, Auckland 57, Waikato 33, Bay of Plenty 13, Lakes 1, Tairāwhiti 2, Hawke’s Bay 11, Taranaki 9, Whanganui 1, MidCentral 20, Wairarapa 3, Hutt Valley 24, Capital and Coast 21, Nelson Marlborough 8, Canterbury 43, South Canterbury 4, West Coast 0, Southern 21. That’s still quite a lot in Wellington and the Hutt Valley.

The Ministry of Health reported a further five virus-related deaths. Of today’s deaths two were from the Auckland region, one from Waikato, one from Bay of Plenty and one from Canterbury. One person was aged in their 60s; two were in their 70s; one was in their 80s; and one was aged over 90. Of these people, two were women and three were men. 1325 people have now died with the virus.

Today’s 4413 community cases are in: Northland (101), Auckland (1312), Waikato (313), Bay of Plenty (158), Lakes (68), Hawke’s Bay (135), MidCentral (183), Whanganui (68), Taranaki (117), Tairāwhiti (17), Wairarapa (39), Capital and Coast (396), Hutt Valley (189), Nelson Marlborough (180), Canterbury (678), South Canterbury (49), Southern (353), West Coast (54), unknown (3).

It’s now Tuesday June 14th.

This morning I met one of my sons and his daughter for an outing – some shopping, a cup of coffee, and a walk. Today it isn’t nearly as stormy, although it’s pretty windy and drizzling with rain.

Last night I slept quite well.  Interesting podcasts include The Rest is History on Cleopatra (there are to be 4 sessions, I think); Tim Miller on the Bulwark podcast talking to the author of Gay Washington; and a Skullduggery podcast talking about CIA involvement in Watergate.  Today the Youtube videos are almost all about the January 6 Committee hearings: day two. These contain  even more revelations about the January 6 insurrection, and about the preceding days. The comedians are having great fun with this footage. Apparently the animal channel is going to screen the second instalment after all. These hearings are must-see viewing, compared favorably to the Watergate hearings, which had such an impact on America.  Evidently about 20 million people viewed the first lot of hearings -a significant number.

Things I’ve been watching on television include a very good film on Eden (formerly Choice) called The Public; a film on Māori Television called Submarine, another episode of The First Lady, and the final of The Staircase on Neon. I found this series, although mesmerizing, deeply disturbing, somehow;  nobody comes out well from this. In The First Lady, we saw the Pearl Harbour attack, Betty Ford going to Rehab (how come it wasn’t nicer, by the way?), and the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in America: firstly the Hollywood Access tape (surely this would sink Trump, many thought); and then election night itself. This was a truly depressing sight – one I didn’t wish to be reminded of.

I am still reading my Troy book, by Stephen Fry; I am almost half-way through it. It took what seemed like ages to get up to the protagonists, the Achaean fleet sailing for Troy, and the war itself: then there’s stalemate for almost ten years – in a few pages. Now there’s a few duels going on; we haven’t yet got up to the entry of the Trojan Horse and (one of) the destruction(s) of Troy.  It makes me want to read Homer’s Iliad again (but I probably won’t, I have masses of books to read).  Fry too depicts Helen as being given no say in being seized by the Trojan Paris, although he does represent her as despising him while the battle rages outside Troy. He presents the range of deities as having huge influence over the various outcomes.  And, of course, by some strange miracle they all spoke the same Greek dialect (or could understand each other, whether gods, Greeks or Trojans).  Go figure.

Today’s Covid 19 report shows totals dropping slowly, although someone from my Thursday singing group has diagnosed positive for Covid 19. That is a concern. I had a conversation with her the Thursday before last (presumably she wasn’t infectious at that stage); I didn’t speak to her last Thursday, although she too is a soprano. Last Friday afternoon I was talking to a friend who said her children had had it, both supremely fit and healthy, and had been very sick with it.  I spoke to a manager at Hōhepa yesterday, who said that although we will be in Napier for my daughter’s IDP, they would still prefer us to zoom into this meeting rather than attending it on person (as we would like to do), and they want us both to have RAT tests before spending time with our daughter. That’s understandable, really, and I’m grateful that precautions are still being taken.  I desperately don’t want to get Covid 19:  apart from not knowing how sick I’d be, you can get it again! It’s not as though having it makes you immune.

Today it’s reported that there are 6,133 new community cases, and there’ve been 23 deaths.

Only about two-thirds of the country’s infections were likely being identified, Bloomfield told reporters today in his first media appearance since his own “mild” case of Covid while in Geneva.

They include one person from Northland, five from the Auckland region, three from Waikato, one from the Lakes DHB region, four from Taranaki, two from MidCentral, one from Hawke’s Bay; two from the Wellington region; one from South Canterbury and three from Southern. One person was aged in their 50s; three were in their 70s; 11 were in their 80s; and eight were aged over 90. Of these people, 15 were women and eight were men. Today’s reported deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1348.

There are 377 people in hospital and 7 in Intensive Care.

Today’s community cases are in Northland (191), Auckland (1,800), Waikato (406), Bay of Plenty (240), Lakes (90), Hawke’s Bay (186), MidCentral (233), Whanganui (72), Taranaki (179), Tairāwhiti (42), Wairarapa (77), Capital and Coast (510), Hutt Valley (261), Nelson Marlborough (243), Canterbury (904), South Canterbury (92), Southern (541 551), West Coast (54), unknown (2). That’s encouraging: that numbers are down in Hawkes Bay (although they’re struggling with flu); they’re also creeping down in Wellington.

The rollout of a fourth Covid vaccine for those most at risk would begin shortly, Dr Bloomfield said. We’re all very interested to learn who is defined as “most at risk”; I’m hoping my daughter will be; I should like to be on that list too.

In Ukraine, the war grinds on, with more Russian brutality, and more bravery on the part of Ukrainian troops. They’ve provided a shopping list of weapons they need: is the West still interested in supplying their needs? The fiercest fighting is going on in the East of Ukraine; I can’t really tell mush of what’s happening. Russian forces seem to be having some success, while there are still videos telling of Ukrainian victories on a much smaller scale. The fighting is concentrated in Russian speaking areas, so you don’t really know who’s on which side. The stories of Russian “filtration” camps, and Russian treatment of Ukrainians they’ve abducted, is terrifying – and just what can anyone do  about it?  The Chinese are still buying Russian oil, it seems.  There seems to be s stalemate, no doubt not helped by Boris Johnson’s political troubles at home in the UK, and American absorption with their January 6 Committee hearings.  Spoiler alert: the evidence is not exculpatory for “the former guy”. It now seems one of the main reasons he wanted to stay in power as president was based on the legal (Office of Legal Counsel) advice that a sitting president can’t be indicted.

That’s it for today.  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Grinding On

Today is Tuesday June 7th, 2022. Kia ora!

I didn’t blog yesterday. It was a public holiday here for Queen’s Birthday (not her actual birthday, of course); in the morning I had a lovely chat with my son in the UK about the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, and who was booed, and so on.  I watched more videos about it all – I thought the drone show was quite marvellous.

In the afternoon I visited a friend and had a lovely time. She lent me a book to read; I also have Stephen Fry’s Troy, which JD bought me (as if I needed more books to read!)

Tomorrow and for the rest of the week I have lots on. Today is a quiet day, although there are lots of things I should do.

Yesterday was rubbish collection day: you put out your council-collected bag, or your bin, and your recycling on alternate weeks: the glass crate one week, followed by the recycling bin containing paper and plastic suitable for recycling and clean tins. Contractors do this work, so it continues, even on public holidays. Yesterday, however, the recycling bin collection was really late – well after 4 pm; and Waste Management didn’t turn up at all to empty the bins lining our street. There was no message from the Wellington City Council or from Waste Management to indicate any changes to normal arrangement. Waste Management where are you? Thankfully it’s not very windy, or they’d be blown all over the place.

I walked to the local supermarket at midday, and it was quite busy there, but there are some good specials. You have to be careful, though: I bought croissants for lunch, eventually finding a pack dated 7 June well behind lots dated 5 June and some dated 6 June (which was yesterday).  I was going to buy my favourite pies, which were on special, but I couldn’t find a Best Before date anywhere on any of them, and I couldn’t find anyone to ask, either. I had to wait to be served, it was quite busy there.

It’s quite mild today. I must say it’s frustrating to be too hot, when you’ve rugged up to keep warm in the cold.  Those thick winter jerseys may languish again.  There’s something quite nice about wearing warm clothes, scarves and gloves, as long as it’s not wet and not too windy.

The Covid 19 report is out (there wasn’t one yesterday). There are 10,191 new community cases, and there’ve been 14 deaths. There are 372 people in hospital, including 9 in Intensive care.

Of the people whose deaths were reported today one was from Northland, two were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Taranaki, five were from Canterbury and four were from the Southern region. Two people were in their 50s, one was in their 60s, four were in their 70s, five were in their 80s and two were aged over 90. Of these people, eight were men and six were women.

With winter here, a surge in Omicron cases is expected and already close to 100 Kiwis are dying with the virus each week. Auckland still dominates New Zealand’s Covid cases, with 2997 new infections over the past two days.

Of those in hospital, four are in Northland, 47 are at Waitemata, 39 are at Counties Manukau, 58 are at Auckland, 27 are at Waikato, 17 are at Bay of Plenty, five are at Lakes, one is at Tairāwhiti, ten are at Hawke’s Bay, nine are at Taranaki, one is at Whanganui, 13 are at MidCentral, 15 are at Hutt Valley, 21 are at Capital and Coast, seven are at Nelson Marlborough, 54 are at Canterbury, eight at South Canterbury, three at West Coast and 32 at Southern. The average age of people in hospital is 62 (largely unchanged).

It’s reported that there were new community cases reported over the past two days in: Northland (248), Auckland (2,997), Waikato (747), Bay of Plenty (343), Lakes (152), Hawke’s Bay (266), MidCentral (367), Whanganui (147), Taranaki (257), Tairāwhiti (51), Wairarapa (80), Capital and Coast (990), Hutt Valley (399), Nelson Marlborough (401), Canterbury (1,704), South Canterbury (144), Southern (770), West Coast (126), Unknown (2)  Officials also reported an additional 111 imported (border) cases.  That’s very high for Wellington (990), although it is for two days.  It seems that these numbers aren’t going down nearly fast enough.

On Friday, it was announced cases of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants have been detected in the community with no clear link to the border, as well as cases of BA.2.12.1.

Everyone, it seems, is down on President Biden – sleepy Joe meets with Prime Minister Ardern; Biden is tentative in Asia; Biden shouldn’t go to Saudi Arabia; and he should/shouldn’t cancel crippling student debt. He made an impassioned speech about guns in the US. He was accused by Mehdi Hasan of not going far enough, while the editor of some right-wing publication called his speech worthy of impeachment.  Charlie Sykes wants a return to what he calls normalcy, but that ain’t going to happen: you can’t turn the clock back. Things cannot be “normal” (whatever that means) after Trump’s presidency, and the January 6 riot; mind you, they were pretty awful before that, with Obama’s presidency being one bright spot in years of tragedy.  The seeming miracle of having a black president only aroused more hatred and resentment, and more buying of guns.  The British just celebrated HM the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, after 70 years on the British throne;  in America, after Buffalo, and after Uvalde, and after Tulsa, there has been yet more gun violence.  People are not safe at a concert, at a picture theatre, at church, in hospital, in a store, being a politician, or having their children in school.  Joe Scarborough remarked how it’s strange how the Pro-Life party doesn’t care about you once you can draw breath.  In San Francisco the Catholic Cardinal has denied Nancy Pelosi mass.  They are so fortunate to have a great president in Joe Biden. I wish they’d appreciate him more.  To my mind, the US is added to Ukraine and Taiwan as the three most dangerous places in the world.  I’m sure there are others, but those three will probably do for now.

I have to say something about British politics. After the Jubilee celebrations going very well, and being a great success, Boris Johnson has survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament – and it seems there’s no ready successor; and the Harkles did not necessarily bring their children to England. (Where’s Archie, by the way?)There’s reportedly been no sighting of them.  But the odious couple did turn up to the Service of Thanksgiving, and kept a low profile (for which much thanks will be given, I’m sure).  There are newspaper articles about how far they’ve fallen, being no longer “working royals” and relegated to less important seats, but they did major trashing of the Royal Family on the Oprah interview and in other moves, and after that they’d hardly be welcomed back into the fold, especially as so many people bent over backwards to welcome Meghan and give the couple a very expensive wedding. If I were Archie or Lilibet, I’d be furious at not meeting the Queen; we’ve only seen one photo of the daughter, and couldn’t see her face properly, so we’ve no idea what she looks like. This morning’s Dompost had a cartoon about Paddington Bear having tea with the Queen, and Harry wishing he’d been treated to the same encounter.

Actually, I’m wrong. I just checked the stuff website, and there is a photo of Lilibet, to celebrate her first birthday. While all babies are lovely, I don’t find this one particularly appealing.  Her hair is untidy, and she’s not nearly as beautiful as Princess Charlotte.  And what about Thomas Markle?  There seems to be no consideration of him, or of his condition.  Evidently Harry has never met him.  I think that Archie and Lilibet will have a lot of questions for their parents, like, how come we didn’t see our grandparents, or our cousins? And face-painting for a 1st birthday? A tad inappropriate, I think. Quite scary, even. Some children might find it quite frightening.

I am reading Stephen Fry’s book Troy.  Mercifully, it has short chapters. I thought I knew quite a bit about Greek myth; evidently not!  I have been reading for ages, and I’ve just got up to the birth of Helen.  Boy, it’s already such a complicated story. I did an Honours paper on Troy and the Trojan War; I hope that it will become more relevant as I go on.

It’s now Thursday June 9th.

Yesterday I got up early to go to hymn singing. It was wonderful, as always. Afterwards, finding I’d missed the bus I had hoped to catch, I had morning tea -a long black coffee and a cheese scone. I caught two buses home, and in the afternoon I went with a friend to see Downton Abbey – A New Era. There was hardly anyone there.  I quite enjoyed the film, although I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who everyone was. I then marvelled at how much it must have cost to make this movie. Afterwards, we went to Moore Wilsons (they had no raspberries or feijoas there, sadly); and then walked to Courtenay Place to catch a bus home. I was pretty tired afterwards!

That night it was quite wild: there was heavy rain, and a very dramatic thunderstorm early in the morning. I listened to lots of podcasts:  The Rest is Politics, We Have ways of making you talk, Hacks on Tap, British Scandal, and the Bulwark podcast.  Dear me!  The most interesting was the Skullduggery podcast, with Norm Eisen on.

This morning I went to singing. It was a dreadful way, weather-wise, but there were 17 of us there.  Towards the end of the session there was severe thunder and lightning, and the lights went off at one point! Very exciting. It was quite mild this morning, despite the wild weather, but now (late afternoon), it’s quite cold. The days are very short now. It gets quite dark around 4 pm.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t great. There are 7,927 new community cases, and there have been 27 new deaths. There are 373 people in hospital, and 12 in Intensive Care.

On the deaths reported today, nine were from the Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Lakes DHB area, one from Taranaki, one from MidCentral, five from the Wellington region, one from Nelson-Marlborough, four from Canterbury and two from the Southern region. One person was in their 40s, two in their 60s, seven in 70s, nine in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. That’s 5 deaths on the Wellington regions.

Today’s new community cases were in Northland (165), Auckland (2,239), Waikato (558), Bay of Plenty (261), Lakes (96), Hawke’s Bay (273), MidCentral (319), Whanganui (125), Taranaki (223), Tairāwhiti (45), Wairarapa (58), Capital and Coast (877), Hutt Valley (372), Nelson Marlborough (337), Canterbury (1,177), South Canterbury (132), Southern (594), West Coast (73) and the location of three was unknown.

That brings the seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today to 6059 – last Thursday it was 6937. There were also 96 new cases reported at the border today.

Yesterday, the ministry announced 7050 new community cases and 24 deaths of people with Covid-19. There were 361 hospitalisations.

I find those numbers quite shocking. While they’re not as bad as when omicron peaked here, they stubbornly refuse to decline as fast as I would like them to.

I’m going to leave it there. The war in Ukraine grinds on.  The Covid 19 figures here stubbornly refuse to go down by much. We all know people who’ve had Covid 19, as it gets ever closer to us.  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

The Frozen Chosen

Prince Louis steals the show at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee RAF Fly past

It’s now Sunday May 29th, 2022.  Kia ora!

This morning it wasn’t quite as cold as yesterday, but the sun emerged and it’s a fine, sunny day.

This morning I zoomed into a church service, being unwilling to expose myself to too many people. Again, there was a violin performance (by a visitor) that I found excruciating. For any of my children, their teacher would have said it wasn’t ready yet!  I suspect many of my fellow church goers have children, now grown up, that are wonderful musicians.  I almost think it’s disrespectful to play badly. There, I’ve said my piece.

On Monday afternoon two of my cousins came to visit, and brought some quince paste. Yum!

It’s now Tuesday May 31st.

It’s not so cold today, but it rains off and on.  Prime Minister Ardern’s delegation to the US has a third person sick with Covid 19, and her Air Force plane has broken down. Evidently Gavin Newsom, Democratic Governor of California, has Covid 19.  That’s a shame, but what an honour to have our Jacinda deliver the commencement address at Harvard, be awarded an honorary degree, appear on Stephen Colbert’s late show (in three blocks!), and have a meeting with President Biden (still to come); and wear the korowai.

I haven’t written about Covid 19 here in New Zealand for a few days. Today there are officially 8,436 new community cases, and there have been 18 deaths. I think the numbers were fewer over the past two days. There are 389 people in hospital, and 9 of them are in Intensive Care.

It’s reported that three of those who died were from Northland, two were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Taranaki, two were from Midcentral, two were from Nelson Marlborough, three were from Canterbury, two were from West Coast and two were from the Southern region. One was aged in their 50s, two were in their 60s, one in their 70s, eight were in their 80s, and six were over 90. Ten were men and eight were women.

It’s reported that the new community cases are located as follows: Northland (247), Auckland (2746), Waikato (679), Bay of Plenty (240), Lakes (115), Hawke’s Bay (231), MidCentral (274), Whanganui (84), Taranaki (243), Tairāwhiti (58), Wairarapa (63), Capital and Coast (682), Hutt Valley (242), Nelson Marlborough (367), Canterbury (1285), South Canterbury (176), Southern (597), West Coast (105), and two in an unknown location. Officials also reported an additional 79 imported (border) cases.

To me, those numbers are still far too high. We are still looking forward to a lessening of this disease’s bite, and the fear it causes.  I had a report from Hōhepa Hawkes Bay recently, and this was far more upbeat than previous ones. There are two residents with Covid 19; one of them is being cared for at home.  There are still daily cancellations of Metlink public transport services: they’re using Covid 19 sickness as the reason.

I’m rereading more of my Stalingrad book and understanding it better this time around.  While there is great fear of the fascist (German) troops advancing ever further east, there is an awareness that the tide has turned; that the Germans are ever outstripping their supply lines; that the Russians are fighting back rather well; and of course the individual stories are fascinating. Of course, there is still great bloodshed to come, as we get ever nearer to Stalingrad.

Meanwhile, in the real-life war in Ukraine, it’s reported that Russian forces are pounding cities in Eastern Ukraine, so much so, that some commentators are saying Putin’s doing rather well. Europe has agreed on a Russian oil embargo (excluding Hungary and Slovakia); Russia is to stop supplying the Netherlands, who refuse to pay in roubles.

It’s now Wednesday June 1st.

It is very stormy here, although we’re a bit more sheltered where I live. I went to hymn singing this morning:  we sang We sing the praise of Him who died and The King of Love my Shepherd is, amongst others. We really value this opportunity.  There was some flooding on the way there; I was due to go to a friend’s house for lunch, but she’s postponed, and I can see why –  it’s pretty wild weather, with sunshine sometimes, heavy rain storms, with horizontal rain, and some thunder.

The world is gradually coming back online after the US Memorial Weekend holiday. The Bulwark podcast was on again, with Charlie Sykes speaking to Ryan Busse, the author of a new book called Gunfight. He worked in the gun industry, and clearly knows what he’s talking about. I have heard him on other podcasts, notably the Skullduggery podcast. I also listened to the American Scandal podcast, talking about the Dupont chemical industry and its “forever” chemicals and consequent lawsuit; this story was also told very effectively in the film Dark Waters (2019).

Today’s Covid 19 report is out: there are 8,182 new community cases, and there have been 13 more deaths. There are 373 people in hospital, and 8 of them are in Intensive Care. It’s reported that Hawkes Bay has 208 new cases, and has had one death. There is concern that Covid 19 re-infection is not being recorded, and that you can get Covid 19 again within 8 weeks, not 3 months, as was formerly thought.  Once again, at 3 pm it’s not easy to find Covid 19 details online. It’s reported that teachers are more susceptible to (re)infection.

Of the people whose deaths reported on Wednesday, four were from the Auckland region, two were from Canterbury, and one each from Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Hutt Valley, Capital and Coast, Nelson Marlborough, and Southern. One person was in their 40s, two were in their 70s, five were in their 80s, and five were aged over 90. Of these people, six were female and seven were male. 

The locations of the new community cases (PCR & RAT) are reported as follows: Northland (223), Auckland (2,534), Waikato (623), Bay of Plenty (245), Lakes (99), Hawke’s Bay (208), MidCentral (335), Whanganui (105), Taranaki (234), Tairāwhiti (45), Wairarapa (60), Capital and Coast (716), Hutt Valley (286), Nelson Marlborough (334), Canterbury (1,322), South Canterbury (146), Southern (592), West Coast (69), Unknown (6).  That’s still alarmingly high for Wellington. There are 89 new imported cases.

Cases in hospital are reported as follows: Northland: 11; Waitemata: 36; Counties Manukau: 34; Auckland: 66; Waikato: 22; Bay of Plenty: 7; Lakes: 4; Tairāwhiti: 6; Hawke’s Bay: 14; Taranaki: 11; Whanganui: 2; MidCentral: 14; Wairarapa: 1; Hutt Valley: 4; Capital and Coast: 37; Nelson Marlborough: 9; Canterbury: 52; South Canterbury: 13; West Coast: 1; Southern: 29. 

It’s reported that in Wellington, a wave of Covid 19 has hit Parliament, with 15 people isolating.  Did we let down our guard too soon? Probably.

It’s now Friday June 3rd.

Yesterday I went to singing. The weather was still pretty wild; there were only 16 of us there.  Afterwards JD gave me a lift home.

Today there are lots of videos of the Trooping of the Colour and the RAF fly past in the shape of 70 to celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.  There was very affecting film of her lighting a beacon.  I watched a film last night, and thought some of the marching was a tad untidy; perhaps they were practicing. There were a handful of protesters, dragged away and dealt with; it didn’t rain; Her Majesty lookedwonderful, and the spectacle is pretty amazing.  There’s been a lot of fun in the dressing up department.  One can’t help feeling a bit sorry for Prince Charles, who, at 73, is still waiting to be king.  I think many people would prefer the throne to go to Prince William and the lovely Kate when the queen dies, as she must, some day.  One thing’s for sure, there won’t be another platinum jubilee for quite some time; as Tina Brown says, there probably won’t be another jubilee in ten years’ time. The frail monarch has already pulled out of attending the service of thanksgiving to be held at ST Paul’s Cathedral (where Charles and Diana were married). The Sussexes are in London, but so far, thankfully, little has been seen of them. The odious Prince Andrew has been diagnosed with Covid 19, and so, thankfully, is absent.

It’s now Saturday June 4th.

Today we had lunch at the lovely Gipps St Deli, where I had the beautiful quiche again, with salad. It did not disappoint.  They’ll be closed on Monday; there weren’t many people there today, and we enjoyed sitting almost in the sun. There was a cold and overcast start to the day, but then it warmed up quite a bit and was sunny. Nevertheless, I was glad to wear a warm jersey and a woollen jacket. 

After lunch we went to New World in Thorndon, where it wasn’t too busy.  I bought raspberries, coffee beans, tomatoes, bananas, bread, and salads.

During the day I’ve been watching more videos about the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in the UK.  I was a little surprised in Karori to see no sign of British royalty. I have to admit I’m quite entranced by all the ceremony, which the British do so well; mind you, it must be trying!  Shaking hands with all those people must be challenging at times. I watched film of members of the Royal Family going into, and out of, St Paul’s Cathedral, for the service of thanksgiving. I would like to watch the service itself, but so far it has been denied. Then there was more film of members of the RF going in and out of the Guildhall for a special lunch. Woe betide eating or drinking too much; and, of course, I have to wonder about comfort stops, since that has become a preoccupation of mine as I’ve grown older.  All this pageantry must be great practice for HM’s funeral, and for Prince Charles’ coronation; and perhaps Prince William’s, not too long afterwards; after all, Prince Charles is already 73 years old.

The pageantry is a great distraction, and a wonderful reminder of how well the Brits do this stuff. Compare the US motorcades – where’s the romance in that? It’s fun to watch the ceremonies, and, not least of all, to see so many flying saucer hats worn at odd angles; the way they’re worn looks so uncomfortable, as though a breath of Wellington wind would blow them right away.

It’s now Sunday June 5th.

It’s very cold and frosty this morning, and it doesn’t really warm up during the day. I zoom into the church service, thinking there would be visitors there today – which there aren’t.  The minister has a new/old nickname for us: the Frozen Chosen. It sounds very British, although it may be American (he’s just been there, goodness knows why). In the US, they’re obsessed with guns and their history of slavery, but most people still believe in God. There are multiple contradictions there. There’s trouble with the sound again, but eventually it comes right, although it cuts off during the organist’s final piece. JD and I have to go out; we have a very nice lunch at the café at the top of the Cable Car.  I must say they do good food there. 

There are more videos of British Royal Jubilee celebrations – not so formal, now.  There are wonderful addresses by Prince Charles and by Prince William. I have never heard Charles speak so well –  he sounded quite human, even calling his mother Her Majesty, and then Mummy. I found both speeches very moving.

Today’s Covid 19 report is down to 4,400 new community cases and 8 deaths,, with 371 people in hospital and 6 in Intensive Care. There were 50 new cases identified at the border. 11 deaths and 6,291 new community cases were reported yesterday. We’ve become so blasé about these daily reports that it’s hard to find them, soon after they’ve been delivered;  I still find it creepy if I’m in a social situation where someone’s not wearing a mask. There are very few QR codes being displayed at present. There’ll be no report tomorrow (it being a public holiday); Monday’s figures will be included in Tuesday’s report.

In the Ukraine, received wisdom is that Putin’s Russian forces are doing rather well, as they seek to dominate Eastern Ukraine. However it’s reported that Ukrainian forces have taken back parts of Sievierodonetsk, a key Donbas city that had been captured by the Russians.  It’s feared that the West will grow weary of this war; but the fighting spirit of the Ukrainians is truly remarkable. 

That’s it for now. We will go and see my daughter again later this month, DV. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Not a Swamp Creature

Prime Minister Ardern at Harvard wearing a korowai over her gown. We are so proud of you!

It’s now Friday May 27th, 2022. Kia ora!

Yesterday I didn’t write at all.  Yesterday morning I had singing. It was very cold, and I wrapped up warmly, in clothes I hoped would be too warm! I ended up putting a woollen scarf over my knees!  But the singing was wonderful, although there weren’t as many of us as usual. We are all working together so well.

Afterwards I went shopping, and then JD and I had a lovely lunch at a café. I was very tired after this.

On Friday my cleaning lady came. In preparation for this, I changed the sheets and towels.  

This week I learnt that another close friend has Covid 19. Her husband continues to test negative.  One of my friend’s (from singing) daughter has had Covid 19.  Many people I know have had it, as it creeps ever closer. This morning I learnt that Dr Ashley Bloomfield has Covid 19. He’s presently in Geneva after attending the World Health Assembly.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ardern is in the US for several reasons: she was to deliver the Harvard University commencement address (they gave her an honorary degree); she has secured a meeting with President Biden and Vice President Harris at the While House; and she also appeared with her old friend Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. We are so proud of her!

I finished reading an LRB; I read articles about the convoy protest in Ottawa, which sparked similar protests in Wellington and Canberra; and about Alexander Pope (a classical English poet: yes, I studied him, back in the day; I doubt that many do nowadays).

In the US, and around the world, we are all reeling from the dreadful school shooting in a small town in Texas called Uvalde (and so thankful we are not Americans). Yet again, I cannot escape the irony that the pro-life party is only pro unborn life. Once you’re born, you’re most likely in for a life of trauma and school lockdowns.  Oh, and it seems Trump did not express any antipathy  towards the suggestion to hang Mike Pence, his then Vice President; supreme hypocrisy by the leader of the Republican Party.

There was a further death related to the shootings reported today, when a 48 year old died of a heart attack; he was husband of one of the two teachers who was killed. They leave four teenagers, aged from 13 to 23 years old. That means 22 people have died – 19 children and two teachers, and the husband of one of the teachers.  Something Chris Hayes said reminded me of ancient societies where children were ritually sacrificed – for example, a Tophet; and yet God said I didn’t command this, I didn’t even think about it.  Children are now back at school after the Covid 19 pandemic, with relief; now this happens.

It’s really hard to find today’s Covid 19 report. It comes out regularly at 1 pm most days, and quickly disappears.

It’s now Saturday May 28th.

It was extremely cold this morning:  one forecast on my phone said it was 6 C, but felt like 3C.  I had left the heater on, but it still felt very cold indeed.

I listened to more podcasts about the Texas school shooting; I also listened to a podcast about conspiracy theories; in particular, the ones that blossomed after the Watergate crisis. After a long period of strict Covid 19 regulations, where many people had far too much time to think, conspiracy theories have flourished, and social media (which I avoid) has steadily grown in its ability to spread insults and lies. 

 More and more details are coming out about the shooting in Uvalde, and they are horrifying: the armed police didn’t enter the school because they were afraid of getting shot;  there was more than one classroom involved; the immediate crisis went on for about an hour; desperate parents tried to enter the school and were told they couldn’t; there was no resource officer in the school, although local police said there was; the gunman walked right in without any checks; in the words of one eye witness, he shot the window in the classroom door; and so on and so on.  All comments are aired on most stations, as shock permeates the US and much of the world. Laurence O’Donnell reported that the gun said “It’s time to die”, before shooting the children. One child survived by smearing herself with her dead friend’s blood, and pretending to be dead. She called 911, and wondered why the police didn’t come right away.

Whatever happened, and the stories of that terror don’t improve with age, surviving children, their parents, and those who lost loved ones and friends, will never forget this day. They will remember it for the rest of their lives, and some will probably be permanently traumatised by it. It’s hard to pull yourself together and make something good of your life after such an act of evil and terror, by an 18 year old. Why did he shoot his grandmother, who had cared for him? Did she say No to him, perhaps? 

The Guardian website has a story by political journalist Jonathan Freedland, pointing out that America was a land of such promise, seeking “freedom” from tyrannical monarchical rule, with their founding fathers devising a constitution that considered other states’ experiences in devising how a republic should work.  Sadly, many take an oath to the much-vaunted Constitution they adopted, and then have no hesitation in breaking that oath. Their praised freedoms look very hollow now, with this crazy 2nd Amendment which is taken to endorse the right of individual citizens to bear arms, without any thought of safety, usage, safe storage, age limits, or mental health, or the huge risks involved.  The American political system is now bound by a right-wing Supreme Court, and right-wing government in many states, that despite the majority wanting a kinder, safer, environment, insists on turning back the clock.  Maternal death rates are much higher than they should be, especially for coloured women; abortion is set to become illegal, and subject to prosecution, for all concerned; meanwhile these precious children are likely to be shot while they are at school. They, and their parents, will be scared of this happening, even if it doesn’t. Children should be safe at school, surely? Who’d live there, if they didn’t have to?  Meanwhile, the NRA is holding its annual conference in Houston. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are speaking there. People are protesting outside. Unspeakable. There’s a lot of talk about “sacrificing children”. God didn’t ask you to make this sacrifice. In this case, good guys with guns didn’t stop the bad guy with a gun.

In Psalm 137, it’s said “L,o children are an inheritance of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward”. There are many other references to the gift of children, and many references to mothering – “How often would I have taken you under my wing?” There is the wonderful and terrible instance in Genesis where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac; but when Abraham is on the point of obeying God, a ram is found instead. Hebrews says that Abraham was “counting that God was able to raise him from the dead, whence he received him in a figure”.  This is a terrible story of God testing Abraham’s faith; yet Isaac was restored to him. This story – the only such case in the Bible – to me prefigures the death of Christ, when God gave up his only Son, that we might live.  How incredibly cruel it is not to love and protect children from all harm, while teaching them the difference between right and wrong.

I saw a photo of Meghan Markle laying a wreath at the gates of the school.  Why, I wonder, is she not showing any compassion to her father, Thomas, who is in hospital after suffering a stroke, and is rumoured to be unable to speak? Just asking. I don’t see any evidence of his son-in-law, Prince Harry, sending him flowers or visiting him either. Archie and his sister will have many questions to ask as they grow up. Bring on the teenage years, I say!

In the UK, Sue Gray’s report has been published about the parties held at 10 Downing St while Covid 19 restrictions were in force. It seems the Prime Minister Boris Johnson doesn’t do embarrassment:  he apparently insisted that Winston Churchill drank rather a lot during the Second World War, and was still able to operate and make decisions.  Well, the British PM does do arrogance, in comparing himself to the late Churchill; love Winnie or hate him, he did have success in motivating the British people to undergo incredible hardships during that War and during the Blitz, which was a terrible time.  It’s reported that one of Priti Patel’s aides has resigned. Another Tory MP has called on Boris to quit. Just before Sue Gray’s report came out, there were reports of extreme drunkenness, with someone vomiting, someone sitting on someone else’s knee, and late night high jinks.  And these people were supposed to be running the country.

It’s also reported that 115 Rosgvardia guards (Putin’s private army) have been fired because of their refusal to fight in Ukraine. But the Donbas area is under heavy attack, with reports of two Ukrainian town surrounded by Russian troops.

Once again, though, our Prime Minister Ardern, has made us so proud – giving the commencement address at Harvard (and getting a standing ovation), and wearing a traditional Māori feather cloak – a korowai.  She wore  this when she attended a state dinner ar Buckingham Palace when she was pregnant with her daughter.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: 6,369 new community cases, and 13 deaths. There are 362 people in hospital, and 6 in Intensive Care.

Of those 13 deaths reported today, five were from the Auckland, two were from Canterbury, one from South Canterbury, one from Nelson Marlborough, two from the Wellington region, one from Bay of Plenty, and one from Southern. Two people were in their 60s, five were in their 70s, three were in their 80s, and three were aged over 90.

The locations of the 6369 new community cases on Saturday are: Northland (166), Auckland (2068), Waikato (480), Bay of Plenty (160), Lakes (125), Hawke’s Bay (173), MidCentral (199), Whanganui (74), Taranaki (215), Tairāwhiti (32), Wairarapa (59), Capital & Coast (512), Hutt Valley (193), Nelson Marlborough (269), Canterbury (981), South Canterbury (135), Southern (452), West Coast (70), Unknown (6). That seems to me a bit of a reduction, although it is Saturday, and many people still have Covid 19. Hawkes Bay is down to 173 new cases, although Wellington is still high at 512.

On Friday, the Ministry reported 6862 new community cases of Covid-19 and 25 more deaths. I now feel that more people I know have had Covid 19 than have not. 

This afternoon we went to see the beautiful art exhibition at the Fine Arts Academy Gallery again (again for me, first time for JD). Thankfully, anything I would have bought has a red sold sticker. Some of the paintings I’d so admired at first viewing, didn’t look so great today. Others looked even more amazing.

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

And so it goes…

It’s now Saturday May 21st, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning it was very cold. There was some condensation in our house.  Later in the day, it was sunny and fine. We went to the supermarket in Thorndon, and although I couldn’t get the salads I wanted, I bought some raspberries, feijoas, bread, pies and cakes, lettuce, and beefsteak tomatoes. It was very busy at the store; thankfully people are still wearing masks.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t too bad, athough two Auckland secondary schools have reintroduced mask wearing. Apparently Eric Clapton, who refused the vaccine, and so far escaped the coronavirus, now has covid 19 and has had to cancel some planned concerts. He’s 75, evidently, and still performing. Today there are 6,635 new community cases, and there’ve been 6 deaths.

The deaths included two people in the Auckland region and one each in Northland, Taranaki, Canterbury and the Southern regions. One of those who died was in their 60s, two were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and one was over 90.

It’s reported that the 400 people in hospital include 10 people in Northland, 38 in Waitemata, 39 in Counties Manukau, 80 in Auckland, 38 in Waikato, 10 in Bay of Plenty, two in Lakes, one in Tairāwhiti, 14 in Hawke’s Bay, 12 in Taranaki, four in Whanganui, 11 in Mid Central, two Wairarapa, five in Hutt Valley, 17 in Capital and Coast, eight in Nelson Marlborough, 61 in Canterbury, 10 in South Canterbury, two in West Coast and 36 in Southern. There are 12 people in intensive care, and the average age of those in hospital is 61. The Topp twins have tested  positive for Covid 19, as well as both having cancer.  Many people that had escaped Covid 19 up till now, are now catching it.

The location of today’s new community cases are Northland (194), Auckland (2222), Waikato (527), Bay of Plenty (205), Lakes (121), Hawke’s Bay (255), Mid Central (190), Whanganui (94), Taranaki (172), Tairāwhiti (57), Wairarapa (67), Capital and Coast (466), Hutt Valley (177), Nelson Marlborough (206), Canterbury (985), South Canterbury (106), Southern (519), West Coast (67) and five were yet to be linked. There are also 85 imported cases.

The war in Ukraine – has stalled, perhaps?  There are terrible videos about of wounded people; tragic stories of bereavements; stories about Putin having cancer, and about plots to roll him; whatever’s going on there, there’s no doubt that Russian troops have wrought immense destruction and death, and I doubt that Putin’s going to pick up the pieces and make things better any time soon. All this tragedy and turmoil is quite unnecessary. George (Dubya) Bush made an extraordinary gaffe when he spoke to a university recently, citing the “decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq”; oh, he meant Ukraine. And then he had the nerve to giggle about this Freudian slip. Well, we know it wasn’t his decision alone – then Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney and lots of US journalists helped him make the decision, but I remember the huge protests in London and other places that accompanied this decision; the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair went along with this “boots and all”.  There was a British scandal, too – remember the “sexed up” dossier”, and the suicide of Dr David Kelly. At the time I thought, as did many others, that Dubya was the worst ever president of the US. He was later to comment that Donald Trump made his presidency look better, and, of course, it did, although that’s not saying much. I remember someone who lived in the US calling the invasion of Iraq “the end of US hegemony” (what a beautiful word hegemony is).   Well. they did topple Saddam Hussein, but there were no WMDs there. Many US and UK troops died needlessly,  and thousands more Iraqis died needlessly and had their way of life totally disrupted. There was no Plan B, about how Iraq would be administered after the war, or how many US troops would stay there (I believe there’re still some there). Instead, we got ISIS.

Also in the US, more texts have been released from Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, showing that she urged Arizona legislators to deliver an alternate slate of electors to the Electoral College, to show that Trump has won Arizona rather than Biden. Will any of these people be held accountable? It doesn’t look like it.

We spoke to our son in the UK; he has recently visited Lithuania. He commented that it was very clean, in a rather Scandinavian way, with a huge sense of history. We spoke about the Polish-Lithuanian Empire, which I have been reading about. The history of Europe is so interesting, and down here we are so very far away! 

During the evening I watched results of the Australian General Election, as the votes were counted.  Labour seemed to be doing well, when you looked at one view of the outcome; other views had Labour and the Coalition (National and Liberal) very close.

It’s now Sunday May 22nd.

I woke up at 1:40 am this morning, but thankfully went back to sleep until 7 am. Then I saw that the Labour Party have won the Australian election, and Antony Albanese will be the next Prime Minister. I also saw that the odious Josh Frydenberg’s, (the former Treasurer), seat is in danger, with the result too close to call at that stage. I gather the Greens have done quite well, which is a relief, considering that Australia has been quite terrible in addressing climate change.

It was very cold this morning; thankfully the windows weren’t too steamed up.

I had church in Wadestown this morning, but I zoomed in along with a few others.  JD was too busy to take me there, and there’s no good public transport options for getting home. It was sunny later in the day, but didn’t really warm up properly. In the winter, even if it’s sunny for a bit, the days are so much shorter that I’m glad of winter woollies.

Today’ Covid 19 report was much better, with less than 5,000 new community cases reported (4,990), and 10 deaths. There are 379 people in hospital, and 9 in Intensive Care. It’s reported that the average age of current hospitalisations is 62 (that’s pretty much the norm).

 The cases reported were spread as follows: Northland (140), Auckland (1693), Waikato (353), Bay of Plenty (165), Lakes (88), Hawke’s Bay (166), MidCentral (182), Whanganui (62), Taranaki (137), Tairāwhiti (27), Wairarapa (58), Capital and Coast (351), Hutt Valley (134), Nelson Marlborough (165), Canterbury (799), South Canterbury (84), Southern (344), West Coast (36), Unknown (6). There were 60 new imported cases.

The disease of Monkeypox is going around, with slowly increasing numbers in some countries.  I read a long article about it, but I find my questions unanswered: if you’ve had chicken pox as a child, or been vaccinated against it, or had the shingles vaccine (Zostavax, free for people over 65), are you immune to monkeypox?  From the photographs, it causes a rash of skin pustules, a but larger than chickenpox ones.  I don’t know if it leaves scars like smallpox.

I later find out it’s more like small pox than chicken pox or shingles; sexual contact is one of the main means of transmission.

It’s now Monday May 23rd.

It’s a beautiful fine day today, and not too cold a start. I walked up to the store and back to get some croissants for lunch. When I woke early this morning I listened to the newly released podcast Will be Wild. Man, it quite upset me. I had listened to an episode on the Skulduggery podcast where the authors had spoken about their new podcast, about the events leading up to the riot on January 6 2021. I found it shocking indeed, horrifying.

This afternoon I had my ears suctioned; I had them syringed years ago; now they do suctioning. My GP thought it would be a good idea, and so it was.  It was a little uncomfortable at the time, rather like being at the dentist’s; but I’m glad I had it done.

Today’s Covid 19 report is good-good, although Wellington mayor Andy Foster has Covid 19. Today there are 6,000 new community cases, and there’ve been 9 deaths. There are 363 people in hospital, and 14 in Intensive Care.

It’s reported that cases were broken into regions like this: Northland (158), Auckland (2053), Waikato (463), Bay of Plenty (206), Lakes (77), Hawke’s Bay (163), Mid Central (196), Whanganui (85), Taranaki (179), Tairāwhiti (27), Wairarapa (45), Capital and Coast (444), Hutt Valley (181), Nelson Marlborough (230), Canterbury (878) South Canterbury (90), Southern (461), West Coast (62), Unknown (2). There were 58 new imported cases.

It’s now Wednesday May 25th.

Yesterday I met a friend and we visited the Fine Arts Academy, where there is a wonderful exhibition until 12 June. There are paintings by Charlotte Hird, Vivienne Manthel-French, Philip Markham and others. There are some beautiful paintings, and more lovely things in the gift shop. I would very much like to visit it again. Afterwards, we had lunch at a nearby café, but it was just on midday and very busy there.

This morning it was very cold, but later a fine, sunny day.

This morning I went to hymn singing – lovely, as always. Thankfully I didn’t get a frog in my throat as I sometimes do. Afterwards, I caught a bus into town and had a cup of coffee and a cheese scone. Afterwards, I walked to a cinema where I saw Operation Mincemeat – a very good film.  Pardon my ignorance but I did not know that the British invaded southern Sicily in 1943.  This was a complicated operation to deceive Hitler; Churchill, of course, loved it. I guess the movie showed the intricacy of planning such an operation, and the human side of it too.  Colin Firth, Matthew McFadyen and Jonny Flynn starred; Penelope Wilton too. Jonny Flynn, who played Mr Knightly in the latest film of Emma, starred as Ian Fleming. I enjoyed the film, but I think JD would have hated it, so I didn’t feel guilty about seeing it alone. There were I think 4 other adults in the theatre.

Meanwhile, there’s been another school shooting in – where else – the US, this time in Texas, in an elementary school. Nineteen children have died and two adults. The numbers keep going up. Apparently the gunman, a teenager, is dead. This follows a recent shooting at Buffalo, where ten people died, and it seems this was definitely a hate crime, where the teenage shooter set out to kill black people.

Before this latest tragedy, President Biden said the US would defend Taiwan if China attacked. This has caused a general freak out: another Biden gaffe; why, I wonder? Biden has done a marvellous job of unifying support for Ukraine against the Russian attack, without committing any US forces to the special military action; why shouldn’t he do the same for Taiwan? This was no gaffe, in my view.

In New Zealand, the governor of the Reserve Bank has raised the OCR to 2%.  I thought the OCR announcement was made on a Thursday. Now it’s evidently on Wednesday.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are officially 8,150 new cases, and it’s reported that omicron sub-variant BA. 2.12.1 has been detected. This case does not have a direct link to the border.  There are 368 people in hospital, including 11 in Intensive Care. There have been 11 deaths.

Of the 11 deaths reported, two were from the Auckland region, one from Waikato, two from Taranaki, one from Hawke’s Bay, one from MidCentral, three from Canterbury, and one from Southern. One person was aged under 10, one was in their 30s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 70s, three were in their 80s, and four were aged over 90.

It was announced yesterday that New Zealand would stay at the Orange level.  The Hon Chris Hipkins predicts that New Zealand will have another wave of omicron. There were a number of public transport cancellations today, because of staff sickness.

There is worldwide concern about monkeypox, which is spreading around the world, but it is not thought to be as infectious, or pose as much of a threat, as the coronavirus.

In the US elections today, Brian Kemp won his primary election against the Trump-endorsed Brian Purdue; when I looked, Brad Raffensberger was ahead of his competitors for Secretary of State; and Herschel Walker had also won his primary. Perhaps there are chances here for democrats after all.

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

The Charge

The Crimean War of 1854

Today is Tuesday Mat 17th, 2022. Kia ora!

Yesterday I went to a friend’s house for lunch.  It was lovely.  I feel at present that I don’t have much to write about, however in the afternoon I read more of the Stalingrad book. It is such a wonderful novel:  for years, I had thought that the Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 was very scary and effective. But it seems it was not; the German victories were Pyrrhic ones, in that while they kept on “winning”, as they moved east, in fact they were gravely stretching their supply lines, and the troops were ill-clad and ill-supplied. In the end, of course, the Russians (well supplied by Allied forces) won.

Now I am watching the success of Ukrainian forces against the Russian invasion:  there is such irony here, in that the brave defence of the Ukrainians against the ill-timed and ill-equipped invasion of the much-vaunted Russian troops parallels in many ways the ill-judged German invasion of Russia.

This morning I learned that one third of Russia’s forces have been destroyed; that Ukrainian forces are entering Russia north of Kharkiv; that there is fierce fighting around Izyum, which the Russians have taken; that there have been more evacuations from Mariupol (which has still not surrendered; and there’s more evidence in Bucha of Russian shooting of civilians. The Ukrainians deliberately flooded a village to prevent Russian military access; and while Ukrainians reported the use of phosphorus bombs in Mariupol, the Telegraph podcast reports that these were probably mistaken for incendiary devices.

In Covid 19 news, the NZ Prime Minister Ardern is still unwell. Phil Twyford has tested positive as well. Australia has a very high number of cases – I think it was 55,000 on Sunday, although you’d struggle sometimes to get this news. Mind you, there have been deaths and hospitalisations and even some on ventilators there. In New Zealand, we’ve had no one on a ventilator since the initial outbreak.  JD took a RAT test on Sunday evening, and I took one on Monday morning – both were negative, thankfully. I didn’t take one because I had symptoms, but because I’d been out and about, and was to visit a friend’s house.

Yesterday there were 7,061 new cases 0f Covid 19, and 5 deaths. There were 415 cases in hospital, and ? in Intensive Care. It was also reported that of the deaths, 3 people were from the Southern region, 1 was from Auckland and 1 was from Bay of Plenty. 1 person was in their 50s, 1 person was in their 70s, and 3 were aged over 90. Of these people, 3 were women and 2 were men.

In North Korea, there’ve been more deaths – 50 odd, this far. It’s feared that over 1 million people have been infected.  I just competed a survey about concert attendance, and I have to say I don’t feel nearly as safe as I did in 2020, when we both enjoyed going to several concert performances.  The seating in the Michael Fowler Centre is very cramped – like being on an aeroplane; so I wouldn’t choose to go there at present.  Perhaps if mask-wearing were enforced, and they used every second row, I might consider it.

Today’s Covid 19 report is more serious than yesterday’s. Today there are 9,843 new cases, and eight deaths have been reported. There are 421 people in hospital, and 10 in Intensive Care.

Of the eight people whose deaths the ministry reported on Tuesday, three were from the Southern region, two from Auckland, two from Northland, and one from Canterbury. One person was aged in their 60s, four people were in their 70s, and three were aged over 90. Of these people, four were women and four were men.

It’s reported that the location of new community cases was Northland (288), Auckland (3442), Waikato (792), Bay of Plenty (342), Lakes (185), Hawke’s Bay (361), MidCentral (339), Whanganui (105), Taranaki (291), Tairāwhiti (90), Wairarapa (87), Capital and Coast (600), Hutt Valley (249), Nelson Marlborough (320), Canterbury (1305), South Canterbury (177), Southern (781), West Coast (83), Unknown (6). Nationwide, the seven-day rolling average of community case numbers on Tuesday was 7795 – last Tuesday it was 7927. There were 63 new imported (i.e.  from overseas) cases.

The numbers I’m watching most closely are those from Hawkes Bay (361) ad Wellington (600). That’s a concerning rise.  I haven’t had a report from Hohepa for a few weeks now. It seems that we’re well and truly in for more sickness, whether it be flu or Covid 19. 

Meanwhile, the Heretaunga Wing at Hutt Hospital has been declared an earthquake risk, and must be evacuated; in Hawkes Bay, a ward has been placed in lockdown to prevent the spread of the highly contagious norovirus, and at Southland Hospital in Invercargill more than one ward has been closed to visitors because of multiple Covid 19 exposures.  It’s reported that two patients, one on the rehabilitation ward and another on the medical ward, both tested positive on Friday followed by two more, one in each ward. Two patients on the surgical ward have also since tested positive. There are restrictions in other areas of the hospital also. In the US, Stephen Colbert is back – he did have Covid 19, and was getting better when he fell ill again. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel has it – again.

In Ukraine, the last besieged fighters (more than 260) have left Mariupol, it’s reported. Does that mean they’ve conceded defeat?

It’s now Wednesday May 18th.

This morning I got up early and went to hymn singing. It was lovely, as always. Afterwards I had morning tea and wrote to my daughter; as the shop filled up, I was happy to leave and catch the bus into town.  I went to David Jones, but evidently they’ve been having a sale for some time now, and lots of things have gone. I didn’t see anything I wanted to buy there. The I walked to Unity Books, where I did buy something – a book about Persia, (a history of ancient Persia) with beautiful coloured photographs. Then I met my cousin for lunch at a café which was almost empty. I had a very nice omelette. Then I caught a full bus home. Thankfully, the bus emptied out and I was able to sit well away from other passengers.

Tomorrow I have singing again.

Todays’ Covid 19 report wasn’t great. There are 9,570 new cases of Covid 19, and there’ve been 32 new deaths. That takes the total to over 1,000. There are 425 people in hospital, and 9 in Intensive Care.

Of the 32 people whose deaths the ministry reported on Wednesday, two people were from Northland; nine from the Auckland region; two from Bay of Plenty; two from Taranaki; one from Tairāwhiti; four from MidCentral; two from Hawke’s Bay; three from the Wellington region; one from Nelson-Marlborough; four from Canterbury and two from Southern. One person was in their 20s; four people were in their 40s; two in their 50s; four in their 60s; nine in their 70s; nine in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, 10 were women and 22 were men.

The location of Wednesday’s new community cases was Northland (273), Auckland (3,297), Waikato (742), Bay of Plenty (307), Lakes (173), Hawke’s Bay (304), MidCentral (318), Whanganui (124), Taranaki (283), Tairāwhiti (82), Wairarapa (91), Capital and Coast (642), Hutt Valley (241), Nelson Marlborough (314), Canterbury (1,368), South Canterbury (155), Southern (737), West Coast (112), Unknown (7).

Nationwide, the seven-day rolling average of community case numbers on Wednesday was 8024 – last Wednesday it was 7533. So the numbers are inching upwards. There were 91 new imported cases.

It’s now Thursday May 19th. This morning I listened to a very interesting interview between Dan Carlin (of Hardcore History fame) and Barry Strauss about the battle of Actium (in 31 B.C.), which heralded the change of Roman government from a republic to an empire under the Emperor Augustus (formerly Octavian). This was so absorbing I was almost late to singing.

Singing was very enjoyable, as always. We do so enjoy our time together.  We sang some beautiful songs, including ABBA’s SOS, Joni Mitchell’s The Circle Game, and Will you still love me tomorrow.  Afterwards JD met me and we had lunch at La Cloche, always enjoyable. Quiche, salad, French fries and a long black coffee – delicious. We got home to find another LRB has arrived. I have so much to read and to listen to at present.

Today’s coronavirus report is as follows: there are 9,091 new community cases; there have been 5 further deaths. There are 411 in hospital, and 12 in Intensive Care. The increase in numbers continues to be worrying. I can’t find the figures now, but Wellington (not the Hutt Valley) had 595 new cases, and I think Hawkes Bay had about 259. Somebody died in Wellington.

It’s now Friday May 20th.

Early this morning was the thunderstorm we were promised yesterday. Yesterday we had wind, rain and stormy weather; this morning we had lots of thunder and lightning. I listened to a Skulduggery podcast, where the hosts spoke to the two hosts of the new “Will be Wild” podcast. This has just been released and goes over the events of the US Capitol riot on January 6 2021.Once again, I am very depressed about all this, hearing more information about the dreadful events leading up to that fateful day.

A new issue of the LRB arrived yesterday. I read an article about the refugees arriving in Poland from Ukraine. They are mainly women and children, because men are required to stay in Ukraine and fight. Many of these women are particularly vulnerable to male crooks, American evangelists, and the Polish government’s archaic attitude towards abortion, despite many cases of rape, by both invading Russian troops, and those who would seek to exploit woman and teenage girls.  I also read an article about grain supplies disrupted by the war; many countries used to buy grain from Russia and/or Ukraine. These supplies have been hugely disrupted, as countries sought to recover from the effects of climate change or the coronavirus pandemic, or both. Egypt is particularly badly affected.

This morning one of my sons and his two children visited; then someone came from Access to do some cleaning.

I read more LRB articles: about the war in the Crimea in the 1850’s: who (of my era!) can forget Tennyson’s poem, of the 1968 film, The Charge of the Light Brigade (where British troops looked particularly incompetent). It’s reproduced below  I also read an article about the Italian commander Rodolfo Graziani, in the Second World War. I remembered there is a podcast about him too. I had never heard of Graziani before, but I doubt I will forget his brutality in Ethiopia in 1937 (after an assassination attempt) after this. He and Mussolini also took many valuables from Ethiopia with them.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: today there were 7,800 new community cases of Covid 19, and 17 deaths were reported. Among them, 3 people died in Wellington, one in Hawkes Bay. There are 401 people in hospital, and 14 in Intensive Care.  In Wellington, there are 530 new cases; in Hawkes Bay there are 270. In Australia, people are still dying in large numbers, there are many in hospital, and some on ventilators.  You can look up the totals each day on the ABC news website. In North Korea, there are 2 million cases, and the leader is not best pleased.

In Ukraine, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers have been taken to Russia, Russia announces; the Ukrainians are invading Belgorod, in Russia; some refugees are returning to western Ukraine, brave souls, to their ruined homes.  I don’t really know what’s going on there. The US Senate, despite their internal political hassles, have approved a large aid package – I think it’s 33 Billion US dollars.

That’s it for now. Thank goodness we have RAT tests!  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

I

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!

Charge for the guns!” he said.

Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

II

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

Was there a man dismayed?

Not though the soldier knew

   Someone had blundered.

   Theirs not to make reply,

   Theirs not to reason why,

   Theirs but to do and die.

   Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

III

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them

   Volleyed and thundered;

Stormed at with shot and shell,

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of hell

   Rode the six hundred.

IV

Flashed all their sabres bare,

Flashed as they turned in air

Sabring the gunners there,

Charging an army, while

   All the world wondered.

Plunged in the battery-smoke

Right through the line they broke;

Cossack and Russian

Reeled from the sabre stroke

   Shattered and sundered.

Then they rode back, but not

   Not the six hundred.

V

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon behind them

   Volleyed and thundered;

Stormed at with shot and shell,

While horse and hero fell.

They that had fought so well

Came through the jaws of Death,

Back from the mouth of hell,

All that was left of them,

   Left of six hundred.

VI

When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made!

   All the world wondered.

Honour the charge they made!

Honour the Light Brigade,

   Noble six hundred!

Accountability

Ukraine is to hold a war crimes trial. In the US, males who sire unborn children are nowhere to be seen.

Today is Tuesday May 10th, 2022. Kia ora.

This morning I met an old friend for coffee. The café where we had agreed to meet was closed, so we went to another one. It was quiet when we first went there, and we had a lovely time.

The rest of the day has been very quiet. The Covid 19 report was worse than yesterday’s: there are 9,173 new community cases and there’ve been 14 deaths. There are 385 people in hospital, and 13 in Intensive Care. There have now been over one million cases in New Zealand: that’s about one in five.

Of the 14 deaths reported on Tuesday, six were aged in their 70s, three were in their 80s and five were over 90. Six of those people were from Canterbury, two were from Auckland and one each were from Northland, Waikato, MidCentral, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and Southern DHBs.

It’s reported that the new community cases are as located as follows: Northland (265), Auckland (2945), Waikato (625), Bay of Plenty (254), Lakes (175), Hawke’s Bay (274), MidCentral (348), Whanganui (97), Taranaki (255), Tairāwhiti (75), Wairarapa (105), Capital and Coast (600), Hutt Valley (264), Nelson Marlborough (339), Canterbury (1397), South Canterbury (164), Southern (889) and West Coast (98). The location of four cases is unknown.

Wellington is seeing more cases this week than last week.

It’s reported that Russia held a march in Moscow yesterday for Victory Day, with no fly-past. Putin made a very odd speech, blaming the West for his invasion of Ukraine.  He didn’t look well, and had a blanket over his legs. In Ukraine, Dr Jill Biden has visited Kyiv, and also Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. The misery grinds on. 

In the US, there is still a great deal of talk about the Supreme Court draft decision to revoke Roe v Wade, depriving women of the right to an abortion. I am still amazed that there is no talk of male responsibility. I know some men are very upset if their partner chooses not to go ahead with a pregnancy, but in all these discussions male responsibility is not discussed at all – “My body, my choice” is therefore a logical conclusion for American women.

I was further amazed when listening to The Bulwark podcast, when Charlie Sykes reiterated his opposition to democrat proposals to cancel student debt.  He sees no connection between the two issues. Most people see having a good education as a key towards bettering one’s opportunities, but if poorer women have to bear and raise children they can’t afford, it’s extremely unlikely that those children will get a good education.  In my opinion, Americans have very black and white views about issues, whereas most issues are very grey, with all kinds of different viewpoints on them. 

It’s now Wednesday May 11th.

This morning I went to hymn singing. It was heartening, as always. Afterwards I was going to catch a bus into town, but the bus wasn’t at the stop till well after 10 am, but it did turn up. I had my first long black coffee for the day in town, with a toasted cheese scone.  It is much cooler today – closer to 10 degrees C. Today’s Covid 19 report is not so good. There are officially 7,970 new community cases, and there’ve been 28 further deaths.  There are 381 people in hospital, and 10 of them are in Intensive Care. 77 cases were identified at the border, but the borders are to fully open earlier than expected. In Auckland, one high large school (Albany Junior High School) has taken up online learning again, seeing that they have 200 students impacted by omicron.

It’s reported that of the new cases, 2633 were in Auckland. The rest were in Northland (252), Waikato (594), Bay of Plenty (254), Lakes (151), Hawke’s Bay (256), MidCentral (261), Whanganui (95), Taranaki (209), Tairāwhiti (75), Wairarapa (87), Capital and Coast (498), Hutt Valley (190), Nelson Marlborough (282), Canterbury (1172), South Canterbury (152), Southern (744), West Coast (62), Unknown (3). So those numbers are not decreasing as fast as we would have hoped.

Of the cases in hospital, 167 were in Auckland. The rest were spread across Northland: eight; Waikato: 44; Bay of Plenty: 17; Lakes: 5; Tairāwhiti: 1; Hawke’s Bay: 14; Taranaki: 10; Whanganui: 1; MidCentral: 23; Wairarapa: 1; Hutt Valley: 4; Capital and Coast: 12; Nelson Marlborough: 6; Canterbury: 44; South Canterbury: 2; West Coast: 4; Southern: 18. The average age of those in hospital is currently 60. Eleven of the deaths of people with Covid-19 were in their 80s, eight were in their 70s, five were in their 90s, two were in their 60s, one was in their 50s and another was in their 40s. 12 in Wellington! 

In the US Bill Gates has Covid 19, and New York Governor Kathy Hochl has Covid 19. Journalist and author John Dickerson and his family have had Covid 19. We all know lots of people who have had Covid 19. But you can get it again. No one in my immediate family has had it so far, but it has come very close.

In the US, the reaction to the leaked Supreme Court decision drags on. It transpires that one of the reasons for the decision to overturn Roe is that the stock of babies to adopt is very low, way below the demand. 

It’s now Saturday, May 14th.

On Thursday morning I had singing.  It was very enjoyable; we had a committee meeting afterwards.  After that I got a lift into town and bought some more corduroy trousers – they had a special with 30% off everything. Then I caught a bus home. After school, two of my grandchildren visited, and we attempted to tidy up the yard with sweeping and gathering up leaves into the rubbish bin or into plastic bags (dry-cleaner covers). It was fine and warm outside, but I found it hard not to pull weeds out as well as tidying up.

On Friday someone came from Access to do some cleaning.  I changed the sheets and towels. Afterwards we went into town to pick up a delivery, and had a delicious lunch at the Tasting Room. Although it was quite late, they were happy to feed us, and there were few people there. I enjoyed it.

Today we had lunch at Gipps St Deli.  I do like their quiche – the custardy filling reminds me of the baked custard my mother used to make, a flavour and texture I’ve been unable to replicate.  We had nice salad too, and I had a beautiful cup of coffee. On our way back, we stopped in Brandon St so that I could change the trousers I’d bought at Farmers.  It was raining, and there was lots of traffic. After this, we stopped at the supermarket in Thorndon, which, again, was super busy. There were no potato topped pies left, and they didn’t have my favourite salad, but we did get more feijoas and coffee beans. The kind staff were allowed to pack our goods again – which is much appreciated. It has been raining off-and-on all day, and much cooler than previously.

The Covid 19 report is so-so; sadly, Prime Minister Ardern and her daughter have tested positive for Covid 19. A good friend of ours in Auckland has tested positive for Covid 19, and has recovered. Today there are officially 7,068 new cases, and there’ve been 18 further deaths. There are 398 people in  hospital, and 8 of them are in Intensive Care.

Of the new cases, it’s reported that  2409 were in Auckland, and the rest were in Northland (202), Waikato (507), Bay of Plenty (200), Lakes (120), Hawke’s Bay (219), MidCentral (237), Whanganui (55), Taranaki (198), Tairāwhiti (57), Wairarapa (75), Capital and Coast (459), Hutt Valley (228), Nelson Marlborough (209), Canterbury (1,096), South Canterbury (105), Southern (619), West Coast (69), and Unknown (4).

Of the deaths reported on Saturday, two people were from Northland; four were from Auckland; three were from Waikato, one was from Lakes DHB, two were from MidCentral, two were from the Wellington region, one was from the West Coast, one was from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury and one was from Southern. One person was in their 40s, one was in their 60s, five were in their 70s, five were in their 80s and six were aged over 90. Of these people, nine were women and nine were men.

That’s still an alarming number of new cases, and an alarming number of deaths, although the numbers of those hospitalised or in Intensive Care has reduced significantly. I guess we were hoping that numbers of new cases and deaths would have reduced more than this by now.

In Ukraine, the news of Ukrainian forces’ achievements continues to be amazing. Yesterday I heard that Russian forces had attempted to build a pontoon bridge and were transporting equipment across it, only to be attacked by Ukrainian forces; the Russian equipment was greatly damaged, if not destroyed, and many Russian soldiers (Ukraine claims 1,000) were lost. It seems that Ukrainian forces are making great strides, but Russian forces are focussing on Eastern Ukraine, and their brutality continues.  Putin has threatened to cut the supply of electricity to Finland in retaliation for its joining NATO. Sweden intends to join too.  The President of Turkey has expressed reservations about this. Ukraine has reportedly taken back more towns that Russian forces occupied; the Russians seem now to be concentrating on the Donbas area in eastern Ukraine. The BBC reports that Russian forces have been driven out of Kharkiv.  Senator Mitch McConnell has visited Kyiv.

North Korea has finally admitted to a Covid 19/omicron epidemic. First there was one case, then 2 deaths, then 5 deaths and thousands of cases; now 21 deaths. It seems their population is unvaccinated. Leader Kim Jong Un has called it a time of “great turmoil”. They have limited testing capabilities, too, it’s reported. A lockdown has been imposed, which will no doubt cause huge problems in a country which already has trouble feeding itself.

It’s now Sunday May 15th

This morning there was quite a strong earthquake felt in Wellington, centered to the east of Kapiti Island. There was an initial light shake, followed by an alert on my phone to expect more shaking, and then immediately there was some quite strong shaking.

This morning I attended church via zoom.  They were due to have visitors today, and the omicron numbers are rising, so I chose not to go in person. I think the organist was having a day off too.

That’s it for now. I have discovered that I missed the Scandi Film Festival. I am determined to show brave and go to some of the French Film Festival films. Last year most of them were wonderful.  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.