It didn’t say what they did at the Georgetown PO to keep the mail-seeking crowds away, but a polio outbreak meant strict public heath measures were in place across PEI 75 years ago. Vaccination has nearly eradicated polio worldwide, but there are still a few cases every year in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I had a great-uncle who had polio, which left him with with he called a “crooked foot” and unable to do many things. He would have an interesting perspective on COVID-19 anti-vaccination protests.
By coincidence, today finds me being more Presbyterian than I have been in, well, forever. I was baptised and confirmed in that denomination, and my mother remains a steadfast adherent, but I stopped going to church in my teens when I received unsatisfactory answers to good theological questions. That was an upsetting decision for my parents, and I’m sure my mother hopes I will return someday. I can’t see that happening, but I learned, probably too late in life, to never say never.
In my ongoing whittling down of the stuff in our basement, I decided to send some copies of The Presbyterian Record from the 1950s and 60s to a better home. The national church archives had a complete set, but a church museum in Toronto said they could use them. These sat in the basement of our old house for four decades and in this house for nearly twenty years, and no one has even looked at them. It has taken all my willpower to not start reading them as I box them up as I’m afraid I will find some reason to keep them.
In other Presbyterian activity today, my mother’s church forwarded their annual report to her via my email. My mother has happily been the treasurer of one of her church groups since 1947, and her short report tidily sums up her long memory, the quiet deeds done by people of faith, and the once-in-a-generation-or-two impact of this pandemic.
This has been a challenging Monday morning, plans abandoned as priorities changed quickly.
I decided to take a few minutes to recalibrate and finsh reading a library book so I could return it tomorrow. I found this little note on the back of a library slip which, by the March 31 due date, means it was likely written just as PEI started to lock down and we searched for ways to express our concern for each other in this new COVID-19 time. I went from feeling resentful and harried to feeling present and calm in the space of a few seconds, the powerful combination of surprise and words bringing me back into my body and helping me to feel peaceful. The twists and turns of life never cease to amaze me.
I speak robin now. I’ve heard them singing outside my window my whole life. They wake me up and they lull me to sleep. It’s only this spring that I have finally been able to understand what they are saying.
The dawn chorus is easy. They are calling out to find a mate, to show they own a patch of forest or meadow. I am here, where are you? I’m the best, bet you are, too!
Right now the robins who nested in the red pine tree in our yard are busy all day finding food for their newborn floppy-necked babies. They still find the energy to sing morning and night. This is who you are, you are a robin. Every ounce of me honours every ounce of you.
In this time when we are thinking and talking about breathing and not breathing – don’t get sick, don’t make others sick, I can’t breathe – I stop breathing, and then I hear my life-long friend the robin:
Look up, this is all there is. Now, this is all there is. See, it’s gone, but you can catch the next now. Now.
My mother and I drove to our hairdresser’s house this morning at 8:30. The five minute drive takes us past almost all the places my mother has ever lived: her father’s house; the house she and my father built between her father’s house and their general store; her grandparents’ house at the corner of the Barlow and Murray roads. It was a gorgeous spring morning and our little EV slid along by farm fields and water.
We were our hairdresser’s first customers since mid-March. Mom and I donned our jaunty new cotton masks and waited in the car for Joy to wave us into her house. We sanitized our hands, ticked some boxes on a form saying we were not ill and hadn’t travelled outside the province, and descended the stairs into the salon. It’s always clean and tidy, but today it was absolutely sparkling! We had already washed our hair at home, as requested, so she just spritzed us with water and started cutting.
I’m not really that wrapped up in how I look – I am all about comfort, and my hair felt horrible and messy – but even I will admit it was great to look like myself again (Steven said my hair looked a bit like Jim Jarmusch’s earlier this week, so that needed to be fixed!). After we left, our hairdresser would have to clean all the surfaces we touched and get ready for the next customer, over and over all day. She is happy to be back to work, and we are grateful she has stayed in business.
Buried in the early shock of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown was the exciting announcement on March 13 that areas of PEI with poor internet access would be getting proper high speed service by the end of June 2021.
We’ve been down this road a couple of times before and have been disappointed that it never came our way, but this time there are maps and lists and even talk of fibre op! We moved from dialup to 1.5 Mbps “high speed” at the end of December 2009 and that seemed like a miracle; 10 years later, it doesn’t seem as shiny and lovely. Here’s a speed test tonight:
For this “unlimited high speed internet” plus our home landline and my ancient phone plan (from 1999!) that doesn’t have any data OR texting, we pay $212.
If this promise of internet Nirvana wasn’t exciting enough, along comes Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink service, a plan to place thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit to make broadband internet available to the whole world by the end of 2021. Some of the satellites have been launched and are visible at night as a line of lights moving across the sky. They will be swinging by PEI tonight at 9:25 p.m., so I’ll be out having a peek at the future.
One of the ten jillion articles I’ve read in the past week asked if bartering is ready for a comeback. I’m not sure where the writer thought it went, as I believe most of us trade our skills and gifts with others all the time. The transactions are not always immediate and direct in the “I’ll give you these magic beans for that cow, young Jack!” kind of way, but the kindness of friends and neighbours is certainly a form of bartering. It’s the kindness currency.
I had a late-evening call this week from a friend who said her iPad had restarted and now wouldn’t let her Pad. A storm was predicted and she was anxious to reconnect to her Ontario family. I tried to walk her through a recovery over the telephone, but an onsite visit was necessary.
The sanitized iPad was waiting in her porch, along with a container of Lysol wipes. A bit of fiddling got her back online. I headed off into the night with a wave through her window and a homemade gift to thank me. An excellent barter within the kindness economy that raised the Gross National Happiness by one connected person and one protected person.
Caroline Weaver owns CW Pencil Enterprise in NYC, home of the tempting quarterly Pencil Box subscription (which makes me almost want to break my “no new things” rule!). She, or one of her staff members, shared some collections discovered during shutdown cleaning and sorting, something I’ve been doing as well in a quest to find order in this upside-down time. The cat and veggie paperclips are too perfect.
The Prince Edward Island government has developed a COVID-19 door knocker (I would call it a door hanger, but never mind) to announce to the world that you are in self-isolation. Not sure what font they have chosen for their COVID-19 messaging, but the capital letter “i” is very very odd – is this a semi-serif font? Ensure you have lots of ink/toner on hand before printing this polite message.
As I watch all my volunteer and social activities dwindle away due to the COVID-19 situation, I have been trying to find ways to keep busy and not obsess over the news and the break in routine. There are many projects around home I kept saying I would get around to doing if only I wasn’t so busy, so now, alas, I have my wish.
The projects I have been tackling seem to all involve wanting to put things in order, to have a feeling of control at a time when everything seems very out of control. I am cleaning corners of the house that haven’t been touched since we moved in 17 years ago. I emptied a dish that held last year’s beach walk treasures and also some Rescue Remedy I had forgotten that will come in very handy right now!
I’ve started to tackle putting my shop building back in order after a new concrete foundation and floor was added a couple of years ago, which raised everything six inches, often out of easy reach for 5′ 2″ me. Hoes and spades have hung in the same place for 60 years, placed in their spots by my parents, but I have pulled out all the nails and hooks and started again. It’s a big building with a lot of stuff just thrown in after it was emptied for the construction work, so this will be a long project.
A week ago today the Prince County Hospital Auxiliary reopened our newly-renovated Wishing Well Gift Shop that had been closed for three months of renovations and restructuring. We had a great day, laughing about bumping elbows instead of shaking hands, getting used to the cash register, chatting with the hospital staff who were happy to see us back in business. I made a quick sign for our used book section. It was a busy day in a busy hospital. Beyond remembering to clean my hands more often than usual, I didn’t think much about the coronavirus.
Today I drove to our veterinary clinic to pick up cat food. I called ahead, told them what I wanted, and paid in advance by credit card. When I arrived, I called them again to say I was oustide and the receptionist unlocked the door, waved at me, and set the bag on the porch. I got out of my car, carefully picked up the bag, put it in my trunk, and used hand sanitizer when I got back in the car. I washed the bag off when I got home; it is drying in the laundry tub.