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Moonlight

9 May

adiaryofapandemicmaster-1

May 9,  2020

Day 49

This day started as dawn bathed Totokoroa in gold and the full moon set behind the trees on the west ridge line.

 

MahakirauMoonart1

 

We each struggle with our various maladies. Valerie cannot stomach anything but soup and I’ve got some of the side effects of prednisone. The day rolled on and we were abed for much of it until we decided to blaze down into town on an expedition to find hummus, pâté, salmon, soup, soup stock, milk and frozen pizzas. Sounds very much like essential travel to me.

We almost got taken out by a clueless yob on the dodgy road but I drive slowly and as such the guy was able to swerve back into his lane before we passed. There was no room for us to go anywhere so it was a good thing I am circumspect about what’s coming around the next bend. It was the second time in 49 days that Valerie has been on the road to town. The trees are turning colour lower along the river valley and she marvelled at the changes.

Whitianga was quiet and still save for the grocery stores. New World for soup and Countdown for birdseed. It seems the quail have decided to stay with us over the winter. We have created a monster and it rattles through budgie seed like there’s no tomorrow. Which is how it is for most creatures on this planet’s long now. Human’s could do well to learn this. They might see more.

Back up the hill, through the gates and home and we found these numbers…

Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 9.07.12 PM

2 New cases. 21 Recovered cases. Ratio of recovered cases to active cases is 91%. One Zero in the right place and overall momentum holding strong.

New Zealand is getting some grief from some in Sweden who seem to think that we are merely postponing our fate should we ‘temporarily’ eradicate Covid-19 within our borders.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12330725

As I said in my earlier post, it is early days yet. How one feels about each country’s plan to deal with the threat of the Covid-19 contagion will vary greatly depending on whether one is more – or less – susceptible to the virus.

ALessismore

History will have hindsight’s 20/20 vision to help bolster its judgement and none of that helps right now. People have to make decisions now and no matter what the call, the making of them is fraught with consequences and unknowns.

 

Trying to find a balance between…

Everything

and…

Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 6.46.51 PM

…is not cut and dried or foolproof. The coin is still flipping…

 

Meanwhile, as I type, the full moon is rising, just as it has always done and just as it always will, give or take a few billion years. It looks something like this…

 

AMoonlightovertheadirondaks

 

May its light find you safe and fill your soul with peace.

Goodnight.

 

They Are All Miracles

4 May

adiaryofapandemicmaster-1

May 4,  2020

Day 44

AMay4NZCov

Zero New cases today! 10 Recovered cases. Ratio of recovered cases to active cases is still 85% (But climbing on the other side of the decimal point.) 211 people still have it.

As the numbers change and morph and fluctuate with time and varying conditions in the nation I see some items of interest (to me at least). I’m going to start watching the ratio of the number of probable cases to the number of confirmed and probable cases. It’s 23% now and we’re looking for this to drop to zero (along with all other possible categories) as we stack up more days on our journey toward a happier, safer now.

Speaking of a safer now…. There is one continent on the earth that is totally free of Covid-19. Never mind that it has no permanent residents and access is difficult to all but the rich or semi-brainy. There is lots of elbow room, free air conditioning in most places, long days for half the year and long nights during the other half. Most unique of all places on earth, there is one point, and only one, where the only direction you can walk is north…..

ASouth

 

AAntarctica1

….which is also the place where the phrase ‘nowhere to go but up’ came from.

But that’s another story.

 

Stay safe.

Enjoy each day.

They are all miracles.

 

 

Our What?

3 May

adiaryofapandemicmaster-1

May 3,  2020

Day 43

AMay3NZCov

2 New cases. 3 Recovered cases. Ratio of recovered cases to active cases is 85%. Two Zeroes on the board.

Two weeks from now will be the time to watch for new cases numbers to rise as the ‘freedom’ of Level 3 facilitates a higher level of transmission. Until then we’re living on Level 4’s dime.

 

Toady it rained off and on as I worked my way through parts of several projects in the workshop. I made more progress on the ‘grouting’, did another load of laundry and cleaned off the old workbench. This allowed me to move all the parts and pieces of the ‘in progress’ from various horizontal surfaces to the newly swept wide open table top that has been the ‘go to’ workbench in the shipping container for four years. Returning to the space after a lunch of homemade tomato soup and hot roll and butter I discovered there is a small leak from somewhere behind the washing machine. Add another project to the list. Will tackle that on first thing tomorrow as the plumbing needs to be bullet proof. Still and all, there was slow progress on a number of fronts and I am happy.

During lunch Valerie read to me an entry from a fascinating blog she discovered (the author had ‘liked’ one of her posts and she visited his blog as a courtesy and found an intriguing and thoroughly well researched site that I am sharing here.

BEWARE THE WAR IS GETTING UGLIER

I have yet to read any of his work, but on the strength of what I listened to and what Valerie has related to me of some of his earlier posts, I think you may find yourself surprised and also more ‘in the picture’ as to where the west stands with regard to China, and vice versa.

 

AAAOurrelationship

 

In the illustration above the west is represented by the guy and China is the girl. (I mention this only because it can be looked at either way.) It is my contention that the west must work hard to reverse this. In order to stave off disaster and economic, if not actual, subjugation, we must create a world in which the west is the one asking, “What relationship?” Failure to do so will condemn our children and our children’s children to a future so bleak that I balk at even trying to imagine it.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mercedes-benz-china-gaffe/mercedes-benz-apologizes-to-chinese-for-quoting-dalai-lama-idUSKBN1FQ1FJ

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/03/21/china-says-dalai-lama-reincarnation-must-comply-chinese-laws/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/review/when-china-rules-the-world

 

This is the reality we face and the peril we ignore. It isn’t coming, it’s already here.

 

 

ANONO

 

I keep saying that I won’t be around to see the worst and Valerie smiles and says, “unless you are reborn into it.” So I’m going to do what I can, where I am, with what I have…to change the future. (Which, at present, isn’t what it used to be.) Wish me luck.

 

 

AAThefuckingfuture

 

 

 

 

An Unknown Future

27 Apr

adiaryofapandemicmaster-1

April 27, 2020

Day 35

Today is New Zealand’s last day (fingers crossed) at Alert level 4. Total lockdown has been strange, weird, scary, sobering and somehow exhilarating. As I said at the start of this blog, “Nothing concentrates the mind like a sentence of death”. Events in this country thus far have me feeling hopeful, but I am mindful of the nature of the beast and thus will continue to act as though I am still in lockdown and keep on searching the chaff for the wheat.

Robert Heinlein is one of my all time favourite authors. If you haven’t read any of his works, now would be a good time to start.  In The Notebooks of Lazarus Long he says, “What are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”–what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future, facts are your single clue.”

Thirty-five days into the new normal and there is not much buzz about a cure or even a high percentage treatment and if there is they’re saying it will be later rather than sooner. On the status board of most of the institutions and governments working in that direction is a sign that says, “Don’t hold your breath”. As of this date, as I write, you can wear a mask or a full face respirator, shop at dawn and swim in a vat of hand sanitiser when you’re done, but, young or old, rich or poor, covidiot or pragmatic prepper, whether or not you’re going to catch it and whether or not you’re going to survive unscathed is still a numbers game.

Today’s are as follows.

AApr27NZCov

Minus 1 New cases today. 38 Recovered cases. Ratio of recovered cases to active cases is 80%.

20% to go…

 

ALotus

 

 

It will Fluctuate

26 Apr

ADiaryofaPandemicMaster

April 26, 2020

Day 34

 

ANewMoon

 

During the previous month members of our tight-knit community have taken it upon themselves to do the easement road maintenance while the workers normally contracted for this job are locked down. Grass is weed-whacked and gorse rooted out. Cracks in the road have been marked for future attention and safety barriers are in the process of being water blasted and re-painted. One project undertaken by the Mahakirau Forest Estate Society Incorporated (MFESI) is the construction of a research ‘hub’ near the picnic area that will serve to house visiting biologists and guest workers. This week individual volunteers, working from an online schedule so that only one person is on site at a time, began staking out and clearing the land for this facility. Life goes on and despite us all being constrained by the challenges of this contagion, our work continues.

Today I started dismantling an old, out of disused outhouse that was knocked over by a falling tree a few years back. I’m using the thin plywood from the walls to make small storage boxes that will sit on the new shelves in the workshop shipping container. Internal framing is coming from scrap wood, fasteners are being culled from a box of screws collected over time from various other building modifications. I throw very little away and am glad I have this habit because all of the hardware stores are closed. Like the whelk, I must live in my home while I build it. The storage boxes will replace the hodgepodge of cardboard ones that contain all of the things that won’t yet fit into our small (but growing) house. I will build one a week while working on other projects higher on the priority list, but eventually they’ll all be done and I can cross them off and move on down the line.

With one piece of outhouse wall to work with, I set up a temporary workbench on the deck of the forest porch and hummed Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning as the sun poured in like butterscotch. The days are getting shorter and colder, but there are still a few warm and pleasant hours on either side of noon. The swallows are active in this interlude, their scratchy chirps filling the sky as they swoop and wheel around the clearing below the house. A few quail come to the steps and call and are fed by their humans. After their meal they sit in the warm sun in the grass at the edge of the grove and dream of summer. Chaffinches have returned from wherever it is they go during the summer and the moreporks are calling earlier in the afternoon. In this tail end of Indian Summer two of the rose bushes are putting out buds and the climbing rata are blooming in orange brush strokes all over the valley.

AARata

For a few minutes, Valerie walked in the garden, breathing in the outside air for the first time in three weeks. A smile wreathed her face as she contemplated what must be done to return the place to order. For now that is all she can do, but it is enough.

Other jobs done included two loads of laundry in the newly painted ‘laundry room’. I figured out how to clean the antique Chinese white ceramic lamp whose close spaced decorative lattices have been collecting dust for years. Counting the holes in four square inches and multiplying by the total surface area told me that there are over a thousand tiny, irregularly shaped triangles to clean. I put the lamp base in a bucket of soapy water collected from the outflow of the washing machine where I will let it soak for a few days. Should take about a week to finish that tedious task by doing a little bit here, a little there, in between other endeavours.

Fading light and lowering temperatures told me to stop and wrap up. Shut down, tools down…lockdown. I walked to the verandah and scanned the sky above the ridge to the northwest. It took me a while, but I found the thin sliver of the new moon hiding in plain sight, chasing the sun. So beautiful. So absolutely, amazingly beautiful. I linger there for a time and marvel, then go inside to check the numbers.

AApr26NZCov

When asked by a brash young reporter what he thought the stock market would do that week, financier James Pierpont Morgan famously replied, “It will fluctuate”. I think that holds true for pandemics as well.

9 New cases, up from the day before. 24 Recovered cases. Ratio of recovered cases to active cases is 77%. Two Zeroes on the board today but again they are just place holders. 328 people are still infected.

Thus far I am not aware of anyone of note in New Zealand weighing in on the question of  whether previously infected people develop immunity or not. Can you catch Covid-19 again and again? Other questions are percolating to the surface as time goes on. Massive strokes are being reported in young patients currently hospitalised with active infections and a great deal of the at home deaths in New York City during the past month were from strokes. I will wait for further developments as April draws to a close and reflect on how fortunate I am to have been to be able to self-isolate in such a wonderful, peaceful spot.

 

AChaffinch

 

 

Abide with Me

25 Apr


April 25, 2020

Day 33

Today is Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia. Normally there are ceremonies held at dawn at war memorials, cemeteries and Maori maraes all across the country to commemorate all New Zealanders who served and died in all wars and conflicts and the contribution of all who have served. Because it encompasses members of all races and creeds and unites everyone in remembrance of those that gave their all for the nation, there is no more important day in the year. 

This Anzac Day was unlike any other that has ever been celebrated because people everywhere, though in full lockdown, standing in their driveways or gardens or apart but together in public places, still found ways to honour and remember their countrymen, family and friends. In so doing, they showed why this nation is special. When adversity challenges them they rally as one to steadfastly, quietly and resolutely do what must be done.  There is no greater testament to this country and her people than the way they celebrate Anzac Day.

Here is proof. If you take the time to read and watch all of the different articles and features contained in this link, you will begin to see what I have. Truly and sincerely a moving tribute to a people and a country. Enjoy.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/121260057/live-kiwis-commemorate-extraordinary-anzac-day-in-covid19-lockdown

And though it all, the numbers must be counted.

AApr25NZCov
5 New cases. 23 Recovered cases. Ratio of recovered cases to active cases is 76%. (Nothing in the Zero department.) Another day, another death. Bless them and bless us. It could be much worse.



Usually toward the end of April the skies turn gray and cold and Anzac Day often has a somber feel to it. Today was different. A brilliant red dawn and later, a bright and beautiful day greeted those who rose early to stand and remember.

Tradition at services on Anzac Day calls for the singing of Abide with Me. The hymn is a prayer for God to remain present with the speaker throughout life, through trials, and through death. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szjYUaF3nro&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1RGI21RD_vIZr4PvW-e9vq4FDuqASxUvb1X5xG-DoSGFcvXMbj6zoHmfg

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terror, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Continue reading

The Sleeper Wakes

30 Nov

100 words to greet the dawn for old time’s sake and my friends at Friday Fictioneers based on a photo below by Jan Wayne Fields.

camping

(Copyright Jan Wayne Fields)

I rise at dawn and stand by the temple bell to give thanks and greet the morning. Gold paints the forest ridges that rise to the mist shrouded summit of Totokoroa. Calls of bell birds ring across the valley. A breeze ruffles the fabric of the tent. I strike the bell softly. It’s deep, resonant note sounds, and joins the music of the day’s beginning.

I make tea and return to bed. The smoky fragrance of Lapsang Souchong causes a figure sleeping there to stir. I whisper in her ear.

“The sun is on the mountain.”

And she smiles.

 

totokoroa-dawn

South by Southwest

16 Sep

 

100 words for Friday Fictioneers based on the photo prompt below courtesy of David Stewart.

South by Southwest

(Copyright David Stewart)

 

The gate swings slowly shut. I look back a final time and see in places my handiwork, all that remains of a quarter century of love, surrendered to weeds.

What did I give? How hard did I strive? Where is my love buried?

Only I will ever know.

Call on God, it is said, but row away from the rocks.

I place a note between the gate and jamb for friends who might wish to find me. In time, it, too, will fall and fade, but such is the way of the world. Vulnerant omnes, ultima necat.

And I row.

 

 

 

Change

antipodes

map

In the Morning You’ll begin to See the Light

26 Aug

100 words for Friday Fictioneers inspired by the photo prompt below from Claire Fuller, she of Our Endless Numbered Days. Though flash fiction ought to have a beginning, middle and an end, my story has an end and a beginning, but no middle. Think of it as a coda to a long and beautiful piece of music and please forgive me my taking liberties with the format.

 

(To all those of you who continue to read my work despite the above, and who have kept the faith with me these past months, thank you, always.)

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 1.00.20 AM

(Copyright Claire Fuller)

 

 

 

A familiar and catchy tune issued softly from speakers somewhere in the room. Two men stood before a ponderous filing system, deep in conversation.

“The problem’s all inside our heads, it seems to me. The answer’s easy if we take it logically.”

Still, unexpected from such a long-termer. How did he leave?”

Slipped out the back…”

Don’t say it….. Did you see him earlier in the day?”

Briefly. We didn’t discuss much. He dropped off a key.”

What files were taken?”

Solitude, Mystery, Love and Beauty.

Sounds like he has a new plan.”

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 2.04.08 AM

“He’s got away from us, Jack.”

“Yes, I think you’re right, Mr. Helpmann. He’s gone.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 2.36.17 AM

 

Flying Switch

8 Jul

100 words out of the blue for my fellow travelers in Friday Fictioneers. Nice to see you all again. Don’t comment, as I’m moving fast and may not be able to answer. Just enjoy the ride. I’ll settle soon. Love to you all, D.

 

flying switch

(C0pyright Stephen Baum)

See that light up ahead? Early on in life and for years thereafter I’d have said it was an oncoming train. You get a feel for what your mistakes look like rushing toward you through the gloom.

Once I passed the half century mark I figured out that though I was on the tracks, I was also in charge of the trains. I learned to change their schedules or shunt them onto sidings and in time became a good stationmaster.

Now I know the light is my future.

It’s bright.

It’s the beginning of anything I want.

And it’s about time.

 

 

Ouroborous