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Are You Suffering the Slings of PTVD?

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No, not PENILE TRANSMITTED VENEREAL DISEASE

…that’s so 1960’s and ’70’s.

You wouldn’t believe how many times – while working in a hospital lab in Canada’s Arctic region – in the late 1970’s, I isolated a fun bacterial bug scientifically labelled Neisseria gonorrhoeae on my lab culture plates.

You know… The Clap. Venus’s Curse. The Drip.

Nasty bug (although admittedly kinda cute microscopically) for sure, but with proper treatment it went away more readily than will the PTVD I’m discussing today.

Yes, the PTVD I’m talking about here is Post Traumatic Virus Disorder.

In many ways, it’s spread through person-to-person contact too… albeit socially-isolated contact ie. daily news reports and social media websites.

Remember a year ago (or was it a decade?) when we panicked and washed canned goods before setting them onto a pantry shelf? When we rushed to fill our carts with rare exotic gems such as toilet paper, flour and yeast?

It’s really hard these days to see life through anything except “virus” glasses.

Yup, our days are lived out in some form of Post Traumatic Virus Disorder.. maybe forget the “POST” part… it’s still just Traumatic Virus Disorder.

For about 400 days and 400 nights now (sounds slightly biblical, doesn’t it?) we’ve riddled and sieved and parsed everything we do through the virus filter.

Should I go here? should I do this? will my friends judge me for not wearing a mask at the Starbucks drive-thru? am I likely to pick up – or transmit – the virus if I do that?

For many months, trauma and guilt have been built-in to every decision we’ve made, accompanied by… sometimes righteousness, sometimes worry, sometimes rebellion, sometimes disgust.

And much like the recent American election where opposing sides dug-in to their polarized stances on politics and “swamps”, most of us world-wide have similarly dug-in to a position on the relative seriousness of the COVID virus, the efficacy of masks and gloves, the meaning and dividing lines of personal freedoms.

Families, friends, and neighbours split up on either side of the volleyball net.

They lob volleys of logic or loose thought at each other, stealthily trying to score points, rarely taking notice that they’re actually playing on different courts, so that neither side can win regardless of the quality of their “spike shot”.

It’s become an ugly game.

I have definite strong thoughts about this.

You can probably guess where I come down on the matter with my science-based lab background – but I understand there’s not a great deal of hope in persuading others who oppose me of my beliefs, no matter how well thought-out or expressed.

Or honestly, to be swayed in a different direction myself. The trenches are deep.

Virus-wise, I sweat out and contemplate my choices daily, often many times daily. There are personal and moral dilemma bridges to cross.

Sadly, and somewhat distressing, this divide is an ocean, a divide with no boats available to span the distance without large societal change.

To use the American example once more, the virus is a microcosm of heavily-partitioned Democratic vs Republican thought.

These are large issues, politics and viruses… issues larger than my brain capacity.

I wish I had the mental acuity to work out a solution to the monumental challenges that face us in months and years to come.

I know what I’d like to see, but alas, I don’t have the recipe (*can you hear me singing?… And I’ll never have that recipe again, oh noooooo)

Fortunately (for my mental health), I’m confident and optimistic that there are and will be solutions found along the road to overcome the difficulties. But. It will take time.

When humanity has appeared doomed (eg. during previous World Wars), approaches and answers were brought forward that allowed us to progress into a hopeful future… not a perfect future, but a hopeful one.

It’s tough. But both Penile Transmitted Venereal Disease and Post Traumatic Virus Disorder are largely solvable and will allow us to share “intercourse” once again with our fellow citizens…

Let’s remember what Voltaire said,

Perfect is the enemy of good. Done is better than perfect. The best is the enemy of the good.

My 8 Unimpeachable Quarantine Goals for 2021

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A daring bloodless revolution is underway…

… not in Tehran or Washington… nope… in the confines of my home.

Do I think New Year’s resolutions are passé? … well… not so much… but…

… OK, I’m still a goal setter – and it may just be my advancing age – but it’s more likely this whole COVID thing has me becoming more discerning and self-critical.

The belly button gazing has become more intense (and fogged by fluff).

The choices and opportunities for setting goals and achievements has narrowed substantially this past year. Today…

• I substitute PBS Rick Steves episodes for international travel destinations

• CNN is a surrogate for fantasy literature stories

• baking powder or starter mix does its bubble-dance in place of hard-as-toilet-paper-to-find yeast

• energetic hikes to the refrigerator take up the sweaty role of boot camp classes

• snatching a package of toilet paper from an elderly lady’s shopping cart makes for a high-five victory (and a lap of shame too, Larry)

Author Jim Collin’s Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) remain out-of-bounds for awhile still.

So… my major mental activity these days is to categorize my minor-league goals; here are a select few of these 2021 Humbled Downsized Miniaturized Goals (HDMG):

  1. Hygiene: Brush my teeth at least twice a week. Finger rubbing between brushings scores chocolate bonus points. Avoid smiling at hygienist daughter: stay focused.
  2. Hygiene: create a small business of mobile face-mask washing kiosks outside malls and grocery stores to remove crusty spots and brown saliva stains from customer masks worn for weeks and jammed into filthy pockets.
  3. Exercise: Run 5k at least once a …. run 5k over the coming year. Marathon Stretch Goal– keep weight gain to 26.2 lbs.
  4. Exercise: Climb to the very top of local mountain, Giant’s Head, carrying a case of Double-size Charmin toilet paper, without the assistance of bottled O2 or an accompanying medic… train ahead of time with YouTube Couch Cross-Fit and BedBounce Yoga classes.
  5. Mental: Read War and Peace in original Russian… or 10 Trump tweets in English, whichever is less difficult to understand. Late breaking: No more Trump tweets, nyet… so War and Peace it is… da!
  6. Mental: Yell out in properly verb-conjugated Spanish at the neighbour’s Chihuahua when it poops on my property…. el perro gordo loco….
  7. Creative: Write 10 blog posts that don’t mention the words Trump and F*ck in the same paragraph. Also: write one full post using only my left pinkie finger.
  8. Investment: pour entire pension fund assets into toilet paper futures using Bitcoin (Larry, do you even have the slightest understanding of what bitcoin is?)

  • BONUS Goals:
    • Cooking: Work on sculpture-based meal-making using a combination of Beyond Meat and Chia Pet seeds. First up: Bob Ross Meat(less)loaf. Also: Send my 2 yr-old grandson’s famous recipe for Stinky Cheese Donuts to Tim Hortons.
    • Juvenile: Dress up as Miss Piggy and eat frog legs for breakfast.
    • Music: Write a Broadway musical about Trump called Hangry Humping On The Resolute Desk.

Welcome to silly season. So what will be YOUR goals for 2021?

Hang on cuz this will be a year of necessary continued patience and finding something funny in the absurd. Even many Holocaust survivors found room in their lives for dark humour to lift their spirits.

Those afflicted with COVID, or those with someone close-by affected, need the respite of laughter to distract and soothe. To quote my COVID long-hauler Irish cousin, “Let’s not forget all the positivity among the pain – those little glimmers of sunshine in the darkness that got us through.

Now’s a good time to start your own home-bound res(v)olution…

GRATITUDE My Friend, GRATITUDE

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Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun, do, dun, do, do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

…………………………………………………..

It’s almost December… now, without eating some magic mushrooms, in your wildest dreams, did you ever think your 2020 would look like this?

Without running a half marathon or swimming across a lake this year, I’m feeling exhausted and beat up –

– yup, beat up from the searing southern political winds of the last 4 years of alternative truths, anger and bitterness; this main course capped with a dessert serving of an almost year-long bout of a once-in-a-century viral tsunami. (Early Warning: I hate to offend, so if Donald Trump is/has been your beacon of hope for the world, you might want to check out of this post now).

Neither of these events have run their course yet, but a balmy breeze is showing hopeful signs of blowing over us in the near future. Once more, small gusts of hope are in the air.

I’m feeling a petite surge of idealism that was fading in my heart.

I suspect you likely feel much the same as me even if your political bent may not lean in the same direction as mine.

I woke up in the early morning hours last night feeling grateful and even a little inspired by this warm sensation (Larry, I hope you checked to make sure the warmth wasn’t something else?)

I’ve been writing this little self-discovery/self-indulgent blog for more than 8 years and 442 weekly posts…

… throughout, I’ve tried my best to root out a positive approach in my writing and my inner thinking, but I’ll freely admit to you, this past year of cynicism, irritability, and rampaging disease has been hard. REALLY HARD. And I know I’m a lucky one who has had no degree of suffering compared to so many others… perhaps you even.

But, I’m feeling so damned hopeful right now. A vaccine is on our doorstep. The hardened Trumpian view of the world as a series of covetous fiefdoms where each (country) works his/her/their hardest to improve only their own lot in a dog-eat-dog fashion is slipping.

The frightful tidal-wave has dwindled a teensy weensy bit.

Why is this hopeful? Shouldn’t we want the best for ourselves and our children and neighbours? Of course.

But MY neighbours and my neighbours children aren’t only those who live on my block, my province, my country.

My wife and I have travelled to many areas of the world and happily found that people are… people… those who don’t speak my language, share my religious beliefs, share my skin colour, my education or gender views, are, and should rightfully be entitled to my respect (so long as they respect my culture and beliefs as well.. and my personal experience is the great majority are very respectful).

My friends in Peru, or Brazil, or Germany, or China, India or Morocco, my refugee friends from Syria.. they all want a secure house to live in, nutritious food and education for their children, jobs and peace. They all want a vaccine as soon as possible to protect their family’s health the same as me and you.

Surely, with easy communication and technology we can see that the world is by nature and necessity, growing closer and closer together and not further apart. With care, there are enough resources and intelligence on this blue planet to give us all ample food security, safe housing, education, equality.

To give to you does not mean that you take away from me. If you prosper, and your neighbour prospers, the likelihood that I will prosper increases. If you have a good job, you will likely buy something from me or my next door neighbour. If you have peace in your backyard, there is less chance that my grandchildren will have to fight a war in their lifetimes.

I didn’t want to give a lecture or a sermon here (really? a sermon from an atheist, come on Larry!), but rather a simple message of hope as we enter the last few weeks of this so so momentous year, both to you and to me.

And so, with gratitude and hope, I want to thank you for this year.

I’m grateful that you’ve taken a few precious moments out of your Sundays, or whichever day you happen to drop by, to listen to my thoughts and ideas. Agreeing, or disagreeing. The fact that you check in buoys me.

I’m grateful for your comments on this blog site, or on Facebook, or in a personal e-mail. I read and appreciate every word, every thought you share back.

Ah, here comes the sun… Oh, what a lucky Man on the Fringe… I am.

And finally friends, here’s a little early Christmas recipe (tune) I whipped up for you in my musical kitchen this week (please listen through earbuds or headphones!)… sing along, you’ll improve my voice…. (if Mariah Carey can show some skin, why not ME! LOL)

Checking Your NAVEL in COVID Times…

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navel gazing

I’m cycling… no, not on my bike, although I have been doing a fair bit of that lately too!

Nope, it’s my focus that’s cycling. Up, up, up … and then a little down…

Remember St. Patrick’s Day almost 5 months ago?

I do. And not only for the 6 glasses of green beer I quaffed (which truly I CAN’T remember).

On March 17, my wife and I were volunteering at our local Trout Creek Elementary School, popping dishes into the small kitchen’s dishwasher after the once weekly school lunch.

Hot dogs and fruit smoothies, it was an easy clean-up. Fun.

You wouldn’t want to see the mess made when the lunch menu had the angel-faced Kindergarten to Grade 5 kids getting mixed up with spaghetti and its mucky blood-red sauce and Parmesan cheese. Those are Freddie Kruger movie days.

On March 17, we could see dark, infectious clouds forming. Change – like virus particles – was in the air.

Things were beginning to grow more intense on the Coronavirus front and speculation was growing about what might happen after the upcoming 2 week Spring Break.

We were in the very early stages of not hugging or shaking hands with others. When we said goodbye to anyone, it was happening awkwardly at a distance with an embarrassed, somewhat bemused “what the hell are we doing?” look on our faces.

not shaking hands

The school Principal’s voice erupted over the loudspeakers, “We hope we’ll see you all in 2 weeks kids, but it could be longer. Stay safe.”

Nailed that one.

On March 17, face masks were something worn for sterility purposes by medical personnel in hospitals and by a few East Asians concerned about “germs” in general.

It felt like the door was opening to a Twilight Zone episode written years ago by Don McLean who penned the song “American Pie” and the iconic words, the day the music died.

  • I stopped washing school dishes on March 17, 2020.
  • I stopped actively investing on March 17.
  • I stopped chopping vegetables at the soup kitchen on March 17.
  • I stopped visiting the college to tutor a young man in nearby Penticton on March 17.
  • I stopped eating movie theatre popcorn on March 17.
  • I stopped eating in restaurants on March 17.
  • I stopped shipping wine from my little “retirement” job on March 17.
  • I stopped using my own reusable bags at the supermarket on March 17.
  • I stopped waiting for my Hamilton Tiger Cat football team to fire up training camp after March 17.
  • I stopped visiting and playing music at Open Mics on March 17.
  • I stopped babysitting my energetic grandson one day a week on March 17.
  • I stopped attending boot camp, yoga classes, and the swimming pool on March 17.

Noticing a trend? Does it sound exactly like your life except for the specifics?

Anything and everything tilted on March 17.

world tilted

The precise date might be slightly different in your world but otherwise… sameness. Everywhere in the world. India, Peru, Egypt, France, Australia… all the same.

Normal became… disinfectant flowing like flood waters… masks more widespread than at Halloween… line-ups outside of stores (those that were open)… health questionnaires and temperature checks… distancing “dots” on store floors. Dystopia days…

Yes, lots of things stopped on March 17th.

But… March 17 was also the day something fired up again … my focus.

On March 17, I found my “navel” and it was good.

I had been so involved in floating downstream when I really needed to paddle upstream against the current.

Songwriting. For some years I had been internally lamenting that I just couldn’t make myself focus on the arduous, but ultimately rewarding task of songwriting. I wanted to, I longed to… but a million other little things interjected time after time.

Yes, I found my focus.

The modern cycle of busyness was slowed by the virus and almost came to a stop. Routines changed. Rush and diversion backed away like sheep from ravenous wolves.

My mind and and body settled and relaxed. It was almost like full-time yoga.

This new-found focus had me adjusting my blog posts so that I wrote song lyrics every 3rd week.

I zeroed in on lyrics and melodies and harmonies and guitar licks as if I was back in my old laboratory job. I concentrated for hours in the way I used to sit in dark rooms searching for tiny, fluorescent Chlamydia antigens under the microscope (and never broke my oath of confidentiality on any of you!)

The near-stoppage of time because of this nasty virus cloud gave me permission to concentrate deeply, to focus.

Things were clicking and the work was paying off. I started and completed maybe 6 or 7 songs over these past 5 months. A groove, a muse, nestled in and it didn’t feel as hard as it had for many years. It was exhilarating.

And then… gradually in the last month or so… I sensed a creeping slippage.

Former “normals” were filtering back….

  • My little job of shipping wine fired up once more as wine sippage continued enthusiastically in homes, then restarted in reduced-seat restaurants.
  • Lineups dissipated and I toted my reusable bags to the grocery store again and paid the tab across a plexiglass shield.
  • I sweated profusely to Boot Camp videos on YouTube.
  • I (with my wife’s tutelage and patience) looked after my little grandson weekly.
  • Although my physical attendance at the college for tutoring stopped, my student and I have continued uninterrupted with online learning sessions.

Bit-by-little-bit, despite this novel virus not taking a holiday, most of us, myself included, have begun to take tentative steps back to the world of “before”.

And now, I only hope I haven’t fallen off my new cycle.

Sure, we’re not the same people we were before March 17. We don’t measure our days in the same way.

We’ve adapted, lamented, adjusted, fumed … and maybe, just maybe…

… we’ve re-discovered some tiny store of focus for one or two of the things we’ve been waiting to delve into for so long…  those navel gazing wonders that pump up our spirits and enthusiasm.

………………………………..

PS As a sign of my diminished focus, I have a backlog of song lyrics that still need their musical component to make it to the finish line.

Therefore… no song lyrics this week as has been my practice lately. But, on the positive side of things, I have been working away on my guitar “Travis picking”. Travis picking (named for Merle Travis) involves picking an underlying bass line on the lower guitar strings while simultaneously carving out a melody part on the higher strings. Below is a sampling of a song I recently recorded called Foxglove, written by guitar guru Bruce Cockburn in the 1970’s. Hope you enjoy.

CORONA-CHRONICLES… The Cup Half-Full Edition

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Good-News-Bad-News

A virus means bad news and perhaps… good news (that is cup half-full shit, I can hear you saying!)

First the bad.

I’m missing my popcorn fix. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

In “ordinary” times we routinely hit the movie theatre an average of about twice each month. Sometimes more if there’s a plethora of quality releases and maybe a bit less when all that’s out there is Sausage Party or Bill and Ted Anything.

I do honestly love popcorn… assuming that the butter:salt ratio is perfect. My Pavlovian response is classic science. I sit in a darkened theatre and get my doggie treat of popcorn just for sitting and watching for 2 hours. It’s perfect.

A picture show… I love absorbing the artistic product of others.

I live in a state of near-constant wonderment at the creativity and skills of a million creators.

I’m also in awe of the mathematics and science creators (researchers and academics),  but unfortunately I can’t as obviously see and experience the products of their tireless efforts. Alright, maybe I CAN every time I sit at a computer or look at my cellphone…

… but, they haven’t found a way of stuffing me with hot buttery popcorn when I view their stuff. What’s with THAT, bright minds? (Does that statement make you think of Lucy and Schroeder, Beethoven and bubblegum cards? At all?)

lucy and schroeder

So there, the bad news is out of the way. Almost…

Yes, more bad news: The obvious… D’OH… Millions will suffer and thousands will die from this black swan novel virus.

It’s not just numbers on a TV screen. It’s real people with real lives and real families. The repercussions will be felt for decades to come. Guess that FAKE NEWS didn’t make it to the White House TV screens.

You’ve suffered enough. Now the good news:

The good news about this virus is that movie theatres will re-open one day and popcorn will pour forth like summer Saskatchewan locusts… OK… not fair there  *slap my typing hands* … how about British Columbia forest fires? That’s better…

Even more good news:

There will be a golden age of scientific innovation in areas we can only dream of, as zillions of dollars and focus drill in on not only virus research but countless other areas and idea spin-offs (yes, Idea Sex).

Wars and moonshots have historically shown us the results of enthusiastic and dedicated research, and a global effort to rocket us forward in good, and sadly sometimes, some not so good ways.

A few little examples of research bonuses: cordless tools, artificial limbs, LED’s, CAT scanners, superglue, radar, GPS, duct tape, epi-pens, penicillin…

I can’t begin to fathom the possibilities that will flow from today’s “let’s science the shit out of this” era of COVID-19… Matt Damon called it correctly in the movie The Martian…

… but I can confidently predict there will be humanity-altering discoveries not just for this particular virus but perhaps for the question of the common cold or a dozen or more other medical mysteries and problems.

There will also be unexpected and surprising innovations unrelated to the cure for a virus. Research has a way of running madly and wildly (and productively) off in many directions. This is usually a good thing. Climate change anyone?

Sadly, there may be some unwanted discoveries that create their own set of future problems. Weaponry of all sorts has progressed negatively in times of global stress before and I anticipate it may once more.

Yes, bad news and good news.

Yin and Yang. Black and white. Push and pull… within Yin lies the seed of Yang and vise versa.

And I can even return to one of my earlier blogs where I quoted the famous country music philosopher Garth Brooks. Brooks meditates on the nature of opposing forces when he describes fame and other aspects of life as, “a blessing and a curse”.

These days of virus awakening will jet-charge those natural opposing forces creating both a blessing and a curse in its wake.

As a cup half-full kind of guy (most days)… I’m counting on the blessings coming out on top.

Strap yourself in, maybe grab a bag of popcorn, because another famous philosopher of our times with the name Dylan said:

Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

dylan

The Clock Stands Still… The Race That Isn’t…

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BMO Vancouver Marathon / RUNVAN®

.

SUNDAY, May 5, 2019.

.

BANG!

.

YAHOO!!

17,000+ of us fresh-faced/fresh-bodied fools smile and joke as we break into a slow jog down the long tree-lined tube … the chute leads us out of bucolic Queen Elizabeth Park… first into a gentle uphill climb… then turning hard right onto Vancouver’s Cambie Street and immediately into a 2 km.-long downhill slope leading onto the Cambie Bridge… overlooking some of this world’s finest ocean-mountain scenery on an early Sunday spring morning.

The beginning of any large race like this – the Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon – is the danger zone.

All of us runners are looking down and sideways, gingerly avoiding bumps and crashes and possible trips over others’ feet that send us ass over teakettle.

The newly-risen sun is brilliant but the air is cool and delicious, filled with scents of fresh-brewed coffee and mentholated body rubs.

Families and friends already line the long asphalt route with funny signs and cantankerous noisemakers to stimulate and energize the jogging throngs.

Simultaneously run-breathing and laughing can be complicated sometimes.

OMG it’s breathtaking and inspiring and likely as close to endorphin spiritual nirvana as I can come. I’ve done this particular race for maybe 10 years now and I get monster goosebumps every time.

Yes – right as I publish this week’s post – this Sunday is the annual Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon race.

EXCEPT. NOT. THIS. YEAR.

Cambie bridge running

No boisterous crowds, no joyful noise, no communal sweat.

*sigh*

The first Sunday of May is a perennial event day like a hundred… a thousand… a million other world-wide events that won’t achieve their “annual” billing this time around the sun.

The year the earth stood still. The clocks stopped and went silent.

You and I can count on our fingers and toes all of the things we might normally do over the coming weeks and months… but not this year.

We take it all for granted because our lives have always been this way. (This is a needed reminder to us to avoid using the words ALWAYS and NEVER)

Remember Y2K?

We chewed our fingernails, anticipating and worrying for a couple of years leading up to the stroke of midnight.

It was going to be an end-of-the-world happening.

Respirators and electricity and computers would seize up and go to sleep. People would perish and insurrection would flame like Dante’s Inferno around the globe.

Nothing would be the same afterwards… except… everything was the same afterwards. We worried and anticipated needlessly.

But how many of us woke up on New Year’s Day of 2020, rubbed our eyes, and thought to ourselves… I wonder what strange and possibly horrific event will take place this year where my life will be turned upside down in ways I can’t imagine?

Now, 1/5th of the way into this new century, we’re barely a third of the year in and EVERYTHING looks different and none of us had the slightest clue of it all.

The Black Swan caught us in her trap.

black swan

So, this Sunday morning I’ll wake up early and slip into my running tights and shoes and head out into the early morning air.

Quiet. Still. No 17,000 runners. No noisemakers. No crazy signs.

I’ll absorb the (hopefully) gentle warmth of the sunshine on my face. I’ll smell the heady scent of spring apple blossoms and lilac.

It will seem just like a thousand other beautiful mornings throughout my life…

… everything will look and smell the same, but inside… in my inner core…

… I’ll feel a slight difference, a little like you feel shortly after a loved one has died and you know that your world will never be quite the same again.

On the surface, nothing has altered… the sun rises and sets, the moon continues to wax and wane… but beneath the still surface waters… the undercurrents have turned decidedly chillier … for a while at least.

And as I run along solo, I’ll miss the comradeship of those 17,000 people.

People of all colours and ages and genders and body types that shared with me a couple hours of intense sweaty physicality… a physicality we can only experience alone … for now…

And… ultimately friends… this is all small potatoes in the larger picture where many many people are coughing and feverish… people gasp a final breath in wards surrounded by gowned and masked angels… people are separated from family and adequate housing and food.

It’s all a stark reminder to me of how friggin’ fortunate I am to exist in a bubble of health and goodness…

I can wait for the clocks to start ticking again one day.

IMG_9496

 

 

THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE – The Song

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blessing curse

INTO Week Six of isolation here and now we’re disinfecting our outer AND … by gonzo suggestion from the top… inner… surfaces.

It’s like a Shakespearean tragi-comedy, except we can’t spit out our words like dramatic stage actors for fear of an impending manslaughter charge. No aerosols please!

Last week I mused about our collective situation of isolation and suggested some ideas that might help deal with our fresh new world. I quoted singer Garth Brooks who noted that everything we want comes with both a blessing and a curse.

The words stuck in my head like a *yum* peanut butter and banana sandwich does to the roof of my mouth.

Blessing AND Curse.

garth

Neither you nor I know what our world will look like in a year, there are too many moving and interactive parts for any rational assessment. This is the scientist in me speaking. My inner Bill Gates. We need rational thinkers like Bill and Melinda.

But with all of these unknowns… the artist, the creative me … holds onto a desire to think also in loftier terms, more emotional terms. It’s our artists – the musicians, the writers, the painters – that give us hope and joy in difficult times. We need artists as much as we need scientists.

And so I’m finding a bit more time in my days to write more prose, more song.

Yes, we’re on a ride folks.

And since the peanut butter phrase Blessing and Curse stuck with me I’m using it once again this week, this time in poetry and song form.

I hate cliches, but I’ll stoop now.

Be Humble. Be Kind. Stay Safe.

69465831 - young man composing the song with guitar on table with tea cup

 

THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE

by Larry Green

Little ones chase that coin
the one rolling down the street
towards the gutter or the drain
your two hands reach to grab and save
both mamas pull the chain

Last month I sipped sweet coffee from your cup
stopped in narrow grocery aisles and chatted
you pass me by at distance now
wild-eyed like something rabid
can we resurrect the sacred cow

CHORUS
Flip the hands, see the change
litter scattered in the desert whirling
shrink from shadows watch the afterbirths
there’s beauty and there’s hurting
Fill me up don’t leave me empty
The blessing and the curse

Stash your voice inside your house
Strike x’s through your plans
Bake bread to soothe your troubled soul
Muse about the coulds and shoulda-haves
Search blind and madly fill the holes

Alone now but are you lonely
put the Tanqueray away
this fog confines but stars abound in space
bright neon light will shine again
we’ll leave our separate places

Next year I hope we meet once more
unlock the chains and hug the children
I’ll touch your shoulder when you’re shaking
Wipe the tears with ungloved hands
we’ll walk the road untaken

CHORUS
Flip the hands, see the change
litter scattered in the desert whirling
shrink from shadows watch the afterbirths
there’s beauty and there’s hurting
Fill me up don’t leave me empty
The blessing and the curse

stars on beach

 

The Blessing And The Curse … COVID-19 Version

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blessings-curses

Quick… TRIVIA Quiz…

What are the names of the 7 von Trapp family children in the movie THE SOUND OF MUSIC? (Don’t cheat… answers may be found at the end of this post).

The Sound of Music (or to be really silly in these dark COVID times… it might be renamed The Sound of Mucous) has been a recurring theme in this house for the past few weeks. If you’ve never heard of or never *NOOOOO* seen the movie, this might be a good time for you to sign out of this post… just sayin’…

Since the oncoming rushing train we’ve labelled COVID-19 was introduced to us in the last couple of months, the entire world has had this sci-fi common experience of physical isolation, but definitely NOT social isolation.

This isn’t your great grandparents’ version of the Spanish Flu… *drum roll* … introducing the INTERNET! Have you heard of it?

The planet has adapted in many many ways to keeping our hands and expelled body fluids away from each other.

The friendly exchange of our body’s bacterial and viral biome with others has been our way of communicating, connecting and bonding with our family, friends and acquaintances for millennia.

Shake my hand, hug me, cheek buss, bum pat (SLAP… OK, this one is long out of bounds!)…

STOP! Do Not Touch! Anyone! Anything!

It’s tough and it can be slightly embarrassing or uncomfortable. It’s just plain weird to turn a lifetimes’ social learning and flip it on its head.

Which brings me back to The Sound of Music.

Early on in this isolation period, our family began a weekly Zoom get-together on Monday nights to have a Pub Trivia Night in Canada.

It’s a weekly chance to remind me why I didn’t get selected to join the Jeopardy TV family despite challenging the “Contestant Test”.

Physical isolation YES… Social Isolation NO…

In week one of our Zoom sessions, we posited the final BONUS question to our physically-distanced kids and partners: What are the names of the 7 Von Trapp family children in the movie THE SOUND OF MUSIC?

Despite some close attempts, no one quite accomplished the task successfully.

Then, once again, in week 4 of the family Zoom nights, our daughter posed the same question. And again, no one quite jumped over the high bar.

Furthering this Sound of Music theme that has been stuck in my little head… I finished up my online tutoring session with my Syrian friend this week by asking him to listen to a YouTube version of Julie Andrews and the 7 von Trapp children singing… My Favourite Things.

His homework quest was to listen to the spirited song and then write down all of the favourite things that Julie (ie Maria) and the children list in song. The good news is that he managed fine although he found Julie Andrews British accent a bit “dawwwnting”.

 

Our favourite things have changed now that COVID-19 has taken and taken.

We all have a sense of what we’ve given up during this enforced “Lent-of-Sorts”. There are myriads of sadnesses and laments over what and who has been lost.

My mind wanders this way and that… I was watching a TV documentary about country singer Garth Brooks last week. He calmly stared into the camera, slowly flipping his hands back and forth, and said, “Everything you want has a blessing and a curse…”

… and this led me to the Idea Sex concept of this week’s blog… to combine COVID-19 and My Favourite Things  (the curse and the blessing)…  granted, an odd combination… but folks… you’re dealing with an odd mind here… so….

… here goes…

These Are A Few of My 8 Favourite Things

COVID-19 Version

1. This one is easy … and clever too. The Coronavirus version of DO-RE-MI

 

2. Music. The needed push for me to quit procrastinating and spend some time not only playing and practising guitar (this is easy), but also the time to sweat through songwriting sessions (this is NOT easy!). Developing unique and interesting melodies is akin to running the half marathon for me… intense and exhausting but ultimately exhilarating. Does this sound more like a happy ending than a songwriting session?

3. Garden. Setting up a new low-water use irrigation system for the garden. The old 1990’s underground sprinklers are fabulous for soaking huge areas in huge quantities in water… but this is so 20th century thinking. Drippers and micro-sprayers use a fraction of the water and accomplish the goal of keeping everything lush, colourful and beautiful, just like my own peacock’s feathers (right, in your head Larry!)

4. Exercise. Re-discovering my self-motivation exercise gene. For many years, I’ve relied on spin classes, boot camp classes, yoga classes, organized runs etc, to get me out the door and sweating. Now I wake up (and it’s almost light now at 5 am!) and begin my own motivational self-talk session that eventually results in a salty sweat-stained set of shorts and T-shirt. Then I get out of bed. My beer and bread belly has only increased – you can’t see me, right? – marginally!

5. Cooking. Working harder and with more enthusiasm to broaden my ethnic cooking horizon. For many years, I’ve routinely alternated the style of cuisine I prepare… Indian, Italian, German, Moroccan, Thai, Peruvian, North American, and so on, you get it. My quest now is to expand on these ethnic directions by adding new dishes into the mix. Wanna try my Pad Thai Pizza, Prime Rib Ceviche, or Schnitzel Tajine?

6. Vegging. Yes, oodles of time where there are multitudes of streaming shows that entice and seduce like creamy smooth chocolate. My favourite indulgence recently is the Netflix mini-series UNORTHODOX… or is it Gossip Girl? shhhhh… Recent credible research suggests that binge-watching produces a surge of IgG and IgM antibodies biologically active against… absolutely nothing.

7. Soul Searching. Having an intense internal conversation with my inner voices and demons where I play Trevor Noah or Jimmy Kimmel to myself. I earnestly ask myself all the questions I’ve always wanted answered: Why does Mom love my brother more? If I’m so GD handsome, how come no one ever asked me to pose for Playgirl magazine? Should I sue Keith Urban for plagiarizing my voice?

8. Toes. Yes, rediscovering long distant body parts is great fun and refreshes me on things like simple arithmetic (how many are there again?) and also … just what have my piggies been doing all these years since childhood? And why is my toe jam more like toe peanut butter? So many intriguing questions… so much time.

Thank you COVID-19. And finally …

*The von Trapp childrens’ names?

  • Liesl
  • Friedrich
  • Louisa
  • Kurt
  • Brigitta
  • Marta
  • Gretl

beefcake fav things

HOT? Maybe… but Definitely NOT on MY list!

 

 

 

Are YOU Kidding ME?

2 Comments

Coronavirus Lego (1)

Where are you going?

Right… NOWHERE. I can predict that with almost 100% certainty. It’s like I live inside a Magic 8 ball.

But you know why. I don’t have to spell it out.

I’ve got you where I want you *bwahhhh-ha-haaaaa* and now I have to decide what I’m going to do with you.

It’s cruel and it’s powerful and it’s a rare moment in the universe’s history, so far as we know.

I know that you’re likely stressed in some way, so I’d like to relieve your angst a wee tiny bit this week cuz that’s just the kind of nice guy I am. I want you to like me, even if I am a jerk.

Today I’m coming at you with some ideas on how to take your mind off the pretend/reality TV world that over a couple of weeks has transformed into a real/REALITY WORLD… aka…

SURVIVOR- Coronavirus Island

Now you may not consider all of my ideas as fun… after all, fun is in the eye of the beholder – we don’t all love the same music or movies – so skip past the ones that make you nauseous, groan or cringe and move on.

Some are IDEA SEX and some are… *wink* SEXY IDEAS. Either way, surely, we can find one or two things to make you smile through the tension.

So… here are 10 things to do to lift your socially-isolated day out of the doldrums:

 

1. Channel your inner pervert and wear your partner/friend’s: underwear, bra (most noses are adequately protected by a B cup), or sanitary pad as a face mask to the grocery store… if that doesn’t catch anyone’s eye, try practising your moonwalk in the middle of the natural food aisle, plus maintaining 2 metres distance from everyone whilst dancing backwards.

lettuce mask

This works too!

2. Send out this woefully soulful note to your family:

Gal Gadot (or Chris Hemsworth or…) and I were set to have our beautiful wedding this April. However, due to the coronavirus, we will be postponing the celebration of our love. We’re heartbroken. My apologies to our friends and loved ones. Do not ask Gal about this she’s busy…

3. Do like Benny and Joon and make grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron on your ironing board. Young Johnny Depp at his finest…

 

4. Draw a spider on the toilet paper roll.

5. Make up a new national holiday (eg. National Cherry Cheesecake Day, World Naked-At-Your-Front-Window Day). Write to all your contacts and ask them to celebrate the special day on their social media platforms. See if your new holiday goes “viral”.

6. Out of TP due to shortages? Buy a package of paper towels and slice them in half with a sharp knife. For more extreme fun, hang out a few reams of damp toilet paper on your outdoor laundry line for your neighbours enjoyment.

7. Make up new recipes for the times: think… Emergen-C banana breakfast bread, Cinnamon-buns with 15% toilet paper-infused cream cheese icing (a treat at both ends of the eating experience).

8. Do your best erotically seductive dance in front of the pharmacy counter to get first shot at the new shipment of sanitizer.

9. Take an online class such as : 1. Get Stuffed: How To Taxidermy Your Problematic Family Members 2. Tantalizing Toilet Paper Origami Projects 3. Make Your Own Porno Netflix Special – Scintillating Solo Sex For Singles 4. Fabulous Blender Cocktail Recipes Made From Sanitizer.

10. Send an e-mail to all your friends and relatives and give them a silly nickname. The more outrageous the nickname, the better. The more ludicrous it is the better. See if they remain your friend after this lock-up period.

BONUS: 11. Couch Scavenger Hunt – the best way to find all those matching socks (or… used condoms and pizza crusts) you’ve lost and a great way to recover some of your lost virus income in nickels and dimes.

And finally… get out the kleenex (if you have any left)… a little soft nostalgia below to help you through these difficult times…

Toilet paper (3)