Archive for the ‘Covid 19’ Category

Do you know the name of our current Governor General? I heard on the 6am news that both the Prime Minister and the Governor General are self-isolating because they were on a flight with someone who’s now tested positive for Covid. My immediate thought was that they’ve both got big houses with plenty of bathrooms.

My next thought was what is the name of the Governor General? The previous one was Dame Patsy Reddy (not Riggir – she’s a singer). A new Governor General was installed a few months ago, and I remembered she was a wahine Māori, but had to wait for a later bulletin to remind me it’s Dame Cindy Kiro. With pandemic precautions and statistics dominating the news she’s had a low profile.

Dame Cindy Kiro

When I was at Grammar School we had a visit from Lady Fergusson, the then Governor General’s wife, and I remember we were all obliged to practise curtsying beforehand. It’s good to know we now have homegrown Governors General, and I don’t imagine Dame Cindy will expect people to curtsy.

While I’m not an active republican, I presume Aotearoa will eventually divorce itself from the monarchy. The defection of Harry and the dereliction of Andrew have detracted from any sense of respectful awe that may previously have existed. I feel some compassion for Charles, older than I am, and still waiting to fulfill his purpose in life. As far as I’m concerned he’s welcome to have Camilla as his consorting Queen.

William so far has an unblotted copybook and will eventually succeed to the throne, but I doubt Aotearoa will remain part of his realm. What do you think?

Time when the current Queen has gone
for Aotearoa to move on

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Covid restrictions may mean we go out less frequently, especially until we’ve had our booster shots which are scheduled for February 15th. This is the date which is now expected to be the Omicron peak. When we booked our boosters I asked if the date could be brought forward if the time between 2nd and 3rd doses was reduced to three months, but was told my date was only three weeks away and they wouldn’t have capacity to re-schedule. While cafés are still open it may be best to avoid anywhere with people except places we absolutely need to go.

I’m lucky because I eat extremely well at home. Planning and preparing meals is something Stephen enjoys doing, and I haven’t cooked dinner for some years. When we were both employed I worked full time while he had a part time role, so it made sense for him to cook the evening meal. When I left paid work I offered to share the cooking and did it a few times, but I’m not a keen cook and Stephen soon said he would prefer to take over, which I happily accepted. I do usually prepare my own breakfast and lunch, although yesterday’s lunch was leftover soup from the evening before.

I hasten to point out that I do the baking, cleaning, and gardening, so I’m not totally a lady of leisure. I do wonder how we would fare if Stephen became ill with Covid, but there are some pre-prepared meals in the freezer, and I am capable of following a recipe if I have to. He has a birthday next week and has expressed a desire for a new cookbook, so we will need to go and browse at Scorpio – socially distanced of course.

There’s an interesting article in the Guardian from an Australian woman warning New Zealanders what we can expect when Omicron surges. She suggests that our social life will change and we may see less of family and friends. Our contact with family is all by Zoom these days anyway, and I expect I’ll still see a few close friends. If the weather is good we can sit outside. It will be interesting to see what happens with the groups I usually go to regularly. Experience has shown me I’m not interested in meeting by Zoom for any group of more than four.

The Red traffic light system is different to the lockdowns we had for previous variants, leaving decisions about socialising more up to the individual. Freedom to go out may also mean freedom for the virus to travel. Apparently it hasn’t got to Christchurch yet, but can’t be far away.

The news this morning says modellers are suggesting there could be 50,000 daily cases within 10 days, and possibly 400 deaths by 1 May. I’ve been repeating the mantra Whatever happens is perfect, and I vacillate between thinking I won’t go out at all, and thinking that if it lasts for the expected three months I will need some outings for my mental health.

Our social life will have to change
and we won’t be so free to range

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Keen on Kindness

“Be kind” is an injunction I’m seeing and hearing a great deal lately. It’s a direct quote from our Prime Minister, and sometimes seems like the best action we can take to alleviate the uncertainty and anxiety around Covid at present.

In pre-Covid times we could practise random acts of kindness whenever we felt like it. These acts were good to receive and satisfying to give. Now we’re living under the Red traffic light kindness needs to be more focussed. We need to be kind to our community by ensuring we’re vaccinated, scanning or signing in everywhere, and wearing masks.

Official information tells us to “Wear your mask whenever you leave home”, so yesterday when I went for a walk I took my mask in my pocket which I haven’t done before. No-one walking round the Loop was wearing a mask, except a group gathered under a gazebo on the riverbank. I put my mask on to approach them and ask what they were doing, and learned they were testing a drone which could be used for delivering medical supplies in Africa.

Drone testing shelter

I was overdue for a haircut, so went to have one, thinking it was best to do it before any further restrictions are imposed. While the hairdresser failed to ask to see my Vaccine Pass she did request that I leave my mask on while my hair was being cut. This is different to how it was under the Orange traffic light, and must be awkward to manage. Presumably if you were having your hair washed in a salon the mask would be removed, or maybe wet cuts are not allowed now?

We popped in to the supermarket, deposited our soft plastic, and found they are limiting purchases of toilet paper and baked beans, but there was no queue at the entrance.

Right now it’s important to be kind to oneself. Taking life easy where possible and having little treats. I’d been looking forward to February when groups I belong to are scheduled to meet again, but this is now also uncertain. I’m lucky I have plenty of books to read and social contact online. I expect socialising in person will decrease, although cafés are still open, and I have a date to meet a friend later today.

We need to practise being kind
ensuring none are left behind

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As the Omicron variant of Covid 19 edges ever closer to our community we are making preparations for when we move into the red traffic light system and/or we need to isolate.

In past lock-downs we were pleased to have supplies delivered by Countdown. Last year they were the only central city supermarket offering this online service, but New World now also provides deliveries. We prefer to deal with New World as they are Aotearoa-owned and this week we decided to test their online order and delivery service, in case we may need it. The procedure was similar to Countdown’s but it might have been wise to read all the online info first. I ended up contacting their digital assistant, and didn’t manage to order the two apples I wanted (not 1 kg), but that’s a minor quibble and possibly my fault for not reading the instructions beforehand. I’ve had a look since and didn’t see how to order smaller amounts of fruit. I also forgot to order my weekend mushrooms, so had poached eggs for breakfast today instead.

We ordered delivery for the 9am-12noon slot, and it arrived at 9.40am. A pleasant young masked man even offered to take the bags through to the kitchen which I declined. Obviously that wouldn’t happen if deliveries needed to be contactless. We’d been warned that because we ordered wine we’d need to show i.d., but when I offered this he said it wasn’t necessary. He could obviously see that I am over 18. The delivery came complete with the usual vouchers and stickers that you get instore.

New World delivery

My one tiny complaint is that I got an email to say “Your delivery from New World Durham Street is on it’s way. ETA 4 minutes”. Their system needs a proof reader who understands apostrophes!

Yesterday’s Press gave a list of what we need to have in stock in preparation for Covid. As well as enough food and medication for 14 days they suggest to cope with Covid symptoms we should have paracetamol, ibuprofen, throat lozenges, ice blocks, electrolytes, and vapour rub. I presume the ice blocks are to soothe a sore throat, and hope the ones we have in our freezer for cool drinks would be suitable. I’ve never sucked an ice block when I’ve had a sore throat, but there’s always a first time. We have paracetamol, throat lozenges, and ice blocks, and think we’ll leave the rest for an online order when we actually need them. I wonder how many people are stocking up on all these things, and whether supplies of electrolytes and vapour rub will run out.

There’s lots for us to think upon
as we prepare for Omicron

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Vaxed but Vexed

It’s good to have warm sunny days, and convenient that Canterbury is free of community transmission of Covid 19 at present. But, like many others, I’m becoming frustrated and resentful of the need to wear masks, present vaccine passes, and have limits on my social options.

Mask and Vaccine Pass

I totally support the government’s handling of the pandemic, and I know that compared to some others I am extremely fortunate, but the restrictions are irksome. My close friends are all vaccinated, and we meet regularly in groups and one-on-one. There’s no hindrance to meeting in one another’s homes, and we cope well with masks and passes when we go to cafés.

A few weeks ago I went to a gathering of 14 people where the organisers announced beforehand that they would not exclude anyone or inquire about vaccination status. We all removed our masks, and sat at least one metre apart with plenty of fresh air coming through open windows. I felt perfectly safe, and am unaware of any Covid repercussions, but I expect that once Omicron has pervaded I will avoid such gatherings. My age means that my immune system is less robust, and Stephen has compromising health conditions.

We go together to do our weekly supermarket shopping, where few people are meticulous about distancing, and we may well be sharing space with the unvaccinated. If we were worried we could get our groceries delivered, but we prefer to shop in person and will probably continue to do so.

The uncertainty makes life more difficult. We haven’t been away on holiday for almost two years, but can see no point in making bookings that may have to be changed. Plus, I’m on the waiting list for two hospital outpatient procedures which are unlikely to happen while the health system holds its breath waiting for Omicron.

In the meantime I go to fewer indoor places because of the need to wear a mask. I also avoid the increasing number of retail outlets that require vaccine passes. Not that I was ever much of a consumer anyway.

Research has shown that people prefer control to uncertainty and I can relate to that as I cling to those routines and rituals still available to me.

I’m more inclined to stay near home
and curb all tendency to roam

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This year’s WORD Christchurch festival is very different from previous ones. I bought my tickets way back before Covid Delta colonised Aotearoa. It must have been a nightmare for the organisers when they had to first cancel, and the re-schedule the festival. The poetry workshop I’d originally registered for was cancelled completely, with the fee fully refunded.

The other session I’d booked was Fifty Years a Feminist, with author Sue Kedgley interviewed by Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel. Sue, who lives in Wellington, couldn’t attend in person, but came via a video link, and it seemed strange that there was only one chair on the stage.

Sue online and Lianne on stage

I arrived early at The Piano, and was shown to a socially distanced seat, with every second row left empty, and two vacant seats between each bubble. I estimate the Carter Hall would have been only about 20% filled for a session that would usually be a sellout. The audience was all masked of course.

I haven’t yet read Sue’s book, and hardly felt I needed to after reading Phillida Bunkle’s very thorough review. The fact I’d lived in Auckland through many of the incidents portrayed made me keen to hear Sue talk about them.

Sue emphasised the fact that the slogan The personal is political which was prevalent in the 1970s still applies today, and gave the example of the harassment of students at Christchurch Girls’ High School by boys from Christchurch Boys’ High School, where collective action by the girls had been effective.

Sue and Lianne both spoke of the bullying that goes on in our parliament and how that male culture needs to change, preferably with the assistance of a Code of Conduct. It’s heartening to see signs of more co-operation between parties. Empathy, compassion, and the ability to listen are often hallmarks of women leaders.

When asked how we can help women in public roles Sue mentioned that the National Council of Women is setting up a Misogyny Watch group. We need to show our support for each other. Change often comes through collective protest action.

Sue pointed out that the gains of feminism are fragile and some young women have no idea of how hard won they were. Our new history curriculum needs to incorporate the history of feminism and the importance of protests.

There was discussion of how people could be rallied, and Sue acknowledged we are all exhausted, especially with Covid. Earlier this year a group of young women in Wellington rallied against harassment in bars, and were successful in putting responsibility on the hospitality industry.

What an energising boost it was to hear these two women discussing the history and current state of feminism in Aotearoa.

A boost to feminism’s strength
to hear these women talk at length

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Floral Friday

Cecile Brunner are the perfect miniature roses, and it’s a sign that summer’s almost here when they start to flower. I was delighted this week when there were enough for me to be able to pick a bunch and bring them inside.

Cecile Brunner bunch
Cecile Brunner bush

A friend who died had her birthday at Beltane, the beginning of November, and I always gave her a bunch of these roses, because that’s what her mother used to do.

When my brother died his former wife brought a bunch of these tiny roses to the funeral for me, because she remembered that they had grown at our childhood home. I have no memory of them there, but I love having them in our garden today. Ours were planted in 1995 and have flowered profusely ever since. With Covid now detected in Christchurch such signs of hope are even more precious.

These roses hold a memory
and promises of what will be

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This morning we’ve had the news that there are two Covid positive people in Christchurch. Some of us may soon be in a similar situation to that described in my poem. I’m just relieved that we are both double vaccinated, and I had a haircut yesterday.

A poem inspired by an artwork is called ekphrastic. We were each given an illustration from a magazine, and invited to imagine what might have been happening at the time the photo was taken. This is the picture I was given, and the poem I wrote.

Inspiration for an ekphrastic poem

Alone in Auckland

He waits beside the window

it’s been four long weeks

trapped in this high-rise apartment

not allowed to leave

he’d been to a location of interest

meant he was a close contact

obliged to self-isolate

first tests were negative

then a weak positive.

Stay where you are, they said

contactless deliveries will come

there’s television and Zoom

space to move around

air conditioning.

But the windows don’t open

he’s languishing, and longing

for the freedom of fresh air

and the touch of a lover

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A letter from my doctor advised it was time for my annual blood tests. Stephen usually has a monthly test, but missed last month because of lockdown, and last week when he went to our usual clinic at Forte Health he found it closed because of Level Two. We decided we would both go to the Barrington Clinic and we needed to go early because my tests require fasting.

When we arrived at 7.45am there were eight people waiting outside at carefully marked social distances. I wondered what happens to people who can’t stand for a long time.

Barrington blood test clinic

Half an hour later when I was finally admitted there were eleven in the queue behind. I was given a numbered tag and asked to sit in a room where three others were also waiting. There was a water dispenser, but no cups. The woman who took my four vials of blood told me they were short-staffed, the pressure had been relentless, and it was expected to continue for weeks. I was pleased we’d got our tests before anything happens to change life again.

Afterwards we were keen to break our fast, but Barrington Mall was not yet fully open. Luckily we found the Majestic Tea Bar who serve cooked breakfasts. This is a larger place than the one in the BNZ/Five Lanes centre, with a number of tables in the corridor outside.

Majestic Tea Bar @ Barrington Mall

After this we headed for home and my usual Monday morning cleaning routine.

It’s challenging to get blood test
You need to queue up with the rest

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Zoom is wonderful as a way of catching up with family and friends in distant places. However, I personally find it difficult to use as a medium for learning. Last year I was enrolled in a Te Reo class, but when lockdown struck and classes moved online I found it hard to manage, and dropped out.

I later enrolled in a Zoom seminar, but I found it difficult to understand the tutor for whom English was a second language and left before the end. Even with people I know well I find an hour of a Zoom group is all I can take before my concentration goes, and I wonder how on earth do school students manage? I guess they are younger and more adaptable, and possibly more accustomed to concentrating on screens.

I recently took part in a workshop where the tutor and students were all masked, and found it hard to hear what was being said. Earlier this week I was at a meeting with ten socially distanced people, and very relieved when all but one removed their masks. I appreciate that in Level Two masks are required in any public venue, but that just makes me more inclined to avoid public venues. I’m relieved to know that masks are not mandatory in schools because it seems to me they would hinder students’ ability to learn. Let’s hope that Covid vaccinations can soon be made available for children under 12. How are you coping with learning in this Covid environment?

I’m relieved that the W.E.A. is making mask use optional during classes under Level Two, and the same applies to a another course I’ve enrolled in. Perhaps there’s hope for my lifelong learning after all.

I do not like to wear a mask
when I’m absorbing some new task

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