27/09/2020

Words from Wood Lane

Susan Neave, Beverley

This is going to be a very short entry. Today is Monday, the weather is perfect (although the forecast for Wednesday onwards is much colder and damper) and the suitcase is packed. Tomorrow we cross the Humber Bridge and head for New York! Not the American one, but a hamlet in the Lincolnshire fens not far from Boston. Tradition dictates that we stop here, in a layby near an abandoned tennis court, and enjoy a flask of coffee before continuing on to Norfolk. We shall be away until the end of the week, so I’m submitting this shortly. We are very much looking forward to coffee on Wednesday (with the promise of cake too!) with Margaret and Peter in their garden at lovely Old Hall, then off to spend the rest of the day with friends in Norwich. More next week.

27/09/2020

My feelings on paper

Barbara Warsop, Sheffield, Yorkshire

Thursday 24th September 

7am I turn on the TV and its Matt Hancock holding forth and I am wondering if he has shares in Apple iPhone as he now wants everyone to down load an APP to save us from covid 19.

He smiles when the interviewer asks him how many people does he think own an iPhone. Well that cuts out loads of poor people and a lot of the elderly .

I ask myself what planet is he living on, obviously he has more money than sense. He got carried away at how good it will be for trick and trace, oops !

  

It now looks like Xmas this year is going to be different. I suppose we have to get used to the idea of smaller gatherings early on to plan ahead. Well that cuts out my annual Xmas eve party with all my family of 14.

 

At 82 years I must think on that up to last year I have had a very good life and must be grateful for that.

I have managed to sort out a lot of things this week.

I had my flue jab ,mask on in and out of the-surgery in a jiffy.

My local garage collected my car for the MOT and brought it me back, passed.

I found a decorator to paint my conservatory outside windows and he will start next week.

 

The joys of modern technology for me at least as I have grandchildren who pass on their cast off iPhones to me when they get new ones. I pay them a minimum fee for their old one and they set it up for me. So I can now see my daughters and some friends on face time.

 

It came in handy this week as I finally got my appointment for physiotherapy after waiting 6 weeks. I have been suffering for a long time with pain in my left shoulder its basically wearing out from years of working as a care assistant in an old peoples home years ago.

It was a phone call appointment and my mind boggled at the thought of it.   

 

He rang on my land line. I was rather blunt and asked him what can he do to help me with a worn out shoulder as I have been thinking that I must learn to live with it. He laughed at my forthright attitude. I told him it would be better on face time as I was familiar with that and he sent me a text for the pass code. Finally we got to see one another and we both laughed.

Well the eye opener exercise he gave me is to do arm wrestling with weights ha ha. It’s a pity one of my grandsons can’t come in and do it with me that would be the icing on the cake and much more fun.  

I must be feeling more myself of late as I ventured out to my local Coop to do a big shop.

The time to go for the elderly vulnerable is between 8am and 9am, when I got there bread had just been delivered and one isle was blocked with trolleys and at the till I was gasping wearing my mask and the old man next in queue wasn't wearing a mask so I said to him you’re not wearing a mask, no he said its in my pocket and I am not going to wear it, (silly old fool) the assistant said we can’t police it, so I said I know that’s why I am telling him too. But it was all in vain. This has resulted in my asking my daughter to shop for me again well she never wanted me to shop for myself in the first place.  

 

This week I have baked two apple pies and ten bread cakes, so that I can freeze some and get one out at a time and my bread lasts longer.  

 

Today I have got a friend coming for Haggis and neeps we will sit at a distance in my conservatory with the door and window open. My apple pie for desert with cream, I am looking forward to that.

27/09/2020

Care in the time of Corona

Shirin Jacob, Ålesund, Norway

It’s a grey, rainy day, 9 degrees with fog obscuring the view of ‘our’ island in the far distance. No matter. I have received the most wonderful email. More of that later. 

 

Two weeks ago, we decamped sans puddycats to the island for the weekend. My husband had been ill with fever during the week but was determined to do some planting. We had arranged with the Boat Association that they would send four men for a planting ‘dugnad’ in exchange for payment. The dour leader came followed by three tall elves, who proceeded to plant six trees for us. They refused coffee and refreshments. K tried to explain that that was normal. K continued with planting some lilac and clethra but hurt his back. He has been at the chiropractor almost every other day since. 

 

The number of Covid cases in Bergen, to the south, has doubled partly due to partying students from the University. There aren’t any cases in our county, Møre og Romsdal. I have gone through a big process of finally accepting that it will be unlikely that I will find a good friend here. I railed against this and strived too hard to break into the community here for the last two and a half years. My state of acceptance acknowledges the incredible beauty that I’m privileged to be surrounded by, the safe people in the small town I live in, the polite folk in the shops I frequent, two kind cousins that we very occasionally see and my patient husband. Norwegians are real Vikings. They are very independent, self sufficient, active people who are surrounded by their family, school friends, work buddies and old acquaintances. There is no space or need for the newbie, no curiosity about us or how we could possibly enrich each other’s lives. Relationships are transactional. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m deeply appreciative of my life here and of the community that I’m in. I feel like a child with my nose pressed to the glass door of a playground or sweet shop but I can’t get in. 

A teacher at the adult educational centre explained that the culture here was the ‘I’ culture and that we came from a ‘We’ culture. It helped me understand the situation more clearly but if I had to share my personal opinion - I miss the generosity of spirit, kindness and charm of Asia. Yes, you are thinking perhaps that if I don’t like it, go back to where I came from. I purposefully cut my ties and my life in Singapore. I sold or closed everything that held meaning for me because I was determined to be here. Forever. With my husband. 

 

One good thing that happened was the first deep and meaningful conversation with my forty-year-old Norwegian GP. I cried during my last visit three weeks ago and he spent an hour speaking to me. Thankfully he didn’t offer me antidepressants, but, instead, wondered if I was experiencing a loss of identity and tried to explain the Norsk psyche to me. I have never been attached to my identity of ‘doctor’ for I had seen too many validated only by their work. But how does one disassociate from being a caregiver? Or from jumping out of bed with a purpose? My purpose in life has been central to my existence. I decided two Fridays ago that my garden on the island will be my new purpose. The hospital here and all the people I’ve approached weren’t interested as I don’t speak Norwegian fluently enough in a country where everyone speaks fluent English. Perhaps the garden will be more welcoming. 

 

I met a young 33-year-old gardener at Viddal nursery. She helped me choose some hardy plants on a 70 percent sale! Hurrah! And gave me a Facebook address for a gardening club in Ålesund. The first meeting is tomorrow. I shall meet her there. 

 

And my best news today? The first reply to my new gardening email created several weeks ago for the journal. A reader, the lovely Catherine who has given me so many romantic ideas for my garden. It was very cheering. Thank you, dear Catherine.

27/09/2020

Gratefully Sheltering

James Oglethorpe, Blue Ridge Mountains, VA

Uncle Albert’s Domain 

Startling speed. Brightness alien to the stars.

After dinner solitude on the foredeck of the S.S. Blue Dreams, broken by Helen Greaves.

 

“Beautiful.” she intrudes.

“Yes.” I reply without courtesy. “The ISS.”

“The twinkling stars are so pretty.”

“Pretty? I suppose titanic crucibles of nuclear reactions radiating across hundreds of light years could be described as pretty.” 

“You are funny, Dr Isabelle.”

“I’m an astrophysicist.”

“Do you study the future?

“You are thinking of an astrologer.” 

“So no birth charts. You must be a lonely woman in a universe without meaning. Always thinking.”

“I try to find places where there are few distractions. Like this science cruise. I am working on a particularly abstruse problem.”

“Relationships with men are always so difficult.”

 

Is she dense? Whatever. I’ll give her both barrels and frighten her off.

 

“I am studying a series of anomalous readings from the supermassive black hole at the centre of NGC 1277. It’s a galaxy, 250 million light years away within the Perseus swarm of galaxies. The mouth of the black hole is gargantuan, equal in width to three round trips from the Sun to Pluto.”

“The stars tell us who we are, what our personal futures will be.”

“In Pegasus there is a blue-white main-sequence star named Regulus. It is 77.5 light-years away from us. Photons from Pegasus were emitted long before there were human beings and eyes to see. How could Pegasus be related to you or your future in any shape or form?”  

 

And what a wasted journey for those photons. Ending light years of a cosmic trek striking the photoreceptors of someone who perceives the cosmos as a chinzy fairy tale.

I look back. Helen has gone. The strain leaves my shoulders. Then an idea for my lecture.

The present is like blue jelly, jiggled by the opposing forces of the past and the future. It never quite loses its shape as it quivers, vibrating in fundamental tidal forces. Semi-transparent to the past, it is opaque to the future. I can only experience the past and have thoughts of the future, now, in the center, where the past and future occur in seamless microscopic pulses of the present.

“...I’ve brought you somebody to make you more comfortable. You need company.”

And...she’s back. Only now there are two of them. One younger. One older.

 

“This is my daughter, Caro, works at CERN,” Helen laughs, adding, “She doesn’t get it from me, that’s for certain.” 

“Long wanted to meet you,” said Caro, “I’m working with Duisenberg and Simonetta on scalar field theory.”

 

Ah ha! A woman who has fallen far from the mother tree.

 

“I am most interested to know about what you are reading from NGC 1277.”

 

“I wish I could give you more than what we have published. Anyway. We are building theories around black holes, which in themselves have yet to be conclusively proved. No wonder we get such a bad name.”

 

In truth there is some excitement about the nature and content of the signals. It is a hard, hard task making sense of something so intangible.

A patch of phosphorescence flares in the water. It propels me to take a closer look. I can’t be certain, insufficient data, but there is a cohesive, curved shape beneath the surface, churning up the phosphorescence. For a moment, the night sky and the glowing sea seamlessly mirror one another. 

My blue jelly is jumping, vibrating out of sync, continuity abandoned, space viscous, elongating.

A spicule of emotions, like a plasma fountain spiking from the sun, overwhelms me.

I regain consciousness floating in black space. My body is enervated, as though I am an effervescent tablet dropped in water, my molecules fizzing. I am weightless and rotating slowly about my axis.

A blue and white oblate sun spinning like a top. Regulus. Beauty overwhelmed in darkness and fear. In the centre of the ocean of stars, stretching beyond comprehension is a massive void, a vast pupil consuming an iris of stars. Beauty and annihilation made tangible. A collection of spheres hang in space. A living necklace, sentient accessories shifting in shape and color. 

“Look,” Helen’s voice. Near yet light years away. “See there? It was an observatory centuries ago. Your anomalous readings are the results of an experiment we were conducting. We’ve since moved on. But we transmitted them. Hoping they would reach someone with at least a semblance of intelligence.”

The darkness draws me ever closer. Inescapable. I am compelled in closer and closer, shredded across the event horizon. I plunge into screaming mad compressed darkness, any sense of self ripped apart, consumed until I am nothing more than an amorphous belch of Hawking Radiation, burped back into space.

Zero.

Zero plus one.

Spacetime restarts. The fleeting whispers of the dream. Thoughts flying as fast as light. Possession within the crucible of a blue sun. Incomparable physical beauty and dark, unfathomable wonder streaming into a brain forged from stardust. I am part of the cycle. The matter that comprises me, begins and ends in eternity. And on its journey it has gathered in me for the merest yoctosecond compared to the age of the universe. It is the length of my life. Ending up where? I hope in the furnace of a Luminous Blue Variable. So it can be emitted and begin another journey.

Time is forgetfulness. Insanity is believing, experiencing, what others cannot.

At breakfast there is single folded piece of writing paper at my place. On it Caro has written:
“You thought it impossible for stars from the past to show you the future here in the present. In this blue bubble of oceans, dreams and desires you have seen us living beyond the horizon of your expectations, both here, there and pretty much everywhere. Leave yourself free to fly. xC.”

27/09/2020

From Twickenham

David Horovitch, Twickenham

My father was fond of saying that he had two birthdays. The first was the day that he was born and the second, two days later when his birth was registered. The latter date appeared on his birth certificate because my grandmother, a Polish -Jewish immigrant, who spoke little English and was unable to read or write in any language, had difficulty making herself understood at the registrar's office. It also accounts for the fact that my grandparents name was Horowitz but my father and his descendants, were called Horovitch which, I believe is how Horowitz is pronounced in Czechoslovakia where my grandfather was born. At any rate, it seems to be what the registrar heard when my grandmother said the name and so the Horovitch dynasty was established in 1905 in Whitechapel. My grandmother, Sophie, had travelled from a village in Poland with her then-fiancee in flight from an anti-semitic pogrom five years earlier. They were bound for New York but didn't have enough money for two passages so it was agreed that she would stay in London, he  would go on ahead, secure employment - I think he was a tailor but I may have made that up - and, when he had saved enough money for the boat fare, he would send for her and she would join  him. Sophie waited and waited. She didn't hear and she didn't hear. So much she didn't hear that she thought she never would. She met my grandfather Hymie, like her a Jewish refugee but from Czechoslovakia. He proposed to her in Yiddish, their common language He wasn't the tailor of her dreams but he was a nice enough fella. They married. Not long afterwards she got the letter from New York but it was too late. I've never known how much of this is myth and how much fact. My sister thinks my father told her the story but I think it was  my mother who told it to me with the further embellishment that Sophie died sixty years later in a nursing home in Godalming with the tailor's name on her lips.  

 

My father's real birthday was September 21st and his registered one today, the 23rd. He would be 115. There is a plaque to him, and another to my mother, on a bench in the magnificent Victorian Gothic Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington, London N16. I met my sister, there on Monday, the day of his real birthday, and Francis came too. I hadn't seen my sister since Christmas and I can't imagine I'll see her again soon. She had walked the four miles or so from Crouch End, Francis had come on his motor-bike from South East London and I had splashed out on an uber from Twickenham I'm increasingly reluctant to travel on public transport and in the uber I kept getting news flashes about the latest pronouncements from Chris Witty and Patrick Vallance - 50,000 cases a day projected, 200 deaths. Winter was nigh, the much-anticipated second spike. It was difficult to believe as we sat in the autumn sunshine commemorating our parents, swapping  stories that we already knew and that even Francis I think, more than half-knew - recalling Dad's impatience with all organised religion but especially Judaism, how he'd fallen out with his younger brother because he wouldn't sit shiva when Sophie died. Abney Park cemetery was originally for dissenters who couldn't be buried within the city walls. My mother was a Quaker, quiet, deep and a little inscrutable. I think the bench and the plaques are in the right place though now it is the home of gay cruising and rock videos. Even that feels right somehow. They were tolerant people, my mum and dad, and it's good for them to be where their tolerance will be tested.

27/09/2020

Bookbinding

John Underwood, Norfolk

“There are three kinds of falsehoods, lies, damned lies and statistics".

 

The above quote is from Arthur James Balfour, as quoted in the Manchester Guardian, 29th June 1892. It was falsely (of course!) attributed by Mark Twain to Disraeli, but there is apparently no record of him having used the phrase.

 

I have been out buying books this week, and by chance stumbled upon a book that was entirely new to me. Entitled “Letters on Natural Magic” by Sir David Brewster, it was published in 1833. It consists of accounts of interesting natural phenomena, including the idea of motion of the eyes in portraits - how they “follow you about the room”. There are two rather gorgeous “moveables” in the book, showing this phenomena which is rather difficult to photograph, but I hope that you get the idea; same eyes, head facing in different ways. There is another similar featuring a woman, which shows the same “two faced” images.

This, of course got me back on to my favourite niggle of the moment, the way that our two faced politicians manipulate the truth. I was also spurred on to this subject by reading Robert Graves’ “I Claudius” again, after a gap of many years. This follows on from reading Sassoon’s wartime diaries, where he described his friendship with Graves. (Sassoon later accused Graves of lying too, writing in the margins of his own personal copy of Graves’ “Good-bye To All That”, that it was “rot”, “fiction”, faked”, “skite”.)

 

The character of Claudius (in “I Claudius”) writes about Sejanus that “he was so fine a general of lies that he knew how to marshal them into an alert and disciplined formation which would come off best in any skirmish with suspicions or any general engagement with truth”. He knew that organising your lies is important, if you wish to maintain your fake news and have it widely believed. Nathaniel Wanley in his “Wonders of the Little World”, (London 1678)  has a lovely take on the subject at the start of Chapter XV “Of The Voice, and manner of Speech in several persons”. He writes: “Some are of the opinion, that Nature hath shut up the Tongue with a double Port-cullis of Lips and Teeth on purpose, that man by their manner of contexture, might have a constant and silent kind of admonition, that he should not be over hasty to speak. It being too easie to pull great mischiefs upon our selves, by an unwary indulgence to this little member”.

He is really emphasising that one should “guard one’s tongue” and resist speaking too quickly and foolishly, but the same might be said of the teeth and lips guarding against lying.

He goes on rather gloriously to describe a man who “had so long and flexible a Tongue, that as oft as he pleased, and with great falicity (sic “facility”) could lick his Nostrils with it as an Oxe doth.” As oft as he pleased mark you…

 

An article in the Independent some time ago had the following on the Prime Minister “In 1988 the young Johnson was sacked from The Times for fabricating a quote in an article, and in 2004 he was “relieved of his duties” as shadow arts minister of the Tory Party for allegedly lying about an extra-marital affair”. 

Brexit is firmly back in the news. In the Leave campaign, Johnson had adverts on his campaign buses that promised £350m extra a week for the NHS. This was challenged at the time, and of course we now know this to be humbug, a lie. He also wrote in The Daily Telegraph, "I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be.” There is more. When he was Mayor of London the now Prime Minister promised to end all rough sleeping by 2012, but in fact it doubled under his tenure. Back in 2008 he promised to maintain ticket offices at stations, but then closed them all, at the same time ignoring his promise to lower fares and raising them by 4.2 %. The same article in the Independent states: “During his time as Brussels correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, a former colleague recalled that “Johnson’s half-truths created a new reality… correspondents witnessed Johnson shaping the narrative that morphed into our present-day populist Euroscepticism.” Keir Starmer’s recent speech to the virtual Labour Party conference put this succinctly: “While Boris Johnson was writing flippant columns about bendy bananas, I was defending victims and prosecuting terrorists. While he was being sacked by a newspaper for making up quotes, I was fighting for justice and the rule of law.” 

 

If this sounds like playing party politics then I apologise - but we are being asked to believe what we are told, and personally I can’t help but compare the characters of those doing the telling. 

I don’t like being lied to. It tells me that the liar cares very little about me and mine, and that I don’t matter, I am insignificant, irrelevant. I was brought up to believe that we are all equal in the sight of God, and whilst I am now atheist, the core idea stuck. There are lies - like telling your children that “when the ice cream van plays that tune it means that it is out of lollies”. There are damned lies, like the “world beating” Covid testing shambles and “Moonshot” fantasy, and there are Statistics. We are all watching the climbing figures of infection, hospitalisation and resulting deaths and asking ourselves “how did we get here again?”

27/09/2020

Burlingham blog

Mary Fisher, Norfolk UK

Our local church, Burlingham St Edmund, held its first service since lockdown on Sunday. A harvest festival. It took place outside the church on a glorious autumn afternoon. Dappled sun shining through the trees. A makeshift altar set up on hay bales. I confess that my connection to religion is sporadic to say the least. Suffice to say this was the first harvest festival I’ve attended since I was at school. It was simply heart warming to see my neighbours. No singing was allowed in accordance with government rules. Instead we listened to choirs. Happily, they sang hymns I could remember from my childhood. ‘We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the ground’. I found myself distracted by a large rabbit in the field behind the vicar, munching his way through some vegetation; by the birds singing in the trees above our heads; by the way the sunlight flickered and moved across the grass. Parts of the church have been historically assessed to date back to Norman times, 1066-1075. Although I have no evidence, I’d wager that this was the first service that was held outside the church. Yet the joy came because it did not take place inside. I probably entirely missed the point but, for a whole hour, it felt as if we were living inside a Constable painting.

 

I enjoy trying new things. This week’s “something new” diversion was an online presentation on Dark Skies by Bob Mizon, from the British Astrological Association. Fortunate to live in an area with very little light pollution, I was interested to learn that the lack of contrails during lockdown, or more to the point their water vapour, enabled more people to see the night skies. We also learn that there are no laws on light pollution in the UK, unlike, for example, France. 

 

Workmen are in the house. Plumber and window repair man. The noise is incredible; I can hardly hear myself think. But things are getting mended. All the outside doors are open and some windows. Robin takes that as an invitation to come inside. It flies from room to room, leaving little gifts everywhere. And then, as the workmen left, I discover that the vine-house roof is falling down. Hey ho!

 

Making decisions is part and parcel of life. I am juggling with one at the moment. To move or not to move (apologies to W. Shakespeare). Just because it’s happening against the background of the pandemic, that shouldn’t sway my views. But somehow it does. I had decided to sell the house in January. I’d even started to do some remedial decorating. Then came lockdown and I fell in love with my house all over again, especially the garden, the lanes outside, the beautiful countryside. But bits of the house keep falling to pieces, which is wearing and expensive; public transport, local services and shops are a car ride away; what was a rural idyll for two is actually quite isolating for one. My son wants me to move closer to him. Heavens, I’m only 67, not 97! And so I go round in circles. It’s a nice mid-eighteenth century cottage, in close proximity to Margaret and Peter… open to offers! Or possibly not.  

 

Why am I reminded of W B Yeats’ The Second Coming as I listen to scientific experts and politicians on Monday and Tuesday? 

 

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

 

We are apparently facing down the barrel of a second wave of coronavirus. Government has invoked some additional restrictions, implying that, if the numbers don’t go down, we may have to go into a second lockdown. I find myself unduly mulling over what happens to the virus after 10 p.m. each day, the time that pubs and restaurants will now have to shut. Is there something about the virus that we should be told about? Is the virus less lethal before 10 p.m.? If a restaurant changes it opening hours from 7 - 11 to 6 -10, does the virus not affect the customers? Oh go and find something to do Mary…

 

Wishing everyone well.  

With special thanks to Barbara for such kind words last week.

27/09/2020

From Rural New York

Sandy Connors, USA

Evenings spent out in the kitchen garden at the beginning of autumn are especially savored knowing that in a month or so it will be very cold out there, the leaves will have fallen and I most likely will prefer the comfort of the wood stove or fireplace. Oh, how lovely that view is to me ~ a tulip tree on my neighbors property, a maple in the one next to that which is just beginning to change colors, my own stately hemlock, which I cherish, towers over my barn and then the walnut tree ~ all still dressed in their leaves which make for a cocoon like embrace as I sit on the chaise with a drink before making supper ~ usually with one or the other dogs vying for a place on my lap, all very sweet at the end of a usually quiet day spent well but not very eventfully... a walk through the hamlet with the littlest dog who is turning one year old tomorrow, the 25th of September, as the other, a 95 pound Labrador, Plum, is too strong for me to handle.  

 

Still working on painting the engravings in the library while listening to our local classical radio station which is fortunately quite wonderful. This week I think I only went out once for groceries, a simple quiet life indeed. One of my brothers called this evening from Long Island saying they were missing me as they are celebrating our youngest brother’s 60th birthday, which was on the 2nd. I had already sent a gift by mail and knew I wouldn’t be expected to drive down to be with them but I did feel a bit sad that I couldn’t be with them.  

 

PS: I have been enjoying John Mole’s instagram posts of him playing his clarinet ~ just lovely!

27/09/2020

Restrictions for many

Hilde Schöning, Buchholz, Germany

I am very sorry to hear about the news from Britain, the rise in infections is lower here but they are on the rise and it might just be a matter of time until there is an exponential growth again. A student marched into school last week announcing her positive corona test in front of the teacher's room. Her class is now in quarantine and it looks as though she will remain the only person affected. But you wonder about the degree of irresponsibility in the first place concerning that young lady.

 

We have to use two rooms for one class now or leave half of the class at home joining the lessons via Microsoft Teams, it works but unfortunately not very well. The weather is still mild enough to permanently air the rooms but that will soon be over.

27/09/2020

Walking in L.A.

Antoinette Samardzic, Los Angeles USA

Blue skies, smilin' at me

Nothin' but blue skies do I see

That is until I walk to the top of Kenneth Hahn Park and look towards downtown, which is shrouded in smog. Still, it is a great improvement from a week ago. Los Angeles almost lost the 116-year-old Observatory  atop Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains during the recent fires; apparently it was touch and go. When I visit my dermatologist today she tells me that she was camping with her family in the Sequoias when they noticed that the sky was black and that ash was falling all around. In no time at all they had packed up and raced down the mountain to safety.

 

Three days ago we were woken up by shaking and rumbling around 4 in the morning. Oh, an earthquake. Great. It stopped and my husband and I went back to sleep. Apparently, it was a 4.5 so no big deal. Astrologically, we have been warned that September and October could bring more disasters so one wonders what will be next.

 

On the other hand, my sister and I had the small luxury of having a pedicure for the first time in at least six months. When we called our nail salon for an appointment the owner gave us one but told us to come in the back. Nail salons, hairdressers and barbers are only allowed to have customers outside so we had to sneak in. There were only two women working and there was just one other customer so it was fine. In the great scheme of things, having a pedicure may sound self-indulgent and petty but a little pampering goes a long way nowadays.

 

Another positive happening: the farmers markets recently opened again so today I enjoyed going to my local one and buying grapes, huge creamy Reed avocados, and sweet pineapple tomatoes, as well as a baguette and croissants from a French bakery stall. The only requirements were wearing a mask and washing your hands before entering.

 

More and more restaurants are surviving by turning sidewalks, parking lanes and parking lots into outside dining areas but I heard on the radio that this can inadvertently create problems for people in wheelchairs, an often overlooked category of the population. Again, I am reminded to count my blessings.

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