It’s a beautiful sunny but chilly November day here—a big 43°F. My body hasn’t acclimated yet, so I’m reluctant to go outside and be cold. I reached the age sometime in the last year or two where I don’t want to be cold. I’ve always loved winter and snow and ice on the trees, but these days the thought of layering up and going out into frigid temperatures just doesn’t appeal to me. Hopefully after my body chills down from summer heat, I’ll be less resistant to it.
One of the good things about being vaccinated is having the freedom to go grocery shopping at the store. But getting used to ordering online and having them delivered makes going to the store seem like an effort. Many things that were done for us during the lockdown now feel like an effort. But I’m committed to not ordering deliveries when we can buy it on foot, so to speak. My little part in saving the environment.
I just got charged a bunch of money to keep my domain name here, so I’d better start writing again!
The pandemic continues. James got his booster shot and I’m eligible for one—I haven’t made an appointment to get it yet. Mix-and-match has been approved, so I’ll get the Moderna booster even though I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before. Doc’s orders.
As soon as the Canadian border opened, we booked a 2-week trip to Montreal. Sort of a substitute 25th anniversary celebration for the trip we’d planned to Nova Scotia before the shutdown.
I sit at a wobbly picnic table in our friends’ backyard, squirrels chattering at me, huge butternuts falling around me, and kids playing in a backyard somewhere near. My friends and James are having a meeting of the spirituality committee for L’Arche Ottawa, discussing how to move into the future in a way that serves everyone’s spiritual needs best. With a community made up of core members who are differently abled in different ways, and assistants who help them navigate their days together, plus community leaders and volunteers, it’s a challenge to create an inclusive space for spiritual nourishment.
The fact that we’re in Canada is a milestone in the pandemic. Canada opened its borders to the U.S. at the end of August. We had to take COVID tests 72 hours before crossing. We got there 74 hours after our tests, so we had to take another one right there before they’d let us through. It was negative, so they let us through. (The U.S. hasn’t opened its borders to Canadians yet, for some weird who-knows-why reason. They just announced they’ll open it in November.)
We’ve been in Montreal for a week, and here in Ottawa for one overnight. (Although if this meeting goes on much longer, we’ll need to stay another night!) It’s been kind of like rising from the dead being able to walk around and sit in parks with people and go to jazz shows at our favorite club, Diese Onze. It will be very hard to go back to our daily sameness. We always say we’re going to keep walking every day and go to the great places we have in the Berkshires, etc. But when we get home and I go back to my split-shift that turns 5 hours of actual work into a 10-hour day, we quickly lose the vitality to carry it out. And we always say, This time we’ll really do it. Maybe this time we really will.
And it’s still a pandemic diary. I got so tired of writing about it that I took a couple months off. And just when you think it’s over, it comes back in new clothes. The Delta variant is proving a slippery monster. The CDC is now urging we get a “booster” shot to reduce the chances of another surge. Other experts say we shouldn’t do that because it could create vaccine-resistant variants.
And so many people in the world haven’t even gotten one shot yet, so can we justify giving ourselves a third? I guess if it really will help knock this damn thing out, then if we have the vaccines available here, which we do, we should use them. The U.S. is now donating millions of vaccines to countries in need, so there’s that.
There are still Americans who refuse to be vaccinated, mostly in the hard-right Trumpist areas. Those places are now facing hospitals at capacity and people dying like they did in the early days of the pandemic. It’s impossible for me to look upon the “anti-vaxxers” (and “anti-maskers”, because they’re both) with compassion—I tried to imagine sitting in a circle and praying with them, but I couldn’t even picture doing it. They are sentencing others, if not themselves, to death because they believe wearing a mask and getting vaccinated is somehow an abrogation of their rights. And their personal “freedom” is more important than other people’s lives. I can’t pray for them. God will have to take care of that for me.
Canada finally opened their border with the U.S. this month, so we made immediate plans to go to Montreal for the (postponed) jazz festival in September. As of today, we can still go. Hopefully that won’t change in the next 3 weeks.
We walked into the grocery store without masks. We went to the library and browsed to our hearts’ content without masks. In Massachusetts, enough people are now vaccinated to allow most of us to be freer now in our movements. Last weekend we even went to a restaurant and sat inside with friends and ate, without masks.
Other parts of the world are still dealing with raging infections and deaths. My mind, soul, and heart don’t know where to stand, where to go, what to feel, living on a teeter-totter. So I enjoy my new freedom, and I weep for those who don’t have it yet.
And I wait to see what comes next.
Today I decided to treat myself like I would tell anyone else to treat themselves. I paid $100 for a set of Photoshop filters. I’ve used the free version for a few years now, but as always happens in the Capitalist world, the company finally killed off the free one and only offers an expensive paid version. Without the filters, I found that I never wanted to spend time on my photography anymore because the artistic rendering was too limited. I feel bad about the money spent, but it’s exciting to work on images again.