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Do You Still Wear A Mask?

On the first day that the mask mandate was lifted here in B.C., I had an appointment at the optometrist in the mall. I was curious to see how many people would be without masks.

I was asked to wear a mask for my appointment, so it was hanging beneath my chin as I walked toward the mall entrance. Approaching the door, I placed it securely over my face, out of habit, or maybe just because I wasn’t ready to be without one yet.

How many people would show their faces?

When I opened the door, I was immediately surprised to see three ladies about my age, without masks. They were giving the thumbs up to each other. I assumed it was because they were happy to be mask-less, but I don’t know for sure.

I had half expected all of the mask-less minions to be young and male. Maybe that came from watching and reading too many stories lately about the so-called Freedom Convoy.

My guess was that about 90% of the people in the mall that day had masks on. They were all ages, although the majority were middle-aged and older.

Since then I think that number has gone down to maybe 50-60% or less.

The truth is that, for many of us, it feels strange not wearing a mask. Two years of heightened awareness, of strict protocols and news about upticks in COVID cases, deaths, and virulent variants, have made us extremely cautious. So not wearing one just feels wrong, somehow.

It took awhile to get used to donning masks in the first place, but in the beginning we used our creativity and embraced the notion of mask wearing in public. Well, some of us did. But it was a novelty, and as usual, the novelty wore off and the reality sunk in.

They were sometimes a pain to get on or off, especially with glasses or hats or hearing aids. They made it difficult to converse with people or to understand instructions. They made your glasses fog up. Sometimes it was just that much more difficult to breathe.

You’d think we’d all be happy to be rid of them.

I have a collection of masks from many different sources over the past two years. I have Christmas masks, funny masks, N95 and KN95 masks. I have mask extenders, ties and clips. I always have one in my purse, in my car, and in my coat pocket. Just like Kleenex.

But like many people, I’m not quite ready to be without them yet. “We need to support that. We need to recognize that we all have our own risks and our own vulnerabilities,” Bonnie Henry said at the news conference announcing the end of mandate.

I would add “anxieties”.

At this point, I find myself staring at people indoors without masks. Maybe I’m just not used to seeing naked faces. I have to keep reminding myself that masks are no longer required, at least for now, and people should do what they’re comfortable doing.

As long as the mask-less offer me the same respect.

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How’d You Sleep?

So how did you sleep last night? Wouldn’t you know, I lost sleep thinking about this post, and how to write it.

Apparently, it’s common for Boomers to ask each other how well they slept. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, but I would imagine many of us are struggling to get a good night’s sleep these days.

Sleep is everything, isn’t it? After a great sleep, you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way. It’s so much easier to deal with everything physical, emotional, and mental when your body is well rested.

A bad sleep ruins it all. All of it.

What’s worse is when you’re exhausted and you STILL can’t sleep. It just doesn’t make sense! But sometimes it’s a sign that your circadian rhythm is off. You know, your body clock. People who do shift work can often have issues with their circadian rhythm because we’re hard wired to be up and around during the day, and asleep at night.

But the inability to sleep can be caused by many things. Stress and anxiety are top of the list. I’d venture to guess a lot of us are dealing with that right now.

Bad habits before bedtime don’t help.

Reading your Twitter feed before bed can be a sleep disturber. Actually, reading Twitter ANYTIME can be disturbing. But it’s about that light from your device, or so they say.

I like reading my e-book at night just before bed. Yes, it’s a murder mystery, so what?

Just as there are many causes for lack of sleep, there are dozens of “cures” for it. Pills and home remedies, different routines, audio recordings and even YouTube videos, are just some of the options out there.

Since I’ve heard too many horror stories about sleep medications, I won’t even try that.

A hot bath helps. I’ve tried different teas, especially ginger tea. As long as it’s not caffeinated, tea is comforting and cozy just before bed.

People I know swear that listening to soothing sounds or even white noise, helps them to sleep.

Getting enough physical activity during the day helps. I walk most days, and often twice in a day. When I walk I try not to think about anything. I just try to listen to the sounds around me, the birds, the conversations, my footsteps.

It doesn’t always work, but when I succeed, it puts me in a much better state of mind.

There are a gazillion websites out there with tips for getting a better sleep.

Something that helps me a lot lately when I roll over to sleep, is a little story I tell myself. You might call it a bedtime story. I close my eyes and start repeating it, same story every night.

It’s just something I made up. I repeat the details to myself as if I were telling it to someone else. Sometimes I have to start over again a few times, but I always tell it the same way.

Eventually, I drift off. Who’d a thought a bedtime story would actually work?? At my age??

Then there are those nights when you get to sleep okay, but you wake up at 2 or 3am. It might be a dream that jolts you awake, or a sudden snort from your partner.

If you’re lucky, you roll over and sleep finds you again. But sometimes you’re not.

If I get on that crazy train of thought, I’m in trouble. You know the one I’m talking about. You think one thing and that leads to another, and another, and another.

The next thing you know, you’re imagining every possible disaster that could ever happen. World War Three, the Big Shake, the Apocalypse. Heat domes, heart attacks, what’s that damn noise in my car?

On and on and….ahhhhh!

Sorry. Please don’t read this just before bed.

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Happy 2022?

I remember getting my first “real” job at the Vancouver Public Library just around the time of my 18th birthday. I had interviewed for a couple of positions there, and ended up working in the Sociology Department as a Library Assistant.

Once I got the job, I was invited up to the H.R. office to sign a bunch of papers. Since I was technically working for the City Of Vancouver, I was lucky to receive medical and dental benefits and also something called superannuation, which I’d never heard of before. The idea of a pension was a first for me, but something I really didn’t concern myself too much with at the tender age of 18.

I remember looking at that paper and seeing the year that I would be able to retire. It was 2022.

At the time, it felt like something out of Star Trek. The OLD Star Trek show, I mean. Any of you who watched it might remember how they often started with “Captain’s Log, Star date…”. Well Star Date 2022 seemed like a strange, futuristic time that I could not wrap my head around.

Would we all be flying around on jetpacks by then? Would we be living on Mars? And most importantly, would I be RICH?

Now suddenly here we are in the first few days of 2022. I have no idea how that happened.

So what will this new year bring us all? I almost hate to ask. Not new COVID variants, I hope.

A couple of polls I saw recently showed that most people (well, the people who responded to the polls anyway) don’t do New Year’s resolutions anymore. I get that. If you’ve ever made one, you know that it’s hard to keep resolutions, even at the best of times. Never mind the worst of times.

I tried to make the same New Year’s resolution the last few years, remembering to be grateful for what I have. An Attitude of Gratitude, I called it. But it’s been difficult to stay positive about anything lately, so I’ve decided to join the rest and ditch the resolution. EVERYTHING is TOO HARD.

With Omicron raging on and getting worse, it’s really difficult to feel positive or hopeful about anything. I’ve now had two friends and several family members (none of which I’ve had any close contact with) who’ve gone through this wretched virus. They are all okay. But the experts are now telling us that we’ll all get COVID eventually??

Well, I don’t want it!

I think I might consider holding off on any new year celebrations until Chinese New Year comes around. This year it’s on February 1st. Maybe Omicron will have peaked by then.

According to the Chinese calendar, this year will be the year of the Tiger. That sounds good to me. I’m not a Tiger, I’m a Rooster.

One of my family members keeps telling me that, technically, I’m a chicken. Roosters are male, he says. But I don’t like what being a chicken implies, so I’m sticking with Rooster.

In my excitement, I’ve been Googling “Year of the Tiger” to see what we might expect. One website says “it won’t be a dull year.” Okay, what does that mean?

Another one says “The year of the Tiger 2022 is under the influence of the water element, which means that it will be a year in which we must make all kinds of changes in our lives.” Oh, oh. Another says “Tiger years such as 2022 are all about going big or going home.”

Yeah, I’m not sure I’m liking this yet.

Ah, but here’s one. According to this website, “In the Year of the Tiger, Rooster people¬†are destined to enjoy a smooth life and¬†good luck in making money in 2022.”

You see? I WILL be rich!

So to all of you, whenever you celebrate it, Happy 2022!

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A Pet Is For Life – Theirs

Moe was a funny cat. Our family always joked that she wasn’t very good at “catting”. She never caught much of anything that she chased because she was pretty slow. Thankfully.

She couldn’t jump very high, and when she did jump, she sort of landed with a look of surprise that she’d actually made it.

Oddly enough, Moe got her name because we thought “she” was a “he”.

She was left with her littermates in a cardboard box by a bus stop in Vancouver BC. Fortunately, someone noticed the box move and looked inside. Seeing a squirmy batch of tiny Calico kittens, he took the box home and contacted a rescue society.

They had been taken from their mother far too soon so they weren’t properly weaned, and their genders weren’t known. When they were old enough, the woman who eventually fostered them here in Victoria posted some pictures in an attempt to find them homes. My daughter sent me a link, knowing that I was looking for a new cat. It had been almost a year since our last one died.

I saw Moe and fell instantly in love.

My other daughter came up with a list of names, and because we assumed the cat was male, we were thinking Larry, Curly or Moe. Moe seemed the right fit. When we found out that Moe was actually female, we decided the name still worked and kept it.

The first vet who examined Moe said she had a bit of a heart murmur, but when we brought her to our own vet a couple of months later, the murmur seemed to have disappeared.

So we started life with our sweet and silly kitten.

I had only ever had male cats in past, so I found Moe to be quite different.

She never was much for the outdoors unless it was just lounging on the deck or the driveway. She didn’t like the feel of grass on her paws, so she would kind of hop precariously over the lawn to get to the patio where we were.

She could be clumsy and goofy, but she was also extremely affectionate. Towards me, that is. Other cats, no.

We didn’t know her actual date of birth, so we made a guess and decided to celebrate it on St. Patrick’s Day each year. She lead a happy, contented and spoiled life, as cats should do.

A couple of months before her birthday this year, I found out that Moe had congestive heart failure. Maybe her heart had always had problems after all.

She was in the vet hospital overnight while they drained fluid that had built up in her chest. Then she was sent home with lots of pills and instructions. Eventually she had a scan to confirm the diagnosis, and her pills were adjusted again. And, of course, I worried about her every day.

I spoiled her even more during this time. If she wanted a treat, I gave it (don’t tell the vet). If she wanted attention at 3 o’clock in the morning, I got up and gave her lots of cuddles. Whatever Moe wanted, Moe got.

Our last cat, Picard, had lived to almost 18, and I was hoping for the same from this one. But when I finally had to say good bye to little Miss Moe a couple of weeks ago, she was only 10.

As many of you know, losing a pet is a heartbreak like no other. One of my friends said that “grief is just love with nowhere to go.” That spoke to me.

I miss her terribly, but I’m so very grateful to the people who made it possible for me to adopt Moe.

During COVID, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, pet adoptions went sky high. Our pets gave us comfort, made us smile, and showed up in our Zoom videos while we worked from home.

With Christmas coming, some people will once again be tempted to give a cute kitten or puppy to someone as a gift. But I hope they will think about it long and hard first.

These are creatures who deserve all of the love and attention we can give them for as long as they need it. We can’t just put them away like toys when we get bored, or return them like car rentals.

Sometimes they get sick or hurt, or if we’re lucky, they get old, and that’s when they need us most. If you decide to adopt a pet, as I know I will again some day, remember that it is a commitment like no other.

It’s for life.

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A Tip Of The Cap to Ferry Workers

After a lovely girl’s weekend away recently, my friends and I drove back to Victoria from Nanoose Bay, half expecting the car to be blown off the highway. But the weather bomb/wind storm that had been predicted, didn’t quite live up to what we had anticipated.

One of my friends had been texting back and forth with her husband who was in Vancouver. It turned out that in some areas on the west coast, the winds were much worse. As a result, BC Ferries cancelled most of the following day’s sailings in anticipation of an even bigger storm.

So many people were trying to catch a ferry before the cancellations came into effect, that my friend’s husband was worried about being able to get back.

It is that time of year. “Blow-vember” is here. I have lots of family on the mainland so I’ve travelled by ferry many, many times, even through the fall and winter.

On one especially blustery trip, the ferry had made it safely across the strait and was attempting to dock in Tsawwassen. I was walking on the car deck trying to keep my balance as the ferry rocked from side to side. We perilously inched towards the dock as every car on that deck started swaying. I wasn’t sure we’d make it, but thanks to some fine skills at the helm, we eventually pulled in safely. Phew.

Most people don’t realize that it’s the “docking” part that plays the biggest role in whether or not a ferry is cancelled. The boats can handle rough seas, but if they can’t dock, we’re in trouble.

I’ve been on a ferry that hit the dock pretty hard, hard enough that I’m sure it must have caused some serious damage.

Of course we’re going to whine and complain to ourselves when we’re trying to get off the island and our sailing is cancelled. It may be inconvenient to us, but these ferry people know what they’re up against. If they say so, then we’re better off staying put.

During COVID, there have been a number of incidents involving the public harassing and verbally abusing ferry workers. But it happens in non-COVID times too. It’s completely uncalled for. Having a family member who works on the ferries, I hear everything they have to put up with.

What most of us don’t realize is that these people are trained entirely to protect us, to save our lives and potentially risk their own. We owe them at least a little respect for that. Serving us White Spot burgers and cleaning the washrooms is just a side gig for them. As is announcing over the intercom when our car alarms go off. Cue the eye roll.

BC Ferries has had a lot of bad luck lately, especially on the main routes, with ferries breaking down at the worst times. Never mind Blow-vember.

I’d just like to tip my cap to all of the ferry workers who do everything they can to keep our sailings smooth.