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A Covid challenge

We all now know that Covid can do more than make you sick
It creates some other problems that you have to lick
Before they over take you with troubles unresolved
These other complications must be swiftly solved.
I’ll give you an example, hand washing 50 times a day
Creates demand for drying in a fast efficient way.
We decided that paper towels could solve the problem best
And then addressed the problem where the roll of towels should rest.
We parked them by the toilet, while we thought what we should do
They solved themselves the problem . They fell into the loo.
Supplies of paper towels now are not simply found
So we must resuscitate the roll that had been drowned.
Carefully unwrapping the wet and soggy sheets
I hung them over chairs upon the backs and on the seats.
This morning they were all dried out, and despite my many fears
None were stuck on seriously to any of the chairs.
I still don’t have a handy place for storing them, meanwhile
I’ll leave them on a chair seat in a tall untidy pile

Covid Shopping

Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, 20 centimetres of snow forecast for tonight and tomorrow.
So we went shopping at 8:15 am.
There was a socially distanced line up out side the supermarket, so I joined it so that my wife did not have to wait outside. After 20 minutes I was at the front of the queue, and she went into the store.
Knowing that there was a limit to how long my wife can tolerate shopping, I returned to the back of the lineup, so that I could relieve her after a while. This time it was 25 minutes before I got to the front of the line, washed my hands as instructed, put on my face mask,(a very pretty one made from, a pair of socks), and went in search of her.
As all the shopping aisles are one way only, it took me a while to find her, she had half the shopping done, but unfortunately a rather small cart.
I took over, and then had to wait a while for a very slow male shopper to change his mind frequently, thus delaying every one else.
I tried to be clever and bypass him, but found myself trying to go in the wrong direction down an aisle to the horror of other shoppers.
With the small cart it became rather hazardous to add extra items, but I managed to balance the eggs safely.
Finally I collected most of the items on the list and headed for the socially isolated line up for the check out.
Not wishing to repeat last week’s experience, when I had to sort out the pile of groceries myself, I succumbed to buying bags so that they would be packed for me.
All was run through and the time came to pay the computer screen said I had spent $509.15. I did not believe it and insisted on it being checked.
There was an item called groceries with a price of $300, where it should have been a pound of pears. They made the correction, and I got the pears for free.
It was 9:45 am, one and a half hours from the beginning

Under the Cushions

“Stay at home” leaves time to clean

Parts of home seen and unseen

The couch was there upon my list

Of jobs that I had long-time missed

Beneath the cushions, what surprise

Awaited there before my eyes

Pens and pencils, lady bird,

Paper, leaves and most absurd

In dust and sand were ten dried peas

Were they all carried in by fleas?

Did Tim and I eat supper there

And kiss, so we both dropped a share?

Or did the cleaners just for fun

Put them in there one by one?

The answer we may never know.

I’ll water them so they can gr

“Stay at home” leaves time to clean

Parts of home seen and unseen

The couch was there upon my list

Of jobs that I had long-time missed

Beneath the cushions, what surprise

Awaited there before my eyes

Pens and pencils, lady bird,

Paper, leaves and most absurd

In dust and sand were ten dried peas

Were they all carried in by fleas?

Did Tim and I eat supper there

And kiss, so we both dropped a share?

Or did the cleaners just for fun

Put them in there one by one?

The answer we may never know.

I’ll water them so they can grow.

Sheila- for a change!

The new shopping experience

On Friday I went shopping with my wife to buy supplies
Of food and such necessities on which one’s life relies
We used the supermarket nearest to our door
We understand the layout we’ve both been there before.
We parked the car as usual and then saw something new
The store door was not open, outside there was a queue.
The folks used social distancing carefully spread apart
And when the door was opened some movement could start
My wife does not like standing long so I went out to wait
So she could then replace me at my turn at the gate.
She then received instructions as to what she had to do
To follow all the arrows and ensuring bags were new
It was really quite confusing, going place to place
In the right direction, leaving proper space.
She was gone for 30 minutes so I then went in too
To takeover the shopping cart the least that I could do.
I finished up the shopping we’d carefully made a list.
With just some little extras, I could not resist.
The line up for the check out was clearly organised
I got there fairly quickly, pleasantly surprised.
Once the guy had scanned things he left them on the shelf
He told me that the bags I had I had to fill myself
So I just had to do it, it took a little while
To fill the bags with groceries from one unsorted pile.
And then there came the moment at which I had to pay
The bill was such that I hope now we won’t return till May

Just Zooming along

In the throes of isolation being urged to stay at home,
And limited when going out as to how far you can roam.
Shopping for necessities, you have to have supplies
And if you do it carefully, take some exercise.
So how then do we compensate for what we cannot do?
We try communication by systems, to us, new.
It started when a daughter a real computer whiz
Invited us and siblings to do a family quiz.
The inevitable consequence, a new toy in the room
We had to get instructions to log us in to Zoom.
The happy smiling faces of the young now we would see,
A contrast to my puzzled face just staring back at me
But things worked out better than they had earlier been
When they and not my own face stared back from my screen.
We all logged on, I think that’s right, its what you’re meant to say
And faced up to the challenge and entered in the fray.
She showed a set of pictures and we had to try
To see what people in them we could identify.
The answers were displayed on screen and not by voice
Selected from a set of four so you could make a choice.
The process seemed so simple, an easy way of sharing
But now all the children know the sloppy clothes I’m wearing

It’s those squirrels again

If you wonder how I know I am a householder, here’s proof
I suffer from a malady called squirrels in the roof.
My wife has told me clearly that she gets a nasty feeling
If she hears the sounds of scuttering squirrel inside her bedroom ceiling.
For once throughout the winter the little dears were quiet
But now that spring is with us, they have begun to riot.
Upstairs a few days a go I heard a noise quite blinding,
As if someone with a chainsaw through the house was grinding,
And then I recognised the sound as I stood beneath
It was simply a cacophony of chattering rodent teeth.
Our step ladder is always parked behind a bedroom door
Ready for occasions we have to use it for
By emptying the wardrobe where Sheila kept her clothes
I can get roof access organised without too many oaths.
I climb the ladder cautiously and then I use my head
To open up the trap door with just a touch of dread
I hope its just the squirrels and I’ll confirm it soon
I wouldn’t want to frighten a skunk or a raccoon.
When the trap is open. I use a torch to scan
The space above the ceiling as quickly as I can.
No critters are observable but I can see the trap
The cage that has a door that falls with a gentle snap
But nothing is inside , except a little smear
Of peanut butter Is put in sometime in last year.
Something seems to me awry, it seems I cannot tell
The peanut butter is still there it lack its normal smell
I realise the problem, I now know what’s required.
I’ll need more peanut butter the sell by dates expired.

Meanwhile there’s no problem, I know where the focus is

They`re outside in the garden, eating all the crocuses.

1925

In 1925 my mother was a student at the Godolphin and Latimer School in London, she used to “train” at the sports ground of the Battersea Polytechnic annual sports meet. Very tactlessly she won the Victor Ludorum by winning several events including the long jump as shown. This picture was published in The Times the following day, and she never lived it down.

Her victory was protested as she was not a student at the Polytechnic, but was allowed to stand as she had been permitted to enter. The costume she is wearing for the event is a little different from what you would see on a lady long jumper today. As far as I know she never kept up with athletics herself, but her husband was a long distance runner when she met him, so maybe she ran after him, but history does not tell me if that is true.

She would be very proud of the athletic achievements of her grand children.

50 years ago in Haiti

A story from my relative youth

My employer at the time, Maclaren’s, in cooperation with an American firm, had an Intra American Bank Project to build a water system for Petionville, a part of Port au Prince in Haiti. After the project was over, they needed some spare parts, which would be very complicated, if not impossible, to import legally. I had a trip to the Montego Bay project scheduled, so I was asked to go via Haiti and take the spare parts with me. For some reason I flew business class with Air Canada to Miami, and got talking to a diplomatic courier who was also going to Haiti, We travelled together on the Air France flight to Port au Prince. I had some trepidation about going through customs. When the plane landed in Port au Prince I was summoned to the exit, where a Monsieur Limousin asked for my baggage tags. He then instructed the chief customs official to find my bags and take them to his car. Rather subtle smuggling I thought, but I had not realised before that Limousin was actually the deputy chief of the Tonton Macoutes, the much feared secret police of Papa Doc Duvalier. I had been told that he would take me to my hotel, where I should invite him in for a drink. He would then have one drink and leave, refusing a second drink or dinner. Little did they know, he indeed joined me for a drink, and accepted a second and a third, He said he would not accept dinner but as I had never been to Haiti before he would pick me up after dinner. The consequence was a long night of touring the night spots in his chauffeur driven Mercedes. Anywhere we went they cleared the people from the best table, and gave it to us, with of course attendant dusky beauties. I set a record for the Company’s Haiti expense accounts, but they were delighted as they had tried to take him out before unsuccessfully. The fact I spoke French probably made the difference.

Walking around Port au Prince at night was perfectly safe for a visitor, anyone bothering us would probably be shot. On a subsequent visit I was looking for a well location outside the city on a rough trail. When I returned to the road I was stopped at a road block and taken to police station with a machine gun pointed at me, where I was locked in cell. Once I had persuaded them to make an appropriate phone call, I had Limousin’s number, I was released with many apologies. There were a lot of road blocks around the city, where there were armed guards, I accidentally drove through one one night and my passenger said keep going, they may wake up!

The best spot to me was the monastery above the city, where the monks made about 50 types of flavoured rum. Free samples were available. After all that has happened since I was there, I sometimes wonder if the beer is still made from the water in the well I picked out the site for when I was arrested.

A Tuxedo Tale

This was my first Tuxedo, inherited from my father who bought it in 1926 for an event at the sexcentenary of his college. He kindly passed in on to me in 1955. And I wore it at the same college in 1959.

In 1961 my wife and I were moved to Australia by the Government who had hired me as a geophysicist. As a professional I was booked to travel first class on the Oriana. A three week voyage with the nobs, and dressing for dinner. By this time my father’s 1926 tux was a bit mildewed. As I was now employed I purchased a new one, paying about $40 for it.

After the voyage it received little use, apart from a few formal balls and things, and some dinners and fundraisers during my years with the MPHEC.

The only other wearing of it took place at the intermittent “Gaudys” at the college that I shared with my father.. These are dinners for graduates of a group of graduates from the same period. The frequency depending on how many years they put together. The first one I went to was for a three year collection. The one that was scheduled for tonight was for a a 6 year collection, 1955 to 1961.

I still have that 1961 purchased tux, but a little maintenance was required. At the last of these events as I rose from the dining table, seams under my arms failed noisily. A little embarrassing, but not as bad as the problem another faced, when his trousers split as he stood up. Realising that my tux is approaching its 60th year I took it to Stitchit to see if they could put my sleeves back on. I was delighted that they could indeed do that, and at a reasonable cost. I also succeeded in finding a pair of black dress shoes that I could walk in. I was prepared to go to the gaudy as a figure of elegance to impress my aging costudents.

Then COVID arrived, so tonight instead of a formal dinner and reception with champagne and fine wines and spirits. I shall have a baked potato and salad.

Some days you just can’t win.

Covid Air Canada Supplement

When I published my blog this afternoon, I bewailed the fact that Air Canada’s special deal on cost free flight changes did not apply to me because I had purchased the ticket a while ago, and I had to act two weeks before the flight I wished to change. Since I wrote that I have had no less than three emails from Air Canada. The first offered me the chance to upgrade my existing reservation, an offer I declined. The second told me about a new policy that seemed to mean I could get a refund, but I could not get through to it. The third email was to tell me that the flight I was booked on had now changed its departure time, and offered me options, including cancelling the flight, When I went to that option I was offered a partial refund, or a complete credit against a future flight this year. I took that option.
It is nice to know that Air Canada reacts so positively and fast to my blogs!