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Monthly Archives: June 2020

100 days of solitude

Well, this was….unexpected?

Whatever I was forecasting for 2020, this wasn’t it.  And I know it’s the same for you.  We just could not have imagined the changes we would be put through.

It’s like watching a movie showing the “future” of the 20th century.  No one imagined cell phones, or having instant access to information anywhere, anytime through the world wide web.  Carrying cameras, movie cameras, movie studios in our pockets. Drones affordable for average folk.  No one got streaming music and movies.  Or the gig economy. Or how inexpensive and extensive foreign travel would be.  Or how we wouldn’t get flying cars.

Who, in 1970, would have imagined people would STILL be marching against systemic racism?

For myself, I’ve been knocked out of the comfortable life I’d built for myself. For two years after I retired I had been looking after our youngest grandchild (la belle princesse) every Thursday.  We would go to a playgroup and hang out at the park and I really loved it.  But she started full time daycare and just like that I was not needed.  No more getting up at 5 am and going out to the suburbs; (quiet sob) my time was my own.

But it wasn’t.  I had signed up for Tourism Vancouver city host volunteering, and so once a week I would approach touristy-looking people near the cruise ships dock, and offer directions and maps and suggestions.  I loved it!  I wore a nice uniform.  The people I helped were grateful, my fellow volunteers were all well-travelled and well-informed about the rest of the world.  I had so much fun that I was soon doing it twice a week.  But the cruise season ends at the end of September, and thus so would the volunteering until Spring.

So I signed up to do some temporary office work.  I loved that, too!  Going to different industries, using my old skills.  And if I didn’t like the situation, I’d just ask not to be assigned there anymore.  I made money, which I put away for our planned trips to foreign climes.

But now….

I am staying two meters from the grandchildren, even when I get to see them.  Or, if I’m babysitting them while their Mom is out I wear a mask — no cuddles. No volunteering this year, all the cruises have been cancelled and the border has been closed with our nearest neighbour and biggest tourism customer.  And as for temp work, the few jobs that are available are going to younger, braver workers. A trip I had planned to Great Britain with my sister has been cancelled. Our usual hostelry in Penticton will not open this year, so we’ve cancelled that trip as well.

This is not an uncomfortable life, and I realize how privileged I am that I am able to live it. But I could never have guessed things would turn in these directions.

For us, some of these changes like delivery of pet food and specialty foods will be more or less permanent for the immediate future, we’ll have to forgo our trips to Granville Island or West Broadway on transit.   What other changes?  Who knows?  Maybe voting by mail-in ballots. More and more online shopping.

I had thought we’d be getting grocery delivery until the vaccine comes out but when I asked my husband if there was anything he wanted added to the list, he looked off into the distance and said “I’d like….to go to the store.” He knows I am still very apprehensive of going into any sort of crowd, but he said he’d take it on.  The heavy stuff we can still get delivered like liquids and canned things, but for produce, meats, bakery and deli items, he’s ready to head into the fray, masked and cautious. That’s great news because it’s difficult to get exactly what we need when ordering, you can never get unusual items like bavarian meat loaf or English bangers, and there’s so much waste from what we over order.  Add in the cost of the delivery and we’re throwing money away.

What changes can we all look forward to? Fewer brick and mortar stores?  Better take out and delivery meals from restaurants? Architectural changes so every home has a space for a home office to accommodate more people working from home?  Apparently electric bikes are selling like hotcakes as we all try to get outside without crowding each other (and we live in a very hilly part of the world, with the older crowd trying to get back on the bike after abandoning it).  Will our traffic patterns change? Will offices be redesigned to avoid face to face meetings?  Will people work longer hours but shorter weeks because they don’t have to commute hours each day? What about education?  Health care? Fashion?

Who can say what things may come?



Oh Dad, Dear Dad

Of course I’ve been thinking a lot about my father lately.  It’s Father’s Day, after all, and Facebook keeps reminding me of all the times my father appeared in my Father’s Day Posts.  All the online and TV ads mention dear old Dad.  The media is all about the Dad.

But I would have been thinking about Dad without all this, because of the marches and the protests about police brutality and the knowledge that racism is part of our country and our heritage. 

My father would be 97 this July if he hadn’t passed in 2013; he grew up during the Depression, and that was a very racist time.  Black dogs were frequently named “Ni**er”.  The only screen actors of colour were forced to perform burlesques of white prejudice like Stepin FetchitAmos and Andy were white radio actors who perpetuated stereotypes of black indolence.  

But of course, there was no immigrant group or religion that could not be denigrated with a single word.  Kike. Chink. Mick. Dago. Wop. Bohunk. Frog. These were terms that were used every day by “nice people”. 

Yet somehow, Dad wasn’t racist.  He wasn’t prejudiced against “others”.  He didn’t seem to view people of other races and religions differently.  

He had a regular customer during his cab driving days in the late ‘40s who was gay.  He always asked for Dad because he knew Dad would treat him like a regular customer.  Wouldn’t beat him up or try to rob him.  Treated him like a human being which unfortunately was rare in those days.

The only time I saw my father angry at his mother (and my grandmother could be exasperating) was when she used the term “darkies” in front of me. He once caught some of us children taunting a local young lady of questionable virtue.  He told us that we must never mock people no matter who they were.  He taught me the phrase “Rather to be pitied than scorned.” Not everyone has the same choices and opportunities that we have.

I don’t know why Dad wasn’t prejudiced.  It’s not something we talked about.  I don’t know if he just mixed with a lot of people from different cultures and came to realize the value of each person.  If he did I don’t know how, pre-WW2 Vancouver wasn’t known for its cultural sensitivity and integration.  But Dad escaped that snare.  

What that meant for my sister and myself was that we never heard about “Chinese drivers” or “Jew bankers” or “Sneaky Japs”, or “Dirty Indians”; things other people said every day.  If you’d accused them of being racist they would have been aghast!  What about their (insert minority term here) friend?  Racism, like white privilege, was often invisible, only displayed behind closed doors.

Not that Dad liked everyone!  Far from it.  He once worked with a lad so incompetent that he referred to him as “Charlie Stupid.”  I don’t think I learned his real name, but it wasn’t Charlie.  All my friends liked Dad, he could stand about two of them.  As for the rest, he would just roll his eyes to the ceiling if I mentioned their names.  There are still people who tell me they felt my Dad was a good friend to them.  He tolerated them, but he was always polite to them.  

He avoided those people because they were unpleasant or humourless or hypocritical (the worst sin in Dad’s eyes).  Their nationalities or religion had nothing to do with how he felt.

So thanks, Dad!  I won’t say I’m not a racist — who among us can truly say that?  But I try to be the best person I can be.  And I think he would appreciate that.


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Artist and Desert Dweller with Big City Style.

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