Stressful Week

I’ve been going to my sister’s place daily for over a week now. I get her food ready and place it in the fridge so she just has to reheat it. I make sure her coffee mug is set on her coffee machine and whatever she needs for breakfast is ready in the fridge. She’s moving gingerly on a crutches after a bone fracture on her foot from a fall. I picked her up from the ER just over a week ago. Her leg is in a brace to keep it straight. She’ll need to wear that for a few weeks. She just barely fits in my car with her leg straight.

My brother and sister in law can’t help with the daily stuff but they have dropped off food a few times. They brought lunch last weekend and we all sat down together for the first time since the pandemic. It was a good lunch filled with stories, questions and updates going back and forth across the table. I think it lifted my sister’s spirits. As usual, my brother and I quickly got back into our roles of teasing each other.

It has been tough seeing my sister like this. Elder care is one thing but sibling care is another. She can’t leave the house unassisted because of the front steps. Showering can be hazardous. Going to the toilet is an adventure. Because we have some experience with eldercare, she has a bathtub transfer bench and a toilet seat booster to help. Since her two hands have to be on crutches, it’s difficult to get things on shelves. She found out the first day when she couldn’t reach the coffee pods. She also can’t carry things from the fridge. But she can get a bowl or plate from the fridge and put it on the seat of a walker and wheel it to the microwave and then to the dining room table. So I just make sure there’s food ready and easily accessible, do the chores and be a safety net. When I get home, I’ll cook some food for her. The good news is that she’s slowly improving. I’m fortunate that I don’t need to be at her place 24 hrs a day.

It’s made me more aware of my own mortality and the need to better take care of my health. Our joints, bones, muscles all deteriorate if we don’t exercise them. She had a follow up visit yesterday at the hospital. I was worried about parking but there were still some spots left. She had already looked at the layout of the hospital to figure out where she needed to go. The only hassle was finding a wheelchair. Pre pandemic there used to be a row of wheelchairs by the entrance. A staffer managed to find one. The rest of the visit was routine but I had forgotten how tense and alert I can be inside a hospital. It brought back a few memories of taking my dad to his oncologist.

After I took my sister home and got the chores done, I drove home. I was tired. As I entered the elevator in the parking garage, an elderly woman with a baby carriage waited with me. She was probably in her mid 60s, looking wonderful. In the carriage was a very young boy who had the cutest smile. I waved at him and he gave me a big smile. I smiled back and realized that he can’t see my smile because of my mask. I told the woman “I wish he could see that I’m smiling back.” She replied “I think he knows.” We continued this waving and smiling when we got into the elevator. When it opened at my floor I gave a final wave. That kid’s big smile helped ease some of the the tension from my system. That night I slept very well. I’m going to have to figure out how to get the kid to visit my sister.

Snippets

  1. I had a late dinner with my cousin last week. It was our first get together since the pandemic. The food was ok but it was so good to see him face to face. He started a new job a few months ago. He’s younger than me and it’s good to see him talk about networking, being more aggressive with his career and focusing more on himself. I shared some of my own career experiences and lessons that I learned along the way. What was also good is that for most of the past year, I’ve always been the one reaching out to him. I don’t really mind but I started to wonder why I had to be the one. But then the last couple of times, he texted me first

2. Our city’s vaccination rate is good but needs to be a lot higher in my opinion. 73.9% are partially vaccinated and 68.4% are fully vaccinated (source: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/covid-19-pandemic-data/covid-19-vaccine-data/ – as of Sept. 2nd). This is similar to the national numbers with 73.14% partially vaccinated and 66.81% fully vaccinated (source: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/vaccination-coverage/ data up to August 28th). I have to give our city credit for trying to push the rates up. They’re targeting neighbourhoods with low vaccination rates and setting up mobile clinics, including some at subway stations in places with low rates of vaccination. I do recognized that we’re in a lot better shape than many countries.

3. What has angered and disappointed me lately are the antivaxers who are loudly protesting masking rules and the push for vaccinations. We had protests on the streets right outside our hospitals. Good lord… how stupid can people get? Patients coming in for treatment like chemo had to walk through the unmasked crowd.

If someone could get me a dart gun and set them up with the Covid vaccines, I would volunteer to go out to these anti vaccination protests and bump up our vaccination rates.

4. I had to turn down an invite to meet up with some of the extended family. I was told someone attending (dinner indoors at a house) wasn’t vaccinated. She’s one of the sweetest person I know. She cares deeply for her family. Yet, for some reason, she chose not to get vaccinated. I worry for her and hope she’ll figure this out and get vaccinated.

5. The last couple of days have been challenging. I feel my mood and outlook changing. I might write more about this. Things happen in life that force you to look at your mortality.

It’s a Cruel World

I had dinner at J’s place the other day. His siblings, nephews and nieces were there too. It was my first time having dinner at their place since the pandemic. All of them have been vaccinated so I felt safe. The youngest nephew had a growth spurt and I didn’t recognize him when he walked in. They have all grown up so fast. It didn’t seem that long ago when the little ones would “hide” under the blankets. I would sit on the blanket and complain how “lumpy” it was.

It still felt a bit strange to get together with people. The week before J found a dimsum place across town that had a large outdoor patio. The dimsum was very good and I would return. We also had Vietnamese food at another restaurant patio last week. It was just a few tables on a small parking lot. I still don’t feel comfortable eating indoors. I remind myself that even though I’m vaccinated, it is still possible to get the virus.

On a more serious note, the news from Afghanistan has been depressing. I get so angry at how badly things have become. In social media, everyone has become an expert on Afghanistan with fingers pointing everywhere. I’ll leave it to the historians to figure out what went wrong. There’s also the earthquake in Haiti, the ongoing crisis in Lebanon, Syria, Hong Kong, the fires in US, Canada and Europe, hatecrimes, anti vaxxers… it’s gotten to me mentally and a lot of the news and images can just set me off.

I’m so grateful for being where I am. I can simply turn the news off. I’m going to try and find some ways to help. How are you coping with all that is going on?

Morning Coffee Thoughts

I walked to a nearby coffee shop this morning. I grabbed my coffee and headed to a small park nearby. The sun had already shedded its gentle glow and was flexing its muscles. But this time, I had to foresight to put on sunscreen and a hat.

There was a bench in a partially shaded area. There were a few people walking their dogs. One person doing some yoga type stretching. An old man with a baseball cap and aviator style sunglasses sat at another bench. Perhaps he was resting or just enjoying the sun’s mighty rays. A piegeon waited by his foot. I chuckled. As a people watcher, I can attest that piegeons always gather around old people at park benches. Then I noticed there was a piegeon just off to my right, nodding in agreement. Sigh.

Here are some photos.

Streetcar on a bridge. I like the glossy paint on the railing of this bridge and the rivets too. I just need to fine tune the shutter speed and ISO.

photo at dusk, streetcar heading from left to right.  The lights from the streetcar and street ligths are reflected on the broad, glossy black paint of the railing of the bridge.

2) It’s a bit grainy and not that sharp. But I do like the dark blue sky and the train. I hand held this while resting my hand on the railing of the bridge.

Shot of the CN Tower taken at dusk with a dark blue sky prominently in the background.  The shot was taken from a bridge over rail tracks. A commuter train is traveling from the center to the bottom left of the photo. There's just enough light to see the faded green and white colours of the train.  The headlights of the train illuminates a small section of the rails in front of the train.

Entrance to a library (Lillian H. Smith branch) with a winged lion and a griffin guarding it.

A winged lion and a griffin guard an archway entrance to the Lillian H Smith branch library.  The background are bricks in a faded yellow colour that is gently side lit from the rays of the setting sun. The two statues are bronze and is almost glowing from the sidelit rays.

Old duplex in black and white. This picture looks better in black and white than in colour. I don’t know how to edit out the wire and the building in the back.

black and white shot of a old victorian style 2 storey duplex.

Stay safe everyone.

An Old Friend

My mechanic is a relatively young guy but he’s got a lot of maturity and wisdom. In addition to keeping track of what my car needs, he also tells me what it doesn’t need so I don’t overspend. He also does something interesting. He writes down what he did to the car somewhere in the engine compartment. For example – he’ll jot down the date and mileage when the timing belt was changed on the engine block. Somewhere near the radiator – he wrote down when the fan belt was changed. He said an older mechanic taught this tip to him. It saves him some time from going back to the computer to look up the car’s history. A few months ago, he gave me a heads up to bring my car in around this time for some work There were also a couple of other things like an alignment that needed to be done too. It was huge bill… over $800. But it had to be done.

I chatted with him a bit as I was paying. I told him maybe it’s time to get something newer. He chuckled and warned me that I’ll feel very sad when I sell my car. I told him the last time I sold my car, I gave it a good wash and said thank you to it for all the years of service. My mechanic said when he sold his car to a friend, he kept an eye on it for eight years until his friend sold it.

The car felt nice again when I drove out of the garage. The mysterious clicking noise has gone away. The slight pull to the left was fixed. It’ll needs a good wash though. I took it out on the highway on the way home at a pretty good clip and it responded nicely. It even managed a quick right lane change on a ramp that was curving left. I had to dart to the right to avoid a van that suddenly slowed to a crawl. Once I made the lane change, I quickly adjusted the car to match the curve of the ramp. The car stayed true and flat. I could feel it confidently handling it. Once I merged back on the highway, I passed a few more cars before settling in the the right lane for a relaxing ride home.

Ok – is it weird to gush over my car like it was an old friend?

Need a Tech Wiz

Today was a wasted day because of my anti virus software. Just before I shutdown my laptop last night, something prompted me to check my antivirus software. I double clicked on the icon and a “pending” message popped up. I waited and waited and forced it to quit. I rebooted my laptop and restarted the application. It was the same error message. I signed on to the portal and my subscription had somehow disappeared. I did a quick search and found out most people had to reinstall the program. Ugh.

The software is part of J’s antivirus which allows him to install it on up to 10 devices. In the morning, he emailed the link to me to reinstall it. After I did that, it still had the same message. There was a prompt for the product key. I typed that in. But then it responded that the product doesn’t belong to the me. In the end, it took me several hours before I was able to reinstall the product. Once I got it installed, it took another hour or so because it kept getting stuck in the installation process.

It was so frustrating and time consuming that I didn’t want to do anything afterwards. Later in the afternoon, I was checking my phone for mail and noticed that it’s Tuesday. I text J “Today is Tuesday? What happened to Monday? Did we skip it?” I’m sure he rolled his eyes. I texted again “I was at your place yesterday to pick up the mochi balls.” He replied “That was Sunday. Yesterday was Monday. Today is Tuesday and you’re getting senile.”

Well, at least my antivirus is working although my brain isn’t. I think I need to reinstall it.

Sad Dogs

I was out tonight for an evening walk with my camera. There was a man with two chunky dogs (pitbulls?) at the stoplight. He had a beer can in one hand and held the leashes on the other. Those dogs weren’t big but they look solid. When the light turned green, they walked ahead of me while I took my time. I was looking around for interesting things to photograph. Pretty soon, I lost sight of them.

My eyes were going back and forth trying to make the evening walk worthwhile. Then I saw one of the dogs just standing on the sidewalk, the leash lying beside it. I thought the man and the other dog was nearby but I didn’t see them. I looked further down and they were about a block ahead and walking fast. I guess the leash slipped out of the man’s hand and the dog didn’t know what to do. It just stood there. I didn’t want to touch the leash because I didn’t know how the dog would react. I patted my thigh to get his attention. I said “Come on, come here.” It took a few seconds but he finally moved towards me. The man was still within eyesight but still a fair bit away. The dog would pause but I just kept calling him. Then it stopped to smell a trashcan. There was a woman cleaning up nearby. I was worried that she would be spooked if the dog started to sniff her ankles. I called for the dog again with more urgency and it started to walk towards me.

I looked for the man and he was still a good block and a half away. I figured sooner or later, he’ll notice his missing dog and will walk back. Less than a minute later, that’s what happened. I heard this loud yelling. Some heads turned. I looked up and the man was walking back. When he was within earshot, I gave a loud “hey” and waved my hands. He came running back. The dog waited for him. When he came up he thanked me. I told him that I saw the dog standing there a bit confused. Then he grabbed the leash and yank it up so hard that the dog’s front paws were lifted well off the ground. I told him “Relax, your dog was just a bit scared.” He did it again and yanked the leash off the dog’s neck. When he bent down to put it back on the dog, the dog just immediately laid flat on the ground. The man yelled at the dog. “You a**hole… such a trouble maker.” They walked off ahead of me.

I thought this there was going to be a happy ending. But the world is not full of good people. As I’m writing this, I remembered the dog not even barking or looking excited when the owner came back. Eventually I saw them again. The man was heading into a 7/11 and tied the dogs to a pole. I felt badly for them. Why would anyone want to own pets and then treat them so poorly? I hope one day, this guy will be reincarnated as a dog and get a taste of his own medicine.

Four Drops

I was past the halfway point of my evening walk when I heard someone calling. “Excuse me, excuse me.” It was a man, probably in his 60s sitting in a faded, black office chair. He was situated near a corner of a community centre where an overhang provided some shelter. There’s usually a few people that sleep in that area although they clear out by the morning. I looked over certain he was just asking for money.

“Can you help? I need some help to put these eye drops in my eye.”

In his hand, he had four small vials of eyedrops. I nodded and told him I need to put on my glasses. I took a quick look at the first one but didn’t recognize the medicine. I just saw that the expiry date was sometime in 2022. I asked if the order mattered, he said no…. “just one drop each in my left eye.”

After the first one, I screwed the lid back on and gave it to him. I told him to hold it so we don’t mix them up. The second one had a milky colour. Some of it got on the bottom of his eyelid. I told him I would put another drop. In between drops, he told me no one wants to stop and help. He had surgery recently and needed the eye drops. His eye ball did look a bit large or maybe his eyelids were able to retract a bit further than normal. After I finished, he thanked me and I walked home.

It’s a small gesture but I know it’s not enough.

Morning Coffee

I woke up a bit late the other morning. After washing up, I went to the storage rack to get the coffee maker. When I placed it down on the island, my inner voice told me something wasn’t right. That’s odd, my inner voice never says anything this early in the morning. I paused and checked what was wrong. I looked at the coffee machine except it was the toaster oven. How the heck did that happen? I placed the toaster oven back and this time I made sure I took my coffee maker out.

Once I got the poured the water and got the filter in place, I was about to spoon some coffee into the filter. Again my inner voice said something wasn’t right. Now what? I checked the water, the filter was in place… then it dawned on me. I was about to put some instant coffee into the coffee filter. Oh ok. I got the right coffee this time and made an extra strong pot.

While it’s a bit funny, I was actually worried because this never happened to me before. I just hope my brain is still ok. I mean I can be forgetful. J once told me if my d*** wasn’t attached to me I would leave it all over the place. I would walk around looking for it as I do when I lose my glasses or the case.

Just Thinking Out Loud

So what shall I write about? The blank screen can be intimidating. It’s almost bedtime but I just poured myself a gin and tonic. For those gin afficionados out there, I’m trying a new one – Dillon’s Unfiltered Gin 22. It’s a generous pour on a large beer glass. I’ve got my headphones on and the music sounds so good to my battered ear drums.

Sometimes I do my walks at night. If the main streets are busy, I just move over to the side streets. I’ve seen some incredible looking interiors during my walks. The interiors look immaculate, modern and clean. Some houses have incredible lights that must have cost hundreds of dollars. One house I passed had a large, black sculpture of a horse. I get a bit of envy when I see these magazine caliber houses. My futon couch creaks and complains when I sit down. If my futon had a translator, it would say I could lose 10 kg.

When I moved into my neighbourhood, it was pretty dingy. There were hookers on the streets. Now I see exotic spots cars such as Lamborghinis, Corvettes, Ferraris and of course Porsches. There are quite a few Porches and Audis in my condo’s underground parking. One of the Porche is always spotless, even in winter. The owner had it detailed and applied a ceramic coating too. The company that did it sends a guy over to do touch ups. How do I know? Because I mistakenly complimented the detailer on his car. He chuckled and told me he’s just there to clean it and gave me a bit of the background. But I think my favourite car in my condo is a old Mazda Miata. It belongs to this woman in her 60s. I think she’s a retired artist. We sometimes bump into each other in the elevator. She has a very soft demeanor and looks like a librarian. Then one day I saw her in the Mazda Miata pulling out of the condo.

Whatever my next car is, I know it won’t be anything fancy. But there’s a part of me that wants to renovate my condo. I want it to be as nice as those homes I walk by at night. Everything needs to be updated but right now I have no plans of selling it. I like where I am so maybe I’ll just hold off for a bit longer. If any of my readers have a ton of money and don’t know what to do with it, please consider spending it on my condo. I’ll put a small, discreet plaque in my unit with your name on it. I’m open to mulitple sponsors. Hardwood floors, bathroom, kitchen, TV, furniture… each of you can have a small plaque. But not my bed because that would be just weird.

My gin and tonic is now empty. My playlist has run out. There’s someone on the sidewalk singing badly but hank goodness he is walking away. I bid all of you a good night (or good day).