All posts by Rondi Adamson

Beryl O’Links: Heat Wave Edition

It is very hot in Toronto. A week ago today I was still having to turn on the little heater in my office – now I am using a fan and contemplating taking my show and moving it downstairs, where ’tis a bit cooler. To the matter at hand – some links from past and present, far and wide, not all pandemic-related. In fact, very few.

Sad news – the apostrophe protection society admits defeat. I hate poor grammar but one of my biggest pet peeves in that regard is people who don’t know where to place apostrophes or commas. We have failed as a society when people pluralize family names, for example, with an apostrophe.

A great piece from Lionel Shriver about the tiresomeness of lefty lingo. 

Give this man an award – he (accidentally) hit a dog with his car, and drove it to safety. It turned out to be a coyote, no less deserving of compassion.

And give this man an award – Lebanese businessman bought Hitler artifacts and donated them to Israel.

Clive James and the greatness of Philip Larkin.

Another person deserving of an award – for saving Mongolia’s snow leopards.

A hero for the animals in Wuhan – yep, awards for him, too!

The first boy diagnosed as autistic – what a story.

The awakening of Norman Rockwell (seriously surprised that something this good was at Vox).

The British housewife who took on the Soviet Union – why had I not heard of her? And she deserved awards, as well!

Tragic history – again, why had I not heard of this? The “Reverse Freedom Rides.” Humans – so cruel.

Why plague doctors wore those strange beaked masks.

And – last link, as I want to end on a positive note – it is ok to drink wine by yourself! I already knew that, but it is now sanctioned by the New York Times.

Another Poem for a Pandemic

This is the third of my pandemic poetry trilogy (others are here and here) – so you can all breathe a sigh of relief. It is the last one! It is ripped off of a far better poem by John Betjeman, and there is a tribute herein to the wonderful Roz Chast. The reference to “Ol’ Mr. Corona” is something I stole from this cartoon – priceless!

In our Toronto Home: Poem for a Pandemic

Let me throw this disposable mask out
As my paranoia oozes.
Did I get too close to that guy in Loblaws?
Should I decontaminate my shoeses?
As I douse my hands in soap,
Listen to this lady’s hope.

Gracious God, please stop the virus
SARS-CoV-2, or Covid-19,
For whatever you might call it,
It is remarkably quite mean.
But dear God, whatever path you take,
Spare me from Ol’ Mr. Corona’s wake.

Keep my body hale and hardy,
Do your best with my heart and soul.
Oh, and also save my sweetheart
And the other folks I hold.
And, as we chat, sweet Jesus,
Save me and mine from all diseases.

Think of what dear Canada stands for:
Holding Americans in contempt;
Peacekeeping; multicult; and healthcare
Do make we Canucks verklempt.
But Lord, remember with all the muscle you flex
Protect this pair in the Annex.

I worship now on YouTube, Zoom, all that slew,
As no more than one shall gather in a pew.
So God, know my faith has not ceased,
Though I do not at all miss sharing the peace:
Handshakes, awkward smiles – delivered with no flair!
Things that make an introvert’s nightmare.

I miss the singing and King James –
For his version is the best.
None of that “Good News” nonsense
Could ever offer me much rest.
I miss stained glass and Healey Willan’s organ,
And Johann Sebastian’s music – ach, JSB, guten morgen!

Now my worries are unburdened,
What a joy to talk with you.
Though these days seem filled with trials,
I know you will see me through.
And while, dear Lord, you do bewitch
I need to binge some more Netflix.

The Delight of Birds and Mozart

I have discovered something I probably already knew – that there was a great reason my cats used to keep their little noses pinned to the window when there was a bird in the vicinity. They are such a delight to behold (birds, I mean, though cats are, too)! We have a nest on our porch – will write more about it later, as until the babies have fledged, I shall not exhale. But in the meantime, enjoy this video of birds singing opera – oh yes, they are!

Plus ca Change

As I have posted previously, we listen to a lot of Pepys in this house, especially on lengthy car rides (though it has been a while since one of those). A quote from the diaries seems a propos in 2020:

On hearing ill rumour that Londoners may soon be urged into their lodgings by Her Majesty’s men, I looked upon the street to see a gaggle of striplings making fair merry, and no doubt spreading the plague well about. Not a care had these rogues for the health of their elders!

Audiobooks

Until last autumn, I was never much of an audiobook fan. Now, I most definitely am. I started listening to audiobooks during my commutes to and from work in the fall – prior to that I had always read either paper or ebooks while in transit, or occasionally listened to music. Not sure what made me switch, but it has been a great discovery, all the more so because of the coronavirus situation. Each day, I try to get out and walk my 10,000 steps (yes, I know there is nothing magical about that number) and it helps to have something interesting to listen to during my trek.

One of those interesting books was this story of a French Resistance network led by a woman. The person reading the book (and who does the reading makes a big difference) was terrific in so many ways – clear, well-paced, with a voice that responded/changed appropriately with what was being read – but for one. A big one, in my view: this reader had a terrible French accent. She pronounced so many French words and names incorrectly.

Now, I certainly don’t expect the pronunciation to be perfect – I speak fluent French and mine isn’t perfect – as one is well aware while listening to audiobooks that the reader has a mother tongue that will, of course, dominate. But hell, pronouncing “Saint” as “Son” and “Lazare” as “Laz[long a]are,” for example, is unacceptable. And don’t get me started on so many of the proper names and how they were mangled. The woman reading would have been better off just using English pronunciations and not trying to sound French.

Since I don’t want to end on a negative note, having Alfred Molina read this biography of Leonardo was pure genius.

Virus Despondency

My friend John Palmer has written a post about “Covid19 Despondency.” It is well worth a read and he outlines many of the concerns I have.

I worry about and for everyone. I see no way out of this for at least a few months, and meanwhile so many people will have been pushed to the edge. I try to control my despondency by thought-blocking and thinking about positive things, but every once it awhile it hits.

Same here. I am in my 50s and Significant Other is older (he would kill me if I wrote his age), so we don’t feel immortal or immune, by any stretch. John writes that he and his wife have become borderline paranoid, and I fear I have, as well. I do go out – to walk and shop (though I keep the latter to a minimum) – and I have noticed that I hold my breath if people are walking within, say, three metres of me. Like everyone else, I wash my hands like a fiend, carry sanitizer and disposable gloves, attempt to not touch my face (not so easy, folks, especially given my seasonal allergies) and try to cover my mouth and nose with a scarf if I am in a store.

I do my best to get my 10,000 steps in each day – not so easy – but thanks to my many years of tending feral cat colonies in this city I do know a lot of laneways and backstreets that are unpopulated by humans (but for the odd drug dealer or purchaser). So that has come in handy. I am also attempting to finish writing projects that are long overdue, but I find it difficult to focus and really have to fight to not lapse into procrastination. A commenter on John’s post said she found it hard to get motivated and I feel the same way.

Since I am extremely introverted, I don’t really miss other humans that much, with the exception of some friends and family (it would have been nice to have been able to visit Significant Other’s family for Easter). It is a delight to not take the TTC and, above all, to not spend. It reminds me a bit of when I went to Italy for three months and only brought a carry-on bag. I discovered just how little one needs. Fittingly, I am MarieKondoing the heck out of my clothes. When this is over (will it ever truly be over?) and places like the Salvation Army are accepting donations again, they will be thrilled with my haul.

What I do miss: my students and colleagues at my day job; the possibility of travel (I had two trips cancelled in March/April – one for pleasure, one for business); my gym; not crossing the street or walking in the middle of the road when I see another human approaching; going to a park and taking photos of birds, squirrels and such (in theory, one can still do that, but parks tend to be busy these days); sitting in a nice coffee shop with a latte and a vegan treat, either by myself or with a friend or my honeybunch. Oh yes, this can be done at home, but going out to a nice spot can provide uplift. Plus, then you don’t have to do dishes.

Looking at the reasons to be grateful: I have a roof over my head; I am with someone I love and not just love but with whom I get along and with whom I feel safe. I can’t help but thinking not only about adults in violent homes who now cannot get out, but about children in a similar spot. When I was a kid, school was my respite. I had a terrible homelife. What of the kids right now who can’t escape, even for a few hours?

More reasons to be grateful: we live in a time/place where delivery is possible; I am baking a lot; we have wine; the wonderful Italian series “My Brilliant Friend/L’Amica Geniale” is on HBO into May; the new season of “Fauda” starts this week.

I hope you, dear readers, are all (relatively) well and finding positives in this odd new world.