Santa’s Clearance

It was wonderful to hear our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, making a statement from the Dail (Irish Parliament) yesterday about Santa being designated as an essential worker this year and being allowed to travel freely.

The Minister has a helluva lot on his mind these days with Brexit negotiations at a crucial stage and all the uncertainty that brings on top of Covid-related issues, not to mention all the other stuff he has responsibility for.

But, we all needed absolute clarity about Santa. No dithery dithers because Santa is super special in terms of lending stability and continuity in a very uncertain world.

I’m just so thankful that all that is sorted out nice and early. I don’t believe in getting into Christmas mode until Christmas week but Santa is an exception. Santa always was and always will be an exception.

Bafflement

There’s lots of things I can’t fathom and these are just three:

#1. How can people walk/run by the sea or deep in the country with earphones in? For me the sounds of nature are magnificent and I could never imagine anything being more soothing, motivating or entertaining.

#2. Why do people flock to beauty spots when they are packed? That’s the very time I avoid them. I would much prefer to see a place of beauty, like the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare when it is damp and drizzly and not full of swarms of people than to be surrounded by a ‘maddening crowd.’

#3. How can people be so fixated on Christmas gatherings that they are prepared to risk spreading Covid like wild fire? Is this to do with nostalgia or short-sightedness or …..

The Vaccine

I was reading about one of the new Covid vaccines today and about possible adverse effects. Fainting and banging one’s head was mentioned as a rare possibility and a reason why the vaccine would need to be administered by a medic type person.

I have no fear of needles but I have a very healthy respect for vaccines. I ended up getting a Rubella vaccine 3 days after our son was born by C-Section and at a time when I was at a very low ebb especially after the general anaesthetic and no sleep etc. The idea was to protect a future baby but the outcome was years and years of utterly debilitating ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I asked how sensible it was to be getting the vaccine just three days after giving birth and was told the worst that could happen was a mild fever or a little rash. I should have followed my instinct and forced them to leave it until I was back to full health.

I think vaccines are great if one’s body can cope with them but know how awful it is to be in the group who fall victim to adverse effects.

I am just hoping that these Covid vaccines will be safe and that enough people get it to ensure that the virus is controlled. I won’t be first in the queue for it and will certainly be making sure that I am as well as I possibly can be if I do decide that it seems sensible to get it, given my sensitivities.

How are you feeling about it? Excited, wary, hopeful …..

Lockdown Longings

We’re in Week 4 of our Lockdown 2 here in Ireland and unfortunately there’s been a bit of a wobble in the downward trend in cases in the last few days. Hopefully, that will shock people into taking greater care.

This Lockdown got me thinking about things I truly miss and clearly took a weeny bit for granted before the Pandemic struck at all. I think it’s arguably good to have this wake up call and I hope I never get into that take for granted mode again.

Here’s my top 5:

#1. Walking in places I love that are beyond the 5km limit that are full of natural beauty. I am beyond fortunate that one of my favorites, Tramore Beach, is within my 5km.

#2. Going to live concerts

#3. Going with son to soccer matches in support of Waterford FC

#4. Browsing in bookshops and libraries

#5. Driving around Co. Waterford listening to radio commentary of Waterford Senior Hurling Championship games when hubby and son have strong enough hearts to be at them live and stopping off at a garden centre to calm my nerves at half or full time.

What, if any, are your little longings?

Ireland’s Lockdown 2 Update

We’re just over two and a half weeks into our 6 week lockdown here in Ireland. I am very pleased to report that there is strong evidence to suggest that it is working in terms of cutting down the case numbers which were gone into overdrive in most areas when it was imposed. It was like we were running downhill towards a cliff edge.

High on The Coastal Path, Dunmore East, Co. Waterford

This Lockdown is impacting very hard on some sectors, especially hospitality, aviation, non-essential retail and people in care homes to mention just a few. Schools remain open this time, as do colleges and universities but the latter are predominantly online.

A lot of the emphasis during this Lockdown has been on Christmas and trying to ensure that it has a semblance of normality about it and that businesses can benefit from Christmas trade.

The whole Christmas thing affects people and families very differently. Christmas is pretty much another day in our house so it takes a bit of mind-stretching to get to grips with families who see it as a time to gather and party in large numbers. The last time that was part of my existence was when us three kids used to come home from wherever we were to spend the holidays with Mother and Father. That was in our single days and I still remember the buzz of the whole thing with happiness.

I am just not sure if placing a mega emphasis on Christmas is a good thing this year, if the price to be paid is a further escalation of the virus and more deaths and lockdowns. It’s probably easy for me to say that because I won’t be stuck somewhere wishing I was with my loved ones. But, is it really worth the risk to society?

I am wondering more and more about all this as I have been seeing Christmas decorations already being put up in and around our 5km restricted zone.

What do you reckon?

Blogging and Covid 19

I wonder if we bloggers were better prepared than many to cope with the challenges of the pandemic. I’m inclined to think we were.

I think it’s because we are used to being ‘together apart,’ to borrow a phrase I heard on the radio this morning (Yes, I am a radio person much more than a TV one.)

‘Together apart’ is what blogging involves and it is what Covid 19 hates.

I continue to find it quite extraordinary that over my almost ten years of blogging that I have built up a ‘community’ of people from all sides of the world whose lives are intertwined with mine. So often, I am in the middle of something and I think of how one of my blogging compadres had written about a similar experience or had given a whole new outlook on it.

My nearest and dearest have come to know about quite a few of my blogging ‘friends’ and aren’t a bit surprised when they crop up in conversation – usually described by where they are from. That seems to be a big part of it in my subconscious.

There’s something very freeing about being able to write and express one’s thoughts without the whole palaver of issues around age, appearance, gender… Bloggers look and see beyond such features that can dominate ordinary interaction.

We see the benefits of that, or maybe I should speak for myself here, but they are what so many people are finding tough in this Covid era.

There is one thing, though, that I worry about when blogging these times. It’s whether or not someone reading a post is going through a hell that I am somehow accentuating. Finding a balance between positivity and diversion and just writing from the absolute heart can be difficult. Overall, I hope we know each other well enough and have enough trust to be able to write without fakery.

Thanks for being there, my friends, and I hope you are feeling connected – together-apart.

Stationary Mountain

Son is very keen on climbing mountains and a few years ago was talking to an old man near the foot of Ben Nevis in the UK. The weather was a bit iffy and the wise one said to the young mountaineers: Just remember, the mountain isn’t going anywhere.

This simple statement caused them to delay their climb until the clouds had lifted but it is also one which has entered our conversations and considerations here.

It’s useful and important to stop and think about what we are doing and whether or not we are going to rush into crazy waters when it isn’t essential at this very moment.

Yes, time can often seem to be against us but it is more often than not one of our greatest allies. Never was this truer than in the current pandemic. As my late mother used to say when I would be insisting on driving off on icy roads: Is your journey really necessary? It usually wasn’t and these days there is little that we absolutely have to do if it is likely to contribute to the spread of the virus.

The storm clouds will pass eventually ….

Six Activities in Six Weeks

A letter writer to the Irish Times that I heard about on radio the other day came up with the idea of setting ourselves the goal of doing 6 activities in our 6 weeks of Lockdown. Two that I remember are: renewing contact with 6 friends with whom one has lost touch and reading 6 books.

I have been mulling over this and here’s my list:

#Write 6 thank you letters to 6 people who have been really kind to me during my life.

#Try out 6 new vegetarian/vegan recipes

#Plant up 6 pots with shade loving flowers/shrubs to brighten a dark, dank, dreary spot at the side of the house.

#Leave out 6 painted stones with inspirational quotes along my walking routes within the 5km limit

#Read 6 books that I have put aside and never opened

#Dip into the following 6 activities:

  • Dancing
  • Skipping
  • Listening to classical music
  • Sorting my late father’s photos
  • Knitting
  • Birdwatching

What would your 6×6 be? I’d love to know.

Ireland: Lockdown 2, Day 1

Ireland began a new country-wide Level 5 lockdown for 6 weeks at midnight as Covid cases have been spiralling upwards.

The sun is blazing outside and thankfully we can exercise within 5km of home.

It’s desperately tough on many people and my thoughts are very much with those who are feeling bereft, anxious, lonely and vulnerable.

Right now, I feel like one of the lucky ones but know there will be moments of darkness lurking in the weeks ahead.

I feel that nature and the arts are going to be vital and was thrilled when a parcel of books arrived in the post yesterday from my big brother who knows way better than most how to keep me buoyant.

So, I leave you with a few lines from Sheenagh Pugh’s poem, ‘Sometimes’:

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

Smiling Eyes

Irish eyes are smiling more than ever at the moment as we are learning to live with masks and face coverings.

Eyes can say so much. They undoubtedly are windows to the heart.

More than ever, we need to work at the coming together of gentle gazes, filled with empathy and kindness. Also, the gaze needs to be a collective one in which we all look at what we can do as individuals, families, communities, counties, countries … to help reduce the conditions in which Covid spreads and also the extent to which lives and livelihoods are impacted.

If ever there was a time when each individual’s every action counts, this is it.

Let us look together towards the horizon of hope.