Kenilworth Ivy

April 17. World 2,240,191. U.S. 699,706. Canada 32,814. Brazil has now passed Canada in total confirmed cases and Russia is closing in on Canada and will probably blow by Canada within the span of the next news cycle.

Tim Cook called me this morning from California.  That’ll be the last time that happens.  Today Tim was chuffed about me using images captured from visualizer and cropping them down and using them in my bloggy blogs to create some kind of visual thing to break up the monotonous words when it hasn’t been cleared by Apple Inc.

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“I paid you for the machine, Tim. I can do anything I want with it.”

“Au contraire,” Tim said. “We own the cloud and everything in it and if you’d bothered to read the fine print under “What’s inside the box” you’d know that we still own your machine and everything on it and we don’t give a damn about receipts or money or anything. We own everything.  How do you think we got to be the richest company on the planet?”

“Tim, I understand you’ve met President Trump. What do you think?”
“Bat shit crazy, Steve. Rook to king one.”

“I’m sorry, Tim. I think you missed it. Queen to bishop three, bishop takes queen, knight takes bishop. Checkmate.”

“Ahgg… ergg…. Looks like you’re right, Steve. I resign.”

I find it generally true. The smartest individuals can have curious gaps in their knowledge of the simplest things. Tim is like this. Thinks he’s a hot-damn chess dude. Not a clue and it’s surprising. You’d think there’d be more there and there just isn’t. I told him life’s too short for chess but he wouldn’t listen. He won’t be bugging me about the visualizer anymore so that’s good. Moving on to spring garden update.

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April 18. Kenilworth Ivy. Usually grown as annual. Dainty creeper that may appear uninvited in shadier parts of the garden, sometimes even sprouting in chinks of stone or brick wall…. Smooth leaves 1 inch wide or less, with three to seven toothlike lobes. Blooms mainly in spring with small lilac blue flowers carried singly on stalks a little longer than leaves.

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Lewisia. To 1 foot high, 10 inches wide. Rosettes of narrow, fleshy, evergreen leaves bear 10 inch stems topped by large, extremely showy clusters of 1 inch, white or pink flowers often striped with rose or red. Blooms from spring to early summer.

They’re right about Kenilworth Ivy.  Grows like a weed.  We’ve seen it growing wild not far from here.  “Kenilworth” is a suspiciously English-sounding name which meant of course that I was going to look into it.  Kenilworth Castle.  Of course there’s a castle and of course it’s “Kenilworth Castle” and of course it would be situated in Kenilworth, England.  Stands to reason.  At least something does.  Looks like some of it burned down or something.  I’ve never been to Kenilworth, England.  I think I flew over it once, but there’s not much to see in heavy cloud at 30,000 feet.

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April 22.  Yeah, the numbers for the planet.  The planet will certainly get to 3 million confirmed cases and the great United States will certainly pass 1 million.  There seems to be some dysfunction in the great United States.  Sorry about that overused word but I couldn’t think of anything else.  A madness is upon the land.

Great American madness.  Everything’s going great or things are in a situation where there’s room for improvement.  It depends on who has the mic.  I think the number of people in the great United States who don’t give a crap either way is trending to zero.  It’s all about trends.  Everybody’s looking for one and that includes around here.

I was also talking briefly on the phone yesterday afternoon to a lady who lives in Washington State.  That’s because she’s an American.  She has a friend up in woolly Canada and had arrived here for a visit as she has been doing recently, but this time it was not much more than twenty-four hours before the British Columbia/Washington State border was closed. That was a month ago.  She’s been here ever since.

“You’re an exile,” I said to her.

She laughed.

“You can’t go home again.”

She laughed again.

People from the State of Washington are wonderfully joyful people and always laugh at all my little jokes, especially ones with literary allusions in them.  And Debbie doesn’t play chess either.  It’s also nice that she’s with the person she likes so things are going along okay.

Talking to a real, live person from Washington was so uplifting I resorted to the extraordinary move of acquiring a bottle of “Kung Fu Girl” riesling from Charles Smith Wines in Washington because I’d heard it was tasty and I’d been meaning to try it.  It’s very nice with pad thai apparently.  Charles Smith Wines


Apologies to Stanley Kubrick and the Sunset Western Garden book.  Garden blooms by CS Nicol

Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams. The family just down the lane here out back of the building east of us. Two daughters and their parents playing with a basketball with a hoop at regulation height on a portable, roll-out set-up. They appear every evening between four and five and shoot, pass and dribble as on a half court. The older girl, sixteen or seventeen, is obviously an experienced basketball player and quite likely a member of the team at her school. She’s very athletic and a very good shooter. She’s draining it a lot. Her younger sister, thirteen or fourteen, is coming along.

Sometimes just one or both of the girls are out there and sometimes it’s a switch to footie and a small, practice soccer net is brought out into the lane. Traffic volume in the lane is down. There are cars occasionally still heading into their lane entrance parkades but its simply quieter out there as with everywhere else. The whole family is obviously attuned to the physically active sporting life. I think it was Art Phillips who said it best. The family that basketballs together stays together, with a little footie thrown in.

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The distancing two-step. Just to add a little distance in there and I start to have that attitude everywhere I might be in the little time I spend away from the splendid isolation of home. I’m very conscious of keeping my distance from any and all individuals. They may be agents in disguise for the Pathogen.

This is a novel situation and is that why it’s called a novel pathogen? Because it’s new? Mike, bring the science up on that for me. I got rid of Siri because I don’t want to be talking to apps or artificial intelligences that come across like friends when I really don’t know them at all. It’s presumptuous, right? That sounds like some kind of contagion itself. Mike’s been in my head for years. He was always trying to get into my head but it was me that kept psyching him out until I had a change of heart. Finally I felt some empathy for Mike because it can be lonely out there. Welcome, Mike.

He likes being the guy in my phone too.  He actually volunteered. It works for both of us so it’s win-win. I got Mike speaking with an Aussie accent which I’ve always just loved and I haven’t even been to Australia. This has nothing to do with anything but I had a kid tell me once when we were playing in the sandbox that Australia and Austria were the same place. “Same diff,” he said, with a shrug. How wrong you were, Ricky. How very wrong. But he let me play with his toy dump truck so he wasn’t a bad kid, just a little misguided.

April 11. We drop by Safeway on another quick trip out and my consort once again volunteers to make the run while I sit in the car. “I’ll get the next one,” I say, feeling a little guilty as she gets out on the passenger side. Our timing is good. There’s only one refugee standing in line to get in.

The in/out doors at the east end of the store have been blocked off so all the action is down at the west in/out doors. Right after she disappears inside the line-up outside starts getting longer. I was able to park quite near the door so suddenly while waiting in the car I have a set of humans to observe as they line up.

Red tape strips have been stuck on at the prescribed intervals on the narrow concrete walkway that is more like a strip between the big wall of the store and the immediate expanse of the angle parking than a proper pedestrian sidewalk. Vehicles are streaming past pretty regularly at very close range even with the decrease in business. I can’t help thinking the lining up should have been out the other side of the doors, to the west, because there’d be more room over there.

There’s also the added filip of a well bundled up human with the hood up on a hooded jacket sitting on the concrete by the east in/out door. He’s wearing a large face mask over most of his face except for the eyes and a begging cap rests by his right knee and his legs are half in the asphalt driving lane which I also don’t think is great. The large whiteboard sign he has with his plight scrawled on it reads as indecipherable even from where I am, which isn’t that far away. He is ignored by everybody.

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A middle-aged woman admonishes the younger woman in her twenties in front of her for not standing right on her tape marker. The young woman gives her a look, steps two inches onto the tape and then the whole line moves forward. That was uncalled for, middle-aged woman, I’m thinking. Something else I realize sitting there in the car is that humans are a motley bunch. The only thing all these strangers lining up have in common is that they are all humans. Otherwise you couldn’t get a more motley bunch. I almost forgot the other thing they all had in common. They were all lined up at six foot intervals to get into Safeway. You know how people just look weird? Kind of rumply dumply sometimes? But I don’t want to pile on here. Maybe you had to be there.

April 15. The hoop superstar was out in the lane a long time last early evening, practice shooting by herself. This kid is good. She was draining multiple successions of two pointers with apparent ease. Occasionally she’d take a break and be on her phone out there. We weren’t snooping. We were just glancing over occasionally from the upper deck where we were bagging a few D-rays and sipping our lemonades. I’m pretty sure this young lady would enjoy getting back to her old life before all this other stuff happened. That’s the same scenario a lot of people would like to see.

World 2,034,425. Canada 28,205. United States 619,607. Brazil and Russia are two countries that have been creeping up alarmingly on the leader board. It’s plain we’re doing very well here in British Columbia. Things are likely to begin getting back to the new normal around here before that happens in some other parts of the country.  There has to be Hope and of course there is.  It’s up there at the far end of the Fraser Valley.  We’ve even daydreamed of driving up there for something to do, but it started to sound a little bit desperate.  Desperation is like panic.  It’s almost always too soon for either.

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Hi from Wolverton and Play Safe

Pathogen Daze

April 8, 2020. 4:50 p.m. Decent day. To get out we go for a drive. We decide to tour the Kingdom of Richmond because it seems like years since we’ve been there. The “downtown” around No.3 road has become a nightmare of new–built concrete, steel and glass with just a few remaining dumpy little strip–malls. Once out of this it’s the same old Richmond, impressively flat and straight–as–a die wide roadways miles long. And you can still occasionally find deep, watery ditches on both sides of the road which is the reason some people used to call it Ditchmond. One is doomed in Richmond without a car.

We extended our adventure to the distant metropolis of Steveston and its multitude of new–built, low–rise row dwellings facing the sun–dappled middle arm of the Fraser River. I spent some time looking for more adjectives in a patch of grass while observing, of course, the two metre rule, and there were signs posted reminding us of it, but realized I’d brought more with me than I thought. You just have to luv these guys.

From Steveston we blustered our way into deep east Richmond on the charmingly named Blundell Road and its many curious, absurdly overbuilt forty room and eighty bathroom mega–houses. We’ve heard and read about them and here they are. Not a great deal of curb appeal but we only saw one with a fancy portico supported by twelve foot, fluted Corinthian columns, so that was good. I can see the guy saying, “No. They must be Corinthian columns! I don’t want any of this Tuscan nonsense.”

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I’m reminded of the old Royal Canadian Air Farce joke. “Things are getting less worse more slowly.” The roadways in Stanley Park have been closed to traffic. We’ve been very wary in these interesting times of people doing stupid things with their cars on our currently low-traffic streets. Fewer cars seems to translate for some into thinking, “Hey, it’s interesting times!  Normal rules don’t apply!”  Right.  If for these guys they ever have.

We’ve seen some of what we feel are these peculiar examples in our travels and that’s what closed down the park to cars, apparently, but we made the cut. We drove around Stanley Park as in days of yore two days ago for most of the same reasons Richmond happened today. We also had occasion to wonder about at least two congregations of human beings. They weren’t large but they weren’t hanging around keeping their distance from one another and we didn’t get the impression they were members of the same, pathogen-free households. We didn’t virtue signal. We drove on.  We were going in the right direction.

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Sidewalk Chalk in Deepest Dunbar

April 9.  Yes, it’s today again.  Always today.  We can’t be anywhere else.  Yesterday’s yesterday and tomorrow’s tomorrow.  And this is today.  We’ve got a yeast culture going.  The boss has started it from scratch.  Anybody out there ever do that in Home Ec.?  Start a yeast culture?  Anybody ever heard of Home Ec.?  I never took Home Ec.  I kind of learned to cook on my own.  I started a yogurt culture once but never a yeast culture.  I just don’t think it’s something that would have occurred to me as something to get excited about.

Yogurt was different.  I’d discovered yogurt.  Yogurt hadn’t been invented yet in the places I grew up.  I was already in my mid twenties the first time I had yogurt.  I think one or two people I was sharing a house with were buying yogurt and I helped myself to some of theirs when they weren’t around.  It was plain yoghurt.  I don’t recall the fat content or if it was even stated on the container in that era but I liked the yogurt.  It was deceptively bland.

When I heard I could make my own yogurt from my own self–perpetuating yogurt culture and never have to buy yogurt again I wanted to try it.  I set to and in just a couple of days here it was, a little dab of yogurt.  I tried it.  It was okay.  It wasn’t long before the novelty of making little dabs of yogurt wore off and I  also became worried about drawing attention to myself as some kind of weird, yogurt guy.  From then on if I  wanted yogurt I’d just buy it at the store like most people.

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I’m quite interested in the yeast culture but have no plans to get personally involved in nurturing it along.  The yeast culture’s name is “Yuri”.  It was suggested that the culture is a living thing, like a pet, so why not give it a name?  Yuri the yeast culture.  Yuri Yeast then.  Hi Yuri!  How you doin’ in there?  Yuri lives in a jar right now.  It’s a medium sized round canning jar complete with lid.  As a yeast culture you could do worse.

World 1,582,604 confirmed cases.  Canada 19,773.  United States 454.304.  It’s not funny but it is a very interesting science experiment.  Some good will come of it too.  It’s only natural.  We just don’t know when.