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.


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.


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.

Photo on 2016-08-18 at 1.23 AM
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.”


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.

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.


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.

Pathogen Picnic Days

March 13. Covid-19 “pandemic”. People are nuts. You can’t get a roll of toilet tissue in this town now. Shelves are empty. What the hell do they plan to do with it? Eat it?

March 16. I’d say most people are looking forward to this pandemic dealy being over soon but no expert can be found who will predict that. It’s like the world is learning to ride some weird new bicycle. It’s never been done by the world so it’s something new that it’s learning. There’ll be a mishap or two before the world gets up on that bike and rides.
We scored two 12 roll packs of toilet tissue at the Shopper’s Drug Mart on Dunbar Street. We’re living large. We’ve defeated the hoarders and closed all the borders. I feel a song coming on.

March 18. Things keep getting stupider. What’s closing next? Booze stores? What an unimaginable catastrophe that would be for the drinking classes. I’m telling you, friend, this whole thing is unprecedented in my long event filled life. Something like this happens and you feel pretty small.

March 19. Businesses are closed, banks. We can take out at coffee shops but can’t lounge around inside. We’re all right. I drove out for an hour late morning on deserted streets. Things have a small town feel to them. Let’s work together and keep it that way. Danger equals opportunity, I just don’t know how. Things are decidedly “in an abundance of caution.” International travel is shutting down. We’re not shutting down. We’re open for business. Fly with us. It all comes back to we’re human. We’re vulnerable. We’re living organisms subject to the whims of pathogens. Pathogens. They make a cool sound. Ladies and gentleman—The Pathogens!
The provincial Health Minister and Provincial Health Officer are giving daily briefings at 3 p.m. So for today there are 40 new confirmed cases in British Columbia to bring the total to 271 with one additional death to bring the total to 10. 22 cases are on Vancouver Island.

March 21, 2020. BC cases are at 424. More testing is being done so the number spikes. Track down and shoot the Pathogens on sight. It’s the strange general uncertainty we feel and a kind of bewildered, but not overly bewildered, we’ll save that for later, but amazed, thoroughly amazed feeling at how amazingly fast, how quickly this strange situation has hit. It’s all come down in one week. This is science fiction year. I predicted it, right? Not right. I’ve just spent the entire afternoon scanning newspaper sites. Shame on me. It’s 5 p.m.IMG_6092

March 22. “We are seeing some unsettling images in our corridor in regards to the lack of social distancing and measures to #FlattenTheCurve of COVID-19. We can only watch with extensive concern for our communities health and safety,” the RCMP tweeted along with photos of packed parking lots at Stawamus Chief Park.” Vancouver Sun.

March 23. We straggle on. “Self-isolating” today. New concept. “Social distancing.” Tomorrow, we go out. We’ll meet any challenge. But today we self-isolate. It’s fun to cooperate. This is the second time in four days we’ve done this so we’re doing our part as the prime minister has requested I think it was yesterday? Time blurs in self isolation. I mean all the time.
I just want to reassure people out there that Santa Claus will pull through. ICU is just a way station to a better life upstairs in the chapel on the second floor. Says “Hi.”

March 24. Day after dreary day of this Covid thing. And all we hear is it’s only the beginning. It can’t be because a great number of people are in process of going broke fast. Not us, fortunately, just yet, but many are feeling the financial squeeze starting. It’s not good. Not pleasant. Been there done that. Overrated as to an experience.
The provincial health officer doing her daily 3 p.m. (except Sundays) briefing. 145 new cases in the last 24 hours to bring the total to 617. The number for the country is around 2500, three times what it was four days ago. This is the bizarre-ist thing.
I look at people askance now as to whether or not they might have the plague. I’m far from the only one. There’s vastly fewer people about and plenty of parking on usually heavily car-ed main streets. We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing during this outbreak and wasting a lot less time looking for parking. So that’s good.IMG_3328

March 25. I’m not even writing grocery lists on my hand anymore. I’ve gone to paper. Things feel a bit cuckoo. That’s a euphemism for another word that can’t be here because it’s been quarantined. Like those cruise ships. “It’s Pathogen Picnic Days brought to you by Carnival®. Today’s major events include our “Haven’t a Hope or a Prayer” barbecue starting at high noon right after the coffin races.”

March 26, 2020. Covid capers past half a million as of today with the mighty United States coming out of nowhere to rocket into the country lead at something over 80,000 cases, surpassing former top dog the People’s Republic of China. Our country has cruised into the 4300 range and showing no signs of not going higher. There’s just no quit in us.
There were very few people on the False Creek seawall in wet conditions as I proceeded further east. What would happen if False creek turned out actually to be true? And all these years everybody was wrong?  That there’s nothing false about it.  Strangers were dutifully keeping their interval and there was plenty of room to give almost everybody passing by me a wide berth as per the prescription.

March 27. The world is heading for 600,000 confirmed cases and Canada is at 4700 or so. 5:30 p.m. Rain and the wetness rain brings. Things are quiet. Nice and quiet. We think our rat or rats have finally exterminated themselves on our service providers tasty poison in the black plastic lockable box. We had to get him back because the initial stuff didn’t taste good enough, I guess. It’s good to see them gone. They were digging up and devouring the spring bulbs my roof deck gardener had planted, some of them last winter. Disgraceful little pests. Shame on them. They paid a heavy price for their misdeeds.

March 28. The world has bucketed up past 660,000 confirmed cases and Canada, no slouch, is pushing up towards 6000. The United States is comfortably in the country lead with near 123,000 confirmed cases. Their sad president disgraces himself every day but it seems not a lot can be done about that. He’s a true sociopath although I’m not an expert. He’s telling state governors they better speak nice to him or no help from DC with the efforts they’re making. He’s such a hateful goof-ball. May the Lord God Goofy strike him down in his iniquity.

March 29. World cases 716,000, U.S. 137,000, Canada 6200. Nice day around here, Sunday now. Cool, and a few clouds but mainly sunny. March is staggering to an end. It seems like a very long month. But it does that anyway.

March 30. The world’s at 784,000. The States at 163,000 is expanding its league over Italy who’s at 101,700. Canada’s doing her beaver-ish part and is at 7400. It’s sobering. Waiter! Dos cervezas muy frio y una poquito bourbon doble. Muchas gracias! I think my Spanish is getting worse.
It’s depressing to read most of the comments on stories in the press, if the particular site is doing comments, some papers have stopped, that are obviously composed by bots or individuals, and if individuals obviously individuals drooling in ecstasy as they compose their paranoid, sadistic, negative conspiracy theory riddled comments unless they’re in someone’s pay to do that. Those ones go home and drool. It’s a sick world sometimes. Downtown stores have boarded up their windows because there’s been some smash and grabs and break and enters. Who are these sick pricks? Oh sorry, I forgot. We’re not supposed to use foul language around here. Fuck I hate some people and don’t get me started on bots. There I go again. Let’s see. Ten cents per infraction adds up to twenty cents in the language piggy. Just like that I’m down twenty. I hope this Covid thing winds up soon or I will be going broke.

March 31. 857,000 World cases across. United States in the lead with 188,000 with Canada creeping up to 8500. 43 new cases for British Columbia bring us up a little over 1000. More tests are being delivered so as night follows day more pathogens are being outed. If only it was just about the numbers. Unfortunately, the numbers represent individual people. We’ve heard from someone on southern Vancouver Island who had this thing and her comments mirror accounts people elsewhere have reported in news sources what it’s been like for them. This thing really does the nasty. Worse. I hope to be around in April. Right now I have to check my duplicate bridge scores.

Daffodil courtesy CS Nicol


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