Here's our collection of 2021 photos, which will grow.                

2021 Wednesday, April 21st.  Some day I'll read this diary and wonder how I filled my days during the Great Pandemic Isolation. Covid19 cases are climbing again and its a race between the vaccination program and the increasing infection rate caused by illogical lock down rules and "covidiots".  Doug Ford's gov't hasn't vaccinated essential workers or shut down non-essential factories, and hasn't instituted sick days so that workers can afford to stay home, so the spread continues.
    Here's a description of my days.  These are incredibly routine cookie cutter days that I follow with regimented discipline using my digital diary.  I'm told that this kind of routine reduces stress during such a time. 
    I rise at six, check stocks reports, study Spanish for a half hour, and spend a half hour "armchair traveling" through my own travel diaries - editing, repairing broken links, viewing my photo albums).  I'm up to March in New Zealand right now.  I spend a half hour reading actual books as opposed to reading online. 
    Deb is usually asleep during these hours; on some days she gets up around 8 am to do fitness classes online, but on other days she sleeps until 9 am.  Throughout the day she shops or plans her shopping, and spends a lot of screen time on the internet.  She spends many long hours helping her mother (who remains isolated in her apartment in Montreal) on a campaign of advocacy for her youngest sister in her group home in Montreal - using remote control to her mother's computer to help her navigate the technology, scan documents and participate in zoom calls and Teams meetings.  Sometimes she helps me in the garden.
    After breakfast I play music throughout the day but my motivation is currently a bit low and I don't get to every instrument in sequence as I did in the initial months of lock down.  I've been able to begin prepping the garden for planting, but our sailboat launch was cancelled and remains TBA.  I played tennis twice but now we are into the third (fourth?) wave and we have also been locked out of our tennis courts.  In any case, today we woke up to a thick late spring snow fall.
    Later each day I review some family history (old letters), spend a few minutes learning basic Portuguese, and take mid-afternoon and after-supper naps.  I find youtubes that are interesting to watch or to play along to with my instruments, and I advertise and sell things from my basement to reduce the household clutter: guitar cases, instruments, lawn mowers, bicycles, etc.
    Then I sleep for six hours and get up to begin the same day all over again - just like the movie Groundhog Day.

Thursday, March 25th.  Today Deborah was able to make an appointment for her vaccine.  She completed pre-screening forms for both of us and I drove her to the immunization site.  She asked everyone at each step of her way in whether I could get mine as well, but I was not in the allowed age cohort and they all said no.  Then she reached the doctor who would administer the jab, and it turned out to be someone from our own local clinic.  The doctor told her that they weren't in the business of turning people away, and that anyone over fifty with a co-morbidity would certainly be allowed to come in for a shot.  As soon as Deb got home, she discovered that the registration page had also been updated in our absence and now co-morbidity had been included; and also faith leaders who come into close contact with grieving family members and others.
    The days have been somewhat uniform over the past six weeks.  Weekly family zoom calls on Saturdays, and zoom calls with Camila and Gabriel in Sao Paulo on Mondays.  Trumpet training and chats with Andrew Chung every couple of weeks.  Spanish every morning, a bit of Portuguese daily, some daily reading (Obama's book Dreams From My Father right now), and readings of my own family history from Dad's letter archive. 
    We won a St. Patrick's Day quiz at a zoom social, online with our HYC club.   
    I got back into advertising my extra instruments and selling them off, played my instruments in rotation every day, and recorded a few tunes including La Cumparsita and Vida Mia for Valentines Day.  I learned to make things easier for myself when playing fiddle tunes on guitar by using my capo on the second fret for most tunes in D and A, but that presented me with a new challenge: learning new fingerings.  That has checked my speed back considerably.
    Two weeks ago we drove across the city and came home with my first tenor guitar, only three years old and in lovely shape, for half of retail (they seem quite overpriced by Gold Tone, but not many people make them - or play them).  It took me several days of research and two packs of strings, one for tenor guitar purchased in error which turned out to be for the higher CGDA tuning, to get it strung in the GDAE tuning that I wanted, to match my "Irish" tenor banjo.  I had to mix and match to get the gauges I needed; they make GDAE string sets for tenor banjo but not the bronze wound string set for tenor guitar, I've discovered.  But although initially disappointed with how it sounded, with the correct strings and gauges it has now become my go-to instrument, very resonant and rich.   At first I only used it melodically, but now I'm trying to learn all my new chord shapes because they sound fine.  Guitar chords are often muddy because there are six notes relatively close together; this has only four, and the intervals are larger than on the guitar.  It means that I've had to learn four current sets of chord shapes for the different instruments; I also learned uke shapes some time ago but have largely forgotten them now..
    We had to shovel snow once or twice, but it is all gone now and temperatures remain mostly above zero even overnight, so we've been taking daily walks when it feels sunny and cheerful enough.  I tried to start pepper seeds that Deb saved from last year, but they haven't emerged from seed after almost three weeks.  I'll be patient...and I'll start tomatoes soon.  I have been able to begin working in the garden, moving pots around, visualizing and planning - but I expect to be prepping the trailer and truck for a summer on the road, more than spending time in my garden.
 

Wednesday, February 10th.  The cases of covid19 are dropping and jurisdictions across the country are tentatively reopening, although there are dangerous mutations and variants on the loose and vaccine roll-out has been glacial.  We will have to remain isolated and extremely cautious for a few more months, perhaps even another year; but I'm still optimistic that we'll get to take our T@B trailer across the country this summer.  Deborah has continued to amass enormous quantities of donated wool from Facebook connections with neighbours, for Sylvia to turn into toques and headbands for homeless people in Montreal.  I continue studying Spanish and a little Portuguese each day, and practice my nine instruments - when we are free to leave our house I'll hunt down opportunities to play the new ones with other people. I advertised and sold a few guitars and my guitalele, and a few other things like my collapsible fishing rod kit. 
    Over Christmas and the New Year, we recorded a series of short amateurish music videos dedicated to friends and family, and posted them to a youtube channel, from which everyone can enjoy them. I can use these videos later to demonstrate my musical gifts to people who might consider playing with me.  
    February has been brutally cold all across the country.  It has been around minus ten here and has reached the minus thirties and below in Alberta; I plan to record Frost is All Over on Irish tenor banjo today.  The cold has put pause to our daily walks.  Deborah chose haggis for her birthday meal, and it lasted for four meals, so we'll be doing it again for Valentine's Day.  We like haggis very much.  Deborah has experimented with other culinary revelations: Chakalaka (a S. African spicy vegetable relish) and Bombay Rolls, for example.  She found a design for better aerosol masks and made five of them, more shaped to our faces, so that air doesn't enter or leave around the edges, and with a fold that reduces fogging on our glasses on cold days,   I've forced myself to spend time each day reading books instead of just my internet screen, to try to make inroads on the huge collection of books I've accumulated over the years, including those I dragged home from Dad's bookshelves.  We continue our weekly zoom calls with family and with Camila and Gabriel in Sao Paulo.  I usually nap twice a day now, which might be a sign of age but could also be a symptom of the emotional toll of isolation. 

Friday, January 1st.  Pandemic lock down continued to notch up after Canadian Thanksgiving, with rise in Covid cases to the point where by Christmas, hospital staff were quite worried that they'd suffer a collapse in the system after the Christmas surge which they know is coming.  Too many people ignore the restrictions, including several prominent provincial politicians who think that they're better than all the people that they insist should stay home, and take vacations to Caribbean islands and elsewhere...and then get fired upon their return.  People interviewed at airports (and the aforementioned politicians) insist that they are going to a safe vacation where they'll be physically distanced from people, but willfully ignore the reality of their plane ride with recycled aerosols and no real physical distancing.  They are gas lighting themselves, and are a danger to our society.  Our friends Lloyd and Esther fooled themselves into believing that they'd be safe to return to the U.S. to visit family, with masks and lots of hand washing, but they both got sick, and Lloyd died. 
     The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have finally arrived, but the roll-out was slower than we'd hoped, in our country and several others.  Latest speculation is that Deb and I might get ours by July, which would allow us to take our trailer to western Canada to visit family that we've only been able to meet on weekly Zoom calls.  Mind you, we've had more regular contact over Zoom than we had before the pandemic arrived.
    Deborah has almost recovered from a slip on the stairs leading to our basement..  She was carrying two chairs and moving too quickly, and her feet went out from under her.  She bumped on her bum down four stairs, and had a massive contusion that lasted for weeks.  It is only now disappearing.  My own health is ok except that a six month routine blood test suddenly alarmed us with high glucose levels.  They'd crept up over two years and had begun to spike over the past six months in spite of careful diet, sixteen hour daily fasts (for three years now), only two meals a day, no wine or juices - only black coffee and water.  I'm trying to tame the glucose now with more resolute daily walking and maximum allowable metformin, but I suspect that next week the doctor will shift me to a medication that isn't considered as safe as metformin but that stimulates cells in the pancreas to pump out insulin.  I can't say if it was lifestyle or just age, but it seems that my pancreas may be weakening, which has me slightly concerned about my travel plans for coming winters.  Still, I've seen a great deal of the world already and it does seem inevitable that at some point I will have to age gracefully into tamer destinations such as Florida and the southern U.S. 
    We've had a couple of snowfalls but nothing too exciting, and temperatures remain above normal heading into January.  The nightly lows are forecast at the 30 year average highs for the next fortnight.
    Deborah stopped her weekly volunteer role at the food bank a few weeks ago.  There's a new covid variant that is much more transmissible, and we both decided it isn't worth the risk, at our ages.  Except when she shops, we stay home all the time.  Deborah built several mousetraps but didn't catch a mouse with them; only the old fashioned Victory traps eliminated our fall mouse problem.  Now we have a problem with rats tunneling through the front garden, attracted by the food that birds throw down from the bird feeder.  We've enjoyed the bird feeder, but now we're trying to figure out how to eliminate the rats.  Deborah got a larger size Victory trap, but rats are too smart for that; she killed a squirrel instead.  We've enclosed two traps in a box that only a rat should be able to get into, but so far haven't caught one.  We're going to try rolling moth balls or dry ice down their burrows; and Deborah made some balls of food that is supposedly indigestible by rats and causes death, but I haven't seen any evidence that it works.  The bird feeder has come down; we have suet cakes up for the chickadees (and the athletic problem-solving squirrels), but nothing for sparrows or other birds until we solve the rat problem.  At least they stay outside.
    For the second time, we did a couple of videos of songs for Hector Catre's online fundraiser for the Scarborough Food Security Initiative, along with other local artists - essentially, online virtual busking for charity.  He raised about $2500 this time.  He didn't plan it out very well, though - had a number of technical glitches and a late start, and had only asked for two songs from us, but contributed a half dozen himself, so it turned into "the Hector Show", with his out-of-tune singing solo performances. 
    At Christmas, Deb and I recorded a series of "musical gifts" for family members, about one per day through Christmas week.  We'll do another six or so before we're done, and then I don't know what we'll do.  I'll keep practicing my instruments, of course, and my Spanish and Portuguese.  I used my fiddle and Irish tenor banjo for most of the half dozen tunes we did - Saddle the Pony for Heather and Ed, Out on the Ocean for Peter and Christina, Ook Pik Waltz for Miranda and family, Country Waltz for Mom, Maid Behind the Bar for Emily, Billy in the Lowground for Dylan (we renamed it Dylan in the Lowground).  We did Auld Lang Syne on trumpet and uke with vocals yesterday.
    We finished our last tomatoes about two weeks ago (the indoor window-ripening ones) but we are still eating Bishop's Crown peppers as they turn red, from two plants that we brought indoors just before the first frost.  We have five that are still growing in the dining room window.  And our green onions continue to grow - I get them with my breakfast every other day.

     Note: This is my digital diary.  With props to my journalist niece for framing the concept, this is me being my own journalist.  Too many people live largely uncelebrated and die largely unremembered; everyone else is too consumed with their own lives to make a big deal of yours, so if you want to celebrate and you want to be remembered by current friends and maybe also by distant descendants, you have to record your own life.  I have ancestors about which we are very curious but who left very little behind to help us know them.  I have a few friends who blog about their lives and travel, and that helps to keep them in my thoughts and up to date on their lives, so I know that it is a positive and useful pursuit.