A Hundred Miles or More

I’ve been listening to a lot of Alison Krauss this week, especially her 2007 album A Hundred Miles or More.

It’s hard not to love an album that features duets with both Natalie MacMaster (Get Me Through December) and John Waite (Missing You).

Krauss and Waite’s Missing You is a straight cover of Waite’s 1984 original rather than the banjo-infused reinterpretation you might expect, and I’d argue it takes what started as a solid mid-1980s pop ballad and makes it better simply for Krauss’ presence.

(Also worthy of noting: it was lost on me, in the original listening on AM radio, that Waite actually is missing you, despite vehemently insisting he’s not; I guess I’ve learned that things are not always as they seem).

The MacMaster duet, Get Me Through December, is a different thing entirely, inasmuch as Krauss also provided the vocals on MacMaster‘s 1999 release on her own album, but it’s a lovely song nonetheless, and the 2007 version sounds both brighter and warmer, although I might simply be projecting.

It’s also interesting to listen to in the shadow of Phoebe Bridgers’ 2020 cover of If We Make It Through December, originally released in 1974 by Merle Haggard. But for the fact that Haggard died in 2016, wouldn’t a duet with Bridgers have been interesting.

Of course one can’t write about Alison Krauss collabs without mentioning Robert Plant, whose latest release together High and Lonesome arrived just two weeks ago and is an entirely new kind of delight.

How to add your PEI Vax Pass to your iPhone Wallet

With the release of iOS 15.1 today, you can now add your PEI Vax Pass to the Wallet app on your iPhone for easy access. As it’s not immediately obvious how to do this, here’s how:

  1. From the My COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination page, get a copy of your PEI Vax Pass QR code and make a screen shot of it, saving the screen shot to Photos.

  2. In the Photos app, open the screen shot, tap on the “recognize text” icon in the bottom right, and then tap on the QR code: you should see a “Open in Health” option pop up. Tap that.

  3. Your vaccination record will be added to the Health App, and to your Apple Wallet.

That’s it.

Now when you need to show your PEI Vax Pass, double-tap on the home button to open your Wallet: it will be right there with any other credit cards, tickets, etc. you’ve added.

(from a helpful pointer from DNA Lounge—this all works because PEI, like many jurisdictions, is using the SMART Health standard for QR codes)

A Walk Around Robinson’s Island

Realizing that autumn won’t be around forever, we drove out to Robinson’s Island today, in PEI National Park, to take a walk in the woods. 

The last time I was there must have been a long time ago, as it’s an island transformed: where there was once a campground, it’s now gone, and significant rewilding has taken place. 

The walking trail is well-marked and runs counter-clockwise to a mountain bike trail that shares the same trail, but runs clockwise, something that  seems, in theory—we didn’t encounter any bicycles—to be a good trail-sharing system. 

A green plant turning orange and gold.
Section of a dead tree.
Bright red berries.
Trail sign with cyclist and pedestrian instructions.
Section of a felled tree.
Bright red leaves.
Bright red leaves that fell on a bright green evergreen.
Olivia walking, holding her phone.

After the Pandemic, We Can’t Go Back to Sleep”

The late  David Graeber wrote about the way forward from here before he died. In part:

Because, in reality, the crisis we just experienced was waking from a dream, a confrontation with the actual reality of human life, which is that we are a collection of fragile beings taking care of one another, and that those who do the lion’s share of this care work that keeps us alive are overtaxed, underpaid, and daily humiliated, and that a very large proportion of the population don’t do anything at all but spin fantasies, extract rents, and generally get in the way of those who are making, fixing, moving, and transporting things, or tending to the needs of other living beings. It is imperative that we not slip back into a reality where all this makes some sort of inexplicable sense, the way senseless things so often do in dreams.

Maximum Neighbourliness

Sure, we all dream about it, borrowing an important ingredient, at an important time, from a neighbour. But how often does it actually happen?

For me, never. Until today. When I found myself without a teaspoon of “mixed spice” for a parkin. The merchants of Charlottetown were without, and while I could have made my own, I happened to run into my neighbour Andrea at the Bulk Barn yesterday, and she offered up some of hers.

The parkin is in the oven now.

Between neighbours who watched Olivia as a baby, neighbours who built me a driveway, and neighbours who fixed my canoe, I am blessed by the sandwich I find myself inside.

a short period of rest or relief

The common definition of respite sucks, no matter whether you’re the carer or the cared-for:

a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant

Olivia started a two-night respite at Stars for Life today: she left home this morning at 9:45 a.m. and won’t return until I pick her up, 48 hours later, on Saturday morning.

Technically I’m on a respite “from her,” but you could equally say she’s on a respite “from me.” Either way, I don’t think we regard each other as difficult or unpleasant; certainly from my side, I love her dearly, and being her father is a source of great joy.

But, boy oh boy, do I need a short period of rest or relief from time to time.

Parenting, plus grieving, plus working, plus trying to chart a course forward for myself, that all adds up to more time than there is, leaving precious little room for what my friend Mitch calls “unstructured fun time.” Respite time provides a small dose of that, time where I can be the star of my own show for 24 or 48 hours, not simply a member of the supporting cast.

For me the great joy of respite is as much the relief from the punctuation of the clock: it’s 4:30 p.m. as I write this, and simply not having to worry about family supper is about The Greatest Thing in the World right now, followed quickly by the endless panorama of freedom offered by an unencumbered evening. And I get to do it all again tomorrow.

These brief relief periods—Olivia is funded by AccessAbility Support for two nights a month—make me a better parent, and a better person. I’m enormously grateful for them, and I’m enormously grateful to Olivia for having the courage to adventure into her part of the deal.

My own experience, and observing others, suggests that many carers regard respite as self-indulgent, and are reluctant to seek it out, or take it when offered.

There’s a complex thicket of reasons for this including the seeming-necessary conceit that if caring is genuine we should be strong enough to power through without breaks; otherwise the “difficult and unpleasant” rears its head, and who wants to make the cared-for feel that they’re a burden to be briefly unshackled from.

We would be well-served by getting over this, and by raising respite to a level of personal responsibility, recognizing that it is a disservice to those we love and care for to not take care of ourselves.

limits are imaginary

From a talk Sean Bonner gave at Esalen:

My first job was a dishwasher at seafood restaurant Florida’s gulf coast, I was 14 and I got paid in cash under the table. Some of my friends were in bands and before long we decided they should have records but assumed there was no way any real record company would be interested so I saved up started my own. You could ask “why did you think as a high schooler you could just go start your own company?” and the only good answer I have is I didn’t know that I couldn’t. Over the next 5 or 6 years I put out about dozen albums by different bands, first releases for many and some of whom are still touring, playing live and writing new music today.

This experience had 3 long lasting impacts on my life:

  • I realized anything is possible.
  • I realized the seemingly small actions of one person can inspire someone else to do something amazing.
  • It made me basically unemployable.

That last point is important because knowing the power of the individual and that limits are imaginary is incompatible with most corporate and business structures. I’ve had a few office jobs since then, they were… well, complicated.