Peeking and Strolling

From Ton’s Week Notes for the past week:

Picking up Y after her sleepover enjoyed some live music in the garden of a random house in the neighbourhood. Today was the twice per year ‘Strolling Through The Gardens’/’Peeking In At The Neighbour’s’ event. Musicians and local bands set up in somebody’s garden and give multiple performances in the afternoon, while neighbours drop in and listen. We heard and saw a cover band perform, whose drummer turned out to be our next door neighbour.

I love everything about this.

According to Inside Rotterdam, the slash in Ton’s description of the event represents a merger of two festivals:

The annual festival Gluren bij de Buren (Peeking at the Neighbors) has been shifted to summer this edition, to join forces with the summer equivalent: Struinen in de Tuinen (Strolling through Gardens). Thereby the performances this year will be moved from the living rooms to the gardens of participants. 

Olivia and I have a long-unrealized plan to hold film screenings in our back yard for our neighbours; this is inspiration to think more broadly about how a multi-backyard interconnected festival, by and for neighbours (rather than tourists) might be a lovely idea for Charlottetown.

I Love Nethan

As I type I am lying in a a bright orange bedroom in my house. Against an almost-life-sized bear. Whose name is Nethan. Pronouns they/them.

I haven’t always understood Nethan.

When we first met, on that snowy winter day in a parking lot, I did not take to him. He was big. Ungainly. Floppy. Furry. Absurd.

When it was insisted that he come with us to Halifax for a 3-day break in March, I was even less enthusiastic. A bear. In a car. To Halifax?!

Last month, though, Nethan failed to catch a ride home, and he’s been living here in the bright orange room at my house since.

I’ve been warming up to him.

We run into each other from time to time.

He doesn’t say much, but he’s always smiling.

He must get bored.

I hope he likes orange.

Being under quarantine and inside-isolation-from-Olivia as I am, I’ve been wringing out extra sqooshes of novelty from my house, and needing to get a pack of laptop work done this afternoon, being banned from the dining room, and having already spent far too much time in bed, I decided to come in here. And lean on Nethan for support.

It turns out qualities that had previously turned me against him — big, ungainly, floppy, furry, absurd — today proved excellent traits for a pair-programming mate.

Nethan is warm. Friendly. He doesn’t judge me.

All of which gives you some idea of where the mind wanders into the third day of COVID.

Physically I’m improving bit by bit, hoping that there’s not a sudden dip into a new symptom thrown in as a surprise. The headache and body aches are gone. I’ve gained a cough—a coughing-fit cough in the middle of the night that’s slowed to an infrequent one now—and my brain fog seems to have, if not disappeared, at least lessened to the point where maybe I can believe I was always about this mentally acute.

If all goes according to plan, I bust out of iso’ on Tuesday morning. It will not be too soon.

Nethan may beg to differ.

Me and Nethan the Bear

My Left Foot

I still haven’t seen the movie My Left Foot. It was released in 1989. It won Oscars. Everybody said it was great.

I should have seen it.

But I haven’t.

Thus it should come as no surprise that I held off COVID for more than two years, choosing only this week to test positive. I am a late adopter.

The first sign that something was up was Tuesday night: I felt tired and achy, and then, through the night, had a constant cycle of sleep-wake-have to pee (a lot). I woke up feeling really hit-by-a-truck achy, with a headache and chills and, most troubling, a noticeable dip in my mental acuity: it felt like my brain had one hand tied behind its back.

Because I’m in the higher-risk “over 50” category, I was eligible for a PCR test, and was able to book one for 9:35 a.m. I had my positive result in less than an hour. It was jarring; not a surprise given my symptoms, but after so many negative rapid and PCR tests over the years, I’d grown used to a perverse feeling of superhero immunity.

Yesterday was a write-off: I slept more than I didn’t, got remote help from L. when I proved mentally unable to arrange food delivery, and cobbled together an upstairs-downstairs isolation plan for the household.

Olivia rapid-tested negative, and so I’m washing my hands with a new tenacity and doing everything I can to stay well away from her. She is texting me frequently with concerns about how the house only has a single shower.

Today my brain is mostly back—enough, at least, to allow me to reflect on yesterday, to undertake basic tasks like ordering grocery delivery, and even do a little work. I still have a headache. And I’m still sleeping a lot. But I’m okay.

I’d been so afraid of catching COVID for so long that, symptoms and risks aside, there is a kind of relief that comes with all this.

I’m in isolation until Tuesday—in my compromised state yesterday it took me forever to decrypt the How long do I isolate? page from Public Health: if there was ever a place where a handy web widget would be especially handy, it’s on that page.

After freaking out and insisting that Olivia needed to isolate as well, today I had a very helpful phone consult with Cindy at Public Health, and she let me know that as long as Olivia and I are staying isolated from each other, and she remains symptom-free and testing negative, Olivia can go about life as normal. That will come as a great relief to her. And to me.

I’m enormously grateful for my privilege: I have a large house, enough food, friends and family to help, and relatively mild symptoms. I even presciently took back a loaned air conditioner so that these warm bed-bound afternoons are comfortable. I am, give or take, Canadian case number 3,935,609; I know that I will fare better, and be more comfortable, than many who came before me.

As the edges grow, the network improves: tales of uncles and bicycles

L. and I stopped by her Uncle Brian’s house this morning to drop a bouquet of peonies. I’ve known Brian for almost 30 years—we collaborated on a project soon after I moved to the Island—and if you’d told me back then that three decades hence I’d be dating his niece, I’d never have believed you. And yet here we are.

That’s the thing about dating, not unique to PEI, but here in its finest, purest form: as two networks of friends and family join, interesting coincidences are more than likely to abound. Some delightful, some awkward, some remarkable.

Before I met L. I’d already met her brother, and heard her sister perform. Her mother shared office space with a non-profit I chaired. Everyone in Queens County knows her father.

As the social-connection edges join the previously disconnected vertices that surround us, our network becomes stronger, more interesting, more bound together.

L. and I have been cycling a lot this week, taking my new Brompton bicycle for shakedown rides. We were on our bikes when we dropped the peonies to Brian. And, Saturday morning, we were on the outskirts of the city for an inaugural ride on the almost-open extension of the Riverside Drive active transportation path that runs from the St. Peters Road megasection, parallel to the bypass, to Brackley Point Road.

I dropped digital breadcrumbs as we cycled, and dutifully added the path extension to OpenStreetMap.

And as a relationship strengthens a community, a new cycle path joins previously disconnected parts of the city, and strengthens the community in its own way.

Edges joining vertices. It’s powerful.

When I use OsmAnd to get a cycle route from École François-Buote to Charlottetown Airport, for example, because the new cycle route is part of OpenStreetMap’s network now, that’s how I get routed: 18 minutes, 6.56 km.

Indeed it’s now possible to ride from Sobeys in Stratford all the way to the airport—and beyond—on a safe, separated, smooth active transportation path.

And when the path is extended next year all the way to Mount Edward Road, and thus the Confederation Trail, the city will grow even more connected.

It’s all rather fantastic. The paths. The uncles.