Christmas 2020

Got our Christmas tree, a Nova Scotia balsam fir, at the local Sobey’s lot for $40, transported home atop a kind neighbour’s SUV. (I could probably have transported one on top of my FIAT but it would have been a lot shorter.)

Christmas Tree Christmas Tree
Amelia cat under Christmas Tree

For the church Christmas pageant (virtual slideshow format due to pandemic) Ezra got to be a shepherd.

Shepherd Ezra Shepherd Ezra

Ezra also enjoyed helping bake gingerbread cookies.

Baking gingerbread cookies

No travel or gatherings for us this Christmas, just staying at home with presents.

Christmas Morning

While a Doctor Who TARDIS Yule Log played on the new TV.

Christmas-y Martha #cat

From Amy I got an Oregon Trail handheld game and a Halifax Mooseheads hoodie. I got her a new mesh task chair.

Oregon Trail Handheld Game Mooseheads Hoodie

A Merry Christmas to all; these are dark times but the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction

Evening of 21 Dec 2020, the winter solstice, brought a rare celestial event: a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, so close together in the night sky as to appear almost like a single celestial body. Unfortunately it it was cloudy and rainy over Halifax all that night, but the planets were still fairly close together the next evening. I hauled out my NEX3N mirrorless DSLR with its 200mm telephoto lens and managed to catch the planets post-conjunction in the western sky:

Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction (22 Dec 2020)

Zoomed and cropped it was even possible to see the Galilean moons, though any other details like Jovian bands or Saturn’s rings were lost to blur and glare:

Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction (crop, 22 Dec 2020)

If you missed seeing it, it’s okay; you can set a reminder for the next comparably close Jupiter-Saturn conjunction: 15 March 2080, early morning.

COVID-19: NS 2nd Wave

Figures that after I say “we’re doing okay” and an NYT op-ed calls Nova Scotia “a magical virus-free world”, that’s when Nova Scotia’s second wave would start..

Two COVID-19 cases hit schools in our immediate neighbourhood, so we pulled our kid from Pre-K out of an abundance of caution and started staying home again. New cases in NS peaked at 37 on Nov 24th, driven primarily by exposures at unmasked venues like bars, restaurants, and gyms — then gradually began to fall off later with the delayed effects of increased restrictions. (I still go to work if I’m needed on-site — coworkers are mostly properly masked and distanced, and we have our own offices.)

Keffiyeh as face mask

I think a lot about how billionaires are thriving in this pandemic era while ordinary people run out of money and face eviction. I think of how demand for exotic meats such as pangolin and bat was driven primarily not by the Chinese, but by wealthy travelers seeking exotic thrill. I think about Filipino nurses dying of COVID-19 in disproportionate numbers.

We Have Masks

Last week was Thanksgiving, this month will be Christmas; too many people seem to be travelling like there’s no contagion, which means the weeks and months ahead will likely be overflowing with disease and death. Paradoxically, I worry that with good vaccine news on the horizon, undisciplined, lockdown-fatigued populations may treat the mere promise of vaccination as license to relax restrictions even more, causing new outbreaks and viral mutations — not to mention antivaxers and other conspiracy theorists rousing enough lethal denialism among reactionaries to make COVID-19 endemic, leading to even more death in the long term.

Rona: Last Days

Meanwhile we sit and wait, still glad to be here in NS, where the community pandemic response has been called “magnificent.” Hoping that continues to bear out in the days ahead.

Cool Outdoors

We’ve been going for occasional nearby walks on days when it’s not too cold and rainy. Some scenes from the Old Lawrencetown Road Trail which goes over the unnamed brook connecting Broom Lake to Cole Harbour:

Old Lawrencetown Road Trail Old Lawrencetown Road Trail Old Lawrencetown Road Trail

Rainbow Haven Beach, still nice to walk around even outside of summer:

Rainbow Haven Beach in November Rainbow Haven Beach in November Rainbow Haven Beach in November Rainbow Haven Beach in November

And the Halifax Waterfront, first time there in months, mostly deserted and okay for a [carefully physically distanced] stroll along the harbour:

Halifax Waterfront "Deep Panuke" Natural Gas Rig

(Apparently the floating structure across the Harbour is “Deep Panuke”, a natural gas extraction and processing platform, now retired.)

Trail and Sun

Sunset seen through the trees on a random trail somewhere near Loon Lake, Nova Scotia:

Trail at Sunset

Hey, it’s been hard and the going’s been rough, but you’ll make it through, and there’s a light shining at the end of it all. Keep on going.

Last Leaves and First Snow

Leaves turn and fall, trees shake their branches clear, the winds turn colder, the sunsets come earlier. Having grown up in the Philippines, these changing seasons still hold some novelty for me, even years later.

Backyard Fall Colour
Backyard Fall Colour

I don’t think I’d ever seen in real life the fiery red glow of fallen maple leaves till this autumn in Canada.

Autumn Maple Leaves
Autumn Maple Leaves

And then, an early snow, much more than was forecast.

Snowy Day Snowy Day
Snowy Sunrise

And out our windows, through the now-bare branches, the slightest glint of ocean can now be seen. Colder, darker days are here.

Halloween 2020

As an alternative to trick-or-treating we had a little costumed Halloween hunt around the house, Easter Egg style, but with little pumpkins full of candy. Ezra got to be a robot.


Halloween 2020 Halloween 2020
Ezra as Robot for Halloween 2020

We still had lots of trick-or-treaters, with many neighbours opting for distanced distribution systems like candy slides. I just spread out treats on a folding table out on the front lawn with some hand sanitizer, disinfecting regularly with alcohol from a spray bottle, then standing off at a distance in my Star Trek redshirt, telling trick-or-treaters to “Live long and prosper and sanitize your hands” as a full Halloween moon rose to the East.

Halloween 2020 "Blue Moon" of Halloween 2020

Provincial Wildlife Park

Went on a day trip to Shubenacadie Wildlife Park to see the animals and walk around the marsh trail a bit. I was hoping to see the moose but it wasn’t out that day; that’s okay — the foxes and birds and raccoons more than made up for it. Glad I brought my NEX3N and telephoto lens along.

Yawning Arctic Fox Sleepy Fox Peregrine Falcon Raccoon

Amusingly, Ezra’s favourite part of the Park was just running through the Wildlife Station Building and following the arrows from entrance to exit. Here is with a bear.

Shubenacadie Wildlife Park

More photos from the Wildlife Park, which is about a 45 minute drive from Halifax.

COVID-19 NS Update

Seven months now since we went into COVID-19 lockdown. Active cases in Nova Scotia peaked in April, and since June the province has been at no more than 0-3 new #covid19 cases per day, mostly stretches of zero cases for up to 2 weeks. Schools have been open for over a month now with no spread, so the virus is most likely not in the community. Travel from outside the Atlantic Bubble requires 2 weeks of isolation, but there are enough exceptions that there is still some risk. Public distancing and masking requirements remain in place, and they generally seem to be working.

Mic Mac Mall Pandemic Measures Rainbow Haven Beach, Nova Scotia

We did have a mild scare when Ezra got a fever and a sore throat with sniffles: most likely a common cold picked up from his first week in school, but we kept him home till he got a COVID-19 test, out of an abundance of caution advised by schools and provincial health authorities. The test (long swab in nose) was painful and unpleasant, but he was a trooper and got a popsicle at the end of the experience — and a negative result a day later.

Masked at IWK

Right now we’re very glad that we moved to Nova Scotia in particular; there’s been a strong local sense of community and civic responsibility in the face of this pandemic that’s been key to keeping it down here — although I fear this will not last, as cases are starting to rise in other provinces and especially the rest of Canada and the world.

Canadian Tire precautions Pandemic! at the Costco

Still, right now, in contrast with other places where public health is mired in conspiracy theories and deadly unscientific bluster, I’m proud of Nova Scotia’s general resiliency and [mostly] prevailing good sense. We’re doing okay.

Bus Says Be Safe

Random photos from our pandemic-era life.

Donairsilog

Filipino-Nova Scotian fusion breakfast experiment: “donairsilog” — really just leftover donair meat with brown rice and a fried egg. (Please excuse my sad egg.)

Donairsilog

It tasted quite good, with the sweet donair meat, slightly burnt, reminiscent of beef tapa, rounded out well by the rice. Remnants of condensed milk-based sauce plus tomato and onion provided small dairy and vegetable components which even made this a [sort of] complete breakfast.