Boxing Day 2020
It was a clear day. Warm for a city not too far south of the prairie taiga. The temperature had risen to just below freezing. This walk with Helen wound its way through Riverdale along the river.
We stopped to investigate a perfectly round hole in a hollow tree, the work of a pileated woodpecker we spotted nearby. Then we reflected on the bench dedicated to a friend’s son who suicided years before. On the anniversary of his death, neighbours decorated the nearby tree and ground memorializing this terrible loss. Riverdale is a special neighbourhood of loving kindness.
Then we headed through the neighbourhood along the north side of the river past the hoodoos and then back again. It was a busy balmy winter day in Edmonton as we approached the parking lot and entrance to Dawson Park. Simone de Bébé, my toy poodle I rescued five years ago, was leashed around my waist.
As we walked, an unleashed dog eagerly ran up to greet mine. It appeared friendly and I stopped with my dog at my feet. The strange dog sniffed at my dog’s head and then catastrophically bit into her. Blood spurted from Simone de Bébé’s mouth. I thought of reaching down to hit the strange dog and then thought twice remembering stories of human beings injured in dog fights. Instead I desperately kicked the dog in the chest. Repulsed, it fell back a good distance away.
My dog batted at her scarlet mouth with bloodied paws.
The frenzied vicious dog ran back towards us and I reached down to pick up Simone de Bébé thinking another attack would kill her this time. Just then the owner of the dog ran up and kicked his dog away.
I remember through a fog of sorrow how the alarmed man and his partner asked if they could do anything. But what was there to do?
In shock, I stumbled forward, “I just want to take her home.”
I held my dog in my arms. Simone’s mouth was an oddly shaped gaping hole. Blood dripped from her jaw. Was she bitten on the paws or was that fur reddened from her bloody mouth.
I began to carry Simone back a few kilometres in my arms to my car that was parked at Helen’s house. Helen guided us through the neighbourhood. En route, I put Simone down for a moment thinking maybe she should walk. A stranger called across the path by the road to say I should carry her and I thought of course I should carry her. Why wasn’t I? Then I realized the profound level of pain my dog exhibited made me anxious to touch her. I picked her up again and walked the distance to my car.
When I arrived there, I couldn’t find the keys and there began a comedy of errors wherein neighbours notified of the dog fight and my loss walked and bicycled through the park looking for my keys. It wouldn’t be until three days later when I learned that my dog had finally started eating something in the veterinary hospital post-surgery that I reached into my purse and found my keys. These keys became an emblem of my anxiety. Lost keys. A palimpsest of grief. Lost dog – might I lose her altogether?
I didn’t anticipate the traumatizing effect this experience. Simone de Bébé is my COVID companion during long months of solitude. And she is a dog of great delight who charms all she meets.
I’ve had dogs since my parents brought home a dachshund named Fritz when I was about five years of age. It wasn’t until I was in my fifties that my mother confessed that when my parents told me Fritz had died chasing a rabbit down its rabbit hole they were covering up the bitter truth that he has been hit by a car on the nearby road. At ten, the rabbit hole story made perfect sense to a girl living in the countryside and missing her canine pal.
Christmas Day 2020
Ten months after hunkering down isolating for the most part during the pandemic, I confessed encore to my daughter how much I missed her. Though I always append to my complaint that I am glad she moved away. Thanks to a dreadful provincial government, the place I moved to for work 33 years ago has become a bog with little opportunity for young people. No future now, seems to be their motto. I’m glad she lives in a better climate elsewhere – economic, cultural, and meteorological. The climate change denying sub-arctic conditions here in Alberta are not filled with promise.
Though I so regret my daughter’s absence from my daily life save for calls and messages, I am entirely supportive of her desire to live elsewhere. On Christmas Day, I joke with her that she has been “replaced” by a poodle in the house. Of course, one doesn’t replace a beloved human with a dog. But a dog can curl up in your heart and take up part of the room your beloved daughter created for you. By a roaring fire perhaps. Or at an open door or window.
COVID introduces a layer of uncertainty in our lives. And I worry about my daughter in a small big-city apartment in the midst of a pandemic. But I’m confident in her intelligence and good sense. She has principles and ethics that guide her towards the best possible decisions. And she is thoughtful, kind, and caring of others. I miss her this Christmas more than usual. The pandemic makes isolation and the loss human intimacy an especially present and precious aspect of my daily life.
Remembering Coco Ming — July 17, 2015
It was a Friday summer night when our dog Coco Ming, a handsome and well-loved brown poodle, was hit by a car. He wiggled under a gate that had been broken for years. He had never done this before. I felt so badly. Anyone who knows dogs, knows what a terrible loss and shock this can be. My daughter had graduated from high school that year. She was about to leave for university when Coco died. She was devastated. And so was I.
Finding Simone de Bébé — July 20, 2015
A few days after the death of our dog Coco Ming on a Sunday, a car driver unthinkingly opened their car door in the path of a bicyclist. My friend Chloe fell, and broke her leg. A coincidence of pain, albeit refracted, mirrored mine.
Thus it was that I invited Chloe for dinner on Monday night thinking that a good dinner at a festive outdoor restaurant would cheer us both up.
As we chatted across the dinner table, Chloe held up her phone message, “Look Janice. My grad student just started fostering dogs and this fluffy white dog is the first to arrive.”
“Oh no, I said, I can’t. It is too soon. I can’t replace my Coco,” I resisted.
Chloe ignored me, “The little ones are adopted very quickly. So I think we’ll just stop by to have a visit after dinner.”
And so off we went to the student’s flat. When we arrived, we were told this dog of unknown origins was traumatized and very shy. She ignored everyone. And why not? After she was rescued, she had been spayed. And they had removed five teeth. And five of her puppies were taken away. I wondered if she had been in a puppy mill.
As soon as I sat down on the couch, the dog repudiated her withdrawn reputation and leapt onto my lap.
She didn’t have a name.
I succumbed to taking her home explaining I didn’t want another dog right away but I would test her out to see if we were compatible.
Resistance was futile.
Over the next week it was clear she was mine and I was hers. She followed me around with her eyes. A bit goofy, she wiggled under my desk to sit at my feet. Each day I found myself at the pet store. First I bought food. Then a new collar and a leash. The third morning I picked out a fuzzy turquoise bed and a paisley psychedelic-patterned carrier. Shades of Lucy in the Sky of Diamonds.
The next day I flew to visit friends and family in Ontario and took the unnamed dog with me. Mid-flight she became my Simone de Bébé.
I soon completed all the paperwork through the Whitecourt Rescue organization. Do I regret now that I refused their offer of one of her puppies as well? That seemed a bridge too far at the time. Now I think oh I would love to have another pup leaping around.
I remain ever grateful to Kelly Struthers Montford for fostering. and Chloe Taylor for urging me on. Kelly’s first fostering experience was a breeze as Chloe reminds me that Kelly fostered Simone for about 45 minutes before I spirited the pup away! But it was the 45 minutes that mattered! And in response to my sending her this blogpost, Kelly notes that her middle name is “Simone” — uncannily this dog truly is her namesake even though I didn’t know this at the time.
Naming Simone de Bébé – on reading Simone de Beauvoir
The toy poodle was named after French feminist philosopher and novelist Simone de Beauvoir. My high school English teacher Mr. Gibson introduced me to existentialism in Grade 11 – a canny response to my post-adolescent bleakness and alienation. I started with Jean Paul Sartre and soon moved on to her Simone de Beauvoir’s ground-breaking 1949 The Second Sex a study of women’s treatment through history that was originally published as a two-volume “Facts and Myths” and “Lived Experience.” A few years later I read her memoirs and a dramatic polyamorous bisexual novel L’Invitee translated as She Came to Stay.
Simone de Beauvoir accompanied me on my life resurfacing from time to time. When I was about twelve, I was fortunate to meet a young woman named Isabel Huggan who babysat one of my mother’s friend’s children during the summer. At the time she was 20 and a student in English at Victoria College. It seems I followed in her footsteps!
Over the years, Isabel became a mentor to me sending me beautiful letters to me at summer camp on delicate Japanese rice paper and inviting me to transformative new music concerts at the University of Toronto Edward Johnson building. Isabel later became a distinguished Canadian short story and essay writer. As a girl, I simply knew her as a life-changer. One year when I was a professor of English at the University of Alberta, she sent me a quote from Simone de Beauvoir that I keep to this day on my desk. The words were instructive to us both. In an essay, Isabel describes her own formative introduction to Simone de Beauvoir by a single mother feminist named Billie she met during her years as an editor at McMillan’s Company publishers in Toronto who introduced Isabel to Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter. Isabel describes the effect of this autobiographical writing in her review essay “Reading Across the Ocean: A Rite of Passage —
“Here was a sensibility to admire! Here was a writer unafraid to examine her life with a fierce and meticulous honesty! Indeed, here was a woman I could learn from and emulate: Simone, who as a child had dutifully obeyed her bourgeois parents and conformed to their religious and social practices, eventually found the courage to follow her own heart and mind. During her early twenties, she blossomed into an extraordinary, unconventional individual – and a prolific writer – seeking only to be true to herself.
Could one want anything less for oneself? This was exactly the kind of person – the kind of writer – I wanted to be: fearless, determined, and fastidious about uncovering and expressing the truth, in life and in art.”
How fortunate I have been to have such inspiring mentors in my life.
But that is not the whole story.
Becoming Simone de Bébé
After my 1999 adoption, I devoted myself to my daughter as a single working mother. Every year, my neighbour Sandy, a woman whose three children were now young adults, became my daughter’s loving auntie. Her daughter Maria had been my daughter’s babysitter when I taught evening classes. Soon Sandy’s love for my girl grew and over the years she offered much advice and support to me and significant loving care to my daughter. One year Sandy offered to provide caregiving support while I embarked on a variety of artistic or wellness self-discovery plots and plans. These annual adventures amounted to very welcome self-care. And in my absence, my daughter managed to pass many Brownie badges under the careful eye of her auntie. I will never forget her great kindness and love for my daughter. For several years, my time to myself was a spring vacation writing retreat at the Banff Centre’s Leighton Artist Colony. After writing time in a glorious mountain cabin, I returned home refreshed and happy with a new essay or a chapter of something or other completed. One year I took a course in weight-training twice a week where I grew so very strong and healthy. Another year I took a series of workshops at the local video artist collective creating a short video about my daughter and I returning to China to visit her orphanage.
In 2004, five years after my adoption of a toddler, I took a three-week intensive Mask-Making & Clowning workshop. My daughter was in daycare during the day but evenings and weekends she was with Auntie Sandy.
This course was taught over three intensive weeks by Jan Henderson, a brilliant clown in the Drama Department at the University of Alberta with over thirty years experience teaching her art. My task was to discover the clown persona in me – I worked on both the buffoonish Joey clown and the melodramatic August clown figures (the latter pictured above.)
This journey of self-discovery involved a performance-based creative process that followed elaborate mask-making exercises where we each invented, sculpted, painted, and dressed up as characters that lived in our three masks. Over time the masks have become an imaginative play space for friends.
During the clowning workshop, an entire room was filled with Jan’s voluminous wardrobe — a marvelous archive that fed our imaginations. Over time with a group of fellow clowns in the making, working with clay and paint and words and gestures and actions, I found my clown persona Simone de Bébé. She was naughty bawdy clown, a sexy French feminist who farted, so to speak. My clown’s stories were all ritualistic and told in the mythic cycles of Ovid’s Metamorphosis, (translated as “Books of Transformations”). At one moment Simone, the clown, might be one of three masks. The grieving mother earth goddess Demeter (translated from the Greek name ‘Ceres’). Or my clown mask was the young girl Persephone (translated from the Greek name ‘Proserpine’) kidnapped by the god of the underworld Hades (translated from the Greek name ‘Pluto’). Or my clown was the triple-bodied Hecate who consoled Demeter as she searched for her daughter saying: “Demeter, bringer of seasons, what god of heaven or what mortal man has taken away Persephone and pierced with sorrow your heart? For I heard her voice, yet saw not with my eyes who it was.” (Homeric Hymn to Demeter). And when Demeter’s daughter was finally returned to her, Hecate embraced and became the “minister and companion” of Persephone.
These stories are beautifully illustrated. Here is one engraving of the moment of Persephone/Proserpine’s abduction where the witness, her playmate Cyane dissolves into watery blue tears. In the colour wheel, cyan is a turquoise blue. Cyane’s transformation is memorialized:
It wasn’t until I researched this writing that I rediscovered that Hecate herself, the goddess of the crossroads, was closely associated with dogs who were depicted at her side.
At one point my Simone de Bebe clown became Ovid’s mythic aged Baobo who met up with the grief-stricken Demeter entertaining her by lifting up her skirts. The myths made sense to me. I was an English professor who once was fortunate enough to study Greek myths with the great Canadian poet Jay Macpherson.
Throughout Jan Henderson’s clowning instruction, I felt as though the meaning of my whole life was falling into place. And this was no surprise because it was the former writer in residence in my department, the talented Manitoba poet Di Brandt, who recommended clowning to me. She told me Jan’s course was the most significant transformative experience during her year in Edmonton.
And indeed, I too was transformed.
December 27, 2020
I clowned around for some years until I became an embarrassment at the market and elsewhere to my young daughter who became self-conscious of my absurdist alter ego.
Simone de Bébé arrived in the right place at the right time. Initially I drove on Boxing Day to an emergency vet clinic where, due to COVID, I had to leave Simone for a few hours as they were backed up with eight other dogs and a surgeon would have to examine her.
So I went home to wait for their call. I don’t remember sitting at the kitchen table for hours except for the fact that I opened a bottle of wine and drank a glass. That seemed a necessity. I was numb with despair. What seemed like a few minutes later, I reached for the bottle and realized there was not one drop left. I drank the entirety without self awareness. And I didn’t feel drunk in the least.
A friend came over to the house to pick me up to take me to the clinic to speak on the phone to the vet tech and to decide what to do. Fortunately the vet surgeon knew the limitations of his specialization. I was told I could see Simone if I decided to euthanize her. Otherwise, she needed a dental surgeon. One of two in Alberta had a new practice in a bedroom community just outside the city.
My friend drove me there and we left Simone again as we regulations meant no contact between the clinic and the human clients. At least I knew that someone there would know what to do with her. My friend and I returned home.
My friend held my hand as I sobbed into the wooden table. Bereft. Certain Simone would die. “I have brought some pain management,” my friend said. And we smoked a joint together. I remember asking him what brand it was and he told me. I looked at the container and said I think it written in Russian Cyrillic alphabet. The next day I noticed it was English.
A few hours the dental vet called me to say that he could do the surgery. It would take about three hours and they would screw the left back of Simone’s jaw together and and glue a splint between her teeth at the right front.
The surgery took three and a half hours and two days later I drove with my friend to the clinic. They let me inside to hold Simone. I wore a mask and a face shield into the clinic and a mask in the room where I held her. I spoke with the vet who explained he had been trained in Saskatchewan, worked as an emergency vet for three years, and then spent a tear in general practice. It was then that he decided he wanted to specialize. He moved with his family to Kansas City where he was a resident in a dental surgery clinic for three years.
I was so grateful that this veterinarian was available to fix my Simone de Bébé. But the process was painful.
Thinking about Unpredictably Aggressive Dogs
While talking with this veterinary surgeon about the attack in the park, he reflected on the dog we encountered, “I used the term ‘unpredictably aggressive dog’ advisedly.”
And then he related how he had once owned a family dog that was unpredictable. First it was aggressive with other dogs. Then it tried to bite another vet who was patting its fur. And finally it snapped at his one-year old.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Not everyone thought I did the right thing,” he replied, “but I euthanized the dog. Some thought I should have ‘re-homed’ the dog.”
The vet explained that in the end he didn’t want to pass on a dog that could have been a disaster in the making. But he also said that he didn’t want to dictate to others what to do about unpredictably aggressive dogs.
My own experience with an unpredictably aggressive dog was in my childhood home. I had already left for university when my mother’s dog one day bit the young boy who delivered the newspaper to the front door. Previously he had barked aggressively at people approaching the door. She warned everyone not to let the dog out but one day he escaped. After this tragic attack, my mother felt obliged to put down her beloved pet. And I still remember her anguish at, first of all, the suffering of the boy. And then the painful loss of her devoted pet dog.
It was a while before I learned the history of the dog that attacked my dog. It seems to be a very COVID story. Dogs are so popular in the midst of the pandemic while everyone is hanging out near home — sometimes we are confined more or less to quarters.
This dog that attacked mine was also a rescue dog when it was fostered at about seven months. And its history was unknown just like Simone de Bébé‘s.
This young dog arrived in its new family a few months before the attack and had one training session. A personal tragedy and COVID complicated organizing further training until the attack. The dog had become difficult “with boundaries” a few days before our fateful meeting in the park. The owner of the dog, a compassionate and caring man, realized his mistake right away and repeated his regret to me later. He was most apologetic about his lapse in judgement in not leashing his dog – especially in this part of the park that required a leash. As it turned out, this lapse was a disaster in the making.
We write to each other about what has been happening with our dogs and I update him on Simone’s progress. His dog is now leashed and muzzled in public. And they met with the vet and are planning ongoing lessons with a trainer. Then they will reassess the dog’s progress and behaviour.
My anxiety level remains high at this point. I’ve never had a vicious incident with a dog I owned. Unpredictably aggressive or not. I don’t know what the future holds for the dog that attacked my dog. Hopefully this will be a unique and solitary traumatic episode. But I told the owner I worry about further aggression.
The owner of the other dog has paid most of Simone’s voluminous vet bills thus far thankfully. Simone still has to undergo a second surgery when her jaws have healed two months after her first operation. This upcoming surgery is a day surgery that requires a general anaesthetic in order for the vet to manoeuvre around her mouth. The surgeon will remove the temporary glue and splint that keeps her lower jaw in place. The splint makes it a challenge for Simone to eat without shaking her head. Her food flies all over the kitchen. I’m not sure how much gets inside of her. The option is to feed her with a syringe or by hand, strategies she resists. We will both be glad when she is well again.
On Walking Simone de Bébé
About eight days after the attack, Simone appeared to be healing and becoming herself again. At first she was very low energy and not hungry though generally alert and mobile. Now I walk her short distances with care with a her halter around her torso. We circumambulate the block avoiding other animals that might want to play with her. Or we head into the ravine where I carry her if we meet any other animals en route.
I miss my walking partner artist neighbours Helen G and Kyla who stopped by to see how the faithful walker Simone de Bébé is doing. The dog kept a very good pace for five or six kilometres without fail. Now these two avid walkers head out on their own. And another favourite neighbour walking partner, artist and avid reader Carla, is always up for an adventurous new route. Though now she is immobilized with a dislocated shoulder from a recent fall. Meanwhile my neighbour Maarten stops by regularly to monitor the dog’s progress and we have gone on several short walks through the less well-travelled parts of the ravine.
Hopefully soon enough we’ll be walking longer distances again. In the interim, I’m writing more and disciplining myself to keep from the winter despair that long walks can dispel. I’ve taken to an organizational flow of simple tasks: making my bed; dressing in a different outfit every day – no pandemic pj’s without end; breakfasts of delicious bread from the local Parisienne Bakery and a boiled egg; Italian Centre cinnamon sugar in my café au lait; and a set interlude sitting at my desk for three or four hours in the morning keeping my writing muscle working. Recently this latter activity is accomplished while zoom calling other writerly types logged in on several continents. Surveillance and a digital panopticon stimulates accountability it appears. It seems to work for me. And of course, wine-coloured lipstick contributes to a sense of well-being at the keyboard.
Some friends would joke about this ‘bougie routine’. Such is life. Whatever it takes to keep the phantom black dog of COVID despair at bay. A bourgeoise routine. During these times of increasing insecurity due to our economy, it isn’t hard to be grateful for the privilege to attend to what matters to you. And to bemoan increasing inequities. A friend reminds me of Emma Goldman’s autobiographical remarks: “I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.”
I didn’t realize how I would feel at almost losing my dog. It was so deeply felt. Perhaps the situation was made worse during COVID when our connections to humans and animals seem all the more precious.
Here we are locked down without contact indoors as COVID numbers have been terribly elevated here in Edmonton, Alberta. Solitary dwellers are allowed to have a visitor in their house but I’ve not found that to be an attractive possibility when so much of COVID is via community spread of indeterminate origins.
Our provincial government has been derelict in their duties. They did not take proper precautions to make schools safe. And they did not close down restaurants and bars and gyms and other COVID-spreading businesses until much too late. The Alberta UCP’s ideological commitment is to “the economy” over citizens’ health. And this strategy has been a disaster. I’ve taken to calling the head of public health Dr. Doom – but this may be unfair as some friends assure me she is doing her job as an advisor but this doesn’t make the quality of care improve. I would prefer if she would speak truth to power and criticize the government leaders assertively.
The following note updates you on our situation here in Alberta under the worst provincial government in our history.
January 5, 2021: Edmonton, Alberta – Kenney’s UCP & COVID
As I write this, Simone de Bébé is at my feet sleeping in her bed. For nine days morning and evening I’ve given her – with difficulty – syringes of antibiotics and pain medication. She began to eat a proper meal of watery mush day before yesterday. She ate again yesterday. It is hard for her and the kitchen is covered with her food after every meal. She snorts oddly but she is more buoyant and lively than a few days ago. She has an appointment in six days for for a veterinary exam to see if her jaw is healing correctly.
While this has been happening in the realm of the domestic, the province of Alberta where I live has been in decline. Over 33 years, I’ve grown very attached to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and I have many treasured friends and neighbours. But Alberta has become a province with little opportunity for youth. Or people of any age. The United Conservative Party government relies on outmoded and stupid economic forecasts. They refuse to listen to even the enlightened oil companies about the future of energy. And the UCP turns deaf ears to expert scientific analyses of the decline of the petroeconomy due to the indisputable counter-effects of climate change that burns and floods destructively. Inspired by the same ignorance and bigotry, the UCP invents bitterly retrograde education plots thrashed out by ultra-right evangelical Christians including their minister of education whose previous claim to fame is that she led an anti-abortion group in Red Deer.
The government leader Jason Kenney is himself an arch conservative Catholic who was kicked out of his second year at a San Francisco Catholic university for his rigid, anti-feminist, and reactionary actions. He never returned to complete his post-secondary education. I can imagine his bitterness has festered to contribute to his anti-post-secondary impulse. His financial cuts have devastated the excellent provincial post-secondary institutions including my well-loved and superb University of Alberta that is shattered at the moment.
Jason Kenney’s hatred of expertise in professors and teachers extends to doctors and nurses. His attacks on the health-care system over the past year have been horrific. In the midst of a pandemic many doctors vowed to leave the province after Kenney’s repudiation of them via nixed contracts and verbal attacks.
The UCP fired 11,000 health care workers this year. Not long ago Alberta boasted the worst COVID stats per capita in Canada. If we were a small country we would have been fifth worst in the world.
And as though thumbing their noses at all of the expert public health information that warned against holiday travel during the pandemic, at least eight of the UCP caucus members travelled out of province to Palm Springs and Hawaii and Mexico and elsewhere – for no good reason other than personal comfort. This happened despite the fact that Albertans stayed home from their families located across Canada and around the world in accordance with Alberta’s own provincial guidelines against non-essential international travel and Canadian Prime Minister Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s prohibition against travel. Even Jason Kenney’s chief of staff travelled to England before Christmas and returned via the United States on December 26 because Canada had closed its borders to U.K. travellers on December 20 in an effort to stop COVID-19 spreading like wildfire in England and South Africa via a new variation that is 70% more infectious. If Kenney fired all of the UCP members who disobeyed the provincial directives, he would have to start a new party. No one has directly asked him whether he himself has travelled out of province for personal reasons during the pandemic.
The fact that UCP MLA’s could care less about travel prohibitions combined with the Alberta announcement that it would not be innoculating Albertans until the fall of 2021 with a COVID-19 vaccine suggests how the UCP doesn’t think much of the pandemic. Some of them are anti-science COVIDIOT (emphasis on “idiot”) conspiracy theorist Trumpists. One MLA who boasts “I am my own person” worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign. In a New Year press conference, Jason Kenney inexplicably announces he should have been clearer about the prohibition against MLA travel. Our NDP Opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley condemned his “complete failure of leadership.” For three days, Kenney promotes his party as cult members and does nothing about his COVID travelling UCP MLAs explaining that he should have been more specific in his prohibition. Meanwhile this news story about how Kenney “declines to sanction members of his own party” hits The Washington Post. The article underscores how Kenney’s response is weak and dangerous by quoting a University of Toronto professor:
“At least one top health official said he’s had enough. ‘I’m fed up with politicians who just don’t care,’ said Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network. ‘And the public needs to be fed up as well.'”
Sobered by the international condemnation of his lax policy, Kenney’s story changes and on January 4, the CBC announces Kenney’s chief of staff and his Hawaii-travelling MLA have resigned while the other COVIDIOTS are demoted.
January 8, 2021 – Afterword
The world outside of my small house is in crisis. The COVID numbers in Alberta are double those of neighbouring British Columbia and our infection rate is high. No one I underestimates the destructive effects of the UCP government. But we don’t yet know the full devastating effects of the provincial government’s stupidity and ineptitude. The good news is that many Albertans are disenchanted with the provincial leadership. And how harmful will the anti-vaccine conspiracy theory predilections of some of the radical right UCP adherents? Will COVID-19 become endemic in this province? The plans to vaccinate citizens here are slow and unambitious. Will I ever emerge from my house?
And further away, the ultra-right white supremacists have taken over the U.S. White House and accomplished a siege on the Capitol Building imperilling the Congress and Senate members and terrorizing staff. Focus now is on how the mob was not surveyed properly or arrested for acts of deadly violence. These white folk did not pose a threat to the racist Trump regime. A horrifying display of how conspiracies and the ultra right can seize power.
Here in Alberta, there are Proud Boys and increasing numbers of ultra-right groups along with a history of the KKK and organized white supremacists over many decades. These people have been mobilized to support the UCP. It is no surprise that school curriculum revisions included racist revisions to diminish Indigenous content. There is no there t(here) when we live in our province and the ultra right has a long history of bending people’s minds.
14 January 2021 – Resilience! First Run!
Eighteen days after the attack on Boxing Day and seventeen days after the surgery we head to the meadow with Simone de Bébé’s best friend Annie! And Simone’s running spirit returns. While she can’t eat well with the apparatus keeping her jaw from moving apart, a splint under her tongue, she is eating more. I calculated she lost a quarter of her body weight over the course of this crisis. She’ll have surgery in about six weeks to remove her mouth apparatus.
‘Pessimism of the intellect.
Optimism of the dog.’
— Canine Covid Gramsci
This blog post was revised and expanded January 9, 2020. And January 14. Thank you to Nathalie Kermoal for refining my translation of Simone de Beauvoir.
(Note: By the time I finish writing and editing these bits and pieces, errors and inconsistencies remain. So please let me know in a comment when you spot them.)