Pandemic Pondering#16

Another day, another Pangolin.Pangolins are the colour of a winter sea. I am immediately inspired to paint another cuddled- up Pangolin painted in the colours of my favourite winter sea. That of the Atlantic coasts close to my adopted home in the West of England. The greens, blues and browns of seas and minerals stirred up by storms and winds in the wet months of October to March , most years, are every bit as beautiful as turquoise tropical seas.As isolation stretches into the distance , ponderation seems happy to hunker down and settle on one subject for more than one day.I realise not everyone may have had a childhood fascination with the Pangolin or Spiny Ant Eater . So today I’m going to share some top tips on Pangolins. Pangolin is a Malay word for one who rolls up.Pangolins are said to be the most Trafficked Mammal which brings us instantly back to Covid-19. For today I’m going to talk about pre-pandemic Pangolins.They are poached and Trafficked because their scales are highly valued in Chinese Medicine. This trade is illegal internationally. They are also considered to be a luxury bushmeat. I’m unsure if this trade carries a world wide ban .It should. China and Vietnam are the countries where most Pangolin are tradedPangolins are solitary peaceful animals, mostly nocturnal, who only socialise annually to mate. Mating is not instigated in the usual sense by males. They simply leave a bit of poo and wee around and a female sniffs him out when she feels in the mood for reproduction.
What thrilled me as a child was the Pangolin tongue. Longer than the length of its body it is stored in a pouch by the Pangolins hip.

Rear view of Pangolin featuring hip pocket for tongue with spare ants.

This seemed like a super power accessory we could all do with. Their spit is super sticky, all the better to gather termites and ants . Pangolins have no teeth and swallow pebbles to grind the ants into a pulp in their first stomach. Curiously they also have scales inside their stomachs to aid this grinding.Pangolins are found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The illegal trade in their meat and scales has forced three of the eight species close to extinction , this coupled with the loss of their natural habitat by deforestation has put all eight remaining Pangolin species on an At Risk of Endangerment or Extinction register at various levels of severity as of January 2020.Pangolins in literature might be my Pandemic research of the day…

Pandemic Pondering #15

Pondering the poor Pangolin.Being a small bookworm took me to some interesting books and introduced me to unusual creatures The Pangolin was a creature I felt an affinity with whenever one appeared in the books I was reading. At other times I sought them out in Zoos and wildlife parks, thrilled by their ability to lick up ants Their tongue is longer than their whole body and is kept in a pouch by one hip. Pangolins might have remained in a quiet recess in my brain had the current Pandemic not put them very squarely in the frame through no fault of their own. Their scales are prized in Chinese medicine and their flesh is prized as a delicacy, increasingly they are farmed and this unregulated trade puts them in unnatural close proximity to Bats believed to be the original species host of Coronovirus. I’m
Katherine Rundell has written this uncomfortable account of Pangolin reality.
https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v40/n04/katherine-rundell/consider-the-pangolin
The awkward path of Coronovirus from Bat to Human via the Pangolin in wet Markets in China will be the stuff of much research in the future.
For today I just wanted to sketch my childhood friend, the Pangolin.

As luck would have it, I had a curious wedding garment that I photographed in Greece in my image file . It was just what I needed to give this little chap some bling.

Pandemic Ponderings #14

Yesterday was unusual because I didn’t feel particularly inspired to write and was in the lucky position of having written two blogs in one day earlier in the Pandemic so had the chance to stay numerically correct . It is 14 days since Pandemic Ponderings started. I’m not sure what made me not want to write . We needed supplies so I drove the car to a farm for eggs and then hit two supermarkets for provisions. We went for another massive walk. In the same direction as #13 but the opposite riverbank.

The need to bake became imperative and a rich black Guinness Cake sits in the kitchen this morning, some of it already eaten.

In London Cornish Pasties were being made by my daughter and her boyfriend.

Last night we attended a virtual Pub Disco, streamed on Facebook. Hosted by family member Lee Anthony

So there was a lot going on.

My mind was almost certainly taken up with thoughts that swirled around reregistration as a Radiographer. A decision made for me by the government.
It was a big decision to deregister when I left London two years ago. My long career in the NHS had accidentally gone full circle ending exactly where it started at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

An injury in New York, I fell over a flower bed, had thrown up a number of health ssues I was unaware of and some that I had chosen to ignore. The pragmatic approach and slightly early retirement seemed the right answer to these problems. Which it was, the Health issues have righted themselves with rest, medication, weight loss and exercise.

Reregistration is usually bloody hard and involves crossing the government’s palm with Silver and donating time freely to the NHS to prove worthiness and usefulness.

As if by magic in a Pandemic, reregistration becomes easy, which makes me wonder why such apparently useful people have always been made to take a difficult path if they change their own minds.

No time to be churlish.

Both myself and Pandemic Ponderings will be taking a path unimaginable to me 14 days ago. Let’s see where serendipity is taking us tomorrow.

Pandemic Pondering #13

Blogging in general is much in mind as I approach the end of March. Blogging through a pandemic is just an added puzzlement.

@theoldmortuary in its current form exists because I attended a blogging course at Spitalfields Townhouse, run by The Gentle Author. It was a hugely supportive and encouraging course with the most delicious blend of course members. We were encouraged to find our blogging style in a way that we could manage and sustain regularly.
https://spitalfieldslife.com/

Ever the nerd, I decided to follow the example of The Gentle Author and blog daily. It must be irritating to regular readers that my grammar is, at times, patchy and the narrative can be rambling. I am never going to have the eloquence or fascinating topics created seemingly so effortlessly by The Gentle Author. I do have cute photos though, a saving grace on days when my content quality wavers.

The deal on the first course was that I would publish a blog every day regardless of how finished or polished it is. This is a bigger deal than I imagined . Serendipity hand in hand with planning is the Key.

Be flexible like Water is useful little mantra.

Having been taught so well by The Gentle Author, it is very apparent that ‘ effortless’ is not a descriptive that fits with the creation of his genuinely lovely blog that has thousands of regular readers. I am completely in awe.

Soon after the November course I registered for the advanced course, being run over a couple of weekends in February and March 2020. After the advanced course I planned to look afresh at the blog to define its future.

Coronovirus leaves me needing that final twinkle of blog polish. As yet the date for the next course is unknown so for the time being the blog will remain what it has become. A daily pondering on something that peaks my interest. My terms of reference on a daily basis are much more limited with Social Isolation and yet even that is not strictly true. Today I looked at a post box I drive past many times a week. I had never realised it was a new design.

Todays local long walk took us down the hill about half a mile to Forder Village. Past this post box.

The tide was out and the sun was up. Hugo and Lola needed to be kept on a lead, this much mud and sunshine would make them giddy with excitement and not responsible for their actions. They do not look or smell at all good after a romp through this stuff.

Who can possibly guess where Coronovirus will take this blog. Where it won’t go is to the Advanced Level, like most things that is on hold.

Pandemic Pondering #12

I realised yesterday that in one virus induced action all of my friends have become people I no longer see.

Some of those friendships have 55 years of longevity graduating down to those that have a tiny lifespan of a few weeks or months and may have fizzled to nothing in normal times. The pandemic preserves them all equally in digital ice like fertilised eggs at a fertility clinic. Granted equal potential to survive, or not, over this period of real life isolation. Many of them will be re-implanted into my future life to thrive, inevitably some of them won’t make it and they will be replaced by new friendships created during this highly unusual circumstance . Thinking about this is overwhelmingly sad if I consider the people I may never see or interact with again.
Thankfully none of us know specifically on which metaphorical doors the plague crosses will appear.

I realise fully that this is a highly pessimistic blog and in part it was induced by a photograph that I took a couple of years ago either in Cuba or Spain.

It was lost for a long while in my pile of digital images . Once I rediscovered it it was filed , waiting for its appropriate moment in the sun. Meloncholia seeps from this image but I love it .

For all our sakes I have some gorgeous optimistic flower images to lighten the mood.

A gift from a new friend. A lovely gesture .

Pandemic Ponderings #11

This week started with bright shafts of sunshine. That special Spring sunshine that manages to illuminate dust and cobwebs even in the homes of dedicated cleaners. Obviously this week started with more serious restrictions regarding Covid-19 . Stay with me on this these two things are connected. Spring cleaning catches me just like any human, for a brief time dusting and tidying seem almost a pleasure. On top of this in these bizarre circumstances I feel the need to get rid of anything around the house that reminds me of what I’m going to be missing in this uncertain time. So artwork and ‘stuff’ associated with the Exhibition I was involved with next week needs to be put away. As did our grandparent kit of yesterday’s blog . The washing line has been strung up in the trees ready to blow fresh Atlantic and country fragrances into clean clothes and all the domestic linens that will fill the rest of my week of cleaning madness

After all these chores were achieved me and the dogs went out for our one permitted exercise walk.

The sun was beautiful and keeping our distance was easy for the few humans about. The dogs of course went about their usual social greetings.Not that you would know this from these photographs.

Pandemic Ponderings #10

Yesterday was a strange one . It started off sad and strange and finished off stranger.

Yesterday I decided to put away our grandchild kit @theoldmortuary.

Stuff that we gathered in a hurry in July last year when she arrived in the UK at 8 months old.

It was surprisingly sad. I thought we were well used to not seeing her. Even before she was born there was the knowledge that any contact was only ever going to be fleeting. She was born in Hong Kong and we met her two weeks later fully aware that it would be a Hello/Goodbye relationship. Then her parents decided to return to the UK and we spent a month in Hong Kong caring for her during the beginning of the troubles whilst they fulfilled their contracts. She was a resilient little soul as we made the most of being with her and being in Hannah’s home town. Public transport was sketchy and the climate unforgiving as we visited government offices and Embassies to facilitate the paper trail of three people leaving their home of five years. We also managed swanky afternoon teas and less swanky but far more interesting visits to Sham Shi Po and Cape Collinson, the former home of Hannah’s family and the last resting place of her parents and sister.

One last goodbye we thought as we jumped on a plane in Hong Kong, a few hours ahead of her and her mum and dad. As luck would have it they were moving to Cornwall.

It’s strange having an 8 month old baby arrive in your home. The equipment needed is massive and happened all at once. Since July we’ve settled into a routine of seeing her most weeks , sharing family time and viruses in equal measure.

We waved her off ten days ago, clean and sleepy in her pyjamas fully expecting the new routine of life to continue.

But we don’t know when we will see her again . Social distancing and self isolation have isolated bits of families and friendship groups in a startling way. Lock down which was announced last night further breaks our social and familial ties . We’ve all had last goodbyes without ever realising the significance of the moment.

Some of those last goodbyes will have been exactly that.

What strange times.

Pandemic Ponderings #9

Mother’s Day in the UK yesterday was bittersweet. The weather was beautiful but in reality too many people forgot about Social Distancing and enjoyed too much Fresh Air and exercise. Mount Snowden had its busiest Sunday ever , and it’s been around a long time. I wasn’t there but it was pretty mad. The Government got cross and said people were selfish. I agree and that’s a big thing to say because if I were a stick of rock, the word Conservative does not run though me.

@theoldmortuary we took a Social Distance walk around the uncrowded but very sunshiny and uplifting Plymouth Barbican and Sutton Harbour. Enjoying a take out coffee from Jacka Bakery, completely ignoring the baked goods on offer. A good sign that we are not hooked on Bakery Porn, or any other sort for that matter

Two lovely things arrived in the evening. Chocolates from the beautiful J and a lovely WhatsApp message from S.

Not in any way eclipsing these two lovely gestures on Mother’s day. Hugo and Lola has been making free with someone’s debit card and this card had arrived during the week.

The two mother’s Day sentiments are different yet the same. My adult children are far from the days when their elimination is my problem. My dog children will never move on from me not only having responsibility for their poo but treasuring it by sealing it in a bag and sometimes carrying it for miles.

Hugo is a private pooer , when I approach him, for accuracy of collection, he gives me a disdainful hard stare that dissolves into something pitiful as he skips and kicks his way through the post defecation victory dance. Lola is a more artistic dog, she likes to choose a grassy tussock on which to balance the canine equivalent of rock stacking.

She knows that her little pile might be a thing of beauty and waits until she is well out of the way before embarking on the Defacation Dance.

I, of course, demonstrate to both of them how precious their bottom offerings are and gather them into a special little bag .

So Mother’s Day 2020 a mixed bag, you could say.

Lovely adult children being kind from a distance because that’s what the guidelines said we should do. I always think Mother’s Day is as much about paying the love back. My two make me happy and proud, they are lovely people.

The fluffs, of course, had no idea about Mother’s Day but as of tonight the country is in lockdown, they will be my constant companions and in a strange switch of fate will have more freedoms regarding socialising than me. And that is absolutely fine, I really will never have the need to sniff a stranger’s bum or genitals. Pandemic or no pandemic.

Pandemic Ponderings #8

Dead Mother’s Day ( and grandmas). It’s Mother s Day in the UK and Social Distancing and Social Isolation protocols suggest that the last people on the planet who should be visited are grandmas and mother’s only within the existing regulations.

The cemetery opposite @theoldmortuary is always well visited on Mother’s Day, but this year it was busy. The more contemporary grave areas are alive today with the colours of bouquets and pot plants.

It was to the old part of the cemetery we popped this evening . To find the unusual and beautiful daffodils planted centuries ago for mourned mums and grandmas.

Even the graves had their faces turned to the setting sun and looked beautiful in their shabby uncared for ways.

The two most delicious daffodils were these two.

Today not having a mum or a grandma didn’t feel quite so bad

Pandemic Ponderings #7

Wonderful, wonderful Wembury.

This picture is from a previous visit to Wembury when a cup of tea overlooking the sea was just every day life. Wembury was my destination yesterday. Hugo and Lola needed their regular hair cut at their dog groomers.
https://www.nataliesdoggrooming.co.uk/

Wembury is a regular visit for this exact reason.

The hours between dirty dog delivery and pampered pooch collection are spent doing Plymouth based jobs or enjoying the beach or coast. The charity shops of Modbury are also an irregular treat.

The beauty of Wembury beach is the sand. It doesn’t cling so even freshly clean dogs come off as clean as they went on it.

These shots make it look like we were the only people there. Nothing could be further from the truth, I would like to say we are really good at socially isolating but I think I just got lucky with photographs. It was pretty chilly so many people were hunkered down against the rocks with flasks of coffee. The coast path was probably very busy but that involves mud and we don’t do mud on grooming days.

The National Trust giving free access to much of their land during the pandemic is very generous and public spirited . The car park was as full as on a hot summers day. Even after only 5 days of keeping ourselves isolated fresh air and a walk was like drinking fresh lemonade.