Did the virus take them?

In the middle of the night last Friday, the power went off. The luminous numbers on my clock radio disappeared, the flashing lights from the modem and internet connector boxes stopped and our house was in darkness. 

I checked the circuitry as I’d seen my husband do two days earlier when the same thing happened, only that time we were awake.

The same faulty section of the fuse box, the same disrupted circuit, which meant at least that electricity to the kitchen fridge and freezer stayed on.

In the morning, we began the slow process of switching off all appliances, pulling out plugs to find the culprit.

With no success.

Hopefully tomorrow, my nephew an electrician, might arrive with his tool bag and fix the problem. 

In the meantime, we have extension leads running up and down the hallway attaching to the various computers we use in this part of the house. 

This way at least, despite the partial power outage, we remain connected. 

A day without internet is hard enough. A day without a computer is ten times worse.

Almost as bad as the endless days ahead where we find ourselves confined to home. Though occasional walks for exercise are still allowed. 

Is this practice for old age? 

My mother in her final years spent almost every hour in her small room in the retirement village where she lived out the last fifteen years of her life. 

In the early days, when she occupied a small semi-detached unit, a one-bedroom brick veneered box, set among fifty or other similar boxes, she went out regularly for shopping, to visit friends, and to join social functions at the centre. 

After she hit ninety and began to slow down, she abandoned her mechanised travel chair and resorted to the dreaded four-prong stick to stagger along the corridors of her retirement village, back and forth from her single room for lunch and dinner and occasionally to see the local doctor who came into the retirement complex every week. 

My mother claimed to enjoy this life. She enjoyed the view from her chair onto a small courtyard lush with rose bushes and plum trees. 

My mother in her favourite seat , from where she once viewed her world.

In spring, a mother duck and her several babies took up residence in the courtyard year after year and the staff obliged by putting out one of those shell shaped blue children’s wading pools to give the illusion of a pond. 

The ducks took it in turns to swim around the narrow perimeter and in time the concrete on which the pool rested grew white with their droppings. 

My mother loved these ducks. The way they signified the passage of the seasons, cocooned inside her little room, surrounded by the memorabilia of her life. 

I thought of her again this morning when I began to consider the slowing down of old age, not that I’m there yet, not slowed down that is, despite my years.

This virus that coats our every thought gives rise to grim thoughts on the possibility of an earlier death, our own or that of others. 

It is as if no other form of dying exists.

We read the newspapers and when we learn yet another celebrity or dignitary has died, the first thought to come to mind: Did the virus take them?

Beyond the thoughts, we enter into survival mode. One day at a time. One week at a time.

And look forward to the other side, that foreign country, a future without the virus.

Olive trees are like camels.

The power went off during the night and all the clocks have stopped, the ones that operate on mains power. There must have been a power surge, which is ironic given the fact that it’s New Years Eve.

Even during the holidays I like to know the time. I woke with a start to a blinking digital alarm that flashed 12.09 at me repeatedly and then went in search of the time. My wristwatch still works.

I had intended not to sleep too late in order to find space to write before my 10.30am appointment with the physiotherapist. Later today my husband and I also have our annual check up with the eye doctor.

My husband thinks he needs new glasses. He hopes he does because his lenses are scratched and he wants to justify replacing them. I think I’d be happy to keep my glasses as they are, but if I need new ones then I will go for it. I love to be able to see clearly.

A message just now on my mobile phone from my third daughter to let us know she is on her way home from Adelaide, or ‘Radelaide’ as she jokingly refers to the state next door to ours. She is leaving now.

I will worry subcutaneously all day long until I see her safe and sound at the end of the day. It is an eight-hour drive and she travels with her girl friend, the two of them share the driving. Long distance driving is always dangerous, but they made it there, as she messaged me two days ago, a good trip except for the locusts.

The locusts are out in plague proportions in various parts of the country because of the recent rains. The drought had kept them in check until now. It is terrifying for the farmers and can be dreadful for our crops.

I have finally begun work on my tax, another annual event, which I despise and next week I have my two yearly pap smear at the doctor’s. For me the Christmas holidays become a time for annual events, physical check ups, house cleaning and reconciling my accounts.

I put off these things until the end of the year and get straight into them the minute the last bauble is off the tree. I have already returned our Christmas decorations to their boxes till next year.

It is too early I know but the olive tree we keep in a pot and brought inside to decorate this year was beginning to look dry even though we watered it periodically during its confinement indoors.

To me olive trees are like camels, they go on and on without water, but I am not sure how a camel would fare indoors and I am sure olive trees need sunlight, not shadow twenty four hours a day.

My children are old enough now not to fuss too much when the last of the Christmas cheer disappears.

They are forward looking, the young. Already they are in New Years Eve mode. Not me and my husband.

We joked last night over dinner that it has been some ten years since we last went to a New Years Eve function and then at the millennium, and ten years again before that. When we were young we would not have been seen dead not going out for New Years Eve but these days we prefer to stay at home.

At midnight we will go out to the front of our house and stand in the middle of our street, which is normally busy with traffic, and look over the crest of the hill towards the city and the fireworks that go off in the distance.

Every New Years Eve our neighbours, a widow and her thirty five year old daughter who stays at home because she has chronic fatigue syndrome, come out onto the street and we greet one another, hugs all round for the New Year and we watch the fireworks and ooh and aah at their splendour until the last light fades over the horizon.

Then we retreat indoors again and start the climb into the next year, which is an odd number this year, 2011 and as I have said elsewhere, I do not like odd numbers. The year 2009 was a poxy one for me. I hope 2011 fares better.

I have been struck once more by the artificial highs and lows that erupt inside of me during my time in the blogosphere, the degree to which I can feel so captivated by events in the lives of my fellow bloggers that I am brought to tears in some instances or alternatively driven to states of annoyance or great laughter elsewhere.

The Internet is such a powerful medium for drawing us in. No wonder some people lose themselves in it. I imagine that the experience in blogdom is one step away from the experience that some people enjoy within second Life.

I had tried to go there once – for research purposes, I reasoned – but something scared me off, something of the virtual and limitless sense of space and ‘freedom’ it seemed to offer. I felt a bit like a potential addict walking into a gambling casino, terrified at the thought that I would soon become hooked and then I would no longer have time for anything.

I have my blogging tendencies under control by and large but any further forays into alternative realities and I fear I might never come out into the light again. I would be like our Christmas olive tree trapped indoors forever more. And that would be the end of me, I fear.

I would dry out and lose my leaves, my branches would crumble and I would become a wandering waif lost forevermore in the ethereal life that is the Internet.

Pardon the mixed metaphor. Trees do not wander.