DAY 14 COVID 19 PANDEMIC   MARCH 26, 2020  


I think it is time for a little background information.  Self-centred I admit.
 NO one has asked me to continue the Niagara Falls

caper which is  just as well since the other two incidents make me look stupid but not as stupid
as the Navy Island breakfast incident.  Instead I thought a little background
might be useful.  Those of you offended by the F word should take note and
press delete.


 WELL the 13th day of isolation has ended and 14th begins.  Today I did not get up at 8 but just read a book
for a bit.  Then dressed…same stuff as yesterday…had a coffee…picked up the Star delivered
to our front door and looked first for the political cartoon.  A good one with that lump Trump surrounded
by COVID 19 PURPLE PRICKLY BALLS with the heading ‘Virus Spreader In Chief’. Then I began typing
my Niagara Caper that sure got a reaction from one reader who called an ‘f——g idiot’…I assume
in jest.  Our near death over Niagara Falls seems to have amused many of you which casts me
as an entertainer.   Got me a bit worried because my former boss on that job, Dr. Norman Paterson,
gets this journal.   He did not know about that Sunday morning use of his little rented motor boat.  
“Marjorie, if Norm calls tell him you had a good time that day.”  Funny thing, I did not edit the story
because I  pushed the wrong bloody button and whoosh away went the story with at least one
amusing error when I commented on Marjorie’s seductive brown ‘sleepless’ blouse.  I meant to say ‘sleeveless’
but the word sleepless shows my evil intent.  Is that a Freudian slip?

Writing this journal takes most hours of the day.  Self-centred article here but what the hell.
So I hope it has some value.  One person said
she doesn’t read my scribbling so I said ‘No problem, I’ll delete you.’ to which she responded ‘Oh, don’t do that’.
Maybe the occasional use of SOB and other expletives was offensive.  If truth be told, my mining
days featured the F word more often.  One of my most amusing associates  could put the F word
ahead of every word in a sentence.  He called me ‘Fucking Al’ and meant it as a compliment. Floyd F.
was the hardest working man I have ever met. A diamond.  At my age he had been a cage man
in a Kirkland Lake mine.  Quit when the cage failed…dropped free down the shaft…turned his
friend the other cage man into a pile of jelly with bones sticking out.  Floyd Decided to work on the surface.
 We  lived together for three months in
the most god forsaken spot on the Groundhog River. Flown in and forgotten.  Wormy meat was 
a treasure.  Raw oatmeal a standard.  A chocolate bar was something to dream about.

various jobs in various places around he world.  Mayo Landing, Yukon, Chibougamau Quebec, Southern Ireland

My good friends Jim Romaniuk and Russ Vanstone signed me up to an American lonely hearts club.
A huge bundle of lavender smelling letters arrived at our first food drop by a Beaver float plane flying out of
South Porcupine.  “Hey, Fucking Al, who sent you all those fucking letters?”  “I have no fucking idea.”
(I picked up the use of the word from Floyd that summer.)  “They stink…perfume’  And so we suddenly
had entertainment.  Girls offering to come and live with us if we sent $100.  Some wanting marriage. Others
just wanting to talk to a man.  Sad letters.  But fun.  “Marjorie asked me what happened to the letters?”
“As soon as the Air Canada plane set down in Toronto, Jim Romaniuk and Russ Vanstone were there
to greet me.   “Did you bring the letters, Al,” said Jim and we never saw the letters again.  Not sure
if he shared them with Russ.  Jim has passed on but Russ reads this journal. 

For those of you who find this note a little too salty let me offer an excuse.  Sort of excuse.
That lonely hearts summer I was in Grade 12 at Humberside Collegiate.  Just a normal 17 year
old kid.  I did not smoke…thought that was stupid and lost two good friends over the issue. Tell you how.
We smoked on the way to school.  I swiped (stole) three Craven A cancer sticks from Fran’s
package on the pharmacy counter at Hertell’s Drug Story where I was a 35 cent an hour delivery boy 
and later a naive store clerk.  Naive?  You bet.  I remember a man sliding up to the counter
and whispering. “Do you have any ——mumble—mumble?”  “Sorry, did not hear you.??”
“Do you have any — mumble —mumble”?  “Could you speak a little louder?”  “Do you have
any vaginal jelly?”  I had never heard of the stuff so yelled to Fran.  “Fran, this man wants
vaginal jelly, do we have any?”  At this point the man slid lower down the counter and almost hid.
Fran got the jelly and said “Alan, do not do that again.”  I did not understand why.  What the 
hell is  vaginal jelly anyway?  Back to the story. So I swiped three cigarettes from Fran. Figured I would start smoking
with Bill R. and Bob T. like other smart ass teen agers.  I lit the Craven A…looked around…and
said to myself, ‘Why the hell am I doing this?”  Gave the other two stolen weeds to Bill and
Bob.  Lost them as friends.  They actually got to hate me for some reason.  Broke into my
locker and wrote Fuck You over my school books  Scared me really.  “Found a note one day
that said “Grant D. whats to fight you over at Western Tech.  Be there after school.”
They must have thought I was fucking insane.  Why would I go over there to get the shit knocked
out of me? 

 Never smoked again except for the odd White Owl Cigar to prove
my manhood.  Dad smoked White Owl Invincibles but had to do so with his head out the kitchen 
window and keep his stash in a little pouch on the clothes line.  Not worth the effort I figured.
Mom was quite tolerant except for ‘those dirty old cigars’.  She was a better mentor I figured.
If Dad had known about the fight threat he would have met the boys at Western Tech
and knocked the shit out of all of them.  He was tough, a tire builder at Dunlop’s.  I never
told him.

Dad with his White Owl Invincible — he taught our children how to smoke them when they 7 and 9.  Family picture…we
were a very happy family. Never realized we were poor.

Mom wanted to join the parents group at our high school.  We did not want her there. I mean why
would anyone want their mom or dad sucking around the teachers.  As a student I preferred
as much anonymity as possible.  We got mom out of the school when Eric had Mr. Tancock
as a home form teacher to which mom was assigned on parents night.  We knew that would
lead to trouble when mom asked “How do you pronounce his name boys?”  We gave
her a variety of variations.   She used one of the variations when she met poor Mr Tancock.
That got her out of the school.   I Tried to keep in the middle of the pack.  In the long run I
failed in that task for the school gave me the Head boy award in Grade 13.  I figured I got it
because I joined every club…science, photography, drama, etc….and every sports team…football,
basketball, tennis, swimming, track and field.   That did not mean I was any good.  My tennis 
career was one game.  What a stupid  sport  that is.  Love this and love that…stupid.  Track and field team
was another failure.  Dunc Green the coach put me in the hop, step and jump…another
stupid sport.   Swim team?  Fred Burford finally made me the manager because i never
learned to breathe doing the crawl.  I could do fairly well for one length but then I was done, near dead.
Football?  Fred Burford was a great coach. Showed me how to knock people down.  I got
really good at it and eventually made both city All Star teams.  His training did it.  I only played
sports to attract the girls.  Later in life I realized the girls did not give a sweet goddamn about
football.  They never saw that great shoestring tackle I made on an enemy halfback while playing 
with my broken hand in a cast that had become all mud.  I had my finger wired up…had to because
a son of a bitch on the other team drove his spiked shoes in my hand as I was throwing a great
cross body block.  Or maybe it was our own halfback who buggered up my hand as he swept by.
My brother got it worse.  Banana Nose from Riverdale spiked his leg in a mud game.  Drove
spikes in deep.  filled with mud.  Continued to play.  I remember looking at his leg and felt weak.
That night Dr. Greenaway said to me.  “Take this needle and if your brother starts to foam at the mouth
(take a fit) ram this into his leg and push the plunger.   Thankfully Eric recovered.  Football was
a real man’s game.  I wish the girls knew that.

Yukon job.  When I got home Marjorie and mom pinned me down beside the pump at the farm
and cut off my reddish beard.  

Just a little background for you to understand why Floyd Faulkner called me Fucking Al and why
Dr. Paterson hired me for 8 summers of bush life.  Why did he hire me?  Because I would do
just about anything.  I loved life. Revelled in experiences.  Was I a F———g idiot?  Of course.
So were all my friends.  That summer on the Groundhog River made me into a man.  We sliced
a piece of the sowbelly every morning to get the blow fly grubs out, then cooked the bacon.  We
ate wieners  that were beaded in some god forsaken chemical that oozed out.  I remember we could
pick up a wiener with one finger.  The ooze was like glue.  I remember throwing a temper tantrum
when I discovered my boy scout belt had pulled the compass needle and buggered up our day’s
work trying to reach a forgotten lake using an aerial photograph as a guide.  We had packed
everything on our backs…loads so heavy that the pack frames bent into hoops.  In my temper 
tantrum I hit my blazing axe against every tree I could reach.  And Floyd laughed until tears ran
 down his fucking face.  Every 17 year old high school boy should spend a summer in the bush
with a guy like Floyd Faulkner.  Once I asked Floyd 

“Why doesn’t Dr. Paterson give us a gun
in the bush…bears around all the time.? 
 “He has a good reason.” 
 “What is it?” 
“If we had a gun,
we would shoot each other…right?” 
“Fucking right.”

alan skeoch
March 26, 2020

(Give the beer a try…now selling at drive through at the brewery)

Jeez Al, you’re my kinda guy.
This sounds like one of my stories, but I have to admit yours is better.
OK – here’s mine. Brave & Dumb. Like the time I forgot to completely tighten the bolts on an outboard motor in an 11ft boat, and of course didn’t attach the safety chain or cable either. After all, we were only going for a wee spin on a flat lake in March, and there was still ice on the lake. We had just been idling, taking a look at a cottage (my girl & I), then I thought it best to clear out the motor before we headed for the dock, so I took it up on plane and we crossed our own wake, then PROBLEM! The motor jump off the transom and I found myself on-handing a 15hp motor full out as it skipped from side to side ready to jump into the boat with petrified girlfriend. Ahhh!
I managed to throttle back the motor before it bounced into the boat and cut us to ribbons, and it stalled as it sank into the lake suspended now only by… the gas line. My hand was off the throttle by now (out of self-preservation). Out of desperation now considering that the motor was sinking fast, I pulled it up by the gas line and (with strength I didn’t know I had) somehow lifted the outboard back into the boat without tipping us over…. Saved the motor but it was drowned indeed. No falls to be swept over, but we still had to figure out how to get back to the dock (no paddles on board, of course)
Exciting stuff.
Fun fact: When you had your incident Al & Marjorie on the Niagara River, it was the same year I was born, 1961. I guess I would have been a few months old at best. 
Now we’re too old guys.
I’ll be 59 on Tuesday. Not sure how that happened. Means I’ve been 19 for forty years.
Looking forward to the sequel, and hoping Stonehooker doesn’t go over the falls. We’re circling around Navy Island, hoping we don’t caught in the weeds….
Drink beer. It’s safer than water.
Ross Noel
Stonehooker Brewing Co.



DAY 8,  COVID 19 PANDEMIC   MARCH 20, 2020

alan skeoch

(running journal…running until I run out of steam)

ITALY                                  41,000 CASES   3,405 DEATHS
CANADA                                 873 CASES       12 DEATHS

CODIV 19…CORUNAVIRUS…Artists depictions makes them look life floating explosives in World War II.  Good idea, but remember they are so small only an electron microscope
can set them.  

1) Gabriela (daughter in law living in London, England)  sent email saying she has  placed a food delivery order with Longo’s for April 1, delivery to our house between 9 and11. 
“slot was open so I grabbed it and sent a list of food”.   Nice of her.   Makes us more aware of  the crisis and to begin thinking of
non perishable food….milk powder, evaporated  milk, dried fruit, any fresh vegetables available, etc.
“What do we need, Alan?”  I said potato chips and chocolate bars and raisins.   Marjorie was not amused.

2) Julie (daughter in law living in Port Credit, Ontario) sent email saying she will get us what we need in terms of short term food.   “Stores in Port Credit appear to have light traffic” (9 a.m.)
Needs?  fresh milk, etc.   We are being cared for…at a distance and close up…but no one invading our personal space.  Sounds like science  fiction novel, does it not?
“ALAN,  what food do we need? Julie will get it.”
“potato chips,  raisins,  Coffee Crisp chocolate bars”
“ serious.”
“I am serious…suddenly I miss those tihings.”
“Well,  Julie will not be getting them. We still have peanut butter cups from Halloween.”
“God…where are they?”
“Under the tea towels.”
“No wonder I couldn’t find them.”
“Be serious…what do we need?”
“chocolate pudding mix, Jello and both powdered and  evaporated milk”
“Slightly better….”
“How about pork and beans, oat meal and Kraft dinner?”
“I thought you told me that when you were a prospectior you had to order supplies  for 3 weeks and a month even.”
“True, I did…  sowbelly, salami and canned  spam.” (we called it Clap)
“Hardly a balanced menu…how did that affect you?”
“Well, I was thinner then.  Forgot to mention t he prunes…ordered lots of  dried prunes.”
“You figure it out…put prunes on the list…canned and dried…kept us regular after we built the latrine (which was just 
a log nailed between  two poplars)

(Tomorrow I will give you two lists…Marjorie’s and Gabriela’s…today Julie got us a whole 
truckload of  stuff for  $70 … including a sleeve of Oh Henry nut bars. (pssst. This  time
Marjorie put them under her sewing basket…saw her do it.)


“Lots of people out and about today, Alan. “
Now that observation made me very nervous. I hope we will
not be as dumb as the beach babes and  bucks down in Daytona.
This is a serious comment…brings on the War Measures Act maybe.


As soon as i heard about this  CODIV 19 VIRUS, I immediately thought of John Wyndham.  If you read this story
you will want to read the book.  Providing you are not too terrified.  

I remember Day of  the Triffids by John Wyndham so graphically.  Burned into my brain long ago when I taught both English and History.  The book is considered  one of the great books of our time…even today.
The story line is very simple but frightening in the extreme.   A plant, a triffid, begins to take over the earth. at least as I remember.  Not inconceivable.  The wisteria on our front porch
is capable of slowly crushing things…of winding its way to the sky and crowding out other living things…slow  but sure.


“When a day the you happen to know is  Wednesday starts off by sounding
like Sunday, There is something wrong somewhere.”

“It must be, I thought, one of the race’s most persistent and comforting
hallucinations to trust that it cannot happen here’ — that one’s  own 
time is beyond cataclysm.”

“And we danced , on the brink of an unknown future, to an echo
from a vanished past.”’

“unit then I thought of loneliness as something negative—an absence of company
and, of course, something temporary….That day  I  had learned it was much  more
It was something that could press and oppress, could distort the ordinary and
play tricks with the mind.”

“Anybody who has always had a great treasure has always led a precarious existence.”

“It’s humiliating to be dependent.”

“To deprive a  gregarious creature of companionship is to maim it, “

“The clock is the most acred thing in a  hospital.”

                                         John Wyndam, The Day of The Triffids

So here we are, over half a century later, and John Wyndham’s frightful tale has come true.  GRANTED  his Triffids were huge plants with killing tendrils…big
things, horrible things, crushing things, feeding things.   Our Triffids today are so tiny that we need an electron microscope to see them.  But when found
the Coronavirus — CODIV 19 — is even more frightening.  It moves silently but with bewildering speed.  Jumps from an accidental cough to another
person and does this unseen and  unknown until a few days later.  To expedite its movement it uses the human lung.  Your lung, my lung.  Can a  virus
think?  If it does, its thoughts are different as were the Triffids. Hundreds of people have died.  CODIV  19 did  not want them to die.  It needed their lungs
but did not need all the lungs it has infected.  A few LUNGS gone has not inhibited  the movement of the virus.  CODIV 19 can replicate itself with ease a thousand
fold.  Viruses are common.  Perhaps the commonest piece of  living matter.  But it is a crippled  piece of living matter that needs to worm its way
into living cells to stay alive.   Very scary.  I must stop.

Why do I remember Day of the Triffids so graphically?  Because  I was a young teacher of English at Parkdale Collegiate back in 1963 when Wyndham’s
book was assigned or maybe I just imposed it on the kids as a  good example of science fiction.  “Did you know that a good science fiction writer
always uses real life situations as a starting point then lets his or her imagination roll?”  I would have said  something like that.  Gets student attention.
I was only a day ahead  of the kids I taught.  Meaning I was just reading page 2  while they were discussing page  1.  With Wyndham however I was
riveted. Could hardly wait to read Page 3…then 4…then the whole book…before school, lunch hour, park  bench  on Roncesvales Avenue on the way
our apartment, during supper. A good book does that.

“Alan, I see Day of The Triffids is playing at the Doric on Roncesvales.”
(In those years, the 1960’s, movie theatres with single  screens still existed but just a few hanging on.)
“You must be kidding.”
“Why don’t we slip over…you can take at least one night off from preparing lessons.”
(Teaching to me was a sacred trust…I felt duty bound to know a little about what I taught…a little.)
“Rather run down in here…stuffing coming out of he seats.”
“Smells seamy…body doors…”
“Odd crowd … drifter types …mostly men.”
“Did you hear bottles clinking?”
“Comes with the territory.”
(no kidding…in 1963 the Doric still played  God  Save the Queen)
“Alan, stand  up…show  some respect.”
“No-one else is standing.”
“We are.”

“And, Alan, get the rest of those lazy people to stand up.”
(This I could  not do…no guts….I slipped a notch in Marjorie’s perception
of me as a leader that night.)

What followed was Wyndham’s story about the breakdown and  collapse of human
civilization when something from outer space takes  hold.  The movie was frightening
made moreso by the thoughtless…unthinking…crowd in the Doric theatre.  A
crowd that would not stand up for God Save the Queen. Imagine that.
 We got what we deserved
that night for we  were nearly devoured by Triffids.  Felt that way, anyway.

alan skeoch

3)  Did you know that twice as many men  die from COVID 19 than women.

4) Last night CNN announced that whole state of California….40 million people…have been ordered to stay home.  Fear the virus will infect half the population…high death toll.
Order to be enforced (somehow…national guard?).    This action caused  me to rethink plan to go out… even though there would be no human
contact.  I am 82…healthy as Granddad’s old horse, Dick…but both Marjorie and  I belong to the most vulnerable group.   This has been reinforced by some
nice caring phone  calls from friends both close and distant.  Very touching.  “How are you getting along?” “Need anything?”

5) Something is really wrong below the border.  Governors of California and New  York State (Gov Cuomo) have declared states of
Emergency themselves.   Where is the leadership of all of the United States?   Dithering…mumbling…using words like “tremendous”
and rendering those words meaningless.   IF only Governor Cuomo was President of the United States.  A man who speaks with concern
and  humanity and a determination to do what can be done and admit what cannot be done.

6)  What is happening in Russia?  Strangely quiet.  the Chinese / Russian border was closed weeks ago.  Little seems to be leaking out.

7)  Africa could become a meltdown.  Hope not.   



On Mar 20, 2020, at 12:08 AM, ALAN SKEOCH <> wrote:

A)   Hi

I think you should try to get home soon…you
will face quarantine of course but being in Canada
feels so much better than being in the US.
Our leaders know how to lead.

Note that your other air carrier promises to help
get Canadians home.  so maybe your tickets are
still good.

We can have fun with the ‘Lost in Paradise’ story
but there is an urgent side to it as you know.


 B)   Funny you should be thinking that. Our thoughts exactly yesterday as we watched the situation explode down here. 

Paradise Lost. 

We are flying out Sunday the 22nd. 

We booked the air tickets and headed to the boat at midnight. Luck was with us. It hadn’t been pulled.  Still tied up at a dock. The marina is ridiculously busy because all the Floridians off work are boating. Left a note on the steering wheel “Do not pull.”  Up at this ungodly hour (still dark) to go back and add stabilizer to the gas and run it through the motor.

More later. 

   C)   Poor Dave aka “motorman” didn’t stand a chance last night on a conference call with our two daughters. It was like 
She said …
A second She said …
And a third She said …
Until he reluctantly agreed to try for earlier flights.  

One daughter, a former flight attendant, SUGGESTED which flights would actually go and, by 10:30 last night, we were booked on a Sunday flight out of Sarasota. 

Motorman thought we would have a better chance with a smaller airport and resulting smaller crowds.

He’s probably right.

So here we are up bright and early ready to get to the boat before 8 o’clock this morning when the Marina opens. Motorman has the stabilizer packed. We will be back from our ride by mid-morning and will request that the boat be put on its trailer before noon.  

Then we load it with our gear, tarp it to withstand a hurricane and get on with the rest of the chores to be done before flight time. 

View over the pond from our rental condo balcony.  Sunrise March 20, almost the first day of Spring!


Day 7 COVID 19 PANDEMIC MARCH 19, 2020

Day 7   COVID 19  PANDEMIC    MARCH 19, 2020

alan skeoch

1 ) Borders closing all around he world.  American government said “Stay home” .  If you decide
to travel after today then you cannot expect help to get back. Same message applies to us I imagine.

2) Italian deaths from COVID 19 now higher than deaths in  China.   Iran also in terrible shape asking
UN for help.  

3) Some Cruise ships still cannot find  ports to disembark passengers.  Reminds me of descriptions
of Europe during the Balck Death Plague long ago.

4)  Please take a close look at Trump.  I feel he has  lost control.  Seems stunned.
Comments are hard  to understand.  Turns to VP Pence often  (and VP Pence blathered in a cover up manner today).
This is hard for me to say BUT WHO IS IN CONTROL?   I hope I am wrong. 

5)  Also The blame game has started…
China and USA…lies and  counter lies.  Obvious the virus
came from that wild foods market in Hunan…but whisper campaign
blames the US Army…imagine that…lies and counter lies. A terrible situation.
I only became aware of the virus when the Chinese gov’t began construction of those instant hospitals.  Someone
must have known a disaster was unfolding.

6)  THERE are only 2.8 hospital beds  for every thousand people in the United States. Not nearly enough.
One solution that makes sense is the conversion of big hotels into temporary hospitals…that
idea may sound obvious but no doubt there are big problems.  Then the big cruise ship owners offered
their ships as hospitals.  Not a bad idea, providing there is a port city.

8) Did I really correctly read that Trump is placing responsibilities for recovery from COVID 19 on the American States?  i.e. “I am not a clerk”

9) Apparently the federal government knew the USA could not handle a pandemic in a report received more
than a year ago.  Did Trump eviscerate America?

10)   Now,what you have been waiting for…
LOST in Paradise…Patricia and Dave
(for new recipients of this journal, Patricia and Dave are two Canadians currently stranded on tip of Florida…i.e.Lost in Paradise)

“Look at that Dave.”
“Yep, birds have wings but we do not.”
“Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.”
“That comment is pushing it a bit.”

(Patricia and Dave hope to catch the last flight to Canada at the end of March.  Their backup plan
is to buy a wreck and drive it to Canada….a flight like was done in Grapes of Wrath.
(This is the new owner of their boat which will be left behind)


7)  THE closest similar event that Marjorie and I faced was years ago
when the Soviet Union collapsed and our son Kevin was teaching in Slovakia at a teachers wage
of $125 per month and initially lodged in a jail cell in  Bratislava.  The Slovaks had been hit hard
with a double whammy…the fall of  the Soviet Union…and the split of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Slovakia was in a state of near economic collapse which became apparent when Marjorie and I
paid a visit on our March break in Canada.  Perhaps best described in first person.

Now Imagine it is  dark,  mid-March …no leaves, no grass…bleak….with an unmarked winery beyond the church…cobbled street…suspicious faces.

“Dad, we  have arranged a party in a Slovak winery outside of town.”
“Who is ‘we’?”
“All of the American School volunteers.”
(Actually all were getting $125 per month to cover living expenses but nothing else…and even
that amount was tough on the Slovaks.)
“We have hired drivers to get us there.”
“No street signs…no bill boards…no street lights…night time…not many people
around.  These villages seem deserted.  Ancient villages with front doors right
at the roadways.  Everything is rather gloomy, Marjorie.  Dark”
“Here  we are dad.”
“Nothing here…just a couple of barns and some houses.”
“The barn is the winery…you’ll see.”
“Pssst. Alan, this does not look good.”
“No sign…no light…a bit run down…scary.”
“Mom,  I know what you are thinking, don’t worry,  Slovakia has adjusted to communism. Their ways.”
( And we descended into a vaulted cellar lined with wine casks and people)
“Welcome, welcome,  your dinner is ready…bottles of wine at each table…more if you want.”
“Dad, in your honour, they have brought in musicians in traditional  dress.”
(Our group of about 12 or 13 young people and Marjorie and me were fed  traditional food…meat, 
potatoes, beets, bread…while the music  played.)
“Kevin,Why suddenly so quiet…why are they so subdued suddenly?
“They do not think we can pay for all this…they think they have made a big mistake.”
“Kevin, tell the boss man that I will pay for it all…food, wine, music…everything.”
(that decision, I feared would wipe out all our cash…but I had  to do it .. no alternative_
“How much, Kevin?”
“They want $140.”
“Is that all?  Give them this…$150”  (I had figured three or four times that price)
“And Kevin, pay them quietly…no big presentation…slip the money to the boss guy…now.”
(The little band started to play with gusto and more wine was put on each table.  Wine bottles
with no labels I noted, and desserts arrived.  We sang and maybe danced the night away.
And when we got ready to leave we were all given a bottle of  wine to take away with us.  No one
really knew who had paid the bill.  May have suspected.  But I did not have to play the awful role of
the big spender.
That was an evening I will never forget.)

Why tell you this story?  Because we are now at that stoney moment in our lives. A moment when something
big is wrong.  A moment when we cannot pay for everything that is needed…a moment when many of us
fear for our jobs, most fear for their health.  Many fear for America…

OR, put another way, We are standing in a small Slovak village with no lights and a pot holed  road cobbling its way past houses
with dour faces.  In front of us is a winery but we cannot see it. There are no signs.  We hope that behind
those ancient doors there will be light, food, music and revelry.

There was another bright moment on that trip.  Kevin asked me to teach a lesson in the high school where students
longed  to learn English.  I thought that would be difficult.  Not so.  The moment I entered the room everyone
stood up at attention and said “Welcome, Mr. Skeoch”.   A sunny moment as Justin Trudeau would say. (Sunny Ways)

Let’s hope. ‘We can but hope that somehow good will be the final goal of ill,” as someone said in a book I read  long ago.

yours,  alan
(claustrophobic feeling tonight)


DAY 6   COVID  19 PANDEMIC    MARCH 18, 2020

alan skeoch

1) One week ago our curling team celebrated a victory with
our opposition team.   We bought the beer for them and
then laughed and horsed  around amicably as always.
Now a week later our season has ended…  And we are
alone.  And  everything around us is suddenly different. 

2) Today PM Trudeau held a conference with the press on his doorstep
in which he mentioned a long list of steps taken to prevent  a) the COVID 19 virus
from spreading.  Most significant was THE CLOSING OF THE US/CANADIAN BORDER
…except for trade…we depend on trade for much of our food chain so trucks will
keep rolling.   b)  supports for people in distress financially…even homeless
c) supports for businesses facing bankruptcy

Trudeau spoke clearly and firmly with lots of specifics.  A real confidence builder.
The government is prepared to inject billions of dollars.  The term ‘billion’ is now
used often.   In the USA some similar supports are occurring only the term being
used  is ‘trillion’ .  This situation is grim.  

3)  USA IS  facing 20% unemployment … same as the Great Depression of 1930’s
4)  One very sobering fact  … we are dependent on
the USA for much of our food supply chain.  Where did the asparagus Marjorie served originate…
and the oranges…and the lettuce…ad infinitum.   I believe our rolled oats are made
here in Canada but am unsure.    Where does the Kellogg company manufacture bran
flakes, corn flakes, etc.?  The big factory in Ontario was closed down a couple of
years ago.   So what?  So closing the American border …total closing … is not an option.

5)  Marjorie went to bed at 1 p.m. today….cold symptoms,  She got up at around 8 am.,
looked after Woody our dog, peeled apples and made an apple pie and then, around noon
she had  a bath and went to bed, sniffles and maybe a slight temperature.  Me?  I took a
drink of Nyquill (sp.) and another pill of some kind. Did not wake up until 10 a.m.  Sun
blasting light through the window.
Marjorie gave me a nice lemon drink about 1 a.m.  I slept like a baby.  She did not.

6)  Disquieting to learn that hospital ships have been moved into position in New  York and
on the west coast . The American infected population rises above 6,000…not enough hospital
beds.  Some  terrible choices may happen…i.e.who gets the ventilator?

7) Deputy PM Freeland “I want to make t his absolutely clear, we have had very
positive and collaborative discussions with the US government”  “full agreement”
“we are in this together” “long history of good relations”.  Very positive news conference
in Canada.   Similar news conference in US is getting much better.  Dr. Dryx (sp.) spoke
well.   I was also  pleased with VP,s comments … he seems to be rising to the occasion.
Trump seems very tired …big responsibility under a lot of criticism…turning to his experts
more often which is good….but still needs to create more confidence.   Gap between
what he says and what is real…i.e. respirators supply in US.   I really wish I could believe
what he says.   Maybe he will help resolve things.


“Are you awake?”
“yes, What’s the matter?”
“We have to get out of here…the kids are worried:”
“Go back to sleep, I have booked seats on Air Canada for March 30.”
“Risky.  Hope they don’t cancel like West jet did.”
“Me too…Let’s go boating.”
“Look, a manatee…and those big jumping manta rays…right out of the water.”
“Tough choice to leave.”
“Tougher to stay…suppose you miss the anchor post with that hammer…hit your knee…need a  hospital.
“We will try to fly.”

 Advice to Patricia and Dave while Lost in Paradise

My good friend Russ was reading about your Lost in Paradise entry and advised
you should stay put.   

Not sure what I would do.  But I send this comment for
your amusement.  Our son Andy and friend KeithM. took off to tour the world years ago.
They were 17 or 18 and  like Voltaire’s Candide wanted to understand the world around them.
They bought wrecked cars in the US…$100 cars that would go.  One of them had no
side windows.  Police stopped them of  course in Arizona…”best you guys get out 
of this state fast.”.  They drove the wreck to California where a friend of mine installed
wooden windows…did not help much.  How can you see if a police car is behind you
with no side windows.  Now here is a thought.   Dave is very handy I know so I have asked 
Andy where he dumped that car and will advise when I know.  If found in a California 
wrecking yard I have offered $50 which you can pay me later.

No joke:
My brother Eric has a good friend and  his wife stuck in Costa Rica. Their dream holiday
turned into a nightmare.  No flights right now. No joke.  How can they get back home…look
at a map.  

So many others. One Canadian girl in Spain, alone it seemed, could not complete her
interview without bursting into tears.  

I guess I should not make light of the crisis.

9) Canadian dollar has dropped to below 69 cents.

10)  Bill P. sent me an amusing video titled  “On a street in Kelowna”….convincing, startling, professional, amusing

11)  Closed borders means  that officers on the Mexican/USA border will have the task of escorting refugees back across
to an uncertain future.  Could it happen here?  Borders are closing all around the world. A fact.  
the border

COVID 19 DAY 5: MARCH 16, 2020


March 17, 2020

Canada…this morning 444 infected…now 7 p.m., 598 infected in Canada
as expected…are we flattening the curve?
Social Distancing … now a good thing  … a month ago the term had a negative ring.
today it is  a term of hope.

1)  We are not hoarders really but Marjorie did buy two gigantic  sacks of
Quaker rolled oats a couple of months ago.  Great.  Years ago when I was
a prospector rolled oats were a staple.  Initially we used  oats to make porridge…but
that took time and work…so we then began to eat them raw with milk and brown sugar…then
we ran out of canned and powdered milk so began to eat them raw with water and sugar.
Sugar ran out.  So we ate taw rolled oats.  No problem. 

 Then, years later, I noticed a Skeoch recipe
from my Aunt Greta’s old cook book dating back to the 1840’s which mentioned farm hands
drinking something called  “Broze”

“What is Broze, Aunt Greta?”
“That was a  drink for the boys cutting hay and grain”
A drink?”
“How do you make it?”
“Just put some raw rolled oats in with drinking water, maybe a little sugar…sometimes
we cooked  it and let it cool.”

Bottom line:  Seems  we can live on these two sacks  of rolled oats for a long time.

2)  What a difference.   Today our Canadian cabinet led by deputy PM Freyland held a
news  conference that was confidence building…serious, positive, personal, fact laden…
Yesterday I  watched  the same kind of thing from Trump but his performance was the 
reverse.   I was very unsettled after Trump spoke   I scanned the faces of those behind
him and my opinion the faces evasive, troubled, scattered, unsure.  Our deputy PM
has taken the reins with confidence … willing to share the stage with all.  Could Trump’s 
vice President do the same?  Not too sure about that but maybe if thrust into first place…
VP of US might be less adoring of Trump and more willing to see the real world.  Right now we
just have Trump, a narcissist who cannot even read a teleprompter.  I noticed today that
our leaders used their written scripts accurately and  were not afraid to look at their notes.
These are tough times…not times in which to ‘wing it’.

3)  Emergency Measures  Act  could be used if  need arises.   A very serious matter but 
TO  be used carefully lest crisis clash with provinces.  Federal government has the power though
I am confident that Quebec will  support such.  Not so confident about Alberta.  Ontario under
Ford seems to going into line but i fear his use of politics.

4)  Lost in Paradise:  A friend of ours, who I will only call Pat, is trapped at the south end
of Florida where the beaches are warm and inviting…beaches where I would love to wander
picking up flotsam and jetsam (and maybe a pair of  skates from Federal Express*) 
*Movie titled CASTAWAY with
Tom Hanks as a lonely survivor
Hopefully Pat will send  me (us) notes from the beaches under the title Lost in Paradise.

pictures sent by Patricia and Dave today, March 17, 2020   Lost in Paradise

Patricia and Dave: Lost in Paradise
Paraphrasing: “Wel, Dave, our flight home just went up in smoke…all flights cancelled.  Here
we are Lost in Paradise..loving the sandy ‘no person’s land’ of South Florida.  Look, there is
dolphin nosing around as the tide comes in.”
“I guess we have to think about getting home sometime soon.  The boat is gassed up
for storage.  The marina is in full operation right now but maybe not for long. What do
you think of buying a used car and making a run for the Canadian border?”
“Let’s not just yet.  right now we are in paradise.”

3)  Today I broke a tooth.  Small thing in normal times.  Big thing now.  Dentists are in a dangerous 
profession and have been advised to close shops.   My tooth break is minor but it focuses things.
I have now been hived in the house for only 5 straight days but it seems like an eternity.  Marjorie
has done a little shopping and  says Port Credit seems  deserted…shops closed.  But food not an issue…
had half  a dozen Easter buns this morning..,,with honey from Russ V’s bees.  Why significant?  Because the bakers are baking.

4) Andrew:”We went for dinner last night and were the only people in the restaurant, then
we went to see the movie  ‘1917′ and  were alone except for one other couple.”
“Are you working?” (outdoor job)
“yes,, we have seven jobs on.”
“Dangerous…touch people?”
“No one around.”

next    Day 6,   March 18, 2020     

Day 4 covid-19 March 16, 2020


Day 4:  March 16, 2020

alan skeoch

1)  MacLean’s Insider reports Canada now has 3133 confirmed cases of Cod -19
which seems to me to be expected but MacLean’s says “has not slowed down”.
The plan is to slow down infections and thereby lower the statistical curve … hence
reduce pressure on health care system.  A big spike in the curve will overpower 
our ability to handle the epidemic and increase the death toll.   All death toll is among
seniors with many in their eighties … Marjorie and I are in this category so we
are taking things seriously.

2) Airports are receiving panic flights of Canadians from abroad. That will soon end.
Those who fail to get home will just have to “hunker down” in a foreign land.

3) Justin Trudeau closed the Canadian border today…exceptions 1) Canadians returning
“Come home right now, no guarantee if later.”  2) U.S citizens  (open border at present but
that may change.

4) Donald Trump finally admitted the situation is dire in the US.  He asked ALL Americans
to isolate themselves in there homes except, of course, for hospital and vitapservices.
Trump seemed shaken on TV…like he was not really in charge…seemed weak and evasive
the political cartoon on the editorial page of the Star shows three images  of Trump
“hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil”

5) Our street is empty…and it is rush hour.

6) Garbage and Leaf collection normal.  Marjorie outside rakkng rotten leaves…getting ready for spring.
Water supply is not threatened it seems.  We was our hands 10 to 20 times a day…that’s a lot of water
Sam phoned
to say that Metro grocery chain store is now rationing certain things to prevent hoarding.

7) What happens to our pensions?  the stock market has plummeted. The value of our pension
depends on investment profits.  No profits now.  So what does that mean for our pensions?

This is our street, Glenburnie Road, picture taken at 6 p.m.  No traffic…yet it is  rush hour.

8)  We do not know one single person who has got Covid 19.   Yet everyone is in a state of subdued panic.

9) Apparently my next  visit to the doctor will not be face to face.  It will be a virtual kind of thing…perhaps telephone or video.   Effort
to keep Covid 19 from spreading.   Amazing how fast we have distanced ourselves from each other.  Brave New World.

alan…day 3

ALAN SKEOCH COVID – 19 This is Day 3 (March 15, 2020)
Hard to believe the world could change in an instant but it has. We are hived away waiting for the arrival of covid-19…must be one of the four horseman of the ————— (forgot how to spell the word).
Having a coffee, looking out the window. Something nagging at my mind as I look out. Got it. No traffic. And all the world stood still.
Store shelves empty according to TV. Focus of the empty shelves seems to be on one product…toilet paper. Curious. Laughable. Perhaps tragic.
Gabriela sent an email saying she had registered us with Longo’s food delivery system where they bring food ordered and leave it on doorstep then take money from an account. No human contact.
Gabriela also ordered Marjorie to cease going to the Salvation Army thrift store. “The things will be there when this is over.” We will see if Marjorie can resist the urge to thrift shop. Doubtful. I just made an odd mistake…instead of thrift I typed theft. I wonder if there will be a breakdown in law and order as this Pandemic spreads across the face of the earth?
Gabriela made another sinister comment about young people should schools be closed (as Nolan’s school). “Parents will not know what to do so will leave kids with grandparents who are most susceptible to Covid-19. Perhaps a fatal decision. “If you are over 70, stay in your home. Make no human contact until he virus passes by.”…”You know Alan seems to have lung trouble…colds and coughs.” Hard for me to say this but that comment gives some idea as to how the world has suddenly changed. There is a bit of a silver lining in that people, i.e. Gabriela and others, seem to be worrying about each other more than usual.
Trouble on the horizon however.
In North America the gap between fact and fiction has narrowed even more. Who can remember President Trump’s last lie when he just continues to spin lie after lie. Makes any action he takes questionable just at the time we need firm and clear and informed leadership. My greatest fear is not Covid – 19. It is the possible re election of Trump. A certifiable narcissistic lunatic with the power to destroy society as we know it. .
What will we do? Marjorie will cook. I will write stories and go to the farm alone…no human contact. We are in a prison of our own making. Not a bad prison. But this is only Day 3.
Movie business will likely be in some kind of hiatus but we have heard nothing. Two movies on … one in North Bay and one at Scottsdale Farm. The need to entertain humanity may covert movie industry into a necessary service. Remember the term ‘bread and circuses’… Movies are really circuses designed to quell the the potential chaos of a world gone mad.
alan skeoch
P.S. How are we today? Just fine. A little antsy to get out but no problems yet. Yes, I have a cough but had that long before this recent terror event. Must avoid Covid – 19 if we can.

Talk about the end of time

alan skeoch Friday March 13, 2020
Today the city shut down
Today social events shut down
Today sporting events including curling shut down
Today schools shut down
Today air travel shut down
Today Marjorie’s bridge clubs shut down
Today Loblaws was ringed with shopping carts…not quite shut down but close
Today the loaded shelves in normal times were empty…shut down
Today the medical centres were mobbed…slowed down
Today dentists began to reconsider their profession…would that viral containing mouths were shut down
Today parliament shut down
Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was virtually shut down
Today the zoo shut down
Today the library shut down
Today the museum shut down
Today the art centre shut down
Today the white collar crowd were sent home…shut down
Today the blue collar crowd were NOT shut down
Today the garbage was collected
Today the buses were running
Today the pharmacies were packing pills…some lives were shutting down
Today the paper was delivered
Today a coyote slipped into our back yard….and sat down
Today the clouds were black, the trees were bare, the ground was gray…Today the planet shut down.
Today I had a cough…but no temperature, no weakness…no Covid-19 to shut me down …yet
“Shut up, Alan, …pipe down.”

LMARJORIE AT FUJLL SPE…Stonehooker Brewery Feb. 29,3020


alan skeoch
Feb. 29 2020

“I WOULD like to introduce Alan  at the Stonehoker extravaganza.”
“Unusual to have a wife introduce her husband.”
“Maybe so, but I want to do it.”
“All yours.”

(So Marjorie spent 2 full months…January and February…prepare her introductory speech.  Normally
introductions  take 4 minutes max.  Marjorie spoke for 20.5 minutes and  ended the speech doing
a South Korean ‘gangam style’ dance which startled everyone.  At the 15 minute mark Andrew tapped
his watch.  Marjorie was just warming up and pointed to the timer she had beside her at the lecturn.
Turned  out the timer did  not work.  The audience was amused … good spirited … tearing up a  bit (tears)…
and attentive.  She took over the show.)

The guest speaker, Marjorie’s husband Alan, put his speech  aside.  There was no point in giving two speeches.

“I knew Marjorie was a bit nervous,” Alan told the audience, “because this morning she put onions in the porridge.”

“Nolan, how did you like the party?”  (Nolan is one of  the grandchildren)
“Do you want to know the best part of your speech, Grandpa?”
“Not sure…”
“It was when you told the audience about the onions in the porridge.”
“I knew I had been pre-empted then… for sure.”