Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Jay with a Video-Conferencing Nurse

Preparing for Purulator Pick-Up 
Day ten of isolation: We had a task today. We needed to do our in-home COVID-19 testing. Jay started and it took a while for an available nurse to step us through the now-familiar process. These are the fourth COVID tests we've had in under two weeks!
  Day 10 of Quarantine - In-Home Test Kits 
Unfortunately, all Purolator pickup slots were full for the day. So, our tests are in our refrigerator until the courier comes to pick them up tomorrow afternoon. We can log on for our results most probably before Saturday. As long as we are still negative, our final day of quarantine will be Sunday.  How nice it'll seem to be outside of this apartment!


For around fourteen years, this blog has had an option for anyone to receive an automated email of new posts.  Over the years this function has become increasingly less important.  For example, I post a daily link to my Facebook feed highlighting each post.  More things happen through social media in today's world.

I just received notification from Google that they will be shuttering the emailing service from their Feedburner functions although the RSS will continue.  my eJournal and images - Daily Since 2003 - powered by FeedBurner .

The total number of my active email recipients stands at a couple of dozen.  I am sorry to say that if you are presently one of those readers, you'll soon no longer receive my eJournal and images by email.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Day 9: Quarantine

The sunny days are passing by while we continue to relax at home. We're on the better part of the fourteen days now. Tomorrow will be the day we have to log on and complete our home COVID-19 test kits with a virtual nurse. She'll arrange for a courier to come to our door and then deliver to a lab. Just as with the results on the Canadian side of the border, we'll confirm our results on the same website.
ArriveCan App for Self Reporting ArriveCan App for Self Reporting
Once the weekend is complete, we'll be cautiously free to roam around. 

On the provincial level, we missed a phone call check. I don't know how they got the number for my text-only app. I think I may have used that number to be able to confirm a logon via text. So, a polite RCMP officer rang us from the front intercom and met us at our doorway. His job was to make sure we were home. I guess I'm glad they're ensuring compliance. I wish they'd go after those participating in anti-mask demonstrations and breaking health orders too. 

Canada is faring much worse during this third wave

We already have appointments for COVID-19 shots lined up for next Tuesday.

Monday, April 12, 2021

A Week of Weather We Won't Enjoy

We got back a week ago after enjoying five months in the sunny weather of Mexico. While others were wearing jackets and toques here, we were applying sunscreen there.  So, now that we are back home, it seems as though we're on the receiving end of a tad of poetic justice.
  Quarantining This Week Too! 
This is will be our second week of isolation as we are quarantining in our 730 sq ft apartment. We must spend days looking out of balcony windows from within. So many people arrive at the newly-reopened Pier Park along the Fraser River. Whenever this area is sunny, people rejoice by getting outside. I know we had a great winter away but it still feels really strange not being able to run around out there.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Got the Keys But Lost a Tracker!

I Lost the Tile, Not the CameraI bought my Tile trackers last summer. Honestly, it was one of those things I got excited about for about one week and the thrill sort of passed. 

As we're presently under quarantine, we've not been out of the apartment except to the garbage chute. However, today, I noticed that my car fob was in a drawer of my bedside table but my keys were not. I have one of those detachable keychains which allows me to leave my heavy fob at home unless I'm driving. Why would I have separated my keys, I wondered? To hide them? I didn't remember putting them in any special place. I searched all sorts of locations where I may have hidden them. I could see nothing! 

Then, I remembered I had a Tile tracker attached to them. So I opened my phone app. It said my keys were nearby. The tracker plays a high-pitched little tune that guides one to the lost item. I muted the TV and could hear them. It was a bit hard to determine which room at first. Slowly, I followed the tune to my backpack that is still in the hallway. I opened lots and lots of pockets before I finally found them. 

My keys had travelled with us for the entire winter!  If I'd put away my backpack, I'd have not found the keys until some future vacation.

In addition, I learned something new.  I have my camera and case, but I discovered I must have lost their tracker in Playa del Carmen.  I just turned on the FIND option and I'll see if any member of the Tile network passes them.  I don't expect to get it back, but discovering it would make for an interesting story.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Another Day, Another Delivery

I'm happy enough with my selection of local TV stations. Presently, I pay $CA 80 per year for TV over IP from my Internet provider. SurfTV is pretty dependable and their Android app on my Nvidia Shield works just fine. 

Another Day, Another Delivery

However, in Mexico, I set up a new TV for our Mazatlan apartment. All the high-def  'Over-The-Air channels' looked great. At the time, I thought I would pick up an antenna to hide behind my own television here in New Westminster. One arrived today, and I'm a bit disappointed. 

Digital TV reception depends almost completely on OAS orientation to the broadcast towers. The towers are on mountains looking down on Vancouver, whereas our apartment windows in New Westminster look southward. As expected I got all the non-US-network channels from Bellingham, WA.  I already get them and really wanted just the Canadian local networks: CBC, CTV, and Global. I only get reception from CTV in Victoria as they must have a repeater somewhere close by. 

The situation wasn't completely unexpected but I still found it somewhat frustrating. The cheap antenna from Amazon didn't break the bank and I guess it was worth $20 to learn that what I had heard about digital reception was accurate.

Friday, April 09, 2021

The Little Joys of Quarantining

About a year ago, we were ending our quarantine after arriving back from Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Now we're doing it again after spending five months in sunny Mexico. You'd think we'd be pretty good at it this time around.
  Day 5 of Quarantine 
However, this is day #5 and I'm finding little to blog about. That's why this picture highlights mere washcloths. The Amazon guy dropped off a package of 24 at our door this afternoon.  I bought a mixed colour set.  So, that is THE major news item for us today.  How exciting, eh?

Oh, I also ordered the Emily Carr print I was thinking about back in Mazatlan a couple of weeks back.  It seems as if some of this blog's news may have to come delivered to our door for the remaining nine days of self-isolation.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

I Wear a Plastic Ring

I like having a ring on my finger. The trouble is it's never worth it to buy good ones because I frequently misplace them. Losing a ring is no longer a problem.

One purchase I made last summer was my little 3D printer. It rested nicely in the front closet over the winter while we were away.  Yesterday, I turned it on to allow it to update its software. I let the nozzle heat up and thought I should give it a test run at a little object. The unit contains most of the files I have ever printed or attempted to print. 

I looked down at my hand and realized I wasn't wearing a ring. Where did I leave my most recent one?  Perhaps, I left it by the sink in Mazatlan. I printed one called Celtic-21 last night in brown. Today, I don't know where it is. We've not been out of the apartment as we're under quarantine, so maybe they simply vanish. I must've bought magical, disappearing filament. 

I'm creating another.

I Lose a Ring Every Few Days.  I Print More.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Self-Isolation: Day 3

Now I remember why we went to Mexico for five months. The weather today was most probably a lot like a lot of those months.
  This Was What We Missed for Five Months 
During the last few weeks in Mazatlan, I was making a mental list of all the things which had to be completed upon our arrival at home. In my mind it was going to take a long time to finish the chores. Here were are and most everything is already done, including some online shopping for new Keen's Men Sandals, and a little scanner designed expressly for digitizing old photographs. We went through the mail and completed the online BC Speculation and Vacancy Tax last night. They were supposed to be completed between January and the end of last month. 

Returning to our apartment after being away really isn't too hard. We just flip on the power and arrange to have the Internet running on the day we arrive. Everything is easy to set up for our spring return. Our apartment is now like our little cacoon of readiness in downtown New Westminster.
  A Walmart Roast Chicken Via InstaCart

We just had a roast chicken for dinner.  We did our second order with Rather than getting products from the Canadian Superstore, we ordered from our uptown Walmart.  Our shopper was so helpful.  The app makes it easy to message when the shopping is in progress.  She showed us a packet of green beans and asked if it was an acceptable replacement item.  It was.  Andrea dropped things at our door a whole half hour before the end of the scheduled delivery window.

Second Instacart Delivery.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

The Necessity of a Phone

I can remember when people had mobile phones for making voice calls. I use mine infrequently nowadays for doing that!

I started today by indicating to the Canadian government that we had, indeed, reached our location of quarantine.  I also indicated that we still have no symptoms of COVID-19.  We are awaiting the results from the tests given inside the Canadian border at yesterday's entry.  We were given two unused kits that we have to prepare on our 10th day of isolation and have couriered to the lab via Purolator.   In Canada, we'll be free to go out in public after 14 days. 

Reporting Our Quarantine The Uber of Shopping

The screen to the right shows another app as Bryan was preparing to pick out our groceries at a nearby Canadian Superstore.  We had account troubles using the Walmart system which resulted in cancelled orders.  Now, however, I am enamoured with  It is an extremely helpful tool that I'm sure we'll use occasionally well after we are 'free'.  I sort of like having a personal shopper.  In our postal code region, we have a number of stores for which we can use the app.

I put everything needed in my online cart.  Most orders can be delivered within a few hours.  Bryan did an excellent job for us and messaged within the app when the curry leaves weren't available.  He also had to purchase alternative tomatoes and requested confirmation that it was okay.  It was.  Our fridge is fully stocked.  

Today's Grocery Delivery

Bryan knocked at our door and left the bags.  Were we not in isolation, I would have thrown open the door and shaken his hand!

Monday, April 05, 2021

Arriving Home After Five Months

It ended up being so blustery in Blaine, WA yesterday that we didn't spend much time outside enjoying the sunshine. So, we got up raring to get home. We were unsure how quickly we might be in New Westminster, BC. Although the motel had great beds, we hadn't really sleep well during any of the three nights there. We awoke and got up at about 6:20. 

We didn't take long to finish several cups of instant coffee and the packets of Quaker oatmeal. We repacked everything into our two large suitcases and two backpacks. I opened Uber and I tried entering our apartment's address directly. The dreaded 'NO VEHICLES AVAILABLE' notice appeared near the bottom of the app. As we have only used Uber in urban places, seeing that notification was scary. I kept letting the app try. 

I continued with the tasks and after about 10 minutes, a driver accepted. Neat! Going all the way from the hotel meant we didn't have to roll our luggage through the entire International Peace Park between the border stations for the US and Canada. I knew this would mean a bit of wait time for the driver while were taking yet another COVID-19 test upon entry to our country. 

The drive is only about 35 kilometers, so the price came to under $50 in the app. We were so grateful for the ease of this morning's return. It did take nearly twenty minutes to undergo today's COVID-19 test as we had to enter data into the tracking system. 

Daniel was an older gentleman who held dual US / Canadian citizenship. His app info mentioned being a grandfather and enjoying fishing. His Nexus card and access as an essential-service worker helped today too. We had a nice chat during our ride and it was a spectacular day in the Lower Mainland. Coming back towards the mountains over the huge Alex Fraser Bridge sort of left me in awe. It's good to change one's perspective, as when travelling, to keep one appreciative of things big and small. Daniel's Honda Accord Hybrid was a nice vehicle. We happily gave him an extra US$60 tip to thank him for the great service. 

We were surely happy entering the door, switching on the electricity, turning on the water, lighting the gas fireplace, and the thousands of chores to ready for the summer and fall here.  It is nice to be home!
  Flipped on Everything After Five Months April 5, 2021 Pier Park Re-Opened Yesterday

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Our Easter Sunday in Blaine, WA

27°C Last Week But 7°C Today!

Facebook comment:
Update Day 2 - Happy Easter! We got our 'not detected' results at around 2 AM. Of course, I didn't read them until after we got up.
So we are now capable of entering our own country. However, as it is a sunny Sunday, we've decided to spend the day and another night here in Blaine. We can enjoy the waterfront and slowly re-pack tonight.
We'll call for an Uber to take us and our bags to Peace Arch Park's US side parking lot. The Peace Portal, a large arch and landscaped area sits between the US and Canadian border entrances. People from either side can enjoy the area without restriction. In fact, when some folks are separated for various reasons, they can meet face to face here. We will roll ourselves across the border and find a Surrey, BC Uber driver to get us back to New Westminster.
Barring any last-minute snafus, we should flip everything on in our apartment tomorrow and ready ourselves for 14 days of sitting around inside.

This business, just across the street from the hotel, provides our sustainance. The Thai food we buy is always enough for both lunch and dinner. Yesterday, we picked up some coffee, packet oatmeal, and juice with a few other items at the Rite Aid after returning from our trip to Bellingham for COVID testing.

Our Take-Out Food Supply
Chada Thai Takeaway, Blaine

Saturday, April 03, 2021

A Rollercoaster Kind of a Day

Facebook Comments:
Update Day 1 - Had hopes and made an appointment at local Rite Aid for tests at noon today. Unfortunately, the fine print says drive-through only. So even if we found a taxi or Uber driver who'd lend us to drive into the testing facility, Jay doesn't drive. Scratch that idea. Walked to Peace Arch to get some hard info from the Canadian health officer. We got another sheet of testing locations most of which don't work for us and they have not been updated since December. Also, ditch finding exactly what to do.. However, we did get a hot tip there about possible testing at Bellingham Airport ($60 Uber if a driver will pick up.) At least we can get temp rental wheels but will have to return to the location and get back to the hotel in Blaine. Kind of dumpy hotel here is cheaper by the week, so bought it. If we can't get it sorted out by then, we can pay CA$ 3400 each as fine. Oh my! 
A Fisherman's Family Wait for His Return
Day 1.1 Update - Read about Whatcom county web portal for COVID testing via Google search. Created accounts. Verified personal data. In the afternoon, we signed up for walk-in appointments at Bellingham International Airport at 5:30 and 5:33 PM. Called an Uber at 3:30 and got to the airport at around 4:10. We waited in a queue for 10 minutes standing between the cars. Quickly got tested and walked to the terminal for wifi. Got in our return Uber at 4:36 PM and asked to be left off at a store in Blaine. Then, we walked in our hotel room at 5:47. May need to wait up to a maximum of 48 hours for PCR results. It was a day of accomplishments.
Motel International!

We will be staying in room #14 here until we get our results.  If they're negative, we'll be heading home.  If either is positive we will have an extra two weeks of vacation and will probably rent a car and drive around Washington State.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Not Quite North Enough

Jay and I got up and had in what, in today's hotel situation, is called a complimentary breakfast. We had to eat the packets of Quaker oatmeal and the packages of danish in our room. We rocketed back to the airport in the shuttle and waited just minutes for the Bellair Bus on which we were to take to the border.
  Bellair Airporter to Bellingham/Blaine WA

It was a nice ride in the immaculately clean, new bus to Bellingham and then the four of us going to Blaine transferred to a small bus for the border town. Under normal non-COVID circumstances, we could have gone right on to destinations in Canada but today the closest we could get was to a Blaine truck stop on the Pacfic Highway Truck Crossing. 

The actual Canadian border was about 1.5 kilometers and beyond sight. One young woman, an Alaskan medical worker, was returning to Victoria Island. Another older lady with a thick ambiguously Mexican accent was with us. The stop is kind of in the middle of nowhere. The young woman tried to get an Uber while I checked to local businesses to see if they could call a taxi for us. I couldn't use my phone as it contains my Mexican SIM only. I do not have data or the ability to call anyone. This was my Facebook comment for today:
"We're not in Canada. Our PCR test wasn't considered valid because it wasn't taken in the US. We're in a Blaine hotel for the night considering our next moves."
What that fails to explain is how we had to roll our luggage away from the Pacific Truck Crossing up and down hills into the town of Blaine in search of a hotel. We put on at least five kilometers pushing, pulling, and cajoling two suitcases and two backpacks. We eventually found the Motel International, a somewhat seedy place that is in Blaine's central business district and not far from the Peach Arch border crossing.  This might be our home for a few days, we are not sure.
  Room #14

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Going Northward

Mazatlan to Dallas 
The day went pretty much as planned. We got up at our regular time and ate a leisurely breakfast. We said goodbye to the pigeons and dove. We made sure everything was in order and our Airbnb host had already arrived by 9:20 AM. We requested an Uber and a wheezing, corpulent driver in a tiny car arrived. My suitcase went in the back and Jay rode beside his and I used the passenger front seat. 

We whizzed to the airport and had our two boarding passes in hand by 10:30 AM. We had ample time to wait in the Mazatlan International Airport. It wasn't too busy with a number of flights going to Mexico City. Our 12:34 departure left early for Dallas. 

Dallas/Fort Worth airport is huge but we funnelled through customs, put our bags into the domestic luggage collection and went to find our unknown gate. We took the elevated train from D to A terminal. We arrived just as our flight to Seattle started boarding. We had planned to get some lunch but did not have that option. 

The flight took off early and arrived earlier into Seatac. We are staying in the Days Inn on the hotel strip. Their shuttle bus picked us up. It is kind of run-down but everything seems satisfactory, thankfully, the noisy room heater included. This climate surely isn't Mexico's.

Night in Seatac 
We were pretty hungry as we'd not eaten since breakfast. Well, there were a couple of cookies and a short, little bottle of water onboard our second flight. Unfortunately, everything, even the Denny's, was closed at 10:15 PM. We ate the delicious Oven-Roasted Chicken sandwich, which Jay says contains 10% chicken, soya, and flavoured wood chips.  Now, we will sleep well.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Tomorrow's First Stop: Dallas

The lab had a mix-up with Jay's email address and we did not get our COVID-19 PCR tests in the evening as promised. They are necessary to both get on airplanes and enter Canada at the land border. 

As soon as I woke up, I called to find out what happened. The lab tried several more times but after another hour passed, I called again. We knew the guy whose English was the best and I gave him my email address. He sent both Jay's and my copies.  Jay's was in Spanish, not that it would pose a problem at the Canadian border. However, our Airbnb host has stepped up to the plate and will be bringing us the certified, signed, and stamped copies in two sealed envelopes! That's above and beyond!  Thanks, Alma!

So, we hope to be heading towards home tomorrow. We will still have a bit of a battle getting on our flights without the last sector.  Last month, American Airlines ceased operations into YVR on a flight that could connect.  Due to the lack of business, they could no longer offer the Horizon flight to get us home. 

Consequently, we've booked a hotel in Seattle for tomorrow night and a bus trip to the border at Blaine for Friday. However, we couldn't check-in for tomorrow's two flights online as the computer is confused. We must 'speak to the agent' at Mazatlan's airport when we get there a few hours early for our 12:35 pm flight. The IATA rules were designed to ensure passenger rights in air travel. However, we couldn't change our tickets to Bellingham, the nearest little US airport near the border, because our destination was originally Canada. This time the rules didn't work to our benefit at all. 

I expect a bit of trouble tomorrow but it'd be nice if I was proven wrong. It hardly ever happens that I'm wrong about anything, but in this case, it'd be welcomed.
  Ready to Fly Tomorrow

[Editor's Note:  Ultimately all this was for nothing as when we got to the border we learned that only COVID-19 tests taken in the United States are accepted at points of land entry.  We stayed in Blaine for three nights and got tests at the Bellingham Internation Airport.]

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