Pinch and a Burn

Dear Wednesday,

COVID-19 is bittersweet.

How so? you ask. Well, my brother and brother-in-law were here visiting from out of town for a few days, and while we share a kind of safety bubble (even long-distance) there is still no touching or close contact. I thought I was used to it.

Two out-of-town bubble groups visited for extended weekends this summer, and we all abided by rigid rules– only two people in the house at a time, social distancing, all meals and gatherings outside, constant wiping and clean-up and all that jazz– and we chuckled at the “distance hugs” and air kisses from afar.

I don’t feel so chuckley now. I miss greeting my family with a hug, comforting them with a hug, reassuring them with a hug, and all the greeting, comforting and reassuring afforded to me in return. At this stage I would welcome gearing up in a hazmat suit and giving my sister or brothers (similarly suited) a great big bear hug.

That is the bitter part.

The sweet comes from my newly nourished appreciation for those I love, and how important those routine gestures of love are. We have to convey verbally and by eye to eye contact that we care instead of relying on an extra squeeze at the end of a hug or that warm touch on the shoulder.

As an aside, if you are missing the touch of a living being, adopt a dog in need. Our puppy has been a godsend, and doesn’t seem to mind the 20 or so hugs she receives daily.

Not related to hugs or hazmat suits is todays prompt, “puncture”– and the following cartoons are only tangentially connected, if at all. Allow me to present them anyway:

Love and peace!


First Thing to Go

Prompt: Doctor

Hello Wednesday,

Apparently, my family doctor sees 6.1306 patients per day, if she takes no sick days or vacations, and if her patients see her no more than twice in a year. That’s with a patient roster of 800, which is what she informed us is the case.

She is leaving the practice, unhappy with it, to move into emergency care, which leaves approximately 700 persons without a family physician (since cancer and other special needs patients were somehow placed). This number is added to the countless others in our region who are without holistic, preventative care, in a country that constantly brags about its universal health care system.

The doctor shortage is serious and severe. It means relying on walk-in clinics and emergency departments. It means wasting the time of the caregivers in those places since your whole health history has to be related in order to get personal treatment, as opposed to a family doctor who knows you and your history. It means waiting, lots of waiting, and so encourages a tendency to only seek urgent care. It means taking a boat-load of responsibility onto yourself, especially in terms of monitoring medications and treatments, which many patients are simply not equipped to do.

Canada, you can stop bragging now. Sure, we can still lord our “free” health care over our southern neighbours, but the system is broken. It’s broken when thousands (tens of thousands? millions?) of mostly rural residents of all ages have no one to tend to their health needs and crises. It’s broken when it renders the entire system less efficient and more expensive.

I’ve written to local and federal representatives and received canned replies. I tossed and turned this morning composing scathing followup emails. Any suggestions, anyone?

Let’s never take our doctors and nurses for granted!

And let’s hope they have a sense of humour, since they are the topic of the following collection of some of my favourite cartoons relating to the prompt, “doctor”.

cartoon women docs

cartoon doc starbucks

cartoon doc knees

Peace, love, and good health,



Prompt: Froth

frothy coffee

Hello Wednesday!

This morning I a had a delicious cup of coffee made with warm frothed milk that looked a lot like the above picture. My sister-in-law has a monster of a milk frother on her counter— about the size of a stand mixer— while my tool of choice costs about $8, runs on a battery, and looks like this:

milk frother

Heat some milk or cream in the microwave for 30 seconds or so, then use the frother until the milk is fluffy and, well, very frothy, then pour over your hot coffee.

Ok, I need more coffee now. BRB.


[Wipes away milk moustache]

Even though they are not related in any way to today’s prompt, froth, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon babysitter

cartoon anywhoo_malignant

cartoon politician back

Has spring sprung where you are?



Lock the Door

Prompt: Deny

Dear Wednesday,

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

As a young teenager, my girlfriends and I saw the Franco Zeffirelli film version of Romeo and Juliet, and one of my friends had the “record” featuring the soundtrack and highlights of the movie, which we played over and over. We were all hormonally insane, and dramatically wept and howled at the tragedy of it all. Good times.

The first of my favourite cartoons involves a different sort of denial, and far less poetic, but possibly just as tragic:

cartoon bed denial

The following have nothing to do with denial, unless doctors are delusional and bears ignore their instincts:
cartoon doctors strike

cartoon 3 bears


If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.

Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.

Then have my lips the sin that they have took.

Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.


The Nine Steps of Forgiveness

Prompt: Tea

Hello Wednesday,

Tea is always good for you– not only because of anti-oxidant properties, but because of the spiritual calmness that a good cuppa offers in a moment of crisis.

Coffee, meanwhile, is sometimes a miracle elixir, sometimes a perilous toxin, depending on the research and time of day. I love coffee, but it turned me into a morning monster (in all seriousness). When I had to quit caffeine, and when decaf was not considered drinkable, I turned to tea.

How dull, how boring, how English. However, people no longer had to give me a wide berth in the morning (they were, again in all seriousness, afraid of me before my first cup of coffee), and I’ve grown to like green and white teas. Sure, they taste like leaves and grass, and are anemic in colour. One gets used to that, for the sake of good health and community commitment.

May I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is tangentially related to today’s word prompt, Tea?

herbal tea party

cartoon dog in car

cartoon pig ribs

It’s time to fire up the barbecue. Sorry, little pig.



Prompt: Punishment

conditions of the heart poster

Cash picked me up at my apartment and drove me to the doctor, which was nice of him since even a cab would have been awkward for me. I still couldn’t bend my left leg, and managing crutches for me was like trying to drive a standard instead of an automatic car: I was simply inept. So getting in and out of vehicles was a drawn-out pageant of flailing arms and legs, clothes riding up and revealing pasty white skin, and a lot of cursing.

“Maybe some kind of wheelchair would have been better for you,” Cash said seriously, as he merged into traffic on the highway.

“Really?” I was grumpy, still trying to do up the seatbelt. “That’s ridiculous. People with broken legs get the crutches. They are made to suffer. People with broken legs are lesser humans. No one cares.”

Cash had the grace to smile. “Is this just a check up? Or is there…?”

“Just discussing prescriptions,” I said. “I think I need more trippy pain killers.”

“Well I have some Oxy at home, if you need,” said Cash.

“Of course you do,” I said. He was immune to my bad humour, just as he had been when we were children. I could silence him, I could wipe a smile off his face, but affecting his worldview, that everything was actually ok and people always liked him, was an impossible task. He was teflon. His idiotic pranks in college were looked upon with indulgence, because Cash seemed to have no ill will. I sometimes thought he was an idiot, an actual idiot, but then I guess sisters sometimes felt that way about younger brothers. Didn’t they?

“Hello, Envy,” said Stuart, one of the nurses in the practice, when I entered the waiting room and triggered a tinkling bell. He was always super friendly with me. Probably to everyone. I was flushed from my journey from the car to the elevator to the third floor– flushed as in blotchy of face and out of breath, and Stuart smiled as if this discombobulation was charming in some way. Cash had helped me out of the car but elected to wait in the parking lot, as he didn’t like clinics, hospitals, or anywhere that smelled generically, antiseptically clean. It was a thing with him.

Stuart was leaning over the receptionist, Jodi, as they gazed at something on the computer screen, but after saying hello he plucked a file from a wire rack and motioned to me. “Come on through, Envy, I’ll help you get settled.”

“You are looking well,” he lied. He helped me sit in a leather chair next to a small desk with a computer, across from a raised cot covered in a layer of paper. Posters of internal organs and bone structure graced the walls like fine art.

“You too,” I said. I wondered if Stuart was potential dating material. I was so unused to meeting and dating men since Marcus that I might even consider Jodi, the receptionist. I had no idea who I was anymore. I wondered if I should flirt. And where I could find information on how to flirt, since I was pretty sure I had never learned how. Marcus and I found each other. He didn’t mind my lack of artifice, and I loved his effortless charm. Damn him, anyway.

Virginia told me, “Just heal, don’t even think about Marcus anymore, or being alone, or the divorce.” She meant well, but jeez.

While Dr Chao took my blood pressure I told him I was thinking of getting back into Catholicism.

“Oh?” he said. “Nice. Your BP is a tad high, but we’ll put that down to doctor-visit stress.”

“Well ok. Are you married, Dr Chao?” I had to start somewhere.

He looked only slightly startled. “Yes, yes I am. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, just that you know then, what it’s like, you know, to have a partner.”

He patted my hand with summoned sympathy. “Marcus let you down. It takes time to recover from that, as much as it does from your broken body.”

He meant well too, but holy shit, did no one know how to comfort a person any more?

“I am still in pain, especially overnight,” I told him.

“Sometimes we build a tolerance to certain medications,” said Dr Chao. “Let’s try something else.”

It was as simple as that. I struggled back downstairs, after smiling at Stuart in what I imagined was a flirtatious way, which only caused him to look utterly bewildered.

Cash was leaning against the car, chatting on the phone. In another few minutes I was flushed and grumpy again, but seated and belted up.

“You’ve had enough punishment for one day,” Cash said as he started the engine. “Feel like a martini?”

A martini! Who would have expected Cash, of all people, to understand the concept of meaningful comfort?