Tuesday night. A bit more energy this time around. Niagara Falls is the last chapter of our self-imposed exile: we’ve gone from the tiny town of Deep River to a bigger resort town of Mont-Tremblant, and now here we are, in a sizable city with its own Walmart, hospitals, etc.

Xgf and I took a walk around the neighbourhood after I finished my work today. Every single business (except Mr.Sub and LCBO) are shut down. A few were boarded over. There’s still enough car traffic in the distance every few minutes to break the illusion of the post-apocalyptic world, but it’s pretty damn close. Very few pedestrians.

As we walked, we came to the Canadian side of the Niagara River, and saw the bridge leading to the US side. The river is wide and its banks are rough and steep, so there was no question of crossing over to see how they’re doing there, eh. So odd to see almost identical buildings and steeples just a few hundred meters away, knowing that they belong to an entirely different country.

…I’m not sorry I left. I’m sorry I had to.

Last night, I drove out to Walmart for fresh food and some nice-to-have things like art supplies. (We never did order them on Amazon.) There was a long line to get in, with duct tape on the ground keeping people six feet apart. That was unsettling. Aside from Black Friday, there are never any lines to get inside the single most consumerist-oriented store in North America. It’d be a gross exaggeration to say that I felt like I was back in the USSR, but it was definitely highly unsettling. About half the people in the store wore masks, mostly homemade. (I wrapped a scarf around my face, for what it’s worth.) The other half were behaving as if it was the pre-virus times. An ornery man in his 50s kept filibustering at a poor pharmacist about everyone being a bunch of cowards.

It was strange to see that meat was still in stock (though their printed signs were very apologetic due to some of it being from the US), and ditto for frozen pizza, but all the eggs were sold out. This is probably just a coincidence, but this is the fourth grocery store in a row where I haven’t seen any grapefruit juice. (Plenty of OJ, though.) Oddly enough, they still had lots of leftover Easter candy. I bought an armful of chocolate bunnies (can’t beat the 50-cent deal!), only to discover later that night that they were filled with popping rocks, which don’t go very well with red wine over a conciliatory dinner. (Xgf was pretty amused, though, and force-fed me the rest of her half.)

Xgf is far more empathetic than I’ll ever be – far more so than almost anybody, really – and she’s not taking the breakup well… Even though she was the one who had proposed ending the relationship, she’s still thinking of various ways we could reconcile the differences. She and I are better now, and we never stopped being on the same team, but it’s just so damn strange to spend four weeks together following a breakup. She’s a bit less anxious about the future (now that we won’t be moving in together…) after brainstorming her options: rent a room in a small Ontario town near her parents; rent a rural house with a few friends; move in with her parents.

There are 12 apartments in this 1956 building. One of our neighbours may be infected. Xgf heard them coughing hard while I was out shopping. My symptoms have stopped, but her cough is getting more frequent, though still light…

The University of Toronto has just sent an email promising to find workarounds for their educational credential assessment (ECA) process, the vital part of the permanent residency (PR) application. We’ll see. Meanwhile, the last (and trickiest) part is getting my FBI background check. In the pre-virus days (a whopping two months ago), it would’ve been a matter of ordering the FD-258 card on Amazon (or printing one out from FBI’s site), getting the fingerprints taken by the local police department or some enterprising local company, and sending it off to the FBI. Nowadays, FD-258 is a non-essential product that won’t ship fast (I had to order it from the US; it’ll get here eventually), it’s almost impossible to find a copy shop that’s still open, all the local companies are on hiatus, and the police won’t fingerprint you unless you do something bad and get booked and processed in jail. (Which would, unfortunately, keep me from passing the background check. Heh.)

World news: in addition to the covid pandemic, there’s a new epidemic in Russia – female doctors are dropping out of windows after displeasing The Powers That Be. The first one fell out of a window while on a conference call where she dared to criticize the government. The second one fell out of a window after allegedly infecting the staff at the cosmonaut training center. The first one lived; the second one didn’t. They’re extending their lockdown through the middle of May. I doubt anything can end their entrenched tyranny at this point. Several US states are opening up in defiance of every expert’s advice. More states are joining their own regional pacts while the federal government flounders. (Colorado and Nevada are part of the Western States Pact. Putin must be laughing so very, very hard right now… His 2016 investment will keep paying off for him for many years to come – assuming he doesn’t suddenly kick the bucket like Kim Jong Un allegedly did.

I’m adding some pictures (taken today and yesterday) to spice things up and help whomever is bored enough to read this in the future get a better idea of what things were like.

Cumulative death toll in the US: 59,061; in Canada: 2,983. New words in the novel: 244. (Hey, better than nothing after a five-day gap.)

Stay healthy, fellow hermits.