Saturday, October 23, 2021

State of the Schafer: Milestones

It's spring in NZ, and boy is it a gorgeous one. Usually in spring, Hawea is ferociously windy, but this October we've enjoyed a lot of calm sunny days. Perfect for walking the pup and enjoying other outdoor fun.
Hiking with the kiddo

Spring skiing

Perfectly still day at the lake

Blue-green waters of the Clutha River
Family walk

Bluebells by the trail

Speaking of the pupster, he's officially passed his first birthday. 

One year old! Hard to believe.

We're still dealing with various adolescent behaviors, particularly a surge of alert barking. ("What's this? The neighbors are working in their garden? I must warn everyone! BORK BORK BORK!") But oh goodness, it's so much easier than the crocodile landshark teething puppy stage. Spoodles are seriously high energy dogs, so he still needs two long walks per day, but after each walk, he's happy to chill for a few hours. I'm finally making real progress in writing again, woo! 

Writing while the puppy naps

(Mini writing update: four more scenes to go in my revision of The White Serpent, the Cara novella. They are tricky scenes though…the end of a story often takes the longest for me to write, because it’s so important to get the character arc and sense of resolution to feel right.) 

On the same day the pupster turned 1, we achieved another family milestone: my son got his 2nd Pfizer dose, which means all of us (the humans, anyway!) are now fully vaccinated against COVID. I’m deeply relieved, as the virus has begun leaking out of Auckland. Lockdowns only work if people obey the rules, and unfortunately the virus managed to spread into segments of the community (drug dealers, gangs) who don’t care about rules. But Auckland’s long weeks in L4 and L3 lockdown haven’t been in vain; it’s given everyone in NZ more time to get vaccinated. That’s especially important for those like my kiddo who were only recently eligible. 

Today, the South Island reported its first case, up in Blenheim. This is the first community case of COVID on the South Island in well over a year, but we all know it won’t be the last. I am so glad that NZ will now be facing Delta with decent vaccination rates. In our local district, I believe we’re currently at 95% of people over 12 with their first dose, and 78% with their second (with that number rising fast). 

I suppose now NZ’s South Island will be a living laboratory: one of the few places in the world where Delta will hit a population with no prior exposure to COVID and therefore no native immunity at all, only vaccine-generated immunity. As I understand it, the Pfizer vaccine is not tremendously effective against symptomatic infection with Delta, especially after a few months, but it does remain extremely effective at preventing hospitalization and death. So, case numbers here may skyrocket, but hospital numbers should remain low, which is vital given that the South Island (and NZ in general) doesn’t have much hospital capacity. 

NZ has only had 28 deaths so far from COVID since the start of the pandemic. Boy do I hope that number stays low. The government is pushing hard for a target of 90+% of all eligible people in all areas of NZ to be fully vaxxed, offering the carrot of no more lockdowns and (eventually) border reopening. I hope we can reach 90% everywhere; I hope it’s enough. Nothing to do now but wait and see. 

Wish I could be as relaxed about the future as the pupster