Pearl’s coronavirus diaries

Let me introduce you to Pearl Killingbeck. Pearl lives in Mississippi Station, a community of just 12 people north of highway 7.

Pearl writes the column for Mississippi in our local newspaper, The Frontenac News. The News is in itself a little gem. It’s privately owned, independently run and features weekly local news, events and columns from reporters from all the different hamlets in our area. It’s also free.

Pearl has been writing the column for Mississippi Station since 2002. She doesn’t own a computer, so she writes every column by hand. Before the pandemic hit, she’d write about local events and happenings, but when events dried up, she came up the idea of writing “Pearl’s coronavirus diaries”.

She shares funny things that happen to her through the week, and little “pearls” of wisdom, jokes and stories to give people a smile or make them laugh. Early on after Day 21 of isolation, Pearl wrote, “New things I’ve learned in 21 days: throwing kisses, air hugs, knuckle bumps, air high fives and stump bumps. I use the phone more than ever. My house is cleaner. I found out my treadmill is for exercising, not for holding clothes or piling stuff on; that Meals on Wheels is like going to a restaurant only a lot cheaper.” Recently, she celebrated her 82nd birthday with her boyfriend, “Johnny Walker” who she calls her happy hour beau.

Here’s a chuckle from Pearl’s column this week:

“A husband and wife, Ron and Alice were sitting at home, when the husband suddenly said, ‘Darling, just so you know, I never want to be kept alive in a vegetative state, having to depend on machines and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens to me, just pull the plug.’ So the wife got up and pulled the plug out of the TV and threw out all his beers.”

Her stories grew in popularity and soon she started receiving letters from fans across the region.

Pearl’s local celebrity status skyrocketed when a listener emailed the CBC with some of Pearl’s clippings and interviewed her on Ontario morning in October. Here is the CBC episode, Pearl’s segment is about half-way in. The Frontenac News also published links to many of her columns here.

In a time when many people are struggling to find lightness and laughter, Pearl is a shining example of how to live your life: “Always have a sense of humour no matter how bad a situation is, and laugh once a day even if you’re alone when you’re laughing.”

In an era when traditional media outlets are struggling, this week’s #HappyAct is to support your local newspaper and columnists like Pearl and to keep laughing.

Gaze at the stars

Orion picStar gazing has always been a bit of a hobby of mine. I love looking up at the stars on a crystal clear night and seeing the stars emerge and envelop the night sky.

Stars are powerful. They dare us to imagine and connect the dots, to see princesses, kings, and creatures from tales from long ago. They inspire us to dream and to make wishes.

Stars lead us on journeys and lead us back home again. Above all, stars connect us with our world, the greater universe, and our fellow man. They put our lives in perspective.  Sometimes when I walk at night and look at the stars, I think of the people in other parts of the hemisphere looking at the same constellations I’m gazing at. It makes my troubles and worries seem smaller somehow.

Next Saturday is the Winter Solstice so this week’s Happy Act is to star gaze. If you live in an urban area, this might be more of a challenge. Make an outing to a dark park on a clear night (but stay safe—don’t get mugged!), or drive out of the city, park the car and look up into the sky. Get one with the universe. If you’re lucky, you might see a falling star, and your wish might come true.

Some tips this week if you live in Eastern Ontario. Queen’s University Observatory has a free Open House the second Saturday of every month. Check it out. There’s also an area in North Frontenac that has been deemed a dark sky viewing area. Finally, we’re luck y to have one of the leading astronomers, Terence Dickinson live in our area. If you can, watch for and attend one of Terry’s talks. If you’re new to star gazing, this short video will help. See if you can find Orion, Cassiopeia, The Big Dipper, which is an asterism, a constellation within the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear and Ursa Minor which is home to the North Star. My favourite is Pleiades, a cluster of seven stars known as the Seven Sisters. If you’re interested, ask Santa for a good little constellation book you can take on your nightly walks.