President’s Message

by Gerry Schaus

It’s drab and dreary out. Rain is falling for the fifth straight day. The sun is elusive just when it’s needed most.

I’m sitting alone in Muskoka, far from anybody I care about. But I’m better off than that bothersome squirrel I trapped yesterday and re-located, well clear of its nest in our cottage eaves. I also caught and released a nice bass last night, to top off the fishing season. It’s time now to consider the cold weather that’s starting to descend, without prospect of escaping to the sunny south for a week or a month or longer this winter. Is there a new hobby to keep my mind nimble, an old passion that might be re-kindled, an idea for a project whose time has arrived, a near-by place I’ve always wanted to explore, family members I’d like to spend more time with?

What’s keeping you busy at a time when we’re encouraged to stay as isolated as possible from outside contact, for safety’s sake? Reading, knitting, cooking, walking, internetting (if it’s not a word yet, it soon will be), puttering, chatting, sleeping, watching, eating, exploring.

The executive committee of our Retirees’ Association is trying to fulfill its mandate to inform members about relevant developments affecting our lives, bringing us together with news about the University, individual members, and life around us, and giving us a sense of belonging to the organization, whose people we worked with for so many years. Admittedly, it’s a challenge. The virtual Zoom meeting on pensions and benefits that we held in September had over 30 participants at one point, with Siobhan Adams from wlu’s Human Resources department, and our own Alastair Robertson, as discussants, but, sadly, there were very few questions from people listening in on the various topics they covered, unlike the times when we meet on campus. And there was no social conversation beforehand or afterward over coffee and cookies. I’m not sure how to remedy this, other than to encourage everyone to familiarize yourselves with the options to “raise your hand” or pose questions on Zoom, or just jump in by activating the audio option and talking.

We scheduled a virtual Pub Night on October 30, again using Zoom, even though only one person could speak at a time (perish the thought!), but where everyone was able to lift a drink and not have to tip the server. It was fun! And even if you had to be patient to get a chance to speak among the twenty of us there, you could still see the faces of old friends and acquaintances whom you hadn’t laid eyes on for a dog’s age, and have a good laugh. It was also a chance to commiserate with each other about life in the Bubble, or the U.S. Presidential election, or the lack of audiences at sporting and musical events. Here we thought that the computer or the internet would be the most transformative development in our lifetimes! What an amazing revolution this dangerous pandemic has brought! I never expected it a year ago.

Please, everyone, take every precaution. As my father so often told us, “Remember. This too shall pass.” We just have to stay healthy until it does.