Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A Billionaire's Christmas 2021

Well, well. Here we are at Christmastime again and it seems like we're in the same place we were two years ago. In 2020 Covid 19 first hit the scene and the whole world just shut down overnight. Airports were closed, schools and businesses closed, sports and entertainment events were shut down, and we were all quarantined in our apartments and homes all over the world. Shortages appeared everywhere - no milk, eggs, or canned goods in the supermarkets, and tissues, paper towels and toilet paper entirely disappeared.

In time we got new directives about hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks, and we slowly began to crawl out from that nightmare. Vaccines were put on the fast track and by the end of 2020 we began to get our first doses of life saving drugs. Long lines everywhere all over the world, but we did it and things began to slowly open up again and we struggled to get back to normal.

Then along came the Delta variant which brought a set back. But since we had learned so much and because so many of us had gotten vaccinated already, it didn't hit us anywhere near as badly as the first go round, and we continued along our path to normalcy. So much so that our pent-up desires for shopping created a shortage of products, and the whole maddening business of supply chain issues popped up.

We had planned a huge holiday gala here at the house with caterers, musicians, valet parkers, the whole nine yards to celebrate our liberation from Covid. When I ordered personalized embossed cocktail napkins and bathroom hand towels, the printer told us he couldn't get his hands on paper products. Okay, fine. I'll just buy generic napkins and towels from a party shop and hope that our guests are too boozed up to notice such a trifle. But when I found out that caviar and some important French champagnes were also in short supply, that's when my head practically exploded! What?  

And now this new Omicron variant comes along and threatens a tsunami of infections, hospitalizations and death, especially among those who have not been vaccinated. Once again schools and universities are moving to online classes, Broadway theaters (even Hamilton) have shut down, and sports events all over the world have been cancelled.

Our gala has been cancelled too of course, but not by us, by the caterer themselves. So we didn't lose a deposit there. But how sad and frustrating is that? We still plan to go ahead with a few cocktail parties, but the guest list has been limited to a few responsible adults whom we assume have gotten their vaccines and booster. 

After her bout with pneumonia and Covid last year, Dame Covington is afraid to go anywhere, and who could blame her? The poor old dear has invited me to a Christmas eve brunch to help her decorate her tree. Which is probably what I'll do. Going to my own family is out of the question this year under this new threat, and I do enjoy Dame Covington's company. She has some wonderful heirloom tree ornaments which I'm looking forward to seeing. Not to mention that her eggnog, spiked with a Louis XIII bottle of brandy from Cognac, France (roughly $3,850 a bottle) is to die for!

None of us knows what's about to hit us in the next few months or the coming new year. Nonetheless I do hope you're planning to have some nice holiday celebrations with family and friends, no matter what. Thanks for stopping by tonight. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

And by all means, stay safe!



Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Getting Back To Normal In The Abnormal World Of The Super Rich!

It's been a long while since I last posted and I'm not quite sure how to get started again. Or even where to begin. But as the COVID panic slowly begins to subside and things are starting to open back up, hope and excitement are coming back into play - somewhat obscuring the utter shock we were in when the sky came crashing down last year.

While it all might seem like a blur at this point, nonetheless practically overnight the whole world just shut down, didn't it? Everything stopped, but everything! Social engagements came to a screeching halt and we suddenly found ourselves isolated in our own homes and apartments. The airlines shut down, schools closed, restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, even city parks all closed. And running daily errands came to a frustrating crawl since gasoline stations began to run low on fuel, and nothing was open anyway.

The virus and shutdown had no socio-economic boundaries of course, meaning the rich and super rich were hit as unexpectedly as everyone else, even the poorest of the poor. Looking back a year later, it can almost be thought of as comical. Like the very first episode of Schitt's Creek wherein an unlucky rich family went bankrupt. Not only were they unceremoniously plucked out of their luxury mansion, but then they were plunked down at a cheap two-room motel in a cheesy little town called Schitt's Creek. 

But it really wasn't funny at all, was it? With almost everything else closed, at least the grocery stores struggled to stay open.Who could ever have imagined that going to the supermarket would be the social highlight of the day? But then after standing in long lines, the shelves were mostly empty once we got inside. Basic staples like bread, milk, pasta, canned meats, tuna, baby food and cereal - all gone! And no tissues, paper towels or toilet paper whatsoever. 

Mercifully at this house where I work, and like most rich families, we have what's referred to as a "Perpetual Pantry" that's well stocked with all kinds of basic food and household supplies. Dried beans, rice, flour, sugar, salt, powdered milk, canned meats, fish and vegetables, candles, batteries, and big bundles of paper products from Costco - which carried us through the worst part. Some rich people fled to their yachts or private islands, only to run into the same problem with food running out and stores in the ports were either closed or empty. 

Most people, of course, were not so lucky in having a well-stocked pantry or a private island, I know that. It was shocking and so heartbreaking to see news reports of thousands of people lined up for food and water. Which was when I started to contribute to local food banks and convinced the Mister to do the same. He has a long list of charities he contributes to on an ongoing basis, but I'm happy to tell you that he dumped a chunk of money into area food banks - which I hope will continue down the road.      

There for a while we thought we had lost Dame Covington. She had already been in the hospital with double pneumonia for over a week. Then she was finally discharged, with nurse's aides coming to her home twice a day. However in no time at all she was back in the hospital, apparently contracting the COVID virus from one of the aides! At her age and in her already-weakened condition (and in spite of all of our prayers) none of us really expected her to live. But she's a strong old bird and live she did, slowly now regaining her strength and vigor. 

When the new vaccines came along, it seemed like a miracle to think we could suddenly become immune to a murderous virus that had killed millions across the globe. My employer, who doesn't even get annual flu shots, was reluctant at first. But his new nutty girlfriend (who can be surprisingly rational at times) convinced him that future European travel might depend upon a vaccine passport. While that has not yet come to pass, it was enough to convince him at the time. In any case, all of us here - the Mister, the girlfriend, the house staff, the groundskeepers and I  have received our two doses and feeling good about it. Soon we'll be hosting our first fully-catered cocktail event, complete with a small chamber orchestra and Dame Covington is definitely on the guest list, even if I have to pick her up myself. So it appears we're slowly getting back to normal in the abnormal world of the super rich.

With over six-hundred-thousand of our friends and loved ones in the United States alone dying from the virus, as well as the near-universal economic devastation, I doubt that any of us have gotten through this ordeal completely unscathed. If you're still reading this blog after this long dreadful nightmare, I do sincerely appreciate it and hope that healing, recovery and a brighter future is ahead for all of us.

As always, thanks for stopping by tonight,