Staying home like never before

“Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends and family and laughter never ends.”

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How many of us thought that 2021 would be different to the previous year which was so consumed with the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic? Here in my home state of Victoria we are currently in a snap five-day hard lockdown with Level 4 restrictions because of issues with the emergence of the UK strain believed to have come from someone in quarantine. After several weeks of doughnut days as per my previous posts we are once again confined to barracks even in regional areas where we have no cases. It came as a shock to many businesses in my rural community and many events were cancelled.

Thankfully, two hours before the announcement, I had stocked up on essentials including toilet paper. Sadly, supermarkets had to implement limits on certain items again because of panic buying. The authorities seem to have the cases under control now but with one more day to go, one can never be sure with such an infectious virus. On the eve of the lockdown, we joined good friends and neighbours for dinner and drinks. If COVID has taught us anything it is better to accept invitations when you can!

My home has certainly become my castle during COVID. I am fortunate to share it with my husband who has plenty to do keeping 25 acres under control and my much indulged cat Rambo. We are surrounded by hills and trees which attract a wide range of native birds and animals such as wombats and kangaroos. There is also plenty of black Angus cattle in our neighbouring paddocks and cows are just starting to calve.

No pandemic will ever be long enough for me to get through all the books on my shelves that are waiting to be read or to complete those craft projects started with good intentions.

I am hoping that as news breaks this week of a vaccination rollout in Australia and overseas, that while life may still be governed by COVID to a certain extent there will be a return to normal activities. That may mean sharing my home with a wider group of family and friends. May your home always be your castle not a prison.

Doughnut economics the way forward

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels.com

My previous post espoused the virtues of the doughnut as a way to describe a run of COVID-free days in my home state of Victoria. Unfortunately within 30 minutes of publishing my post that situation had changed because of cases linked to NSW’s community outbreak. Thankfully, we have returned to doughnut days again in Victoria with a run of seven no new community transmissions of the virus. I was reminded over a week ago of another aspect to this popular holey snack because of an article by an economics journalist. The hole truths of the revolutionary Doughnut Economics (thenewdaily.com.au)

It is also almost a year ago since I graduated with BA in Community Development and Sustainable Development. The article was a good reminder to me about a better way of doing business that I learned from my studies. The COVID Pandemic has exposed the flaws in our over-reliance on mass consumerism. Some are still raking in the wealth while others are struggling financially, physically and emotionally to survive these “unprecedented” times. A circular economy makes so much more sense than a linear approach. Check out the video below and see what you think. I am becoming a bigger fan of the humble doughnut!

Doughnut days in abundance!

The humble doughnut has come to represent hope in a time when it was thought the number of coronavirus cases would continue well into the new year here in Victoria following a second wave outbreak in early August. That sweet treat with the all important round hole signals 0 new cases, 0 days without any community transmitted outbreaks and 0 deaths. More than 60 days later we are enjoying triple 0 statistics mostly and a significant easing of restrictions by our government. It is a testament to so many who did follow the rules and were prepared to wear masks when out in public to fight this sneaky enemy.

This sweet treat has come to symbolise the number
of COVID-free days.
Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Pexels.com

While life has returned to some semblance of normality here in our rural retreat the shadow of COVID lingers in the way we interact with one another. I managed a trip across the NSW border two weeks ago before Christmas to visit my Mum for the first time since February.

Four days later I was applying on line for a permit to get back into my home state of Victoria from regional NSW. The second most populous city in Australia which had been COVID-free for some time recorded new community transmissions raising alarm for the state government and health officials. These relatively small number of cases compared to those occurring overseas are connected to clusters in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney and the Central Coast area. In the last 24 hours the number has doubled to 18 with a new cluster discovered. We know too well here in Victoria how quickly the virus spread during the second wave.

Our tourist town is overflowing with visitors this week – I tried to walked down a packed street yesterday. Eateries which are struggling to get enough staff for the busy times, were advising 45 minutes to one hour wait for food due to the sheer number of people and having to abide by COVID safe restrictions. After several months of lock down city people are holidaying closer to home but it is still difficult for many of us locals to adapt to the overwhelming busyness of our small town after almost a year.

The wearing of masks is only mandatory in certain cases but causes confusion for the out of towners. Our supermarkets and hard ware store require the wearing of masks but many shoppers seem to be ignoring this rule. I was told that staff cannot enforce the mask wearing rule. Our shopping centre might be small compared to the huge malls and centres in Melbourne, but our well being in regional Victoria matters too. With the NSW outbreak the coronavirus reminds us that it is not disappearing any time soon.

May we enter the New Year with a sense of gratitude for those good things in our lives and be willing to be kinder and more understanding of fellow humans who are doing it tough. The world needs a huge virtual hug! My other wish for 2021 is doughnut days in abundance across the globe.

PS. Would you believe it, only 30 minutes after I wrote this post, news came through that Victoria had recorded its first three community transmitted cases of COVID in 60 days. These new cases are linked to the Sydney infections. I guess this just reinforces what I was saying about COVID still hanging over all of us. Take care out there.

Cat on the hospital payroll

I usually start my day with a cup of coffee in bed listening to Melbourne ABC radio with morning host Sammy J. As a comedian he provides some levity during a time when media is saturated with Coronavirus coverage. This morning he talked to the owner of Elwood the cat who has become a social media sensation because he spends his days across the road from his inner-suburban home on the steps of the Epworth Hospital. I did an internet search and discovered Elwood’s fame has spread far and wide. For those of us who know the power of cat therapy, this is a feel good story.

A purrfect feel good tale!

Spring chorus brings joy to the soul

While we are in this COVID bubble the arrival of spring brings a sense of a change and maybe a little bit of hope (Cases in Victoria have remained under 100 for the last three days!) One of the many things that makes me happy living in the beautiful high country is the sounds of nature that fill the air. The winter rains have our dams overflowing which attracts the frogs. I can lie in bed at night and hear them croaking loudly. It pays for them to be a bit quieter during the day when the rather large white-faced herons are about! This is a short video I filmed to capture the sounds of my own personal chorus. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Aussie frog chorus in the High Country

Spring is just around the corner…and hope springs eternal

Spring is just around the corner!

The blossoms are blooming, the birds are whistling merrily while others fight for nesting spaces and the sun helps to move the temperature from single digits to double figures. A nice change from the wintery blast. Speaking of numbers; here in the state of Victoria coronavirus infections have fallen to the lowest daily figure since July 5 with 73 new cases overnight. While that is good news, it is tempered with the latest death toll of 44. Most of these fatalities are connected to aged care facilities with half of them occurring in recent days and only just now being reported to the health department. In my rural area there was a report of one confirmed case overnight with no details provided. Today I also learned that a friend of mine in Melbourne and his family have contracted COVID-19 through his wife’s work as nurse. Thankfully, they are slowly recovering but as he says it is not a pleasant thing to get. Meanwhile we continue to live this in bubble designed to keep us safe and well.

During August I set myself the challenge of walking 100kms to raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation to help restore sight to people who cannot afford the necessary operation. For as little as A$25 this operation can be performed and transform the lives of so many. Fred was a no nonsense get on with the job Aussie bloke. This eye surgeon has inspired others to continue his legacy. I have reached my fundraising target which will see 11 people have their sight restored. My little bit of good during a time of COVID. Follow the link below to learn more about this remarkable man and his work.

https://www.hollows.org/au/home

Despite a freezing cold weekend over a week ago, the payoff is the stunning views of snow-capped mountains and hills set against deep blue skies to enjoy during my walks this week. Makes me appreciate the gift of sight even more. There is a sense of the seasons turning and tomorrow September 1 bringing hope of better things.

Masking up Down Under

In my home amongst the gumtrees in Victoria’s High Country

The Kookaburras laugh from their lofty perches

At the sight of masked humans going about their business.

The state government has mandated face coverings for public forays.

I can make it to the farm gate without covering up my face

But as soon as I cross the cattle grid out comes my mask;

My defence against a world that is playing host to a virus

That has us locked down in a fight against an enemy that doesn’t bear arms.

In a small town where we are use to greeting one another as old friends;

We hog supermarket aisles; as we compare the price of sheep and cattle;

If we are fortunate we can also boast our latest rainfall readings;

Battered hats and well-worn boots can separate the townies from the farming folk;

But a second look is needed as we try to recognise each other wearing such strange attire.

Face coverings come in all shapes and sizes, some in colours and designs;

In a display of the wearer’s fashion sense and personality.

Forced to adopt this strange new ritual we hope to flatten that damn curve.

#

Another Aussie take on this COVID thing is a ballad by comedian Sammy J. Apologies to “Banjo” Paterson who penned the “Man from Snowy River”, a poem that inspired the movie made in the High Country where I live. The Bunnings reference is to a rather large chain of hardware stores popular with do DIY types and tradies. Also apologies to anyone called Karen who may be offended.

 

 

International Cat Day is here!

Celebrating our moggies! From South Africa to Australia and everywhere in between.

Sunshiny SA Site

Did you know that the most popular pet globally is the cat?

To celebrate them, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and other animal rights dedicated the 8th August as International Cat Day for the kitties who have been our companions for almost 9500 years.

My kitties sauntered into our hearts when we needed them. They have fed our souls, filled in the gaps and generally improved our psychological health.

Want to enrichen your life? Get a cat or cat-sit with a friend. Their unwavering love, loyalty, friendship and companionship will add strength and value to your life.

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A beautiful set of numbers, not!

Dark winter skies during COVID-19

The former Australian treasurer and Prime Minister, Paul Keating reknown for his cutting comments in parliament and memorable quotes used the words “a beautiful set of numbers” to describe the nation’s economic outlook. Sadly, here in Victoria over the past two weeks we are playing a dangerous numbers’ game with new COVID-19 infections hitting triple digits and several more deaths after weeks of being cautionsly optismtic of flattening the curve. We were leading the way with zero new community transmitted coronavirus infection cases. But as all the health experts and our government leaders tell us there is no room for complacency. With the exception of NSW which recorded 20 new cases today, all the other states and terrorities have managed to avoid any new cases or community outbreaks in recent weeks. Victorians are not welcome over the state borders. This has created headaches for those who live and work in towns located along the borders on both sides.

I am one of the forunate ones living in regional Victoria where there have been only three confirmed cases which was early in the pandemic. Our city friends and one regional shire are now forced back into Stage 3 lockdown while the rest of us are free to move around while abiding by social distancing restrictions. It has become a macarbe pastime waiting for the daily media conferences by our state leader giving the COVID-19 figures for the past 24 hours. While the numbers have come down today we are still in triple figures which is cause for alarm. The COVID-19 Pandemic State of Emergency has been extended until August 16 in the state of Victoria. It is very tough on people in the city of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire being forced back into Lockdown for the third time but the government is trying to avoid Stage 4 Lockdown restrictions if possible. As of midnight on Thursday, all residents outside their homes will be required to wear a face mask (under 12s will be exempt) as per the web link below.

For those living in regional areas in Victoria that are not under lockdown but still adhering to social distancing restrictions and hygiene procedures the official advice is if you feel you cannot keep the 1.5 metre distance from other people you should wear a face mask. To further protect our rural areas more COVID-19 testing sites are being set up including one in our local town from this week.

My husband just called me outside to view the most beautiful rainbow over the hill near our house. Maybe that is a good sign of better things to come, just as my early flowering daffodils promise hope as they explode into a bright yellow display. The colour is most welcome as our winter has been a cold and grey one since the official start of winter from June 1.

Today July 20 also marks the anniversary of the first man on the moon in 1969. I remember watching the black and white television in the school master’s house with the other 12 students from my bush primary school as this history in the making event unfolded. Surely, if we can put a man on the moon we can find the means to beat this coronavirus that is causing such global havoc. One has to have hope.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/face-masks-will-soon-be-mandatory-in-melbourne-here-s-what-you-need-to-know

https://www.thoughtco.com/first-man-on-the-moon-1779366

Autumn fades as the seasons change

Autumn colour on my door step with this beautiful oak tree

As the earth turns so do the seasons. We are all experiencing a different season in our lives these last few months of the COVID-19 emergency. Today, Victoria, Australia, was the only state or territory to record any new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours. These cases are a worry but seem to be under control. The curve is flattening but as we ease restrictions from midnight, the start of winter will see a flurry of activities as more freedom to dine in or travel within the state begins. Our ski season is opening a week later this year on June 22 instead of the traditional Queen’s birthday long weekend.

Only time will only tell if the measures taken by our government and individuals will see a quicker return to normal life for many of us. But the damage has already been done to the economy which no doubt will take longer to bounce back.

It has been a struggle some days dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions in response to changed circumstances. Thankfully I live somewhere close to nature and the autumn tones this year have been a joy to capture during this period of self-isolation. It is also a reminder of something much bigger and more significant than ourselves.

“A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains for ever.
The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south;
and goes round to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.”
-Ecclesiastes 1:4-7


Here is a collection of some of my favourite shots of autumn 2020.