Tuesday’s news bulletin gave the latest announcements of how we as a country are (supposedly) dealing with the Covid-19 Virus.
Some restrictions are obvious, some should be far more serious and some are a trifle confusing…such as ‘schools are open’ Vs ‘no gathering at playgrounds’.
Here’s another: “Hairdressers and barbers can remain open but must adhere to the one person per four square metre rule. Appointments cannot be longer than 30 minutes.”
(So, men only? And four square metres?)
Ooops…apparently that has now been changed and hairdressers are no longer facing limits. WHY? Too many posh ladies (& lady politicians) complained? Or those rip-off hairdressing franchises?
Anyway, that will be interesting. Actually, right now I am not keen to visit the hairdresser, and I only ever need a cut - no colours, no curls, no treatment – just a cut. But, I won’t be going, so looks like I will end up with a pile of (white & grey) hair piled up in a bun on the top of my head at the crisis’s end.
The other person in this house will be okay as I have been cutting his hair for decades. But will I be brave enough to ask him to return the favour? I think not.
Also, I think that schools are mostly closed now. Every day a new announcement.
But back to survival planning, while quarantined.
Last time I worked on breakfast.
Now for LUNCH.
For the past year or so I have had a fixed (boring) routine for lunch. Usually beginning with something like a slice of rock melon (remember when it was cantaloupe?), followed by a cheese and lettuce (seeded cob loaf) sandwich.
Finished off with a cup of tea and a sweet treat of choc chip slice (or whatever I had recently made).
Now, here’s the problem: We have finished the latest rock melon. The cheese is on its last 2 centimetres and the lettuce is almost gone.
Do I brave the fruit market to buy more rock melon & lettuce or do I follow a new revised lunch habit?
And cheese? Cannot live without!
What else could I have for lunch that does not need a trip to shops?
There are eggs. I enjoy an egg sandwich – but without lettuce it would not be so great.
More thinking needed.
MEANWHILE – a lot has changed…
It is now FRIDAY and I have braved the outdoors and the small Coles supermarket, a couple of kms away. (Cheese, remember).
Arriving just after 7am, I had to show my Seniors’ Card to prove I’m old.
“Gee”, I said to the young man checking details, “I thought you’d only have to look at me to know I’m an oldie”.
“Yeah, sorry”, he said, “It’s a rule.”
So, wiping the trolley handle with a ‘wipe’ offered by the store, I proceeded down a few aisles, keeping my 1.5m distance from other shoppers. It was not a happy time. I could almost see the fear in other (old!) shoppers’ faces. No one said anything but you could see people hold their breath as they passed by each other.
At the checkout, there was a sign announcing, ‘card only’. I saw it too late and had cash in my hand. As I fumbled to put it away and pull out my EFTPOS card, the woman at the checkout, suspecting I was old and doddery, kindly said, “Never mind Love, I’ll take the money. This rule only came in today. Next time it’s card, okay?’’
Piling my goods on shelf, getting change, packing said stuff (by myself – no help allowed by staff now) - into a couple of cotton bags and reloading trolley, I was afraid I might be holding up others but, everyone being oldies, they were all as slow as I was, so no need to panic.
But, once home and hand scrubbed, I did almost panic, on thinking over my shopping experience.
It was scary. It was unusual and it was unnerving. What the hell is happening?
I will not be going out shopping again until this disaster is over.
I bought some lamb bones to make stock to keep for soup making. It will join the chicken and vegie stock supplies that are in the freezer. Once we have used up the vegetables that are currently in the fridge, I will put whatever is in the pantry into the soup, such as chickpeas, split peas, lentils, beans and pasta. We have basil, parsley, rosemary, garlic chives and mint in the garden – so that’s a good thing. Plus, there is one small capsicum nestled in amongst some flowers – a result of composting!
So, it’s soup, soup and more soup. Yum! But will we be sick of soup after a month or so?
There are eggs. Omelettes, fried eggs, scrambled eggs on toast (for any meal, no matter what) another nourishing treat.
In the freezer there are a few (raw) chicken thighs, a few (cooked) chicken wings and plenty of bread in several guises. We won’t starve.
To our daughter who is wanting to buy supplies for us, I am saying, no thanks and please stay at home yourself!
It is now that the gravity of COVID-19 is really hitting us. It will be challenging.
The minor sacrifices that we are making are nothing compared to what is ahead.
Writing about changes to my menu is a distraction from the seriousness I feel. We may make micro changes to our lives but it is the major changes that will happen to everyone’s lives throughout the entire world that we will have to face.
Communities, governments, countries, economies will all have to change – now - and when we reach ‘the other side’.
Let’s hope that ‘reaching the other side’ is not in the Biblical sense for too many.
Stay safe. Stay home!
Isolation - One day at a time.
In the supermarket last week, the shelves where toilet paper should have been were completely empty. According to the ‘experts’ the reason for panic buying of this item has something to do with helping up feel safe. (?)
But shelves that usually held stacks of flour were also empty. What was causing that? Do people think they might start baking cakes once they are isolated? That doesn’t seem logical. I mean, if you are isolated from friends and family, there will be little need to bake a batch of scones for afternoon tea (for example). So why the hoarding baking ingredients?
But here: Apparently, we are quarantined. Those who fear they have been in contact with a COVID-10 must be self-isolated, while those (like us) who are simply (simply?) staying away from danger and avoiding contact with the virus are considered in quarantine.
Thus, we are quarantined.
We are taking this very seriously, as we all should.
We will not be going out anywhere near other people for however long it takes. Knowing this situation may last six months or more, it is a difficult decision – but a decision that had to be made, nevertheless.
And now I am trying to imagine - and plan for - the near future.
First, let’s consider eating – a most important and necessary daily occupation.
Beginning with BREAKFAST:
I usually start my day with a piece of fruit, maybe a banana, or an apple. Sometimes a pear.
So, here’s the first problem. I cannot go out every couple of days to buy fresh fruit. There are currently two bananas in the fruit bowl. On checking the fridge, I find 16 small apples. No pears or any other fruit.
As there are two of us in this house and we must share (of course) there is enough breakfast fruit for nine days. That’s all.
After eating a piece of fruit, I usually make a slice of toast, which I slather with butter and raspberry jam – always raspberry (I’m a creature of habit).
In the freezer there are two loaves of sliced wholemeal bread, so that could make toast for more than a few days.
There is ‘spreadable’ butter (2 containers) and a newish jar of raspberry jam. How long will those items last?
If they are not replaced, I will rely on the packs of butter put aside for baking (probably won’t do much of that…but, then again?) As for the jam replacement, there’s a half-used jar of Vegemite and about a centimetre of (elderly) peanut butter somewhere.
In the fridge, there’s an almost full bucket of honey and, in the pantry, a jar of golden syrup. So, if the bread holds out, there’s stuff to spread on the toast.
However, if the bread is all used and we can’t go out, the only thing to do is to make more! But I know there is no yeast in the pantry. Now, how does that recipe for sour dough bread go? You don’t need yeast for that – only flour and water (and patience). Note to self: search Google for sour dough recipe.
But I could always make pancakes to have in place of toast.
Perhaps there’s one small positive result of this isolation: We (well, I, anyway) might be forced to change otherwise set and boring ways.
So far, I have enough fruit and bread for just over a week. Yikes…this is not going to be easy!
The breakfast cup of tea is not too big a problem. I make a pot of tea which lasts nearly all day, just by pouring a small amount of tea (from the pot) into a mug and filling it with boiling water. So, a packet of tea goes a long way. (Usually!)
It has taken a page of writing to work out breakfast while in quarantine.
Next edition will be lunch and (maybe) dinner sorted. (or not).
This over-the-top planning is another way for me to try and make light of a situation that is becoming more dramatic - and scary - by the day.
Time to panic?
Am I being a panicked wuss or am I being sensible?
We’ve cancelled our 15-day road trip from Queensland to Victoria. It seemed a bit risky.
With one of us (not me!) with a chronic lung condition, the thought of being over a thousand kms from home if CORVID-19 struck would not be fun.
We will ‘self-isolate’ for as many weeks as we think is wise and then we’ll rethink our plans. There is so much information – some real, some false – being issued via all modes of media. The one fact remaining is that the exposure risks are increasing rapidly and treatment is scarce.
Only one thing to do now and that is isolate ourselves as much as possible.
We have enough chicken stock in the freezer to make soup for quite a while. There is pasta and rice aplenty in the pantry - and ingredients for pancakes if we become desperate.
Lemons are ripening on the tree.
However, sadly, I do not think this catastrophe will be over much before September.
Will I have anything to write about? Or will my new jotting notebook remain empty?
Time will tell.
Stay safe everyone.
I’m done with coronavirus; the scares and misinformation. I’m done with crazy toilet-paper-hoarding stories.
I’m done with politics...one rule for them, other rules for us. I’m done with dishonesty and lying. I’m done with inequality and greed.
I’m off on a road trip to stop worrying for a while.
No blogging for a couple of weeks.
No rants and raves over politicians - or worrying about COVID-19. No smart remarks about people hoarding ridiculous items yet still attending crowded football games.
Just relaxing, driving and visiting other quiet parts of Australia. And, of course, seeing friends and family ‘down south’.
We are planning a trip, from Queensland to Victoria, taking about 15 days in total. We will stay in country cabins and Air BNBs along the way.
Nothing but fresh air.
Hopefully we’ll be able to spend a small amount of money in cafes and overnight-stays in bushfire affected areas as we go along. Not much help, but something.
In Victoria we plan to catch up with friends and relatives – but not in crowded public places.
Blogs will be stopped for a while. But, hopefully, once we’re back home, I will have a note-book full of short jottings from observations along the way. Not quite a diary, but vignettes to share.
I have even bought a new note book for the purpose. (That’s it in the picture).
Back in a couple of weeks.
Stay safe and virus free.
The day came when a big willow tree, that had stood proudly in our family back yard for many years, had to be cut down.
I was eight years old, living in suburban Melbourne, Victoria, with my parents and four siblings.
Norm-from-next-door, had won his battle. He had complained about willow tree roots showing up in his lawn and he wanted our tree gone.
My parents had stalled for some time until Norm-from-next-door showed how serious he was by pouring petrol on any willow tree root that appeared in his place. (Perhaps ‘Round-Up’ had yet to be invented).
On the day, Norm-from-next-door was grinning as he clambered over the fence into our yard with various chopping and sawing equipment preceding him.
‘Oh, well’, I thought, in a childish way, ‘I suppose I had better get into the spirit of today’s action’ and found a small axe in the shed and, with it, began to chop at the tree trunk.
My mother tapped on the kitchen window and called for me to come inside. She seemed upset.
‘Please Darling’, she said, ‘That tree has been such a good friend to us, it’s not good for you to be hurting it like that.’
Hurting it? I felt chastised. But, more than that, I felt guilty and totally regretted my actions. I looked at the tree through the window and saw it with new eyes. I thought about the lovely times we had enjoyed playing under it; even picnicking under it. I realised that there would be no more tree climbing—and our tree-branch-anchored swing would no longer be there for happy (meditative) swinging – something I often did to escape the noise and clutter of indoor family life.
I think it was then that utter regret, plus a new thoughtfulness activated my love of trees.
(It wasn’t until many decades later that I discovered that planting weeping willow trees in Australia was not a good idea, due to the damage they caused as they clogged and spread into rivers and waterways, but our willow was never in danger of doing that).
Our willow tree was, on that memorable Saturday, eventually turned into a pile of logs — long and large— with piles of remnant autumn-dumped leaves.
We kids posed for a photo sitting on the largest piece of its rough trunk. And that was that.
And now, I think back to that tree as I walk in a nature park near where I currently live—over a thousand kilometres from my childhood home.
I walk to see gum trees. I look up into their magnificent branches and even take photos (just for me) if I see a tree top that inspires me.
I love trees.
The horror of seeing forests cut down for any purpose is constantly at the front of my mind. The devastation of this summer’s bushfires makes me shudder at the apocalyptic damage wrought.
The urgent need to plant billions more trees in order to save the planet is also constantly in my mind.
I would love to be a billionaire and be able to pour billions into reforestation.
We, as a nation and we, as people of the world have one chance to save our planet—and one of the most urgent actions is to plant trees.
But it’s no use just going to drought affected areas of treeless plains and poking saplings in the ground.
Trees need each other to survive and trees need what’s below the ground as well as water and sunshine and soil.
Trees are social beings. Trees have a symbiotic relationship with many creatures—insects, animals and birds.
They also depend on relationships with fungi around their roots; important fungi that transfers essential minerals.
In an article by Ricky French in a Weekend Australian Magazine from last October, he laments the tragedy of dying eucalypts in the Monaro countryside. He mentions ‘companionship’ and how trees possess ‘a sophisticated network’ below ground. ‘They feed each other, pumping sugar into struggling neighbours…’ They can communicate danger, ‘such as insect attack, via chemical and hormonal messages…’
French writes, ‘When those social networks are cut off, trees lose their ability to communicate.’
They also lose the ability to survive.
This all boils down to the fact that trees need other trees—and plenty of them. Leafy canopies protect them—and the underground, almost mysterious, symbiotic relationship between tree roots and the helpful subterranean fungi makes for healthy forests.
Trees are similar to humans. In order for us to flourish, we need other people and nourishment. For trees to flourish they need tree neighbours and companionship. Just like us!
If we are to plant more trees —and we MUST — it is more productive to plant outwards from existing forests and tree stands than starting in a treeless patch of countryside. Plant them where their helpful neighbours already exist.
I envisage outwardly extended rain forests all over the world. I dream of the borders of every earthly forest slowly and carefully expanding outwards by kilometres.
My love of trees which began in my childhood and which led me to plant dozens of eucalypts on my one-acre block of yore, has made me determined to see in others a desire to cultivate trees. We need trees for beauty and their positive influence on our lives but mainly, right now, we need trees to help save the planet. Trees by the millions, and trees in the best possible place for the best possible outcome— before it is too late.
from Science News U.S.:
‘In and around the tangled roots of the forest floor, fungi and bacteria grow with trees, exchanging nutrients for carbon in a vast, global marketplace’
from last week’s news:
‘Experts say between 2008 and 2017, Australia's major cities lost 2.6 per cent of their vegetation’.
From The Guardian, 17.10.2019:
‘More than 27,000 hectares, nearly 100 times the size of Sydney’s central business district, were cleared for agriculture in the latest year for which data is available. Most of the clearing has been between Moree and the Queensland border. If native forestry is included, the figure rises to 58,000 hectares.’
Plant native trees and have an impact in the battle against climate change.
A quick on-line search will show organisations that tell how you can help.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.