I’ve started reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. It’s about her husband’s sudden death in their apartment while their adult daughter was ill and unconscious in hospital. It’s so well written, but man, it’s bringing the flashbacks to my dad’s death.
I have one regret about the last days of my father’s life; that I didn’t make many notes. If you are ever at the bedside of someone who is dying, make those notes, take those photos, capture those brief exchanges on video. because when death finally comes, your memory will be overwhelmed with graphic replays of the last breath and the pain of finality. The memories of the joys and laughs had at the bedside become hazy in the days and weeks after. Years later, the intensely painful parts fade, but the details of the good bits don’t ever come back.
I’ve resumed my habit of going to Barkly Square for a daily shop. There are people still out and about in face masks, some people are still avidly social-distancing, but it’s certainly not the ghost town out there that it was a few weeks ago. I can see how the second wave of a pandemic could take hold. May 11 has been mentioned as a date when some restrictions will ease, but it feels like people are starting to take that into their own hands.
We’ve clocked over a month of isolation and it feels like several more. When I recall those few days of having our floorboards ripped up and we were spending our evenings huddled around the telly in the small upstairs lounge room, listening to ScoMo and Brendan Murphy delivering us our several-times-daily Coronavirus updates, it feels like a Waltons episode. A faded replay from so long ago. Australia has escaped, relatively unscathed; state and federal governments are talking about what the other side might look like—a gradual return to school, and reopening of shops and services—but for pubs, gyms and restaurants, it could be some time yet. And I think we can forget about overseas travel until there’s a vaccine.
Speaking of travel, Matt and I would have been in Portugal right now for a wedding that has been postponed to a future date. Instead of enjoying the european coastline for my birthday, we spent Sunday at home, taking zoom calls with friends and family. Instead of wandering a Portuguese market, Matt and I wandered through the desolate Queen Vic markets to buy some oysters and truffled cheese. We celebrated with home-delivered cupcakes, sparkling rosé, and a dance around the living room. It wasn’t Portugal, but it will be memorable.
I forgot to mention, over Easter I made Lincoln camp on the balcony for one night. I say made…what I mean is, I asserted he should do it, because Easter last year he was in Scouts and they always camp at Easter. Also, families in my social media circle were camping in their yards. I thought, great idea! Lincoln can stick the one-man tent up there and sleep on the balcony for one night. It’s not an entirely unpleasant idea; there’s fake turf on our balcony. Nay, it’s a very pleasant balcony. And, though he didn’t say no and went straight to sleep once his camping situation was constructed, he wasn’t eager to do it and has said he doesn’t want to do it again. Oh well. Ticked that box during isolation.
We’re still in stage 3 lockdown, but within our own house, we’re starting to get comfortable hacking around the mandated socialisation limits. I dare say we aren’t the only ones meeting our one-other-person-allowed in a park, possibly even with wine in their Keep Cups. We’ve also relaxed on letting Fraser get out for his own exercise with company of choice. A few weeks ago, we were nervous about that and I offered my distance-chaperone services. My offer wasn’t taken up. Fair enough.
The school term started back today. As soon as Lincoln came downstairs, he was already on his computer, looking up the first lesson—double gym—and finding out how would be going about getting school done. Yesterday, I was frustrated we’d had very little comms from school about how the year 7s would be continuing on, but then it all came flooding in by the end of the night. Other than those first gym lessons, where there was only a bit of reading to do, Lincoln was online for the rest of the school day. We took a small break at lunch and scooted/walked up to the shops, and I was pleased to see I didn’t need to do any intervening to keep anyone on task.
Fraser was also back to the normal Wednesday routine. VET kitchen operations in the afternoon. Normally he would have been at the commercial kitchen, but the material seems to now be all theory-based, for the meantime. Apart from participating in his class Zooms from bed, Fraser was on-board and paying attention. So, though it’s only day 1 of remote schooling, I’m happy with how it might go from here. Lincoln would rather be in a face to face situation, but he’s happy enough, so on we go.
Well, the easter bunny got around and stashed a bunch of random easter eggs around the balcony and the upstairs lounge, and thanks to some earlier online purchasing, I also had a few showbags to share around. We won’t need to make any trips to the servo for emergency chocolate snacks for a while.
We’ve been eating pretty well. On Thursday, I did a shopping run and picked up some already-cooked lamb shoulder and beef brisket from BlueBonnet Barbecue. We heated it back up in the sous vide and it was just like we’d had it directly from the restaurant kitchen. I’ve been more creative about what I’ve been cooking, because I’ve got more time to think about it and have been inspired by going back through the recipe books. On Good Friday, Lincoln helped me make felafel, hummus and tabouli, which we had for dinner in wraps. Tonight’s dinner might be Jamie’s fish pie.
I’ve had it on my mind to get back to my Kristin Hersh painting, which I intended to do yesterday afternoon, but Matt and I went for a spatially distant walk with friends, instead. We split up and walked two-by-two, with 10 metres or so between each pair so it wouldn’t look quite so obvious that we were together. The painting fell to today’s todo list, and so I cleaned the kick boards in the kitchen. Now that we have brand new floorboards down here, it seemed a crime to leave the grubby kick boards as they were. Art is work and I put it off, even though I get thoroughly absorbed once I start.
I worked on the detail of her eyes and nose. I like them better now, but I’m not happy with her mouth and everything under that. I’m having a zoom session with my art teacher in a week or so. I’ll get some feedback then. As much as I’d love to say I’m finished, I’m not sure I am.
As for the rest of the day, I’ll probably be binge-watching Unorthodox on Netflix.
I’m still spending too much time on my phone and bathing in Covid news. Things I’d rather do instead:
Find more things to cook
Clean out the bathroom cabinets
Do some quick oil paintings on my stash of canvas paper with all the leftover palettes I’ve folded up and stored in the freezer (That’s how you keep oil paint usable once it’s out of the tube).
Sorting through all the recipes and stuff in my Facebook saves
Finish reading Lincoln in the Bardo (I’m 75% through. I don’t love it, probably because I haven’t grown up with Abraham Lincoln’s life story, but the format is interesting.)
And that’s the recreational list. You should see the work list! Actually, in work news, my recent marketing efforts have been working and I’ve got a couple of potential clients in the pipeline. That’s encouraging, after briefly thinking I might be better off chucking the whole Knowledge Bird caper in.
Getting a little better at maintaining my previous workout commitment. I’m not working as hard as I would with a trainer yelling at me, and I miss the one-on-one combos, but at least I’m heading downstairs to our make-do gym and getting the routines done.
The weather was so nice today that there was more traffic and people outside than I’ve seen for a while. It was my first shopping trip back to Barkly Square since our self-imposed distancing, and I was kind of mortified by how standard-busy it was. Coles have security guards to maintain a low-flow of people within the store, but outside the store, there’s very little care being taken by shoppers about maintaining distance. I think I’ll stick with the other Coles that I’ve been going to. It’s way less busy. 😬
Mum and I delivered easter eggs to each other. I just received ours, but she hasn’t received hers! I’m hoping it’ll turn up on Saturday. Either way, I’m sure there’ll be some easter facetiming, come Sunday. 🐣
In today’s Accurate Anagram, pandemic = med panic.
So, I just heard the news today the NSW & Vic state premiers saying social distancing is our way of life until a vaccine is found. Vaccines take 12-18 months to develop, so that’s going to be fun. Norman Swan has been saying this all along, but for some reason, it feels worse to have that reinforced. Still, I remain hopeful that modern technology, under this new pressure, can have significant positive influence, so I continue to roll with the announcements as they’re made.
Sunday crafternoon produced a collage from my foodie mags. There’s a few mistakes in here, but I like the colours.
I’ve had an ongoing low-grade anxiety prior to, and for most of the time since, my last update. It’s given me a phantom sore throat at different times, and there’s been a Covid-dream or two. The horror stories of Italy, the UK, Spain and New York, and the fact I’m 2 degrees from Covid deaths, have instilled a fear that I didn’t have even a month ago. The fear response makes me worry for my very active, and youthful, 70-something mum—wanting her to keep only to herself to minimise all chance of exposure. My nurture response, though, is to be glad she has some physical company, for loneliness can be just as detrimental, and we’re on the other side of the state border. For now, it’s a trade-off. And, I hope, we may not get to the point where we aren’t allowed even to have one visitor in our own homes, like where the UK is now. Early signs point to our infection rate flattening out, which is the goal of the physical distancing. It does prompt some hopefulness, but that may be premature. No doubt I’ll be refreshing ABC news for some days, yet.
So, anyway, let’s put the lid on that box and put it back into my mental attic.
Our floorboard situation was resolved during the week and we’ve moved our recreational activities back downstairs. Recreational activities now include making ice cream. Matt bought an ice cream machine, as thought to churn away the spare hours in the day. Our first batch of basic vanilla is in the freezer, right now. I’m gradually falling into a new routine. I was busy enough throughout the week on marketing tasks and removing my own SNS nail polish that the days went by much quicker than they did in the two weeks before.
I’m working on folding more art into my days. I’d been going to my regular Thursday afternoon art class for a year when we went into isolation, and I was working on a portrait of Kristin Hersh. I’m in the last stages of it, and need to devote another hour or so to finessing the details now that I’ve changed the background colour.
My latest artistic efforts involved going through all my old Coles & Woollies mags, taking photos of the recipes I wanted to keep and ripping out pages and images that I thought might be good for collage. So I’ve fired the long-neglected Pinterest app back app for inspiration.
March has finally ended and I’m wondering how many people are waiting for this long-running April Fool’s prank to be declared. Is there more to come? A colossal swarm of bees turning on humanity for destroying the environment would be a topical karmic retribution.
There’s plenty speculating about what the other side of this thing might look like for the economy. I do have some optimism that we’ll emerge a little more socialist. Workers unions will reclaim some of their importance. Some services will come back into government hands. If nothing else, the pandemic payments have shown that the previous social safety net wasn’t safe at all. I am hopeful we’ll eventually end up with a far better and robust socialist leadership, even if we have to wait another term of LNP government.
I haven’t been thinking much about the long term, at all. I’m very much about getting through each day, making sure I’ve done something productive—ticked off a couple of boxes, and mentally planning each day’s dinner. That’s about the extent of it. Floorboards are being laid today and we’ll be properly back downstairs by the weekend. I keep saying that once we get our normal space back, I’ll be ready to create a new routine that covers some school for the kids, reading time, exercising time, and creativity. Whether or not we succeed is another matter.
Last weekend, I opened up an old Facebook group that I’d created for our townhouse neighbours to the rest of the apartment complex. I printed out notes telling people how to find the group and stuck them up at the entrances of the difference buildings. Within a week, I had 65 people join and they’ve already been posting helpful messages and calls for help with various things. I went back out today and stuck some more notes up because the cleaners (or someone) took the first ones down. It’s a small act, but it goes some way towards creating the community I hoped for when we moved here.
Not too much has happened, today. Some laundry, some art, some playing Boggle with Lincoln, Fraser made choc chip cookies, I did some worky things. The arvo routine of sitting on the balcony with an alcoholic bevy is starting earlier. Friday was 4pm; today, 3pm. it’s 4:30 now and I’m one cider down and we’re watching the rain fall.