COVID-19 Life update

We have established a routine of sorts. We wake up at about 7.00 a.m. for cups of tea and catching up on all the news on our ipads. Then showers and breakfast, which we normally don’t eat together. Lunch is at about 12.30 to 1.00 p.m. and we sometimes have it together and sometimes separately if I get hungry too early for Stephen. After lunch we have a short nap time and have afternoon tea at about 3.00 p.m. At 5.30 we go for a walk, then prepare tea when we get home, eating at about 7.00 p.m. In normal times we roughly follow this routine, but it is broken up by things we do during the day and rehearsals in the evenings. With Matt we are having Facetime sessions on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. In future we could visit him, sitting outside on our own chairs and observing the 1.5 metre distancing.

After arriving back from the beach last week we have kept our walking local, exploring different places and streets in our neighbourhood. We did this a lot when we first moved here about 10 years ago, but haven’t had this much time. When we see people we always pass leaving a good deal of distance. People are friendly and we usually get smiles, if not actual greeting. Last night we walked up near Kent Street SHS and found a lovely open space just beyond where people were exercising their dogs. Everyone was observing the distance requirements and the dogs appeared to be having a great time.

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We will be restricted to our regions from Tuesday night, which means we could go and camp in the bush out on Brookton Highway tonight without breaking the rules. But, the spirit of the rules is that we don’t travel into other regions unless we need to get home. Although there is no risk of spreading the virus if we camp alone in the bush it doesn’t seem quite the right thing to do. We can still go to our beach for the night if we want to get away. The cooler weather gives us more options in normal times, but not these times.

We are keeping in touch with friends and family on social media and via email, as well as the odd phone call.

Getting stuff done: this week I finally got around to tackling Mum’s tax thinking that the deadline was the 31st March. There is one end of the year statement missing and I’ve contacted the company requesting a copy and am still waiting for an answer. When I contacted the accountant the end date is actually the 15th May, so we have time. Of course, this is not so that Mum can pay her tax, it is because she gets tax back on her investments. The government would probably be quite happy if she didn’t do a tax return. My concern is that her investments will have gone down in value due to the virus and she may need the money.

Getting stuff done:

  • I finalised the latest home movie using all the footage we shot when he came to lunch last Saturday. It went onto Youtube last night and when I rang the house to let them know they were all watching it. We are concious now that our family movies are watched by everyone at Matt’s house, so they not only need to be family friendly, but Villa 3 friendly.
  • I’m thinking of making a short movie about Stephen and I pining for Matt – a comedy naturally.
  • We haven’t cleaned the house.
  • I haven’t cleaned out my study and set up my sewing machines.
  • We haven’t tidied up our patio and set it up for outdoor living.
  • I’m blogging from time to time.

We are trying to keep shopping at a minimum, ideally once a week but it is hard to have enough bananas for a week. A few days ago we walked past our local IGA and noticed that there were very few people inside and we plan to pick up a few things tonight when we are out on our walk. Of course, we also have the special hour from 7.00 to 8.00 a.m. for shopping as well, but Coles has reset that to cater for health workers on two days and seniors and disabled on three days – we just have to plan things a bit more.

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Three sunsets

We went to our favourite beach location thinking we would stay one night, possibly two, then ended up staying three nights because we had a couple of phone calls in the late afternoon and by the time we finished the sunset beckoned. Photos do not do justice to the experience, of course.

Our second full day, yesterday, was spent entirely outdoors and we are showing the effects – we got sunburned. I think it may have been partly because of having cars parked which were reflecting the sunlight as we didn’t spend very much time in direct sun. I went swimming twice, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon, but not at times when the sun was fierce.

We basically had two very relaxing days sitting around in the heat of the days, having fried eggs, bacon and bread for tea, using our own facilities to avoid the public toilets and being distant from other people, mostly. Eversley came over yesterday morning and we went down for a swim before breakfast/morning tea. She brough her own coffee and biscuits.

One call was from Robyne, asking for advice, but really her situation is very difficult and there isn’t much she can do but press ahead with trying to sell her unit.

The second call was from our friends in Chongqing. The phone call didn’t work so I quickly reinstalled WeChat and we made a video call. They had heard that Covid-19 has reached Western Australia and were wondering how we were. We were very touched by their concern. They have been in lockdown for two months, working from home and having food delivered. They have a walking machine to get exercise. So, there are five of them in a two bedroom apartment high above the river (his parents live with them to mind YaXuan as they normally both work of course). We had been wanting to do a video chat with them and it was lovely that YaXuan wasn’t shy at all. She didn’t get that we didn’t understand Chinese and chatted away.

By the time we finished we felt quite emotional, which probably contributed to our decision to stay one more night. Our toilet and grey water didn’t seem too smelly although I was very glad to empty them both when we got home late this morning. We dropped in at our shopping centre to get fruit and vegetables, with a plan to use the special morning shopping hour on Friday morning for anything else that we need. Our plan is to shop as little as possible.

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We stayed on the beach well after the sun had set and were rewarded with these sunrays.

This morning we woke up feeling refreshed. Although it has been hot for the last couple of days the evenings have been cool enough to wear a light jumper when watching the sunset and it has been comfortable for sleeping with a light breeze. We packed up after breakfast, then took a walk down to the beach to have a last paddle.

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Stephen on our walk this morning. It didn’t register until this afternoon that today is our wedding anniversary. I’m not sure which one, we’ve been married over 30 years and perhaps it doesn’t matter.

Most people seemed to be being careful about keeping their distance from strangers in the time we were there camping. Some of the setups were interesting, with one young couple camping out of an older station sedan, sitting on low chairs to have meals. Last night in particular we had more people sleeping in cars (from what we could see they were well prepared with special set ups for sleeping). Whether these were people just getting away for a couple of nights or permanently living in their cars we couldn’t tell. The woman who lives in her car and has been there for months was still there. Although we had a bit of contact with her when we had morning tea with our friends a couple of weeks ago she did not speak to us this time and we did not like to disturb her privacy.

We have had a lot of communication from the Ability Centre in the last few days about needing to limit contact. One parent has said that he has decided not to visit his daughter for a couple of weeks to see what happens. This is despite not having an illness or knowingly had contact with anyone with the virus. We have decided that we should do the same, keeping in contact with Matt via Facetime. They already have a lot of people coming into the house of necessity to care for them without parents adding to the possibility of bringing the virus to them.

We’ve been able to watch the news tonight, having missed a few nights due to not being able to use much power after sunset. First part of the SBS news, which gives us overseas news, then the ABC which gives us news of this state, then the rest of Australia, and then the 7.30 Report. We also switched to Channel 7 to see if there was a difference in the coverage. Actually, no, they also seem to be covering the COVID-19 news in a sober and responisble manner. All the advice seems to be to stay at home as much as possible, in fact, one expert suggests we act as if we have the virus and keep our distance to protect other people. If the new restrictions work we should see an effect within two or three weeks.



Social distancing at the beach

We have come to stay for a couple of nights at Pinaroo Point. If the weather had been cooler we might have opted for going inland, but the easterly winds have brough very warm weather. When we arrived yesterday at about 4.15 p.m. there was little or no wind. Eversley came for tea and we wiped down a picnic table for drinks and nibbles before going down to the beach. Even when busy this beach is nothing like Bondi beach. There were small groups of people here and there. The carpark was fairly full, as you would expect on a Sunday afternoon.

I have one pack of disinfectant wipes, but we could also use vinegar when they run out. I don’t think its as good as alcohol, but something. Eversley cleaned her salad lettuce leaves in vodka, quite a good idea as packaged lettuce has been handled by workers and all of the produce in the supermarkets is open for people to handle and cough over. Vodka is quite expensive though.

Our logic is that we can remain almost fully self contained in the van and that the ocean is safer than going to a swimming pool. We have a handbasin with soap in the van if we did use the facilities here.

Stephen and I had chairs whilst Eversley sat on the sand whilst we ate our tea and enjoyed the sunset. So wonderful after a swim. Then she headed home and we settled into the van, moving stuff from the bed onto the floor of the cab (I bought a picnic rug precisely for that purpose). Our bathers were mostly dry and just needed hanging overnight.

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It’s not going to be any cooler here than inland today, thanks to the easterly, but we have spent a lot of time at home this week and it’s lovely to be out. We’ve seen quite a few mothers and children coming here this morning, but it isn’t busy. There were a few other vans here overnight, and some have moved off and others arrived.

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We have a glimpse of the sea from our van.

We had some problems with the battery going into danger levels overnight, then only charging fitfully at first when the sun came out. However, by about 10.00 a.m. we were drawing a lot of solar and the battery seems to be charging properly. I thought this morning that we might have to abort and go home. We will be more careful tonight about using power and will hopefully be OK. We are in full sun at the moment, relying on the wind to keep us more or less comfortable.

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Self isolating for a reason

The featured image shows the junction of real and artificial turf at the Lathlain stadium. As this practice oval is open to the public it makes a good walking track.

The restrictions for visiting Matt have been set at having to notify the house if we want to visit, limiting our visits to two hours, and either being with him outdoors or in his room, not the communal living areas. Plus signing in and much handwashing, and not going if we have symptoms.

Staff brought him over for lunch on Thursday to celebrate his birthday. This was arranged so that he didn’t have to travel by taxi. We also set up that staff would bring him today for his ‘normal’ visit and we set it up for lunchtime as I think it’s easier than trying to keep him awake until 8.30 p.m. when staff would come to pick him up. We found his cot tag from when he spent four weeks in hospital as a newborn. Amazing that I had kept it.

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Working Voices Choir members met on Thursday afternoon and have decided to go into recess for the duration of the crisis. We will be paying our new choir director four weeks additional payments because we have ‘terminated’ his contract and he depends on music for his living. We want him back when we resume. He has been very good for the choir and leaves us feeling revitalised. Stephen chose not to go because of his back pain and I didn’t want to go because of seeing Matt today.

We’ve started taking regular evening walks after spending our days doing some household chores, watching YouTube and reading. We are exploring our local area again and have made a vow to go to some of the local restaurants and cafes in future to help them get going again. We looked a menues, but feel it is safer to eat at home. We need to shop for food and will keep that to a minimum. Stephen went to his GP about his back and was told it would heal itself and can take about six weeks. He feels reassured even though no action was taken.

At the moment we are planning to do an overnight at the beach Sunday night. With warm weather forecast we should be able to swim. As we have our own facilities we won’t neet to use the showers/toilets and will use our own table and chairs for sitting outside. Our beach is rarely crowded so it should be easily possible to keep away from people. Although going to swimming pools is not recommended the ocean should be fine.

Three nights ago we walked to the refurbished Lathlain football stadium. They have kept the old football devil symbol.

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Sunset from the bridge over train tracks. I couldn’t get a shot without the power lines and it wasn’t very colourful. Sunset takes us a bit unawares as it is so much earlier than a few weeks ago. Sometimes there is a pink glow well after sunset.

We had quite a lot of rain this week coming from the north, which means the weather has mostly been only slightly cooler. Pretty much normal for this time of year, perhaps a bit more rain and a bit warmer than usual?

We are not going to plan any more visits home for Matt, but wait until the end of next week. At the moment they are allowing family visits from his house, but by the end of next week that may change. Hopefully we can visit him.

The new plants in our garden are doing well, probably helped by the rain and warm weather.


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Slowing down

We spent yesterday hunkered down enjoying the heavy rain. We have so few things on now that we can really relax. Stephen has a lower back pain that’s been bothering him for the last few days. He is unsure what has caused it, but speculates that he is reacting to to the laying down of the burden of so many activities. He has an appointment with his GP tomorrow morning with a view to having an ultrasound. As a long term back pain sufferer I’m advising gentle activity as keeping moving works best.

I tried out the new shopping hour for special needs and elders this morning. I arrived at about 7.30 am and have to say that it was most civilised. There was plenty of fresh produce and although there was a shortage of some items I was able to get all the foods we normally eat. I had been thinking that we could adapt to different foods if necessary as when we lived in China, but looks like it won’t be necessary.

I’m so glad that people who are really elderly will have this quiet time to buy their food. There were lots of staff and they had time to be extra friendly as well. One of the other shoppers said that the reason there wasn’t a frenzy at our Coles was that we are Vic Park folk. But, from what one staff member said things have got nasty during normal hours.

We are presently wondering if Working Voices should meet, we are only a small gathering, but are a bit concerned about meeting at the cafe even though we have a special room. However, it would be good to have one last session. We plan to pay our choir director for some extra weeks – it was our first thought as he earns his living through music.

I was able to get a chocolate cake for tomorrow when we will have a birthday lunch with Matt. His house supervisor has suggested that he have a phone and I think it would be handy as well. He likes taking photos and posting on Facebook, plus it would make him feel more in charge of communication if we can’t visit each other. Fortunately we have a spare iPhone, which I’ve set up with his account so it will have all of his iPad photos, etc. It also means we have a gift for him ready made, as it were. I’m always buying him clothes as presents, so glad to have something different.

We are watching the news, but it still feels very unlikely that we will have an outbreak as severe as the one in Italy where the health system was completely overwhelmed. It just feels like an interesting time when we all need to pull together. Because my mother’s nursing home has gone into complete lockdown my only concern is Matthew, and I feel optimistic that he will be safe. Now that we are taking so many precautions in this country I feel a lot less worried.

Stocked up on coffee beans, of course!

And more cancellations

The featured image is from our time in Yorkshire last year.

Speaking with Jackie the supervisor of Matt’s house today I found that she and I are on the same page with regard to being more cautious about community interactions for Matt than the Ability Centre’s current policy. Therefore, she is happy to arrange for Matt to come to us for lunch on Thursday, transported by one of her staff. Plus possibly on Saturday evening. All good.

We had Matt’s first NDIS planning meeting today. It took about 1.5 hours and doesn’t involve much work for me as Stephanie Keepa (definitely a keepa) will take care of all the paperwork for us. She mainly wanted to pick our brains today about Matt’s activities and interests.

Stephen’s Pirates of Penzance has been cancelled. They had a full cast rehearsal on Sunday afternoon and when they were assembled they were told of the cancellation. We have found out today that Trinity School for Seniors has been suspended (no more French classes) until further notice and that the Eco Fest where Working Voices Choir was going to sing on Sunday has been cancelled. No decision has been made about WVC rehearsals.

The cancellation of Pirates has left a huge hole in Stephen’s life (3 rehearsals a week ending abruptly) and will take time to get over. It seems particularly hard as this is the first G&S production he would have been in for 30 years.

I spoke with both of my sisters today, we are all bearing up well and wondering if we have enough toilet paper (joking). But, we are not really worried for ourselves, just wondering how to deal with restrictions on our lives. Music, getting out into nature, watching TV, cleaning the house (actually forget that one), all come to mind as alternative activities.

What I meant to add is that if the social distancing works and we don’t get a bad outbreak in Western Australia no one will be thankful. They will just complain that they went through restrictions for nothing. It’s like the fact that Australia avoided recession in the 2008 financial crisis. Measures were put in place, and despite mistakes being made, it worked and we were one of the few countries to escape. Well, let them complain, I say. It’s better than overwhelming our health system with a spike in cases.



Life is closing in

The featured image is of Crawley Bay a couple of weeks ago, not from last night when we were at the university.

First Fairbridge Festival was postponed until later in the year. We don’t have dates yet, but if we can’t do the new dates we will get a full refund. Then we had the usual ambiguous message from Regis – don’t visit, really, but if you must visit follow these guidelines. Transperth messaged us to say that they will be cleaning the buses so it’s safe to travel (perhaps).

Stephen’s WASO concert ‘Star Navigator’ has been cancelled, so no more rehearsals for that project. The concert tonight at the Concert Hall we had free tickets for has been cancelled.

We are still waiting to hear about the G&S production, but with little prospect for audiences it is probably just a matter of a day or so before the decision is made. We are also wondering about our Wednesday French classes run by Trinity School for Seniors. As many of the participants are in a high risk category they may decide to suspend classes. The Working Voices Choir was going to sing at next week’s Eco Fest in Hyde Park and on May Day in Fremantle. Those events are likely to be cancelled.

We have stocked up a little on food, but are taking the view that we will still be able to get food from the supermarket, either in person or by delivery. It was a bit of a disaster ordering toilet paper online a couple of days ago. First it was available, then the program crashed and next time I couldn’t order it. We went ahead with the order, it took ages when I went to pick it up and they forgot a couple of things. Not a perfect system. I was a bit scathing in the inevitable online survey that followed. As well, we have spent a bit of time going backwards and forwards to Coles as we forget things. I’m really tired of going there.

We had a nice night at the ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ at the University last night. We had a meal first at the University Club. Stephen and Eversley both have membership cards, which meant we had a bit of a discount. I found the comedy a bit tedious, Shakespeare does belabour the point rather. The cast worked hard and the overall performance wa enjoyable. The temperature was warm and a bit humid, we appreciated occasional breezes. We had a look at Eversley’s pretty little new car, a Toyota Yaris, which was about $9,000 cheaper than Matt’s wheelchair. Pretty amazing as it looks to be very good quality and is spacious inside.

Today we’ve mostly sat inside with the air conditioning on to offset how oppressive the atmosphere is. The temperature went over 30 and so far we haven’t had the promised rain. If you look on the radar image at the moment it looks like we are getting heaps of rain, perhaps it’s just not reaching the ground.

No whinging really. So far we are healthy and the precautions regarding social contact are taking place in good time to avoid a big outbreak here in Western Australia. Well, we hope so. We have a nice dinner tonight, I made a savoury mince a couple of nights ago and it is particularly delicious. I wonder if I can replicate the recipe another time. Given that I did the usual thing of making it up as I went along I rather doubt it.

We slept in this morning, but have an early start tomorrow as we head to Gwelup for either a walk to a cafe for coffee/breakfast or a drive to the cafe if it is raining. We told Matt we would see him tomorrow evening after Stephen’s G&S rehearsal in Nollamara. At this stage it is unclear if that is happening and it could be that we can arrange for him to come here for tea.


Whiteman Park

We’ve been busy the last couple of weeks and haven’t had time for an overnight at the beach. Plus, it has been very warm and humid, with heavy rain for about three days. But, this weekend has been better, partly cloudy, still humid, but a bit cooler. Stephen had his first G&S rehearsal tonight. He has a small role in Pirates of Penzance. We decided to have a picnic lunch and tea before dropping in for his 15-30 minute call at about 7.00 p.m. Oddly, we’ve never been to Whiteman Park and it is reasonably close to Nollamara where the G&S Society have their headquarters.

I cooked some chicken, one of the flavoured packets from Coles, which we had with salade and bread and butter. Also, some fresh fruit. We had lunch, a rest, afternoon tea, then a short walk at Whiteman Park. I

t is pretty dry at the moment, although there is some green around, but the ‘wetlands’ are totally dry. There are multiple attractions in the park, including a pretty wonderful children’s playground. It was just far enough away that we could enjoy the sounds of children playing without it being disturbing. Apart from one little boy who decided to come into the van to have a look around. I was welcoming until I realised that I had freshly made cups of tea on the table which were still hot. His granny came to pick him up.

We plan to go back when the weather is cooler and the wetlands wet. Although the park is new to us I think Matthew has been there fairly often, we must ask him. I’m surprised that we didn’t take clients there when I was working in Yokine.

hot cups of tea

the dry creekbed

During the afternoon I took out the drone and after the usual updating process took it to an open field to have a bit of a play. It confirmed two things, I should use the iPad mini as my screen as the screen of the iphone is a little small, and that it would be fund to take it out where there are some nice views. Although the park is pleasant to be in with twisty paperbarks abounding, what I really want is a reason to take the drone up high enough to take a good look around. Although it is legal to fly the drone in that area I was still a bit concerned as there is a rule about being a certain distance from people. There were just a few people still around in that area.

Here we are parked up outside the G&S headquarters. We arrived in time to have our evening meal, with Stephen getting more and more anxious as it got time to go in for his first rehearsal.


We’ve had an interesting time recently, going to some of the free events at the Writer’s Festival last weekend, going to French classes on Wednesday mornings, and enjoying a couple of opera performances. The first one was the Opera in the Park rehearsal where a performance of Hansel and Gretel was staged, with the help of projected images. Then yesterday we went to the Concert Hall for Beethoven’s Fidelio, not actually staged, but performed by a very good cast. With no props whatsover, or special lighting effects, we still felt all the drama. I was pleased that when the villian came to take his bow everyone booed, then applauded. Of course, he was just the actor/singer, but it showed our involvement in the story.

We have two French classes, one called French through Song, not singing as I had thought, but our teacher chooses songs for us to translate. The second class is called Beginners plus. In both classes I’ve quickly realised that I should have done Basic French first as I’m way behind everyone else. Still, Stephen is helping me with homework and I find learning grammar to be very boring. As someone has said, French isn’t that difficult to read and understand, but the pronounciation is difficult. I’ve pledged to try out one sentence this coming week. The week after I will be doing a presentation on a famous French person. That won’t be fun, but I will give it a try. My person is Marie Cure and her life is pretty fascinating. Such a pity that I will have to make it very, very short! All I can say is that the teachers are gentle and encouraging and most of our fellow students don’t feel confident.