Coronavirus briefing notes

COOKING UPDATE

Some days are so boring that it’s hard to write about them. However, on Tuesday I started cooking a lentil soup in my electric pressure cooker when it fused. There was that smell and it stopped working. I transferred the ingredients to a slow cooker and ordered an Instant Pot (used by van life dwellers and now available in an Australian version) from Amazon. Incredibly it arrived on Thursday, coming from a warehouse in Melbourne. I ordered the smallest size as I want to be able to take it with us when we travel in the van. I’ve also found that the large one took ages to build up pressure before starting the cooking process and was hoping that a smaller size would result in faster cooking.

I’ve used it to cook a meat meal, steam vegetables and cook rice, all of the things I’d want to use it for on the road, and it is, indeed, somewhat faster in building up pressure. The only thing is I am needing to be aware of the much smaller pot and not try to cook such large amounts. All good, it’s simpler to use than the other one, much lighter in weight and uses less power, only 800W, and I’m happy.

IMG_3907

MATT’S NDIS MEETING

On Friday afternoon I went in person to a meeting at Matt’s villa about his NDIS funding. If the techology had been working I could have had the meeting using NDIS software, but just as well I went in person because we ended up talking to our NDIS contact on the phone. They are wanting to convert over to NDIS by June 1st, so it was important, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone. Matt was happy and relaxed, I don’t think he minds that we just talk on FaceTime, although he loves home visits with us.

I felt about anxious about contact, but didn’t need to touch anything, apart from getting a homemade poppy from Matt, and an anzac biscuit (handled with gloves I was assurred). I will not be managing Matt’s funds, but do need to appoint someone as a sort of go between with NDIS after the present person hands his case over. That’s in addition to the contact person at the NDIS. Thank goodness Ability Centre are handling all of the difficult stuff, like working out just what funding Matt needs, tricky as so many of his costs are shared. The meeting was a positive experience.

ANZAC DAY STREET SERVICE

I didn’t prepare (download the app) for getting up for the streetside dawn service yesterday, but went down to the end of the drive to see what it was like. I could hear the Last Post softly in the background and realised that our neighbour was standing behind me. There were about three couples standing out in the light rain. It was so light that moving under a tree gave shelter. I liked the experience – perhaps we should do this every year. It didn’t feel over hyped and jingoistic to stand at the end of the driveway silently, with others visible up the road, all of us silent.

ROADS THAT END IN TREETOPS

I had two possible activities today, to meet with some friends for our regular monthly walk, with adaptations to meet the criteria for only two people togethere and the fact that our cafe would probably not be open and even if it was, we could not sit down to chat. I thought of taking the van so that I could prepare coffee and a snack when we finished the walk as the plan was to around at a distance from each other to have morning tea. I even made a list of what to take and packed my backpack.

However, the second thing we had planned for the day would have needed to happen in the morning. We were thinking of going down to the Manning foreshore for a walk. We have a grocery pickup from Coles, Carrawa in the afternoon and it would kill two birds with one stone. However, in thinking of the logistics of it, we would have had to go in the morning and take our lunch, which would have conflicted with the Gwelup walk. I switched off the alarm at 6.00 a.m. and slept for two hours instead. I dreamt I went on the walk and then volunteered to drop one of the other people home. It turned into a nightmare journey and far more stressful that actually going on the real walk. Roads I’m driving down don’t end up in tree tops, as happened in the dream!

What ended up happening is that Stephen still has a headache this morning and isn’t feeling very well. He had a slight headache yesterday though was still able to go for an evening walk. Everything is off (apart from my exhausting dreaming walk) and I will simply drive over this afternoon to pick up the shopping. I was worried about contamination in the van anyway – we normally use the car and don’t worry too much because everything is in the rear of the wagon. There were ways around it, like taking a large plastic tub to put the shopping bags in, but it will be easier this way. Stephen was able to eat breakfast and said he no longer feels he will stay all day in bed.

HOW LONG WILL THIS GO ON…

I was early for Matt’s meeting on Friday and drove down to the Dog Swamp Shopping Centre to check it out. The car park was crowded with people coming and going. Hardly anyone had gloves and a face mask. Given the low rate of cases in here in Western Australia I can only conclude that there is little or no circulation of the virus. We have sort of lockdown lite here anyway, but the low numbers of infections and deaths seem incredible compared with other parts of the world.

I’m concerned that both the Prime Minister and our local Premier are putting teachers under pressure to teach students in classrooms, rather than with online learning and learning packages for kids not able to access lessons online. The numbers suggest that kids do not transmit the virus, but all of their stuff does (clothes, lunch boxes, backpacks) and having schools open means that many thousands of adults will be in contact through the kids. I don’t think that a few months out of school is necessarily bad for kids, although it will be hard on their parents who haven’t chosen home schooling by preference. It’s clear that many teachers are over sixty and would normally be considered ‘at risk’ and best to keep themselves isolated. However, we will see. I’m glad I’m not the parent of a school aged child having to decide what to do.

I’ve sent off another card to Mum. Even doing FaceTime sessions with her is hard work, given her problems, and I couldn’t face it this week. Although her nursing home is in lockdown, it’s never what you would call  a ‘hard’ lockdown. In other words, if I really wanted to see her, and didn’t mind the risk to everyone, they would let me. I wouldn’t have to cause a big fuss, just ask.

To people who want to end the lockdown now, without waiting for a vaccine, or better treatment options, I would say ‘make a list of all of your friends and relatives who you are prepared to lose to the virus’. Then have a think about whether it would be worth it to you. I have to say, my list is zero. Because even if your friends and relatives don’t die, the deaths you are happy to risk for the sake of more freedom to do things are the deaths of other people’s loved ones. We are still finding out how this virus kills people, particularly younger, healthy people with no preexisiting conditions. Can you really not wait? I want to go off travelling in our van really badly. But not enough to risk other people’s lives. Our lockdown isn’t harsh.

UPDATE

The lockdown has been eased from tomorrow. We still need to follow the 1.5 metre rule, but gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed, including 10 people at weddings. We can also indulge non contact outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, having picnics and camping. The word ‘camping’ positively leapt of the page for me. Of course, some people have been doing all of these activities in a discreet way, but at least now we won’t have to worry about being reprimanded.

I still plan to download the contact tracing app though keeping the data in the USA via Amazon is worrying. At least we can delete the app when the worst is over. Going to pick up the shopping reinforced to me that people are not keeping 1.5 metres apart in the shopping lanes.

We will still have the Australian border closed and it appears that regions within WA will still be closed to each other.

We should know within a couple of weeks if all of the changes result in new infections.

TRUMP IS SILLIER THAN USUAL (IF THAT IS POSSIBLE)

Trump really humiliated himself the other day, with suggesting people ingest bleach during his coronavirus briefing. It was dangerous as well. There are people in his country who have taken his silly remarks seriously. He doesn’t always sound so moronic and, like Trevor Noah, I thought he had a good chance of a second term before this crisis. The Republican Party let him go through his antics whilst they pass far right legislation to strip poor people of basic rights, including voting rights, women of the right to abortion, and other needlessly cruel measures. As much as they may cringe about his behaviour, it works for them, as well as for the Americans who feel left out of the good life enjoyed by the middle class, urban Americans. There are still people who believe Trump is on their side, however unlikely it seems to us.

PANDEMIC READING

An author I really enjoy is Peter May, a Scottish writer who now lives in France. He writes detective stories, basically, but with interesting backgrounds, including a series about a Chinese detective. Someone recently suggested that he write a book about a pandemic, which triggered his memory of a book he wrote about 15 years ago, before his books became popular, and had put away in a folder on Dropbox. The book is published as an e-book, with a paperback coming out soon. His virus story is called ‘Lockdown’ and set in London. One of the parallels with the present is that the Prime Minister contracts the virus. In the book he dies, unlike Boris Johnson.

The other book is Mary Shelley’s book ‘The Last Man’. It is about a pandemic set in the near future (relative to her) which gradually kills everyone in the world, except one man. The story is long and very convoluted, which messy flowery language in parts. I had to do a lot of ‘skipping’ which I did because the basic story was very interesting. Mary Shelley is famous for her book ‘Frankenstein’, which is also a blend of psychology and science fiction. However, she was a prolific writer all of her life and wrote lots of travel books as well as novels. I’d recommend ‘The Last Man’ if you are prepared to skip over quite large chunks in the second half of the book to get at the good stuff. She explores the positive and negative adjustments a society would make to cope with an ongoing pandemic and it is both hopeful, and terrible in it’s predictions.

 

Stay at home: in the van

On Friday after writing in this blog we packed up and went to Kings Park for lunch. We had Turkish rolls with cheese and tomato, toasted in the trusty Ridgemonkey, of course. It was a humid day and although we enjoyed being out we found our afternoon walk a bit of an effort.

_dsc6275-1
Pretty soon after we started walking Stephen was a long way behind me as he kept stopping to look at plants. I had a good rest at a junction before we took a different path back to the van.
black cockatoos - 1.jpeg
Black dockatoos, lots of them about as they are migrating
detail - 1.jpeg
beautiful pods

 

kp parkup - 1.jpeg
One of the many car parks overlooking Crawley Bay
location - 1.jpeg
There was a covered bench, often occupied by other people
view of city - 1.jpeg
View of the city near to sunset

It was off home for tea after sunset.

On Saturday we…I’m not sure, nothing remarkable. Once again it was humid in the evening and I only walked around the block, the short walk, whilst Stephen went the longer way as far as the Victoria Park Post Office. Overnight we had quite heavy rain, coming through with a strong windy ‘front’ and that has certainly helped to clear the air. Last night we really enjoyed our walk, just a relatively short one, and involving the purchase of a sparkling Chiraz. The crisp, cooler air made such a difference.

We planned to do something yesterday (Monday) and despite the threat of showers we once again packed our ‘day’ gear to have lunch out in the van. We went to the Ellis Brook park, about 20 kms from our house. We are a bit early in the year for the water to be flowing at the falls, but enjoyed a short, somewhat steep walk up to the quarry.

I only took the iPhone with me for that walk, and decided that it was a scouting expedition, with the aim of discovering if there were some good opportunities for landscape shots. There are some trees and rock walls that will be good subjects in morning or evening light.

The whole loop walk is only about 2kms, but quite steep and graded at level 5.

I couldn’t upload photos at Ellis Brook, so finishing the blog post at home today.

walk trail sign - 1.jpeg

beginning of walk - 1.jpeg
We followed this walk trail, diverting to go to the quarry. Not much point in looking for the waterfalls as there hasn’t been enough rain yet.

 

lookout - 1.jpeg

It wasn’t far to the quarry, but uphill, and we soon had good views

img_3904
After our walk to the quarry we had lentil soup and toast. Yum!

 

Stephen wears these special socks when we go out for walks to protect his toes.

On the Blue Wren Trail

We had to clean our shoes at the beginning of each walk.

Matt rang us Sunday night at about 6.10 p.m. just after we arrived back from our walk. He is happy, as usual. We spent about half an hour on FaceTime as Stephen was preparing food for our tea and he found that quite entertaining. I told him about the NDIS meeting, now on Friday 24th (this week) and suggested that we pretend we are on Facebook as we keep our distance from each other during the meeting.

Now that our country has successfully ‘flattened the curve’ with regard to new infections our governments (state and Commonwealth) are looking at ways to begin easing restrictions. There is a lot of suspicion about the contract tracing app that is being proposed, ¬†and I’m not hopeful that there will be a good uptake, which would certainly help with the tracking and tracing on any potential outbreaks. The virus hasn’t gone away and we are not sure at this stage how many people may have been infected without showing any symptoms. As the country opens up we will have to still observe social distancing and hand hygiene. If there are outbreaks being able to contact those affected immediately will help to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand. As our hospitals have not been overwhelmed some elective surgery will be allowed.

In our state they want children to go back to school, but as it will be voluntary teachers will be doing double duty (in class and online teaching) as well as managing their own family lives, with children and grandparents. Oh, and the restriction on the amount of alcohol we can buy has been lifted.

Stay at home blog

We have been mostly staying at home since our last hot day. The cooler weather has made our evening walks much more pleasant. We can have the house open to allow fresh air and generally, we feel much better.

We have mostly just walked in our neighborhood, but took the car down to the Vic Park foreshore on Wednesday evening. There is a large area parallel to the path alongside the river and by walking on that we were able to avoid coming into contact with people.

two pines - 1
This photo is from our walk across the railway line to the stadium
Weather vane - 1
A weather vane discovered on one of our local walks.
ducks close up - 1
There were a couple of large flocks of ducks on the foreshore

Many ducks - 1.jpeg

Painted duck - 1.jpeg

Vic Park Foreshore - 1.jpeg
Of course, we were walking at sunset

I have been trying to get a copy of my mother’s End of Financial Year Statement from one of her investments. It was likely sent to us, but as I have been preparing her documents to take to her accountant I couldn’t find just this one. It is her only substantial investment and would make quite a difference to her refund. In the end I’ve had to fill in a form (Mare as well) and send them a certified copy of the Enduring Power of Attorney. As Marie had to sign everything as well I met her at the Roleystone shopping area to visit her chemist and post office. Everything has been posted off and we hope this will do the trick.

Marie and I sat on a wall to chat afterwards, with about twice the social distancing length between us. Roz and the kids came to shop whilst we were there and we were able to speak with them at a distance as well. Marie and I used hand sanitizer a lot. I was glad to see some things happening at the Roleystone shopping centre that are not happening in our local place. The chemist, post office and IGA all had plastic screens in place. In the IGA staff wore gloves. I know this protects them more than us, but because they come in contact with so many people it is a good way to protect everyone in the community. Well done Roleystone!

On Tuesday I contacted Regis Greenmount about the possibility of talking with Mum on FaceTime. They rang back in the afternoon and we enjoyed a short chat with her. She looks the same and appears to be in good spirits. She was rocking herself, clearly needs physical contact, but there is nothing much we can do. I don’t want to risk taking the virus to her nursing home. We can do another session next week.

Matt’s NDIS planning has to go ahead regardless. The Ability Centre has decided to hold the meetings in the gazebo next to Matt’s house. I have consented to go in person, explaining to Matt why I can’t give hime a hug. He may get upset, but it would be difficult to find out exactly what is happening if I just joined on FaceTime. I will take my own chair, wear a mask, and sit at double the required distance. The meeting isn’t until the 28th April, but restrictions are likely to still be in place. Again, I wouldn’t want to take the virus to a house with such vulnerable people.

On the whole we are enjoying the quiet time of our not too onerous lockdown. Stephen, who is normally involved in a whirlwind of activities, has been saying lately how much he appreciates the chance to step back and focus on writing, listening to music and generally persuing more gentle activities. Of course, we have social media and can keep up with friends and family that way.

Vic Park Foreshore2 - 1.jpeg
Vic Park foreshore

It is now Friday. We watch the news in a vain hope to understand what is happening here and overseas. We haven’t quite given up hope of being able to travel to other regions of Western Australia this winter, maybe in July or August rather than June. I’ve booked our van in at Ken Peachey Caravans to have our battery problem sorted. I plan to wipe down all surfaces and wear a facemask and gloves when I drop it off to minimise risk to them, and follow the same process backwards when I pick it up. We can leave the doors and windows open as well as wiping everything down when we get the van home. It’s fairly easy to sanitise a small area like the inside of the van. Leaving all doors and windows open for a day or so will also help.

Watching the mess the USA is making of their COVID-19 response is enough to make you weep. Not that other governments have necessarily done well and we are particularly concerned about what is happening in terms of numbers of deaths in the UK, but the bi partisan divide and posturing by Trump make everything so much more difficult for sensible, intelligent people in that country. At least the UK is mostly united and there is a feeling of most people being willing to pull together. Having a Queen really helps as well to help the UK truly feel like a united kingdom facing the problem.

 

We were told we could go to the beach over Easter

So we did, on Thursday evening because we thought it might be less crowded that the rest of Easter. We went to Mosman Beach, which is a bit south of Cottesloe and were able to find a nice parking area set above the beach. Even Cottesloe, as we drove past, did not seem to be crowded. Our beach, it turned out, was the dog beach and we didn’t actually walk along the sand. The beach path had quite a few people out walking and we only did a short walk to the end of the car park and back. The picnic shelter was taped off.

It feels a good move to leave the beaches open for this last heatwave over Easter as most people appear to be being responsible and taking precautions for social distancing. We still have quite low numbers of infections here in Western Australia and apart from when I’ve been to the supermarket I feel less anxious than I have been about catching the virus.

Because we didn’t get some vital sutff from our home delivered grocery list we decided to have a shopping expedition on Wednesday morning. I wore gloves and my thicker mask, precautions which were derailed at the entry by a request to show my pension card. It was the second time I have been during the special 7.00 to 8.00 a.m. session at Coles, Stephen has gone once as well, and this was the first time someone has requested proof of age. My card was tucked in my handbag in my money purse and I had already been holding the trolley handle for a while, so I was slightly irritated that my efforts to avoid contamination came to nought at the entrance. I’ve now put the card in the flap of my phone cover to make it readily accessible. I pay for things using the phone and it is easily cleaned afterwards.

Later, Stephen went to the chemist for medications and QV soap for me. Although it was a bit stressful we now have enough food, etc. to last for a while before we will need to do more shopping.

On Wednesday at 10.00 a.m. we had a test of having a French lesson using Zoom. I thought it would be quite brief, but our teacher had prepared a lesson and we spent an hour in our virtual classroom. She told us about a web site which has good resources for learning French including crosswords which I quite enjoy doing. The decision was made to begin classes on the 29th April, have a couple of lessons for free to see how it goes, then we will be charged a small fee to continue, not as much as for physical classes, but something, as we are using the expertise of the administration staff.

Thursday’s visit to the beach meant a bit of planning. We had our main meal at lunch time and I packed sandwiches, drinks, tea bags, fruit and chocolate for a small supper. We used the ridge monkey to toast the sandwiches. When we put the kettle on for tea we ran out of gas. The single bottle has lasted us since we bought the van, which is pretty good going. I switched over to the second bottle and we were away.

The sunset wasn’t that wonderful, but we were appreciating being out in the fresh air with a lovely view. Apart from our short walk we spent time at the fence looking over the beach to the ocean. There were a few other vans in the carpark, but we stayed longer than most, heading home after dark. When we could no longer see outside we listened to the radio over the internet using our bluetooth speaker for excellent sound. And were home by 8.30 p.m.

the dog beach (1 of 1).jpg
Mosman Beach
sunset (1 of 1).jpg
Sunset

Yesterday I had a migraine. It was the usual stress one, and I’m not sure why it would happen at that point, but with a hot day outside spending a day mostly in bed wasn’t a problem. Stephen bought some strong Panodol a few weeks ago and they worked on the headache, though I still felt ill and very woozy. However, by late afternoon I was well enought to shower and dress and eat dinner. Stephen went out for an evening walk on his own, not such a bad idea as we are not getting any time alone at the moment. We don’t argue and if things get slightly testy we realise that our lives could be hell if we argue and both back off. We do spend time separately in the house, watching different Youtube channels and other small tasks.

Overnight I still had a headache and had to take more Panadol this morning, but it is now just a headache, I’m feeling otherwise normal. I took a short walk before breakfast as I feel like I need to get moving again, and found it very refreshing. It was still quite cool at around 8.00 a.m. I feel sure I will be up to walking again this evening.

Being fully self contained in the van is quite a bonus at the moment. We are able to totally avoid using communal facilities and we don’t have to buy takeaway to have hot food. We are not sure what will happen in the future, but thank you West Australian government for allowing people to go to the beach if they wish over Easter. I guess the experiment will prove successful if we don’t have a spike of infections in the next week or two.

Cruise ships are still our main worry when it comes to the virus, but we cannot just send ships away if they have sick people on board and can’t get to their home ports. I think passengers who were assurred that they were safe to board should take class action to sue the cruise ship owners for the dangerous decision to go to sea in the middle of March.

P.S. The maximum temperature was 39.5 (103F) today. I wonder if that is a record for April.

 

Adjusting to social distancing

It feel like a long, long time since we camped at the beach, but is actually just under two weeks ago. Perhaps it feels a long time because we don’t know when we might be able to do it again. I expect that the people around Perth who live in their vans are still doing it, they have to go somewhere. Although there are caravan parks and camping places offering longer term places for full time travellers if they are not able to lower their rates I suspect many people cannot afford to go there. Burns Beach, for example, charges about $50 per night and even their weekly or monthly rate might be prohibitive. Coogee Beach is cheaper and might be worth trying.

Of course, apart from people living in vans and cars out of necessity, this is a very first world problem only suffered by people who can afford a van. We want to go off travelling and I’m particularly upset about missing out on winter travelling for going up north. In summer we sort of hibernate, or take short trips during times of cooler weather, or go to Pinaroo Point. But going north or east just wouldn’t be a pleasure, I’m amazed at families that take off in the summer school holidays to go inland, very hardy folk is all I can say, or perhaps they always stay in caravan parks with swimming pools and full hookups.

Today we have a plan to drive to the Kent Street Weir area for our walk, leaving a bit earlier than usual because we don’t want to run out of light. Tramping the suburban streets near our house is losing it’s appeal. However, it has clarified that Victoria Park is quite a nice suburb, with lots of interesting older brick or weatherboard homes and a few really attractive new homes. As well there are derelict houses with rusted roofs and cheap and nasty modern houses and villas that shouldn’t have been built. Some streets have beautiful old trees and in the evening we notice lots of birds as well.

stuff - 1.jpeg

When we first moved here about 11 years ago we walked around the local area a lot, including walking along Albany Highway to count all of the restaurants, pubs and cafes. We lost count, of course, and there are many changes, new cafes, old ones taken over, etc. There is something of the feel of a country town here, with an interesting and very long main street. I’m glad we were eventually able to afford a house here. It’s not fancy, but has everything we need, including about three pleasant outdoor areas and our newly planted garden. I’m not sure if it is a plus to have our little campervan parked here or not, it seems to ‘hum’ to me about trips to be taken.

IMG_0327
Port Augusta, February 2020
MG_2326
Pinaroo Pt, December 27th, 2019
DSC5248
UK, September 26th, 2019
IMG_0064
Pinaroo Pt, January 26th, 2020

I’m missing Matt a lot even though we see him on Facetime. I’m even missing visits to Mum although they can be a bit challenging, both the long drive there and back and keeping pace with her mixture of confused memories, gaps and flashes of normal intelligence. I’m not concerned about her condition changing a lot by the time we next see her because her dementia has been pretty stable. Even when I’ve been away for a few weeks I don’t notice any difference in her functioning. She’s become a bit more physically frail, but mentally seems about the same.

There’s a lot of craft happening. My older sister always sews anyway, but has more time for her present difficult project, Eversley is making koalas and I am making cloth masks. I wonder if she would swap a mask for a koala? I can give her a choice of fabrics and levels of thickness. Of course, I’ve already got six teddy bears, a lion, a kitten and a Monkey Mia Dolphin, which is either enough, or perhaps we could take the view that the koala would be joining a large family.

We haven’t posted a bear outside for children because we are at the end of a long driveway. I feel I would have to be prepared to lose any bear that I set up near our letterbox. And we don’t want to encourage people to walk on our private driveway. Apart from anything else, our neighbour has security cameras covering it.

We just got a delivery of flowers and chocolate and my immediate thought was that it came from Matthew. However, there was a number to call and it turns out to be for someone across the road. We are leaving it where it is so that she can pick it up.

stuff - 2.jpeg

 

 

Days blurring into each other

Still, we have had events. On Wednesday night I joined the Workshop Camera Club for an online session. We were asked to keep our microphones and cameras off as it causes bandwidth problems. There was a competition judging session which was excellent. Even though I’m not actually into street photography I found the judge’s comments extremely useful. Stephen was watching as well and we didn’t stay for the full session, just half an hour. They were using Zoom.

We also watched two Contagion movies/programs. One was the BBC4 program about a pandemic simulation project in 2018. It was magazine style, with quite a lot of repetition, however useful in that we learnt a lot about making predictions for the spread of a novel virus. Then we watched the movie ‘Contagion’, and found it useful that we had seen the documentary first. For dramatic purposes the virus in the movie is more immediately deadly than the latest coronavirus.

Though that depends on where you live, in Italy and Spain it is very deadly and the US appears to be on a similar trajectory with it’s strange culture of individualists and collectivists living apparently in different universes and reacting very differently to each other. Some, pro social and observing social distancing, others behaving as though nothing is happening, even after over 1,000 deaths in a day.

We were able to place an online order with Coles for three days in advance. It’s a bit of a lottery what you actually receive, however, and some items, such as lentils and pasta were listed as ‘not in stock’. Which means we are still left with having to physically go to a supermarket once a week. We knew the time the delivery would be arriving, but still missed seeing the delivery. We had asked that it be left outside. The cold things were still cold, fortunately, we don’t think it was out there for very long. Lesley says we need a dog, perhaps we could foster one for the duration of the lockdown.

I’m not sure if we are allowed to drive out of our immedate area to go for a walk. Although we quite enjoy walking in our neighbourhood it would be lovely to go down to the sea, or even one of the river beaches

An interesting thing happend on Thursday. I received a card from Mum, obviously organised by the staff, which didn’t name me, but was to her ‘darling little girl’. Why didn’t I think of it. We are not sure how she would react to a phone call and don’t want to be simply telling her why we can’t visit, but we can send cards. On Friday I sent a post card, but in an envelope so that it can be extracted and the envelope discarded. I’ve also suggested to other family members that this might be a good way to keep in touch with her. Well done Regis Greenmount for this idea.

I’ve bought a little photo printer (online from Officeworks, ordered Friday afternoon and delivered early Saturday morning, so that I can make little photo stickers to include when I send cards to her. Now that we all use our phones for taking photos we don’t need instant cameras, we just need the printer.

We went on two walks today. We had been over to the shops to go to the butcher and fruit and veggie shop in the morning yesterday and found that we really liked being out during the day. Our evening walks often end after sunset. This morning it was a walk towards the city, there is a view from the higher places in Victoria Park. It was partly cloudy by the time we went out and the city wasn’t pretty, but at least we had a walk in the fresh air. This evenings walk was a bit shorter, half an hour rather than an hour, as we felt well exercised from the morning.

I would make a feature of the bears in our area, but unfortunately our local folk don’t seem to be much for bears. We had a greeting from a little child who was sitting on a veranda (much better than a bear) and have seen families out walking and riding bikes together. Perhaps it will bring our community together the way the Sunday and Friday evening markets were in a previous time (BC).

I’ve ordered some face masks through our friends in China, but it appears that Customs are scooping them up at the border because they claim they are faulty. Of course, ours are not medical masks, just for ordinary people to wear and I’m hoping they will be allowed through. In the meantime I decided it was time to get the sewing machine out and watch some YouTube videos to find out how to sew our own. I’ve set up in the fairly unused section of our living room and made the first mask today. I thought I didn’t have any elastic and have used long peices of cloth to make ties, but then found some black elastic that is suitable in my hand sewing box. I will use it for the next one. Stephen says he would like one as well and as I have a fair bit of material he will have a choice of colours and patterns.

home made mask - 1home made mask - 2

This mask is only a single layer of fabric and obviously doesn’t provide a serious level of protection. On the other hand, I was able to easily breathe during our walk this evening and I keep a good distance between myself and other people, going out onto the road to pass people, for example.

For shopping I should probably make a double or triple layer mask. As shopping trips are short this should’t be a problem if it’s rather stuffy. It’s possible to buy the filter material used in medical masks if I want to get really serious.