from Megan in Brisbane, Australia: Oh Moody Blue!

April 18. The day got off to an interesting start . I packed my Holly bag for our daily walk – treats, waste bags, water for both of us, paper towel for residual mess: the list does go on (I’ll stop here, I think) and prepared to put on her harness. She edged away from me in horror. 

I’m not going.

Yes you are, Holly. 

I’m not.

She did this to me yesterday. So I left her behind. I thought that when I got to the gate she would run after me and say,

 Wait for me!

I walked the length of the fence, still expecting her to say,

Come back and get me. I was only joking.

But no. She sat and watched me go, with a look I’m sure was glee, and a paw I am convinced she was using to wave me goodbye.

Peace at last, she was thinking. Don’t come back in a hurry.

Well, sorry Holly. Not two days in a row. With a lot of grappling, lunging and the inevitable treats, she got strapped in and off we went. 

As we walked, I was reminded of my childhood in the fifties, growing up in Johannesburg. Low or no walls, open gates or no gates at all, children kicking the ball in the garden, and some children playing in the streets. They can. Very few cars about.

How fortunate the people are here. Such open space, beautiful vegetation, wide streets, blue skies. No fences.

Holly is very clever. When she saw people coming towards us, she stopped (as I do) and waited for them to pass. If she can practise social distancing, then we all can surely! Interesting observation is that people are not greeting one another, or remembering their manners. A simple, thank you would do no harm. 

There was no breeze, everything was still. Birds chattering. Out of one house came the sound of someone practicing the piano. Lovely. I stopped to listen. It was Jingle Bells. 

The next thing, a man’s voice boomed out,

Will you stop with that racket!

I moved on.

You will not believe that down the next street, a teenage sounding daughter was giving her mother a load of words, and the mother was definitely responding in kind.

The next thing, a neighbour called out in not so very fifties fashion, Oh, shuddup, will ya!

Somehow these two episodes made me feel part of the real world again. With all the inspirational quotes and guidelines for a meaningful life (#Greater Purpose), which are often really hard to live out, these human moments that made me think of how difficult it must be for families during this time and how they must loathe the platitudes. There are only two of us in the house, so it’s not hard to have a routine, to do the garden when you feel like it, to read or sleep or bake, or whatever your design for the day is. The luxury of it. In some houses, they might be wondering at what point would they be able to access financial help for domestic abuse. 

And it’s only 9 o’clock in the morning.

from Megan in Brisbane, Australia: how will you remember this time?

April 17. Living history. There have some excellent posts recently which have made for interesting and informative reading. The historical background to life in East Africa has been fascinating, and the interest evoked in the soon-to-be released : A History of Solitude. 

History as a definition has created many and varied responses over time. The website below gives some of these definitions :

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-history-collection-of-definitions-171282

We, in fact, are living through history (#Greater Purpose). We may feel stuck at home, bored or lacking the energy or creativity to do something meaningful, but in years to come, our grandchildren will learn about the time of Covid19. They will hear of a time when the air was unpolluted for a short time, when dolphins swam in the canals of Venice and when aeroplanes didn’t flock the skies. They will learn of the biggest contribution that people could make to this history – and that is staying at home.  

How will you remember this time?

from Megan in Brisbane, Australia: Looking at the View …

April 14. Today, I’m going to do something new, I’m going to look at the view. The big coincidence following my grandson’s exhortation is the day’s Tao guideline: observe. “The ancients first began accumulating wisdom when they came upon the idea that one could be the observer”.
My grandson’s words echo those of the ancients. Out of the mouths of babes. Maybe we need to listen to the children more.
But today is not about listening.
The first stop was the pool. I check it every day, but today I saw just how sparkling it was in the early morning sunlight. It looked like crystal. I admit I gave myself a round of applause at how good my pool maintenance is.
I saw the butterflies on the miniature camellia bushes with their delicate pink flowers.  On closer examination and more astute observation, I came to the unhappy conclusion that they were cabbage moths that actually wreak havoc in the garden.
My next stop was at the fruit bowl put out to attract the lorikeets. I saw five mynahs having a feast, but no sign of lorikeets. Another time, perhaps. Perseverance.
Next, with Holly in tow, I set off for a walk, with focus again only on observing. And it brought to mind the words sung by Louis Armstrong:
I see trees of green
And red roses too…
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue
And clouds of white…
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

And this is how I felt this morning. The sky was blue and clear, the leaves of the poinciana and the frangipani were beautiful shades of green. There are few roses in Brisbane, but I observed the red flowers of the geranium and hibiscus, the blue of the plumbago and the orange of the exora. Spectacular mixes of colour.
Appreciation of the beauty of the world we live in may bring the wisdom to know how to look after it. We may also take it one step further and observe our own behaviour towards the world and those in it.

from Megan in Brisbane, Australia: a Greater Purpose

April 10. Events have taken a turn!  My design-a-day has been adjusted and now accommodates a Greater Purpose, the existence of which can be traced to a single pivotal moment arising from the virus restrictions: my grandson posting his first video and his challenge to the family members.
These are the developments – he continues posting his videos, but now my youngest grandson aged 6 (yes, six) is making and posting his own videos. That is how much he was enthralled by his cousin’s creativity. They are delightful! Our challenge is to do something new, to look at the view, to help Mum with the weeds, do puzzles, and when doing your schoolwork, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I admit that, in the early hours when I can’t sleep, I watch all these videos over and over again. My battery is on permanent red alert.
Another of my grandsons has now decided to write a novella! So every day for an hour, we have a chat about plot, characters, suspense, description, dialogue, he writes and we convene the following day. So you see the Greater Purpose. But there’s more.
Someone on the family group, adult or child, quite spontaneously sets a daily challenge – a brain teaser or a word puzzle, cryptic clues to find deeply buried solutions – which keeps me busy in ways I didn’t dream of when I set about my design-a-day. How things can change from one day to the next. As has been proved in a more global context .
What will you create today? How will you express your creativity?

from Megan in Brisbane, Australia: Go Home, all cruise ships!

April 9. Feedback on the cruise ships wanting to dock in Sydney. Four have been refueled and stocked up to get them back to their ports of origin. It has been a massive maritime exercise and one that the NSW government should be proud of. They stood firm. Go home! And so they did. Not so for the culprit of all culprits, the Ruby Princess. That is still in port, and a criminal investigation has been opened to determine whether misinformation on the condition of the passengers was provided, which resulted in the passengers disembarking and returning to their homes across the country, by planes trains or automobiles.

Easter is approaching and the federal government has issued very clear guidelines for each state. The article below gives all information and is worth a read. The efforts the government is going to to contain the virus is admirable and one hopes that there will be co-operation 

https://www.smh.com.au/national/stop-looking-for-loopholes-what-are-the-new-covid-19-social-rules-20200407-p54hyd.html

from Megan in Brisbane, Australia: Algebra and Time Management

April 5. Today is feedback day on various items raised in earlier posts.

The first is feedback on the algebra challenge set by my grandson for the Brisbane extended family (20 people). He has created a group chat page and, in the video he makes, sets challenges and other tasks to keep us busy in this time of coronavirus and staying at home.

‘Granny, your answer was correct but you were penalised for your (very) late submission.’

I mentioned in a previous post that I had to set aside my time management for that day to complete the challenge, so you can imagine how miserable I felt with this outcome. I found myself using some of the excuses my students used on me when they submitted their assignments late. I noticed the same whining tone in my voice. I practiced every sympathy-rousing technique I could think of. To no avail. My poor performance will go down in history.

I submitted my answer to the next challenge (Maths) in record time.

Next up is the time management. I am definitely getting better. First of all, I don’t set an unrealistic number of tasks to do in a day. Small steps. This isolation is here for a while. Tomorrow is another day. And so is the next. And the next. And the next. And the…

STOP!
Get a grip!
Stay focused!

Bearing the above in mind, I now prefer to design my day rather than manage/plan my time. Design is creative and interesting, requires imagination and brings pleasure.  My design includes one big housework task a day: polish the furniture. Yay! I tell myself. I designed that for today and I love seeing the furniture glow in the rays of sunlight that filter through the clean blinds, the cleaning of which was yesterday’s fun thing to do…

And so, it goes.
Something I read:

During difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by bit.
Don’t think about the future, not even what might happen tomorrow. Wash the dishes.
Take off the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see?
You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Compliment yourself.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow bigger and bigger.
And time will come when you can think about the future without crying. Good morning

(Elena Mikhalkova, “The Room of Ancient Keys”)

from Megan in Brisbane, Australia: Feedback Day, April 6

Today is feedback day on various items raised in earlier posts.
The first is feedback on the algebra challenge set by my grandson for the Brisbane extended family (20 people). He has created a group chat page and, in the video he makes, sets challenges and other tasks to keep us busy in this time of coronavirus
and staying at home.
The results were posted and I came in the bottom 30%. I immediately used my Granny privileges and phoned him for an explanation. I wanted feedback! How did I get that result? What had I done wrong?  He was quite blunt with me:
Granny, your answer was correct but you were penalized for your (very) late submission.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had to set aside my time management for that day to complete the challenge, so you can imagine how miserable I felt with this outcome. I found myself using some of the excuses my students used on me when they submitted their assignments late. I noticed the same whining tone in my voice. I practiced every sympathy-rousing technique I could think of. To no avail. My poor performance will go down in history.
I submitted my answer to the next challenge (Maths) in record time.

Next up is the time management. I am definitely getting better. First of all, I don’t set an unrealistic number of tasks to do in a day. Small steps. This isolation is here for a while. Tomorrow is another day. And so is the next. And the next. And the next. And the…
STOP!
Get a grip!
Stay focused!
Bearing the above in mind, I now prefer to design my day rather than manage/plan my time. Design is creative and interesting, requires imagination  and brings pleasure.  My design includes one big housework task a day : polish the furniture. Yay! I tell myself . I designed that for today and I love seeing the furniture glow in the rays of sunlight that filter through the clean blinds, the cleaning of which was yesterday’s fun thing to do…
And so it goes.

Something I read:

During difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by bit.
Don’t think about the future, not even what might happen tomorrow. Wash the dishes.
Take off the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see?
You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Compliment yourself.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow bigger and bigger.
And time will come when you can think about the future without crying. Good morning

(Elena Mikhalkova, “The Room of Ancient Keys”)

An Eventful Week: from from Megan in Brisbane, Australia.

This has been a very eventful week! The Prime Minister has announced more financial help – childcare will be free for those parents engaged in essential work. There will be more enforced social distancing – two people, with 1.5 metre distance between them, constitutes a gathering; exercise does not include sitting on a bench enjoying the view or taking a breather. On the move, do your exercise, go home. There are four reasons to go out – food, pharmacy, medical and exercise. Otherwise stay at home.
Please.
The word ‘lockdown’ has not been used, and in fact, we are definitely not there yet. Many retailers are still open and consumers continue to shop.
State government today announced the closing of national parks, bush walking trails and other outside areas that could see groups of people in proximity. It also announced stricter measures to prevent people crossing the state’s borders.
An ongoing saga is that of the seemingly never ending number of cruise ships arriving at the port of Sydney hoping to disgorge their human contents and set off into the sunset. However, this is not to be. Australia wants the cruise ships with their human cargo to go back to their ports of origin. This has not been accepted and there is a standoff. We await the outcome with bated breath. Will NSW government win the day? Is the Australian Border Force to make the decision? Will the Minister of Home  Affairs have the final say? Where is the Minister of Home Affairs?  Perth authorities in Western Australia have taken those people with the virus into hospitals and sent the remainder on their way. So this feeling of being hemmed in on both sides by cruise ships pulsating with the virus may soon pass.

In contrast to all this activity is the quietness of our street, which is normally quite busy. It is a side street with no parking restrictions, so we see cars coming and going, parking for stretches of time and using the bus service which has a bus stop conveniently placed at the end of the street. This activity has dried up. The street is empty. There are no cars. There are no people, not even walking their dogs. I took my Holly out this morning, and was the only living soul about.
 The lonely planet.
And the State Premier is warning that this will probably continue for six months.
Which brings me to my Tao guideline for the day, which I think is rather pertinent. Write down the names of those people who have had a positive impact on you and have helped you grow. The  reflection that comes from this is an encouragement to focus on your inner strength, which is vital in the days and weeks to come.

from Megan in Brisbane, March 2020

30 March. Last night, Scott Morrison announced new restrictions. Financial aid in various forms has been introduced. Quite telling amongst these initiatives are those financial aid packages for domestic abuse and domestic violence, and for mental health issues which are expected to escalate in the next six months. Telephone consultations with doctors will be bulk billed, which will help provide more people with access to the medical profession.
I have personal experience of this. I have a number of appointments booked at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in a variety of departments. I have already been contacted informing me of postponement of the face-to-face appointments, but encouraged to phone at any time should I be worried and wish to speak to a doctor.
I am in awe.
These are the people that are now in the front line and being re-assigned where they are needed in the hospital, yet still have the courtesy and care to phone – not a letter, not an e-mail, not a terse text message – to inform out patients of the changes to accommodate the crisis.
I love Australia. The medics are heroes, every one of them. Thank you 🙏.
Following on from the Tao guideline the other day of learning something from others every day, today we are guided to listen.  How apt ! Yesterday, learn; today, listen.


29 March. No entry would be complete unless I explained the Holly phenomenon. She is our Labradoodle, two years old and exceptionally smart.
It took her a few days to realize I wasn’t going out during the day, that I was home to stay. She circled around this new normal for a few days, not to be fooled. Soon she realized she had reason to be ecstatically happy. Undivided attention on Holly! Oh, how she rose to the occasion! She pulled out all her cute antics to keep me enthralled by her – helped me make the bed, helped me dust the furniture, clean the windows – any fabric she could get hold of, she used it to help. Piles of torn dust cloths, wash cloths, floor mops all found their way into the bin with Holly beside herself waiting for her rewards.  Granny’s  little helper.
She follows me everywhere with her head right up against my heels. I dare not stop in my tracks because she would fall over herself, such is her proximity. And it is like this that we shuffle around the house.
She mirrors almost all my activities. I was painting something yesterday, and she managed, using finely tuned senses, to find a discarded paintbrush and begin a project of her own. She is a delight to watch, but most especially when I am cleaning the pool. The equipment is too big for her to help me , so she disappears into the bushes surrounding the pool. Hide and seek is on. I call out to her,
Holly where are you?
Nothing
Holly are you there?
A slight twitch of movement and a low branch quivers. All still.
I creep up to her but those same fine senses let her know I’m near. A tail wags. All is still.
And so we continue this game for as long as it lasts. It’s really funny.
Eventually I am able to get her out by telling her I’m shutting the pool gate and she’ll be stuck inside. With that, she leaps out and the game is over.
Night time is charming. She lies next to me in bed, her toy on the pillow, and absolutely no room between her and me. She licks my face to check I’m there and so cheek to loving cheek, we sleep.

March 28. One of my grandchildren has a gift of recognizing an occasion. He has started a family page and his first post was a video of his own making. The video consisted of three parts:
First, he wished one of his cousins a happy birthday – the first birthday with the new restrictions and so the one that will go down in family history. All family members were on a joint FaceTime call to watch as he blew out his candles. The happy birthday song was hilarious – completely out of synch.
In the second part, he did an excellent demonstration of how to wash your hands correctly with a brilliant accompanying commentary. He challenged each family member to record their washing hand routine, the winner to be announced.
The third part was a quiz – algebra. I admit I phoned him on the side to point out that the last time I did algebra was fifty years ago. It fell on deaf ears and my time management efforts went out the window. I spent the day working on the problem. Eventually I submitted my completed assignment and now await results.
Lesson from today: social contact – chatting to each other rather than texting, which  seems  to be the new social etiquette – may come back into fashion. I spoke to three people on the phone today and it was great. A second blow to time management but hey! Who’s watching.

March 27. Brings the happy news that I did an overnight crash course in time management, so I can move on to more of the uplifting lessons the Tao has to offer.
This day of Tao asks you to open your mind to others so you can learn  a new thing every day . It’s has been interesting and informative to read the other entries in this COVID2020diary and I am grateful to the organizers who have given us the opportunity to share our experiences and learn of the experiences of others.

From today, I am trying to manage the wonderful gift of time we have now. Unusual times call for a change in routine so first up I do what I have to do in  the house and garden and then a prepare for a day of other activities I don’t often get time for – today – is reading. The Brisbane Council library has a selection of e-  and audio- books that can keep one busy for a long while . Some interesting memoirs are available as well. However, before I started, I spent time on a short experiment. When I took my dustbin down to the street, I greeted a neighbour across the street who was doing the same. Hello, I said, ‘hope you’re doing ok?’  She nodded and smiled and went inside. I’ll try again tomorrow. Maybe I need to think of a better opening line.

Today is voting day in Queensland. Council and state elections. It is amazing that the powers that be have allowed this to go ahead. They argue that all coronavirus cases in Queensland are from elsewhere and none are from within the community. I wonder if that’s going to change after today when 1 million people across the state are expected to vote. Imagine if the vote brings about a change in state or local government! At a time like this! Attention will be on change of letterheads! Hey, people, what about coronavirus? Don’t lose focus! Don’t lose momentum! Status quo ante bellum please!
I will keep you posted.

March 26. saw me clean the pool which had turned green in my self-isolated absence and then …. and then … I noticed that the beautiful Poinciana tree was completely infested with poinciana looper worms which had not only covered the tree, but had formed cocoons in every nook and cranny of the outside of the house. The door frames, ledges, fly screens. And this was after four days of staying in my room!
Lesson to Learn: nature is watching and waiting to push you out of the way and take over. I would say the same for Corona. It just needs a foothold.
I made the analogy as a ‘Thought to Self’ and went in banners flying to claim victory over the worms and cocoons and reclaim my territory. Every day, some time is spent reminding the worms they will not defeat me.
After these two major events, I now needed to order my cluttered thoughts. A good way, I thought, would be to start the morning with my bird book, sit in a beautiful spot in the garden (away from the poinciana looper worms) and identify the beautiful birds that come to the garden from the nearby creek. I would listen to their birdsong and feel renewed and ready to design my day.
My first day brought me many pigeons and mynahs. The presence of the mynahs result in other birds fleeing the garden, so up to now, I have to say that, sadly, no lorikeets or kookaburras have come to visit and help me fulfil my moment of oneness with nature. I did this exercise only once, and will go back to birdwatching only as a last resort.
My next effort at getting order into my thoughts was to meditate. I have a lovely Buddha/water fountain in the garden and sitting next to it listening to the trickle of water and watching said birds and worms is very tranquil.  I am guided by the reading of the Tao and on my first day of meditating in the time of coronavirus, the reading was about yin and yang and finding balance in life.
This has been an important thing for me to reflect upon. I recognize I am not good at keeping balance, so for a few days now, I have been monitoring myself to see how I do.
I shall keep you informed.

March 25. The State and local government here in Queensland have been active in their communication about what they need the people to do in these unusual times. From the beginning, I followed all directives and have been practicing social distancing for two weeks now. The first week was easy because I had a virus and self-isolated completely. But after staggering out of my bedroom on the fourth day, my mind was abuzz with all the things I could now start doing. In fact, my thoughts were completely jumbled, jumping from one idea to the next – paint, meditate, garden, learn to play the piano again, autumn clean, play with the dog, jigsaws, bird watch, cook, bake, read, crosswords. I make this list deliberately because these are what cluttered my head and on the first day I did…. nothing.