from Brisbane, Australia – Megan du Plessis

Retired University English Lecturer

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?
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.