Sunday, March 29, 2020

White Roses and Salvia

Self protection is the name of the game at the moment and I find concentrating on projects instead of following the news helps a lot.  At the moment the news is almost completely swamped by Coronavirus.  I wonder how long it will be until we see other news take over again. I think those countries taking the strongest measures will be those who get back to normal most quickly. I wish our government agreed with me, but they are taking the incremental approach and I don't want to watch the incremental disaster unfold.

I have finished my white roses painting. It was one of those paintings that worked without a fight. That is, without too many changes to the final product. The rule in acrylic and oil painting is to work from dark to light, whereas I come from a watercolour background where you work from light to dark. I have decided to work somewhere in the middle with acrylics and it is working for me.

White Roses and Salvia
This painting makes me think of my mother who would have turned 100 a few days ago if she was alive. She adored roses and painted them with skill.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Banishing those feelings of trepidation

I'm am used to being alone and I enjoy my own company but in these times of Covid19 I am sometimes overcome by feelings of trepidation. I log on to have a quick look at the news and stay online too long. Then some time later I find myself counting the days since I self quarantined or worrying my nearest and dearest will get really sick. In the 19th century that would probably have been a default setting. Switching back to neutral requires some effort (food is a good distraction.)

On the positive side, I am getting emails from friends who normally don't write. I am sure I am not the only person reestablishing links that had become almost nonfunctional through lack of use. One friend has taken to writing four line poems. Maybe that is something to try, although they are probably much harder than they seem.

My rose painting is progressing.
A bit of shadow in the petals (left) before adding some creamy white (right)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The joy of White Roses and Salvia

Little did I guess what joy the little rose bush I planted in my small garden (previously just grass) in February would bring in March. I have started a white rose painting.

Monday, March 23, 2020


In the interest of self preservation I am trying to avoid watching the news.  I find it too distressing watching the incompetence. It is hard to sign off because  my finger automatically reaches for the news on my phone and suddenly there are the lists of catastrophes.  I will have to retrain myself.

This afternoon I slept for an hour on the sofa, making up for two sleepless nights. I felt groggy, as you do if you sleep so long during the day, but I also felt better for the sleep.

I have had a bowl of lemons on the sideboard since painting them six weeks ago and I decided  to make them into lemon syrup.  They had been slowly drying out in their bowl, so the decision was overdue. I couldn't help thinking of the housewives of past generations who spent so much time making their own preserves. I suspect it is a habit that will reemerge as we reassess what is important.

Lemons in blue bowl

Destination compost

Breaking point: Australia and Covid19

This morning I woke feeling incredibly stressed after a second wakeful night. Until now I seem to have been able to react calmly to this crisis, practising social distancing for a couple of weeks already and by now in lockdown.

But I heard a doctor on the radio overnight, talking about Australia's unforgivablely slow response to the virus. I have tracked the development of the virus since its inception so this information was not new. What the doctor pointed out, however, was the unethical and immoral reaction of the University sector to the initial ban on those from the epicentre of the outbreak. The Universities brought the Chinese students in via third countries, not only putting their students and staff at risk, but the people in those third countries. It was unconscionable behaviour because they have all the experts on staff so they in knew what they were doing.

This information on top of all the other missteps by government seems to have tipped me over the edge. I am really angry with both the Federal government and with the Universities. This is what happens when money becomes more important than people.

Thankfully our State Governments have decided to act on their own this weekend and not wait for instructions from our incompetent and compromised Federal government. Our PM is a Trump supporter and is acting similarly. Poor Australia.

On the positive side, this crisis is highlighting the things that are important that have been under threat by our neoliberal government: the ABC (still under threat of defunding) and actually all the rest of our community resources.

Across the ditch in new Zealand they have an intelligent and empathetic leader giving clear instructions, being transparent and accountable. We are so very envious.

Time will pass. If we can learn from this disaster we may be able to save the world for our grandchildren.

Banksia flower. Photo taken yesterday on my morning walk.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

So what are we buying in the time of #Coronavirus?

A clothes store sends me emails with special offers which I sometimes look at but usually delete unopened. Today when I saw the email it made me wonder who is going to buy clothes in the time of corona virus?

Suddenly we are working from home so we don't need petrol, we don't need work clothes and nor do we need sports, gym wear or swimwear (they say to stay away from pools).

In fact what do we need at all really?  A musical instrument to learn perhaps, Sudoku puzzles, books. It would be nice to have a decent broadband connection but I have given up on the NBN having tried it in a previous house. Instead I am relying on my phone as a hotspot which is working well for me and much cheaper, even live streaming the odd opera.

The change to our consumer habits is long overdue. We didn't seem to be able to get off the consumer conveyor belt within our current structures. Will this crisis be with us for long enough for us all to rethink our options I wonder?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Making the most of quarentine

A 15 year old of my acquaintance, striving to loosen the harness, is driving his parents crazy in the process, particularly at a time when we all need to pull together (previous post). We talk very seldom, but I have his phone number and just now I gave him a call.

Every fledgling has to develop its own wings to be able to flutter from the nest so I do understand him, but his parents' distress had made me feel very negative about him. When I heard of his reaction to Covid 19 I could have gladly wrung his neck and it took me all day to think of something constructive to do that might help both he and his parents. It is not that he and I have much communication, or any really.

The thing is, he is good at English, even gifted at English. His family had expected him to excel at science and math because he finds them easy, so it is with some astonishment that they discover his talent and interest is in a different direction.  He is not only good at writing, he is an exceptional drawer. His drawings are like his writing, imaginative if distopian.

Anyway, I just rang him to suggest that he might think about using this coming period of home incarceration (with any luck the schools will soon be closed) to write a book. Something for this age group, with or without illustration. I told him that if he is interested in doing so, I will help him publish on Amazon.

The beginning of our conversation was mainly grunts from his end, but by the end I was getting proper replies. I am hoping the change in tone meant he is actually interested in the idea, not just relieved at not being castigated.  I would love to be involved in helping publish his first novel. I asked if I might check back in a week to see what he thinks of the idea after consideration and he said yes, so I have made a note in my diary to call him.  I'll not say anything to the parents as I suspect that would immediately put a kybosh on the whole idea. I do hope that, on reflection, he does find the idea a sound one although I don't know how one competes with the allure of computer games. 

I watched the Vienna State Opera company's performance of Rheingold this afternoon (they have made their Livestream free for the duration of the lockdown) and  that together with a possible collaboration with my young friend has made me feel much more positive about the world.

Teen-agers in viral times

My heart goes out to those with rebellious teen-agers, kids kicking over the traces but now forced to stay home (or soon will be) with family.  Do we just let them binge on computer games (the male of the species seems most afflicted)  and, if not, how do we best motivate them to aspire to something more productive? 

These same rebellious teen-agers are often beautifully polite and considerate when they are at their friend's houses, but that is no longer an option either. Or maybe it could be. Families could swap teen-agers for the duration. It might have interesting outcomes.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Behavioral changes in the face of catastrophe

I grew up on a farm in New Zealand. When we went to town my mother always wore a pair of gloves. Summer or winter, always gloves. It was because you 'caught germs in town'.

My mother was born in 1920, in other words, just after the flu pandemic that killed so many. Now in 2020 at the start of the worst pandemic since, I remember my mother and her gloves and wonder how Covid 19 will affect us and future generations, what we will demand of our governments,  what sort of behavioral changes will be long lasting.

My mother's gloves

Dr Norman Swan recommends proactive national lockdown | ABC News

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Coronavirus in Sydney

I've been thinking of setting up a blog to track Coronavirus but things are moving so very quickly that it is hard to keep up. Sydney is suddenly tracking quickly along that exponential curve we are familiar with from Wutan and Italy. Today we have 11 new cases in NSW that are not connected to previously infected people or to overseas travel, so we are definitely in phase 2. A couple of weeks ago I would not have believed I would be socially distancing to the extent I am. Keeping 6 feet from everyone and staying home as much as possible. No more concerts, at least for now. My heart goes out to all the musicians affected (among many others). Now is the time for universal basic income.  The next two weeks will be a torrid time but I am hoping we can avoid Italy's fate. There are 10 pages of obituaries in today's Milan newspaper.

Much depends on our government and the problem we have is that our current government has been rewarded for focusing on tribal politics and they now seem incapable of thinking outside the square. Trump does something outlandish and our PM Morrison seems to do the same thing. They are cut from the same cloth, both marketing men with empathy deficit. In addition Morrison is an active member of a penticostal church that is getting ready to welcome the rapture (after they have all made lots of money). It is not very encouraging for the Australian public to have the medical establishment's opinion overruled or derided, although I must say it is refreshing to see the science establishment is at least being consulted.

This virus will show us just how important science actually is and will perhaps give us the opportunity to change our ways, as we will have to do to survive climate change. I had just about given up on the chances of the human race to survive, now I am not so sure.  This nasty lesson will hopefully refocus us on what is really important.