Crafting in the time of COVID-19

This year I have spent at least two weeks between posts – which is slack for me as I like to keep this like a journal of my goings on. It’s funny you think with all the inside time we are having that you have time for plenty of other projects that are on the “To Do List”. Having to stay at home, it has been good to get into a routine with doing my Qi Gong meditation, have breakfast, exercise online with Body Combat and then study for the rest of the day and then make dinner. Then at night time chill out and craft with cold fingers! At the moment I feel like I want to be crafting all the time to make more layers to keep me warm in this icy cold rental property we are living in. This place is ridiculous it is hot as hell in the summer and colder than the outside temperature in the winter. It has heating which is useless as they are electric wall heaters that suck up energy and our power bill is outrageous $1500 for a quarter of a year – yep that sucks!

Anyway I have been researching and writing for my Arts Education folio which includes a 600 word reflection piece. That is the thing I really enjoy about teaching it is the constant reflection on your life and how your teaching will harmonise to your sense of being, which has meant that this unit of Arts Education reignited my energy to teach an integrated arts curriculum and how important it is for the kids in the 21st century. The arts teaches critical and creative thinking, which is a must have in this day and age.

I have been going through all the yarn I have at home and knitting up many hats. This hat is a fave and it is the Starving Artist pattern on Ravelry and it is so warm and comfy for my short out of control hair at the moment – I have a hair cut booked in June!! It is a very easy pattern to follow that looks great on as well. This Malabrigo yarn I have knitted and frogged multiple times and now I think I have finally found the right pattern for it. The colours are perfect for this hat. This yarn is also knitted up into a night cap and cowl to keep me warm at night – you gotta do what you have to when the nights drop to 3 degrees celsius in a house with zero warmth.

When the payday came through I decided to track down my favourite Malabrigo Rasta and this was found at a yarn store in Brisbane. This has to be my favourite yarn of all time, it is perfect for the Melbourne winter and this is going to be a hat that will go down over my ears, so looking forward to knitting this one up as it will be so comfortable and warm. Aaahhh Malabrigo!

My other craft is crochet and you can see this project in the top pic laying all over my assignment notes. I have had to make a lap blanket to keep warm when studying at my desk. So I have been gathering all the scratchy yarn and making a blanket out of it – you can never have enough blankets in winter – especially in this ice box. It is moving along quite well with that giant crochet hook and is a cinch in single crochet. It is so important to balance work with the arts and crafts for me as it keeps me on an even keel as I always need an outlet to create constantly no matter what I am making. Yes definitely the arts really keep me going and provide the grounding for my creative energy.

Inside/Outside times with COVID-19

In space no one can hear you scream, on earth with our rules of staying inside has created an excess amount of energy that I will scream random words into my kids rooms! The screaming is either inspired by entertainment to see their reaction or just pure frustration for example, “its your turn to clean out the cat poo!!”. We have been social distancing for 7 weeks now. This week I submitted my essay so I feel a sense of relief. Next step for uni is catching up on my reading and starting my next assignment as I have about 5 weeks of term left. Better get my butt into gear but staying inside really helps but getting motivated is another thing!!

The other night I got my camera to take some pics of the full moon, according to NASA it’s name was the super flower moon being the fourth super moon of the year. The moon did not disappoint, for when I went out on my balcony the sky was so beautiful and clear and the moon was shining so bright. I can still see the rabbit in the moon I used to see when I was a kid. Thinking about it now, I did make a painting of the rabbit in the moon in my visual arts class years ago. Being outside under the light polluted sky we did see a few stars using my Skyview app to find constellations but we could not see enough as we live in inner city Melbourne. Still my daughter and I enjoyed watching the sky and seeing the moons detail with its craters, she would say is that real? I would say “yeah it is a digital zoom that can capture detail far, far away”. Camera technology is the best and I do love taking pictures with my Nikon P900 – it is classified as a compact camera but it is so versatile.

Later I went out and the sky was filled with clouds and the moon would peek in and out of the clouds. Occasionally we would see the outer ray of light of the moon in the first pic. Lucky the night was quite mild and we could enjoy some time outside looking at the sky, its very rare we just hang out and look at the stars these days as we are mainly on our screens. It reminded me of camping and with some luck (when my Dads car comes from Queensland) we may be able to go to nature places just out of the CBD and explore some outdoors time under the stars and under the trees. I am looking forward to the escape.

Travelling in the time of COVID-19

Finally it was time to return home after 3 weeks with my family after my Dad passed away. There were issues where I could not get a flight back. Eventually I got through to Qantas and booked for the first flight out of Queensland after days of no flights. I must say the time I had with my Mum was lovely and I enjoyed the time out at the beach with evening walks at sunset. The weather was just divine – so hot in Autumn, no wonder it is called the sunshine state!

I eventually moved in with my Mum to the house I grew up in and spent my morning exercising by huge golden orb weaver spiders like this lady! They were amazing to watch and I eventually got used to seeing these spiders around the place. The only guy I was not keen to see was the huge grasshopper we nicknamed Jimeny. The birds sang in the morning with squarky the crow notifying his pals of any leftovers out on the grass, we even saw a bush turkey come into the yard one day! I loved listening to the sounds of all the creatures around the place.

While I was gone I was face timing my hubby and kiddos every night and I even got to chat to my little kitties as I missed them so much. It was so good to see them again. I got home from the airport and ran up to the shower and tossed my plane clothes in the wash so I could go and hug my family again minus any outside germs.

The time came when I got a ride to the airport and left the beautiful sunshine and my family to go back to my super cold home! It was so strange going to the airport with no one there and I waited for 2 hours at the airport before I got on that plane back. There was around 60 or more people catching the same 737 plane. We were all separated by the centre seat but I was so relieved when we landed at long last and I could take my face mask off and breathe some cold fresh air.

Memories at the time of COVID-19

When a parent is taken away from your life, your world is incomplete and turned upside down. We had the funeral last Wednesday for Dad and the days have been speeding by, with each day working away through all the paperwork, pictures and memories of our life in our family. It is pretty difficult and emotionally exhausting to dig through photos but then on the bright side we discover some gems and reminisce about our memories together. My sister and I have been busy at work going through all the closets and clearing out anything that is not useful and donating to local charities in the neighbourhood. The recycling bin is chocca block with papers and I have found so many photos that my sister and I have sent our parents over the years hidden in bags in different areas of the house. Really who has so many walls to hang all theses photos and pictures – I had to apologise to Mum for sending her so much stuff over the years!!

Still going through the many pictures of our family life and travelling through time. At the moment it is so strange where I contemplate my life at the moment – where am I is this the right place where I should be in time? I have been living at an Air Bnb where I grew up in Queensland and after living in the USA for so long everything in our life overseas is like a distant memory. With all this time by myself I am reevaluating my journey through life with the memories fleeting in and out of my mind as I am wandering along the beach at sunset.

My sister and my mum are looking through the many albums documenting our times together growing up in this beautiful part of the world in the sunshine – where we were so free! Of course we did not appreciate it at the time and called our town Deadcliffe! Our lives focussed around celebrations and food and looking back I can see how my parents entertaining had a huge influence on my life. The other funny thing is going through the cupboards and drawers at my parents place is how my cupboards and drawers looked like before I applied the magic of Marie Kondo in my house 😀 Admittedly there are still a couple of drawers or spaces in my house that connect to my parents, and my kids think it is hilarious as we have a space with bread tags and rubber bands too!

Witnessing beauty in nature is something I wrote in the memories for the service of my Dad. On the day of the funeral I saw this massive bug fly by and it happened to be a stink bug that lived on the yellow flowered bush when we were younger. I currently have an incredible feeling of being hyperconnected to nature, where many serendipitous moments hold some meaning. Over the years we enjoyed family time together and back in the day there was this amazing retro restaurant in Redcliffe called the Fish Bowl and here we are enjoying a feed in amongst the vintage finds! Yeti the cat in the centre was Dads fave and there he is amongst the bushes under the stairs with so many beautiful tropical plants in the yard that Dad planted – it would be so nice to get some cuttings but I cannot take any plants over the border.

This was the sunset on the day we said farewell to Dad, the colour in the skies was lit up in so many shades. Every day I have enjoyed a walk in amongst the waters of these beaches and the feeling of the water and sand grounding me to the earth creates incredible memories that will hold dear to my heart. I know that every time I visit my mum in the future, I will have to come back to these beaches and spend time with my Dad and hear him say “Bye sweetie”.

Grief at the time of COVID-19

My Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in February this year and then we thought OK it is going to be intense and we will trust the doctors to see where it will take us. Little did we know in less than 2 months, cancer would take him from us. On the advice from the oncologist as the cancer was spreading to his liver, Dad had the chemo and he felt wonderful – two days later along came the side effects. The side effects took their toll on his life where he was so strong right up to the end.

My journey began when I got the call when Dad was put into palliative care, heck how am I supposed to travel to Queensland the borders closed plus I do not want to put my immunocompromised Dad at risk of the virus. Lucky there was legislation in place that I could visit on compassionate grounds and I had all the paperwork minus my evidence which was collected by the police with a phone call and email to the hospital. Then I was through, after having my face mask on for 3 hours I only had another 30 minutes or so to go before I could breathe some fresh air again and see my family.

With the advice of my friend, I needed to dump all the clothes I flew in and have a shower and change before I went to the hospital. And then I was there with my last few hours with my Dad in a palliative care unit – knowing that the time when he will pass will come soon but not knowing when. The doctors had him on morphine to help with his breathing and he was coherent the day I arrived and I shared some videos of the family and showed him our house progress, we laughed and spoke about our house build. We shared time together over a hospital dinner when I could see his body was giving up. I knew deep down that the time was coming very soon, so we held hands, hugged and I said “I love you Dad”.

It was the next day when I noticed a difference in his communication with fading in and out of consciousness it was scary and we had 1 hour per day to visit him. So I was with mum, her brothers and sister and we took turns to say hello. Then we left him and he was sleeping deeply and snoring away which was a good thing as he needed to rest after all the visitors. The next day was when the call came to my mum at 6:30am, he had a fall on the floor from getting tangled in his blankets as he wanted to get up and go to the loo. He felt he had the strength to get himself there but the mind body connection was not there, then the nurses settled him with a catheter and he was peaceful and that was when he passed on.

Life will not be the same again as my friend agrees that losing a parent is so hard and complicated. I am thankful that I had such a caring and kind Dad who was always patient no matter how hard I tested his patience as a teenager. That is just a period of life and as you get older, your parents are there to support you with unconditional love. Living away in San Francisco Bay Area for 12 years was really hard but then I made the decision to come back to Australia every year over the long summer and it made a big difference to be with my family. Each year it was so important to spend as much time as possible with my parents and create memories. In 2018 we had a wonderful time together whale watching, enjoying our day on the ocean mesmerised by such incredible creatures.

We go through life thinking our parents will always be there for us but when the inevitable happens everything is hard to comprehend. I am now here alone in an Air Bnb away from my husband and children. I am going to stay here as long as I can to help my Mum with everything. The borders closing on Queensland means my husband and children cannot even come up for the funeral with a maximum of 10 people.

In a sense I am glad that Covid-19 made me stay here in Australia, as we planned a trip to Hawaii right at this time. I would not have had the chance to say goodbye and see my Dad one last time. There is always a silver lining no matter how tragic the circumstances are. Even though we have to stay at home, I have come here to be with my family and no amount of elbow taps and shin bumps can replace a hug to express the love and care for each other and I understand that we need to stay safe and protect the ones we love. Let us hope that we are safe from this virus.

Rest in peace Dad, you are forever in my heart x

Isolation in the time of COVID-19

Rainbows have been making me happy and here is our rainbow created for the rainbow trail, where kids around our neighbourhood spot rainbows on their walk with their parents. Miss H added a cat to ours as sometimes you may spy a cat or two on our balcony. Life inside last week was pretty challenging as I was studying in our bedroom as my study space by the fridge is a popular area, so now my study zone is in the lounge and our lounge is a shared space out the back with the kitchen and dining area which works really well! It has been so hard to focus on study as there is so much going on with the kids now on holidays and everything else out in the world has been full on. We are staying in and only going out for food and today I went out for an acupuncture appointment to help with the anxiety of the situation.

No one can escape a pandemic and my time on social media has limited as I love to see what my friends have been doing but there is also a dark side that you can get sucked into with so much false news articles out there. So I have made a decision to minimise my news by checking with reliable sources such as The Conversation or The Guardian to see what is going on. Of course the relevant state and federal health government websites and the World Health Organisation What’sApp have been super helpful navigating through the plethora of information. Plus minimising my time to a max of 30 minutes and then making a cup of tea to help digest it all!

There has also been a couple of sewing projects as the children finished school last Tuesday, a week early before their easter break. So the kids created their own schedules of what they wanted to do during the day such as bass practice, game design, drawing, calligraphy, sewing projects and of course game breaks! Miss H made an eye mask and we made bias binding with the help of a YouTube video. And as it was Miss H’s birthday I found some super cute Pusheen fabric for a circle skirt made with the help of a fabulous tutorial.

I also had some outside time in the sunshine up on the hill 😀

We have had a lot of active time in the kitchen with plenty of home cooked meals with the kids helping me in the kitchen in the evenings with chopping up veggies, making a salad and basic food prep. From the top we had a freekeh salad to mix up some new grains, black refried bean tacos on la tortilleria tortillas – so good!, looking forward to trying the warm earth bread, vegan ramen and Miss H made a delicious vanilla vegan cake for her birthday.

The bonus staying at home all the time is the time with our cats!! And as I have an empty calendar I can sit around with a cat on my lap and watch some Vimeo videos. They have been superstars as there is always an excuse to take pictures of our cats. In the evening for family time the latest time together has been playing Mario party on the Nintendo Switch. It is such a great collaborative game and each day I am learning new gaming skills or picking up some tips from the kiddos – it is the best family time.

Overall this is a time in our life that we have to stay at home to stay well, it does have its positives of family time and learning to live together in harmony. This all means creating flexible schedules to form a framework for the day and have the bonus of having family game time later in the day. For me, my Uni time has been relegated to the side but with only one subject I am trying to get in blocks of time to stay on top of my readings and assignment preparation – I am thankful the subject is Arts Education. I need to have things that bring me joy in this situation and stay atop the anxiety that is in the air. There is plenty to do at home and the important thing is to be flexible with my time and schedule in daily exercise.

Stocking up, kevabs and New Order

I saw this quote the other day when I went for my self isolation shopping trip. It really made me think how messed up the world is and what are we going to do about it. Well we see the PM is finally listening to scientists – maybe that can be translated to the climate scientists and we can start doing something positive for our planet. There is definitely something out of order when you go to the shop and are rationed with 2 items for most of the products. The shelves were stocked at 7am and open early for the vulnerable and the elderly which is a great initiative because of all the hoarding and panic buying! I went in with my cart around 9am and felt so anxious, feeling the post apocalyptic energy where the aisles were void of most products. Now my pantry has rice, pasta, dried beans and pulses, cat food, Panadol, alcohol and aloe vera gel for hand sanitiser, eucalyptus essential oil, local frozen greek food, peanut butter, tomatoes, passata, crackers and cordial. I hope that will be enough food to get us through, if we have to shelter at home like the Bay Area in SF. I found that a focus on nutrition helps with the immune system plus some exercises, it is is exercising indoors via YouTube and eating well with minimal adventures outdoors with 1.5 metres away from anyone (which is two arm lengths).

Before all this self isolation and on the last day of my Uni break, I finally caught up with my friend and we went out for a vegan kebab! It was just the best and we had a lovely afternoon together chatting away over some tasty vegan food in Brunswick. And the bonus was the pea protein fake meat in the kebab will be available for sale in the future. The choices for sauces were divine and the salads looked amazing and my friend enjoyed the pea protein and a mix of three of the salads, so yummo!

I also have been going out and enjoying the sunshine and I found these poppies at a neighbourhood centre on my walk back from the hairdresser. The weather has just been beautiful and it is important to go outside and enjoy it being 1.5 metres away from people. Last weekend I did another sewing bee at the library but because of the scariness of COVID-19 I only had one friend show up! It was good as I worked away and managed to use all the donated fabric at the library and made dog blankets for a lady on the Good Karma Network in my neighbourhood. My cat Bella managed to score the black blanket on the top, lucky girl!

And then the self isolate rules were put in place from last Monday and over the weekend my friend invited me to go and see New Order at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. I said to her I was concerned about the germs but as it is an outside venue I felt way better. It was a sold out show but there were many tickets available for the show on the night, I reckon a lot of sensible people did cancel. We decided it was so worth it to see New Order and dance around at one last party before we are hanging out at home for the next month or more.

An urban art excursion with the fam!

I have been busy sewing away and creating to relaunch my textiles business here in Melbourne for a creative side gig as I miss it so much. I have a fair amount of fabric that I have been wanting to transform so I figure I may as well make it to sell. So my study space was transformed into a little crazy creative space for the last few weeks which has been so good to make again. I have made tops from Japanese kimono fabric and I have nearly finished my dungarees for the farm work – just have to sew the buttons on.

For our family outing last weekend we went to check out Can’t Do Tomorrow an urban arts festival near my old hood in Kensington. The art was incredible within this old warehouse which made the perfect canvas for street artists. Everywhere we looked there was colour and design with so much attitude, with a huge antiestablishment vibe. The many highlights were chatting to the artists about their work and realising there are some of their pieces in your neighbourhood. I highly recommend this festival if you are into urban art and are looking to add some local artists on your walls as they also had prints for sale. If you had the $ you could buy Shephard Fairey framed originals from $5K to over $13K – it was super cool to see them in real life!

Crafting away on my holiday

I am pretty inconsistent with these posts of late but I am now on holidays from University so it is time to be free and not think about anything too much and watch some Netflix such as Next in Fashion and for a bit of a break from the usual routine! Here is my picnic rug size t-shirt quilt I made for a keepsake for the kiddos and our time at our amazing elementary school in California. It was the first time I have made a quilt by myself, so do not look too closely at the binding as that was pretty tricky to get those mitre corners just right. Finally, I have my sewing machine from the USA working with a transformer and it has been pretty amazing, all I have wanted to do was to hang out with it and catch up on my sewing projects! I tried free motion quilting for the first time, so some of my stitching could have been less experimental, but hey how else do we learn unless it through practice. I am very happy with this t-shirt quilt and I am looking forward to making another quilt real soon – after I make a pair of overalls for the farm from a cool vintage pattern I found in my collection.

Speaking of the farm I have been going weekly to Joes Garden at CERES which is just a 5 minute bike ride away from my house and I have a new appreciation for kale after picking multiple bunches of them. Today as a crew of volunteer farmers we had to pick 50 bunches – I am a bit tired after searching for the right leaves and using different muscles to what I would use at the gym. The weather here has been very humid and today was overcast so it was a perfect day to be out and about listening to the magpies and the pied currawong high in the trees while chatting and picking springys (spring onions), basil and kale.

As I am on break from Uni, it has been the perfect weather to take the kids out on a bike ride. We went out for a ride along the Merri Creek trail up towards the Main Yarra trail in the hope of getting to Yarra Bend Park to see the flying foxes. Unfortunately, the children were complaining way too much so we had to abandon that plan and stop at Dights Falls for our picnic lunch. I am so impressed with the incredible bike trails of Melbourne that are hidden within the inner city. We rode by the creek, through some beautiful bushland and rode up this hill to some incredible views of the city. I will have to fulfil my dream of riding to the bats as a solo rider. This ride was 20 kilometres return and the kids did not like to ride so long as they constantly asked me why I take them on long rides all the time, I had no idea a 15 min ride to the cafe was long?!?

We are at the lockup stage of our house build and it is getting pretty exciting to see this stage completed, the exterior looks amazing – the charred cladding is my fave! Here is the view from the upstairs onto the master bedroom and study below. I have also made a walkthrough to get an idea of what the inside is like before all the carpentry and interior is put in place. We are only 6 months away until we can move in and we are very happy about leaving our rental property and counting the days on the calendar.