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.

Community connections at last!

So what has been happening for the last couple of weeks? I have been neglecting my weekly blog writing and in its place has been assignment writing. Plus, I have been wrapping up the school holidays with balancing study, so time was not on my side to do anything other than academic writing! Still my daughter and I managed to get out one afternoon to a cat cafe (which houses rescue cats) and we now have a new addition in our household, Apricot. She is such a sweetie and we love her.

For my assignment I had to design environments for early childhood and primary school. The early childhood environment I created is an outdoor playground with a focus on sustainability and Indigenous education. My indoor environment is a Reggio Emilia inspired play space to allow for open ended play. I had to teach myself Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign again – thank goodness for YouTube tutorials. Here they are, I really loved the creative side of this project and adding the theory to connect the information was fascinating. In the end, it was a beautifully laid out 21 page document including all the references. For me, this was a fourth year elective unit and by the end of it all I was pretty impressed that I came through thoroughly enjoying it but it was a lot of work!!

So much work to create this, but I learnt so much from it! There are some incredible resources out there, especially here in Australia.
A lot of my inspiration here came from my time when I worked at a Reggio inspired school in California.

Apart from writing and adopting a new cat I have also been wrapping up my media content creation unit. This was an elective I chose to take as I needed to take some electives as part of my education degree. I have to say it was a refreshing change to read up about audio, photography and video and you can see all my work in this portfolio that I created. My last project was a video project and I ended up shooting two videos and learned the importance of B roll footage (love new terminology) when creating a story. On my portfolio site I uploaded a story on an urban farmer in Melbourne at CERES and the other film, which is just over 1 minute long is about Second Stitch – more info below.

From their online page, “Second Stitch is a refugee and asylum seeker textile enterprise that operates out of New Futures Creative in Coburg. They offer clothing alterations, products & workshops”. Second Stitch also offers opportunities for the community to come by the studio to learn sewing skills at their Open seam, every Tuesday from 10am to 2pm. Plus at their shop you can purchase the items made by the artisans in the studio.

As I had some time in between editing video – on very exciting software, Adobe Premiere Pro 2020! I did my interview at Second Stitch with Rachel who works there as a trainer for the students teaching her students for their Certificate III Textiles and Clothing Production. Rachel is also a talented weaver, so in finding out more about this amazing space in my neighbourhood I am discovering some incredible artisans in the process. Now that I have some time off Uni, I will be hanging out with the people up in this incredible space to catch up on some sewing projects.

With all this work I have been doing for Uni, I have been making incredible community connections at the farm where I volunteer. And every month at the MakerSpace at the Coburg Library I will be doing a Crafternoon on a Saturday arvo, where I can gather up some community members to do some sewing or whatever they would like to learn. This Saturday there will a chance to make a double drawstring bag, where people can practice sewing in a straight line on the machines at the library.

It has been a pretty hectic two weeks and I am so looking forward to catching up to a bunch of stuff that I have not had time to do – like go to my acupuncturist, aaaah!

Holiday! celebrate!

I have been flat strap with my Uni work and my writing has been laying by the wayside! So now tonight chilling out watching a crap film with my fam bam I am finally catching up. Heres a collection of what we have been up to for the last couple of weekends. We have enjoying time at the NGV seeing the Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition and the Louise Weaver art exhibition at the Buxton Contemporary on the weekend of 11th January.

Last weekend we saw the KAWS exhibition plus the added bonus of a Commes des Garcons collection of clothes, videos and sounds and it was so fun to have a break from study. This week I have been busting some moves to get my last three assignments done and dusted – so it looks like I will be working tomorrow!!

Crafting in times of sadness, heals the soul

In times of crisis humans collectively get together to help each other and get stuff done! After feeling so overwhelmed at the mass destructions and loss with the Australian bushfires (that are still burning) I wanted to help. I saw online that the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild were looking for items for all the rescue animals, so I started doing a few at home. Later I discovered that our local library has a MakerSpace and asked if we could use the room and get a group together to sew for the animals. I was so excited when they said yes as long as I organised it. It was such a surprise that I have had to put study on hold for a few hours this week to make it happen. So I advertised on the Good Karma network and at the gym and got a group of 5 to 7 people for the three days this week to help out with ironing and cutting fabric donations and sewing on the four machines at the library.

While we were working at the library, the librarian shared the above article with us and it was so exciting to see the love for all the animals plus we got to confirm who we were sending the pouches too at our local hub in Melbourne.

So by the end of the week we have made close to 100 between our little group and have cut out some liners ready to go next week. We are planning to do some more sewing this week on Thursday and Friday to keep the momentum going! All with for the animals 😀

Oh and if you are keen to help the animals they need monetary donations to transport everything around this massive country of ours.

Now I better get back to my assignments and study for this week!

2020 – time to be brave and strong

Firework blur – New Years Eve in Melbourne reminds me of the many bushfire photos I am seeing in the media

The first post of the year is taking a stance on how I really feel about the state of the nation. I usually write in a neutral tone as I do not want to upset anyone, but this year I feel it is important to be brave and stand up for what I believe in. Now is not the time to give up or give in as Australia is on fire and the leadership in this country is pathetic and hopeless! I lived in America with that orange fool as the president and everyone in California felt the pain daily with no hope for reprieve. Now I have come back home to Australia with the hope of a little progression but alas there is none! Currently, the news is on the current bushfire crisis stating that these fires are unprecedented which means “never having happened or existed in the past”. The destruction of what is happening now cannot be compared to what has happened in the past but according to our PM ScoMo he has no idea and feels that Australians should just carry on and face the challenges as they have done in the past!

According to what I have read about the current state of the climate in Australia we are dealing with a national emergency. Today I checked my Instagram to see videos posted of victims of the fires in regional NSW and the PM going in to shake hands and apologise — seriously no amount of apologies will bring back the homes and livelihood of these people. ScoMo has no clue, as he speaks to one of the residents and says that these people who are now homeless, are tired! Yes, of course they are but they have also lost everything. Where is the empathy in this person and why can’t he listen to the scientists, the chief fire officers and environmentalists who are calling this a climate emergency. We have not even hit peak summertime and most of Australia is burning and it is only January.

The post below rings true of my time in America after mass shootings and the NRA with their stranglehold on guns but what is the driving force in Australia? Is it the natural resources and coal driving the agenda, heck there will be nothing left if the country continues to burn.

Source: The Guardian

Last night I found it hard to sleep as I got up in the middle of the night and started thinking how on earth can we find a solution to these losses. It is so hard to comprehend these tragedies and how we as a community can fix them. Yesterday we had a neighbour come by and collect food for people in the Gippsland fires in Victoria. She came by with a cart and asked if we had any food to share. This is what I love about community we come together to help each other, but knowing that this national emergency in Australia is hurting everyone in this country is so frustrating – what else can we do to help? Those poor defenceless animals as well.

When I couldn’t sleep, I had this picture in my mind of a fire fighter and a koala looking at this bushfire. I am finding it hard to concentrate when I know every time I look at the news something worse is happening! How much more can we take when the whole country is on fire even in places that were rainforests and beaches cannot escape the fires. There are tourist fleeing these places.

Extinction Rebellion states, “this is not business as usual” and this year it is the time to get these people in government who are blindfolded to notice what is actually happening. Carrying on like this level of catastrophe has happened in the past is just ridiculous and I will continue to write to my members of parliament and ask them to declare a climate emergency in Australia. This behaviour of ignoring the truth, will not be tolerated by our generation and generations to come we will continue to fight for our lives.

I remember living in Northern California when the wildfires destroyed thousands of homes and was spread over 99,148 hectares, the state was then declared a state of emergency by Governor Jerry Brown – the day after the tragedy! I remember the air quality living in the SF Bay area, the skies were misty and the EPA stated children could not go out to play (I was working at a school at the time). Now I am witnessing these horrific bushfires in Australia where just in Queensland alone 180,000 hectares have burned and that was November 2019. It is hard to even conceive the amount of land lost now in January 2020 as now the state of Victoria burns.

I am supposed to be studying but trying to focus is extremely difficult but I needed to write my thoughts down so I can process this nightmare to try and think of ways to help. I know that from Monday I will be volunteering with CERES, my favourite place to be in the north of Melbourne to help in their vegetable garden. Their mantra is fall in love with the earth again. When I am with others who fight for the cause at a local level it helps me process the bad stuff. Now to continue to study, I can promise my future students one thing is that they will be educated in climate change and science where everyone deserves the truth to do something positive for our future.

I am happy to have found some places where people can help with donations for people and animals in need:

https://www.facebook.com/arfsncrafts/?eid=ARBALQaZxuuxnXAi3_Vi73PpxB5Ldc7gNoy1z6xASmIsPoWeQOGrE2_W1N6mJ-Gb50-kwJjsgQZd746e

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/here-s-what-you-can-do-to-help-those-on-the-frontlines-of-the-devastating-bushfires

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-01/bushfire-relief:-how-you-can-help-frontline-services/11835156

https://chuffed.org/project/organic-farmers-bushfire-appeal