These are strange times…

It has been a while since I wrote anything here but the weeks have flown by as I managed to fall behind in my University studies and everything else has been unpredictable with coronavirus. I had work meetings, professional development for work, webinars for my high schooler, online doctors appointments and my last hair appointment for a long time! Lists of readings for uni to do, where it is so hard to focus with the whole household at home as the new normal. There is zero opportunity to disappear to a cafe for timeout with my computer and a coffee. Thank goodness for headphones I say! Exercise has been inside with body combat or some other Les Mills class every day if I can fit it in. Plus I have managed to make dates for drinks online with a couple of friends which gives me something to look forward to!

Times sure are strange but it is something we have to get used to here in Melbourne with our stage 4 lockdown restrictions of no work unless you are a permitted or essential worker, 1 hour of exercise outside per day, 1 person designated to go to the shops per day and 8pm to 5am curfew plus no moving outside of our 5km radius unless we need to go to a medical appointment. It feels intense to write this, but it has to be like this as it is important to curb the spread of this nasty virus. I am really missing so much now, but I feel once we are allowed to live “normally” again we will appreciate everything a lot more.

This is where I spend most of my time these days in my little study zone which is the converted lounge room with its massive windows covered in bubble wrap to keep the warmth inside. I am sitting here covered in blankets and wearing a beanie. I just keep saying not long now but every day is so uncomfortable living in a house that is uninsulated in a city that gets very cold in winter and really hot in summer. For these pics, I had to do a clear out of my desk to do a presentation for Health and Physical Education for Uni which is why the area looks void of anything as everything was put on the floor so I could film my 5 minute presentation. It looks very fancy and neat but I like to have my bits and pieces surrounding me so it is back to the way it was in the pic on the left now – cos sometimes I just feel like playing around with some craft – as most of the time I am studying. Last week I wrote a 2000 word report for the value of science in early childhood education, which I loved as I am a huge fan of science. Here is a little chemistry experiment I made for the little ones for work. I was on the tail end of my report and then stage 4 happened and we had to get into remote learning mode for the kiddos at kinder. Just breathe, I said and I got there in the end with a 48 hour extension!

Each day is another day closer to living in our new home, here are the pics before they get to sanding the floors tomorrow. The kitchen is looking amazing and I am so looking forward to cooking up some delicious dinners there. Not long now as it is wonderful to see things moving along – the construction fence is down and we will have a new fence in place soon. I am so happy to see this and it is definitely something to look forward to, just in time at the end of lockdown but who knows? The coronavirus numbers have been up and down for the last week and a half so we will see. We will have to have a zoom house warming party, until we can be together again!

Lockdown 2.0 in Melbourne

So as you can see from the centre picture we are in lockdown again as multiple community clusters of COVID were appearing so Melbourne went on a massive testing blitz. There has been a huge amount of tests and the numbers are pretty high still and we have been in lockdown for 2 weeks now. The night lockdown 2.0 was announced I was meeting a friend for wine and pizza, so we made the most of our time out and drank an extra glass of wine! I have been at work and I am also back at Uni balancing my time so I can write my assignments, do my readings and get other things done, like making and creating! Above is a dress I made the other day ready for spring and the window decoration is what I created for the lockdown 2.0 to bring some rainbow love to the community. But now I have covered the windows in bubble wrap to keep the warmth inside – who knew the bubblewrap creates double glazing on the cheap!

So with lockdown 2.0, we all gotta do our bit with mandatory mask wearing when we are out and about. My masks were made with a great pattern and tutorial by a lovely lady on the Good Karma Network. In the classroom we are allowed to take the mask off when we are teaching and working with the groups of children. Still I would rather wear the mask and stay well. I will be spraying all the masks I made with a non toxic fabric protector to keep the micro droplets at bay.

I have not been out much but I did find the super cool toilet block designed in conjunction with a local artist and our local school art captains. I love it and it brings some beautiful colour into our streets.

And finally some progress on our house…

Our house is getting there we are now on the countdown to moving in at the beginning of September, so fingers crossed all goes well and we can be in for the spring! Whoo hoo!

Light at the end of a COVID tunnel

Finally I am feeling a bit more focused to begin the next phase in our life. Now that Uni is nearly over and I have a break for a month it is time to get some organisation happening so our packing process in September to our renovated home will be a smooth one! I am absolutely thrilled to realise that this will be our last move to our home. Over the last couple of years I have packed, donated, unpacked, passed on, boxed up and sold a lot of our stuff but now its time for a more severe clean out!

I am so thankful to be living in a civilised society with all the madness going on in the world at the moment with Black Lives Matter. Racism is an ugly undercurrent that unfortunately still exists in our society. Most of us are immigrants who have chosen to live in many parts of the world that we love, away from where we were born people do not get it – we live in a world of many nations and people. As an educator I am always reflecting on bias and this is the one thing that matters to instil in children that everyone is equal, no matter what colour you are. I watch children play together when they are 3 to 5 years old, somehow there is no filter to who you play with – it is the adults in children’s who create the negative bias towards others, for what?? Yes everyone has experience and a story to tell but it is important to process, learn and move on from the negativity towards others. The racist rhetoric that still exists in America and definitely Australia needs to change but how can we do this without seeing other peoples perspectives, the white man is still in charge where colonialism, corporation and greed overrule. Most people know what is right and we all have to believe and support each other, even if this means to go to your local Israeli felafel shop and enjoy a lunch in the sunshine! Get over yourselves, the world would be way more boring if we did not live in such a diverse multicultural world.

Now to the some good news for the next few months. I am finally working again as I was offered a maternity cover role as a co-educator at the kinder where I did my placement last December. It has made me so happy to be working with children again. I feel the impact that an educator can have on a child is something that they can take with them for their future. The early years of a child’s life is a phenomenal growing period where they are processing and learning so much and it is so important that the role models who interact with little ones promote positive behaviours. There is so much at stake for little people and the time they spend at preschool prepares them for so much! My new job is part time and it will balance beautifully with my University schedule so heres to knocking over the rest of the year with a truly positive light.

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

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.