Hot jam donuts, iced donuts (chocolate or strawberry for preference), cinnamon donuts from the supermarket or fancy donuts from an artisan bakery, I love them all.
A friend and I still wistfully reminisce about the enormous chocolate donuts from the cafeteria under the science library at university. On a visit many years later to an Open Day with one of my children, I was devastated to discover not only no donuts but no cafeteria. I’m not sure I ever got over the loss.
I was thrilled to discover that an abandoned Hungry Jack’s site near my home had been turned into a Daniel’s Donuts. Heaven around the corner…
Recently, a new phrase has entered the local lexicon – Double Donut Day.
It’s not when you buy a six-pack from Daniel’s and because there’s only five people in your family, you get to eat two but it’s almost as exciting.
Double Donut Day here means zero=0=🍩 COVID-19 deaths and zero=0=🍩 COVID-19 new cases. We love our double donut days.
Today we recorded our 11th Double Donut Day in a row.
I am pleased and relieved to advise that the Youngest Son has tested negative for COVID-19. He still has to see out his quarantine for a few more days but the spectre of illness has left the building. And I can go back to work. Although not in quarantine myself, because of the vulnerabilities of the kids I teach, it was deemed best I stay away until we knew if the Youngest Son was infected. Unfortunately as a casual, no work = no pay, so I’m doubly relieved for a negative outcome. Or a positive outcome in a negative way…. Or a negative outcome in a positive way…. Or something….
Thank you to those who attempted to locate this blogger in a sea of 1500 faces in Pub Choir’s latest video. Unfortunately (but predictably) nobody won the TimTams. However, for those of you who are still wondering, this is me:
Now, don’t you all feel better? Because I sure do!
It started with flare ups in a handful of suburbs linked to errors made in the process of hotel quarantine of returned travellers. While the government has accepted responsibility, in reality it stems from the same place as most problems in the world – human beings not doing the right thing.
Unfortunately, as anyone who lives in a bushfire-prone country knows and that we tragically learned last summer, spot fires can turn into blazes and blazes produce flying embers that start more fires and thus a handful of people not doing the right thing leads to a whole state back in lockdown.
It’s generally agreed that the second lockdown is harder than the first. Like a prisoner being granted parole, tasting freedom and then being told “oops, we made a mistake, back into jail you go”. The first time around we were “all in this together” but now we watch our fellow Aussies in the West attending footy matches with 30,000 people and the ones up North enjoying local attractions while just over the border theatres are reopening. Borders are now closed to anyone from this pariah state.
I’m fortunate to live outside the state capital which has just been moved to Stage 4 restrictions including a 8pm to 5am curfew. The rest of the state has returned to the Stage 3 restrictions we were under in the first wave. In addition, the government has issued a statewide mask mandate.
Fun With Fabric
The rescheduled Great Ocean Road Running Festival has gone virtual again and they have extended the time to complete the runs from two days to a week to allow for participants under Stage 4 restrictions to complete the distances as they can only exercise outside for one hour a day. Is it churlish of me to be jealous that they can score an Ultra Marathon medal by running 10km a day for 6 days while I have to do the whole 60km in one hit?
Probably. And no, I don’t want to swap places.
We were fortunate as a country to flatten our curve quickly with a rapid shutdown when the first wave started. We didn’t see the horrifying numbers reported out of other places. So it never seemed all that bad for most of us.
I got three reality checks in this past week.
1. A Dystopian Movie
The mask rule came in last Sunday night. As I drove the Youngest Son to school on Monday for his last day of on-campus learning for this term (with a return to remote learning as of Thursday), the sight of all those kids in masks walking into school was unsettling and I’ll confess I got teary.
2. Bad Neighbours
The news report that a cluster had emerged, including at least one death, at a nursing home only three kilometres from my home brought the virus right into my suburb. The dangers seem more real.
3. Close Encounters of the Virus Kind
Two days ago we were informed there had been a diagnosed case of COVID-19 at our son’s school. Yesterday we were informed by DHHS that the Youngest Son has been identified as a close contact of the infected student. He is now in quarantine, limited to his bedroom, his desk in the living room and the bathroom (which he shares with his brothers so has to sanitise each time he goes in or out). He cannot sit at the dinner table with us for meals. He cannot enter the kitchen and must ask for assistance if he needs to eat. Treating your own child like a leper is not something I remember from the parenting books. So far he has not shown any symptoms for which we are thankful and we hope and pray that it stays that way.
I’ve always been grateful that we have not been as hard hit by this virus as so many other places in the world and I know I am fortunate to have a safe place to shelter.
I still feel that way but I’ll admit that reality has given us a kick in the shins this week and that is not a comfortable feeling.
The pandemic and its lockdown necessities has certainly set many people on some steep technological learning curves.
Teachers, students and parents alike have had to learn about new apps and software and how to recreate lessons in purely online and electronic settings including, in this household at least, how to conduct an English exam through remote learning.
Those who have never had to work from home have had to see how that can work and to make it work. Admittedly, this now has possible positives in giving employees ammunition to argue for more family-friendly flexible working arrangements. (“See, I can do the work from home, so how about I do that two days a week from now on?”)
Restaurants have turned themselves into gourmet takeaways or suppliers of meals to essential workers.
And in the world of Arts and Entertainment, creatives have courageously embraced the technology available to make it Happen. From filmed stage productions being shared on various platforms to casts of musicals getting together to record songs via isolation to books and plays being read by all manner of celebrities all the way to small community outfits doing whatever they can to share their creativity.
As someone for whom singing forms a key part of my wellbeing, I have survived this pandemic and the inherited income adjustment in a number of ways.
Firstly, let me just say how grateful I am for streaming services and YouTube that provide a plethora of musicals to watch and join in. As a lover of and previous performer in many musicals, this has been an easy and inexpensive way to have a sing when I feel like it. (And yes, even if I wasn’t such a big Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar fangirl, joining Disney+ would have been worth it just for Hamilton.)
Secondly, I was lucky to be offered work in my role as a casual special education teacher despite schools being closed to all but the necessary. Singing is a big part of my teaching so getting to sing every week with some very special students kept me upbeat day after day.
Thirdly, my bar choir of which I wrote not long before the shutdown, scored some funding from a local government to offer Back Bar Choir Iso-style. This was conducted over Zoom every Thursday night for 6 weeks for free. Because of the time delay in the program, we all had to be muted other than the lovely Anna and Kate but even though you couldn’t hear the others, just seeing their happy faces on the screen made you feel like you were singing with a group of people. And, when restrictions eased a bit, I was able to turn my little she-shed into a bar for two. Singing Aussie classics like Horses and You’re The Voice in full throttle with a special friend in person and a collection of yet unknown ones on the screen in front of me whilst enjoying a glass of wine was enough to fill up my week with joy.
One of those cupboards may or may not contain the ‘bar’. 😉
And then, just recently, fourthly, I joined Pub-turned-Couch Choir because you can never have enough of pub singing. Pub Choir was started in Brisbane by the lovely Astrid Jorgensen and just before the pandemic hit, had become an international sensation with a tour of the USA underway. (My local Back Bar Choir is obviously based on the same model, something of which Astrid is supportive as long as it isn’t called “Pub Choir”.) Rapidly closing borders caused Astrid, Waveney and the Pub Choir team to cancel the rest of the tour and hightail it home. Not to be squashed (Astrid seems a very upbeat type), Pub Choir launched Couch Choir as shown in this short documentary:
The procedure follows the usual pattern – learn one song in parts and sing it. Only, this time, Astrid teaches the parts via video and participants firstly learn their chosen part and then record themselves singing it. This recording is then sent to Couch Choir and through the monumental magic of video editing (thank you, Paris), all of it is put together to form one sensational performance. You can check them out here. I’d recommend the David Bowie song Heroes. Six thousand people from around the world submitted a video including many of our health workers. It’s quite moving.
But at the very least, check out the one below – the most recent one – because you may spot a familiar blogger. Mind you, with more than 1500 singers from 30 different countries, you’ll be hard pressed to find me (you’ll need a magnifying glass and a quick eye) so if you do manage it, I will send you a packet of Tim Tams.
It’s an incredible feeling to be part of this stunning community collaboration in a love of singing. I’ve wanted to participate in Couch Choir since I first found out about it through the documentary but it always takes me a while to convince myself I can do something and the usual three day turnaround just wasn’t enough time. For this song, we had a week to prepare and submit a video so I was able to spend a few days telling myself I could do it, then spend a day learning my part and then another recording and uploading it. What a fabulous reason to spend an afternoon in my shed and sing!
This pandemic has certainly stretched us all in a myriad of ways and I’m so happy people have discovered new means of sharing their skills and art for us all to enjoy.
One of my survival methods in those times when I’m feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of what may lay ahead in these Lockdown Days (and those waves rise up several times a day) has been to take myself out of myself (if you get what I mean) and reach out to others to find out how they are faring.
The act of caring for others brings a surge of positive energy and helps keep the feelings of isolation at bay. One of the most important things we can do in this crisis is try and maintain a sense of community and mutual care.
Taking ourselves out of our own heads for a while and listening to someone else can help put our own problems into perspective. As challenging as our own issues may be, we need to put our heads up once in a while and check on the other people in our lives.
So, when I saw this clip from James Corden recorded at the end of the At Home version of his Late Show, his words resonated with what I have been experiencing.
“Reaching out to somebody else who you think might be struggling too is pretty much the best thing we can all do right now because we absolutely will get through this.” – James Corden 31.03.20
And then he finished with a performance of the song “You Will Be Found” by the cast of the musical Dear Evan Hansen via social distancing rules of course. (Yes, there is something of a consistency of musicals in my coping mechanisms…)
Watch it. It will lift you up. It may also make you cry but in a good way. And then go and check in with someone you know. You’ll help them and you’ll help yourself.
Even when the dark comes crashing through When you need a friend to carry you And when you’re broken on the ground You will be found
I’ve escaped to my she-shed. I have The Sound of Music* on my laptop, a glass of Four Pillars Shiraz Gin and tonic to hand, also a (large) packet of sweet potato chips and there are pretty candles inside and out and the city lights twinkling away.
I lost my job yesterday. I work as a casual relief (substitute) teacher in a special education school. On Sunday, our state government announced that schools would be closed from Tuesday. It made sense. We were due to finish for two weeks of school holidays at the end of the week anyway so it’s only an extra four days. And I’d be happy to view it as that except that in the current environment, nobody actually knows how long this will last. Three weeks, six weeks, six months? It’s the unknown that gets to you.
Permanent and contracted staff will continue to be paid. Casual staff will not. I was booked in to replace a teacher for the whole week but that’s now ended. Should schools remain closed after the holidays, teachers will revert to the online provision of a program. How that works with high needs special education, I don’t know but what I do know is that online teaching will not require casual replacement teachers so there will be no work until the schools open again.
I’m luckier than others. I know that eventually, when this crisis is over, schools will reopen and my work will return. Others will not be so lucky as extended lockdowns send businesses to the wall. We’re also in a pretty solid financial position so we will survive the loss of income. I know I shouldn’t complain.
But here’s the thing – it’s not about the money.
I love my job. Work is my happy place. My students fill my heart and soul with joy and satisfaction. It’s the loss of this that has me feeling weighted down and my heart aching.
What will I miss?
the utter joy on faces as I play my guitar and we bop along to I’m A Believer or Down On The Corner
the hysterical giggles when I sing all the funny voices for the different emotions in If You’re Happy and You Know it (angry and sad are favourites – that my students find my singing a song while crying as hilariously funny is slightly disturbing)
the literal tears of pride when a student achieves a learning goal for the first time
the cheeky and mischievous grins
finding that new way of doing something that means a student has a better day
the cheerful greetings as I walk around the school – as a CRT, all the kids know me and I know the name of every single one of them
working as a team with my Education Support co-workers, the true rockstars of special education
singing made up songs while pushing a swing to give a student with difficult behaviours a happy play time
all the feels – when my students are happy, sad, angry, upset, proud, unwell – they touch my heart so deeply
And I worry. I worry for the students for whom school is their safe space, the only place they receive what we call ‘unconditional regard’ and are nourished in body, mind and soul. I worry for the parents forced to give up work to care for their child every day and the financial impact of that and the lack of respite they will receive from the intensity it takes to care for a special needs child.
I know I am luckier than so many others but sometimes you just have to acknowledge that pain in your heart and what is causing it. I am grieving and the only thing that will fix it is a return to the job I love. It will come but it’s likely to be a long and challenging journey to get there.
How are you bearing up under the conditions imposed to combat COVID-19?
One of my favourite books is Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s one of those books that made me go, “Oh. So it’s not just me then.” It describes all the great things about introverts even though it’s a struggle to get that known because we live in a world designed for extroverts.
The subtitle of her book is “The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. Well, the world has just gone a little quieter.
Containment measures are being implemented across the world to try and stop the spread of COVID-19. People are being asked to stay in their homes and only go out for essentials. Non-essential activities have been cancelled.
The Australian Football League has just suspended the season. My son messaged me with the news and Messenger gave me the option to reply with “Yay!” It’s a little worrying that my phone knows me so well…
Of course, introverts around the world have responded to these extreme measures with “You mean I have to stay at home, limit contact with people and avoid crowds? Sweeeet!”
Introverts have been doing this for years!!!
Look whose suddenly the cool kids at the party now!
But what does it mean for the extroverts of the world? Well, dear extroverts, you get to walk in our shoes for a while. It’s uncomfortable, isn’t it? It feels unnatural and way outside your comfort zone, doesn’t it? It has sucked all the energy out of you, hasn’t it? Yeah, tell me about it. I live it every day.
Do not fear, extroverts. Help is at hand. I have long advocated for extroverts to make friends with at least one introvert. Introverts make deeply thoughtful, compassionate and loyal friends. We may not be good at chitchat but we’ll give serious thought to a request for advice. We’re unlikely to want to go to a party with you but we’ll come around and help you with a task whenever you ask. We won’t be the ones making the speeches but we’ll make sure the dishes are washed and the chairs are put away.
But now, we really come into our own because we know how to spend vast amounts of time alone.
This will be good for you, I promise. You’ll have more time for reflection, for new activities, for careful thought and consideration.
It doesn’t have to mean hours in front of the television. Read a book, do a jigsaw puzzle, make some art. Lie outside on the grass or sit on your balcony and just watch the clouds go by or contemplate the stars. But do it slowly and deliberately. It’s not a thing to be completed as soon as possible, it’s something to spend time on and as much time as you have (which is likely to be lots, let’s face it).
If you’re craving physical contact, go outside and hug a tree.
If you’re allowed to leave the house, find a remote natural area and spend time in the nature. I promise it’s just as rejuvenating as a boisterous crowd if you allow your mind to settle in it.
Since contact with others has to be so limited and deliberate, utilising various virtual arrangements, take the opportunity of one-on-one contact to really talk to someone. And, more importantly, listen. Really listen. Who knows what you may discover about a friend that you never knew about them?
Take the time to be less task-oriented and just BE.
Extroverts, you can do this. After all, introverts have survived in an outgoing world for millennia. Surely you can survive a few months?
And remember, if it is all getting too much, your introvert friend will always be there for you. Because that’s what we do.
Just don’t expect it all the time. We’ll be enjoying the lockdown.