Domestic re-organizing

My workmates were supposed to have an online drinks session on Friday. It got cancelled at the last minute and my boss rang me shortly after cancelling it, to explain why he cancelled it. He asked how I was doing and I told him other than feeling a bit flat, I was fine. I said most people probably felt the same way and he said that was why he teed up the “drinks” session.

That same sentiment – feeling a touch flat – was echoed on Thursday night when we had the online meeting with the home group. I guess that really was how most people felt. It didn’t make me feel better, somehow, to know that my feeling flat wasn’t an unusual response to what’s been happening in recent weeks.

The numbers haven’t provided any cause for celebrations, and more cases of deaths have been reported. As I write this, the trajectory of the infections may look like this chart:

Adding to all that gloom, is how Hawthorn has slipped and fell off the cliff. Four losses on the trot, and allegations of salary cap breaches in the 80’s and 90’s, all piled on the happy club that has become the envy of many. Thankfully, Man United won its last game of the season overnight. That meant we’re in the Champions League next year.

On Saturday, after a sleep-in and a late brekky, Tress and I set out to clean the house. I had also wanted to reconfigure the study, which has been my office for over 4 1/2 months. I wanted more access to natural light so I moved my desk, so that it sits next to the window. The window had been directly behind me and the wall in front of me, and the corner where the desk had sat, had been dark, and light from the window appears to have faded by the time it hit my work space.

I did the re-organizing, cleaned stuff up a bit, and then went out for grocery shopping. Shopping has become a bit of a pain since it became mandatory to wear face masks. It can get a bit disorientating. So Tress and I fumbled our way through the shops and supermarkets. We got all the shopping done eventually, and I also picked up a new extension chord as my desk is now furthest from the power points.

I wanted to make sure the room was neat so I ran the chord along the edges, to ensure no cables ran across the room. I had to line the chord behind the piano and I was on my knees to work the cable along the carpet edges. I was thinking of getting a tool to hide the cable under the carpet edges, when I got up just under the piano. I hit the back of my head against a sharp corner and felt the pain instantly. As I rubbed my hand against my head, I discovered the damage was a touch worse than expected – blood streamed through my hand and I called out to Tress to get some towels. I was more worried about staining the carpet at first, but the pain stayed on so I got some ice to place on the damaged site…

The “office” eventually got re-organized when the daze went away.

Sunday saw us doing the usual stuff. After an online service with St Alf’s, I did some prepping for the week’s cook before going to get a takeaway lunch. We then took the little fellow for a long walk, before coming home and doing the cooking. As I cooked, I followed the West Coast Eagles game against the Pies. The Eagles put on a display that made, for the first time this season, football fun to watch again. It was probably the first game in weeks that I watched right through. The Eagles kicked over 110 points, probably the highest score all season.

With Masterchef all done and dusted, we wondered what we would do on a Sunday night. We ended up just looking at stuff on facebook and I told myself I must find time and space to read again. I haven’t read a book since the lock down began. That’s 4 1/2 months of wasted time. I probably need to do a different sort of re-organizing – that of my routine – to create time and space, for reading again.


Sitting Tight

It was a horrible week. The infection numbers remained high and the pall of gloom that had descended before, remained to remove much of any sense of optimism ahead.

I ended the busy week with heaps of stuff logged for this new working week. I am armed however, with only a white knuckled frame of mind to accost these tasks.

To soften the harsh core and edges, I cleaned up the gardens on Saturday. The rains had stopped for a few days and while the ground still felt squishy, it was “dry” enough to do some necessary work. The hedges on the eastern side got trimmed, the edgings got done and the lawn got a good mowing. The lemon tree got parred back too, and by the time I swept up and put all the gears and tools away, nearly 4 hours had gone by. It had remained cool right through all that work, with the ambient temperature staying in single digits. I later told Tress I could not remember doing so much work on the greens under such conditions. I had my beanie, flannels and jumper on the whole time.

We then did a late takeaway lunch from an Indian shop near our home, and then did some grocery shopping. Jesslyn and Gerry had earlier brought some prawns we bulk purchased with them, and they brought along a couple of masks too. These were reusable cloth masks and they were far more comfortable to wear than the disposable ones I donned the week before. J&G’s gifts were very timely as the next day, the Premier made it mandatory for all Victorians to wear a mask when they leave home, or cop a $200 fine.

Later that night, we watched a movie about the Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan. It was a fascinating, yet sad story. The genius died at a very young age of 32. His collaboration with a Cambridge professor who was an atheist, included the line “An equation for me has no meaning, unless it expresses a thought of God.” It’s a curious one – how mathematics can be approached from such polar ends. Ramanujan was a deeply religious man and had little objects of deity in his room at Cambridge. Hardy that atheist professor however, had no time for the deity and one of his closest friends, according to that movie (The Man Who Knew Infinity), was Bertrand Russell, who was another well known atheist. Or he may have been an agnostic.

We did another online service with St Alf’s on Sunday and increasingly, I am finding it a challenge to be engaged. The ease with which one gets distracted and wander around the house while the service is going on, makes it very hard to be present and be engaged. I try to do that (focus and be engaged) as much as I can, and I imagine being in situ – meaning I would not do anything I would not have done if I was in the building on Springfield Road. It is very hard though, as the scaffolding that facilitates engagement has been removed by this pandemic. Staying at home means we can’t sing together, listen to the word in person and in situ, and be engaged in a way that satisfies. We ploughed on regardless, and worked our way through. It is not as satisfying but it will do. For now.

After service, I prepped the cook for the working week. I peeled the prawns, prepped the aromatics, cut the veg, and set everything up for the cook later in the arvo. We then went to get takeaway lunch from Donvale, and after lunch, went to the shops to pick up some more stuff. After the cook (a pretty decent prawn curry) we got ready for the Masterchef semi final. I told Tress that I have enjoyed this season’s offering, as an escapist would clutch at to momentarily forget the travails around him. It has been a source of happiness for a little while. Maybe it is also that it has become an avenue for Tress and I sharing banter (on WhatsApp) with Kiddo and Mic while they watch it in the capital city. We will likely have withdrawal symptoms after the finale tonight.

It’s a little after 7.45am as I typed this and already, a couple of work messages have crept in. It will take some work to get on top of things.

Weekend of cleaning (in more ways than one)

We finished up the working week last Friday night by tuning in to the Hawks game against Collingwood. It was awful to watch. It wasn’t just the woeful performance by the Hawks, it was also a horribly boring game. It was just that sort of week. From a peak of spending the previous weekend with Kiddo and Mic in beautiful Lakes Entrance, it quickly descended and it felt like it was bottoming out as the game progressed. Thankfully, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe were belting out pieces from Les Miserables on Channel 32 and it provided much needed respite. I toggled between the two and increasingly, spent more time watching Jean Valjean and Inspector Javier and less on Stratton and Company.

On Saturday, the instinct was to clean. I felt like I needed to do some cleaning. Maybe it was just a subconscious push to scrub out the grime that has built up since we left Lakes Entrance. After brekky and washing up, I started to clean shelves and drawers in the kitchen. I had wanted to do some vacuuming but Tress picked that up, so I dived into the kitchen cleaning mission. I emptied out old jars of spices and sauces, scrubbed out shelves and drawers, lined them afresh, and threw out a whole bunch of old stuff. Glasses, teapots, mugs, pots, old jars, either got thrown out or rearranged.

Knowing there is nothing stale in the kitchen and assured the shelves and drawers are clean, is a wonderful state of mind to be in.

We then got out and bought lunch to take away. After lunch, we got some groceries. Compliant to a tee, I put on a face mask for the first time when we went to the shops. It felt really uncomfortable and within a few minutes, I understood how a non-reusable mask had to be discarded after a single use. I ploughed on nevertheless, and ignored both discomforts. Other than working harder to breathe, I was also self conscious – I always thought it impolite to cover up my face when interacting with my fellow human beings. I had to work a touch harder, to keep that mask on despite this other discomfort.

Back from grocery shopping, I cooked a pasta sauce and then marinated some chicken for a curry I wanted to cook the next day – all for the week’s lunches so we don’t have to leave home and can conveniently pop something in the microwave on each workday.

On Sunday, we did the St Alf’s online service as usual. This time however, there were repeats of “Going Bananas”, the school holidays program that go on each winter break. This time however, everything was online and some of it were presented for the service. It was quite good to be able to follow these. Even better was Lauren Weatherlake’s sermon on Luke 5:33-39. The bit that grabbed me was whether my instinctive reach for that brand of Christianity that is within typical middle class respectability borders on being Pharisaic. Putting on grace so that we can introduce Jesus to that part of the wider community that Jesus cared for the most, need to come to the fore. Putting on grace. That is something I needed to learn, or re-learn.

Maybe there are those nether parts inside me that need a good scrub. There may be old jars of stale and expired material that I needed to throw out, so that those parts feel clean and fresh again. Lining my thoughts and actions with fresh space for new things may be the order for the day. Maybe I need to work harder to deal with this discomfort too.

Dan Induced Depression

As we were preparing to leave our holiday accommodation on Monday morning, we saw on the TV that New South Wales will be closing its border with Victoria, effective Tuesday midnight. That hasn’t happened for over 100 years. I felt sick in my stomach, as it sunk in again, how bad this can be. Not the border closure necessarily, but the infection trajectory and its impact on lives of all Victorians.

It was just as well we caught up with Kiddo and Mic, and we had a good few days together in a beautiful part of Victoria. Tress thought she had made a mistake when we booked the home for those few days, but it turned out to be another serendipitous error. Had Tress booked for the week after, we would not have been able to catch up and have a wonderful break.

I guess that offset a little bit of how I felt with the second wave of this virus that is still wreaking havoc on our lives. We left Lakes Entrance late yesterday morning and as we drove back to Melbourne, the grim news kept coming. The number of new cases were inching towards 200 and accounts of quarantined public housing commission residents left a really disturbing sense within me. The 600 pound gorilla in this second wave, that no one has been willing to point out, is the possibility of Muslims celebrating Eid without observing basic restrains that the virus requires. I guess if anyone points out the role played by Muslims, he/she runs the risk of being labelled a racist or haters of Muslims or some other similar criticisms.

We got home late afternoon and after unpacking we headed out for a meal and when we came back, we saw that Melbourne is subject to a new 6-week lock down.

I felt angry, and depressed. I was angry at Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, for being such an incompetent person in dealing with the hotel quarantines. This morning as I resumed my normal routine of doing some push up’s in front of the television, a journalist gave voice to that anger – that fury, even. We’re not happy, Dan. You have caused us so much grief.