Cleaning up, extra meals

It warmed up on Saturday. The night before, we had a truncated “Friday night drinks” on Zoom, and it was nice to catch up with Alex and LiHar as well as Jason and Mel, albeit online only.

The sun stayed pretty much the whole day on Saturday, so not long after a very nice brekky, we stepped outside and started work on the gardens and lawns. There had been terrifying winds a couple of nights before, with a little 4-year old killed by a falling tree. That family lived not too far from where we are. I don’t know how long or what it will take before that family find any peace again.

The winds had wreaked havoc for us only in terms the mess they brought to our gardens. So there was tidying work – raking, sweeping and picking up branches preceded the usual tasks. The weather was so nice however, so I didn’t mind all the extra work. In fact, I looked for more tasks – more reasons – to stay out in the sun, and cycled through various tools in the process. The rake, garden hands, shears, axe, edger, mower, broom, blower… I wanted to clean the deck with the high pressure cleaner too but I was pooped after nearly 4 hours, and Tress had gone out to get lunch, so that last tool (toy) stayed in the shed. Next time.

Later that arvo, I did some grocery shopping, mainly for stuff to cook the week’s lunches. I had also asked Tracy, from St Alfs’, to let me know if there was anyone needing help with meals so I shopped a little extra.

On Sunday, after St Alf’s online service, I decided to do the cook straight away, instead of waiting until later in the day (usually around 3pm). That turned out to be a good decision, as I got to drop off a few extra meals for a family Tracy suggested. That was after a takeway lunch which Tress had got for us from The Chase, after which we took the little fellow for a walk. When Tracy emailed with the suggested drop, I came back to cook some rice to go with the meals, to bring along for the family.

It’s now a couple of weeks before the present scheduled Stage 4 restrictions are meant to end. The numbers have ebbed, although yesterday it crept back up to 3 digit level, having fallen to double digits for the first time in weeks. Winter officially ends after today. I hope it won’t be just the weather that gets better after today.


Drab and ploughing on

It is the season for filing tax returns, and with current circumstances, Tress had booked in an online/remote meeting with our tax agents. She got the timing perfectly right, as it turned out to be a cold, wet and very drab weekend. The temperatures stayed pretty much in single digit territory, struggling to get past 4-5 deg for most of the day. The rains were incessant and little puddles began building up in both our front lawn and backyard. It was so miserable even the little guy refused to go out for his walk.

The tax returns were done, and I cleaned the house a little. The rest of the weekend was just us pottering around.

Technically, winter has just another week to go. Sometimes however, it feels like this winter would never end.

Two Tom’s

5 months. That’s how long I have stayed home, waking up each day to new routines. Or more accurately, reshaping my routines to fit a stay at home regime.

Last week, we had a day with no power. The power company had a scheduled maintenance for which they had to cut power for a whole day. Dan Andrews’ declaration of a state of disaster for Victoria (until 13 September) meant I couldn’t travel to the office for that day. So both Tress and I stayed home to basically do really old style stuff like reading. Tress thought we may have an old battery operated radio somewhere and I knew where it was. It was in a box under a bed. As I crawled under that bed to pull out that box, I did my back in. It turned out the radio was dead anyway, and my badly hurt back made me decide to rest in bed.

Later, when power returned, I decided to resume my reading routine. I pretty much stopped reading (other than for work, morning bible reading, home group, etc.) since I started working from home. The podcasts I have been listening in its stead, suggest I should in fact read even more. I decided I wanted to start with a little book. Tom Wright had been in one of the podcasts I had listened to, and his book God and the Pandemic had also been bandied about by several other sources, so I picked up that book on the Kindle. It was really helpful to pivot my thinking and approach to dealing with this locked down state. The lesson(s) I learned will require extended application and practice but I hope to do that.

About a year and a half ago Greg Sheridan, the foreign affairs editor of The Australian, gave a talk at St Alfred’s. He mentioned Tom Holland’s Dominion and it stuck in my mind. I looked it up and it was a bit of a tome so I didn’t pick it up. That book came up numerous times in some of the podcasts I had listened to, and Tom Wright in his little book also mentioned it again, so I picked that one up too. I started reading it on Saturday and it has been fascinating. I feel like it’s a bit over my head so it requires a bit of work to focus, follow and appreciate the work. I found myself turning to Google in my idle moments (of which there has been quite a few) to read up more of historical identities, places and events Tom Holland referred to. The 600+ pages work will be slowly savored and cherished.

Last Friday night, the little TGIF drinks on zoom we had the week before, had a second helping. Everyone enjoyed the first one we had the Friday night before and this time, we cranked it up a little bit and bought food delivery. We spiced it up so that each of the 4 families bought stuff for another family. Tress organised the whole thing so that no one knew who was buying their goodies and we were to show what we got, during the zoom session. Tress, being the organizer, was the only one who knew, before the unveiling, who was buying for whom. Well, I knew we were getting for Alex and Li Har’s and as it was their youngest boy’s (Jermel) birthday, we decided to get them half a dozen cupcakes. The Hippos got us some Indian stuff – a rojak which we had straight up and a fried noodles which we kept for the next day. We had good fun and I think everyone really enjoyed the occasion.

On Saturday, after a sleep in and brekky, we did some light gardening. The lawns were still squishy from the rains we’ve been getting. I trimmed the lemon tree, cleared some undergrowth on the back fence, and swept all around. Later, after a lunch of the fried noodles from the surprise delivery we got the night before, I did some reading before walking to the shops to do some grocery shopping. I wanted to walk to ease my back into some movement, and the walk was great. The weather turned out to be more sunny than we expected, so after returning from the shops, I put away everything, prepped the stuff I was going to cook and then went out for another walk. It was really pleasant to just do a longish slow walk, followed by a shorter one with Tress and the little black jedi.

On Sunday, after the usual online St Alf’s service, I cooked the little fellow’s dinners and then went out to get lunch. Then it was another short walk, before I did the cook, to be followed by another short walk. I badly wanted to cramp in as many walks as I could, to ease myself to more regular movements and activities, to take away the otherwise belittling back pain.

It’s the start of another work week, and the calendar looks as busy as ever. This work from home in a locked down state continues to grind away and it remains a challenge. United lost in the semi final overnight. Sevilla, the Europa League kings, prevailed. Closer to home, the Hawks battled harder but the Eagles were too strong for us so we remained in the wrong end of the ladder.

Hopefully, Tom Holland’s Dominion does dish out the delicious distraction that will further shunt me along a path that Tom Wright had thankfully initiated for me. Thank God for these Tom’s.

More aspects of a new normal

About a week ago, a thought crept into my increasingly foggy head. I said to Tress I thought about teeing up an online drinks and chat time with some friends. She thought it’d be good, so I set up a group and teed up that time.

Last Friday night, we all dialed in with drinks in hand. Some even dressed up for the occasion (the Hippos, of course). The initial 45-minute limit went by pretty quickly and when I asked if people wanted to push on, everyone readily said yes, so a couple of minutes before the time was up, I teed up another link and we continued there. I guess we all needed some contact time to sort of calibrate and stay sane. It was a good, albeit different, sort of Friday night catch up. When we all signed off, we said we’d do it again next week.

On Saturday, we slept in and I then did some cleaning around the house. The usual vacuuming was followed by wipe downs, including a good wipe of the cook top range hood and some cutlery drawers. With us both being at home so much, I’m noticing more things that needed cleaning or just a touch up. It gets exhausting that way too.

When I had enough cleaning, I got cleaned up myself and then went out to get lunch. We can no longer go out together, so I had to go out by myself. It was the same with the shopping later on. The much talked about “new normal” has started to get to me – the being alone, no contact, mask, no seats, etc., etc. It gets annoying and tiring. It really takes some getting used to.

For no particular reason, we had started watching, earlier last week, a Korean drama on Netflix. It was just me “surfing” around to find something to watch (after “Unorthodox”) and I thought a classical/historical type drama with sword fights would be just the type of escapism I needed. “Kingdom” turned out to be something different – it’s another zombie like offering. It’s done in English with mismatched subtitles, but the plot was simple so there is little need to actually follow what was being said on screen. I guess it’s a mindless escapade of sorts. It turned out that the homies on the Friday night online drinkies were all into Korean drama. Maybe some stars are aligned. Anyway, that’s what we did again on Saturday night, as I toggled between the football and endless chasing around by zombies.

Sunday saw us doing the usual St Alf’s online service. Peter spoke about how a good God can allow something like the current pandemic to happen. The old chestnut of how a good God can allow evil to persist I guess. A gem which Peter shared was from the book John Lennox wrote regarding the present virus plagued world. Lennox cited work done by Peter Pollard, a scientist from Griffith University in Queensland. Pollard pointed out that a vast majority of viruses (99.9%) are good. Only a tiny bit is bad. This tiny bit however, can wreak great havoc, like a tiny bird getting sucked into a jet engine to bring down a jumbo jetliner. It makes the world God created, which He said was good, feels like an awful place. This world is a fallen, broken realm. God however, has it all worked out from day 1, and the new heaven and new earth will be presented in its full glory, at the right time.

I guess that is what always gives us hope – that one day, there will be no more suffering, no more death. It still needs work however, for that hope to underpin all we do each day. Like when I need to keep my head down today to get all the work done…

Plumbing New Depths

Melbourne continues to tumble down the ever steeper slopes of this pandemic. With modelling outcomes suggesting infections exceeding 1,000 each day, we’re now in a state of disaster.

Curfew commenced at 8pm last night and would last, initially, for 6 weeks.

All measures undertaken to address the “second wave” that reared its ugly head a little over 4 weeks ago, have failed. Many thought we’ve hit rock bottom but we continue to plumb new depths.

On Saturday morning, we slept in a little and I then logged in to an Annual General Meeting of Steer. It’s unusual to sit in front of a couple or screens as usually, at this time of the year, we’d be in a hall somewhere in the outer eastern suburbs, as we convene this annual event. We continue to chalk up unusual new experiences.

Tress did truckloads of housework through the nearly 3 hours of AGM presentations and discussions. She did the laundry, and tidied up lawns strewn with weeds and other contaminants.

Later that arvo, we had takeaway from a local joint before we took the little fellow for a walks, and then went out for some grocery shopping. As we did that, we followed the Hawks’ game against Carlton. The Blues have been a perennial cellar dweller and although they have a superstar in Cripps, they haven’t had much success in recent years. So when they went 5 goals to nothing up against the Hawks in the first quarter, it felt like the Hawks too would be plumbing new depths. Alas, the turnaround was strong in the second quarter and we finally prevailed. It’s good to stop the losing streak, albeit against the Blues.

Sunday was the same as recent Sundays. We took the St Alf online service, with Andrea speaking of lament. It’s the second time in recent months this topic came up as a message in St Alf’s service. Mark had spoken about this too. Towards the end, there was a video with someone speaking about writing our own lament. After the state of disaster and curfew declaration last night, that sounded like exactly the thing to do.

After the “service”, I prepped the cook and then gave Tress’ car a wash. We then had a takeaway lunch from some place a bit further out, mindful that it would likely be the last time we could do this, for a little while. We then took the little fellow for a walk. It had been a beautiful weekend weather wise, so it was a treat to take him out for his walk. We came back, I did the cook, and then Kiddo and Mic did a face time chat with us for a little bit. I said to them we want to move up to Canberra. A very small part of that is true…

We started watching the series “Unorthodox” last night. It’s a strange one. A lady from an ultra orthodox Jewish community in New York city “escaped” to Berlin to look for her mother, who had been estranged from her father, who liked a drink. “Esty” had been brought up by her grandmother and an aunt and had an arranged marriage to Yanky Shapiro, a shtreimel wearing lad. We watched a couple of episodes but are none the wiser on the reason(s) for her “escape”. I’m looking forward to watching further episodes. It feels like the right antidote to this new depths of despair we now face. Stranger experience I have not had.