Thursday 30 April 2020

COVId-19 Chronicles - The State of Play at the End of April

It has been about six weeks now since Australia wound back its activities due to COVID-19.  So, where are things at now?

If COVID-19 hadn't arrived on the scene, we would have been heading off our holidays for two weeks today.  As it happens, it would have been a wet and cold trip, as we were going on the bike to the Ulysses Rally at Lismore, via Glen Innes for the Celtic Festival this weekend.  Oh well, there will be another time.

The main new thing on the official front was last Sunday night the "Covid Safe" app for your phone went live.  The powers that be hope for 10 million people to use it for it to be effective and enable some easing on restrictions.  There were 2 million downloads in the first 24 hours, but the take up has slowed now.  Hopefully it will work as intended.

There has been a drastic reduction of new infections, so hopefully, by keeping our international borders closed, there will not be the number of infections that had been initially anticipated.

As a result, we are now allowed to have two people visit us in our homes, and schools will start to gradually open in the next couple of weeks.

In reality, society is coming out on their own accord. Where the streets were deadly quiet a few weeks ago, now you are struggling to get a car park in the main street and car parks are full.  A few more retail shops are opening again, while many still remain closed.  People are generally maintaining social distancing and extra hygiene.  Of course, there are the few that aren't, but you get that.

Who would have thought that an aisle of loo paper in the supermarket would be newsworthy!  Finally, the restriction of one packet of loo paper per person (if there was any available) has been lifted.  There is still very little soap and a few other items, but things are definitely getting back to normal.  What a relief.

However, the longer businesses remain closed, or wound back, the more financial hardship will be endured. It will definitely take a long time for things to recover.

On a personal level, we are still generally at home.  We try to do groceries and any other chores in one hit to minimise our time in town.  We haven't seen our Mums since the lock down, as they are in aged care.  You can arrange a visit where you speak through a window, but as they are both doing well, we just chat on the phone.  Mum needed a few things, so I delivered them to the reception area, where they will hold them for a week before giving them to her, to prevent any virus transfer.  There is a new rule that no one can enter the facility unless they have had their flu vaccination, so we provided them with confirmation of that today.

Now to more fun things......

Back to Anzac Day.  The weather was so beautiful that we got out the deadly treadlies again.  This time we ended up riding 23kms!  There are cycle/walkways that go along the river to the other side of town.  We just kept going.  It is nice and flat and we took it very steadily, stopping to take photos along the way.  We have never been along most of this pathway and didn't even really know it existed.   There were so many people out and about on the pathways.  I think everyone was enjoying the wonderful day.  Here are some of the photos.

On Anzac Day evening we watched a wonderful concert on TV.

"Music from the Home Front".  It was a celebration of Australian and New Zealand performers in honour of Anzac Day and our health and essential workers.  The quality of the production was excellent.  

Mick has continued to be busy at home.

He has added a shelf in the cupboard over our stove.  One of those jobs to be done "one day".

He has also done some more baking, this time it was banana muffins.

The weather has turned decidedly wintery and wet today and tomorrow is expected to be even colder, so the tomato plant has finally been removed.  We kept expecting to have to remove it and hang it upside down in the shed for the tomatoes to ripen, but they have managed to ripen outdoors.  They are now all in a bowl to be used.  Mick has planted some more peas where these were.  The only summer plants left are the eggplant, which will come out soon, and the basil which is expected to get frosted on Sunday or Monday.  Yes, we haven't had a frost as yet, but that is about to change.

In the photo above, you can just see where we have planted a few mini cabbages.  We've never had much luck with them in the past, but we will see how we go this time.

When we removed the zucchini  plant we noticed a self sown capsicum!  How did we not notice that? We have now put it in a pot in a nice warm place and will see if it does anything.

The raspberries are still being very productive.  Hopefully they will keep going for a little while longer.  We are getting quite a supply in the freezer.

The flowers on the yukka on the front verandah are gradually opening.

They are lovely up close.

We've had about 40mm of rain since yesterday evening and in a break in the showers this afternoon we were treated to this gorgeous rainbow.

And the wind flowers are continuing to delight us with their show.

I have done a little stitching, but more on that later.

Sunday 26 April 2020

A Completed UFO - "Happy Thought" Mini Quilt

My One Monthly Goal for April was to finish my "Happy Thoughts" mini quilt.  For a while there I didn't think it would happen - hand stitching - say no more!

Well, once I got started it wasn't so bad.  I spent a few rather pleasant hours sitting in the sun on the back verandah stitching away and next thing it was done.

Being so small it took no time to do some very simple quilting and the binding was quick to attach too.  The final touch was to find some yellow buttons in the button jars and add them to the flowers.

It only took about ten years to get around to finishing it off.  Procrastination is my middle name.

Not only is this my OMG, it is another finish for Cheryll's WOOFA Challenge and a finish towards Kris' One Project a Month. 

It is even hanging on the wall of my sewing room in among all my other minis.  It fit in perfectly once I removed the crinoline lady tapestry Mum made.

She has been moved to the end of the bookcase, with the cross stitch of a Royal Doulton figurine. Mick's Mum owns this one and she has the figurine in her china cabinet.  The cross stitch was worked by one of her friends.  The two ladies go rather well together.

I don't really have any vertical spaces left, so will have to stop adding things.

Now to select another UFO to work on next month.

Thanks ladies for the encouragement to get this done.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Covid-19 Chronicles - An Anzac Day With a Difference

A normal Anzac Day sees us get up with the sparrows to attend the Dawn Service at the Carillon in Bathurst at 4.30am.  After the service, we walk across to the RSL Club where the auxiliary ladies put on a big breakfast. This morning ritual is something we have done for about the last 25 years, first with my Dad and now in his honour.  These days in the afternoon I usually take Mum out to the site of the old army camp to attend another smaller service.

This year was somewhat different, as no marches or gatherings were permitted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the required social distancing.  Ironically, it is thought that more Australians got involved in Anzac Day this year than normal.

The first anniversary of Anzac Day wasn't commemorated with a parade, as it was still very fresh to many people and in the height of the Spanish Flu pandemic.  Anzac Day events, such as we know them, didn't really start till the mid 1920s.  This is the first time since then that Australians haven't been able to mark the occasion in the usual way.

This year the RSL started a campaign for people to stand with a candle in their driveways, on their balconies or at their gates at 6.00am to observe a minutes silence.  There was still a Dawn Service held at the War Memorial in Canberra, just with no public attending, and it was broadcast on both television and radio.  Some musicians then expanded on this and suggested musicians play The Last Post at that time too.  There was also a request for people to display poppies at their letterbox.

We started our preparations yesterday, preparing a poppy wreath for the letterbox.  Mick reckoned I could just make some poppies out of red cardboard.  Minor technical problem there.....I don't have any red cardboard.  However, there was a ball of red wool in Mum's stash in our garage.  A quick look in Pinterest and I found a very simple crochet poppy pattern. 

I used a big hook to make things even quicker still.

Then there was the challenge to find a wreath base.  I know I have a stick one somewhere, but couldn't lay my finger on it, so requested Mick make a wire one......but then I found a small polystyrene one.  Bonus.

Ta da!  One very simple wreath for the letter box.  The black centres are just buttons with pins through the buttons holding the poppies onto the wreath.  Like I said, very quick and simple.

Next we had to make some Anzac biscuits.  Mick got involved in this too.  Of course we had to taste test them yesterday, but there were still some left for today.

One of the ingredients in the RSL Club breakfast is savoury mince.  It is really yummy and Anzac Day is the only time we ever have it, so it is rather special.  Therefore, we made some yesterday afternoon ready for breakfast today.

This morning we were up for the 5.30 Dawn Service.  The weather was cool, but nowhere near as cold as some services we have attended.  The fog rolled in as we stood there.  I wore my Dad's medals with pride.  Our neighbours over the road were also outside their home.  Their daughter was in her formal school uniform, as she is a school captain and would have been laying a wreath under normal circumstances. 

We noticed  a few other families up the street also came outside for the 6am minutes silence and Last Post.  We could hear someone in the distance playing it on a trumpet.

After the service finished we went back inside and had our version of an Anzac Day breakfast.  Scrambled eggs, bacon, savoury mince on toast, tomatoes and mushrooms.  We omitted the hash browns and sausage, as it is too much.

Hopefully, next year will back to normal, but I wouldn't be surprised if standing at the end of your driveway will become a new tradition to include those who don't necessarily want to, or are unable to, attend a Dawn Service.  Time will tell.

This year was different, but one that we will all remember and will go down in history.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

I Have Been Stitching

I had quite a few stitching goals this month and have been making some slow progress with them.

My stitching seems to only take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I cut out my "light and bright blue" Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks at the beginning of the month and finally got around to stitching them up.  Still not my favourite blocks to make, each quarter  being only three inches, but I'll stick with them.

Next I worked on the latest two Blockheads 3 blocks.

This week's was a tad fiddly and for the first time I used my Easy Angle Ruler to help with the sizing of the larger triangles.  It worked like a charm. This is an eight inch block.

When I had finished the block I realised that it also works for this month's RSC colours. Bonus.

The next block was foundation paper piecing, and after I had the quarter blocks made I had a play around with the arrangements to see how the different variations looked.  It was a bit of fun.

I then pieced it as per the pattern.  It came together well. This is another eight inch block.

That completed fourteen blocks - a quarter of the blocks completed.  I had planned my sizes of the blocks to make a quarter of the quilt.  The four quarters will end up at 64 inches, so with a border should be a good bed topper size.

I'm happy with how it is looking, but will not join the blocks together at this stage, just in case I add some different fabrics to the mix and need to spread them a bit more evenly.  

The next block is released tonight.

Finally, I have finished the embroidery on my mini quilt "Happy Thoughts".  On Sunday I sat in the sum on the back verandah to finish it off. A rather pleasant way to spend some time.

This is my UFO for the month and also my One Monthly Goal is to have it finished.  I'm pretty sure that is achievable, as it shouldn't take too long to quilt and bind.  This was started when I used to use a thin pelon as a stitchery backing, so I still have to decide whether to add another layer of thin pelon of just quilt it as it is.

I still have to work on my Splendid Sampler 2 quilt.  I didn't set any specific goal this month other than to "progress" it.  I'll have a look over the next couple of days and see what I do.

The Christmas quilt top I made is sitting there waiting to be quilted and bound.  I'm not sure if I will get to it this month or not, but having the top made is sufficient anyway.

Sunday 19 April 2020

More Covid-19 Chronicles

It seems to be that I just pop in here once a week with an update on how things are going.  On the whole, things are going rather well around here, despite it being a rather different story overseas.  There have been no more cases identified locally and eight of the nine cases have now recovered.  The restrictions to our lives remain unchanged.

So, what have we been up to?

I went to work on Tuesday and Wednesday - a lovely short week.  Mick got busy on those days and cleaned all the windows and fly screens.  What a difference it makes, now that the dust and smoke have been washed away.

The weather this week has been absolutely glorious.  Sunny, a slight breeze, reaching about 20 degrees C.  You couldn't ask for nicer weather to be out and about.

We achieved our four days of exercise.  On Thursday we went for our walk and ended up walking just on 10kms.  

We walked down to the river, past a freshly mown paddock of lucerne.  The ibis were having a lovely time looking for bugs.

This is the Macquarie River, which starts just upstream of Bathurst.  It's so good to see a decent amount of water running down the river.  Our water supply dam is still only at 30% capacity, so a lot more rain will be required for water restrictions to be reduced or removed.

The parklands beside the river had just been mowed so looked lovely.

The old and the new.  The old bridge is the Denison Bridge dating back to 1870.  It was closed to traffic in the early 1990s and is now a foot bridge. The new one is the Evans Bridge.

Don't you love how a little fungus is growing in this fallen tree stump.

On Friday we just wandered around our local neighbourhood, finding more colourful chalk art on driveways.

Saturday saw us heading up the hill on the quiet country road again.

There are quite a few mobs of kangaroos that live in the paddocks around us.  This few even sat still long enough to have their portrait taken.  About a dozen live in the horse paddock over the road from us.

Today we did something a bit different, for a change.  We got out the deadly treadlies and went cycling.  Once again we ended up down by the river.  So many people were out and about, walking, walking the dog, jogging or cycling.  We've never seen anything like it.  Mind you, we don't normally go down by the river either.  Anyway, we then decided to follow the cycle/walking path further along the river before returning home.  We ended up riding for about 17kms.  Not bad going for the first time I've been on my bike for well over a year.

We've been baking again, making the Apricot Shortcake again, as it was so nice.  

A friend gave me an Eggplant Curry recipe, so, as we have plenty of eggplants we tried it out - quick, easy & tasty!  Winner!  It will be made again.  Yummo!  

When we did the groceries on Thursday I noticed the cauliflowers were particularly nice looking.  As a result of that we bought a leg of lamb and have enjoyed a delicious roast lamb meal, something I very rarely cook, even though it is one of my favourite meals.  

Tonight we had rhubarb and apple crumble, made with our rhubarb and apples from a friend's tree.  Absolutely delicious!

Our garden is still flowering prolifically. 

Our dahlias have never before put on such a show.

We are still picking tomatoes, although they are nearing their end.

Mick was energetic on Friday, adding some shelves to the top cupboards in the caravan, something w ehave been talking about since we bought it three and a half years ago.  It did entail a quick trip to Bunnings.  We bought a couple of other things while we were there too.  You see, I have this list on the fridge "Things to Buy When the Shops Reopen".  Well, seeing we were already at Bunnings, we bought a couple of the things on that list.

Yes, I have been sewing, but I will leave that for a separate post.

To finish off, this morning we sat and watched TV for a couple of hours.  Not something we ever do, but this was different.

We watched the "One World Together" concert.  It was really uplifting.