Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Jami's Project - Day 7

This is my daily entry in Jami's Project whereby she wants to create a collection of journal entries from people of different ages, from different countries and different parts of this country, during this 30 day Coronavirus period. She wants to highlight how "in this together" we all are, regardless of government policies, and the influence it will have on our wellbeing and to evaluate what individuals do to cope.  She has participants from Alaska, Canary Island, France, Canada and Norway.
We managed to sort ourselves out last night for our on-line House Party birthday get together.  The younger and more tech savvy members of the family finally got us all connected.  Except for Bernie in Brazil, he was sleeping, as you do in the middle of the night.  House Party was OK but not great, Leone is going to party test drive Zoom on Saturday night so we'll see if that is better. 
Today the weather has been glorious.  This morning there wasn't a cloud in the sky although there are a few clouds rolling in now.  I do feel sympathy for those who are locked in where they can't see the sky.  I am so fortunate with the views I have from here on the hill.

A warm summer like we've just had usually means a good crop of feijoas, this year is no exception.  Although, on my tree, a lot seem to be dropping before they are ripe which isn't usual.  I put that down to the summer drought.  The grass under the tree is littered with the fruit.  I think I'll give them one more day before starting the daily harvest.  I don't like the taste of them but my grand-daughters simply love them.  They don't bother cutting them in two and eating the flesh with a spoon like most people do, just bite into them and suck out the flesh.  It's a shame they can't come and pick them up.   I'll stew them and give them a treat when all this is over.

The Daily Count
647 total cases, 9 in Northland 
58 new cases

14 in hospital
74 recovered
1 death

Monday, 30 March 2020

Jami's project - Day 6

It's my daughter-in-law's birthday today.  We are so lucky to have all this modern technology to use to communicate with each other while we are in Lockdown.  Last night Leone and I chatted on FB with her son and daughter.  We plan to use an app called 'house party' to have an online family birthday party tonight.  How cool is that?

My technology ability (or inability more like) has caused me a little frustration today.  I've successfully downloaded the app onto my phone but can't get the darn thing onto my laptop.  I think it will be hard to see everyone on the phone.  And I want to see their smiling faces.

The weirdest thing just happened.  Yesterday, while Leone was doing her spring cleaning she knocked down a framed photo of herself and her three siblings.  Broke the glass.  I replaced it with another frame I had and we put it back on its little shelf.  A few minutes ago, there was a little gust of wind which I wouldn't have thought had reached into the sitting room and the frame fell and the glass broke again.  We were together in another room.  When we heard the breaking glass I thought one of the cats must have knocked something over but, no, the shelf is far too high and, anyway, neither of the cats is around.  Weird.  I tell you, if it happens again I'm going to become superstitious.  Now, what is the word for a superstitious person - a superstit?

589 total cases, 9 in Northland 
75 new cases

12 in hospital
56 recovered
1 death
2% community transmission

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Jami's Project - Day 5

This is my daily entry in Jami's Project whereby she wants to create a collection of journal entries from people of different ages, from different countries and different parts of this country, during this 30 day Coronavirus period. She wants to highlight how "in this together" we all are, regardless of government policies, and the influence it will have on our wellbeing and to evaluate what individuals do to cope.  She has participants from Alaska, Canary Island, France, Canada and Norway.

Here it's a sunny, peaceful Sunday.  My daughter, who has been back home with me since Wednesday, is making the most of the sunshine and is outside putting my yard to rights.  She's one of those "can't keep still" types and over the past few days has already given the house a good spring clean.  It hasn't been so spotless since she was last here. 

I am so grateful to have her here with me.  Her presence will surely make this lockdown period much easier for me although initially I thought it might be difficult sharing my daily life with someone.  And I hope it will make it easier for her, too.  Although maybe not.  I suspect I frustrate her on a regular basis with my forgetfulness and lackadaisical ways.  And I don't eat near as healthily as she does, I more or less stick to the same diet I've had all my life.  I'm, to a large extent, basically a meat and three veggies sort of girl.  And lots of fruit.  I don't shun red meat and dairy products, although, to be honest, I probably eat more chicken than red meat.  I think she'd like to convert me to hemp burgers and the like but anything she says on the subject just washes over me.  Don't get me wrong, she doesn't preach or actively try to convert me, I just suspect she would like to.  Anyway, you don't need to hear all that.

We have frequent discussions on how the virus is progressing worldwide and give thanks that we live here in New Zealand where our government seems to be doing a good job of keeping us all as safe as possible.   We feel concern for my brothers and sisters and their families in Australia, my brother and his family in England and my niece and her little family in the States.  And especially for my younger son in Brazil whose baby is due a week from today.  We've started a guess the baby's birth date, weight and sex competition amongst family members.

We share Coronavirus jokes that we receive and have frequent laughs.  We have a glass of wine and watch Netflix at night, usually an episode or two of a favourite series of one or the other of us and a movie.  Luckily, we enjoy the same sort of entertainment.  Sometimes we start a discussion on something we've just seen and forget to watch, then have to rewind.

I'm feeling quite positive today.  The majority of us are surviving what would have been unimaginable a month ago.  We're learning a new language, all about social distancing, and it seems slowly moving toward physical distancing, lockdown is no longer a weird word that doesn't apply to us, we are settling into life in our "bubbles".  My daughter just discovered a large bottle of hand sanitiser under the kitchen sink that I had forgotten was there and we rejoiced like we had found gold.  (Not that it will replace soap and water in the home but we've rebottled it into smaller bottles to have in our cars.)

For us, life goes on.  And that is something to celebrate!   

Today's update:

514 total cases  
63 new cases
Nine in hospital, one in our local hospital
56 recovered

1 death

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Jami's Project - Day 4

Really?  Only Day 4?  So much has happened in the past week, it seems like another lifetime away.  I need to remind myself that I have now been in self isolation for 17 days so maybe that is why it seems so long and why I'm trying to deny that I'm twitching to go into the forest to talk with the ferns and trees, to see and hear the sound of the little creek gurgling along, to hear the birds that I don't hear here at the house.  

I feel a bit edgy.  Tightly strung which isn't like me.  But if anyone can do a month without leaving home it is me.  There's a fair bit of natural hermit in this old body.
I wonder how all the monks are getting along on the Atki Peninsula in Greece where I sailed with my brother, Peter and his wife, Judy in 2015.  That long ago?  I remember the day so clearly, how enchanted I was with the romance of it all, although with 1,700 monks on that peninsula, romance could be a strange word to describe their living situation.  I hope their isolation has kept them safe.  The world needs all the pray-ers it can get right now.

It's a little cooler today with showers coming and going.  Winter is definitely getting closer.Today's update for the project:  

451 total cases
83 new cases
12 in hospital, two in our local hospital
50 recovered

I think I'll just stick to that format each day

Friday, 27 March 2020

Jami's Project - Day 3

"I know many of you are feeling anxious and uncertain with many questions about the days and weeks ahead, but please know that you are not alone."

It seems every company with whom I've had the most tenuous of contact is determined to clutter up my inbox with newsletters, such as the extract above.  They all want to assure me the health of their customers and staff is their highest priority but it's starting to annoy me that they all seem to think they know how I feel.  I swear if I read any more of these I'll start to believe I do feel anxious or uncertain.  Or wonder what is wrong with me if I don't.

Although this particular newsletter wasn't being overdramatic, there are plenty that are.  I guess all the dramatising is necessary to get to those who wouldn't listen otherwise.  Perhaps some folk need a good dose of fear to make them play by the rules.  But I wonder if there isn't a little too much emphasis on being conscious of the disease rather than on staying healthy?  But what would be the right balance?  I sure as hell wouldn't want to be in a position of having to decide the best way of getting across the message to everyone in a positive manner.  The current motto of "Stay safe, save lives" seems right just now.  We can only pray that it is understood by everyone.  And is that really likely given how often the same message is interpreted in a different way?  Nah, I'm overthinking this thing, letting negative communication experiences of the past influence my thinking.

I'm going to spend the rest of the day telling myself that the right individual choices of everyone will lead to the desired outcome.  And trust that everyone will make those right choices.  Whew!  Big ask!  Better kick start my positivity.

For the purpose of Jami's project I guess I should state the current state of Covid19 here.  How I'm thinking and feeling will no doubt be impacted by that.  New Zealand had 76 new and 9 probable cases today taking the total to 368 confirmed and probable cases, three of those are in the region where I live and one of those three is in hospital.  27 people have recovered. Our population is 4.6 million so I'd say we are doing as well as can be expected.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Jami's Project - Day 2

Day 1 of Lockdown

The thing I noticed most this morning was that the countryside is gradually taking on a green tinge after that horrible drought.  It's not exactly lush but the land no longer looks dry and stressed.  And that's something for which I am truly grateful.

The land can give us a lesson in survival - just hang in there, the good times will come again.

For me, one of the tricks to staying positive during this time is to find the good things we still have rather than focus on what we have not. I just typed during this trying time, then changed it. I don't think we do ourselves any service when we use dramatic phrases. This is my normal for now and that's all there is to it!

I'm also grateful for a lovely grand-daughter like Jami who dreamed up this project. One of the things I've learned about myself over the years is that I try to avoid expressing negative thoughts in words. It's just something I don't like doing, I don't like the sound of the person who wrote that. I reword and rewrite until it feels better and then I feel better. Might sound weird but that's how I'm wired. So taking part in Jami's project will keep my spirits up, should they take a slump.

I feel like I should have a sense of being in a momentous moment in history but maybe it's because nothing is different here at home that I feel like it's a normal day. When I opened my eyes this morning the sun looked as lovely as ever as it touched the leaves of the tree outside my bedroom window.  Now, if Level 4 meant I had to close my bedroom curtains to keep the virus out and couldn't look out on that tree I would know something was not right. A magpie in the tree said "Oodle ardle wardle doodle" or "Good morning, Pauline" in human speak like it always does. My world is good.

I think often of the people who weren't in lockdown, those essential workers, especially the health care workers who are out there today in a "different" world, showing up and helping the sick and vulnerable and doing their job to allow the rest of us to live a healthy life. Another grand-daughter, Shayde is one of these essential workers. Stay safe, Shayde. Actually my son, Danny is too as he's a farmer but he's like me, just carrying on life as normal. I feel proud that my family are doing their bit to keep the country functioning.

I turned on the radio for a while this morning to my favourite talkback station only to be reminded that having patience will be a lifetime challenge for me. What is wrong with some people, why can't so many of them understand, "Stay at home"? Why do so many think there should be an exception for them and their wants (not their needs)? Why do so many carry on like this emergency happened to inconvenience them? The final straw was a comment was some dickhead who claimed that he was being discriminated against because the spices he likes to add to his food, available only from speciality shops, will not be available. Geez.

I'd already decided to limit FaceBook time because the keyboard warriors are out and about big time.

Reminder to self – avoid negative vibes.

Oh, by the way, Jami has other participants in her project from Alaska, Canary Island, France, Canada and Norway - people she met when she went off travelling by herself halfway around the world in her gap year at the tender age of 19.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Jami's Project - Day 1

Day 1

We saw it coming. As soon as the Prime Minister announced the new level grading for Covid19 I think most people suspected it was a bit of clever psychology softening up the masses for further announcements, harsher restrictions.  That was on Saturday but it feels like so long ago and today is only Wednesday.  Time moves at a different pace now.  

I should tell you, right before I get started, that I don't like our PM but I do admit she is doing a good job during this crisis. She and her cohorts finally found some balls (yes, women can have them, too) when they realized a committee or a conversation about this was not going to cut it.  Action was required and thank heavens they acted a lot quicker than most of the rest of the world and have us going into a lockdown before the number of virus cases climbs too high.  There's nowhere else in the world I'd rather be living right now than this tiny island nation down here by itself at the bottom of the world.

Because I am an “aged” one I've been self-isolating for two weeks already and, to be honest, it's not much different from my daily life. I don't, as a rule, see many people each week anyway.

My daughter is returning home for the next month or as long as the lockdown lasts so, unexpectedly, I will have daily company. This will probably be more difficult for me than isolation. For the past 6 months or so Leone has been house-sitting in the Bream Bay area, close to where she works.  Her workplace has now closed down and she will be working from home for 2 weeks, then who knows what will happen next.

Yesterday I was feeling some anxiety. I was worrying about something I have no control over and I've spent a lifetime training myself not to do that. I've always believed that fear is often worse than that which we fear. I think fear of this virus can effect everyone but we won't all get it, so it is a wasted emotion. And fear causes stress which reduces our body's ability to deal with illness. I must try to remember that over the coming weeks.  No, not try to remember, just remember!!

The other thing I promise myself to remember is the power of breathing.  Stop when a negative thought creeps in and breath.  4 seconds in, 4 seconds out.  So easy.  So powerful.  I would never have lasted in industrial relations without that technique.

I have chatted with my son since yesterday's post.  He and his partner are well but it's a stressful time for him as his work dries up and his staff of around 50 depend on him for their living.  He's a thinker but not a worrier so he will cope.  What a strange world my little grandchild to be will be born into!

So tonight at midnight as we go to Level 4 and lockdown, our world will change for many in this country.  I don't expect my world to be much different.  Farming is an essential service, the cows will still be milked, the milk tanker will still come to collect the milk, the tractor and motorbikes will still move around the farm as the manager performs his daily tasks.  Just now I heard the farm dog barking and the manager calling an instruction to him.  Such comforting sounds.  The sights and sounds will be the same.  But nothing's the same, is it?

I don't expect my thoughts over the next month will always be coherent.  I sometimes find it extremely hard to put emotional thoughts into plain and simple words but I will try.

Go well.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Jami's idea

I know I don't spend as much time as I should being mindfully grateful.  But I do know I am blessed.  For the past few weeks I've been running through a mental this of things I'm grateful for before I get out of bed in the morning.  I try to do it at night, too, but usually drift off to sleep before I get halfway through.  (One of my blessings is the ability to sleep well.)
Right now I'm grateful that I only feel concern for the wellbeing of one of my children.  Three out of four ain't bad!  And I think all the grandkids are in a safe place, too.  Until this morning we were a little concerned about my grandson, Michael who was stranded with his partner, Rose, in the South Island.  But only a little.  That boy,  oops, sorry, young man has always had an angel on his shoulder and he/she came to his rescue again.  He is the most positive of souls and unable to get on a ferry or a plane he was thinking of all the good things about being stuck where he was, when they drove past a tiny regional airport at Takaka (who knew there was an airport there?), made enquiries and they got two seats on a plane tomorrow.  (After being weighed to make sure their weight was acceptable on the small plane.)

Bernie, my younger son is my worry-child right now.  I've learnt over the years to not stress when I don't hear from him for a period of time.  That period has stretched out to 6 months from time to time and I'd tell myself he was busy living his best life, no news is good news, and so on.  And, seriously, I never worried about him, had faith that he was smart enough to look after himself.  But this "thing", this virus is different.  And he's in Brazil, a third world country with a high death rate at the best of times.  He lives in the centre of a huge city with a population of 2.5 million.  And, here's the kicker, he is about to become a father in a few weeks, something everyone in the family had given up even thinking about.  My stone age brain, the mother bear in me, is pushing me to anxiety.

My granddaughter, Jami, without knowing it, has come to my rescue.  She's a clever, creative university student who has already published a small book of poetry.   I received this message from her this morning, inviting me to be part of her new project.  I wonder what she will call it? 

I want to create a collection of journal entries spanning over 30 days. It is a monumentally devastating time right now and for me writing always helps, however, I think it could be quite special to have a creative product of what we are all experiencing. It doesn’t need to be a long entry, of course some days will be longer than the others. I have picked you because you have a special way with words. With this collection I want to highlight how “in this together” we all are, and no matter what policy our governments are enforcing, the influence it has on us will ultimately be quite similar. I want to see what effects this has on our wellbeing and I think documenting it in an artistic way could all help us individually but also help readers evaluate for themselves what individuals do to cope; whether healthy or not. Of course, it will be anonymous and will most likely just use your region as an identifier. More details are to come as I don’t have a strict plan for this. You don’t have to write every single day but the span of the collection will be 30 days starting from tomorrow. If you are keen let me know. Love you all and hope you are taking care x

It doesn't have to be specifically about what's going on outside either, I want it to be more of a what-goes-on-inside when the outside seems like chaos.

So, my age of introspection is upon me.

Go well, my friends.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Giving feedback

Crikey, could they make it any harder to give positive feedback to an airline?  If I wanted to lodge a complaint I would have been finished hours ago.  To get an email address to send compliments I had to make a phone call and put in the inevitable wait for someone to answer and, even then, the young man I spoke to would have been happier, I think, if I'd wanted to post something on social media.  I thought I was going to have to be a bit rude (which would have been defeating the purpose somewhat) before I was given an avenue whereby the people concerned would receive my comments.

I was feeling slightly guilty that my feedback on the survey about my flight to Australia last week had been slightly negative.  After that flight I felt that Air New Zealand was pushing cultural diversity a little too far and checking boxes for one of everything amongst their cabin crew, regardless of their ability to smile and make eye contact.  

My return flights could not have been more different.  Maybe it helps to get extra attention when another passenger's bag falls from the overhead locker and hits you on the head and shoulder.  Luckily, it was a light bag!

The most impressive service was kept till last when somehow or other I managed to board the wrong plane, one bound for Gisborne rather than Whangarei. Those of you who frequent large airports might wonder how that is possible but Auckland regional flights often load two at a time in the same area. I was talking to the lady beside me, the staff member who was scanning our boarding passes said her gate number and I went that way, too, not realizing another flight had also been called to board.  When I realized I was on the wrong flight I had to disembark against the flow of boarding passengers and hurry to the correct gate.  Which, by that time, had been locked.  However, a ground crew came to my rescue and accompanied me to the plane.  Believe me, you feel a complete idiot when you board via the front of the plane and the eyes of all passengers are on you, that late passenger who is delaying departure and then you realize you've left your cabin bag on the other plane.  

The planes that fly in and out of Whangarei aren't very big, I think they carry 50 passengers.  There is only one cabin crew on each flight and they are pretty busy.  But the lovely blonde lady on this flight would never be too busy to not offer first-class service.  When she realized where my bag was, she spoke to the captain who said he could see the other plane was still on the tarmac and sent a ground crew to run across to it to retrieve my bag.  Meanwhile, the lovely man I had sat down beside was re-assuring me not to worry, these things happen, no-one minds.  And the lady sitting across from me leaned over to tell me she takes that flight every Sunday night and that she'd left her cabin baggage in the departure lounge twice in four weeks.

The flight attendant made light of the service, just smiled and said, "It's a team effort."  That is a darn good team!!  Thanks Air New Zealand.

In other news, I had a lovely if very brief catch up with brothers and sisters while I was away, at Noosa.  A couple of nights right in the middle of the tourist strip in Hastings Street, a few nights near the National Park at Little Cove and a final night around by the river. I also had a catchup with old friends with whom I first discovered Noosa as a teenage surfer.  That young girl would never have believed that she would be at Noosa for a week and not go for a surf.  But, then, she had never heard of airconditioning nor had any appreciation of how good it is when the barometer sits around 30C (86 F)