To Engage or Not to Engage …

The last six months have been, not to put a fine point to it, extremely strange. And things are still not looking to get too much better. Each morning as my online news notifications arrive and I click on the various items, (yet, I no longer read printed news … sadly), I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or just bury my head in the sand. Although the latter is very tempting.

We will pass right by the bushfires, although they are still heavily impacting our local area, and the luck Australia has had with the Covid-19 pandemic, and go to two things that are currently causing much debate; Black Lives Matter and Economic recovery.

When the posts began after the death of George Floyd, I remember my first FB comment was to suggest we should also look at Australia because we had a terrible record with deaths in custody. Four days later that issue flared up here as a result of the US demonstrations. And rightly so. It’s time we forgot about the colour of skin, whether people move about with the same agility or need assistance, their age or religion, or whether they have the same inherent skills or not either mentally or physically … They Are People and they deserve an equal share of everything; respect, access to education, health and a fair go by those in power like police and, dare I say it, politicians and governments.

I believe myself to be unbiased. I have very close friends and family who could be put in the categories above but I simply don’t see it that way. They are friends and family, people I care about and I hate it when they tell me they are being bullied, or held back or not listened to because of some perceived negative characteristic. I read the stories of FB about ordinary Americans suddenly thinking to ask a person of colour what it is like for them and finding they are horrified at what they hear. It is good this is happening yet it is 2020 – I remember the Black Panthers and hearing Martin Luther King and the LA riots in the 70’s and 80’s and here we are again after nearly half a century. Are we able to do something about it now? And here, in Australia with our First Nation people? Death in Custody Royal Commission is more than 30 years ago too. It Is TIME!

And then the next thing I’m reading in the news here in Australia is that the Federal and State governments are working to get the economy going again. But the Federal government is giving money to those who already have it. WTF!!! Instead of building public housing for the underprivilaged, insuring they get access to education and child care so they CAN find jobs and keep them and thus pay tax to the government – no they give money to those who are already extending and who are earning over $70,000 per annum. Really??? What about public building project that enhance the nation, getting the TAFE systems going again properly, working to get this country going on renewables which, it is estimated, will create nearly 300,000 jobs – Nah! we will give money to the gas and coal industries and kill the planet some more.

I’m sure you are getting a sense of my frustration. And if you are reading this, I don’t think I’m Robinson Crusoe either.

I have written emails to Members of both State and Federal Parliaments to see if they will listen to reason, and as soon as possible, I will be back standing on street corners with a placard asking for Climate Action.

Here we have, due to the pandemic, a once is a livetime opportunity to change things and do it right, and the duds in charge are going back to their old ways.

I’m still waiting for the revolution and a leader. And I have a deep suspicion, one, or maybe both, are on the way. I can only hope (as I don’t pray).

So, to answer my question in the heading to this tirade – I will engage. Not to do so, despite the overload of frustration and anger, would be against all my principles. I will not stick my head in the sand and delete the daily news emails. I will do what I can because otherwise how could I call myself a caring human.

It’s a Strange World

Last year my husband and I were lucky enough to spend several months travelling Australia. Although many places, nearly all should I say, were drought stricken, the small towns we stopped at all through Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland were still making a go of things. Australian’s always seem to find somthing to be positive about.

For example, in Boomi, NSW, about 728 kms north west of Sydney, just below the Queensland border was as dry as the proverbial camel’s backside. Yet it has the most delightful artesian spa. Many travellers stop for several days at a time to partake of the hot springs, taking at least one dinner at the pub and enjoying lots of chats in the spa. The community of Boomi own and run the spa and it keeps the town on the map and viable even during the driest of droughts.

We also trekked to Streaky Bay on the western side of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. After a delightful week fishing and catching up with family, we returned via Port Augusta. There we were camped next to a couple from Dortmund in Germany who had just completed the trip from Darwin via Uluru and Kings Canyon. We chatted as everyone does and the following day we went on our way.

Ten days later, in the Clare Valley wine region of South Australia, in a delightful town of Auburn, we again came across our German tourists. This time we got to know eachother better. They advised they would be back in 2020 and coming up the east coast of Australia. They would drop in. Great we replied.

And you guessed it, they arrived the day before lockdown. It was already clear that things were taking a turn for the worst with Covid-19 outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne. Our guests now had nowhere to go as campsites were closed and they, initially headed for Cairns, could not take their camper further.

So, what for everyone else was a bit of a shock and horror, here we were, with guests who had no idea when or even if, they could get back to Germany.

As the first week eventuated and things got tighter and tighter, yet we were still able to walk along our local beach, over local headlands and get takeaway coffee’s from the Boatshed (exercise of course). They had to go to Canberra to the German embassy, (which turned out to be closed when we got there) so we took the scenic route via Larry’s Mountain road and Araluen. As we were technically a family living in one house, we thought it legit.

We all remained well but the pressure to get back to Germany began to increase during the second week for our guests. The Australian Govenrment wasn’t having anything to do with repatriation flights and it took the German Government a while to get things organised. There were thousands of German tourists all over Australia and New Zealand. Eventually our guests got away very early last Monday (6 April 2020) and arrived back in Dortmund, very tired and jet lagged, some 40 hours later. Their flight hand no entertainment, no coffee or tea and only minimal rations. Luckily they packed a bag with goodies before they left.

So, we have been so busy during the first two weeks of lockdown, we’ve hardly noticed it. Not out much except to get excercise, yet still being able to show off our lovely coastline with exercise walks in the sun and wind.

As soon as we were again alone, hubby and I began the erection of the new shed, the replacement for the one we lost in the fires. Three days of manhandling sheets of thin metal and luckily, excellent instructions, and we got it up. Hubby spent the next two days putting in screws and making it watertight. Now he is out there hooking up the new water tank (another fire loss).

I think our house is like many others in this odd and troublesome time; getting all the long outstanding jobs done and dusted. I even had a short story published in a local online newspaper.

For our little household, now just the two of us and our two old rough coated Jack Russell/Iris Terrier crosses, Jack and Russell, it is very quiet. Our German friends advised they are fine with no nasty symptoms now they are home in Germany. They are also in lockdown there but can find forrest walks that are nearly deserted to maintain their exercise regime. We maintain our Pilates, do odd jobs, housework and I am writing more than ever.

There is a bright side to being kept in lockdown. We just have to look for it. I feel for all those parents who are having to keep kids entertained without parks, outside friends and entertainment venues.

For any of you who might read this, I hope you are all finding ways to get through this strange time. It is clear our world won’t be the same one we left on New Year’s Eve 2019. The drought, the fires, now Covid-19 and possibly a depression after all this and 2020 is ‘Annis Horriblis’ for every single one of us.

Stay well.

“May You Live In Interesting Times”

When life takes a turn for the difficult, I’ve often heard people say, “I must have been cursed.” Of course, modern society doesn’t really believe in curses unless it is a verbal spray of nasty language. That said, I recall my mother often saying that the old curse, “May you live in interesting times,” did seem to have some validity.

Everyone can see that on the surface this might be a nice thing to say to someone. We deem ‘interesting’ as a good thing. Yet this curse intends anything but ‘nice.’ And so, I currently believe we are living through those ‘interesting times.’

I started this blog bemoaning the bushfires and what had happened to our little corner of the world. Then I watched as floods wreaked havoc to places around New South Wales. We’d already spent years in drought, on water restrictions and now various places had an over-abundance of water.

Add to that, we are now having to come to terms with Covid-19 and what that means. And I am not alone in thinking it’s only the beginning of a much worse situation. Yet, speaking to friends, aquaintances and just people around in the shops when looking at empty toilet paper shelves, there seems to still be a modicum of hope.

Each day I read the online news from feeds I’m pretty sure will give me the up to date correct facts (these can be hard to find). I’ve stopped watching television news. The tiny sounds bites give sensationalism and little to none of what you need to know. Don’t even mention politicians.

Our area of the South Coast of NSW, the Eurobodalla Shire, has suffered economic downturn due to the fires. Just as people and tourists were coming back we are asked to self-isolate. We have the highest percentage of people over 60 in NSW, the lowest ratio of children at school and 48% of what’s left in the workforce are casual workers. This new threat is going to hit hard.

The thing I’ve noticed so far is that everyone is talking about the craziness of the toilet paper debacle but few are actually thinking about the impact on themselves. I think we are all trying NOT to think about if the virus hits any of us over 60’s. The pared down Health System that successive Liberal governments have managed is in no shape to deal with us if things get bad. There are simply not enough ventilators so triage is going to be the young first.

It’s starting to feel like times in my youth when I still lived in the after-math of war-torn Europe – no real health services, rationing, limited travel – sound familiar? At least the 50’s and 60’s in Australia taught me that you don’t need luxurious toilet paper nor ready made foods. As someone mentioned in a meme recently, Mr Murdoch and his press provide plenty of reserves for the former – just cut into little squares – and Australia has plenty of fresh food to replace the latter. One can always start a garden.

Unfortunately, no-one can quickly up-scale the health systems. Nor, with the current government, does it look like they will help those most in need – those on government pensions/job start. Also those with no jobs or those who work several part-time jobs will find it difficult as they are likely to be the first to be let go. Big business doesn’t care and small business can’t survive keeping on employees when there is no work.

Oh where is the social welfare system when it’s really needed. Oh yeah, sold off to private industry and dismantled *head slap*.

On a brighter note as I sign off, at least relatives and friends are staying positive. We will have to just battle on for ourselves and again become the “Little Aussie Battlers” – no matter our country of origin.

May interesting times please become less interesting and more predictable – I for one don’t mind a bit of chaos, but this is just a little too much thanks :-(.