Isolation walks

We’re running out of interesting neighborhood to walk in, so we re-visited the ‘posh’ side of the street, and I at least got a few pictures in counter of all the lovely spring photos my N. Hemisphere friends are sharing, including one of a mystery tree full of little seed balls that make it look festive:

I have no idea what kind of tree it is, but now that I’ve noticed it, I’ve seen one or two on a few streets around me.

One of the prettier streets at the moment:

How the 1% live; I included it only because the blue-jacketed guy shamelessly peering through the gates is MT, counting the number of black cars parked in the driveway (6, and they were really all black).

On our way back from our last walk, we cut through the park, checking on a few trees we discovered several weeks ago.  They’re peppercorn trees, and they grow everywhere here, something else I only recently discovered on these walks.  After doing a LOT of research to make sure they were the edible peppercorns, not the toxic ones, we picked our first batch:

They don’t look like much, but they smell divine.  Once they’re finished drying out, I’ll de-husk them and we’ll have a go at grinding them up; there’s debate on whether or not they grind in a mill well – we may have to pull out the mortar and pestle.  Either way – I love the idea of a fresh supply of peppercorns; it’s an unexpected bonus to these local walks.

Pandemic walks / bird of the day

MT and I did another neighborhood circuit a couple of days ago, this time going across the road to the ‘posh’ side of our neighborhood (and it’s seriously posh, with houses big enough to fit ours in their mudroom.  I brought the wrong camera with me, so I didn’t get any examples.  But we did come across a bird I haven’t seen in our area before.  The crested pigeon is a common bird, and I’ve seen it on the other side of town, but never near us.  I always smile when I see them, because they look a bit alternative, with the head-gear, their prismatic colouring, and their perpetually startled expressions.


Comfort food, or Interpretive Hot Cross Buns

Everybody’s killing time in the kitchen during the self-isolation, and while I do everything I can to avoid cooking, I can occasionally be moved to bake.

There’s a french patisserie on our shopping street that makes something they call a Viennese, but I call brioche with chocolate chips (they get very irritated about it too) and I woke up this morning wanting one.  Thinking it was Saturday, I thought I might be able to con MT into getting me one on his way back from his pilates (1-on-1 and medically necessary).  This backfired on two fronts:  it’s Friday, and everything is well and truly shut because it’s Good Friday.

So then I thought, the next best thing might be chocolate chip bread, and I have a bread machine.  So I googled, and I found this recipe.  3 hours later I had a loaf shaped nirvana.  Seriously, it’s amazing.  Even MT has been sneaking slices and he usually isn’t moved by baked goods.  He says it tastes like hot cross buns, which makes this the first time I’ve ever been prepared for a holiday, even if accidentally.

Did I mention it has cinnamon in it?  No?  It does.  I doubt this will make it through the night.

What qualifies for good news in a pandemic

If you read my last post, you know MT and I have been living our own version of a suspense novel (1 star – totally rubbish plot), waiting to find out about a government response to leases and rentals.

We finally heard from the Prime Idiot a few days ago, and after spending 4 minutes thanking everyone in the government like he was accepting a damn academy award, he finally, finally put us out of our misery.  A ‘Code of Conduct’ is to be legislated that says commercial landlords must lower rents proportional to lost revenue, with half the difference being waived, and half being deferred, with the deferment being spread out out over the remainder of the lease.  I have never been so happy to be 6 months into a 5 year lease.  This will save the business and the jobs of 4 men.  The legislation still has to be finalised, on a state-by-state basis, so curveballs are still possible, but if they adhere to the basics we should be ok.  Of course, if they do stick with what Morrison announced, I’m going to have to stop calling him the prime idiot, because I’m painfully aware that this is far more generous than what a lot of countries are offering to business owners.

We also got re-stocked with TP yesterday when our tri-annual subscription arrived.  Which sounds a little weird, but not as weird as when I say it’s from a company called ‘Who Gives a Crap’.  Half their profits go towards building sanitary toilets in under-developed areas of the world, and I don’t mind the bamboo roll.  You can buy it in the grocery stores, but they offer a discount if you buy direct, and a further discount if you ‘subscribe’, which is how we ended up getting a box of 48 rolls of TP delivered to MT’s office 3 times a year.  This used to be a big joke, because, as you can see in the pics below, there’s no hiding what’s being delivered:

Now that we’re still in the midst of the Great TP Panic of 2020, I’m the one laughing (and sharing TP with anyone caught short).  We don’t have space to store it, so we toss it in the attic.

By the way, anyone in the UK or USA who’s interested, they sell there too.  Because people have lost their minds over TP, the Australian website, at least, has everything marked as sold out so they can continue to fulfil standing orders – not sure about US / UK availability though.

It was also announced this week that schools will remain shut for term 2, which is a relief for me as it alleviates my misplaced guilt about not being able to leave home to work.

So all in all, a weirdly ‘good’ week.   All things being relative.

Lockdown walks / #stayathome bird of the day

I’m taking Mike’s excellent lockdown walk suggestion and folding it into my intermittent bird of the day post.

My neighborhood is nice, and we like it a lot, but it’s definitely not Bath, but there are a few gorgeous gardens, and I passed this unbelievable Hibiscus bush, the size of which I’ve never seen the equivalent of, even in Florida.  The picture only captures what’s overhanging the fence – I can’t even imagine what it looks like on the inside.

And peeking out of the center is a Little Wattle Bird (which is only little relative to its cousins the Red Wattle Bird and the Yellow Wattle Bird):

He blends pretty well, until he opens his beak, then he sounds like an angry Pterodactyl.

The cracks are beginning to show …

Archived from BookLikes.  Keeping for posterity.


(This is a covid 19 venting session – likely the only one I’ll make, so it’s long – so please, if you’ve had it up to your eyeballs with this stuff, skip this post; the catharsis is in the writing of it.)  –mbd

So how is everybody doing so far?  It’s sort of a rhetorical question, because I’ve seen beautiful, creative posts from most of my BookLikes friends, which leads me to believe people are coping well, but it’s sort of not a rhetorical question, because my BookLikes friends are generally anything but the sort to ‘let it all hang out’.  So I ask – how is everybody doing so far?

We’re coping here, but honestly, not as well as we could be.  The Australian government’s concern about the health of its constituency has finally caught up with its concern about the economy, and the entire country is under lockdown – only don’t call it a lockdown because that would be bad for the economy.

Australia has 7 states and territories, and every one of them has closed their borders to everyone, including other Australians, except for Victoria and New South Wales.  Attempting to close our borders would be futile at best and as we’re already the hardest hit states, why bother?  One state, Western Australia (it’s a big state) has gone a step further and closed regional borders within the state as well.

When all this is over it will be academically interesting to witness the constitutional fallout of the interstate border closures, but in the here and now, it’s a necessary thing.  People continue to flout the lockdown rules and the governments are terrified about the upcoming Easter Weekend, as it’s generally a big travel weekend and a LOT of people seem disinclined to cancel their plans.  Idiots.

In the normal course of things, I’m such a big introvert that this self-isolation wouldn’t even be a blip on my radar, but as some of you know, MT owns his own printing business in the city.  It’s small, only employing 4 other guys, but it’s been a solid, going concern for almost 50 years (his father started it, of course).  Once the closures started happening, his business evaporated by about 80%.  So we’ve been super-stressed about, well, everything.

After what felt like a lot of heel dragging from the government, but which was only a week, they announced a wage subsidy program, which was a massive relief, as it means we don’t have to let anybody go.  But we’re still waiting to hear what – if anything – they’re going to do about rent subsidies because we could very well make it through this only to lose everything on the other side.  The landlord for the building MT is in is disinterested in doing anything that will cost them money, but they’ve made the ‘generous’ offer of a 50% reduction in rent for 3-6 months, but after the crises, he’ll have to pay 150% rent monthly for an equal number of months.

Now I don’t normally share personal things, so I’ll just say the normal rent is a 5 figure number.  150% is a much bigger one – and why anybody would think it’s going to be possible to bounce back that fast is beyond my comprehension.  So the stress factor is still huge.

I want to make sure to keep this in perspective:  we have a couple of very, very fortunate aces up our sleeves, that we could use if we really have to, but they come with a risk of putting us in a vulnerable position further on down the road.  We’ll use them if we have to, but in this house, we’re on tenterhooks for the government to come out with a legislative plan for rental moratoriums.  Which they’ve been swearing they’re going to release ‘in the next three days’ for the last 10 days.

All of this isn’t much different from what anybody else is going through, and still better than what a lot of people are facing, but the first-world-problem result is that I’ve had a legit reason to stay at home for the last 3 weeks and haven’t enjoyed a second of it.  No projects, no crafts, only 2 books, no games, because I’m too glued to the damn news feed, waiting to find out how relatively screwed we are.  Which leaves me feeling rather bitter.  And the immersion into the newsfeed has made it starkly clear how much the government is lying to everyone about their testing stats in relation to the rest of the world (verifiable – can nobody in the government google??), which has left me rage-y.  It takes a lot to tip me over, but the Aussie government’s bragadaccio about having ‘the best testing rates in the world’ has just pushed me right off the rage cliff.  (AU: 1% of population; Iceland: 5% of population).

I’ve taken steps – weaning myself off the newsfeed for several hours at a time, starting a jigsaw puzzle, digging through my TBR for the truly escapist reads.  I’m hoping that once the government gets around to announcing rental policies, I’ll be able to take a deep breath, make a plan, and finally, step back and immerse myself in the joys of isolation.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for allowing me to vent – the downside of isolation is that you have so few outlets for venting, and let me tell you, the cats are not sympathetic, and the chickens only want to know if I have any mealworms (their personal chocolate).

Stay safe and stay home everyone.  🙂

#stayathome pets Sunday, 5 April

Carlito is keeping himself busy:

And in my last post, showing Easter-cat’s possession of the bean bag, BrokenTune likened it to a throne.  The next day, Easter-cat decided to go full-on monarchy:

(Her ‘off with their ‘eads!’ expression is rather lacking here because there was a thunderstorm raging when this picture was taken.  Our fearless queen hates storms.)