Pandemic Dreaming Is A Thing

According to psychologists since COVID-19 pandemic swept around the world people have reported unusually active dream lives. Collectively we are remembering more dreams than usual, and those dreams are especially vivid and bizarre.

I’ve always been one to dream in technicolour. Wonderful, wild dreams that I swear I must remember because the movie or book version would be a blockbuster. Some dreams are so exciting that I’ll float along with Part 1 of a storyline and finish Part 2 the next night. A bit like Intermission in Gone With The Wind but without the ice cream.

Which is where my dreams have changed over these past twelve months. Still vivid and exciting though now always book or movie related. It’s like waking up each morning to a trivia quiz : now where did that one come from?

For example, last weekend (spent in Lockdown) I had a busy evening racing around the perimeter of my house block on a motor bike, hurtling over the occasional barbed wire fence. Yep, I was a female version of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. I’ve also cooked venison over a fire pit in Sherwood Forest, and with all this mask wearing business I even featured in a movie remake about bank robberies : Bonnie and Clyde and Brizzy May. I’ve crawled through air conditioning vents after John McClane. And one night I even pushed Rose off that piece of wood in the middle of the Irish Sea. Not even game to mention Rambo……

So this Pandemic Dreaming is a thing. Or am I just losing the plot?

Last nights dream was disturbing. I’de just finished reading a Willie Nelson autobiography. Enjoyed it more than expected : in one ear and out the other. Just what you need when it’s stinking hot with threats coming from all sides. * middle finger to China.

Woke up in a worried state having gained an apprenticeship in hairdressing. Me? Hair salon? Not likely! Anyway, accidentally cut Willie’s braids off. Can I tell you how exhausting it was trying to glue them back on?

Note :

Lost Honeysuckle Rose in the property settlement. Absolutely delighted.

Pandemic Quilt Project

The Greater Brisbane area has just come out of a three day Lockdown albeit with restrictions. Having been flat chat for the last month I relished the enforced slow down: movies during the day, toasties for tea and never picked up a broom.

It reminded me once again of all the satisfying projects that came out of Lockdown 2020. ( Don’t look at me like that : stuffing and baking a cauliflower does not qualify as a project apparently).

Back in autumn, when Lockdown was as its strictest, ABC Radio Brisbane put out a call to Queenslanders to contribute a small textile square which would be made into a ‘quarantine quilt’.

The only criteria were that the squares needed to measure a particular size, they should feature joyful and colourful motifs, and they needed to represent people’s isolation experiences during the pandemic, with a focus on what made them happy.

Too easy? Not for this black duck who failed art and sewing and was asked to leave cookery class in High School.

Courtesy of Queensland State Library.

The submitted squares came in by the hundreds.

“Woven into each square are the personal stories of individuals who have not only struggled through life in lockdown, but who have also kept a sense of humour about life in a pandemic. The finished squares, mostly depicting the lives of women around the state, feature everything from going bra-less at home, a plumber doing repairs, gardens, books, cups of tea, jigsaw puzzles, and face masks.”

Once all the squares were collected they were attached to backing thereby constructing the quilt, which is now hanging proudly in the Queensland State Library.

What I really like is that each square includes the details of how it came to be : who created it, how it was created, and what it represents.

Courtesy of Queensland State Library

For more info, including a breakdown of each and every square, go here:

https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/blog/queensland-quarantine-quilt-comes-state-librarys-collection

Considering I neither knit nor crochet I found this fascinating.

Now that’s what I call a PROJECT.

This Week In Books (& A Movie)

The Bird In The Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor

Narrated from two points of view The Bird in the Bamboo Cage is a moving tale that shifts effortlessly from a missionary teacher’s perspective to that of a student in her care. The school in question is located in China and covers the period of the Japanese invasion during WW2 which means that all at the school are incarcerated at Weixian Concentration Camp for the duration.

I found this a fascinating coming of age story and with references to fellow POW and Olympian, Eric Liddell, and the teacher’s constant use of the Baden-Powell Girl Guide Program to maintain order amongst the girls, this historical fiction based on a true story encouraged me to pursue further research.

Heavenly’s Child by Brenda Reid

This is the story of two young women growing up in Crete in the 1960’s and ‘70s, best friends in the midst of challenging times, both politically and socially. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of the different families with their lifestyles in rural Crete of which I was totally ignorant.

This coming of age novel was also my introduction to the political upheavals of Greece during that period. This was fascinating and I need to read more on the topic. TIP : Totally ignore the woosy romance altogether.

And A Movie based on Jane Harper’s The Dry

Released in Australian cinemas on New Years Day THE DRY has taken audiences by storm making it one of the Top 5 Australian movies ever.

It hasn’t rained in Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the farming community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are discovered shot to death on their property. Everyone assumes Luke Hadler committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son.

But is this what really happened?

Great movie and the cinematography captures the landscape beautifully in all its brutal, harsh glory.

Will overseas viewers enjoy? After events earlier this week I’m inclined not to give a rats.

In Recognition of the Xmas Ham

The pile of books at the end of the bed continues to grow. Alarmingly. Blame all the house guests.

I’ve been cooking up a storm these past few weeks. Lots of fresh seafood, all products of Australia. Why would you buy anything else I have to ask?

Today the house walls have stopped shaking and all is quiet. It is eerily still. I keep listening for a baby ‘s cry. So do we put our feet up on the couch and spend the day reading? Not when there is a ham bone waiting to be boiled for the makings of a hearty broth.

Bizarre really. Millions of Aussies whip up batches of Pea and Ham Soup during the hottest and longest days of summer. Waste not, want not. Everything left over in the fridge gets tossed into the mix, even the scrapings from the Vegemite jar.

I’ve been participating in this Ham Soup ritual since very young. I used to help my mother by pushing the vegetables through the old cast iron mouli attached to the kitchen table top.

Some things have changed over time. Our family ham soup had to be so thick that a spoon could stand up in it. My father would insist. My version is thinner and comes with dumplings. Delicious.

Going into hibernation for the next 72 hours. No tv, blinds drawn, and I will survive on toast and tea, weepy movies and some good books.

Bruschetta is essentially toast, right?

The Letterbox Project

Still reflecting on some of the positives that came out of 2020 one of my favourite initiatives is The Letterbox Project.

The Letterbox Project sends handwritten letters from all across Australia to people experiencing isolation and loneliness. They source writers, manage and approve all letters, and deliver them safety to vulnerable people.

The Letterbox Project quickly become a national service supporting tens of thousands of people. With over 13,000 writers they are averaging over 500 letters being sent each week into nursing homes, disability services, and to lonely people across the country. There are over 270 schools participating, and a growing list of large corporations getting involved.

Why did this all come about ?

  1. There are up to 240,000 Australians in residential care and 40% receive no visitors.
  2. 1 in 8 adults with a disability get less than 30 minutes a day interaction with another person.
  3. 2.5 million Australians are not connected to the internet.
  4. There are more than 6,000 young people with disabilities in permanent residential care.
  5. Loneliness and Isolation are major predictors of mental health issues.

For further information about Why see here: https://www.connectedau.com.au/the-letterbox



I signed up early in the piece and have been corresponding with a nonagenarian in a nursing home in Tasmania with a passion for cats. It’s surprisingly difficult to write enthusiastically pages and pages about felines and indeed a handwritten letter takes effort after many years on a word processor. ( as long term victims of my annual Christmas letter will confirm).

This task is rolling over as a 21 project.

A New Year – A New Decade

Haven’t managed to stay up till midnight for over forty years. It’s one of those quirks for being a bright eyed, bushy tailed morning person. 

Don’t set New Year Goals nor Resolutions though I am ruminating about some new projects. Despite being retired I like projects. I have a need to achieve or create. Little things. Little things are okay.

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” – Anais Nin

So let’s share something chilled and wet to bring in the new decade together. Join me at my local waterhole, the Grand View Hotel in Cleveland, Queensland.

Built in 1851 the Grand View was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992. It is well regarded for its views overlooking Moreton Bay to beautiful North Stradbroke Island ( AKA Straddie – because we’re a lazy lot), and its alfresco dining in the beer garden, regularly voted one of the best in the state. The tucker passes muster too.

G.J. Walter Park is situated between the Grand View and Toondah Harbour ( where the ferry terminal carries passengers to Straddie) and is one of Queensland’s oldest parks being gazetted as a public reserve in 1889. 

This area is home to koalas and many bird species that depend on the mangroves and mudflats for survival. Of course this means that it has been targeted by Developers for the construction of 3600 units and a water park. Apparently this is called progress.

Said farewell to 2020 at lunch with my youngest daughter sitting amongst the frangipanis. She reminded me that I’ve always been one to question progress. Sounds like another project, doesn’t it?

365 new days. 365 new chances.

Cheers!

Another Xmas Read : Golah Sing

Christmas is done and dusted and Boxing Day was just a blur with six loads of washing and a mammoth effort sucking prawn shells up off the floor with the vacuum cleaner. It’s eerily quiet without a baby in the house though I still tend to wake up at 2 am to check if he’s still breathing. Baby’s mother is 34 today. That about indicates the length of time between nappies and projectile vomiting in my home.

My other Christmas read has been an anthology of award-winning short stories submitted to the Stringybark Times Past Writing Competition where writers were asked to take a particular historical incident and weave a story around it. What’s not to enjoy? Australian historical fiction in short bursts which I could manage between food prep, fridge maintenance, and entertaining an 11 week old with healthy lungs. (It’s been a long time between screaming too.)

Perhaps the reason behind my enjoyment of these short stories is that several have piqued my interest enough to research further. There is a 1500 word story about WW2 Nurse Vivian Bullwinkel who survived the sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke by the Japanese and was only one of three (including two soldiers) who survived the Bangka Island Massacre. Fascinating reading.

Another covers a train crash in Victoria which I’de never heard of and Torres Strait At War introduces readers to a battalion formed during WW2 of up to 800 men, infantry and pioneers, from inhabitants of all the Torres Strait Islands and their subsequent treatment by the Government.

Golah Sing is great reading. Just wish retirement actually allowed for more research time.

Santa was particularly thoughtful this year with a face mask for the Pandemic with an Errol Flynn theme. Now ain’t that the way to a girls heart…..

Xmas Reading : Honeybee by Craig Silvey

If you’re up for one of those emotional rollercoaster reads add this one to your Must Read List.

14 year old Sam is about to commit suicide when his eyes lock with an old man smoking a cigarette contemplating the same thing. Basically, five pages in and I nearly gave this a miss. Just too bleak for Christmas reading and why I avoid watching It’s A Wonderful Life.

Sam takes us on a journey of the disenfranchised and dysfunctional. It’s raw and tragic, though despite all the ugliness Sam has been watching Julia Childs’ cooking show since a really young age and he is passionate about his love of preparing food for people.

Yep, we were due a little light at the end of the tunnel………

Despite the depressing events that occur in Sam’s life – which include but are not limited to drugs, sex, violence, firearms, robbery, animal torture and bullying – he develops a strong friendship with old Vic who advises him to “Find out who you are, and live that life”.

You see, Sam is also transgender.

This coming of age novel is written with sensitivity and tenderness. Although a topic that I would generally choose to stay away from it was both eyeopening and educational in a tender hearted way.

There has been controversy in that the Australian author, whose previously released novel Jasper Jones is considered a contemporary classic, should not have written this book on the basis that he is a *cis man. So murder mysteries should only be written by those who stab someone to death or commit a heinous crime? Lighten up people. I would think that Honeybee would be of help to those youngsters struggling with identity issues.

Made me laugh, made me a little teary, and made me wish I had watched Julia Childs.

* Had to look it up :- Cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth is a cisgender woman. The term cisgender is the opposite of the word transgender. Related terms include cissexism and cisnormativity.Wikipedia

Christmas Flick Faves

Winding down with less commitments and a party atmosphere means it’s time to turn to movies with a Christmas theme to see us through those hot summer nights – just as soon as this cyclonic rainfall ceases of course.

Here are my faves :

Die Hard (1988) which requires no explanation.

We’re No Angels (1955)

A fun flick starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov ( who makes me feel uncomfortable when he’s not wearing a toga). This hapless trio of prison escapees intend to start a new life with funds stolen from an unlikely business man and his family. Instead, the lads end up cooking Christmas dinner and saving the family from ruination with the aid of a pet snake.

Never Say Goodbye (1946)

Errol Flynn, Eleanor Parker and Forrest Tucker contribute to the fun and mayhem of this movie. Critics mauled it of course, though it’s light and shows Errol at his comedic best. Just love the Bogart spoof ! Errol and Eleanor are splitsville though Tucker arriving on the scene as a thick as a brick marine eventually reunites them.

Expecting to be told that I don’t watch any current movies. Dead Wrong. I clearly remember going to see The Muppet Christmas Carol.

My house is full for the duration so I will away to clean it in preparation. Enjoy your holiday season, whatever these strange times may bring, and hold tight those for whom you care. Remember, if the Doctor has advised you to include more fruit and vegetables in your diet Lychees and/or Mango in your champagne is acceptable. Salute!

Some Bookish Gossip

Excited! Excited!Excited!

Words Out West is a Readers and Writers Festival based in the Western Downs area of Queensland sponsored by the Western Downs Libraries. March 2021 will see a line up of writers, illustrators, educators and musicians do presentations in a variety of venues including country pubs.

Never been to Watta. No idea where it is, but I’d kill to be able to tell people that I had a Parmi at the pub with Shane Webcke.

Pyjama Angels:

The Pyjama Foundation works with Foster families across Australia with a learning-based mentoring program called Love Of Learning Program.

Essentially this means that trained volunteers known as Pyjama Angels are matched with a foster child in care and meet with that child for an hour and a half each week to read books aloud, practise numeracy skills and play educational games.

So far, Pyjama Angels are averaging 

  • 101,000 books read to children each year
  • 714 Pyjama Angels trained last year
  • 1,416 children supported each week.

My daughter, who did a ten year stint with Community Services, highly recommends the organisation.

#realheroesdon’twearcapes

Just Because: