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:

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.

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:

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.

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.


Just Because:

Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean . VC

It is 78 years to the day that Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean went down with the HMAS Armidale during World War 2. His courageous actions on that day will be recognised with the awarding of the Victoria Cross posthumously at a function at Government House this morning.

You can hear the last surviving serviceman from HMAS Armidale, Dr Ray Leonard, talk about the sinking of the Armidale and young Teddy here :

You can watch the presentation here :

Later this afternoon Teddy Sheean will be commemorated at the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

Fully expecting it to be a teary day in front of the tele ………

Lest We Forget.

Visiting Beaudesert, S E Qld

With all travel plans flying out the window this year we have continued with our short trips away to places close to home yet previously unexplored. The benefits are numerous :

  • Provides stimulation. I tend to go feral when bored. It’s a Gemini thing.
  • Provides an opportunity to learn more about my own country.
  • Provides an opportunity to drop a few funds in a community that may be doing it tough
  • Provides an opportunity to pick up a possum tea cosy.

Beaudesert is 90 kms southwest of Brisbane making it an easy destination for day-trippers for those from Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Located on the Mt Lindesay Highway, the area sources its income predominantly from rural activities such as cropping, grazing and equine activities. 

The township boasts several heritage-listed sites including the Beaudesert War Memorial in William Street and the Racecourse and Grandstand on Beaudesert-Boonah Road.

Under normal circumstances, Brisbanites tend to drive straight through Beaudesert. I was meant to attend a Charity Race Meeting a couple of years back but consistent rain flooded the track which meant the horse racing was cancelled and replaced by pig races. I didn’t bother.

We used Beaudesert as a base camp to investigate some of the surrounding smaller areas such as Rathdowney. The terrain, after a little rain, with its winding creeks and Eucalypts is just lovely and is known as Thoroughbred Country with all its horse studs.

We visited the Beaudesert RSL ( Returned Services League, more affectionately the Rissole) for a beaut lunch and again later that evening for a Share Plate and something chilled in front of the footie which was appropriate for November the 11th.

There was also an interesting exhibition in the main street highlighting the local indigenous families who had contributed to the war effort in times past.

My favourite spot in town is the Information and Arts Centre where the Devonshire Tea with homemade scones overlooking local parkland was perfect. I also finished my Christmas shopping. No doubt there will be a rush on tea cosies.

One for Baby Kilometres for Xmas
And one for me.

Remembrance Day 2020

Rupert McCall said “I wrote this poem at the request of a Dad who lost his boy in Afghanistan… The honour of his request had me compelled to mention every Australian son, brother, husband, father & mate who didn’t make it home from that war… or who did… but couldn’t escape from it on home soil. Look at their faces. Please don’t ever forget them…”


Rupert McCall is an Australian poet of international renown. His tributes to special events and occasions have become highly sought-after and treasured for the indelible mark they’ve left on audiences everywhere.

In many sectors, Rupert McCall has become the poet of our generation. In 2005 he was awarded the honour of opening the Prelude to the Dawn Service in Gallipoli with his acclaimed and moving tribute NINETY YEARS AGO and in 2011, he recited his poem A FIREFIGHTER’S DREAM at Ground Zero for the New York Fire Dept on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.

In 2013 as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Rupert received a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for services to the community, particularly as a poet.

Ode Courtesy of You Tube

Back To The Flicks At Last

First visit to the cinema since the arrival of Covid 19. That in itself was a treat.

Never Too Late is an Australian movie which features a fine cast of main characters with the average age of 73 : Jack Thompson, Jacki Weaver, Dennis Waterman, James Cromwell, and Roy Billing. They are all residents of a War Veteran’s Retirement Home having served in Vietnam, Weaver as a Nurse, with various age related ailments.

In Vietnam the virile young lads were in the SAS together, and prisoners of war, who escaped. The plot of Never Too Late has the old boys making plans to escape the Home, for one last hoorah : a day at the football with a son, a marriage proposal 50 years later, and to sail into the sunset.

Yes, it’s predictable. Yes, there are major plot holes. Just go with it.

These veteran actors work well together and you know what I liked ? Now that they’ve all reached their sunset years no-one tried to out act the other. Team work – their lack of vitality meant that they had to bounce off each other for it to work. Though why Waterman continues to play the womaniser I just don’t get. Never have. If ever a bloke deserved a drink spilled over his head in a pub it would be him surely. Am I right, girls?

Courtesy of You Tube

It’s a pleasant little movie : no car crashes, no robots, no nudity – well except for Thompson who’s character suffers Dementia and forgets to wear pants. It is also a reminder that though the body might at times fail us as we age we don’t necessarily lose our feistiness. Those under fifty years of age will have no interest and that’s okay. I’ve never watched Frozen.

The reviews have not been overly kind. Again, just go with it. This is an easy way to lose 110 minutes in air conditioned comfort. The humour is very ocker so Boo-Bloody-Hoo to the yanks who don’t like and to the reviewer who complained because in real life there were no Australian POWs in Vietnam, guess what ? Skippy was just a flea bitten marsupial and elephants don’t really do ballet in tutus.

Filmed in South Australia there are some lovely shots of the bay at Glenelg and beautiful Adelaide.

Stars out of five for Tear Duct Action : 2

And the coffee was good too. Never underestimate the coffee.

This Week In Books (Spring)

The old bod is a little under the weather with all the Spring Cleaning taking place. Simply crashing when I hit the sack. The pile of books beside my bed just continues to grow……. ( Note that the wretched Hilary Mantel just keeps moving to the bottom of the pile. I tell you : it’s killing me). This one was gifted to me by a girlfriend from the other side of the country.

Thank you Teneille. Next on the list.

A few months back my daughter in Canberra visited the Australian War Memorial as she is want to do regularly as it is near her favourite *cough* wine bar. Yeah, ok, her mother’s daughter. ….She sent me some Poppy Seeds for planting, both Red and Purple (for the animals). No success with the red as per usual though signs of a good showing of the purple for Remembrance Day.

Thanks Cat Balou

Year 12 Exams have finished, there is an abundance of Driving Schools on the road with their pimpley clientele, and the young things are a tad hormonal with the freedom and spring weather. It appears they had a wild night at the Local Community Library as I spotted half a dozen novels in the creek. Literally. I have taken to making my visits armed with a gold club – to fight off the swooping magpies of course.

Spring also means Spiders. What I think about spiders cannot be repeated here.

Not into Romance Novels or Chook Lit ( Aussie romance in a rural setting generally including chickens ) though have read my fair share lately thanks to Covid Brain. Thought this map was a clever marketing strategy combining books with travel. What do you think?

Happy Weekend Peeps. Queenslanders, remember to vote, and the rest of my mob, watch out for those ghastly arachnids. Everyone else, remember:

Hay Bales At Kalbar, S E Qld

Another glorious Spring weekend made it perfect for a day trip out to a rural community.

Where did we go?

Kalbar, in the Scenic Rim, about an hour and a half drive south west of Brisbane and located in the Fassifern Valley, which is an area with high yields of pumpkin and carrots.

Kalbar Country Day has been an annual event since 1991 with its most prominent feature being Hay Bale Sculptures around the township with families and community organisations competing for the title of Best Hay Bale voted upon by the public. Last years event was cancelled as the drought meant that hay was in short supply and far too expensive.

So the city slickers flocked to Kalbar, population of around 1000, to support their country cousins, and to follow the trail of 81 colourful Hay Bales.

There was a Bush Poets Breakfast, carrot tossing competition, vintage car display and the main street was closed for market stalls which were offering mostly produce from the SEQ corner. Of course I came away with a pumpkin or two!

A lot of the old Queenslanders  (homesteads) are undergoing renovation and it seemed to me to be a popular destination for those chasing a Tree Change. Good luck to them………


How can you tell when you’re in a country town?

The Window Displays feature straw hats and whips.