Covert COVID weekend

Social isolation is not an act of fear; it’s an act of love. Slow the spread.

I like alliteration. Hence the blog post title. And my weekend was covert in that I was not out and openly on display.

Here’s how I spent my weekend, minimising social contact.

1. Sleeping. I was exhausted. What a week! (I may post on it in the future.) I had a few naps. Heaven.

2. Catching up on my blog reading. Almost done. Just need to use my laptop to read ones on Blogger.

3. Mending a pair of shorts. Three, all three, buttons on the one pair of shorts came off. One on the front – kind of important to stop the shorts falling down. This was the last button to fall off. The other two were from the back pockets. I lost them. I really didn’t care that they’d fallen off. But when the one that made wearing of the shorts possible, that one needed to be sown back on or the shorts were useless. So I sewed that one on. And found two blue buttons that would do perfectly for the back pockets. I won’t imagine needing these shorts until next summer, but I feel a sense of virtuousness.

4. Bushwalking. After reading Nathan’s blog, I decided to venture out for a short exploration. I was soundly rewarded with sighting a TORTOISE IN THE WILD.

OK, not the wild. The edge of a bit of wilderness, 50 metres from the road of the suburb. But who would guess a tortoise could live in water that must have so much urban run-off.

The short walk led us through massive blue gums. We didn’t see such tall trees in Europe.

We enjoyed ourselves so much, we ventured out again on Sunday for a different section of the walk.

I love how this gum looks like it is melting over this rock, like a blog of melted plastic or fat.

5. Cleaning. Blah. Washed sheets and clothes and the floor. Recently, I’ve started wiping over high touch stops, like light switches and door and cupboard handles with diluted bleach. (You know why.) I also did two-fifths of the back French doors.

6. Some work emailing and an online course about COVID here

And in non-covert action, I popped it to the supermarket. No panic buying. Just out normal shop which we’ve been avoiding for months.

Packing for a week in Japan

My trip calls for several days of business wear and several days of casual wear.

The weather will range from 10 to 16°, maybe even 17°, in the day with sunny and rainy days. It’ll be down to 2° overnight, though I’ll be tucked in bed then. It’s meant to be winter but global warming, which RWNJs say doesn’t exist, is giving Japan a warm winter.

I need shoes I can walk in and slip on and off easily for when visiting shrines and the like. I need shoes that look businessy but that I stay the whole day in. (Side bar: at the end of the day at work, I’ve been known to walk around the office in bare feet. Can’t do that in Japan.)

I need comfy clothes for the 10 hour flight and then be able to hit the road with a day’s worth of activity.

It’s summer here, so I have to check out my cold weather clothes. Blurgh!

Add in I find cold countries overheat indoors…

Not so easy to pack for!

I will wear 7/8 pants with a t-shirt to the airport with slip on sketchers. My feet and ankles swell terribly On flights so I put on some glamorous white post-surgery long socks when I’m seated. On arrival in Tokyo I will put on knee-high stockings and then pop the sketchers back on. Bam, turns my 7/8 pants into a long look with all flesh covered. I am taking a coat, gloves, polar fleece jacket, poncho and hat on plane. Will help me cope with the vagaries of temperature on the plane and meet the cold of 6am at Tokyo. And the changing weather of the day.

The coat will be my main coat for the week. I was going to toss this coat in Germany. It’s past it’s prime – worn and with a tear in the lining. But I’m glad I didn’t. It may even come on it’s second trip to England.

Here’s the coat and hat in Hampton Court in 2015.

I’ve packed a skirt and two tops and a dress for the business wear. A little black cardie to go over inside. The poncho also looks good over the dress. Both the skirt and dress will be worn with tights and ankle boots (the best ever boots I bought at Liberty’s in London five years ago. Haven’t seen any since as well made and comfy and stylish.) For the reception dinner I will swap the boots for a pair of kitten heels.

The casual days will be black jeans and t-shirts. Either with a rugby jersey or the polar fleece. And either the coat or a rain jacket – the one I bought to take to Germany and wore a lot there.

I’m being a little optimistic – in terms of time and my choices – but I’m packing some shorts in case I go to a gym in one or all of the hotels for a workout. I might throw in my cosies for a swim! Will check out the hotels first. Of course, I won’t need cosies if I brave the Japanese bath.

Then there’s makeup and jewellery. When travelling overseas I tend to wear three silver bangles and take one necklace and one set of earrings. Easy to remember to grab them every day. I have a morning “check off” when I leave my accommodation – passport, wallet, phone and bangles. Those four things and I am good. Everything else can be replaced or aren’t really needed.

I like the look of long boots but really, they take up too much space in luggage. I tend to over pack shoes – this time I am throwing in a pair of thongs and ballet flats. You never know if you want to quickly run out of your room to grab something and can’t be bothered with shoes and socks or heels.

Last thing: tea bags. I like s nice cup of tea in the morning and can’t be trusting other interpretations of what that means.

Allergy? Head cold? Reflux? Virus? Isolation?

I started feeling a little ill last weekend.

The worst reflux I’ve ever had. Nausea. Funny tummy. Then my throat started burning from the reflux.

Old woman’s disease, I call it.

Thank goodness for drugs. But while the Nexium cured the reflux, once it’s burnt my throat, the cough takes longer to settle down.

A couple of days later, my eyes started watering. And oh no! Not vampire eyes again! No, not as bad. Yes, I wore the eyeshadow I suspected of causing the reaction last time. But then the shrub that sets me off was flowering again so I am not really positive as to what caused my eyes to go red.

Then my ears felt full of water. And my sinuses were tender. Then my nose kicked in. (Maybe it’s not the poor eyeshadow that keeps getting blamed.)

Oh no! I’m off to Japan. I can’t be coughing and spluttering and dripping.

Besides the fact they just don’t like people coughing in public, I don’t want to be carted off in this current virus scare.

So I went off to the doctor. No temperature. That’s a relief. Imagine being carted off into isolation just as the plane touched down!

Dr: Throat’s a bit red.

Me: Well, that’d be the coughing.

Doctor: Some fluid in the and sinuses tender. Ever done a nasal wash?

Me: No, because I’m a wuss.

Doctor: OK, try a nasal spray. Take a Claratyn and paracetamol at night. Should be fine to fly. And symptoms should clear by Sunday. Come back if you feel worse.

Twelve hours later and the anti-histamine and nasal spray have kicked in.

Got an email from the trip organisers. They will be supplying us with face masks which we must wear at the schools we are visiting.

Please, please don’t let me react to anything in the air in Japan. I’ve become more reactive and cough at things as I age. It seems to have become worse since the weeks/months of smoke haze we had last year. Strong perfumes. Air sprays. Hair sprays. All tickle my throat. And once I start coughing my lungs become irritated and won’t settle. I can cough until I nearly throw up.

Think I’m going to take a bag of drugs – Ventolin, Nasonex, Claratyne, the magic codeine cough syrup, Nexium. And some pills to help me sleep on the plane.

Oh the joys of getting older. I never had anything like this five, ten years ago.

It’s not what I thought it would be

What sort of book would you expect from this cover?

A child’s fantasy tale? At over 200 pages, it isn’t a picture book and not a quick read.

If I told you it was The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, and you’d vaguely heard of the novel, like me, you might think it a tale similar to Wind in the Willows.

The blurb lets you know that the central character is a chimney-sweep who runs away and falls asleep in a stream. Thereby becoming a Water Baby.

Okay, so maybe Kingsley was a social reformer, railing against child labour?

Sort of. He is also a racist. The descriptions of Irish are unbelievably shocking. Kingsley doesn’t seem to mind Scots, but the Irish! Oh no! Doesn’t like the American either. Disparages republican and equality. Mr S says the book is of its time – the 1860s. Maybe.

But then there’s the violence.

A bird who stands up for herself is pecked to death by the mob. The mob of birds then find a dead dog which they then start eating. But they all fall down dead as a gamekeeper has stuffed the dog with strychnine to kill predators.

As a young child, my sister had an old copy of this book and I am sure I remember her loving it. She confirmed she did love it but can’t remember why. I am going to send it to her. She’s a real SWJ, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense. She’ll probably be aghast that she liked it, or at least at a loss to work out why she missed all the racism.

Even if it was of its time, that it is published now with a cover aimed at under 12s is just wrong. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be published, though I think it’s literary merit is also lacking, just that the audience isn’t what it is aimed at.

So why did I persevere when I have a new rule to stop if it is not appealing? I admit to skimming quite a bit, but without that it was a quick read anyway. And I felt it was one of those books I had to find out why it had persisted and why my sister loved it.

Have you read it? If as a child, do you remember it? Any child or young adult book you’ve revisited and revised your previous view?

A post in which Lucinda confesses: I killed it

A colleague, on seeing a birthday gift I just gave to another colleague, said, “You give thoughtful gifts. You really put thought to match the gift to the person.”

I blurted out, “I killed the bonsai you gave me.”

Where’d that confession come from?

I’d been holding the secret in for two weeks. I wasn’t going to tell her. I mean she didn’t need to know, I could lie when she asked how it was. But I felt a little guilty whenever I saw her. And then when she said I was thoughtful, I couldn’t hold the deceit in.

“I’m not thoughtful. It’s dead.”

“What? Why? That plant was expensive.”

“Well, I went to America. It was hot here. And although I asked my son to water the pot plants, he didn’t think I meant that one. He didn’t realise it was actually a plant.”

“Maybe it’s not dead. Bring it in and I could help it recover. Maybe it’s just lost its leaves!”

“No. It’s definitely dead.” And then to deflect from my evilness and lack of thought, I projected onto the birthday girl who just got the gift from me and who also received a bonsai at Christmas. “How’s your bonsai?” (I knew it wasn’t well. The three bonsai recipients had texted each other in January about the difficulties in caring for a bonsai.) Birthday girl grimaced and said it was poorly and her mother was going to try to nurse it back to health.

Bonsai-giver then said I should have left the plant with her when I went to the States. (Baby sitting bonsai? Do people do that? And what about all my other travelling? Would I drive across Sydney to drop off my bonsai?)

Then she suggested if I brought in the pot, she’d put another plant. No, probably not a good idea, no thanks, I’d probably just kill that one.

So that’s when I admitted the three bonsai recipients had a competition to see whose died first and I’d won.

Walking away, I didn’t feel thoughtful at all. But relieved the truth was out. And I no longer had to care about the bonsai.

So, readers, when you give a gift, do you give it with expectations? Do you still feel a connection to the gift?Do you care if the recipient tosses, regifts, kills, bins, stores in a cupboard never-to-be-seen the gift? Do you ask how the gift is going? Should I have kept quiet and lied when asked about the bonsai? (I admit I wasn’t asked but may have been at a different time and was dreading being asked.) Also, is it thoughtful to give a gift that comes with work, possibly expertise, without knowing if the person has that skill? Are you disappointed if a recipient doesn’t continue to care for a gift?

It’s not how I remember it

When I was little ( I have no more specific time than that, but probably before 12), a lush, fragrant bubble bath came on the market.

Badedas. So green!

It seemed exotic. It spoke of evergreen forests, the pine kind not our dry eucalyptus kind. The scent was adult, not childlike. The ads were titalatingly adult too.

It seemed to me both German and Scandinavian. My German aunt liked it, (but then she liked everything German; even if she didn’t really like the item, she’d convince herself she did).

It has long stopped being sold in Australia and only what I perceived as the poor man’s Badedas, Norsca, was available. Norsca just didn’t have the notes I remembered, I longed for.

So when in Germany I looked for a bottle. Found it in large cosmetics shop. I was initially disappointed. Made by Unilever! The global maker of all manner of cheap stuff. Not a European bespoke cosmetic!

It was also so cheap. A few euros. My husband encouraged me to buy two bottles.

I was content with one. We were returning to summer – not my season of regular bubble baths and the bottle is huge. It’d last me a while.

I had a bubble bath with it last month. And as the post title suggests, the bubble bath wasn’t all I’d built up in my mind.

Actually, if I’m being honest, it kind of reminds me of floor cleaner. Pinoclean!

A bit cheap. A bit overpoweringly not lush at all.

My son came home after I had my bubble bath and asked if I’d been burning incense. He didn’t ask in an approvingly way. So he is not a fan of the scent either.

I used it again yesterday after yard work. Didn’t put as much in but still not a fan.

Is there anything you sought out as an adult, having had fond memories from childhood, only to find it wasn’t as you remembered?

PS: I’ve hidden the bottle of Badedas away in the bathroom cabinet. I may use it when desperate. The other two will stay on the shelf.

Be my Valentine

We didn’t used to celebrate St Valentines Day.

We don’t subscribe to a consumerist view of love. (Though, of course, I like nice stuff.)

We don’t believe in celebrating our love on a set day just because someone says this is the day to do so. (Though we’ve always celebrated other arbitrary days, such as Christmas.)

One year, Mr S got sick of answering “What have you bought your wife for Valentine’s Day?” I think it may have coincided with a rose selling fundraiser students at his school were doing. So he bought me roses and two huge bottles of expensive champagne.

Then it morphed into oysters and champagne every year – once Mr S has a habit, he can’t break it.

This year, I thought I’d rock things up. Before Christmas, I bought Christmas M’n’Ms – red and green – and separated them for Valentines and St Patrick’s Days. I also bought some mini sweetheart lollies in America to put out. How’s that for forward planning?

I got home from work early and decorated the dining table. Sprinkled the table with red and silver hearts and the mini sweet hearts, put out a couple of heart containers, red candles and fairy lights I nicked from my mum’s. (Every time I go there I always take something.) That big red thing folds up and looks like half a heart. It was sold as a Valentine’s Day decoration. When it is opened, it looks nothing like a heart, so I used it upside down to hide the fairy light batteries

Nearly forgot the red M’n’Ms which I had hidden to protect from sons.

I also nearly forgot that I bought a Valentine stubby holder.

I ate my oysters. Mr S ate prawns. Then we sat on the front porch, on the most beautiful Friday afternoon and evening, drinking sparkling wine.

I will save the champers for another day.