A simple poem to commemorate a beautiful rose and a month of contrasts.
A Simple Rose
in fading light
gossamer petals delight
gone on the morrow
fate and folklore entwined
March — Australia creeps toward lockdown. The weather is good but.
Warning: this story contains many bird and nature photos.
It seems an age ago that the smoke of bushfires polluted my lungs and we hunkered down for the summer in our small abode. Then the drought broke and the new corona virus reached our shores, causing chaos and disruption, and threatening to kill a generation. I confess that my summer experience made me hyper-vigilant for danger. Like the virus, my preparations and anxieties gathered momentum as March marched in. Read more
It may come as no surprise to you, ladies and gentlemen, that I am not as clever as I think I am. Now I am in a bit of a pickle corvid-wise. You see, I have a lot of currawong photos that I hoped to share with you for the Corvid-2020 Weekly Challenge, but eek, I’ve discovered after starting this challenge that currawongs are not actually corvids (of the family Corvidae). In fact, the only corvids in Australia are the crows and ravens. Unfortunately, I have limited raven photos. Do you think that the powers-that-be will consider, in these dark Covid-19 times, the scouring of the city for ravens to be an essential activity? I guess we shall find out. I fear I might have to resort to some very bad poetry for this challenge. Read more
It seems an age ago that the aphids were attacking my newly sprouted garlic chives. Now as autumn makes its long anticipated appearance in the temperate areas of Australia, the black aphids are back. This time they are attacking a beautiful succulent that my friend gave me last year. The ants are milking the aphids for honeydew. It is a good system. Read more
I may have too many photos to post, but life’s too short, so I had better get on with it.
Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you. Today I’ve chosen a song for all those Australian public servants who, after being derided for years, are
“to be an essential service which needs to keep working in order to keep Australians safe, and ensure that services are delivered for the Australian people. We [the Australian Public Service] can provide the support our community needs, but it is going to require the contribution of the entire APS. Every public servant who can work, should work.” Australian Public Service Commission Response to ABC News Story, Last Reviewed 26 March 2020
Sounds more like conscription to me than working together. To add insult to injury, repeat ad nauseam, “Delivering for Australians“, the government’s latest reform agenda to make public servants more responsive. Like what on earth were public servants doing before? Be careful, public servants, you’ll be getting a white feather if you don’t cooperate for reasons of sanity, poor health, protecting vulnerable family members, or staying at home to flatten the curve. I’m sure it won’t come to the feather. Commonsense and kindness will prevail, don’t you think? Delivering for Australians means delivering for government employees too. It’s a partnership.
I wish I had a magic tonic/vaccine to protect all those providing essential services. It is a lot to ask of you. It always has been.
Hello Readers, I know we are all busy just trying to stay alive (welcome to the world of many trapped in refugee camps and in poverty), but if you have enough time (and photos, stories, poems in your archive), you may wish to participate in a new weekly challenge. I am calling it the Corvid-2020 Weekly Challenge. No, the virus hasn’t evolved. A corvid is a type of bird. The challenge will come out each Tuesday, all being well (if you know what I mean). Read more
Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you. I hear that singing is good for the lungs. You can do it in the privacy of your own home, in a massed choir, or anywhere really. It is multicultural and multi-generational.
“Please don’t give in to fear, don’t amplify hatred or outrage or racism or disgust. Hold the line as a citizen of the moral community. Think of every tiny way that you can help others every day. And do it.”
Facts first. Act. Sing/Pray.
Anything else is inhumanity.
Dear readers, I’m falling a little behind in responding to comments. I will be with you shortly, but in the meantime, in the interest of toilet paper conservation, here is a song for the ladies.
Covid-19 — a personal view on the Australian response.
It seems I am incredibly naive, I heard several statements relating to the Covid-19 response last night that deeply troubled me.
The first was that there were only 2,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds in Australia (ABC Q&A, 16 March 2020). Hold that thought.
The Australian Government has its Chief Medical Officer stand beside the PM or the Health Minister as if to provide a veil of professionalism and competency regarding its response. And yet, the response has been at best mediocre and at worst ….. Beyond the ban on flights from China into this country, the federal government doesn’t appear to have done anything that was timely or ‘ahead of the curve’ to reduce the infection rate. The federal government spokespeople are quick to tout that one particular measure as decisive government action when questioned.
However, current social distancing measures appear insufficient and impractical. The ludicrous suggestion for those needing to take public transport was to use hand sanitiser. Who has hand sanitiser? Schools will stay open (up to a point) and the risk of infection will be managed through good hand-washing. Some schools don’t even have soap. Have you seen some of the kids toilets? Closing schools before kids have chance to spread the virus around just seems sensible.
Australia is still waiting for practical, preemptive (life-saving) social distancing measures that will make a significant difference in flattening the infection curve. In this respect, we are far behind the curve with the Government unable to plan even 24 hours ahead. Schools and universities are still open. Some temporary closures have been made after the virus has already made its way into those institutions. Unlike the private sector, there does not appear to be a policy to actively promote working from home within federal government agencies, perhaps because government IT systems are not up to the challenge. A certificate from a doctor is often required to access special work from home arrangements. My mother/my partner might die if I give her a virus that I don’t yet have, really doesn’t cut it with the universities, and maybe not with some employers either. To their credit, some government agencies are being flexible.
I must declare a conflict of interest at this point. I have a tiny house and two adult children living at home. We only have one bathroom. I also have a number of chronic health conditions, including Type 1 diabetes. I use an insulin pump that my family don’t know how to operate. Also, I’m no spring chicken. The death rate for diabetics is high. I’m not sure why. It could be because those with diabetes are statistically more likely to have a range of serious health issues like kidney damage, heart disease, etc. Or maybe it is because when push comes to shove and decisions are being made in the hospital system about who should receive life-saving intensive care, having diabetes is a threshold test? I don’t know.
Self-isolation at home, particularly if I am unable to manage my diabetes myself, would be hugely challenging for my family. The alternative, going to hospital, could be deadly.
Personally it would help me immensely if universities suspended classes right now. In six weeks, my son will finish his university course. He is keen to do whatever it takes to finish his degree. So, in the meantime, he is stuck in lecture rooms with two hundred other students and in science laboratories working in small groups. That can’t be good. Who is responsible for making the decision as to when universities should close? If it is a decision by the federal government, they need to explain why this decision has been delayed.
Perhaps it just too big a hit to the economy if schools and universities close down? If we fail to act now, then we are on a trajectory to a major infection crisis cannot be avoided. The countries that have done best at flattening the infection curve are those that have engaged in widespread testing and introduced extensive social distancing measures. So far it has been a paltry effort in Australia, and with only 2000 ICU beds nationwide and the government unable to confirm the paltry number of test kits available, it will only be a matter of weeks before our health system succumbs.
John Daley, Chief Executive Officer of the Grattan Institute was interviewed for The Business last night (ABC, 17 March 2020), He said that all the economic modelling of similar novel infection outbreaks showed that the more countervailing measures put in place to deal with public health emergencies, the more these public health measures adversely impacted the economy. In his words,
The largest part of economic impact will be a consequence of what governments decide to do, essentially from public health measures to try and slow the diseases, the more economic damage they will do on the way through. That is the horrible trade-off they face and that we as a community face.”
Money or life? For those with strong constitutions that can survive the virus, it may be the economic impacts that harm them most. Am I getting to the nub of the Federal Government’s response here? This is a deeply conservative government that has managed to convince many in the electorate that it is a better economic manager than its opponent. Yet many of the elderly who are most likely to vote for them, will be the ones most affected by the virus. Awkward. Of course, the really wealthy can bunker down in their huge mansions with multiple bathrooms and have their groceries, sanitisers and toilet paper catered. If no sanitiser, there is always the drinks cupboard.
Several state and territory governments have declared public health emergencies. Shouldn’t that make the public health response the number one priority? So far our national government hasn’t stepped up, nor has it levelled with the Australian public about where it sees the balance of priority. Like this government’s other catchphrases, will the oft-used phrase “an abundance of caution” go down in history as more marketing spin.