We Are Still Here at Home

I haven’t posted for the last two weeks because nothing has really changed for us. We are still mostly lying low at home and only going out to do some shopping, or for an occasional picnic in a park – somewhere where we can stay well away from others.

We have had some rather harsh lockdown rules in Victoria and we had been looking forward to them easing some more from next week. However, our government has just announced that there will be some tightening, and certainly no further easing of restrictions because of the high number of fresh virus cases that have been appearing in Victoria. These fresh cases appear to have come from a combination of the mass Black Lives Matter protests two weeks ago, some returned international travellers  and from people who have had large gatherings in their homes.

These restrictions are a consequence of us having around 25 new cases of the virus yesterday in Victoria and the authorities are worried.  (This compares to Florida having more than 3,800 cases yesterday) Overall, we are still doing very well although we need to keep on our toes. It’s easy to feel more confident now than in the first few weeks of the lockdown, but we need to remember that this virus is still out there and it is very dangerous. God only knows how Donald Trump’s Rally in Tulsa this weekend can be safe to attend!

Some Australian states (all except Victoria and New South Wales) had closed their borders to residents of other states. They are now beginning to remove these restrictions and Australians should now be able to travel further domestically. I believe that the legality of these border closures should be in question as the Australian Constitution prescribes that interstate trade between states must be able to be freely conducted. It will take someone with more money than me to mount a legal challenge in the High Court.

I wrote in my last blog about the birds that we have been seeing in our garden. I’m sure that the Noisy Miners are holding a conference as I noticed seven of them flitting around our bird bath in the front garden during the week.

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Last weekend Jill and I spent a very pleasant afternoon in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. There wasn’t much colour to be seen as most of the plants are in their hibernation period over winter. One of the more interesting features was Guilfoyle’s Volcano (named after a one-time Director of the Gardens) which was built in 1876 as a romanticised version of a hill. It s actually a large mound with a pond at the top that was used to store water for the Gardens. After lying idle for 60 years, it has been restored and is now planted with various forms of cacti and succulents that create a very splendid blanket of different textures.

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There are some broad views of the gardens from the top of the ‘volcano’. The gardens extend across 38 hectares (94 acres)  that slope to the river with trees, garden beds, lakes and lawns. It displays almost 50,000 individual plants representing 8,500 different species. These are displayed in 30 living plant collections.

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The large ornamental lake was once a billabong (ox-bow lake) of the Yarra River.

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On Tuesday, I met Violet after her school had finished for the day and walked home with her because Cathy couldn’t work from home that day. In the Edinburgh Gardens we passed a plaque to Captain Cook that had been defaced during the Black Lives Matter protests here in Melbourne. It was cleaned up very quickly by the local council and Captain Cook now has a very shiny face.

There seems to be a very aggressive push to remove anything from the past that has any form of negative racial or ethnic connotation. One activist has even suggested that the state of Victoria should be renamed because Queen Victoria ruled over Australia and the colonies when Aboriginal land was usurped from them by British settlers. If that were to be the case, then many other names like Queensland and Adelaide would have to be renamed along with most of the streets in Melbourne (that name would have to go too) because they are named after colonial governors.

Captain Cook is ‘on the nose’ because he fired some birdshot to scare a small group of Aboriginals away who were threatening him with spears in a face-off on the beach when he tried to first land. Because he was the first European to explore the eastern coast of the continent, (which later led to Australia’s settlement by the British) he is the focus of anger by the radical left for being the cause of the occupation of Aboriginal land.

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I’ve seen statues to Cook all around the world – in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Seattle, Vancouver and Alaska and they all had one thing in common. They all had a seagull sitting on his head. When we were in the Botanical Gardens I noticed a seagull walking along the path and I thought to myself “you poor little bugger, now you are going to have to walk because these protesters want to pull down those statues and destroy your perch. Then you’ll have nowhere to sit any more”.

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I had my first lunch with friends on Friday when six of us who worked for Control Data in the 1970s and 80s got together for a pizza. I took my laptop so that we could hold a concurrent Zoom meeting with those that couldn’t attend. After signing the attendance register, giving our names and telephone numbers, we sat at a table, staying well away from others and making sure that we had an adequate distance between ourselves. I also had to visit the local Apple Store that day as my Ear Pods were not working properly. That required confirming that I was free of virus symptoms, having my temperature checked, sanitising my hands and then donning a mask before entering the store.

We have used some of the sunny weather over the last few days to do some more gardening,. We pruned all of our roses , saving one last flower to go into a vase. Other than these things, I have cancelled some more travel plans for later in the year and worked on getting some more details in place for our next army reunion in 2021. We might be sitting at home, but we are not idle.

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