We all crave connections with others. It is a basic human need.
Connection with the people we live with, friends and within our community.
Corona Virus makes that much more difficult.Travel is restricted or non existant and there is an ongoing threat to our health. Our mental and physical health takes a battering.
Many of us turn to online classes, meetings and get-togethers to maintain the human to human connections and interactions with others.
To this end, Vero from lesfrenchchronicles and other bloggers wanted, in a small way, to counteract isolation with a video collaboration from bloggers all over the world, including myself. The result was a compilation of video excerpts from each blogger’s life, as seen through a window, door, or hatch!
It was fun, fresh and well, take a look and see for yourself.
Why make a Collaborative Video?
Through sharing small snippets of life in the different regions of the world, a collaborative video may create visual links, may improve connections, bridge misunderstandings and assist in breaking barriers between people from different regions. We all live in the one world, right?
How to Participate in a Collaborative Video
You will need to prepare a 20 second Instagram like video in landscape mode, based on your interpretation of the theme of “morning.”
The video needs to reach my inbox before Tuesday 2nd February and does not need to show you in it. [ie. you can be behind the camera].
Video Theme of Morning
The video should portray your idea of ‘morning.”
‘Morning’ might mean something vastly different, when compared to my morning of an early sunrise breaking over the choppy waves on the Pacific Ocean; it might mean a quiet cuppa whilst reading the news. Or, snuggling with your pet, driving/walking to work, (even if you wfh), or preparing breakfast or a family ritual?
Contact me here and I’ll email you further details.
<p class="has-normal-font-size" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">Laurie, Dorothy, Janis and Vero are already onboard and keen. Will you join us too?Laurie, Dorothy, Janis and Vero are already onboard and keen. Will you join us too?
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In traditional art, it was a custom to have a saying or Proverb decorating the border of a bowl, utensil or piece of furniture. Especially this is seen in the old decorative art of Norway, called Rosemaling.
The following words of wisdom were indicative of a social art history as they were penned by the artist of that time and reflected their thoughts and values. A time capsule of advice.
Norwegian Proverbs on Rosemaling Decorative Art
Here are a few to ponder:
– Alderen kjem ikkje aleine; han fører så mye med seg.
Age comes not alone; it brings so much with it.
–Det gror ikke til på veien mellon gode venner.
On the road between the homes of friends, grass does not grow.
–Ingen kan hjelp den som ikke vil hjelpe seg sjøl.
Noone can help someone who will not help him/herself
Too much cleverness is foolishness.
For mye klokskap er dårskap.
Curious to know more about Rosemaling, an art form that has experienced a Renaissance in America, particularly the Norwegian areas of the Mid-West?
It was good fun to be involved in such a project and I thank Vero for organizing this “Vlogging experience.” I particularly enjoyed seeing some parts of the world that I only know from words on a screen or a social media posts.
Would you like to make a video of your corner of the world?
Christmas has been and gone and with it the traditionally festive dessert of choice in Australia, (with its warm weather), the humble ‘Pavlova.’ This ubiquitous dessert really needs no introduction and not wishing to trigger my New Zealand counterparts, I won’t mention its origins, but will note the recipe has Australian variations!
Discussions around this dessert led to a four way cooking challenge which I will explain further in the post.
My take on the Traditional Pavlova Recipe, is mainly decorative but it works well to add to the festive appearance for a special occasion or to spoil a family member.
Still piled high with a delicious marshmallow centre and surrounded by the crunchy meringue shell that we all know and love, this pavlova is topped high with seasonal fruits, whipped cream, or custard as well as cream, (depending on your cholesterol level).
As Pavlova is generally Gluten-free, (omit the cornflour), you can serve this to sensitive tummies as well! Just check the chocolate you use is gluten-free too, if you have Coeliac guests.
Topping of seasonal fruits: eg. cherries, mangoes, raspberries or kiwifruit
N.B. Undecorated pavlova can be made several days ahead; store in an airtight container, prior to decoration.
Method – Making a Chocolate Dome
Spray a 12″ or 28cm plastic or pyrex bowl lightly with oil and place in the freezer. Melt chocolate on low heat on the stove in a double boiler or in the microwave if you prefer.
Remove the bowl from the freezer and pour in half of the melted chocolate. Rotate the bowl to cover as much of the inside surface as possible, using a pastry brush to push the chocolate out to the rim. Place back in the freezer for 15 minutes.
To finish the chocolate dome, use a pastry brush to brush remaining melted chocolate over existing layer, ensuring any thin areas are touched up. Place back in the freezer for 15 minutes or until set.
Remove the bowl from the freezer. Trim the chocolate on the lip of the bowl to create an even base line and then gently rotate and tap the sides of the bowl to release the dome with a rolling pin. Run a knife along the sides of the bowl to release the dome slightly. Once chocolate comes away from the edge on all sides of the bowl the dome is ready.
3. Meanwhile, top the pavlova with cream and decorate with mango slices, cherries and raspberries. Carefully cover finished pavlova with the chocolate dome. Serve immediately.
Tip: use a wooden rolling pin or similar utensil to “smash” the chocolate casing when serving and prior to slicing.
Sometimes a word or two can spark an outrage or can offer comfort. Other times words might even be prophetic.
Unfortunately, it seems the later is the case. I write about Australia’s Covid-free bubble and cautioned that weshouldn’t become too complacent and forget hygiene measures.
At New Year’s Eve, I noticed people were fast getting a too cocky with life, resuming normal practices like hugging and kissing, even though there were still a few isolated Covid cases in a few states, including ours. All cases were in hotel quarantine and out of public access, until now. Then:
New Covid Outbreak in Queensland, Australia
A cleaner in hotel quarantine has come down with the highly infectious UK strain of the virus. The cleaner was catching public transport for a week prior to detection.
The region is now in lockdown from 6pm tonight and masks are mandatory. [You might remember I was prevented from wearing masks, last year in my workplace].
The announcement came at 8.30 am today, but at 8.20 am people were already out and about panic buying.
Toilet paper supplies, I suspect.
The lockdown is only until Monday morning, but they suspect it could last a week.
Has the public forgotten shops were once closed all weekend? Are we not able to survive more than one day without shopping? Are toilet paper supplies that thin? (Excuse the pun).
One Covid case; (no new cases today) and wholesale chaos reigns at the stores. Think of the UK – or other states and countries that have been in lockdown for months.
The hotel staff in the quarantine hotels, are now going to be tested daily. I wonder why this wasn’t previously instituted?
So much for social distancing, I thought. Notwithstanding our relative safety here in Australia, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.
We’re allowed to attend social events again and in my state in Australia, we’re even permitted to sing, (something not all states, are allowed to do as yet).
How fortunate are we? Believe me, I do not take this for granted.
Apart from providing our contact details at all venues, society here has, by and large resumed to B.C. levels, [i.e. – before Covid]. Just in time for all that Christmas and New Year’s Eve revelry.
Until now, people were still hesitant to get close to one another. Would social distancing and clean hygiene practices be ditched for the sake of socializing and enjoyment in 2020, now a vaccine was on the horizon?
Being one of the unlucky ones with a respiratory system prone to serious illness, I was more than happy to continue to ‘elbow pump’ people, in the greeting that Covid made fashionable, until the ends of time. Hugging friends had become a thing of the past for me.
The 2020 pandemic, as well as my recent retirement, has meant that I’ve escaped the annual torture of suffering with each year’s strain of ‘Influenza’, as well as various bugs and infections that are an occupational hazard of working, as I did, with young children. 2020 was, for me, far healthier than previous years.
In fact, I’ve not seen a Doctor all year. Yay for me!
Fast forward to this year’s New Years Eve. Much of Australian society is back to normal, except for bans on large gatherings, as in city fireworks displays. *[Mind you, I still can’t fathom why Cricket and football matches in stadiums are exempt from this ban. Is there an invisible force field that protects sports spectators from the pandemic?]
My plan for celebrating 2020 NYE at the Home by the Sea, involved attending a Karaoke Dinner at a local restaurant, with around 8 of my neighbours and friends. Dutifully, all of us scanned in our particulars, using the QR code on the table, upon arrival, for the purposes of contact tracing should anyone come down with the dreaded ‘Corona’ virus. We then looked forward to an evening of singing, good food and company. And it was indeed a fun night.
Yet, my heart did skip a beat as the waiter removed our individual plates after the first course, stating that the rest of the seven courses, would be served from disposable paper boats. Therefore, we should hang on to our cutlery, for the duration of the evening. Share plates of cheese and crackers and dessert had my hygiene radar twerking mildly, as did my wonderment at our used knives and forks scattered ominously across the table between courses.
Was I being a little paranoid about germs?
Singing into the Karaoke microphone, shared with 30 or so other drunken folk, was not encouraging for hygiene either. I couldn’t find a disinfectant wipe for the mic, anywhere on site, although there was plenty of hand sanitiser at the bar, which was well utilised. After my allotted drink or two, I relaxed, as did many others and begun to really enjoy the evening.
Abba, Shania Twain, Queen and Pink tunes were an absolute hoot to sing and really got everyone joining in with gusto. It was as if the floodgates of pent-up social energy had opened, energy they’d been harbouring for much of 2020.
Around Midnight, whilst our table was chinking glasses at a socially approved distance, a recent acquaintance I knew sitting at an adjacent table walked straight over to me, hugged me and without any warning landed a big sloppy, slightly drunken kiss, on my cheek.
“Eek! What if she has Covid?” was my very first thought.
To say the kiss felt strange, was an understatement. Something quite natural a year ago, now felt like a personal violation!
To put this into context, I haven’t kissed anyone other the ‘Moth‘, since the pandemic began! The legacy of Covid means I’ve not even kissed my elderly parents and now, this felt so – weird and wrong! Quickly noticing my shell-shocked response, the lady did offer a swift and heartfelt apology. But the damage was already done. A day later, I had my head perched over the toilet bowl/bucket, throwing up. The usual New Year’s Eve ‘Gastro’ Virus had found me. For many years, it appears regular as clockwork, in that first week of January after the New Year’s Eve parties. Was it the kiss, the unsanitised microphone, or just coincidence? Surely not the alcohol?
The silver lining, I could say was this 24 hour ‘wog,’ helped me lose some of those extra pounds I’d gained over Christmas. However, the dynamics of physical contact with friends has now completely changed in society.
Now recovered and back at the keyboard, I pondered the events as they unfolded. More worrying for me than getting a mild case of ‘gastro,’ was that folks are so quick to abandon safe hygiene practices and social distancingin the name of fun.
As far as the pandemic goes, we are not out of the woods in Australia, yet.
Christmas time may be a source of stress or joy. Compounding those yuletide stresses, the Covid pandemic continues to rage, so there was little cause for joy in many parts of the world.
Marlene inspired me to think of the year’s outcomes in terms of ‘gifts,’ some good and of course, some bad. We’d do well to focus on the better aspects for our own well-being. So, what if any, positives can be noted?
Lessons from the Pandemic
Whether we like the lessons or not:
This awful year has taught us patience and more appreciation for things at home.
This dreadful year has been a godsend for parts of the environment and animal world.
The pandemic afforded us time to develop or re-discover DIY home projects.
This deadly virus has potentially increased family tensions but has given extra time with loved ones. I will take as a blessing option, thanks.
Rates of family violence and alcohol consumption rose, yet levels of air pollution diminished due to fewer vehicles on the roads. The night sky was/is full of stars hitherto unseen in cities, as air quality improved.
Peak hour traffic congestion eased and commuter accidents lessened.
Workplaces were forced to become more flexible, benefitting those caring for someone, at home.
Money from saved travel and workplace costs, (uniforms, ancillary items, office durables and rentals), could instead be spent on other items that bring joy.
Extroverts suffered from social isolation but many introverts thrived.
..some Australian online [alcohol], retailers have reported 50% to 500% increases in sales compared to the same period in 2019.
This pandemic has uncovered a festering mal-contentment at the interplay between politics and society and offered diametrically opposed opportunities and grief.
Unemployment rose sharply and many lost businesses, their livelihood, or their lives. In some places, political decisions and divisiveness led to civil unrest. Financial ruin became rampant. Mental health nosedived.
For each one of us, the impacts may be very individual. With no short term end to Covid in sight, the heightened emotions the pandemic brings, remain uncomfortable and difficult for many folks to manage.
How do we deal with those difficult emotions?
Dealing with Difficult Emotions
Write Down Your Thoughts
Sometimes it can be cathartic to transfer those strong emotions into written words. Blogging can be great therapy.
Slow Down and See Each Moment
Ironically, the pandemic has made me feel grateful.
Grateful for things I DO have and it ensured I did slow down and appreciate the individual moments that pass by.
Grateful for our country’s relative safety bubble.
We can be grateful for modern science working hard to solve the virus riddle.
Grateful that I have not been touched by financial ruin, separation or Covid itself.
Grateful that even though my workinglife ended prematurely, I now have time to enjoy retirement activities with the Moth.
Grateful that I have daily incidental conversation with the adult children who came home due to financial reasons.
Grateful that I can let unimportant things slide.
Grateful to have the awareness I am so much more than just my emotions/feelings.
Grateful that emotions and feelings change as the world moves and changes. Everything must change for, just like bad weather, nothing ever lasts.
In this New Year of 2021:
If I feel sad, I will sit with that feeling of sadness.
If I feel loss, hurt or rejected, I will accept that feeling, not deny or think that I ‘shouldn’t,’ feel that way.
If I feel frustrated or inadequate, I will sit with that until the feeling passes. I won’t feel tormented that these emotions are wrong or bad, but rather let them ‘slide.’
Let it slide.
Not quite the same ‘sliding,’ as the lyrics of the song suggest, but the personal reminder is contained in that catchy melody; the melody that is today’s earworm.
It was almost a perfect summer’s day. That interlude of lazy days between Christmas and New Year.
The waves gently caressing the shore and the tourists out on stand-up paddleboards, kayaks or paddle boats. The number of pink inflatable ponies bobbing around in the water adorned with small children, an indication of what was on sale at the retail stores prior to Christmas. It was idyllic.
The Moth broke the comfy serenity by saying:
“This looks just like that scene from Jaws.”
Only of course, thankfully there was no shark reeking havoc amongst the bathers. But it did bring to mind what many friends from overseas have told me. They live in fear of a shark attack if they go swimming in Australia. Some refuse to even paddle in the shallows for this reason.
Yet if truth be told, you are much more likely to drown than be attacked by a shark in Australian waters. You only have to watch a few episodes of Bondi Rescue if you don’t believe me.
On average, 87 people drown at Australian beaches each year, (SLSA 2010), yet there have been, on average, only 1.1 fatalities per year from shark attack over the past two decades. It is clear that the risk of being bitten or dying from an unprovoked shark attack in Australia remains extremely low.
Shark attacks, in Australia, has been well documented since colonial times and the number of reported attacks during the 20th century seem to fluctuate in line with changing patterns of water-based recreational activities, (such as swimming, surfing and sailboarding), public awareness and shark netting operations.
We will never completely eliminate shark attacks, unless the species most likely to attack humans in Australian waters: ie.the White, Tiger and Bull sharks disappear from our waters. Extinction of animal species is never a preferred option.
Those of you who have been following my blog for some time, will know that Norwegian and Scandinavian things are very close to my heart, so it will come as no surprise to read that I am sharing a Norwegian recipe with you.
This is a traditional Norwegian cake with an intense yellow colour. Not too sweet but a perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea.
NB. This is not Julekake – or Julekake which sounds similar, is equally delicious and is served at Christmas time. No, this is Gulkake as in ‘Gul’ – the norwegian word for yellow.
Gul Blomst = Yellow Flower; Gul Trøye = Yellow Jersey therefore:
Gul Kake = Yellow Cake – well, you get the idea.
The intense yellow colour comes from the SIX egg yolks this recipe contains and that’s also the reason it’s a great time of year to make it, if you live in the southern hemisphere?
Why this time of year?
Because those of us around the southern Ocean, that is Australians and New Zealanders, are busily creating loads of Pavlovas to eat with friends. Pavlovas are often the first choice of dessert, for summer time barbeques, as well as Christmas menus, as it’s too darn hot for warm desserts like plum puddings.
Pavlovas may contain as much as 7 egg whites and you can rapidly get really sick of making omelettes with the leftover yolks. Therefore, making ‘Gulkake,’ is a great alternative to combine when making a ‘Pav,’ (as we like to call them).
You do know Australians shorten names for everything don’t you?