Sweet social support

This week I’ve been struck by others’ consideration and sweetness. The people I interacted with reminded me that humanity can be awesome.

There was the business that placed a bucket of long stemmed flowers outside their door with a “free flowers” sign on it, hoping to ease others’ stress a fraction. The people I passed (at arms length) on the street who smiled at me. The stressed small business owner who was characteristically cheeky, knowing they’d make me blush and laugh. The psychologist who rang to give me the option of video consults. And my GP who took extra care to put me at ease and ensure we covered all the necessary points. (It was a rerun of the usual things, nothing new, and I left with a bonus influenza jab.)

My disability support workers are always sweet, and they didn’t let me down this week. We talked about how things were going and how we were handling the extra chaos. One had thought ahead about how they might help me manage my anxiety if we encountered the sort of nonsense we’d seen on the news. (We were fine.) Even my support co-ordinator rang to check in and ask whether I needed anything. I was doing well, and it was still reassuring. This is the sort of detail I haven’t expected and am extra appreciative of.

I’m finding it hard to express the extent of my appreciation for disability support people in general, and ‘my’ people in particular. After so long without the right kind of help, I was lucky to find them. I’m so thankful for their skills, genuine caring, and ability to be gracious under pressure.

This is all without mentioning friends and locals. I think I’d get offensively mushy if I talked of them right now. Haha. I know that others are dealing with their own fears and panic. We all have our own personal financial, work, childcare, or quarantine situations, and I hope you have people in your life who will be randomly or regularly kind.

The radio just played this song, which I mistook for a lullaby. Classic Paul Kelly depth and heart. This duet with Gurrumul is more the vibe I was after for the end of this post. Thanks for reading. Be careful out there.

Like a dick pic that runs out of the room

How’s that for click bait (or aversion therapy)? Read on, or not. I understand. Obvious CW apply.

My mate and I were sharing sexual awakening stories, as ya do. Well, I don’t, usually, and I felt vaguely horrified and mentally exposed. I kept saying, but do you want to hear the most disgusting part? Knowing full well that he is germ phobic these days, despite (or perhaps because of) all the revolting things he got up to as a lad. I kept looking over at his screwed up face and laughing, then telling him more, and feeling exactly the way his face looked.

Finally I couldn’t take it any more, and we changed the subject. Relief all round. Talked about food instead. And that bloomin’ virus, as ya do.

The first penis I saw was at a neighbour’s house, when my now-deceased friend jumped out of the wardrobe, dropped the towel from his waist and waved everything at me, before running away. We were around nine years old and I had never experienced such a bewildering performance before. I couldn’t grasp his motivation, let alone what he expected of me. But I was there to play, so I found someone else to play with and we never spoke of it.

When I heard of his death, this was the first thing I remembered, and I didn’t tell a soul. It was him to a T, but I tried to come up with something more dignified to share in the memory book. There was the time we crawled around together on the lawn, pretending to be cows, grazing the grass. The time he told me my house had burned down in the bushfires, during lunch break at school (it hadn’t). Beyond that I had nothing, so said nothing, while the memory of his penis exposure played on a loop, like a dick pic that runs out of the room.

That’s not what I was telling my mate about though. Oh no. Those stories are not being told again. And I don’t want to give him more ideas for ways to make me laugh during tv commercial breaks. But I took your mind off current events for a minute or two, hey? Distraction’s a useful tool. As was my now-deceased friend, it has to be said. RIP, you ratbag.

Insects and other garden pals

I’ve just spent a contented half hour watching insects in my tiny garden. It’s a very warm autumn day. The sun still has bite and I’ve not checked today’s UV level, so I carefully balanced my need for Vitamin D with my need to keep the insect-watching brief.

First there was a pair of larger orange-brown butterflies feeding on buddleia flowers – Australian Painted Ladies, perhaps. I watched them sip, then fly a lap of the yard before returning to the same flowers. One would move, then the other move to join it. Do butterflies always travel in pairs? I realised I don’t know much about these things. A small blue-grey butterfly danced around the geraniums and paper daisies without stopping.

Honeybees were everywhere, man. In the lemon verbena, the marjoram, the catnip, lavender, and almost anything else with flowers (not the geraniums). I stood and listened to their hum for a while, then checked that none had been taken by resident spiders or praying mantis. Not yet. The mantis that hunts on the letterbox was absent, and I watched a tiny fly with a metallic blue abdomen there instead. Couldn’t work out what it was doing – perhaps tasting something on the paintwork?

Now I’m getting lost in my need to identify species. I’m not getting much satisfaction either, having mislaid my favourite ID book and useful websites. I want to know the names of all the flies, the native bees, the damselflies, butterflies, and spiders. I am astonished by both the abundance and diversity of small creatures in my garden today. Are they there every day, or only when it’s clear and sunny? And if the “as above, so below” adage is correct, I wonder about the soil life.

Standing out there in the sun, I recalled the graphite drawings I did for my organic horticulture course, back in 1997. Hooly dooly, that seems so long ago now. I still have the records somewhere. I refused to kill and stick pins in anything, so spent a lot of time looking for dead things and perusing illustrated reference books. The act of drawing made me pay more attention, anyway. In my landscape design studies I focussed on wildlife-attracting species, which often emphasised indigenous plants for obvious reasons. That info is also here, somewhere. I used to be more organised than this, dagnabbit. I need to keep better records and plant more of what works.

Last year I planted native and exotic daisy species, with all my gardening pals in mind. Daisies are so diverse! The bold colours satisfied my human neighbours, and daisies attract all kinds of beneficial insects. I just watched a hoverfly move clockwise around the centre of one flower, feeding, for instance. I count on hoverflies to keep aphids under control. I sow mustard seed to attract clouds of them each spring. I planted tansy near the apple trees, and regret placing one beside the path, because their scent is anything but attractive. Not as off-putting as carob flowers, but bad enough. The yarrow is doing well, further out in the sunlight. Both yarrow and tansy are also great compost additives.

And now I’m just rambling, needing lunch. I have photos. Will I get myself organised enough to share them? Perhaps another day. I hope so. Sharing such things makes me happy. Paying attention to gardening coworkers and making them happy has delightful ripple effects.

Happy Vegemites Outside

I stripped one apple tree of its squat green produce after a rat munched one fruit. It’s the best crop I’ve had from this tree in ten years. Thinned the Pink Lady’s crop next, as I’d neglected to earlier. Another couple of months and they’ll be sweet.

The peaches are all for the fruit bats this year – my payment for the pleasure I derive in their very existence. The cat and I watch from the front door or the other side of the living room glass. I sit in silence, in the dark, waiting for the flap, flap, flap, crash. The squabbling. Their silhouettes.

The other day I told a friend that Summer had remained Praying Mantis free, a sad state of affairs. Then barely 30 minutes later I encountered one inside, striding in slow motion across an art portfolio. I approached slowly, not wanting to frighten, and gently relocated it to a shrub of the same green hue beside the letterbox. There it immediately, meticulously cleaned each leg and its face, as if to say that removing my beastly human smell was top priority. Still cleaning when I returned with the camera.

And today my companion and I walked to the river. I was drawn by the rich scent of hemlock, fennel and eucalyptus, heavy in the humid air. As we navigated the winding path, my pal made a startled noise and pointed to a blue tongue lizard, motionless in the grass. We squatted to take a closer look. I’d only ever seen dead ones in this area, and live snakes, so I was thrilled. And then a few steps further was a pregnant lizard. Her colouring was more brown than the steely grey of her friend. We couldn’t recall whether they laid eggs or gave birth to live young, so made a mental note to look it up later. (Live young.)

Icing on the proverbial was finding a tiny mushroom of a species that’s on the Fungimap list. Day. Complete.

Bushfires (I’m safe)

I’ve chosen a water picture to counteract the effects of horrifying bushfire imagery.

It’s probably human nature to relate news to your own situation, your own history. That’s what I tell myself when I catch myself remembering Black Saturday (2009) while watching the news. And when I have any experiences related to towns mentioned, I think about those.

I’m safe. I keep telling myself that as I hyperventilate in this smoky air. I’m not prone to asthma. I am not in the path of any fire. I’m simply breathing the smoke and panicking for no reason. Hence the headphones playing slow music, the mug of calming herbal tea, and the words on this screen. I’m safe.

I can’t comprehend the size of these fires. They’re beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. My mind keeps going blank whenever I sit to write. Horrified by the loss of human and wildlife habitats, and the loss of life. Empathising with the terror.

I want to be useful. Authorities have stated that the most useful donations at this time are cash, rather than food or clothing. They no longer have staff available to organise warehouses of goods. It diverts people from actively fighting the fires. Money on the other hand is easier to manage. It also makes it possible for people to support local businesses.

So here are links to some fundraising organisations. There are many others.

Humans:

Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief

NSW Rural Fire Service

Victorian Bushfire Appeal

Pets and wildlife:

RSPCA Victoria – again, donations of money, not goods, are needed.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service)

Click here to see what else you can do to help animals.

Heartfelt thanks to firefighters and support crew and wildlife carers and truckies. Shout out to Ash Barty and Courtney Barnett and Celeste Barber and everyone else who has donated and fundraised and generally boosted morale.

Feel free to add other links in the comments.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Fresh garden strawberries, raspberries and native white elderberries. Meringue and fresh cream and plant-based alternatives. Elderberry cordial with ice and fresh mint leaves (pineapple sage if you prefer).

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land, and recognise their ongoing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge that Sovereignty was never ceded.

We give thanks. We have so much to be thankful for.

We dine, tell silly stories, remove our shoes and enjoy the soil/sand/grass beneath our toes as we gaze up through the trees to the clouds and birds beyond.

This year, Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere is at 3.19pm on Sunday, December 22nd. Much of Australia is experiencing extreme heat and bushfires. Many people and animals have lost their homes, if not their lives. While being acutely aware of this, I take this moment to recognise the incredible beauty around me. Tomorrow I will look for ways to help.

Ask and receive

Yesterday I asked what to write about next, and promptly received the link to a Melbourne community radio show. I’m listening to Little Birdy and the song makes me want to add a hallelujah at this point.

I’m typing with one hand on this clunky keyboard, the other engaged in cradling the cat. She started on the keyboard, I moved her to my shoulder and she stealthily slid to my paunch, bless her soft white socks. The whole point of this computer purchase was to revisit the joy of fast, accurate typing, and I specifically asked for a cat who wouldn’t help me type. I guess I wasn’t specific enough. She’s certainly not helping, lol, but warms my heart.

So, back to the link… I’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting the host, Sally, although she’s played a part in my transition. She helped train my mental health support workers, for example. Nor have I yet met Jodie. Eden though is a friend who is gracious about my need to keep most people at arm’s length. It was exciting to hear more about their studies and the whole podcast prompted another long one-handed bout of typing. (I know how that sounds, haha.)

Had to share my happiness. Hope you too are enjoying your weekend.