We are well into 7 weeks working from home and this was our fifth Friends cuppa session. This week’s conversation focussed on gratitude, bad habits, orchids and the history of the Jimmy Possum chair.
Lynne Strathie, sitting in front of beautiful orchids from her garden and a photograph of her family in time for Mothers’ Day this weekend, exchanged orchid tips (digital ones!) with Peter Brown who also enjoys the challenge of growing orchids. Lynne’s top tip is weak weekly fertilising. Linda said the discussion about orchids brings back fond memories of her childhood in Sydney. Leanne produced a beautiful sarong with orchids on it that Lynne had given her many years ago. Gordon Gregory owned up to growing cymbidium orchids in Canberra (see pic below).
NSW Friends Advisory Committee member Linda Beaver on Ngarigo Country led the discussion today. Linda lives near the Snowy Mountains in NSW where they have a spread of climatic conditions impacting on their lives. Linda spends her week doing some paid work and some volunteer work empowering health consumers to be more active participants in their health interactions, and improving their health literacy (a term she doesn't much like). Linda has enjoyed being part of these social sessions on a Friday mornings when her paid work has permitted her attendance.
Linda confessed that during this lockdown she has taken her time to get dressed each day and sometimes spends the morning in her pyjamas. This morning she never made it to the shower until 9.45am and she wondered what other bad habits others may have developed in lockdown.
RobIn Bryant from Mallacoota has spent a bit of time in the garden this morning trimming his banana tree - he has three hands growing and likes to stand in the garden playing his banjo. (Just imagine the chords he can manage with three hands!)
Peter said he was keen to see Gordon’s lagerphone come out of storage for the ‘Build ‘em up!’ contribution. Gordon said he has retrieved it and has started rehearsing for his contribution - https://www.ruralhealth.org.au/friends/launch-build-em (contributions are due 8 June 2020).
Janine Snowie is the Co-ordinator for the Rural Australia Medical Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme (RAMUS) at the Alliance. Janine doesn’t usually work Fridays so she was grateful to be able to join this morning tea today. Janine is finding that she is checking her emails a lot more than she would in the office and needs to learn to switch off both herself and her machine! She is also grateful to be interrupted during the day by her beautiful dog and cat.
Janine Turnbull said her biggest fear is that when the lockdown is over she will be rolling out of the house – and she thought working at the Alliance was fattening! Janine said the lockdown period has meant more home cooked meals and family dinners.
Gordon Gregory wanted to put the record straight about orchid growing: he is not an expert except in the matter of finding a good spot for them and ignoring them. He said that during this lockdown he has regularly felt grateful for his own situation. He and his wife are both retired, own their own home and only one of their four children have had their work hours reduced. If this is a one in a century event, there could be no more fortunate circumstances than what he is in. He feels extremely grateful and wants to remain aware of those less fortunate.
Linda agreed how fortunate we all are to be able to sit in the comfort of our own homes and enjoy this social gathering with colleagues.
Irene Mills said she felt privileged to be living in rural Australia during this pandemic. Irene is retired and has used this time to renovate the garden, scan some photos, clean the cupboards, and catch up with family and friends on the phone. She feels some days are a bit long but her dog is good company and they walk 6-10 kms a day. The biggest impact for Irene has been the closure of regions so she cannot go to the city or next major town without clearance. There is a possibility this will be lifted over the weekend given WA hasn’t had any new cases for the past week. Irene worries about the future of the economy and those who have lost their jobs or will be unemployed in the future.
Linda said she was very impressed no else has developed bad habits (not that they’ve divulged anyway!).
Sue Pagura is the Finance Manager at the National Rural Health Alliance and has been working from home with her husband and two boys. Her home office has been moved to the kitchen table although she hopes to regain the office next week.
Stephen Kingston is the Graphic and Web Designer at the National Rural Health Alliance and enjoys working from home. His main problem is being too noisy while his wife and two children are also trying to work and study from home.
Leanne Coleman said she found it hard at first but is getting into the swing of it. What she has found difficult is juggling the roles of worker, mother and grandmother at the same time. She also shares Janine Turnbull’s concerns about eating too much during lockdown and promises to stop bringing in chocolate when they do return to the office.
Peter Hughes from the Regional Medical Specialists Association (RMSA) said he was very lucky to have the company of his wife Ellen and he enjoys helping her in the garden – under her strict control ("Don't trim that!"). He has found this time useful to do things he has been meaning to do for years like working on the family tree (trimming it??), reading, writing a memoir. He has no trouble filling time but does miss being able to play bridge. He currently has a continuous game of online chess going on with one of his sons. He is not sure how long he can put up with this situation and is worried about the rapid return of the rugby league. Having his groceries delivered has been a big help.
Chris Moorhouse joined by phone as he has been having internet problems in Chudleigh, Tasmania. Chris sent through a picture of him sitting on his Jimmy Possum chair because he knew he wouldn’t be able to join ‘in possum’ this week. Here is a link to some information about the Jimmy Possum chair: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-08/jimmy-possum-the-chair-and-the-mystery/8504768
Richard Kingsford from the Pharmacy Guild lives in Yass so he is very grateful not having to drive 1 hour and 15 minutes each way every day. Richard is also pleased he is saving money on petrol and parking fees. In relation to hygiene he is currently sporting a COVID-19 Peter Hughes beard but is aiming (ambitiously) for a Gordon Gregory growth. He said his work colleagues are his wife, two boys, a cat and a dog. He commented that Gordon looks like he is lying down on a single bed and he likes the idea of joining the next meeting from his bed!
Peter Brown has learnt that he only feels focussed if he gets out of his ugg boots and wears proper shoes. He shares Gordon’s views on being fortunate as he lives with his wife and adult son. He feels for some of his colleagues who have school-aged students to look after while trying to juggle working from home.
Linda agreed it is a challenge and she has witnessed this through her involvement in scouting which provides an interesting insight. The families and youth she meets with are sick of zoom meetings and online education so they have resorted to short, sharp meetings to prevent digital overload.
Richard said secondary maths was a struggle for him at school and it still is now that he is trying to help his children.
Robin Bryant and Gordon recalled working together in Primary Industries back in the 80s! Robin said Mallacoota has been through some tough times with the bushfires over the summer and is now this lockdown. During bushfires Robin was heavily involved informing the community through Facebook. He has worked with CFA in the past so has experience. Around 130 houses were lost and there are still a lot of workers cleaning up. The community is now in lock down but half the community is over 60 and used to spending more time at home. Robin has spent the past four years with the Mallacoota Community Health Infrastructure and Resilience Fund Inc (CHIRF) to help keep the local medical centre afloat. They had only one GP who was struggling to cope and they have managed to find another doctor. They attend conferences like the National Rural Health Conference to try to find doctors to come to Mallacoota. They also have health service shortages and have managed to get a number of grants to provide a range of services including for mental health, a teen clinic which has a nurse-led triage system to support the local children, a successful chronic disease program with an allied health assistant and registered nurse, and a youth centre. They are also looking to get some grants to enable professional musicians to engage people in music, including seniors and children.
Linda thanked Robin for sharing and said it demonstrates how community can be such a strong driving force in supporting the development and access to resources.
Robin said the Alliance is a critical organisation and it is important to know what other communities are doing around Australia and how they are coping with similar issues.
Linda thanked everyone for attending and looked forward to the next session.
Next catch-up 10.30am Friday, 15 May 2020
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