Wednesday, 12 January 2022

covid update and drawings

Another week has passed and things are getting even scarier around here re. Covid. It has felt very surreal to me because Queensland had barely been touched by Covid since the initial outbreak. Border closures and lock-downs prevented spread but, since vaccinations hit 87% double vaccinated, the government opened up and now it's been mayhem. Infections continue to rise daily although I do believe the data shows vaccinations have helped to keep many from needing hospitalisation or ending up in ICU.

Current Queensland Covid stats  — 

New cases over the last 24 hours - 20,566
Active cases - 109,524
Current Covid hospitalisations - 502
Currently in ICU with Covid - 27
Lives lost to Covid over the last 24 hours - 1 
Compared to other areas, those figures are small, but after being used to 0 to 3 cases a day, that's staggering to me.

We had our own scare a week ago when my son's girlfriend's mother got quite sick and they suspected Covid. They had to go to a drive-through testing centre.

As Aaron is a close contact, he had to get a test done too. The testing centres don't open until 8am but you have to get there very early if you want to get through and not be turned away. We arrived at 7am and we were the last car. An hour and a half later, the queue hadn't budged so we decided to go home and come back the following day, extra early, and more prepared.

I was up at 2am the next morning to have a coffee and get ready. We arrived at the testing centre while it was still dark, just before 4am, and the queue was already well under way. Crazy! At least we were in the front section of the queue. It was a long 4 hour wait until they opened so I managed to do a fair bit of reading on my Kindle. It was a sheer miracle that my bladder behaved itself in all that time. To be honest, I had been quite worried about how I'd manage in that regard. The queue snaked around through several suburban streets so it wasn't like Public Amenities were available. It was a relief to get back home I can tell you.
Anyhow, Aaron and I were both tested. I'd had a sore throat and headaches for a few days prior, so I decided to do the test while the opportunity was there.  The results came back 36 hours later - NEGATIVE for both of us. Phew!  Aaron's girlfriend also got a negative result but her poor Mum tested Positive. They are both vaccinated and she is doing okay all considered. I do wonder if his girlfriend will test positive on her next test considering she and her Mum were in her car for around 3 hours the day they got tested. Hope not...


I have been doing some drawings but I ditched the 365 day challenge — no surprise there, I guess. I didn't expect to ditch it so soon but, in fairness, I had signed up on the spur of the moment when one of my Instagram art friends talked about doing the challenge. With crazy days on a personal level, it didn't take long for me to feel too pressured by the challenge. I have a hard time doing basic sketches due to my need for detail and realism so my drawings were requiring more than one day to complete. 
The good news is that it has motivated me to draw more frequently so that's a plus, at least. 
Nearly ten years ago, my daughter used to make raggedy dolls, all unique in their own right. This particular one was gifted to my Mum but recently, due to Mum's circumstances, this gorgeous dolly found her way to me. Ann has now joined the raggedly doll clan here. Michelle did make one for my Dad too which she had crafted to be a little fisherman being that my Dad was big into fly-fishing at the time. I have Dad's doll too which may make an appearance in a drawing at a later date.
And the completed drawing below — the hair and the chequered pattern made me a little googly-eyed at times.

I find that my biggest procrastination on doing daily drawings is actually the time wasted on deciding on what to draw. I dilly-dallied over the next subject for most of the following day and ended up drawing him later in the evening. I do prefer to draw/paint in the daylight hours. I found the reference image for this little guy on Wikimedia Commons, with a Creative Commons 3.0 licence. Thanks to Jürgen Schoner for the wonderful and very clear reference image which can be seen HERE.
Work in progress

 Completed snail. 

Yesterday, I completed this Buddha drawing. My wooden Buddha has been the subject for quite a few of my sketches over the years. He has had many real transformations too — from dark stained brown with gold accents to turquoise, then to a soft aqua, and now a light to mid grey. 

I might do some watercolour sketches next so stay tuned. 

On another note, I came across this on another friend's blog and thought it may appeal to someone. The first four words you see are your Focus for the year. 
Mine were Connections, Lessons, Strength, and Gratitude. 
Feel free to list your words in the comment section. 

 Oh, and a play on words you might find funny, if not a little concerning. hehe

Love, Light and Peace to All xx

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

happy new year and some daily sketches

I hope you all had a nice New Year's Eve! It was fairly quiet here. After a yummy vegan dinner, we played cards — 5 Crowns.  Then we ended up watching my favourite Narnia movie — The Dawn Treader. It finished not long before it was time to ring in the New Year. Brad and I did break with our tradition of staying up all night and ended up going to bed around 1am. However, we were back up at 3:30am to greet the first dawn of 2022.
Towards the end of December 2021, my art studio had yet another refresh. It went from this  —

To this —

We moved one of the tables that were in the centre of the room over to the wall. So I have an extended surface space to work on.  As we had two sliding doors adjacent to each other in the living area, we decided to treat the one in my studio as though it were a wall. I love the new layout. It works so much better for me.

I think this studio refresh motivated me to attempt another 365 Day challenge. So the plan is to sketch daily. This can mean a sketch done in graphite, charcoal, ink or watercolour.  I won't be posting daily here but I have been posting daily over on Instagram, so far. I plan to blog my sketches here every few days or once a week. 

So here is Day 1 — A fake rubber tree plant

I'm not afraid to admit that I nearly fizzled out on the first day of the challenge. I was feeling so tired from the late night and lack of sleep. I'd even gone off to bed BUT thoughts of the challenge gnawed at me until I grabbed my sketchbook and, from my bed, sketched the fake rubber tree plant in my room. 

Day 2 — A toy giraffe which is actually one of the dogs' toys
Sketched while sitting in the lounge-room
Day 3 — Weights

I find it hard deciding on what to sketch each day. Yesterday (3rd), after much procrastination, I settled on a pair of my weights. I plan to actually use them this year. lol 

And that's it for now. I haven't settled on a subject for today's sketch yet. Wish me luck...
An quick update on my Mum - The Aged Care Home, along with over 10 others, is now in Lockdown. Apparently, a fully-vaccinated staff member tested positive for Covid as well as a resident who caught it in hospital and tested positive after returning to the Home. This means that we are not allowed to visit Mum until further notice. Thank goodness for her iPad as it's Mum's connection to us. We message frequently. She tells me that residents are confined to their rooms, close contact staff are wearing hazmat-style protective gear, and they are taking her temperature frequently. I'm glad to hear they are taking it seriously.

Australia, particularly Queensland, had been doing so well until they opened the borders, State and International. Currently, Queensland is 86.6% fully vaccinated which helps to prevent a Covid infection becoming life-threatening but there are those of us who are vulnerable and have underlying health conditions.
Prior to our borders opening, Queensland had 0 to 5 cases daily whereas NOW, we just had 4,249 new cases in the last 24 hours and 487 of those are in Metro South, my region.  Those numbers will continue to grow. Currently there are 10 people in ICU in Queensland.

New South Wales just hit a record 24hr case total of 23,131 while Victoria hit 14,020 new daily cases. 

We just had a man in his 30's die from suspected Covid in his home at the Gold Coast. Things are getting scary for us! I wish they'd kept our borders closed. Life was fairly safe and normal for us until they opened the borders. I'll feel better when my sons and I have our boosters. I worry about my kids in the workplace and being exposed to it.

I hope you all stay safe and well.

Love, Light and Peace

Thursday, 30 December 2021

My digital bullet journal set-up and some flowers

Firstly, I want to say thank you all for the caring messages regarding my Mum. She is still in horrible pain but they are trying different medications to see if they may help.  

I did end up having a lovely Christmas with three of my sons. Quiet but nice.
My potted Frangipani is in bloom, known as Plumeria to some. I'm still waiting for the 2 I have in the backyard garden to bloom.

Also my potted Canna Lily. The flowers are very fragile and, this particular day, I was in love with how the sun shone through the petals so had to snap a pic.

Canna Lilies are also known for their spectacular leaves. The leaves on mine are not as spectacular as other varieties because this one is the dark leafed variety - Tropicanna Black
With the new year approaching, I have been busy setting up my bullet journals for 2022. I keep an paper AND a digital bullet journal. I've shown my paper journal before. If you didn't see it, you can check that post HERE. I love working with both. I usually work month to month in my bullets. What I write in one, gets updated in the other.

I don't carry my paper bullet journal with me as it would add to the weight. I'm one of those people who carry everything but the kitchen sink. I usually have a small cross-body bag for wallet, phone, keys, and sanitiser, as well as, a tote for utensils, small torch, multi-gadget tool, tissues, wipes, etc...well, you just never know if I'll need them. On top of that, I also carry a couple of sketchbooks, pencils, pens, etc. in my tote so as you can guess, space and weight are an issue. With my Digital Bullet, I love that I can access all my bullets from my phone, no extra weight at all. I can even use the Search feature to look for something specific.

Anyway, I thought you might like to see some screenshots of how I set up my Digital Bullet Journal. I used Tables in OneNote where I created Templates for different spreads/collections which I can then copy and paste over into a new month. All I need to do is add the dates which are done in a jiffy.
As with the paper Bullet Journal, I also use a Key for my Digital Bullet. 

Below are the Annual Sections. I password-protect my journals hence the little lock. I love that I can access any of my bullet journals, anywhere, any time.

If I click on TEMPLATES, you will see all the Spreads I can utilise. These are the blanks that I created using the Tables function in Microsoft OneNote. Each month, I just copy and paste them where needed. The beauty of Tables is that I can add or remove columns/rows easily.  
(NOTE - You can click on any image to see a larger view of them all)
An expanded view of December with Monthly and Weekly sections

This is the Month Template view. I add the dates for the new month when I paste it over. Easy-peasy.

Below is the December month view where I can add more as needed. The Teal and Orange highlighted days let me know at a glance which week we put 1 or 2 wheelie bins down at the roadside for collection. Believe me, it's so easy to forget. Orange = 2 bins; Teal = 1 bin.

And the weekly Template view 
Dates added and the weekly spread is in it's place and ready for filling in each day.

You will notice I use Dark mode for my digital bullet journal as it's less strain on the eyes. I love Dark mode and use it everywhere I can, including my Social media apps. However, if I wanted to, I could easily switch to Light mode with the touch of a button in Options. Below is an example of a Weekly spread filled-in, after selecting Light mode.

I also use a Brain Dump spread for the year, rather than monthly. I like that I can see the whole year at a glance. This is where I quickly note anything of interest to me throughout the month that I don't want to forget. An example below. The highlighted text is for art-related notes. 
I also have a Future Log which most Bullet Journal users will be familiar with. Basically, it's where I place future appointments, events, To-do's, that are not yet active. 
Those are pretty much my main Bullet Journal sections and then I have the Collections which are different for everyone.
My Book Log for 2022 at the ready

Part of this year's Book Log

I donate throughout the year, mostly to animal sanctuaries, so I felt it warranted a Collection too. 
A partial screenshot from this year.

And set up and ready for next year

Trackers are a big thing with lots of Bullet Journal users. I did create one of those too using Tables in OneNote. I must admit that, with all my back and hand issues this past year, I gave up on filling it in. Maybe I will be better at it in 2022. I just copy and paste this Template into a given month to start tracking my habits by ticking the boxes.

And the same Habit Tracker in Light mode view

(remember to click on any image to see a larger view of them all)
And that ends this very long post. If you managed to read it all the way to the end...thank you. I understand Bullet Journals aren't for everyone but I sure do love mine and have been keeping the analogue version since 2015. 

This will be my last post for the year so I hope you all enjoy a great New Year's Eve whatever you do. Let's hope 2022 will be a better year for all.
As with our usual New Year's Eve tradition, I will be partying and staying up to welcome in 2022 with three of my sons. Not sure if I will be staying awake the whole night to greet the dawn like Bradley (son) and I normally do...but we shall see.

See you in 2022! 

Love, Light and Peace to All!

Saturday, 25 December 2021

merry christmas/happy holidays!

 Merry Christmas or
Happy Holidays to all...
It's currently 5:30am on Christmas Day and I'm the only one up. Aaron and Bradley (sons) are still in their beds. My other son, Beau, will be here for a vegan Christmas lunch later so I thought I'd hop on and blog before I get stuck into food prep and cooking. A big day ahead...
It's hard to get into the Christmas spirit this year.
I'd actually written a paragraph and deleted it because it was quite sad and melancholy.

I will just say that my thoughts today are with those who have lost family members, including beloved pets. Also those separated from family for whatever reason, the homeless, the sick and dying, the poor and suffering, the stray animals on the streets, the animals in slaughterhouses...the list goes on...

I wish for a happier, more peaceful, more caring and loving world for ALL!

May your Christmas be special and filled with happiness and love! 

Love, Light and Peace to All!

Friday, 24 December 2021

dusting off the cobwebs — again!

So it's been three months since my last post which is pretty dismal considering all my plans to post more frequently. I have lots of excuses but there are two main ones. 

Firstly, not long after my last post, I woke up one morning and as I walked down the hall, I felt a clunk inside somewhere between my lower back and right hip. It stopped me dead in my tracks for a few minutes. From that point, my back pain worsened to the point of being debilitated. It was the type of pain that made it hard to focus on anything at all. I dreaded getting up or down as the pain was so severe. As my last CT scan had been 3 years ago, my doctor ordered another CT scan on my back which revealed severe multi-level disc degeneration (Osteoarthritis), substantial changes in facet joints in my mid to lower spine, narrowing of the spinal column (Canal Stenosis), and Spondylolisthesis (Slipping Discs). The Canal Stenosis is particularly worrying to me. My doctor wants me to see a Spinal specialist in the new year. Wish me luck.

Secondly, towards the end of October, my 86 year old Mum ended up hurting her back again.
 Photo taken of Mum in 2016

Three years ago, Mum fractured two of her vertebrae and recovered as well as could be expected with Osteoporosis. Mum was very stubborn though and felt she was okay to do all the heavy stuff again.  She ignored all our warnings, even doctors' warnings, and continued to do heavy stuff that she should not have been doing at all. Every time we visited, her lounge room furniture was changed around. I'm talking heavy recliners and solid pine tables, not to mention yard work.
Mum's back did get sore but she ignored it until it finally gave in and demanded her full attention. CT scans revealed that Mum had basically been crumbling her lower back away. One of the vertebrae had lost 75% in height, the others are badly worn down too, hence all her pain. The bad news is that her back will not recover and will gradually get worse. With Osteoporosis, there really isn't anything they can do except manage her pain.
It was clear that Mum needed assisted care so, the only decision that could be made was for Mum to go straight from the stay in hospital to a Permanent Aged Care facility where all her medical and care needs would be met. Mum is angry at herself and deeply regrets not listening to all our warnings. She misses her home and her little dog, Teenie, who is now with me. That said, she has come to terms with her situation and understands it is necessary.

[ Added next day — I should clarify that Mum was a big part of the decision-making process regarding her going into Assisted Care. She was actually afraid to go back home and said she knew she could no longer cope alone. She needs daily medical assistance, unfortunately. Despite that, it was a big change for her and she still had to come to terms with it all. They allow pets to visit the Assisted Care Home but Mum hasn't wanted Teenie to visit as yet. Mum misses her but wants what is best for Teenie. More on Teenie in a later post. Mum admitted that she was having trouble caring for Teenie properly prior to her recent back injury. She is so happy that I have Teenie and it has given her peace of mind in that regard.

My sister takes her dog in to visit with Mum and Aaron, my son, took his little dog in the other day. I think, in some ways, even though Mum misses Teenie, she is relieved not to have the responsibility for caring for her any more. ]

Teenie is 10 years old, a Pomeranian, and adorable! She already knew us so has settled in very well.
After a few weeks, Mum's back seemed to be doing a little better where she was able to move about with a walker. although she was still reliant on regular pain medication. Just over a week ago, Mum injured her back even more when she participated in a group activity which involved dancing to Christmas songs. She had fun but overdid the dancing and is now in agony and being given stronger pain medication (Opioids). It's been very hard to see her in so much pain. It's like she is back to the pain severity of when she fractured her back.

As you can imagine, it's been an emotional roller-coaster ride for me regarding my Mum and also dealing with my own back plus hand pain issues. I keep praying for Mum's pain to ease while she screams out for God to take her. It's been bloody hard I can tell you but I keep hoping she will improve.

Taking all of the above into account, on top of daily responsibilities, I haven't felt like posting.


Have I been doing any sketching? Barely!
Back in October, I did manage a rough, incomplete, pencil sketch of Aaron's miniature poodle., Scarlett. I will be doing an acrylic painting of her soon.
My Kindle has been my best friend over the past few months. I met my Goodreads annual Reading Challenge. I elected to read 40 books for 2021 and exceeded that. Currently, I'm at 46 books. YAY!

Sorry if this post has seemed like a bit of a downer but that has been my life of late.

Things are also getting scary as our Government opened our State and International borders a couple of weeks ago and our Covid case numbers have risen dramatically. I can't wait to get our 3rd booster. We wear our masks whenever we're out in public and sanitise regularly. How are things in your area re. Covid?

I will be back tomorrow with a Christmas post as it's already Christmas Eve here. I hope you are all keeping safe and well. I hope to get around to visit you all very soon.

Love, Light and Peace