This week has been dominated by our trip to Melbourne for J to have a post op checkup.
Worried by Omicron, despite both being triple vaxxed, we opted to stay in the same serviced apartment we used when J was having to self isolate prior to her shoulder surgery. In another time it would be wonderfully convenient, close to the train line into the city and an easy walk to the beach (and her surgeon's consulting rooms).
That said, we tried to be sensibly paranoid. We have microfibre masks that come with a pouch into which you can fit what is described as a disposable N95 filter.
I'd first come across these masks at the start of 2020 when we were choked by bushfire smoke, and the only disposable masks readily available were rigid industrial masks that were uncomfortable, and tended to make one look like an extra from a lo budget scifi film.
And being designed for industrial use they had a degree of unconscious sexism in that they were designed for larger male faces. They fitted me, but not J who has a smaller face.
However I'd seen these microfibre masks being used in Hong Kong by prodemocracy protestors while being tear gassed. While I had my doubts about whether they were properly certified, I reckoned that even if they weren't certified they were obviously effective enough against tear gas particles, otherwise nobody would use them. So I bought some via ebay and as well as a pack of filters.
And they certainly did help against bushfire smoke looking at the state of the filter after a few hours use.
There is of course a kicker in this - tear gas particles are around 0.5µm in size, while coronavirus particles are smaller at around 0.1µm in size, so given the lack of certification they could have simply been 'good enough' for larger particles such as smoke particles, and completely useless against coronavirus.
Well, given that proper certified N95 masks are hard to get just now, we went on the assumption that our dodgy ones were probably better than nothing.
So, we wore our masks, and when we ate out one night we went to a place where we could eat outside and there was plenty of air circulation - commonly called a sea breeze, and contented ourselves with walks along the beach where we could socially distance.
We abandoned all our earlier plans of going to see the Van Gogh show in the city, or even doing some big city shopping. And it was noticeable that a lot of people seemed suddenly to be wearing masks again and distancing from each other.
Despite this, even if the wildest thing we did was have a paddle, we enjoyed our days away. J's post op examination went well - she's making good progress and should be able to drive in a week or two.
Coming back home, we discovered that one of the gastro pubs in town had been struck with Covid, which is a bit of a worry given that the PCR testing system has collapsed and that rapid antigen self test kits are unobtainable - or almost so - I've managed to order two from Amazon for delivery probably the week after next.
I know full well that the country will be awash with them by early February, and that I've probably paid too much, but it's worth it for peace of mind.
Otherwise it has rained, been disgustingly humid, and all the weeds have grown making the backyard a jungle. In the dry years I used to miss the exuberance of the vegetation in wet years.
Not any more. Given that it's basically ideal conditions for snakes, next week will have to see some serious chopping and clearing ...