Sunday, October 8, 2017

September: sad, busy, blessed.

Working on the Lucerne book at work, the Lucerne Lady brought her son to work and we went on lunchtime walks together. He brought his magnifying glass once, and found some poo.

I've been focusing on an area of personal development this year called 'Not arguing with my colleague'. 1st, because it's fruitless and they get offended, and 2nd, because I personally need to learn discretion and just let "you be you and me be me" and work on my own growth. I've done really well all year! But lately I've been caught up in a couple of conversations, which if they were just conversations would be fine, you have a discussion and you move on. But this colleague goes away, mulls on it, and then usually sends a long email. Just don't have the time or interest to engage with extra non-work email at work, so this month I tried to set a boundary, suggested they keep things offline, which probably was more drama than needed. So I've pretty much failed my challenge of a year of no arguing. I will have to reset and try again next year.

I would kind of like to have one more blow-out though, because when this colleague is bowing their way gracefully out of an issue they sometimes say "I'm just worried about you", and frankly, I hate that. I can't think of a wise way to confront the issue, it's too slippery, so again, just get on with my life and be me. 

More progress on my native bee hotel: making the bedrooms in clay blocks, wood blocks and sticks.

Maddie's 21st was the party of the year! Costumes and dancing and speeches in the Anglican church hall. What a special girl she is.

I decorated our breakfast table for her on her actual birthday.

Mum and Aunty Sandra were going down to visit Grandfather when they were called from the nursing home that he was dangerously sick. So mum spent quite a while down there and her sisters also visited.

I dropped fitness out of my routine to focus on cello practice more, because there was a student concert. I did a run through of my 2 pieces at work in the morning for colleagues, and I was a bit disappointed because I got stuck a lot, but on the night I made it through well and was pretty pleased. Mum and Dad came to hear.

On the Saturday mum and I went down to Goulburn and back to visit Grandfather for what was the last time. We left very early, arrived around 10:30, and I had a little cry and the woman who was looking after him there was lovely. All he was able to do really was suck on a lemon swab, squeeze your hand, and maybe hear music and talking. 2 other Aunties came with a couple of cousins. We played music for him, hung out together, it was a nice day. Painful but good. We left after lunch, went to the paragon for a hot chocolate before we drove home. The waitress had a good radar because she was very kind. 

Disappointingly, they painted over the bird mural on the back wall.

G was on holidays so we had arranged for her to visit for the weekend, but she came on Sunday instead and stayed through til midweek. On Sunday we walked to the art gallery cafe and had a really delicious lunch outside. I had beef cheek on sweet potato waffle! And then we caught bus home which was super fun too, my first local bus. It’s a good service.

We went to church, and at church dinner mum told us Grandfather had just died. I wasn’t very upset though, I think because I had been very upset earlier in the week, when I knew he was dying. I had a flex the next day to hang out with G which was very nice. I was just super tired because of the sadness. We went over to mum and dads for morning tea, and then mum came with us to the new indoor heated pool, and we had a gentle swim, and it was lovely. I think we rested in the afternoon. I'm very blessed with friends like G who was good to have around on a day like that. 

I went back to work on Tuesday and just tireded my way through the week. G visited the uni and spent a bit of time with JK. My lovely leader at work bought me this orchid as a condolence gift. She knows plants are my love language!

On the Saturday, I went bushwalking with Liz from work, and AM and CW from Sydney, at the national park near Mooney Mooney. It is only open during the wildflower season, it’s got lots of volunteers and its great. Would repurchase. Flowers, views, a range of walks, information for walkers.

Sunday, I took a book to the art gallery for reading breakfast. I’m reading The Things Of Earth, which is a great follow on to my reading this year, which was the Barefoot Investor and The Art of Frugal Hedonism. Christian enjoyment of creation without idolising it. It has started with a section on the trinity. Great to be reading that because church is doing a series on the trinity too. Always good to get multiple inputs on an idea.

The next weekend, I lined up Steve to show Liz and me how to put our kayaks on my car. And once they were on the car, we took them out to Morpeth! We kayaked for 2 hours. It was great. And I wasn’t stiff the next day! Would repurchase.

Just a photo of the kitchen table. Has permanent flowers, which makes any mess look perfect.

I made crumpets! I found the lemon butter I had made, remembered how good it was on the black fox crumpets, and decided to make my own. I don’t know why I had never done this before. Its just a really yeasty pancake really. I made the mixture, put it in the warm sun on the table to rise while I went to the shops, came home and cooked them in egg rings. I now want to get crumpet rings which are the same but higher, so you get thicker crumpets. I cooked the whole batch and froze most of them and every weekend I defrost 3 and refresh them in the george foreman, and have them with lemon butter and blueberries. 


Sweet peas all this colour this year.

Took Thursday off to drive down to Goulburn, taking Julia and Heather. We got Heather from the airport. We ate ham and cheese sandwiches in the car. We did a music practice at the church when we got there. I was a bit stressed and snipped at Julia for chirping about about how sad mum was. I just think feelings should be ignored where possible. Dad and I went for a walk to the rose garden park. I saw a funny cactus. This is the house we had.

Went for the traditional Goulburn dinner at the Golden Star Chinese, joined by one of Heather's colleagues.

On Friday, some of us walked to the church. Had another run through of the 2 songs and did sound check. Got a bit real when the coffin was brought in. Family all arrived, and my friend DB from work who is a family friend and gardener. The service went pretty well, there was an army bit with ex servicemen laying poppies and reading his service record, and anglican prayer book parts, and the 2 songs which were good. I played, my 3 siblings and our uncle sang, Amazing Grace and 10,000 Reasons, which are both good for a funeral if you get the pace right. There was a church luncheon, and I was tired. Then family went to the soldiers club, but it was busy and all I wanted was a hot chocolate and not talking to people, so I walked home via a hot chocolate at the Paragon. Siblings headed off in the evening, I stayed another night with mum and dad.

Next day, parents went to a family meeting in Canberra with a lunch, but I stayed in Goulburn. I did Tiffxo, showered, and then walked into town. It was a bad windy day. The lilac festival was on, so there were markets in the park. I didn’t see any lilacs though. I tried out 2 cafes, one for lunch one for lunch dessert. Walked 5 km total. Got a card and gift for Julia B. Then I drove to Mossman for JBs birthday dinner, then drove home. It was good driving.

That was the end of the month. The next day, I had so many poppies to pick, and my first iris flower was almost ready to open.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

August: that time of year.

I've had this post in draft for a week. Time to set it free!

The Adobe Makeit Conference feels like last year. I went with K a new casual designer at work who is also from church. I stayed with AM, K stayed with friends, the conference was great! It was a hectic few days, driving and parking a work car in the city, enjoying the sessions and crowds, catching up with AM and Elsie and I also popped into the new offices of Matthias Media and saw Anna.

Smuggling fancy butter out of the conference lunches.

I made a SPLENDID thai red curry in my slow cooker. Recipe here. An instagram friend shared it a while back. JK had some and approved. You need at least half a jar of curry paste, is my only advice.

It's that time of year. I took a flex day on a Friday. I decided to go to the Sandgate markets and buy flowers for some friends, plus get whatever veg bargains they had. I got a box of tomatos for $2 and 2 trays of pink lady apples for $20.

I went to JK house and she helped me bunch them up. We did 7 bunches! Then I delivered a few (left them in tins of water at front doors if people weren't home. It took most of the morning. I also did little notes.

So. Many. Food.

After a rest, I took more flowers out and then did park walk with friends. The day wasn't exactly as restful as I hoped because of the flower business, but when I saw this beautiful evening sky I realised I was feeling more refreshed, because I'd been outside doing things on a beautiful day.

I've got a new routine, to visit the farmer stalls in the mall before cello and buy a cauliflower or bread or whatever good things are selling.

There was a bunch of glorious sunrises. And a lot of pretty mild weather. It's a nice time of year.

Ah, just a photo of a chair I DID NOT BUY. But I want all the chairs.

JK and me saw Les Miserables at the Civic Theatre. So emotional. It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light. GOOD SONGS!

Maddie and I went to our neighbour's 80th Birthday. The Chinese traditional dance was a surprise.

Maddie discovered a very old cemetery out in the fields. I will go back, it's a great walking destination. Terribly bad condition. Only about 3 of the stones are still standing. There's apparently some kind of heritage plan, but hmmmooo.

I've got a flapper costume organised for Maddie's 21st next Saturday. Borrowed a dress and spent some money on extras at Spotlight. PHEW. Costumes are a bit of hassle.

Home Group girls had a girls night. We made dumplings.

And finally, on the weekend I was driving through town and an antique shop that is never open was open! And I bought this pale birds egg blue vintage jug. I don't know what for, its just classic and perfect. Orange juice would look well in it.

And now for my reflections.

I'm still enjoying reading The Art of Frugal Hedonism. I think about money a lot really, not like with $$ in my eyes, but always thinking is this wise, is that wise, is this generous, is that greedy, and the book is helpful to reassess western lifestyles, the air we breathe. For example, I was waiting to see Les Mis, and we had about 45 minutes, and it was after lunch time and I hadn't had lunch, just a brunch, so I thought I might get hungry during the play. But I suddenly really didn't want to go to a cafe for a second time that day, spend money, fill my stomach and fill in time. That's what I would normally do, spend money to fill in the time pleasantly, and that's actually not a great use of money. So I scouted around the cafes and found one of them sold apples for $1, and I bought it and ate it outside the theatre, and it was quite enjoyable really. Really I should have been prepared with a drink bottle and my own apple, but at least I was resourceful. 

The book has a lot of chapters, only a couple of pages long, so it's easy to digest. A chapter at breakfast time. Thing I already do: planning socialising around exercise or making, rather than eating and spending. Me and the home group girls doing dumpling-making-and-eating. It was  healthier than pizza, it was fun making them, it was about $8 per person and we all took away enough for another 2-3 meals. Not only this, the conversation was great. The Frugal Hedonists reckon we are hard-wired to talk and do, and talking happens better while our hands are doing something, or our feet are moving. Thing I want to do: small spontaneous adventures. A long night walk. A train trip up the valley. Thing that I have learnt: A surplus of something makes you feel rich. I mainly go for meal prepping and efficiency, but when I bought 2 trays of apples for $20, and a box of tomatoes for $2, I had SO MUCH! An abundance! I put apples in everything! I feel rich in apples! Tomatoes for everyone! Or when I've found cheeses marked down to 50 cents and bought them all and shared them with friends. Or buying a tray of mangos. We need to enjoy those seasons of abundance. It's a nice offset to the norm of low-waste, efficient meal-prepping. 

I found the Four Corners episode on Housing Affordability and the Insight episode on homeless older women very confronting. I think bc we've had a couple of generations of affluence in Australia, we think affluence is the norm, but actually it's the exception. If you think about ANY other time and place, lots of people people were/are poor, old people depended on their families, vulnerable people got put in the workhouse, or committed crimes and got transported to Australia, or starved to death because of the potato famine. I've read Oliver Twist. I've heard of The Great Depression. Etc, etc, etc. Poverty is actually more the norm, but like that saying, the first generation treasures something, the second generation takes it for granted, and the third generation forgets it. The Great Depression is distant history now, we grandchildren take being middle-class for granted, and then whoa! actually debt is just as bad a trap as it was in Little Dorrit, old age is just as vulnerable as in Our Mutual Friend, lawyers fighting insurance cases can suck away your savings like in Bleak House.

In the stories, there is a mix of tragic bad luck, foolish naivety (one lady worked for no pay for 26 years!), and really awful stories of sneaky mortgage brokers and dodgy property spruikers and greedy lawyers. All straight from Dickens. And then how different people deal with it is interesting: some women were grateful to live in a share house or with family, and others were so fiercely independent they won't settle for anything less than a unit of their own with a garden, so in the meantime they live in a van on a waiting list. There's some theory I've heard about contentment being found in the size of the gap between expectation and reality, which felt true here.

It's too easy for me to judge, because I'm 33 and healthy and in full employment and living in a town with affordable housing and I have supportive relationships. Haven't done anything to deserve this. 

My take-homes were: 
1. Trust God, because you don't know the future but he does, and he gives us our daily bread. 'In every station, new trials and troubles call for more grace than I can afford.' Song here.
2. Be wise, because you can't just trust God while you live beyond your means and still expect a nice retirement (this is a loose prosperity gospel I think), and while all our circumstances are different we can all learn to be wise. But don't worry so much you work yourself to the ground, see point 1.
3. Relationships are an important safety net. (And can even be financially helpful, like how I have a housemate, she keeps me company AND she helps pay my mortgage and bills a bit. Or you can consider buying property with a sibling or a friend, it's unusual but it does happen. It's often cheaper to live in community than in isolation, if it suits your situation—we all know housemates can be stressful!)
4. Jesus said blessed are the poor. If you are poor, own it. Girls of Slender Means! FruGALs! Frugal Hedonism! It's not the end of the world, it's just life with less money and less self-reliance and less worldly power. It doesn't mean less value in God's eyes, less community, less spiritual growth, less joy, less of anything really important.
5. We won't have to worry about this stuff in heaven, so I guess dying poor makes no difference in the big picture. All men are like grass. Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy. etc etc

I really wonder what the future of housing is in Australia. I guess the baby boomers will die eventually and that should free up some properties. I don't know. The situation in Sydney is impossible.

I was getting impatient with people and obsessed with efficiency. Time to watch the Sara Groves video again. Anyway, there aren't enough hours in the week. It's a lovely idea, to slow down and waste time, but monday to friday are full of work and cello and exercise and home group and physio exercises and a bit of TV and going to bed as early as I can. Thankfully the days are getting longer. I suppose I could sleep less, I'm getting a good 8-9 hours. And since my back is better it's been good sleep! Middle of the month was bad sleep, back was hurting and legs were going numb. Not extreme, just uncomfortable and frustrating.

Work was dreary. Not very busy, and nobody else was the office. By the 3rd week I was grumpy like a hermit. Every so often someone came in and says "ooooooh, it's quiet in here, are you all alone?". It's me and my podcasts and audiobooks. Judge John Hodgman. My only company at work. I love him so much. Oh and James Valentine on ABC. But now a few people are in, including the new designer. Much better for my mood.

Very thankful I have regular weekly social things with people like Monday Tiff with Fi/Ros, and Friday park walk. Because they are regular things they don't require much emotional initiation or organisational energy. I've met a new woman at church who plays the violin, so there's potential to actually play my cello with another person!  

Mantras. Brene Brown is a fan of mantras and I've realised I use them. Norm Etherington talked about having ONE bible verse to cling onto in life. Or for a season. In the past it has been 'God works all things for the good of those who love him'. My mantra this month is 'you be you and I'll be me'. It reminds me that I can let other people's advice and opinions roll off me, and I can keep my opinions and advice to myself, which is wise because my opinions are usually blunt and unloving. So when I'm annoyed by someone I say to myself 'you be you and I'll be me'.