Wednesday, December 6, 2017

November - end of the Maddie era.

The end of the year is doing the "going so fast" thing, but I always find there are also strange long spaces in December. Once weekly things finish for the term and the Christmas dos are done, it's a little quiet. But still got to get there! I don't think I've been busier than normal, I thought November was a good month, but I got super run down and coldsores and tired. I've decided to work the minimum hours until the end of the year and start winding down.

So anyway! At the start of the month was the college foundation day, and I finally saw the medal I designed ages ago. Very exciting!

A special lady at church had a baby shower. It was the baby shower to end all baby showers, better than most weddings. The special touches as per Pinterest, and there were some mums there to share their wisdom which was very special. I stayed to see my present opened, the black play mat.

Some of us at church learned that some people had been living in Maitland for years and never been to Billabongs, so 5 of us went out for lunch. V enjoy.

I potted some orchids that a lady at church gave me. I have used spagnum moss, in a plastic cup with a hole in the bottom, then put that in a nice tea cup or candle holder.

My colleague came in with her baby. My other colleague has been cleared of cancer so he has been popping in too, so some good outcomes for both the people who left me in the office this year.

I got sick of checking facebook on my phone but I needed a habit to replace it, like gum for smokers. So I got a game called June's Journey. That's been really successful, I've really cut back on fb, and I don't find the game addictive. It's self limiting because I run out of points in 5 minutes.

Friday park walk has been a bit irregular because of some really hot fridays, but one day I saw Dad practicing croquet and had a little play with him, which was fun.

JK and I saw Murder on the Orient Express, and had an ent book lunch of dumpings and shan dong chicken, and I bought a lip stick at mecca maxima. I bought 2 lippys this month, but then I got a coldsore so lips are in hostpital.

Home group had a picnic at a playground I've never been to before, in a newish suburb which is actually really fancy. I dont get out of East Maitland much! We had fish and chips by a lagoon.

My team at Tocal had our annual workshop get together. Everyone comes from around NSW so we had a central location this year in Sydney at the Quarantine Centre Manly. It was a great place because so much natural beauty, we weren't cooped up because everything was spread out.

Fairy penguin footprints!

Possum at dinner!

JK and I saw the local Upstage Theatre production of Much Ado About Nothing, which was delightful. We made a nice picnic and the play was fabulous. They have minimal props but what they have is authentic. It was set in WW2 England and they hired proper uniforms and period frocks.

We had a family BBQ for my brothers birthday, and J brought her new beau and her 2 foster kids. We played finska, had birthday cake. It was nice to meet the kids.

Maddie moved out on the last Thursday of the month. On the Saturday before she took a trailer load down to Sydney with her mum and 2 friends. I took this photo in B+W because I was doing the B+W challenge on facebook, but its supposed to have no people so I didn't post it. I've never seen people move house in long flowing dresses before. So girly.

Some home group girls and I went to the Olive Tree twilight markets in Maitland, celebrating R's birthday. I always love the food and music, and I looked out for Christmas presents.

Maddie's last night at church :(

And an update on my garden. Irises are having rot problems again. I am planning some irrigation to keep water onto my wall garden. I've got 4 bags of chook poo, and since my veggie garden has been less productive, it probably needs a rest and some renewal so I'm building a compost pile in the garden, covered with plastic.

Coralie my new housemate moved in on Saturday, which is going well so far. I've known her for a few years at church, she's quirky and funny, and also very clean, so the first few days have been delightful. I've done some cleaning and decluttering and finding Maddie's forgotten things, so the house feels a bit cleaner.

I've taken a morning off today, as I'm having a lady over to help me hang a heavy mirror I'm afraid to deal with. And there was a delivery and a pickup so it was good to be home instead of going to work and dashing home to meet her. Did my TiffXO workout, wrote this blog post, and watched Strictly Ballroom, because today is day 3 of a self care challenge, watch your favourite movie. So making the most of it! Self care for the end of the year.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

October: all over NSW.

I started the month with my first iris flower! I’ve had half a dozen more, from 2 plants!

I’ve designed probably my first product packaging, the labels on these little jars of honey that are given to visitors and guests at work. Nutritional info on the back and everything proper.

M had a car accident in the garage. 

Back to the garden, it was a fantastic mulberry year! Last year was not so good. We had so much M made a tart, and I added leftover pulp to my porridge and had delicious purple porridge.

It was however a terrible year for my peas. Both snow peas and sweet peas were stunted, mildewy and under-productive. I didn’t mind because I have picked so many poppies, and the iris flowered, but I guess I’ll have to rest the soil or rotate crops.

Have had a few strawberries!

I finished my native bee hotel, and temporarily hung it up, it needs to be moved to a less western-sun location I think.

Orchids are blooming a second time! Which has me a bit obsessed. I have now been given 4 orchids, but I haven’t bought any.

I had my annual trip to Mudgee from Monday to Friday. H showed me how to make feta and ricotta cheeses, I did a bit of wandering around shops, we checked on their lambs and new chicks, went out for a lovely winery lunch one day, had a good catch up, and I did a few jobs like I printed a batch of photos, and bought fabric for a sewing project gift. However, my energy declined throughout the week. My body was very weird. We had to reschedule one day so I could go back to bed. I guess my body was taking a chance to rest after the stress of September. 

I joined my family for a weekend at Eaglereach in the hunter valley, and that was lovely too. Had some nice rainy weather, watched Castle, all cooked meals, Julia’s foster kid played a lot of pool with people, and it was nice hanging out time. I was still super fatigued on Saturday so I spent more time in bed, but on Sunday I got back to normal and did a bushwalk.

October has been marked by the company of a big flock of yellow tailed black cockatoos, wailing around the sky and eating the silky oak flowers next door. I love wild birds. I’ve decided I’m not really a pet person, but I love love love seeing wild birds and native animals.

I’ve noticed a blue tongue lizard hiding behind my veggie garden and sticking his head out of my drain.

M has been doing a very impressive job getting the washing machine and wall repaired, much of it on her own, but getting help when needed. It’s been a good project to learn skills, and nice timing that she has finished uni and has the time to do it. But she’s moving to Sydney at the end of November.

I went to Maitland Levee to see a navy parade march through town with a band, just because I love parades and this sort of thing. Not many people were watching though. But it’s an interesting tradition called Freedom of Entry. 

Maitland has an op shop for food called Aussie Care, and currently they have ice cream. So much gourmet ice cream. 5 for $5 sometimes. I’ve decided not to keep buying it though.

I was asked to be on a panel of women at a church women’s night. I think it went well. I really like how Debbie runs women’s things, they are very directly useful, she sticks to the basics. What helps your relationship with Jesus. That sort of thing.

Me and a colleague drove to Narrandera for the annual Rural Women’s Gathering that our branch of DPI help run. It was 8 hours each way, so a tiring 3 days, but it was enjoyable spending that time with Dani and talking with her in the car, and I enjoyed the gathering. Interesting to compare it with the other conferences I’ve gone to, like the Adobe conference or the Christian one for women. I liked how the Friday night was out in a field at sunset (followed by sculptures and lights in the bush), so we didn’t spend the whole weekend inside. I thought the workshops were very helpful (I did entrepreneurship, and a walk and talk about fitness and some background of the town) and it seemed like they were really the best time for women to connect, find other women in their stage of life even in their own communities who they hadn’t met before, and get professional advice or whatever they needed at their stage of life. The main speakers weren’t tied together by a theme, they all spoke about their own experiences. Some had started businesses, or had other career stories, or whatever. And the big feature speakers were the author of the Dressmaker and the producer of the movie, who were childhood friends from Jerilderie. Really interesting to hear details about how the book was written and how the sets and costumes were created, and just amazing to hear from women who have done such amazing things and who are so passionate about country Australia and particularly country women.

Something I’m very thankful for is that my colleague Nathan, who has been off work having chemo since May, for lots of cancer, had good news that his cancers have responded to treatment, so he’s continuing chemo to the end of the year and it looks like he’ll be back to work after that! He has been back at work a few times this month, for an hour here and there, catching up with people. This week we had a special honey tasting of native bee honey on ice-cream in our office. You can buy this honey for $30 for a small bottle, and it is WORTH IT. If you like gourmet special food, try this. Have a honey party. It’s runny, citrusy, and something else. Unique and delicious.

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.