Monday, November 30, 2020

November Check In - December Goals

It's amazing how moods affect everything - particularly getting your goals done. I'm looking at my goals and seeing how little I got done and now I'm trying to be kind and understanding to myself. Depression is what depression is - and not getting stuff done is one of the consequences on the back of black dog. 

But then again, I've not done that badly either. 

So here we go. My November goals were:

10000 steps five times a week (at least)

I managed 10000 steps three times a week on average - not bad. On the days I didn't get there I was in the gym / training. So this was half done. And it's okay. 

Have the mason's books done by 4 November.

Yes! Finally, these have been finished and completed and are in with the auditor. 

Work on the novel every day for at least 20 minutes. 

Nope, not done at all. I barely touched the novel. 

Read four books:

I get a tried hard badge for this one. I've read two and a half books this month:

  • The Bee and the Orange Tree by Melissa Ashley (which I really didn't like)
  • Honeybee by Craig Silvey (one of the books of the year for me)
  • and I'm halfway through The Girls by Emma Cline. 

Read ten pages of Ulysses a day.

This wasn't a month to start the Ulysses challenge. Didn't happen. 

And it's back on the no gluten, sugar or dairy regime.

I've not been perfect, but I've been working on keeping all of these limited on a day to day basis.

And my goals for December:

Read four books plus finish the one I'm reading. 

I made a pact with myself that I'd read 35 books this year. When I finish The Girls, I'll be on 31 books read. This is acheiveable.

Write more of the novel.

Not putting an amount on this, I just want to do this - I'm getting my groove back, time to get writing. 

Exercise five days a weeks:

Will have to make up some days around Christmas, but this should be acheiveable. I'm in the gym 3-4 days a week already.

Book some tickets for some theatre:

Because theatre is starting to make a reappearance and I've missed it. There is a chance to get some tickets to the odd MTC play between January and March. The season seems to be opening up after March all going well. 

Use the vouchers I found

I found the following vouchers - they need using:

  • $100 Hoyts Voucher
  • $100 Village Cinemas Voucher
  • $100 Dymocks Voucher
  • $50 Endota Spa Voucher
Need to check the expiry and T&Cs - but these need using. Hoping the movie vouchers can be extended - the cinemas have only just opened again. (actually just checked - they have another two years to run on these - still, want to use some of them up. 

Have a good time with the cat in Adelaide over Christmas. 

All going well, COVID restrictions allowing, Lucifer and I are going on a road trip. He's going to stay with Grandma for a few days all going well. I'm hoping this all goes well - if it happens at all. All depends on the border restrictions. From history, Lucifer is pretty good in the car. I've got him a comfy cage where he can have a bed, a litter box, some kibble, Nemo and his Harvey Norman bag inside for the trip over. Who am I kidding, he's going to hate it. But Grandma will think he's the bees knees. 

Let's hope we get back in the saddle.

Today's Song: 


Sunday, November 29, 2020


And Sunday Stealing goes a little bit personal this time round, says she who is very proud of her eight kilo weight loss (15 lbs in the old measure). Still, it's making me think about things I don't feel like thinking about. But we all have to face up to ourselves at some stage - for me, it's my Sunday Morning blog.

Questions, provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing, as always. 

1. My biggest barrier to weight loss is...

My own willpower. I'm also fighting with menopause and the joys of a galacially slow metabolism. It's fun. 

2. What is your relationship with food like? 

Basically healthy. Other than I comfort eat, I don't have any food problems. I'm making a very conscious effort to only eat when hungry. It's working for the most part. 

3. What was the last time you had fun that made you smile for a few days

I went on a picnic with the Faber crew today. We all made it - and it was great to hang out with these people. We've only met twice in the last nine months in person. Was fabulous. I like being with my tribe. 

4. What are triggers in your life that lead to eating?

Normally friends, fun or the knowledge I'm due in the gym in three hours and I don't want to go in there with a full stomach. 

5. What inspires you to be healthier

Knowing my father died at 55-years-old and there is type-two diabetes in both sides of the family. I try to keep things healthy because of this. 

6. Name two foods that you think are “bad”

Food isn't good or bad. But I don't like bananas because they are often bruised and mucky and I think chick peas are strange (think garbanzo beans). Chick peas are best left for hummus. 

7. Are your expectations for yourself too high?

Probably. We talked about this today. I've had a spot of depression lately, which has meant I'm not as productive as I normally would be and that doesn't help the spiral. I'm an over-achiever - not being productive sucks. 

8. Would you like more fun in your life?

Yes. It's been a hard year, and I still had fun - but I would like more fun. A little bit more money would be good too - but I'm certainly grateful for what I have. 

9. What is your one comfort food?

Ice cream. Always has been, always will be. 

10. How would you give someone encouragement?

For what? Normally I'd talk to them and offer gentle reinforcement. 

11. Do you get enough sleep?

Not really - I get enough to function - and I sleep better in winter. Summer is hard - but I've been living on 5-6 hours sleep most nights for over ten years. Another joy of menopause.

12. What activities make you feel more relaxed

Walking, reading, seeing moview, spending time with friends.

13. Where do you need to practice forgiveness in your life?

I need to forgive myself for a lot of things. I'm good at forgiving other people, letting things go and not carrying grudges - but forgiving myself is another matter. 

14. What is one thing you have not done because of how you looked?

Many many times I have not gone out to parties and other social gatherings pretty much because I beleived I was too fat and ugly to go and fit in. I've not done that for a long time, but my twenties and thirties had many missed opportunities because of this. Thank god for therapy is all I will say. 

15. What would you like more of in your life?

Physical contact. I cuddle my cat. That's about the extent of tough in my life at the moment. 

Today's Song:

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Problem with Josh Lyman

I'm on a West Wing bender at the moment. Tired of the news from America, tired with the drabness and stupidity of Australian Federal politics, I've turned to The West Wing for some gentler, kinder, less loopy viewing. Not that The West Wing is real - like it's telly. But there is a big part of me that wishes that there was a reasonable man in power, one who is thoughtful. One who doesn't immediately go to Twitter or some three word slogan to get a message across. 

But having The West Wing on in the background has made something a little obvious.

I have an inconvenient crush on Josh Lyman.

This is silly. 

There is so much to not like about this character, especially when you frame him in these #MeToo times. 

First up, he's a ginger. Not that there is anything wrong with gingers, but gingers are generally unlovable. If you google hot gingers, you don't get much back. It's like asking google about French Military Victories - and it comes back with this:

With the possible exception of Damian Lewis, I'm left scratching my head. 

Bradley Whitford, who plays Josh Lyman, is not what you'd call an empirical stud. Okay, he's not ugly. He's got lovely broad shoulders and snakey hips. Indeed, he looks like an accountant or dentist - but he does have kind eyes. That wins votes.

So to the dimples. 

But enough on the physicality. Josh is a problematic character to have a crush on - we  talked about this at our Faber picnic today. Josh Lyman is somebody you have to love. You don't necessarily want to, but you do. 

I mean, he's an inveterate mansplainer. A dreadful mansplainer. Donna puts up with him, but he has to put his spin on things because he likes to think he's right. Like all the bloody time. 

He's never really grown up. He might be a political great, but he's still living like a university student. From the backpack slung over one shoulder to the oversized pyjamas to the casual wear which he probably bought when he was still a student. Oh, and he always needa a decent haircut. Then again, The West Wing was filmed at the end of the nineties and the start of the noughties.  

Maybe it's the boyish thing - he admits that when it comes to getting women he's smart (well smart but clueless), and funny (Yeah, will give him that) but he has the boyish thing going on too. 

He's also very caring. He would never hurt anybody intentionally - he's hurt you with his cluelessness, but that is about it.

He's a very loyal friend. You have to love that about him.

But still. 

I get getting a bit hot under the colour about Tom Ellis. There are plenty of other male actors out there who a bit of yum.

My dodgy taste in men sends me Josh Lyman's way. It's making me scratch my head.

There is no hope. 

Today's Song:

Friday, November 27, 2020


We had a team lunch today. It was held at the restaurant where we have book group. Other than a few tweaks to the menu it was lovely to be back here, and great to be with my team for lunch. When we got there, we were presented with a hamper each, which our manager had sent down, seeing she should make it as she's located in Sydney. This was a lovely thought.

But I have to admit, I don't get hampers. Never have. I do think they're a really nice thought, but I don't get the why of them. Maybe it's because I live on my own and I don't have a need for food, especially food I don't buy for myself. Maybe it's you always end up with really strange stuff, or odd stuff, or just stuff you'd never think of buying. They always have odd combinations of food. 

In today's missive there was:

  • A small bag of lollies
  • Some soy crisps
  • Two very, very small double choc chip shortbread biscuits
  • A box of sesame barbeque kri kri peanuts
  • And some tea leaves, enough to make one cup of tea.
I am not complaining about this gift - it was lovely of the boss to think of us like this  - but it just seems like a lot of effort for a hell of a lot of packaging. 

Working for corporates, I've done well with the corporate gifts over the years. A bottle of Moet was handed over at one job. A bottle of Veuve Cliquot came with another. Nice alcohol.  Made a difference from the normal water bottles, coffee mugs and ear buds you often get for a corporate gift. 

But I'm still bemused by hampers. We got one for my colleague when he was in hospital. The company, Snowgoose, does a lot of fresh fruit in with their packages, which are boxed up in a wooden box. My practical side says what do you do with the crate afterwards - and what would I do with all that fruit, seeing that I don't really eat the stuff (unless it's mangos or strawberries). I like to be practical about these things. 

The best thing about the hamper - the cat loves the box it came in. 

Hampers  just don't make much sense to me. But they are a nice thought. 

Today's Song:

Thursday, November 26, 2020

A visit from the black puppy

The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. 

So, hands up, at present, I'm being visited by the black dog. 

I'm not concentrating. I have little energy. I don't want to do anything. I'm quite happy to sit and stew in my own muck. 

But I'm also looking after myself, and being good to myself. The cat is being fed, cossetted and tended to. I'm showering twice a day. My teeth are being cleaned. The bills are being paid. I'm functioning as an adult. 

But I'm not writing. I can't face my novel. And I want to hide. 

If you were to talk to me, you'd not know that anything was wrong. I might come across as as touch subdued. But after 30 years of dealing with depression, I'm good at covering it. 

I'm also good at managing it and digging myself out of the place I find myself in. 

And I've caught this early. 

The black dog is more a black Labrador puppy nuzzling at my heels. It's not a rabid Rottweiler going for my throat. It's still annoying. 

So I called my one up this morning to let him know. He's great about this. He told me to keep talking. Keep being good to myself. Breathe. Do what I need to do. And let myself off the hook for not being productive. 

I then had lunch with Pete the Engineer - and we talked about it too. 

Pand: You know, I think a lot of this has been brought on by coming out of lockdown. 

Pete: I get that. Lockdown has been great for introverts like us.

Pand: It has. Then yesterday, I was out for breakfast, lunch then masons in the evening.

Pete: How did you cope?

Pand: By 10 pm last night I was ready to either throttle somebody or run away screaming. I gave my apologies and left quickly, removed myself from people. That helped. I don't like people that much. 

Pete: I know - neither do I. But what are you going to do now?

Pand: Look after myself. Keep talking. Keep exercising. Eat well (said while I was taking a bite of jerk chicken and salad - healthy and yummy). Get rest. Keep my alcohol to a minimum. Recognise if it gets worse, seek some counselling. 

Pete: You're going to be fine. 

Pand: Yes. This shall pass. It might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.

And I will be fine. 

I know what's brought all of this on. It's a big mix of things:

  • The end of lockdown
  • Christmas stress 
  • The feeling of failure around not getting more of the novel done
  • The necessary end of a relationship
  • The desire to do more balanced with what can be done in a couple of areas of my life
  • Feeling a little underemployed
Some things I can do something about. Others I can't. 

It's a matter of knowing the difference between what you can change and what you can't and getting on with it. 

I've booked a retreat with the Gunnas crew in February. Weekend away down the Great Ocean Road with Catherine Deveny and the Gunnas. I have something to look forward to. 

But I'm okay. 

It helps to articulate this. 

Thanks for listening. It's helped. 

Today's Song: 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A good eating day

Today is a social day. 

I was up early, showered, dressed, then walked out the door at 6.45 am and walked down to Three Bags Full Cafe to meet my mate for breakfast.

It's still a strange feeling walking outside without a mask on. What's even stranger is meeting people for a meal. 

And this was extraordinary. Davo had the Chilli Scrambled Eggs. 

I went the ricotta hotcakes, with grilled thyme infused peaches, berry compote, whipped ricotta and caramelised white chocolate. It was AMAZING. I was in serious foodie heaven. 

More amazing was spending time with Davo. It's good to be back in the cafes rather than meeting on zoom. 

The my friend Merijn came over for lunch. Really she just came to check out the cat, but as it was her birthday last week and I took her out for lunch. She used to be nearby, and as she's on the bench, coming this way was easy for her. 

So it was of to Square and Compass, another favourite spot in East Melbourne. I had one of favourite dishes - rosti, topped with a poached egg, smoked salmon, herbs, whipped ricotta and dill. Also glorious. 

Thankfully this wasn't too big - especially after this morning's breakfast.

And needless to say, dinner will be a cup of miso soup before I go off to Masons tonight.

It is just nice to be out again. Seeing people face to face. Even if you can't hug them. 

Today's Song: 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Writing with Dev - Part Seventeen

I have nothing to say - or more to the point I don't have much to say and it's been a bit of a dead day workwise and I have very little to say.

So we're going to write along with Dev. Write for five minutes. 

I could talk about harissa paste. I bought some the other day not quite knowing what I was going to do with it. Now I'm glad I did . So tonight, for dinner, I got some of the chicken thighs I bought the other day for making jerk chicken, I took a dinner's worth of it, coated it in harissa and a bit of olive oil and roasted the chicken thigh for dinner. Along with some Coles Green Goddess salad, this was an inspire choice. The rest of the chicken thighs are marinating in a jerk chicken rub, made of chopped onion, garlic, thyme, allspice, soy and lime juice. These will get baked tomorrow some time.

Thinking of food, I'm having lunch with my mate Katrijn tomorrow and breakfast with the inimitable Davo, who I'm meeting at 7 am tomorrow and I really have to put this in my phone so I don't forget. 

I'm sipping on a glass of kombucha, which is tarter than I normally like it - think the warmer weather speeds up the fermentation process. But it is not bad, but it tastes like the stuff you get in the shops. 

But I've just worked out I need to remind Damo that we are meeting - must do that now before he goes to bed.

Now we are supposed to write for ten minutes. 

I took a doss hour today. After a meeting and after lunch. I got in the car, forgetting that it was getting around to school pick up time, pretty much just to get out of the flat. I'm glad I have a job which allows me to do this. I needed to get out. It seems we're all grumpy in the office and we're in need of some relief. We're meeting in town for lunch on Friday - looking forward to that. looking forward to being out during the day. Looking forward to taking a train into the city. Looking forward to going to our book group restaurant and seeing who is left. Looking forward to having calamari salad for lunch - and not the chicken parmiagiana which they do so well. Looking forward to seeing my workmates in the flesh.

But today, I did a book shop run. I went to one of my Faber class mate's book launch. She's written a memoir about her time in Afghanistan. I couldn't listen to the talk live as I was at the gym last night, but I listened to the recording after and I was intrigued. So I went out. Drove to Hawthorn, and Readings bookshop, knowing that the book was in stock there, parked in the Coles car park and went in to buy the book - along with another, which I shouldn't have done, but there is a rule somewhere that you cannot go into a book shop without buying at least two books. So along with Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet,  I picked up Sanaz Fahouhi's Love Marriage in Kabul. The latter is my classmate's book. I was intrigued by the book launch chat, and Sanaz has said a lot about this in class. We're having a picnic on Saturday - I'll get her to sign my copy at the picnic. If I'm lucky I might get to play with her year old son. Should be a good day. 

It is weird not wearing masks on the street. You have to wear a mask when you're in the shops, but on the street - no masks - though lots of people are still wearning them. I felt kind of naked as I got out of the car, very self conscious. I was rather enjoying the anonymnity that the mask provides. 

Now for the prompt section:

In my twenties I had no idea who I was. Absolutely no idea. I somewhat misguidedly moved to London when I was 23 and I stayed there for the next eight years. And it was here that I started to find myself. I still think that if I'd stayed in Australia I would be dead now. I was that miserable. It took a lot to shake myself of that misery, work out what all of it was about, and rid myself of the most of it. I liked becoming somebody else. But it took time. I loved living among the history. And the pubs.

Around the corner, talking of pubs, is a pub which I keep going back to. It's the National on Victoria Street. It has great food and a wonderful selection of gin. We're having out book group there in a few weeks, partly because I know it's a good pub and partly because the beer garden is COVID friendly. We all know we're going to have to keep COVIDing for the next eons, but knowing you're outside to eat is good - as long as it's not raining.

Believe it or not, we had a big discussion about where we were going to hold our last book group of the year. The book is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I have to find lollies which are wrapped and some plastic cups in which to put in the lollies and get all that stuff done as I normally do. Just to be COVID safe with the lolly vote. We have a couple of members who have elderly parents. 

Eventually, as the discussion about where to hold the book group took place, we came to a concensus that that an inner city beer gardened pub was the way to go. Our members are in Reservoir, South Kingsville, Mordialloc, Mentone, Elstenwick, Elwood and Hawthorn East. Richmond is a good place to be sort of central for all of us. And I can get pissed and walk home if I want. :)

In the future, we will need to get used to this COVID normal arrangement. I know I'm still not there. I'm still in lockdown mode - used to not going anywhere, liking that I'm not going anywhere. But I am sort of itching to get to the library, work from the library, get into the office and see somebody other than my cat. But it's still a foreign thought. It's taking a bit to get used to.

There, done. 

Today's Song:


Monday, November 23, 2020

Booking Travel for Two

I booked some accommodation today. A foreign feeling as the last time I went out of Melbourne was in March. The furthest I've been from home since March is down to Jonella's place in Mordialloc. 

But today I booked accommodation. A night in a cabin at a caravan park in Horsham, halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide. It's not costing me that much. A decent dinner with wine would be more expensive.

Normally, if I was driving to Adelaide, I'd drive all the way there in a day. 

But as I will be travelling with a black cat called Lucifer, it seems a good thing to stop after four hours and let both of us have a rest before travelling onto Adelaide the following morning. 

If I was only going for a long weekend, flying over and flying back, I'd leave him with a friend. 

But as I'll be gone for a week, driving the Western Highway all the way home to South Australia, and as my mother is adamant about this next point, the cat is coming with me.

It will mean having to take things like a litter box, cat food, cat toys, his rechargeable laser pointer, cat treats, his Harvey Norman bag, his bed blanket, his chasy stick and Nemo. 

Basically, I'll be taking more cat shit with me than my shit. 

All so he can go and stay with Nanna for a few days. At the insistance of my mother who wants a cat but won't get one. Something about travelling too much and she's getting to old. So she borrows them. And it's my turn to supply the animal. 

I now know how parents feel when they go on holiday.

I also find it funny that my Mum is more excited about having the cat come and stay than having me come home. It's only been five years since I've been home for Christmas. The last time I went to Adelaide for the stupid season was five years ago - my niece had just died. I had to be there.  

Talking of cats coming to stay, I'm taking in a friend's two black kittens in a few weeks - just for three days. The kittens, named Wink (who has one eye) and Shadow (who has two eyes) look like Lucifer's spawn. How Lucifer is going to take this is beyond me, but I've already giving him the nickname of Uncle Grumpy. 

He's going to have to get used to some upheavals, is the cat. Kittens (for a few days), a big trip to Adelaide - most of which will have him in his cat carrier on the drive over. Spending time at Nanna's house. 

It's all very stressful. But I'm confident he'll take it in his stride.

I now know why I travel alone. 

But it was nice making a travel booking once again. 

Today's song:

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Thanksgiving Questions

Oh, this should be fun. 

I'm Australian.

We don't do Thanksgiving.

To be honest, with our current Federal Government, giving thanks would be seen as a bad thing, because it could be construed as doing something nice, or admitting fault, which would never happen with this mob of idiots.

Anyway, Thanksgiving isn't a thing here - though Black Friday - that big sales day after Thanksgiving Day, that has become a thing - and I'm a bit thankful for that. 

So, Bev from Sunday Stealing has given a heap of Thanksgiving questions. I'll give them a bash.

1. What did you do for Thanksgiving when you were a kid?

We never had Thanksgiving when I was a kid because I am Australian and Thanksgiving isn't a thing here. Just like Americans don't have ANZAC Day. I don't do much for ANZAC day, other than feel guilty about sleeping through Dawn Service. 

2 .What’s your favorite family tradition?

My family don't have Thankgiving traditions because we are Australian, and Thanksgiving isn't a thing here. 

3. What’s your favorite way to give back and help others?

I happily give my time and services where I can. I used to donate blood, but they won't let me anymore. Our blood bank is really picky about who can give blood and I'm deemed a mad cow because I lived in England for more than six months in the nineties. I used to like giving blood regularly. Wish I could do it now. 

4. Name one person who can make you laugh, even months later. Why?

My old work husband makes me laugh. He's just a funny bloke. I enjoy his company. He thinks I'm mad too - a mutually beneficial relationship. 

5. What is the funniest thing you remember about a Thanksgiving past?

Never had a funny Thanksgiving moment because I'm Australian and we don't have Thanksgiving here. 

6. Do you have any unusual traditions, rituals or habits around Thanksgiving?

The only usual think around Thanksgiving I do is wonder why Americans do this - and ponder why this is held on a Thursday? Why not have it on a Friday or a Monday and make a long weekend of it? And it's just before Xmas. Like why not span it out to another date?

7. What time do you eat your Thanksgiving meal?

I have only ever been to one Thanksgiving meal - that was last year with friends. One of my friends is American. We ate mid-afternoon - again, that was a bit strange. 

8. Name one ancestor that you think about on Thanksgiving and tell us why.

I don't think of ancestors at Thanksgiving because I'm Australian and Thanksgiving isn't a thing here. 

9. Is there a family heirloom at the Thanksgiving table? What its story?

Nope. We don't have Thanksgiving heirlooms because Thanksgiving isn't a thing here. 

10. What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving Day?

No idea. It sounds like a day where you eat a lot. That can't be a bad thing. 

11. What is something that was done for you this year that makes you grateful this Thanksgiving?

Okay, even though I'm not American, I am very, very grateful I'm not American at the moment. I'm glad that we have all but eradicated COVID from our state and our shores. I'm thankful we have socialised medicine which is well funded and accessible to all. I'm thankful our hospitals are not overun. I'm thankful we have a government who has taken this seriously. I'm thankful that people have complied with the health department orders, worn masks, socially distanced and wash their hands (for the most part). We've got this contained. I'm very thankful for this. (There is ONE active case in my state now - down from two thousand about three months ago. Yes, it can be done.)

12. What foods do you usually have for Thanksgiving?

Again, we don't do Thanksgiving, but last year I was really perplexed with sweetpotatoes topped with marshmallow. I was VERY sceptical, but it works. Also I have to say, pumpkin is a vegetable and is used for savoury stuff here. It's not for sweetening, canning and putting in pies. That's just odd. And what the hell is Pumpkin Spice. I'm perplexed. Pumpkin is best roasted and had with chicken, or tarted up with cumin, garlic, onions and a few other bits and pieces and made into soup. 

13. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were little?

Again, it hasn't as we don't have Thanksgiving here. 

14. If you could share Thanksgiving dinner today with one person in history who would it be? Why? (Note: it can be a relative)

As we don't have Thanksgiving here, I don't know who I'd make a special event of that meal with, but I would love to sit down with the Obamas for dinner. They just seem like really nice people - interested and interesting. 

15. What is one wish you have for the next generation as they begin to establish their own Thanksgiving traditions

Maybe we in Australia could start some sort of Thanksgiving tradition. Maybe when we become a republic we could be thankful for being free of the Queen. 

Today's Song:

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Oblique Observations

 From the Oblique Strategies deck:

Imagine the piece as a set of disconnected events. 

Getting the Mail.

Driving down Collins Street, the change is palpable. There are people. They've started to put up the Christmas decorations, big red balls hanging from the boughs of trees. They don't feel as festive as last year. The streets, though moving with people, aren't back to where they were. The empty shops and social distance warning signs put a dampner on the Christmas spirit. The Cartier Shop, last year wrapped up like a present, is without decoration. maybe they're waiting for December. 

Town is overrun with construction. It's everwhere. Main roads have turned into rat runs. There's no throughway down Lonsdale Street. LaTrobe Street is blocked off at the Spring Street end. There are trucks and other vehicles floating around the Swanston Street part of LaTrobe as well, making it a trap as you navigate around trucks, pedestrians and trams.

The State Library is closed. I want to go there. I want to write into the evening in the round room after work on my spare laptop. I want to amaze at the octagonal ceiling as the words pour out of me. I want to listen to the random snippets of conversation which occur in hushed tones. I want to feel the thrill of writing somewhere else, other than my lounge room, in my chair, with my cat giving me grief. 

The Parking Fairy did her job. A late model Honda was pulling out from a space outside the post office. I pulling in after it. The Parking Fairy is a very good entity and having faith in her  - and I presume the Parking Fairy is of the feminine persuasion, because she is kind and benevolent, but occasionally fickle. 

I look for Tom at the Post Office. Tom's been handing over my mail for nearly twenty years. He had a heart attacked last year, a bad one, but he's back at work now. He's probably nearly due for retirement. He's seen a lot in his time. Part of me wonders why I have a post office box, but I know how good it has been over the last six months. It's allowed me to legitimately go into town during this pandemic - and it's given me another perspective to this whole thing.

For what happens next? When will we go back to the offices? When will we be able to sit in the library? Will the city store get back to normal? I know they've done the Myer windows this year - I like to visit them when it's not to busy. Meander past on my way out of the library after the shops have closed. As I'm not from here, it's not a nostalgic thing for me. I have friends who wax lyrical about going to the windows with their parents and grandparents, and now they are taking there kids there. I'm not emotionally attached to the experience of visiting the windows. Normally I just want to see how creepy they are. I prefer the Adelaide Christmas Pageant - which I was in once - I was a clown. It was rather fun getting tanked up on Screwdrivers at 7 am and wandering through the streets a bit squiffy. I used to love visiting Nipper and Nimble as a kid - they were big rocking horses. You used to go to the Magic Cave at John Martins and have a ride on one of these. This doesn't happen anymore. 

We used to be so innocent. 

I wonder if we will ever find our way back there. 

Today's Song: 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Small Joys

It's late. I've just got home to a stroppy pussycat who is demanding I play with him. 

The night has been lovely. Dinner with friends after a quick stop at other friends to drop something off. 

A dinner of dumplings, with friends. Iced tea with lychees in it. Chilli wantons. Potstickers. Bao buns with pork belly and soft shell crab. Eaten with friends. No alcohol for me - too far to drive. Besides, I had a gin and tonic before I left home - normal Friday night drinks with the team. 

Following dinner, a walk along the beach and along the river at Mordialloc. And a stop for ice cream on the way home. The night was cool. But not cold. 

And though we still need to wear masks when you're not stuffing your face and socially distance and check in at the places where we eat, it was nice to go out on a Friday night and enjoy the company of friends. 

It still feels a bit strange.

But I like it. 

Today's Song:

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Things to do in meetings when you're bored

 In in another one of those meetings. 

There is somebody bleating on about things I really don't want to be concerned with - or more to the point, I am concerned about, but this is the fifteenth time I've heard about it it. 

Yep, I'm bored. 

Thankfully the cameras are off. The microphone is off. There's about seventy people on the call. I've got the pack. 

Thankfully, I won't be called upon to speak at this - my one up will be doing that. So I have an hour to sit here and listen. 

So what to do?

  • Dust (Well, consider dusting)
  • Generally clean and tidy the front room
  • Ponder how to attack the cleaning of the spare room. 
  • File my nails
  • Paint my nails
  • Go talk to the cat who is asleep on the bed
  • Put away from stuff
  • Go to the loo
  • Get a drink
  • Make lunch
  • Eat lunch
  • Wash up after lunch
  • Check the New York Times front page
  • Check The Guardian front page
  • Check The Age front page
  • Check The Advertiser front page
  • Abstain from buying anything online
  • Get another drink
  • Talk to the cat again
  • Write this blog post
It's not like this for all meetings. Just for these which my one-up calls WAFTAMs - Waste of F^&*%$ Time and Money. As this meeting is a bit of a FUBAR (F&*(^ Up Beyond All Recognition) I think repurposing the time is a good thing. 

I can't be the only one who does this. 

Today's Song:

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Poisonwood Bible

My workmate and I are readers. Actually, my team at work are readers. The three of us read. And discuss. And it is absolutely fantastic. It's great when you get a group of people who love books. 

So Millie and I were having a chat today. We're both reading the same thing - Craig Silvey's Honeybee - which is brilliant. Millie has about fifty pages to go, I'm about a quarter the way through. She's good, she will say nothing and not let on about the rest of the book, even if I message her every so often with things like "OMIGOD - I've just met the drag queens!". 

So then the obvious conversation - then what - what comes after Honeybee?

Millie: I think I might start Sofie Laguna's The Choke.

Pandora: Fabulous book. Even more heartbreaking than The Eye of the Sheep.

Millie: I love her work. 

Pandora: Me too. And then you can get onto The Poisonwood Bible...

Millie:  Nooooooo

The Poisonwood Bible is one of those books which seems to divide people. Either you love it or hate it.

I'm in the love it camp. Barbara Kingsolver's wonderous tome of four sisters, daughters of missionaries taken to the Belgian Congo is phenomenal. The voices of the four sisters, Rachel, Leah, Adah and Ruth all different and all enchanting in their own way - and this is the book's strength as it takes the girls from a childhood in a strange land (I can still see the packets of cake mix stuffed up their jumpers). First published in 1998, it was up for the Pulizer Prize the following year.

Thing is, Millie has avoided this book for many, many years. Her copy belonged to her mother, who has passed. Her mother was always at her to read this wonderful book. Millie's mum had taste. 

Then again, I suggested this to Blarney for her other book group she had years ago. It went down like a lead balloon - they couldn't stand it (then again, some of the group then came into my current book group - and they liked THAT CAT BOOK - so what should I expect). 

I've just never come across a book that polarises people quite as much as this  book. Me, I think it's great. Laguna's voice work is extraordinary as you're drawn into the sisters' very different worlds. 

There is the hope that Millie picks this up - as I really want to read this again - last read over twenty years ago, I just want the excuse to delve into amazing place which only fiction can provide. 

Today's Song:

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Pete Evans Effect

I was reading today that Pete Evans' publisher is cutting ties with him, to the point that they've directed book stores that if they want to return his books, to contact them to return the stock - not just letting the books sell and be done with it. So far Big W, Dymocks and a lot of other booksellers have asked for the stock to be returned. And good on em I say

Why? What was the last straw? Was it his continuing stance on vaccinations? No. His $15000 light emitting jobby that allegedly killed COVID? No. He's ben siding up with David Icke - who's always had some interesting views lately - nah, he can have that. Him extolling the virtues of activated almonds? No, he's been getting stick for that for years. 

But posting nazi iconography, which he alleged he didn't know what it was - that was the last straw. The sonnenrad or black sun symbol was first used by Nazis. It was used by the bloke who shot up the Christchurch mosques a few years ago. It's now a known white supremacist symbol. 

I had a look at what he's posted, and yeah, not a great look. Especially not great when you seem to be promoting the MAGA/QAnon/Popularist tropes, and it appears you're going a bit crazy. 

That will do it. 

I'll admit to viewing the cartoon Evans posted and rolled my eyes. Was it ignorance or infamy which made him do it? Was he trying to be funny or ironic? One hopes for the latter. Well you hope that was the intent. He's taken he post down now. 

Decide for yourself:

Is this cancel culture? For me, no. This post is a steps too far, especially when you are a vocal Trump supporter. It's a step too - and he's taken it. 

I have an acquaintance who's a fan of this bloke. He's also a Trump supporter. And besides his regular trolling, in which he's also starting to sound a bit unhinged, I've been doing my best to give him no oxygen.  This guy thinks Evans is great. Their beliefs are the same. I can see him getting mad about all of this happening to Poor Pete. 

For me, I thinkthe publishers have done the right thing.

I just don't get why he feels the need to spew hatred and misinformation. For pity's sake, he's a chef. This is also the guy who wrote a paleo cookbook for kids which dietitians deems dangerous - oh, and his simmer sauces were taken off the shelves the other week because of allergy fears. 

I don't get why you'd be taking political and medical advice from a chef anyway. 

He might be a good cook. I definitely has some interesting ideas about health and wellness. Some of the stuff he's spouting I get to a point - and I love my activated nuts. They're yummy - but that's the only reason I love them - because they're yummy. 

But Evans has pleaded ignorance on the meaning of the sonnenrad. 

Ignorance is a funny thing. Pleading ignorance has got the world into many a pickle.

I say well done to the publishers for calling this out. 

Today's Song:

Monday, November 16, 2020

Going home for Christmas

 I got the call yesterday. I expect a call on Sunday from my Mother. We talk most weekends. This is how she knew I was alive before Facebook came about. 

Mum: So, are you coming home for Christmas?

Pandora: I don't know.

To be honest, I really hadn't thought about going back for Christmas, after all, the borders have been shut for months, there is talk that they're going to open them up on 1 December. Besides, I normally have Christmas in Melbourne, spending it with friends. This year, I have two weeks off. I have the time to drive over - even if it is a nine hour drive. I haven't been home for Christmas since 2015 - and I had to go back then as my niece has passed away and really was the done thing. Since then, I've avoided Christmas with the family, returning, instead, in early February for Mum's party. 

Anyway, the conversation continued. 

Mum: Well, you should come home. You have your own studio room you can stay in. 

Pandora: I know this. 

Mum: And it gives us a reason to fix the holes in the walls?

Pandora: Eh?

Mum: Oh, Anne, she put all this crap up on the walls, there were lots of nails that needed to be pulled out. 

After 25 years in the same place, my parents have converted a shed into an air conditioned, insulated granny flat, complete with bathroom, kitchenette and bedroom. This was done, mostly in the name of helping a family member in need. She came and stayed for a few weeks before returning to from where she once came. So, Mum has a place for guests. The next door neighbour is also happy he can have mates come to stay as he has limited space. We treat him like family, so there's unusual new there. 

Pandora: And what am I going to do with my cat?

Mum: (Without drawing breath) BRING HIM WITH YOU!

It seems Mum wants to get her hands on Lucifer. I'm not sure what the cat will think of an eight hour drive across the Wimmera. I'm not sure what he will think of staying with my mother for a few days, but I am sure he will love sitting at her picture window in the kitchen telling off the birds and antichinuses. Maybe not meeting the family so much, but I can see him prowling about, sleeping on my mother's bed and taking over the place. 

So I've been having a look at a few things. I've been looking up online pet friendly accommodation in places like Nhill, Horsham and Kaniva. Thought is, drive halfway to Adelaide, stay the night, then drive the rest of the way the next morning. It's a nine hour drive - a bit much for puss if he's in his carrier. 

And then the news comes this morning - Adelaide has 17 new community acquired Corona cases. 

So until we find out what is happening with the borders, I really can't make plans. 

Hopefully they will knock this on the head quickly.

I'm just waiting for the the Murdoch gutter press to start blaming this on Dan Andrews...

Once we know what's going on, then, maybe, we can start to plan. 

Today's Song:

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Something Different

Quick blog today as I want to get out for a walk before the heat sets in. 33 today - too much for me. 

At least I've finished my interminable book group book, ready for book group on Thursday. 

I'm just thankful to be living in a place where we seem to have knocked the virus on the head. 16 days with no deaths and no new cases. We are still wearing masks in public - hoping they will loosen some of the restrictions next weekend (maybe making them mandatory on public transport, in shops and the like) We will see. Despite it being a few hard months, it's been worth it to know that people aren't getting sick and dying over here. There's lots to be grateful for.

Questions, as always, provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing. 

1. Something held together with ribbon, string, or rope.

A tyre swing which hangs in your grandparents garden from the bough of a big pine tree. 

2. Something related to travel.

Websites. Currently looking at pet friendly accommodation on the way to Adelaide, just to break up the trip if I go back at Christmas. 

3. Someplace people gather

Parks. It's one place we can gather ingroups of more than five at the momet. It is getting better, but we see lots of people gathering in parks at the moment. 

4. Something cold/frozen

Ice cream. There is only one answer to this question. 

5. Something with a hole in it.

Donuts. Only one answer to this question too. 

6. Something striped

Zebras. I like zebras. 

7. An animal.

Cats. They are pretty cool.

8. Something cute.

Also cats. They are passive aggressive bastards, but they are cute in their own funny way. 

9. A food.

Currently I have a hankering for a Hector's Deli Chicken Sandwich, which is basically the evilist food found in the suburb. A breaded chicken fillet in a potato bun with taragon mayonnaise and shredded iceberg lettuce. Wonderful, but evil. 

10. Something warm

My bed, which currently has a warm cat asleep in the middle of it. 

Today's Song:

Saturday, November 14, 2020

When you dislike the book

I love my book group. I love the way we choose books. The lolly vote, where we all bring two books along to champion, discuss, then vote for, means the group have seriously considered what to read. Then you have 25 lollies to distrubute amongst the books. You're not allowed to vote on your own books. Top twelve books are the ones we read the following year. 

We've been selecting our books this way for over ten years and we've barely had a dud book.

Well, this month's book, unfortunately, is a bit of a dud.

I'm not resenting reading it - this is something. It's not that fucking cat book, as it is know. After many years I still harp on about Cleo, The Cat that Healed a Family. I have no idea how this dross has managed a 4.04 Start Goodreads rating. I think I'm rather resentful that it's memoir, which we don't read in our book group and it was allowed through. 

Anyway, I'm trying to get through Melissa Ashley's The Bee and the Orange Tree

This book had so much promise. First off, it's a lovely looking book. Of course you should judge  - but it looked intriguing. Written by an Australian author, it's based on a true story of three women in Paris in the late 1600, a story about women and fairy tales. The book held great promise.

Unfortunately, it's dross.

Okay, dross might be a bit strong, but it's boring. 

With the exception of the Nicola character, I have no strong feelings for any of the characters. 

The language needs a very solid edit. It's overwritten for the most part.

Okay, it's been impeccably researched, but there is a a point where you need to kill your darlings. I think there was some big editorial masturbation going on there. 

And it's really just particularly well executed. It's like the author was given a two book deal and they had to get this one in under the wire. 

I've got 80 pages to read before I give this back to Blarney for her to finish for Thursday's book group meeting. 

I normally quite like historical fiction. I just don't like this. 

One character is going to have her head cut off. One will probably end up back in a nunnery. And one will go on penning vapid fairy tales. 

And maybe next month's book (Delia Owen's Where the Crawdads Sing) will not make me want to roll my eyes and curse pandering editors. 

Oh well. If this is all I have to whinge about, I'm not doing badly at all. 

Today's song: 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Things about tonight

 There are some things you should know about tonight:

  • I had a massage after work and I was banned from sitting in front of the computer for the evening. 
  • I'm currently drinking a gin and tonic - Archie Rose Gin, Fevertree Elderflower tonic - and it is awesome (and my second for the night)
  • Fevertree Elderflower Tonic is the bomb. 
  • So is Archie Rose gin. 
  • I've been around to my friends place to get some printing done for the masons. 
  • My friend has two black kittens - Wink (who has one eye) and Shadow (who has two eyes)
  • I got to mug the kittens. 
  • The kittens are coming to visit Uncle Grumpy (Lucifer) for a few days in December.
  • I'm not sure what it will be like having a grumpy bugger and two kittens in my flat for a few days. Oh well. 
  • My stomach is still reeling from breakfast. A visit to Hector's Deli round the corner saw me have a mushroom melt toastie. These are evil. Wonderful, but evil. 
  • I am wearing my "In my defence I was left unsupervised t-shirt. This makes me happy. 
  • And my Batman mask. 
  • The cat is spearing me for treats.
  • And I'm off to bed. 
That will do. I'm not supposed to be in front of a computer.

Today's Song:

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The B-52s

There are bands that you carry around with you like a talisman. Like a set of worry beads or a rosary, they are found nearby to make you feel better about things, to calm you down, or perk you up when needed. A band which is often forgotten, then comes back when needed to bring everything back into order just at the right moment.

For me, this band is The B-52s. 

So they're from the late seventies and early eighties. 

They're sort of discordant, post-punk, thrift shoppy and weird. I love their early stuff best - from The B-52s and the Wild Planet albums. I'd love to hear an interview one day - I can only imagine the accents - they're from Athens, Georgia. 

Okay, so Rock Lobster came out when I was ten. I love songs like Private Idaho, Party Out of Bounds and Planet Claire. I don't mind songs from their Cosmic Thing album, with songs like Roam and Love Shack - even though I only found out a few years ago that Kate Pierson shouts 'Tin Roof - Rusted' in the latter. As I said, strange lyrics. 

It's the perfect music for dancing around the kitchen on a wet winter's day. Rock Lobster is the one song which will get everybody up and dancing at a wedding where nobody is dancing (and doing the dead ant is obligatory).

For me, The B-52s signify youth and freedom. It's a strange, happy sound. Everything from Fred Schneider's odd vocals and out of synch dance moves to Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson's beehives - something which had been out of fashion for 25 years when they came back again. 

I saw them once live, in about 1989 at the Thebarton theatre in Adelaide. Stupidly, I had a seat in the Dress Circle. You can't dance in the dress circle. They were okay - not great. But I'm glad I saw them. 

And below is one of my favourite songs - Give Me Back My Man. 

I just love the sound - and the clip - made in 1981 before the beehives got too big. And after watching this clip I just want to take up the tambourine. 

The B-52s just make me smile. 

Today's Song: 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Turtle Sex and Whale Willies

Stuck for things to write tonight, I asked Cleo, my trainer, and Jay, my gym buddy, what I should turn my pen. 

The conversation went like this:

Pandora: What am I going to write about tonight?

Cleo: Turtle sex.

Pandora: What the?

Cleo: I heard it on the radio today. Turtles sound funny when they have sex.

Pandora: What the?

Cleo: Dr Karl said it, so it must be true. 

Jay: But how is she going to blog about that?

Cleo: I don't know, but it sounded fun. I bet Dr Karl is having a laugh as all of these people who heard him are looking up turtle sex on the internet. 

Pandora: If you want some fun stuff to ponder, look up grey whale willies on the web. 

Jay: Oh yes, they're impressive.

Pandora: Much more impressive than cat's willies - definitely unimpressive. 

And that is the sort of calibre my gym mates came up with.

Mind you, turtle sex is funny. Really funny. 

I don't think we need to go there. 

We also had a chat about how our anti-vaxxer, Trump loving friend is doing. We don't need to talk about that. 

Although we did find this funny about that precious presser Guiliani held in that car park near the sex shop - some inept staffer messing up the Four Seasons hotel with the garden centre perched between an erotic bookshop and a crematorium - though .

This spin off is priceless. And as somebody said in one of the papers, how can these idiots think they have a chance in the courts when they can't even get a press conference right? This ad for the lawn centre is priceless. 

I could talk about the mild thunderstorm asthma I got at the gym. Thankfully I had some ventolin in my gym bag. 

I could talk about having to get onto the gym website at 7 pm on the dot to book the 6 pm slot for the following week. There's only twenty 45 minute slots in the gym at the moment. They're like rocking horse poo. I got my spot - was off getting petrol. Sitting in the parked car on the way to the service station, I waited for the clock to tick over to 7 pm. All spots were taken by 7.02 pm. 

I could talk about how much I want to go to Richmond Oysters on Chapel Street for dinner. I just want a dozen oysters. Probably natural, maybe with a few bits on top - a bit of caviar, a squeeze of lime - all on a bed of shaved ice. But that is pushing it. 

I could talk about Remembrance Day - but not now. That's for a bigger post. I work with a member of the Army Reserves. He was touched I sent him a message reading 'Lest we forget' at 11.02 am. After the minute's silence. 

I was going to talk about receiving the poo test in the mail this afternoon. Nothing like the Australian Government making you feel old, reminding you to do your bowel cancer screening tests - which they sent to all over 50s every two years. It's good to be in a country where the government does this stuff for you, for free. 

There, I've talked about all the things I don't want to talk about. Maybe I'll find something more substantial to talk about tomorrow. Finding a topic to write about every day is  hard. 

Today's Song:

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Writing with Dev - Part Sixteen - Favourites

Okay, Dev wants me to draw my favourite house. 

This is hard, because I don't think I have a favourite house, housing is not something I think of. I used to love my sister's house in St Peters - and old Adelaide Sandstone, with a renovated kitchen and a big back yard for the dog. It had a main hallway, off which the bedrooms came off as well as the more formal lounge - that was a great house. They're now four houses on from that one, selling it on in the early naughties.

Oh, now I have it - my favourite house is my friend Jacqui's house in Old Woking - it's a 400-year old cottage. Two bedrooms, one which is sort of shaped like a coffin, which looks out over the back yard. It also has THE BEST BATHROOM, with a big lie down tub. A nearly circular staircase leads you down stairs to a functional galley kitchen, lounge and dining, complete wtih a large open fire. The French doors at the back leads out into the garden and back onto the River Wey - which floods occasionally. Ivy covers the back wall. The roof is slate. It's just fabulous. 

And now she wants me to write about my favourite person. I have quite a few favourite people, but I'll keep this one to a non-threatening choice and talk about my Aunt Marg.

Aunt Marg is now 92 and she lives in a nursing home in Canberra. She has had the same haircut for as long as I can remember - a grey bob, which she has always cut herself. The only deviation from this was when she got cancer, had chemo and she got chemo curls when her hair grew back. 

She's the mother of five kids, and she appears to love them all equally, although my cousins will dispute this. She gave them all nicknames, which have stuck well into their fifties and sixties - I still call my cousin Andrew, Doig - because he was an oigle-doigle, the only thing that could ever fall asleep on a fence post.

My aunt has the Order of Australai for services to midwifery. She's delivered countless babies in her life - there is a family story that when my cousin Melva (yeah, Melva) was born, two days later, with the doctor being away, she had to go on a house call and deliver somebody else's baby. It's a thing of great pride in the family - my uncle - her brother - also got one for services to country medicine. 

She has a very calming soul. I remember going round to my aunt's place as a child - they used to live in the inner suburbs of Adelaide. She was nursing and my uncle had gone off to Uni after being given a golden handshake to get off the land near Keith. I've also felt like my aunt's sixth child. My cousins treat me like their annoying younger sister. 

Now - quick ones. 

The food I love the most? Ice cream. Just because. It's calming and comforting and when you eat it, you feel special. I love the first lick of a chock top, or how the spoon sinks into a tub of Ben & Jerry's and you wonder what bits you're going to encounter (and when will we be getting Cherry Garcia here? I found Chunky Monkey at Woolies the other day - though I'm boycotting Woolies because they're in bed with Newscorpse). It makes me feel special does ice cream.

And what is my favourite season?

I'm an Autumn girl. I love the smells. I love kicking leaves, the fact you can sleep under the duvet again. I like the rain, then you get a nice sunny day and how the kick comes out of the sun. I like that daylight savings ends in Autumn, the nights which close in, that you can eat cooked food at night, not just salad.

And my favourite smell?

Is dog's paws in the morning. Yeah, I know, it's strange, but it's a really comforting, musky, earthy smell - sort of like toasting hazelnuts. It's not like puppy smell, which I ADORE too, but it's just a very musky smell which I can't get enough of. Maybe it's because my dog was my best friend as a kid and the dog would greet me in the morning by coming up to me and putting her paws on my chest. 

My favourite item of clothing / thing to wear?

I have a red, woollen wrap which I bought for my fortieth birthday. It's light, yet warm. It's in my favourite colour, a deep pillarbox red and every time I wear it I get heaps of comments. It can do all sorts of things, wear it like a blanket, scrunch it up like a scarf, wear it like a dupatta. It only comes out for special occasions. 

Today's Song:

Monday, November 9, 2020

We're back

 I was back in the gym tonight - first time in three months (although we have been studiously working out in the park and the lounge room in the time away) I never thought I'd say it, but I was excited to see the following:

  • The cable machine
  • The leg press
  • Medicine balls which don't leak sand
  • The lat pulldown machine
  • The squat rack
  • The rower
It was wonderful!. Okay, you get your temperature taken as you check in. Sure, there are only ten people allowed on the gym floor at a time  - well, there are two parts to the gym - so really it's 20 all up - so it's a bit dead in there.

Because you're exercising, you can take your mask off - but it goes on when you leave. The water fountains are taped up. There are staff running around the place cleaning stuff. 

And it was bloody marvellous. 

Hopefully the gym rules will be relaxed more in the coming weeks, as it's a bugger finding a sopt - or getting a spot when you can train with your buddy.

But we're back.

Oh, and I've just booked a movie ticket for the weekend.

And I'm getting my legs waxed on Saturday.

And all feels right with the world. 

Today's Song:

Sunday, November 8, 2020

More Random Questions

Like most of the rest of the world, I woke to the news that America is on the way to a new President. It's been a week of trying to avoid the media and getting on with things, refusing to let myself get dragged into the American elections. After all, it's a case of 'not my circus, not my monkeys' - but it is interesting to watch. I still think that they're going to have to pry Trump out of the White House with a crow bar - he does't seem to take the losses that well. I may be surprised - but I don't like the chances.

Anyway, here's today's questions, brought to us by the wonderful Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. What’s something no one wants to hear but everyone should?

You are responsible for your feelings and emotions. The more you take responsibility for them, accept them and deal with them, the easier things become. Same goes for thoughts. It's something not enough people know about.

2. What’s the most annoying animal you’ve ever encountered?

Oh that goes to my Uncle's dog Amy. She was a cow, Only liked you if you had food in your hand. Demanded attention then tried to bite our hand if you went to give her a pat. Never liked her. 

3. How much does language affect our thinking?

Language is everything - and it's not just what you say, but how you say it. Also how sentences are constructed make for interesting thoughts. I am the queen of judging people for their grammar.

4. Do you prefer to watch movies in the theater or in the comfort of your home?

I prefer movies in the theatre - and we're getting cinemas back on Wednesday as our lock down eases. Looking forward to this. I've missed the movies.

5. What topic could you spend hours talking about?

All sorts of things. Things like:

  • Shakespeare
  • Writing
  • Theatre
  • Books
  • How good is South Australia
  • Gin
  • Cats (and dogs) 

6. If you could run away from it all and start fresh somewhere new, would you?

Before then pandemic, I would say I'd love to move to a village in England, probably and Devon or Cornwall. As there are pandemic restritions, I'd love to have an old house overlooking the Tamar Vally in Tasmania and run a writer's retreat. That would be awesome.

7. What’s the most polarizing question you could ask a group of friends?

Here in Victoria, if you asked a group of people what they thought of how good a job the Prime Minister was doing, that could get heated. I have one acquaintace who's an anti-vaxxer and a Trump lover. He's pretty polarising. 

8. Do movies have the same power as books to change the world?

I think books have more power. Books , by their very nature, are going to be personal to everybody. Movies give the same information, but in the same way to all consuming them. Books allow for nuance. 

9. What would you rate 10/10 ?

Tom Ellis's bum. 

10. What are you really good at, but kind of embarrassed that you are good at it?

I'm a bit embarrased that I am good at these things:

  • Ironing
  • Knitting
  • Reconciling stuff (ie balancing cheque books)
  • Assembling flat pack furniture
  • Driving anything
  • Rhyming
  • Correcting grammar
  • Winning over other people's cats.

11. Who do you go out of your way to be nice to?

Nobody really as I'm nice to everybody - but I am especially nice to animals. Never met an animal I haven't liked. 

12. What problems will technology solve in the next 5 years? What problems will it create?

I think technology will get rid of cash in the next five years - but what do you do with all the coins? I think we will be getting rid of the five cent piece soon - we don't have cent and two cent pieces any more, the five cent piece will be the next to go. The notes won't be that much of a problem.Our paper money is made of plastic anyway.

13. What from the present will withstand the test of time?

Hopefully kindness - and Donald Trump's convictions which will see him in jail for a very long time for various misdemeanours. 

14. What movie would be greatly improved if it was made into a musical?

I'd love to see Die Hard, the Musical. It would be the perfect Christmas treat, as Die Hard is the best Christmas movie out there. 

Is there a Trump the Musical yet? We had one over here that was done for Paul Keating - and one for Shane Warne. The Trump musical could be one of the more subversive ones - like Rocky Horror. That could be fun. 

15. What is something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?

The rotary phone. Have you ever given one of these to a milennial? They have no clue. Even tape recorders and CD players are becomming obselete. 

 Today's Song:

Saturday, November 7, 2020

One Step Beyond

 I'm a middle-aged woman. I'm used to being invisible.

But I made a discovery today. 

I'm used to not being looked at. Used to being ignored by shop assistants. Used to being overlooked by all sorts of people - and generally, I don't mind that, unless you're wanting service in a timely manner.

Well, today I got noticed by men. Lots of men. 

I wasn't waling around naked. I wasn't roaming around dressed up to the nines. I didn't have my chest bared. I haven't lost 30 kilograms overnight.

I was noticed by all sorts of men. Young ones, older ones, teenagers kids. 

It was a strange feeling. Really strange. Especially because I'm generally invisible. 

Today, I learned, if you want men of all ages to notice you.


That's all you have to do.

Men, it appears, LOVE Batman. 

So there you go.

Today's Song: 

Friday, November 6, 2020


 [Insert your preferred deity here], 

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference. 

I've been saying the serenity prayer a lot lately. Mostly, this is I try to avoid the US election commentary as the world wait for a comprehensive result. And this is being done because Trump's behaviour isn't something to be tolerated as he booms around like a toddler who's drunk far too much red cordial and hasn't had his afternoon sleep.

If he wins, he's going to be unbearable. If he loses, odds on, he's going to be even worse. 

Ah well, whatever happens, may he end and many of his cronies end up in prison and may the world become a bit nicer again. 

Regardless, I've been avoiding this shit show. 

And I'm very thankful I live in a country with compulsory voting and a robust, indepentent and national electoral commisions (Thank god for the AEC and Antony Greene). 

The other thing I'm finding myself saying a lot over the last few days is an old Polish proverb.

Not my circus. Not my monkeys. 

Because when it all comes down to this, I have absolutely no influence over what is happening in America, I don't vote over there, it's not my country of residence, nor somewhere I ever would want to live on a full time basis (though it's been nice to visit in on the few occasions I've been there)

And using these strategies, I've managed to stay reasonably sane for the last few days.

Though I've just flicked over to the New York Times website to see that Biden has pulled ahead in Georgia... and I'm hoping that now Mercury is out of retrograde, some common sense will prevail.

Even if 70 million people voted for this goon. Or one of my team mates today declared she could see why people would vote for him - after all, better the devil you know. 

Give me strength.

I'll leave it at that. 

Today's Song:

Thursday, November 5, 2020


 I got out for lunch today. I had some errands to do, so I popped out for 45 minutes.

Two good things happened on my errand run.

As always, it's the little things that make me happy, and these were little things. 

The first little thing was I bought my lunch. 

I went to a cafe on Church Street, Richmond. It's called Chimmy's. 

Chimmy's is a bit of an institution in Richmond. It used to be on Bridge Road. It used to do a huge trade in breakfast and coffee. Their bread was legendary. It stocked bread made at the Abbotsford Convent, a legendary bakery which makes some of the best sourdough in town. Then it moved onto Church Street - smaller premises, but still great coffee and baked goods. 

They do rolls there. So I got myself a half sourdough bagette with roast beef, seedy mustard, onion relish, tomato, aioli and some greens - toasted. Oh, and a sourdough fruit bun, which was heated and toasted later for afternoon tea.

And it was bloody magnificent.

The other good thing which happened was on the way back to the car from the bank, I passed a little Vietnamese sewing shop. They had some masks for sale in the window. Lots of masks in various styles and colours - all triple layered and well sized. And I saw my new mask. They way I see it, we're going to be wearing these for months, may as well have a few lying around the place. 

I went in and bought one. 

And it is GREAT!

And yes, I've been wearing this to meetings and singing, 'nananananananana' all afternoon, but I'm Batman and I'm allowed.

As I said, it's the little things...

Today's song:

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Long List

 It's coming into that time of year again -  the time where my book group chooses the books for next year. One of the group asked me for some recommendations. 

Never ask a bibliophile, what to read. It is a dangerous thing. The list will be long and involved and fun. 

Also, we have rules in our book group for book choosing. They are:

  1. The book must be fiction - no memoir, non-fiction, autobiography.
  2. Must be easily obtainable in libraries, bookshops, online
  3. Should be of a literary or very good popular fiction quality - so Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies) has begrudgingly scraped in, but Stephenie Meyers and EL James would not be accepted.
  4. Preferably under 500 pages
  5. Sometimes it's good to throw in a classic. 
It's always fun to see what people come up with. We got in our first nomination on the weekend. We hold the vote in December, in circumstances far more fun and less contentious than the American elections. To be honest, having everybody champion two books and then have them voted on is a great system - and we've barely had a universally hated book in the years we've been running the show like this. You may not love what we're reading for the month, but as we've democratically voted for the books, you know you'll like something along the line. And the 'Lit Heads' and the 'Popularists' are pretty well balanced out. We can work around preferences - one or two members don't like War content - I'm not that fond of crime. But generally, it all works well.

Anyway, as none of us have been able to get into a book shop lately, I was asked by a member to share my long list for my book choices.

Here it is. There's some popular stuff, some high end literature, some older books and some new releases and a few classics thrown in for good measure. There are a few books on my wish list which I know will never happen.

But here you go:

  • Below Deck by Sarah Hardcastle – Australian author, under 300 pages, brilliantly written, thought provoking, nautically themed.
  • The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall – Australian author, under 300 pages, brilliantly written, near future dystopian, very good popular fiction. Thought provoking.
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams – Australian author, under 400 pages, historical fiction, lots to talk about, feminist take on the OED.
  • Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany – Nominated for the Miles Franklin, topical, Australian author, very short (under 200 pages) gripping, amazing writing
  • Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – Classic, short (under 200 pages) always wanted to read Woolf as an adult
  • All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton – Under 400 pages, by the author of Boy Swallows Universe, Australian content.
  • Honeybee by Craig Silvey – Under 400 pages, Australian content, but the author of Jasper Jones
  • A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu – Australian Author, under 300 page, great write ups.
  • The Yield by Tara June Winch – Australian Aboriginal content, won the Stella this year, under 350 pages
  • Washington Square by Henry James – Classic, about 200 pages, should read it one day
  • The English Patient – by Michael Ondaatje – Classic, always meant to read it, 250 pages
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – 300 pages, hard read but engrossing, incredible and amazing. Won the Booker a few years back
  • Gilgamesh by Joan London – 200 pages, Australian content, a few years old but easily obtainable. 
  • A Confederacy of Dunces  by John Kennedy O’Toole – American Writer, classic, around 200 pages, easily obtainable, strange and weird and have always wanted to read it again as an adult. 
  • Lanny by Max Porter – English writer, very strange, under 200 pages, incredible stuff though
  • The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – Won the Pulitzer a few years ago, incredible writing, challenging read, good fun in many ways – set in the Dominican Republic – and you learn a lot about this. Family dynamics and Dominican politics (which are as involved as they are fun) – has fantastic footnotes. 
  • The Dutch House by Anne Patchett – American Writer, tried and tested author, not too long. 
  • Allegra in Three Parts by Suzanne Daniel – Australian fare, not too long, easily read, family dynamics
  • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas – Young Adult (but exceptional Young Adult) not too long, topical.  
  • The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor – Irish Writer, shortlisted for the booker, not too long. 
  • The Gathering by Anne Enright – Irish Writer, topical, a few years old but great writing. Not too long. 
  • The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin – Irish Writer, great book, family dynamics, not too long – Toibin is great.
  • Infinite Splendours by Sofie Laguna - Tested Australian Writer (The Eye of the Sheep and The Choke), under 300 pages, new out and she's just amazing. 
  • The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan - well, it's Flanagan.... what more do I need to say. New release. 

Today's Song:

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

It's Horse Race Day

It's Horse Race Day. Mandatory day off for all Victorians. It's also known as the Melbourne Cup Holiday - first Tuesday in November. It's bloody ridiculous. In my humble opinion. 

In the past, when I was a day-rate contractor, I rather resented the day, as it meant my pay packet would be out a couple of hundred dollars for the week. Currently, as I'm on a fixed term contract, it doesn't bother me as much. And work was great this year, giving the Melbourne Office a blanket day in lieu yesterday - so this has been a four day weekend. 

But other than the personal financial repercussions of horse race day, it's not a day which sits well with me Never has. Never will. 

I've never been to a horse race. To be frank, I find the whole premise of sending sentient animals around a track til their lungs bleed, whipping them all the way, giving the poor horse half a chance of ending up in a knackery as a cruel activity of parchochial means. 

Juice Media puts it frankly:

It's a day which glorifies gambling. I'll own up to putting a couple of dollars into the office sweep over the years, but that's as involved as I get with this. Absolute minimum participation.

I'll front up to a barbeque on the day, normally as a means to catch up with friends. Will I watch the race - no - why would I? It's not something I agree with - I don't see the point. 

It's also a day which talks up drinking. There's some pretty nasty statistics out there about how Horse Race day is also a day of heighted domestic violence, drunkeness, hospital admissions, car accident and the like. Like why would you want to get on board with that?

Okay, Horse Race Day is just not for me. Am I saying ban it? No. But like a lot of things which people don't agree with on an ethical level - things like abortion and assisted suicide - just because I don't agree  with horse racing it doesn't mean I'm going to stop people from participating.

In the case of Horse Race Day, I've never seen the point of it and it's never sat well with me. 

But it won't stop me from heading over to my bubble buddy's place for a barbeque lunch.

The one good thing about today - odds on, Horse Race day often has crappy weather - blowing a gale, raining - just terrible. Well, it's 29 outside at the moment, sunny, with a breeze. It feels quite nice knowing the one year that NOBODY is going to be trackside, getting munted in the car park, puking in the rose bushes as Flemington. It's a pleasant irony. 

Today's Song:

Monday, November 2, 2020

A Good Day

This is what a good day looks like to me:

  • Work gave the whole office a day in lieu the day before the Melbourne Cup holiday. 
  • It was another 'double donut' day (No new Coronavirus cases, no Coronavirus deaths)
  • The sun was shining
  • A long lay in with the cat in the morning
  • 10000 steps completed over the day
  • A friend came over to meet the cat
  • Said friend and I went for a walk to the local shopping centre
  • We went into actual shops
  • Books were bought (Books shouldn't have been bought, but they were)
  • Said books were bought in a real bookshop - not click and collect
  • Lunch was eaten at the Walmer Street Landing on the Yarra on a sunny day with said friend

  • I took a tram into town - it was pretty empty and everybody kept their masks on
  • My eyebrows got weeded.
  • I purchased the last bar of Clinique Extra-Mild Soap available at the Myer counter (BIG WIN)
  • The girl at the Clinique counter thought I was 30 (old her I'd been using this stuff for 35 years - she didn't get it)
  • Town had a bit more of a buzz to it - foot traffic is still light on, but it's better.
  • My new mask isn't too hot. 
  • I got home to a cuddle from a purring cat.
  • A lot of The West Wing has been watched.
  • Some editing got done too. 
It's always a good day when work gives you an extra day off.

It was a nice day. 

And there is another day off tomorrow. These four day weekends rock. 

Today's Song:

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Random Questions

We have a day off for a Horse Race on Tuesday. Won't that be fun. The first Tuesday of November, Melbourne gets the day off for the Melbourne Cup. It's just as daft as having a day off before the football grandfinal, which was held outside of the state, with two Victorian teams. It's all a bit surreal at the moment - but at least the shops are open, you can have a socially distanced meal in a restaurant and as of this morning, we had no new cases and no deaths from COVID. We call these days 'Donut Days' - so great it is to see the two circles of the zeros on the Department of Health and Human Services media links. Of this last fact, we here in the state of Victoria, feel like we're winning. It's been a hard road - but it looks like we have this contained. 

As for my American friends, on Tuesday, may the odds ever be in your favour. 

Questions, as always, supplied by Bev at Sunday Stealing.

1. What has been your favorite part of the year so far.

January was pretty good. I had the month off and there was no COVID-19 to worry about. 

2. Have you started Christmas shopping?

Hell, no! I don't even know what Christmas will look like this year. 

3. Do you like your handwriting?

Not really - it's chicken scratchings. My cursive is slightly nicer than my printed writing. 

4. Song you could hear over and over and over again.


5. A favorite quote.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

6. Last dream you remember

I had a dream last night which was a bit disturbing. I was in a lift (elavator) sitting on a toilet in that lift (elavator). I couldn't dare to get off the toilet as people got in and out of the lift. 

7. Most expensive object you want to buy right now.

There is a small part of me that would like to change up my car. But I love my car and I don't need to do this. 

8. Describe your eldest family member.

My Auntie Marg is 92 - she's my Mum's sister. She's awesome - a little frail, lives in a nursing home in Canberra, but she is one of the loveliest people I know. She's always been one of my favourite people.

9. What has your weather been like?

Here in Melbourne it's noticably getting warmer. Daytime temperatures have been between 16-25 degrees and varying between sunny or overcast.  (62-77 in the old language). It's been a bit windy. Otherwise it's just fairly normal Spring weather. 

10. Do you enjoy your job?

For the most part. I'm good at it and it pays the bills. 

11. What is your favorite everyday item?

My bed. It's very comfortable and I share it with my cat. 

12. Are you currently obsessed with any TV show?

I'm currently going back over The West Wing, trying to tell myself that there is some honour in politics. it's a nice dream. I also can't wait for the second season of Virgin River, the back eight episodes of Lucifer and I can't wait for the next installment of The Crown

13. Book you’d like to read before the year ends.

There are a few:

  • Trent Dalton's All Our Shimmering Skies
  • Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends
  • Lucy Ellman's Ducks, Newburyport
And I want to make a bit of headway into Ulysses - the James Joyce tome. It's only been sitting by my bed for ten years. 

14. Describe Kindness.

Putting others up there on an equal footing as yourself. Demonstrating that the world is a good place. Demonstrating a good and benevolent disposition.

15. Describe your favorite candy in great detail.

Candy - oh you mean lollies. I'm a FruChoc girl - mainly because I'm from South Australia - they peach and apricot balls smothered in chocolate. They're really morish. Friends say they're an acquired taste, but I think they are pretty awesome. 

Today's Song: