Thursday, December 31, 2020

December Check in - January Goals

I'm really not sure how I have done this, but this is the 366th post for the year 2020. I didn't set out to do it, but there - I've written something every day over the last year. I know most if it has been bollox, but It's something. It's also a great documentary of what this year has been to me. 

Coming out of 2020, I'm looking at the good things that have happened.

  • I'm fitter
  • I weigh less
  • I'm better read
  • I'm better written in so many ways
  • I'm down one relationship, but I'm seeing this as a good thing
  • I feel more resilient
  • I'm employed in a job I like, with good people in a good company
  • And I'm currently one cat up (but missing my normal one terribly - Nanny is loving having him)

As is my way, I'm not doing New Year's resolutions - I prefer the monthly goals - they seem to work better for me, gets more done. 

So here's what got done in December:

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

Done and more. I finished the following:

  • The Girls by Emma Cline
  • Love Marriage in Kabul by Sanaz Fotouhi (one of my Faber classmates)
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (Audiobook, but these count)
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Audiobook - and an excellent casted one it was too)
And I'm about halfway through The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. And a quarter the way through the audiobook of Girl, Woman, Other by Berndarine Evaristo (with a narrator who makes some interesting pronounciation choices - very West London). 

It was a great reading month. I'm hoping to read 40 books in 2021. 

Write more of the novel.

Some got written. Not enough, but some got done. 

Exercise five days a weeks:

Nearly but not quite. I'm back in the gym four times a week at least, I just fell off the wagon when I went to Adelaide - bit that's Christmas and to be expected.

Book some tickets for some theatre:

Not only did I book some tickets, I went to an actual play - A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Botanical Gardens. It was light, it was fun and it was bloody cold but it was so good being back seeing people on stage again. 

Use the vouchers I found's

I'm getting through these. Have a facial booked early January to help rid myself of the Endota vouchers. I've seen a few films, taking the money on the Hoyts and Village vouchers down a bit. 

And the goals for January:

At least half an hour of novel writing a day

I want to have a first draft of this novel done by June, so again, needs to be done. And I like it. 

Exercise five days a week

This one really works for me - I feel so much better for doing the exercise - keeps me happy. 

Paint out the flat

I have until 23 January to get the bulk of this done. Today, I'll kill off most of the spare room now that I can get into the kitchen and the plumbers have gone. This is a big job, but we will prevail. I want the back of this broken by the time I drive over to Adelaide to collect the cat. 

Read four books

Another repeating goal, but it works for me. I want to get through forty books over 2021, so may as well get off to a good start. Audiobooks for long drives do help this. 

See three movies in a cinema (COVID Allowing)

Again, I want to get back into the cinema - I missed it last year.

And over 2021 I would like to see the following movies:

  • The Godfather Trilogy
  • Django Unchained / The Hateful Eight / Inglorious Basterds
  • Spritied Away / Howl's Moving Castle
  • The Marvel films I've missed over the years
Well, I'm signing off my final post of 2021. There is a bit of pride attached to this - it's been a commitment, but I'm glad I've done it. 

And now I've got to get painting before going out, masked up, for New Year's Eve.

Today's song (Somewhat appropriate):

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Spare Room

The worst thing about cleaning out the spare room is how you find yourself questioning your choice of past lives. It's been a journey down a multitude of lives as I move, pitch, shuffle and question items which have been bought, and then discarded over the last fifteen years. The spare room is the repository for all things abandoned it seems. 

There's the massage table, which doesn't get used enough. There's a scarf I used to cover it - which used to be a rich, royal blue. It's been covering the closed table for so long, one side is faded to a petrol blue, the other side navy. Do I sell on the table, or keep it for the occassional reflexology and massage client?I have the answer for that, but I feel saddened for not doing more body work of late. I enjoy the healing arts. It's a time thing. 

There's the stone mobile/windchime which a friend bought for me ten years ago. That's off the wall for the first time since I put it up there. I like it - but it's in a place where it never strikes. I'm glad the downstairs neighbours removed theirs. 

The net curtains are in the washing machine - first time in fifteen years. It will be interesting to see if they survive the wash and dry. I don't like them, never have liked net curtains, but I suppose they serve a purpose. The ones in the kitchen were thrown out and a wooden blind replaced them. The ones in the bedroom and lounge have been replaced with black out curtains - they do the job well. 

There are items which should never have been bought. The old noise cancelling headphones, which have never worked that well. A small travel hairdryer and iron, again, rarely if ever used. The books which haven't made their way into the lounge room book cases. A paperback copy of The Great Gatsby - after 25 years of attempting to read it, I finally made it through - and enjoyed it for the most part (and what is that old adage...and that's why fickle, lovestruck fools, end up face down in swimming pools...) That really needs a place in with the mainstream books - not with such titles as Judaism for Dummies (I still maintain I'd make a great Jew), Galileo's Daughter (Might get back to it one day, started it about 10 years ago), a hardback of a Salman Rushdie (again, should be mainstreamed) and History's Worst Decisions, which includes debarcles like Trading Manhattan for some spices, Gallipoli, Rasputin and the introduction of rabbits to Australia. I wonder what would make it in there after this year. The book on plain English is now back in the book case. 

There are far, far too many pairs of boots - these I'm keeping until Jay and I do the Camberwell Market stall in early March. See what can be divested when we go there. 

There are canvas bags - far too many canvas bags - procured in all sorts of places - book shops, clothing stores, writer's festivals - a prized one from the Victorian Writer's centre, won for a 30 word story.  A book bag from the Faber Academy. Some of these I just can't part with. The canvas Dymocks bag can be the place where op shop findings can go, ultimately ending up in the charity bin. 

There is a box of crystals. The box is lovely, but I'd rather rehome the crystals. I'm a witch, these are my tools, but I don't practice with these any more. Like  the tarot cards, I'd rather see them rehomed than thrown out. They have been good to me. But they are not for the bin. 

Oh, and then there's the laundry hamper. I haven't used it as a laundry hamper in many, many years, instead just putting the dirty washing straight into the machine (and the white into a bucket near the trough). I don't need this any more. It's a great laundry basket, but why have it when it just sits there and never gets used - think that might end up at the Camberwell Market too. 

Barney dropped the cats off - Rey, the girl, strutted out of the cage, had a look around and is now asleep in her basket. Kylo, the boy, stayed in the open cage for over an hour, only to slink out and go under the couch a bit later. He's still there. When you pat Rey, she purrs. We'll be fine. Blarney also took the CD tower - says it will be a good repository for The Unit's shoes. I might be able to get a few more things like this. 

What is troubling me most is the number of things I have which I really, really don't need. Four suitcases (again one will be going to the Camberwell Market, filled with stuff, then sold on. A book case, which has no books in it. Photo albums I've never looked at again. Knitting needles (I knit really well, who knew). 

It's strange looking over my life like this. I'm not sure what to think. 

I also cannot believe that today marks the 365th day I have posted a blog post. This is an acheivement. 

Today's song:

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Goodbye CDs.

 Still a bit knackered from yesterday's drive so nowhere near enough has been done. Some things have finally happened. The car is now unpacked, everything's put away. Thanks to Mum, most of my clothes have come back clean (Mum does a load of washing most days, so it's no biggie throwing an item or two in)

The worst thing about going through the spare room is looking at all the crap I haven't touched in years. In particular, there is a couple of hundred CDs I've had for 20-30 years which I'm at a bit of a loss at to what to do with these. Most of me knows that they should be turfed - at best, take them along to the Camberwell Market in a few weeks time and see if I can move them on. 

But looking at them, I'm getting all nostagic. These CDs are my history. There's everything from Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel, to Nerinah Palot, to some really dodgy grunge stuff. There's the old Stones stuff, The Stone Roses, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. There are heaps of compilation albums from the 80s and nineties. Many, many albums I don't think I've played in over 25 years.

And still I'm feeling bad about packing them up. 

To make them impossible to keep, the two CD trees are going to put on the nature strip in the next day or so.

I'm just feeling a bit funny about this. It feels like I'm getting rid of the soundtrack of my life. 

But the flat needs painting and I have to make some room for myself. Needs to be done.

Still, it feels strange and rather sad.

And don't talk to be about shedding books. That's worse. 

(p.s. anybody wanting some CD, and wanting a list of what is going, message me - I love it when things go to a good home)

Today's Song: 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Notes from the Road

Finally, I'm home - I got in about fifteen minutes ago. I would have been here about three hours ago, but a stop at my cousins in Ballan to drop off some fru-chocs and a stop in at Blarney and Barney's for a bite to eat and a beer and now I'm home. When I do this at the end of next month, I won't be able to do this as I'll have the cat in the car. 

Now I'm home, the place feels incredibly empty. Mum said the cat had a quiet day. I'll take this as code for hasn't been out from behind the computer. He yowled when I left Myponga this morning. I felt like yowling myself, so bad the Mummy-guilt. But he is in good hands. And he hopped on the bed with my parents last night and he was settling well - so I'm not worried - I just miss him. He'll chill. 

Besides, I'm getting some feline wards on Wednesday for a week - won't that be fun.

Anyway, here are some notes from today's trip back from Adelaide. 

Departed 8.30 am ACDST (9 am AEDST)

The drive through the Adelaide Hills was as wonderful as it will always be. Made good time. 

Stopped at the OTR services the other side of Tailem Bend at 10.15 am ACDST. 

These are great services although they have no decaf coffee. There are only two ladies toilets - which really, being new services, is a bit of a travesty. On the good side of things, both the OTR and the BP services on the way the Adelaide are serviced by the local bakery. Their sprinkly donuts are PHENOMENAL. They put Krispy Kremes to shame. Had a break with a weak almond latte, breaking 2.5 years of no full strength coffee. On the road again after 20 minutes. 

Have decided to stop at the Coonalpyn silo art on the way over at the end of January. They're pretty cool. The traffic was too heavy to stop today. 

Image courtesty of

Next stop was at Bordertown OTR at 12.00 ACDST (12.30 AEDST). Had to queue for the loo for 20 minutes - 2 unisex toilets for far too many travellers. Checked in with the SA COVID QR checks - far too many people around. Left in disgust, not willing to queue for another 20 minutes to get a drink, such were the queues. The toilet situation was ridiculous. 

Wish I'd worn my mask. 

Got breatholised just out of Borderdown. Young, friendly cops. No border checks, just a breath test. We talked cats while they fired up the machine. In and out in three minutes. As expected, blew 0.00 despite having a month's worth of alcohol (for me) over the last week. My stepdad thinks I'm a lightweight. I am a lightweight - who cherishes my hard won mental and physical health. 

On the trip over in January I might stop at the Kaniva art silo.

Image courtesy of

Called Jonella and Blarney between Kaniva and Horsham. Thank goodness for bluetooth handsfree connections. 

Finished listening to Lincoln in the Bardo. Excellent  audiobook (I've read it before and want to read it again - but this was great)

Started listening to Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo - now ensconsed in a feminist novel about all sorts of things. The writing is amazing. Spent a lot of time scoffing at things said - kept me awake. 

Stopped at Horsham around 3.30pm AEDST for a bite to eat and to refuel. Once again, not enamoured with the toilets (saying that, I had lunch at McDonalds and their loos are at least reasonably clean). 

Next stop was at Ballan at around 6.30 pm AEDST (6.00 pm ACDST). Dropped of a lot of fru-chocs with my cousin. Stopped in for a cup of tea, caught up with his wife and kids, have made a promise to go see my cousin (his mother) in Hobart and was on on road in an hour. 

Traffic was steady. Good driving conditions. 

8.30 pm AEDST (8 pm ACDST)  dropped by Blarney and Barney's, who fed me some of yesterday's leftover barbeque, gave me a beer and I watched a bit of the big bash cricket for a bit. 

Left an hour later.  Arrived home half an hour after that.

And that is Christmas over and done with for another year. 

Tomorrow the painting begins. 

And I miss the cat. 

Today's Song:

Sunday, December 27, 2020

For those who celebrate Christmas #2

Thankfully Christmas is nearly over for another year. The main day is over. I was pleasantly spoiled, the meal was lovely, and now I'm sitting at Mum's kitchen table having a write. I've got a big day visiting people before I return to Melbourne on Monday. I've also discovered the wonders of SBS World Movies - so many gems that could have me glued to the screen, but no, we're just relaxing here with Mum. At night, I walk up the hill to the granny flat, which is a very nicely converted shed. There, I can chill by myself. It's good having that time out. After being in lockdown for so long, it still feels strange spending time with more than a handful of people. I'm also grateful we can do this safely. (Although hugging people is still a foreign action - nine months of social distancing will do that to you)

Anyway, Bev, at Sunday Stealing, has another page of Christmas questions to answer. So here we go.

Happy Holidays. 

Star or Angel?

As you're all aware from last week, my Christmas tree is a gin bottle filled with lights - but I prefer a star on top. Just do. There are some lovely angels out there, but stars are good. 

White Lights or Colored Lights?

My gin bottle is fillied with white lights. Otherwise, I think it's an individual thing and I have no real preference. 

Blinking Lights or Still Lights?

Please keep them still - flashing lights can give me a headache. 

When do you open your gifts?

Now, as we are Australian, Father Christmas (i.e. Santa) comes during the night and presents are opened on Christmas morning. I don't get the Christmas Eve present giving thing. I have friends whose kids wake them up early, they are allowed one present, then the rest are opened when the family arrive a few hours later. 

Do you buy gifts for your pet?

No. This year Lucifer was placed in a cage and driven to Nanny's place some 900 kilometres away. My sister fed him prawns yesterday. That is a present enough. 

Be honest: What's the worst gift you've ever gotten?

Oh, that was received for my birthday many, many years ago. I was given a cock ring, a sex toy, by somebody. It wasn't a joke, I wasn't in a relationship and it really wasn't appreciated. No idea what my then friend was thinking. I have nothing against sex toys, but they're something you buy for yourself or for a hen's (batchelorette) party. 

Have you ever traveled for the holiday?

Yes. One of my favourte Christmases was spent in Thailand riding elephants, eating curry and having massages. I've also been to Tasmania on a few occassions to spend Christmas with Barney's family - and that is always fun, even if it is only across Bass Strait and 45 minutes on a plane.  

Did you see Santa as a child?

When I was a very young child I was taken to the Magic Cave in John Martins' Department store where I went and sat on Father Christmas' knee. Then I got a ride on Nipper or Nimble, these big rocking horses. Things were quite simple back then. Later, I worked at the same department store and was in the annual Christmas Pageant. It was great fun. 

Can you name all the reindeer?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph. Didn't have to look that up even. 

Have you ever gone caroling?

Hell no. I really don't like Christmas Carols that much. Besides, I can barely carry a tune in a bucket. 

Do you drive around and look at the Christmas lights?

No, though I will slow down and have a look if I'm driving past. 

Have you ever left Santa cookies?

I did when I was a young child. But we left him some carrots for the reindeer and a beer. 

Have you ever had a white Christmas?

No, but I did live in England for eight years and I had eight cold Christmases. I much prefer cold Christmas - makes far more sense. 

Have you ever made a gingerbread house from scratch? From a kit?

No, not something I've ever done. Admired many friends who do this every year - still have no idea why they do it, but it makes them happy. 

Be honest: Do you think the season is too commercial?

Abso-fucking-lutely. I try and avoid this. I'm also the person at work who says no to decorations around my desk. Didn't happen this year, but one company I worked for went so far overboard, it was like Sant had spewed tinsel everywhere. 

Imagine you were going to create the quintessential holiday soundtrack -- which song(s) absolutely must be included?

Okay, it's Christmas - you want me to give you a holiday soundtrack for summer. What must be included?

Hmm. Here we go. 

The Fairytale of New York - Kirsty McColl & Shane McGowan

April Sun in Cuba - Dragon (Best Summer song ever)

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer - George Thoroughgood

On The Road Again - Willie Nelson

The Little Drummer Boy - David Bowie and Bing Crosbie

Blue Christmas - Miles Davis

Christmas with the Devil - Spinal Tap

What are your Christmas pet peeves?

What are my pet peeves, other than everybody goes mental, it's hot, it's expensive, everybody wants to catch up, you have to be nice to people you rarely see and tolerate idiots. Then there are the relatives who try and make you feel bad for still being single, or those who you talk to who tell you all their problems, but don't ask after your life. The roads are packed and there is far too much food? What peeves, I ask?

Today's song:

Saturday, December 26, 2020

What I have learned from blogging every day this year

 I never set out at the start of the year to write a blog post every day, but somehow, over this crazy year, during the months at home, all through the lockdown, despite every day, every week running into each other, I somehow managed to put fingers to keyboard every day and post someting. 99% of it is complete rubbish, but there is the odd good post. 

On the better side if things, I've learned a lot from this daily blogging. Most bloggers will tell you that even blogging daily for a month is a stretch. Finding things to write about can be difficult, especially when you're living it large in your lounge room 23 hours a day - but somehow you manage. 

So, what did I learn from blogging daily?

Setting yourself small challenges gets you places

Whether it be a music challenge where the song of the day is from a particular era, or be it counting down the days of the lockdown, a daily challenge gives your brain somewhere to go. There were times when it would 11.30 in the evening and there was still nothing on the page. It's good if you can find something to write about during the day.  Doesn't matter how ridiculous. 

Give yourself a 'day off' each week

For me, that's the weekly Q&A I do through Sunday Stealing. It means you don't have to think too hard about what you're writing. I've been doing this for years. 

There is only so much you can write about your cat

Enough said - even if he is the most darling boy of darling boys in the world. 

And keep the politics to a minimum

Especially with all of the politicians acting like arseholes at the moment. I'm not an political blogger, but I'll dip my toe in for a whinge every now and then. I couldn't do it daily. I'm also too thin skinned to deal with the trolls, as I am also not one to suffer idiots gladly. But sometimes it has to be done. 

There is something good about making a commitment like this

At thes start of the year I told myself I'd blog daily for January. I was off work at the time and it was a good thing to do, seeing I had little else to do other than look for work. Then COVID came an blogging daily gave me a bit of a sense of purpose, and a record of what it was like during lockdown. I'm really glad I have this record of things.

It's okay to re-read your stuff

Mind you, when I re-read it, I then go and do another edit. It has been good this year to work out what was going on, and when. Now that we're out of lockdown, it's good to see what you were thinking back then.

It's not a waste of time

Any time spent writing is good. I do berate myself for not using this time to spend on that bloody novel, but still, I'm not in the habit of doing this. Writing is like a muscle - you need to use it regularly to keep things up and running.

Thing is, with five days left of the year, I have to ponder what I will do next year? Stop blogging? Keep going a few days a weeks? Keep up the daily practice.

I don't have an answer for this yet. At the moment, I'm just proud of myself for keeping at it. 

Today's song: 

Friday, December 25, 2020

And so this is Christmas

There is something strangely comforting in the quiet drone of the Latin Mass which is eminating from the television on my right. The Pope, in a very socially distanced St Peters in Rome, is giving Mass, in Latin, or what sounds like Latin to me, now that the Evensong has passed. He's done the smells and bells bit, waving the thurible around the alter, spreading frankinsense smoke around the building. The sparse congregation are masked, pius, a mixture of veiled clergy sit quietly, reverently as the boy soprano sends sounds, just off that sad, affecting minor fourth which provides the sucker punch to the solar plexus. I feel sorry for the boy sopranos - how must it be knowing you've have this God given talent, only to have it taken away with puberty. Puberty kills so many things. 

But I digress. It's Christmas. 

I was once again woken to the sound of kookaburras. After a lie in, a Netflix movie and a cup of coffee, still in a pair of shortie pyjamas and slipping some thongs on my feet, I wandered down to the 'big house', saying a silent happy birthday to my Aunt, who would be turning 79 today if she was still around. In the agapanthuses, butterflies fly free, and I say a verbal hello to my niece, who is also not here. We do that, our family, saying hello to Lauren when you see a butterfly. It's her way of letting us know she's around.

Picking my way down the hill, past the trailer, down the side of the big shed, past the wood stack, avoiding the roo poo, I go inside. My stepdad is sitting at the kitchen bench shelling three kilos of prawns, looking somewhat annoyed. Mum is flapping around the place, doing last minute jobs. I want to tell her to stand up straight, making a mental note that my grandmother had the same stoop by her age. It's a good reminder for me to keep up the exercise, weights and take my calcium supplements.

Lucifer was happy to see me. He's settling well with Mum - at least he's eating and coming out for visits now. He'll be good here for a month. As for me - I'll have to manage without my little lightbringer when I go back to Melbourne on Monday. 

I saw Christmas Day in on a call with a friend. My friend is in England, where things appear grim, was trying to be philosphical. I still envy the cold Northern Hemisphere Christmas, where the twinkling lights, dense food and enclosed spaces feel more natural. Spending the last moments of Christmas Eve in what amounts to a converted shed (and a very nice converted and decorated shed it is) gave the night a discordant feel. 

Christmas isn't for everybody. I've friends who voraciously boycott the day, others who go all out to be as maddeningly festive as possible. I'm more a line of least resistance type. Give me jobs. Minimal participation as required. I've made the seafood sauce - that got done to my stepdad's chagrin - that's normally his job. 

But now I'm here, back in the 'studio', listening out for the bellbirds and kookaburras, hoping I open the curtains to see some kangaroos, thankful it's not going to be too hot. 

After many, many years, the Christmas angst is gone. For too long, Christmas was a time of tears and terror, a day where abject loneliness set in and was all encompassing. It was quite frankly, horrific. 

Now, all I look forward to is a relaxing day. This year, I'm not glazing Blarney's ham, which is now my designated job when I spend Christmas with the Melbourne family. This year I'm not having to lust after Christmas pudding, as mum has that ready to go (Blarney and Barney don't like it so we never have it - they're strange) AND best of all, there's a big feed of prawns waiting for me at lunch. Because prawns are the best and the best Christmases have lots of prawns. (It's always a hot roast lunch with Blarney, Barney and tribe, and that is good too - but it's not prawns with our homemade seafood sauce)

I'm also looking forward to later, when everybody has gone home and I can settle in front of the telly. SBS World Movies has come through big time. 7.30 pm - The Hunt for the Wilderpeople. 9.30 pm The Blues Brothers. No The Life of Brian this year. Also, because of the timezone think, I can't watch and comment along with Mac, who's also a Blues Brothers tragic.

The Pope is about to wrap up his dirge. The Vatican choir are singing Silent Night, in Latin. Damn those minor fourths. 

Pax Domini pax semper vobiscum

Pax. Lux. 

Today's Song:

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve

I'm sitting at my claimed desk. My mother's kitchen table. 

This is it. 

Mum's never that thrilled when I take over the end of the kitchen table, as if the presence of the laptop disrupts the sanctity of the kitchen. I like writing here, looking out over the agapathuses as the honeyeaters fly about hunting for food, looking out to the willow trees on the banks of the now dry Hindmarsh River, watching the butterflies, admiring the blue wrens as they skit around the driveway... it makes a change from my desk at home that looks out over another block of flats, a physiotherapy gym and the fish factory. 

Mum's also never thrilled when I chew through their bandwith. I'm being good. I'm not downloading anything. Promise. 

Up in the studio, where I'm sleeping, any internet is garnered off my hotspot. I was warned by a friend of my folks that as I'm basically staying in a big tin shed, it's just a large faraday cage. Thankfully, the hotspot does work up there. And down here in the house I'm on Mum's wifi.  I'm a bit careful as I've come and stayed before and chewed through all of the bandwidth. Telstra told my mum that this is a very common problem around this time. It seems a lot of people come down to their parents and grandparents, then use all their internet allocation. Funny that. 

Anyway, we're doing all the pre-Christmas jobs today. The ham is in the ham bag. Mum and I went down to Victor Harbor this morning where we picked up the prawns. It was a strange event, not something you'd find in anywhere else. We went to a nondescript brick house near the hospital and went down this driveway. Behind it, there are parked a couple of boats and a shop with about two dozen people milling about. Pirate's Seachest appears to be a Victor Harbor tradition. People were were milling about. You'd never find this place if you you didn't know about it.  Mum ordered the prawns last week so she was in and out in five minutes, coming out with two kilos of the buggers. It seems this place is a local secret - all the stock is caught locally. Mum said there were a heap of huge lobsters there too - all the seafood you need. Puts the Sydney Fish markets to shame. My setpdad will peel the prawns tomorrow. All three kilos of them. 

Mum's now making the hard sauce for tomorrow after preparing all the salads. Hard sauce? A family tradition that goes on Christmas pudding. Mix 125 grams of softened unsalted butter with one and a half cups of icing sugar and a couple of tablespoons of brandy. Mix it all up until softened. It is good stuff. I'll probably be making the seafood sauce later too - whipped cream, tabasco, tomato sauce, mustard powder, a slosh of vinegar and slosh of worcestershire sauce all beaten up - again, amazing. They say it's smell and taste which bring back the strongest memories. We've also got cassata, in memory of my aunt who would have been turning 79 tomorrow. All these things are out Christmas traditions. 

I've also done a run down to the Fru Choc Shoppe in McLaren Vale. Try saying that three times fast. Possibly the most evil place is Christendom it takes your money. $50 later I have a kilo bag of Fru Chocs for my cousin (I'll run them in on the way home, he's in Ballan) a pair of Fru Choc socks for a friend for Xmas, and the piece of resistance, a bag of chocolate covered red frogs - which are just amazing and I'll keep them.  Most of the booty will be given away to South Australian friends who all know just how wonderful these things are.  

The run down the Vale also meant I could stop in the supermarket and buy a bottle of tabasco sauce - seeing the folks only had a bottle of chipotle tabasco - and there was no way I was allowing that in the seafood sauce. 

The strange thing about South Australia - no masks. Well there are masks, but you don't see many people wearing them. Some places ensure you check in - the Myponga General Store being one of them, other places, not so much. I'm erring on the side of caution. I've been through the Victorian Lockdown. Don't want to do that again.

Anyway, better be off, we're going down to Victor Harbor for dinner - and it's nearly time to feed the cat. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Mummy Guilt

Time: 8.45 Australian Central Daylight Saving Time (Half an hour behind in time, fifteen years behind in fashion is The Adelaide.)

Location: My mother's studio apartment. Some would call it a granny flat, other's a converted shed out in the house paddock. 

Mood: Somewhat wreaked with Mummy Guilt.

Location of Lucifer: Behind my mother's computer in the main house. 

I can hear myself berating myself. He's a cat. He will be fine. He is fine, he's just being stubborn and he will come out, eat, go to the loo and start being sociable in a day or so - but for the moment, the poor lad has to get over being carted, in a cage, from Melbourne to Myponga, South Australia. He spent the night with me in a cabin, in a caravan park, in Horsham. After the obligatory hour under the bed, after four hours in the cat cage, he found a place to sleep for the night. Under the covers down near my legs. This morning, after showering, breakfasting and packing the car, I fished him out from under the blankets, still half asleep, and we drove the remaining five hours back to Adelaide. Give him his dues, he was good in the car - the odd complaint, otherwise, he slept most of the way.

Anyway, now we are here. I'm knackered, and my bed is in another building to where my cat is sitting behind a desk. To keep the cat's distress levels to a minimum, I've left him down with Mum for the night. He hates the cat carrier.  He'll eat when everybody's in bed. He's been shown where his litter box can be found. He knows where the food is. He just needs to get over himself and relax - and he will be fine. Besides, he's staying here with Mum for a month while I return to Melbourne to go back to work, paint out my flat and babysit Blarney's cats for a few days. 

It's just now, I'm up in the granny flat / studio / converted shed and my baby is down with my Mum and I have a huge case of Mummy guilt. This is the first night we've been apart since I took him in nine months ago. I hope he behaves himself. I hope he's going to be alright. He will be fine. He's a cat. he's still to discover the picture windows where he can watch the birds and the chooks and the antichinuses. When he settles, he'll be fine. 

I gather this is what if feels like to be a parent...

Today's song:

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Bitch from Hell

According to my cat, I'm the bitch from hell. 

I've been acting strangely over the last few days - re-arranging things, throwing things out , shredding paper, packing bags, moving things about. 

He's very much a creature of habit, and throwing things out of kiltre is not something he likes at all. Arrive half an hour late for dinner and I'm told off. Don't get up to feed him at 7 am - I get told off (or jumped on with his full weight. Bring people home and he hides. 

Then, yesterday,  horror of all horrors, I put his collar on. He's not worn a collar since I brought him home. He's an inside cat, so there's no need for a collar at home. So something was up - and he knew it. He also got wormed and got a flea treatment. That didn't go well either.

At 3 pm, I committed the worst crime. He was placed in the cat carrier. The look of indignation on his face was priceless. 

Then  he was taken to the car - and placed in the big cage for the big trip to Horsham.

We stopped at Blarney's on the way out, exchanging gifts, a final quick cuddle of Kylo and Rey and then on our way. Blarney came to says hello to the captive. He wasn't happy.

But on the whole, he's been a trooper. The occasional wail came from the back seat. He sat in his litter tray all the way there, daft git, but as I keep telling him, whatever makes him comfortable. 

We left Melbourne at three. After aquaplaning most of the way to Ballarat, making a quick stop at Ararat for a walk and a pee, then onto Horsham, where the lad is now exploring after having the obligatory hour or so under the bed in the cabin. He's now checking out what is behind every curtain and nibbling at his dinner. As it's a bit cold, I have a feeling he'll snuggle up with me tonight. 

I can recommend the Horsham Riverside Caravan Park. It's quiet, spottlessly clean, easy to find and it takes pets. Just what you need when you have to break up a trip. I took a great deal of joy as I watched the sun go down over the river from my small deck, listening to the cockatoos and corellas as they made their way to their sleeping spots. I often forget how much I love the country

But tomorrow, I'll once again be the bitch from hell, as I shove him back in the car and drive the 450 kilometres back to Myponga, where Nanny and Poppy, as they are known, who will be looking after him for the next few weeks. 

But for tonight, he can continue exploring the five metre by five metre space, play with Nemo, stick and ribbons and Bunnings bag and sleep on blankie, which has come with us from Melbourne, because he loves blankie. And I feel like I'm travelling with a toddler.

But he's been here two hour now, he's wandering around and exploring. He's talking to me - but I wonder, after another five hours in the car tomorrow, if he will love me still. 

Today's Song:

Monday, December 21, 2020

Procrastination 101

Or How to Put Yourself in the Doghouse.

Things I want to get done by Tuesday 3 pm:
  • Clear out and clear the spare room
  • Tape up the spare room ready for painting
  • Paint out the spare room
  • Pack for Adelaide
  • Go to the gym
  • Bake some biscuits for the soap guy (belated Xmas present / early Xmas present)
  • Do some writing
  • Do some reading
  • Hoover the flat
  • Do the hard floors
  • Pack the car
  • Go see Blarney and Barney
Things I have done to this point:
  • Got a start on cleaning out the spare room
  • Disposed of all of my Master's notes
  • Shredded 10 years of tax returns (2002-2012)
  • Put a collar on the cat
  • Gone to the gym for pump
  • Had dinner with Jonella
  • Had coffee with Jay and Trish after the gym
  • Watched a lot of bad telly
  • Finished my Xmas shopping
  • Realised just how much crap I need to shed from my flat. 
I was a bit misguided in thinking I could clear, clean and paint my spare room before I went to Adelaide. 

It hasn't happened.

Blarney has a cold. I won't be seeing Blarney until she's had a COVID test. 

The car will be packed tomorrow. I'll get packing my clothes and get other stuff ready tonight.

What is most disconcerting is I put a collar on Lucifer in preparation for the trip. He is not happy. you'd think I'd killed his puppy, stolen his girlfriend and made him eat a poo sandwich all in a day - and what did I do? I put his collar on. I think it prudent if we travel, that he wear his collar in case he escapes. He is not happy with me in the slightest. He knows something's going on. I'm not sure how he's going to feel about staying in a caravan park cabin for the night tomorrow. And I know, when he settles, he'll have a wonderful time at Nanny and Poppy's place for a month - but for the moment, I have a recalcitrant cat sitting under his blanket with flattened ears, a thumping tail and he's giving me the stink eye. 

I'm in the doghouse. 

Wish me luck getting him in the car tomorrow.

Today's Song:

Sunday, December 20, 2020

For Those Who Celebrate Christmas Part 1:

 Ah, here we go, another set of questions which I will find some difficulty in answering because 1) I am in Australia and it is Summer so Christmas in Australia doesn't make sense to those in cold climates and 2) As I'm not a Christian, it feels a bit hypocritical to celebrate the birth of venerated man who died 2000 years ago. 

Regardless, I take a line of least resistance when it comes to Christmas, participating enough so I don't piss people off, but I don't get too invested in it. Then I go have fun with my Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and athiest friends. 

Anyway, here we go. Questions, as always, have been supplied by Bev at Sunday Stealing

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Time off work if I'm really honest. And the fact I can normally get some prawns for dinner. 

Do you send out Christmas cards and if so how many do you send?

I don't send Christmas cards and I normally feel awful when I receive them as I don't send them back. 

Be honest: holiday newsletters. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Depends on who sends them. They're okay for other people. When I lived in England I would send them, but that was 25 years ago. 

Be honest: photo cards. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Oh photo cards are an American thing. We don't really have them here unless you're a politician or really churchy. Here is our Prime Minister's one. He's really churchy. Say no more... I feel sorry for his kids. They get wheeled out for photo opportunities. 

How soon do you start shopping?

About two weeks before the day. I've got most of my Christmas shopping done now. 

Real or fake tree?

I have a gin bottle stuffed with Christmas lights. Does that count? I've never put up a tree. Besides now, the cat would eat it. 

When do you put up your tree?

See above. 

When do you take down your tree?

See above. Though the gin bottle stuffed with Christmas lights has sat next to the telly for a year now, so I've never taken it down. 

Describe your typical tree (size, decorations, type)

A gin bottle filled with Christmas lights. 

What do you top your tree with?

Nothing, if I put the lid on, I can't light the lights. 

Do you put Christmas lights outside your house?

No. That is something other people do. Besides, I'm on the second floor. 

Is there a wreath hanging on your door?

No. I'll leave that to my downstairs neighbours. One has a great big stocking on her door, the other one has a minimalist wreath that sort of looks like a crown of thorns. It's very tasteful. 

Do you hang up stockings?


Your favorite Christmas Movie(s)

Die Hard. But if you want a more traditional Christmas movie, I love Love, Actually and have a soft spot for It's a Wonderful Life. I also really enjoyed Happiest Season recently. Just because I'm not a Christmas fan doesn't mean I don't like Christmas movies.

Oh, and In the Bleak Midwinter is the best. Mixes Hamlet with Christmas, what more could you want?

Be honest: A Christmas movie you hate

I'm not a fan of Home Alone. 

Favorite Christmas Song(s)

The Fairytale of New York

If you want an Aussie one, Rolf Harris's version of Six White Boomers is pretty good too, even if Rolf Harris is out of favour.

If you want a more traditional one, then it is The Carol of the Bells. As seen on The West Wing

Be honest: If I hear this/these Christmas songs again I will throw up

Oh that I Wish it would be Christmas - hate it. It was all over the shop when I lived in England. 

Give or Receive?

I do love to give - though it is nice to receive too. 

Eggnog or Mulled Cider?

Now these are American things. I do love a good egg nog and mulled wine/ gleuvein/ spiced warm wine, but as it is high summer when it's Christmas, I'll settle for a gin and tonic. 

Ham or Turkey?


My family tends to do a cold Christmas lunch with seafood and salad. When in Melbourne, my job is to glaze Blarney's ham - and she always gets a good ham and I am very adept at glazing it, though it is something my family never did - we'd have leg ham, cold of course, but we'd never do a glaze. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Writing with Dev - Part Eighteen

I have lots to say, but I don't want to say it. So instead of getting all that stuff out, I'm going to write with Dev and see what comes out. 

Ah, the over, under, through method of dealing with obstacles - never truer word spoken.

All writing is valuable. I'm still amazed that I have written a blog post every day this year so far - it's pretty incredible. 

I'm also procrastinating because I should be prepping my spare room for painting. I'm not feeling it. So here we go.

About last night:

Well, I had a massage last night. I packed up my work computer and put it in a drawer in the bedroom so I don't have to look at it for two weeks, then I went and had a massage. It was great. Seeing that my semi-regular massage is about the only human touch I get at the moment, I savour every minute. As I spend far too much time in the chair I'm currently sitting in, well that too means that I need the masage. Oh, and that I was put through a heavy session at the gym on Thursday night, I needed it even more. My massage therapist is great, gets into all the bits which need it. I have a funny feeling I likes working on me too. The gym work keeps me really toned, but heavy work, like we did on Thursday, leaves things feeling like boulders. Regardless, it was great, until a couple of junkies came into the practice. Seems they were after a rub and tug - whereas where I go is a place where physios / osteos / Myos and remedial massage therapists work - the ones that you get money back from your health fund. Thankfully, he dealt with them quickly and got back to my shoulders.

Five things about me that I've learned this week:

I'm getting a bit of separation anxiety at the thought of leaving the cat with my mother in Adelaide for a month. It's not going to be the same without him. But he will be fine with Mum - and I feel better about not having to shunt him back to Melbourne four days after getting to Adelaide. He'll have fun. 

I'm not as squeamish as I think I am. Dealing with this wart, I have to scrap the bloody thing away. I can do this happily. It's stinging a bit - means it's working. And the duct tape on the bottom of the foot remains. 

I really do love literature. Reading Julian Barnes set me off - and it was wonderfu;. Now on to Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half. I will make my 35 books read this year. 

Oh there is something I wish I could share but not on this forum. I'll keep it to be bastardised and put in the novel. But not here. 

I'm amazed that I'm keeping my emotions in check at the moment. 

When was my last / first / most memorable OMG food moment when the world changed?

Okay, that would be yesterday, when I poured myself a nip of Mr Black coffee liqueur over ice and had it at drinks after work. OH MY GOD! This stuff is orgasmic. It's cold brew coffee mixed with vodka, in essence, but it is SOOOOOO good. It's nowhere near as syrupy as Kahlua or Tia Maria, the coffee is intense, string enough to take out the bite from the vodka. Sipped over a ball ice block (I have ice moulds which come out the size of a tennis ball, it was just perfect ice cold. I could feel the caffeine coursing through me - something I haven't drunk in two years - but a little, every now and then, is fine. This stuff was bought on a whim off the internet after seeing it mentioned in an article in The Age. 

The Japanese believe that when you can't sleep you're awake in somebody else's dream. 

I normally sleep well once I'm off - then there are times when I don't - and there are two or three periods a year, for a couple of days, when I have full on insomnia - but that will normally pass after a couple of days. Lavender oil or the very, very occasional Stillnox sorts me out. But I have no idea who would be dreaming about me. I suppose I find it funny that as I rarely dream, I think other people rarely dream too. I was in a dream group for years and I was a bit of a pariah in the group because I rarely dreamed, or if I did dream of people I was dreaming about the likes of Tony Abbott, Kurt from Glee's Dad or some other fictional character. I can't remember the last dream I had. But I do hope that when I was dreaming of Tony Abbott, that he was kept awake, because that is how schadenfreude works. 

What are you trying to prove to who?

I'm trying to prove to myself that I'm a real writer. Most of me knows I'm a real writer, but there is that little bit of me that thinks I'm a hack. 

I'm also trying to prove to my cat that I'm a good cat mummy. He's just ripped through the paper of a couple of wrapped Christmas presents - so I'm not sure how good a cat's mummy I am. 

I'm also trying to prove I have great taste in music, but here I am, with Right, Said Fred as my song of the day. 

Today's Song:

Friday, December 18, 2020


 I am officially on holiday. 

At 4 pm I turned off my work laptop, unplugged it and put it in a drawer with my headset and work notepad, and there it can stay until 4 January. 

I've worked at this company since 17 February. In that time I've had one sick day and taken two days of leave  - one just after my birthday and then the day before cup day. So this is the first extended break I'm having in nearly a year. 

And it's needed. 

So far on my holiday, I've had a massage, got my favourite takeaway (Grill'd chicken burger and some sweet potato chips) paid a visit to Gelato Messina (for a tub with Pannacotta with Fig and Amaretti, Salted Caramel and White Chocolate and Macadamia Crunch - this will last me a while). We downed tools at 3 pm and I cracked open that bottle of Mr Black coffee liqueur, a nip had over ice - and it was as delightful as I thought it might be. 

But having two weeks off, what does one do when one is on holiday? Especially when you can't go out of the country without quarantining on the return?

Well, here are a few things that need doing:

  • Write
  • Paint out the flat - well both bedrooms and the lounge/hallways - including ceilings and some doors
  • Drive to Adelaide with the cat
  • Leave the cat with my mother (who is not so secretly over the moon about this) The cat will be collected at the end of January once the painting is done - this is what the Australia Day long weekend is for.
  • Drive home from Adelaide after Xmas
  • See some Shakespeare
  • Take in Blarney's cats for 10 days (and as Lucifer is at Mum's place, no fights)
  • See some films
  • Read some books
  • Exercise daily
  • Try to see some friends when I'm both in Adelaide and when I get home
  • Try not to live in Bunnings over this time - I'm going to Bunnings tomorrow morning, once a mate drops me a ladder
Does this sound like a holiday? Not really. Would I rather be elsewhere? Yes, but there is nowhere to go at the moment. Certainly can't go to Sydney at present.

I'm also hoping there are no border issues in the next week coming back from Adelaide. Fingers are crossed that things remain okay. I'm feeling for friends in Sydney. Here's hoping this is all quashed quickly. 

But in the meantime, I'm on holiday. Which means I think I might have another coffee liqueur - because it's awesome. 


Today's Song: 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Today's line of thought

 I'm currently reading Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending

I'm reading it on my kindle, it's been hanging around for a long time, waiting to be read, and as I have two books to finish to meet my goal of reading 35 books this year, it, being short, and of quality, and not about abused women, it fit the bill. I'm also listening to Michelle Obama's Becoming as an audiobook, which is a perfect traffic book as Obama's reading of her book is perfectly paced and fascinating. 

Anyway, what you need to know about The Sense of an Ending

  • It isn't that long (150 pages)
  • It's very British, frighteningly British even
  • It won the Booker Prize in 2011
  • It's eminently readable
  • There are snippets and quips which have you gasping on every page
  • There is a sense of foreboding which gets you from the outset
Two days in and I'm sitting at 60% (joys of the Kindle). I'm itching for lunchtime when I can lie down with the cat and take in more. 

But there is this quote that keeps showing up in the text. 

“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.”

This keeps tossing around my brain. The imperfections of memory, well, we all know about this. And the inadequacies of documentation. In today's times, where could that take you

Maybe I'm transferring this onto the world's situation at large. We all ahve inperfections when it comes ot memories. I know this one too well. And with the internet,, documentation has never been more flawed. When the two meet - boom!

Being nearly two thirds in, I'm waiting for the next bomb to drop. We've had the set up. We've had the first big aha moment. Now I'm onto the second. From the loose reviews I've read, by the end of the book, everything is turned on its head.

It's clever, it's funny, it's wise and utterly readable. And it's very, very short. 

And it makes be happy. 

Like today's song of the day. 

Today's Song: 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Five Years

 I will always wake up on the sixteenth of December and ask, 'What if...?'

What if is one of the most pointless questions about, as it makes you ponder the unrealities of realities. It offers no real hope. It offers no real opportunity. Unlike Pandora's Box, when it was unleashed, and all the horrors of the world were unleashed, hope and opportunity remained encased in the box. Are they bad things? Are they good things? Are they resting where they should - in a box that contained hated, heartache, violence, envy, wrath...?

Or are they just what they are - hope and opportunity. There to be used when needed, but never to have that much faith in, until you put some effort into the situation. 

I'm being a bit abstract. 

Like all anniversaries, you have a sense of nostagia. You think about how things were. 

Would I want to return to this day five years ago? Never in a million years. 

Do I look at what happened on this day five years ago and feel some nostalgia? No. 

Was this day a turning point? Absolutely. 

I got the call at around six p.m. I was supposed to be going out to my dream group end-of-year dinner. That didn't happen. 

The call took all of two minutes. Mum rang. She'd gone. We knew that she was being let go that day. It was all over but the waiting. Then there was no more suffering, on her part. We were all going to get through this. There was no more to be said. 

Was there a sense of relief. Hell, yes. Not because she was dead, but she was now at peace. The nine months previous were an abomination that no family should endure. 

Of course there were logistics to be managed. Interstate transfers, paperwork, packing up a life in one city, moving back to another, arrangements to be made, people to call. All while coming to terms with what had happened. 

But as with any long, drawn out process, the line was drawn and we could start moving in other directions. 

Life now has two realms. Life with Lauren. And life after Lauren. 

And I miss her everyday. 

The photos on the bookcase don't get updated. You don't get news of what she's up to. You don't get to vicariously experience her life through social media. You don't get to be proud, roll your eyes, giggle (she had the best giggle) talk, ponder why she ate her eggs fried, with sauce on the side. You don't get to learn her foibles.

Because she's not here anymore. 

And it's the loss of all that potential which gets mourned most of all. 

But I'm going to try find some good in this - in the death of my beloved niece, some five years ago. 

On a personal level, her passing has put me on the path of writing this novel. It looks at death as one of its themes. 

I look at bigger 'what ifs'.

  • What if people were more inclined to donate blood?
  • What if people talked about death and dying more?
  • What if we took each moment and lived for the present?
  • What if more money was funneled towards cancers affecting teenagers and young adults? 
  • What if we were a more empathetic and compassionate nation?
  • What if we took more care of the environment?
  • What if we all thought more about how we could make our lives matter?
Lauren would have been turning 21 on Sunday. 

She mattered. She mattered a lot. 

Miss you and love you, Lol. xx

Today's Song: 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Please, no more, enough already

I've made it 15 days into #whamaggedon without being caught. Okay, I've spent very little time in shopping centres and shops so the chance of hearing Last Christmas by Wham is slim - well hopefully. Last year, I got done on the second of December. It's such an insidious song.

Talking of insidious, I have to bring up my despair at seeing Delta Goodrem being wheeled out at this time. 

Let me say it plain. I don't like Delta Goodrem.

And I have nothing against her as a person. She seems to be an okay person. She does a bit for charity. I don't want to see her dead or anything. 

But I can't stand her music. 

It's bland. It's banal. And why does she have to play the piano and wiggle her shoulder while she sings. 

Her voice, to me, is like nails on the blackboard, amplified, and mixed in with a car alarm and rutting cats. 

I just don't get why they keep letting her sing?

So Channel Nine is plugging her Christmas album.

Give me strength. 

I think it's her banality which gets me the most. Like, I'm not that fond of Adele, Ed Sheeran, Maria Carey, Celine Dion and a number of other singers who are overplayed and overrated - but these artists, unlike Delta, seem to have a bit of range.

Everything Delta sings sounds the same.

And it's not that interesting.

Okay, my ears start to bleed when she comes on. 

Personally, I think she should be relegated to those musos who play at Carols by Candlelight - who appear to be mostly those who were on Young Talent Time back in the day. And Sylvie Palladino, who ever she may be.

So I hear Delta Goodrem and change the channel. 

She's just not my cup of tea.

And now I have to play one of my favourite 90's songs to feel better about life.

Today's song:

Monday, December 14, 2020

Book Group

 Finally, after ten months, we managed to get together for book group. 

Instead of the meeting being held at the the normal Italian bistro in the city, we moved to my local pub - a gastro pub crawling distance from the front door.

It was great to be with everybody again. The book group has been going for around 14 years, 12 in its current form, we're used to each other's presence. We've gone on holiday together, been to each other's weddings, go round for dinner with these people - and it is great. 

So once we worked out how to order sustenance at the pub - a slightly convoloted app delivering drinks and our meals in an orderly fashion, we then talked about the book of the month - Delia Owens' Where the Crawdads Sing. Did we enjoy the book? For the most part. Some had issues with the dialogue, some an issue with the ending. But it was a nice, lighter book to end the year on. 

Then we go onto the annual even - the book choosing. The lollies were bagged, the red ups were set out and we all set about choosing our books for the year. The great thing about having to bring two books along is that you really have to thing about it - an in the 14 years the book group has been going, and in the 12 in which we've had this voting method, we've barely had a dud book. 

So this was the scene in front of me before the vote, bag of lollies at the ready, red cups on the books. I was yet to put on the rubber glove which was in the bag. The rubber gloves are normally there because the lollies are unwrapped. This year, all the lollies have a wrapper. I was a bit naughty. I originally put in a lot of redskins - I traded quite a few of them out for chocolate eclairs. There were a lot of comments about the redskins - soon to be re-named red rippers. 

The vote took about five minutes. We had to do a second vote as four books had ten lollies a piece - we voted with five lollies each, three in your first choice, two in your second. This killled the last place stale mate. 

So what are we reading for the year? See below - with the votes each book received:

Book group is one of my joys. It really is. 

Best of all - we can meet up again, in person. And along with the camraderie, the books and the friendships, most of all we can celebrate being together. 

Today's Song:


Sunday, December 13, 2020

COVID Questions

It's going to be really interesting to do these questions as we here, in Australia, have been lucky enough to have practically run the virus out of town. After six months of heavy restrictions, we're getting back to something that looks like normal. Yes, we're still having to wear masks when we can't social distance - shopping centres, public transport etc. There are some restrictions on some numbers, but the borders to the states are now open and things feel pretty good. But it has been a very long, hard road. 

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

1. Day 1 of serious isolation behavior:

Well, I could take this as about the 11th of March - that was when I started working from home. There was a time late June where things freed up a bit. But I'll take this from, I think it was August 2 when we had Stage 4 Lockdown imposed. Only allowed out for exercise, shopping or care giving for an hour a day. Mask were deemed mandatory. You weren't allowed further than 5 kilometres (3 miles) from your front door. Thing is, we're basically COVID free now. So we got used to all this. And I sort of miss being stuck at home. Going outside without a mask still feels strange. It was an introvert's paradise. 

2. First trip you had to cancel.

I was supposed to go to Sydney in April. That was cancelled. Should look to using those flight and hotel credits soon. 

3. Other trips canceled    

It was more trips that couldn't be made - I didn't make my Uncle's funeral in May because it was interstate and I couldn't get to Adelaide for love nor money. Same for my mother's 80th birthday in September.  I was hoping to go to Bali in November - that didn't happen. My travel money is in my travel account. It's okay. 

4. Last trip out of town before isolation.   

Sydney in March. Good thing is I'm driving to Adelaide to go home for Christmas the week after next. 

5. Furthest from home since isolation.

Oh, since lockdown, I think the trip to see Jonella in Mordialloc is the furthest I've been from home. But that is normal. Jonella is about 22 kilometres away in the Southern suburbs. Looking forward to seeing a friend in the Dandenongs and in Ballarat soon. They're 50 and 120 kilometres away respectively. 

6. Last Meal sitting in a restaurant before Isolation.   

Before Iso, it was in February - we had book group at our normal cafĂ©. I've been in restaurants regularly since lockdown ended here on 2 November. 

7. How many books have you read?

I've read a lot - nearly 35 books this year. It's been good for reading this lockdown arrangement. 

8. First event you didn’t attend due to virus.

I went to Sydney to see The Pixies in March. They cancelled - and rightly so. I couldn't get to my uncle's funeral in Adelaide in May as the borders were closed between the states. To go, I would have had to quarantine for 14 days before seeing anybody. That wasn't going to happen. Adelaide was having a better time of things at the time - 50 people at a funeral in Adelaide at the time. They'd offered me a spot. In Melbourne until six weeks ago, you could have ten at a funeral. That's nowa lot more, depending on inside, outside and distancing arrangements - much more normal. 

9. Date and event of last over 200-person event.

I think it was when I went to the theatre back in February. That would be it. Going to Shakespeare in the park on 29 December -  looking forward to that. 

10. Last live music event.

Before the alleged Pixies concert for March - oh, hell - not that it was music, but the My Dad Wrote a Porno at the Palais was the nearest to that sort of thing. I don't see much live music.

11. Things you are eating more of since isolation.

Candied ginger. Peanut paste and jam on toast (Americans, that's what you call peanut butter and jelly - I just can't bring myself to call it that - and the bread must be toasted - and eaten while hot.)

12. Things you are eating less of since isolation.

Pasta - gone right off it for some reason. 

13. What restaurants have you gotten take-out meals from?

Over lockdown, the occasional call to Uber Eats for fish and chips was made. In the break between the first and second lockdown, we did a really posh dinner with Jonella and Norty. Attica at Home was a godsend. 

14. Have you found yourself bored in isolation?

No - just wanting to do different things, outside - and to go to movies, galleries and plays. I've been going to the movies weekly for the last few weeks. 

15. Have you gained or lost weight?

Surprising, I've lost weight, but I have been trying. 

16. Do you drink alcohol?


17. If so, more or less in isolation?

About the same - 2-3 gin and tonics a week maximum - but that is about it. I drink very little.

18. What entertainments have you explored?   

The streaming services were hit hard. I fell in love with Fleabag, Virgin River and The Queen's Gambit. 

19. Gotten into anything new?

Not really. I've been reading a lot more of the New York Times, but that's more about the farce that is the American election and the COVID response. 

20. Have you done crosswords? Board bames?  Jigsaw puzzles?

Only the Guardian quick crossword most days, but I've done that for years. We played a bit of Cards Against Humanity over my birthday. That was fun. Online version of course. 

21. Have you cleaned out some cabinet, drawer, closet, etc. thoroughly?

I've done a bit of that over the last nine months. About to do another round of it. 

22. Are you spending about the same amount of money?

I've been spending a lot less than I have of late. Mind you, now we're out of iso, you see how much you do spend on things like going out and the like. 

23. Done Zoom, Facetime, etc. meetups?

Over the last nine months, this is been my main way of seeing people. It is so nice to be able to see people face to face (even if socially distanced) We're having the first book group meet up in person tomorrow. Yay. Used Zoom, Teams, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp - you name it, it's been used to connect with people. 

24. Had a social occasion with a small group of people you consider safe?

Again, we're out of lockdown, so things are groovy. Over lockdown, other than seeing my 'bubble' buddy, I was pretty strict, only meeting one other for a walk outside. We made it work that way and things were fine. But we had very restrictive rules during stage four - nobody in your place other than your bubble mates and essential tradespeople. I stuck by the rules. Thankfully, this worked. 

25. Did you vote? In Person? On Election Day?

We only had a  local election which was done by mail during this time. Any Federal and State elections held over this time were done with strict distancing and mask requirements, and I think they were wanting people to put in postal votes if they could. I normally do early or postal voting. Far easier and you don't harassed at the polling booth. We have a very open, transparent, indepentent, regulated voting system over here, with scrutineers from both sides present. It's good - not of the crap we're seeing out of America at the moment, which is frankly, it seems, has one man embarrassing for the country and its people.  

Today's song: 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Writing Time

I'm in one of my happy places. The La Trobe Reading Room of the State Library.

You have to book a spot - they do certain times - my time is between 2.30 and 6 pm. There is also a morning session.

You have to show your booking to the guy at the door and queue to get in. If you leave the building before your time is up, bad luck, that's it. There's no coming back once you're out. 

You have to keep your mask on. Thank goodness for separators is all I can say. They monitor the mask situation - you're asked to put it on if you take it off. They're serious about this. I'm fine with that. I feel better with a  mask on in the city anyway. 

The air conditioning is as good as ever. I've been known to hang out here on hot days, just to escape the heat and get a bit of peace. 

And the dome is as grand and imposing as ever. 

Over the years I've come here regularly to write, to research and to generally hang out away from the heat. The chairs, wooden affairs, with a low back and arm rests, have seen millions of arses over the year. When I started the Faber course, it was with the aim that after work, I could mosey up here for a few hours, find a corral, and write for a bit before heading across the road and catching the train home. 

In the last months, I've been missing having somewhere to go to write. Sitting in my chair, in front of my kitchen table, which works as both a dining table and a desk, I've been itching to go somewhere else to think, ponder and pen.

The small laptop I bought late last year as a traveller - lighter, easier to cart about, nice to type on, and far less wieldy than my normal laptop with the 15 inch screen - it's finally be charged up again. Thankfully, the long respite has done it no damage - took about ten minutes of updates last night but it is working well. 

And now that I've written this, it's time to do what I came here to do.

Write the bloody novel.

It is good to be back. 

Today's Song:

Friday, December 11, 2020

Movie Review: Happiest Season

Movie: Happiest Season

Stars: 4

I'm not the best when it comes to Christmas.  It's not my favourite time of year. I'm not a complete grinch. I don't stop other people from going mad over Christmas. I participate on a level which means I'm there and quietly having a good time, then I'll go and read a book with the cat. Which is about as good as it gets for my Christmas (unless there are prawns. I like prawns. I really like prawns. Best thing about Christmas at home is seafiood.

But as my Christmas anxiety is starting to creep in, I too myself off to the movies to sort of give myself a break from anything and everything. And from the limited fodder at the cinema, I chose Happiest Season

A Christmas movie. Okay, I was up for a bit of schmaltz  - and this delivered. (If anybody asks, my favourite Christmas Film is Die Hard).

I did choose this deliberately. Daniel Levy of Schitt's Creek fame is in it. The rest of the cast is great. And it looked, and was, light - just what was needed. It was also a touch deeper than I was expecting - and that was okay too. 

The premise is quite simple. Loved up couple, Abby (Kristin Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) make the trek back to Harper's family for Christmas. One small issue - Harper hasn't come out of her parents. 

And hilarity ensues. 

As with any family, there are all the underlying tensions which come bubbling to the surface. Harper's uptight older sister (Alison Brie) is on the point of hostile towards he sister. Her parents are so far up their own arses with her father (Victor Garber) running for town mayor and her mother (Mary Steenburgen tyring to keep everything perfect. And there is the flaky younger sister (Mary Holland) and Harper's ex-girlfriend (Aubrey Plaza) thrown into the mix for good measure. Daniel Levy is cast to type as Abby's close friend, who comes to her rescue from Harper's near Stepford family. 

But for a Christmas movie, which has the regulation amount of schmaltz and twee about it, Happiest Season is laugh out loud funny in places and very touching in others, as Harper, Abby and the rest of their family find their tribe and face some uncomfortable truths. The sibling rivalry between the sisters was played perfectly - something I could relate to - along with the rest of the movie. 

Maybe it's because it's Friday night, or maybe I just needed something light, but I really enjoyed this. To laugh at some universal truths was just what the doctor ordered. 

Today's Song: 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

I'm tough

I'm so tough I drink cordial straight from the bottle...

Tonight, we had our first session with our stand-in trainer. He's tough. He's really tough. He's so tough he has a miniature dachhund called Cisco. 

Don't let that fool you - although he's marshmallow underneath, our stand-in trainer is a drill sergeant in bogan clothing. I do have a soft spot for Charlie - he's a nice guy when you get to know him.

But he works you. He works you hard. 

So, it was three rounds of the following circuit. To be completed in 45 minutes. 

  • 15 x TRX rows

  • 20 x 9 kg ball slams
  • 60 second plank
  • 16 x alternating high-low woodchops
  • 12 x shoulder press/lunge step outs (each side)
  • 12 x torsinator squat shoulder press (each side0
  • 16 x back lunge bicep curls
  • 15 x cross body wall slams
  • 30 x bosu ball mountain climbers

Most of these were done at what is known as Giles' weights - when Cleo is away, we hijack Giles' session with Charlie. He says we make him work harder and put him to shame. 

I also walked to and from the gym.

And subsequently I need a shower and have to go to bed now. 

But I'm a 52-year-old woman who can do this stuff. And I am very proud of this. Because I'm tough.

And I didn't whine once. Cos if I did, Charlie would kick my arse even more. 

Today's song:

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Goat Posts

My step-sister's partner is an animal lover - like the rest of the family. But Kayzie takes things to a new level. Along the the two dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and heaven knows what else, Kayzie has a bit of a goat fetish. 

And yes, baby goats are cute.

But so are baby alpacas.

And baby pandas.

And baby herry coos (hairy cows).

But it's goats that have captivated her.

And if I see a cute goat picture I send it along to her, because I know she'll like them.

It's a bit like when my niece was sick. All that was to be done for my sister was to send over dog and cat spam, because it might make her smile for a second. 

Needless to say, all I am getting on my Facebook page is a DELUGE of goat posts. 

It's strange. 

But it beats getting spam about Trump or stuff that I don't need to buy.

Today's Song:

Tuesday, December 8, 2020



The joys of living in an older apartment is when things go wrong they really go wrong. 

A few months ago it was the shower.

Then on Sunday, I get a text from the neighbour. Water is dripping in from the window frame to the sink in the flad downstairs, the water was coming from my kitchen area. I hadn't flooded anything, all I'd done in the hour before was half a sink full of dishes. Being out and about, my neighbour and I had a look at it when I got home. Turned on the tap - the leak returned. 

So, yesterday, I made a call to the land agent. Told him about the leak. I also wrapped a bit of duct tape around the tap so I couldn't use it inadvertedly. And waited. 

Today, our magic tradie, Craig, turned up. We love Craig. 

I have too many Craigs in my life. Craig the Tradie. Craig my workmate. Craig the stand in trainer who will be putting me and Jay through our paces on Thursday. Craig the soap guy. Too many Craigs. 

Craig the Tradie is great - and he fixes EVERYTHING. He came to measure up the flat as I'm getting floorboards put down (yay - the carpet is manky). I told him about the leak. We also had a talk about the state of the doors - which seeing there are seven of them to paint, along with the walls and ceilings and skiting boards, and I'm not really feeling the love in sanding back, stripping, priming and glossing seven doors and two wardrobes. It really is enough that I have two bedrooms, a lounge, hallway and subsequent ceilings to paint - on the landlords dime, but I do the work to keep the rent down. 

Anyway - after the measurements are done, we turn on the tap, go downstairs to the neighbours  - and sure enough, it's leaking water. It's not the plumbing under the sink - it appears it's the pipes.

So Craig, super tradie, is coming back tomorrow with a cherry picker to see what is going on. 

And I'm doing my washing up in the laundry sink. 

On the good side of things, the dirty dishes aren't piling up - they are getting done as they are used.

The tap is once again tied up with duct tape to ensure I don't use it. 

And I'm thankful I'm pretty resilient. 

And that had been my day. Not as crappy as my workmate's, who had a bingle in her new car - nobody was hurt, but she's done two doors and a wing mirror - but it's been a bit inconvienent. And her pride is dented a little. 

But still. And here I was hoping I wouldn't be seeing the tradie until after the painting was done. 

Ho hum. 

Today's Song:

Monday, December 7, 2020

Random Observations

I'm not feeling it today - and it's cold and I want an early night so I can read and cuddle the cat. 

So here are a few observations from today. 

  • Walking around with a piece of duct tape stuck on the ball of your foot is more comfortable than you think it's going to be. 
  • My cat has mastered the kick to the guts move. He is very good at making himself heavy. Having him land his full weight on my stomach at 6 am is akin to a right uppercut to the guts. I will get him back. 
  • Coles does this great line of mocktail icy poles in strawberry daquiri, mojito and Magarita flavours. They are awesome even if they aren't alcoholic. 
  • Deborah Conway will always be amazing (see song of the day). What am I expected to do? Shout man overboard!.
  • It feels great that the gym is back on its normal 24 hour schedule - it's really cool. 
  • Wiping down all the equipment after using it in the gym has become so much of a habit, I can't believe we didn't do it before COVID. 
  • I rather liked this. It came into my messenger feed. It made me smile. 
  • Where the Crawdads Sing was a great book to end the year on for book group, even if I wasn't convinced by the ending. 
  • My new telly show is Schitt's Creek. I know I'm late to the party, but I love these people. Johnny, Moira, Alexis, David, Stevie, Mutt and the rest of them. The bit where Stevie and David talk after their night together is classic, and priceless. They're just grouse. It's sweet and funny

  • Things that make the day better - Old Gold Rum and Raisin chocolate, harissa paste, kettlebell swings, home brewed kombucha, cat cuddles.
  • I bagged the lollies for the book group vote on Sunday during a meeting (where I just had to listen - it was actually an interesting meeting about my employers involvement in the Foodbank charity. Because of COVID, instead of the normal clinkers, liquorice allsorts, jaffas and the like, we have wrapped lollies - minties, red skins, sherbies, milk chews and chocolate eclairs. The rubber glove is in the bag to keep touch points down. The cat helped me bag them up. 

  • I forgot how strange hail can be. It hailed today. It's weird. 
  • Lucifer has the best bum wiggle when he's chasing his laser beam.
  • If I get my ironing done early in the week, I feel virtuous.
That will do. Bed time. 

Today's Song: