Sunday, December 31, 2023

Sunday Stealing - 2023

 It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m not feeling terribly good, but it’s nothing paracetamol can’t keep in check. I’m in my parent’s granny flat, the cat is happy as he has birds and butterflies to watch, and there are kangaroos in the front yard at twilight. In all, a great place to spend New Year’s Eve.

Questions, as always, have been provided by the fantastic Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. What did you do this year that you had not done before? 

On my trip to France, I got to spend some time at some bucket list places – Mont St Michel, Bayeux, Occitane – and I was driving in France – which was a challenge, as the steering wheel was on left of the vehicle and they drive on the right over there. We have right-hand drive cars and we drive on the left over here. It was a challenge. I’m very proud of myself. 

Oh, and I took the Eurostar over the Paris from London. I loved that. 

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions/goals for the year and will you make/set more for next year?  What are they? What are your new ones?

Last year I wrote this: 

“First up, this is going to be my year of health - whatever that looks like, I'll be working to get myself healthier. Rather than set a specific health goal, I'm just saying that by this time next year I want to be healthier. 

Secondly, it is my resolution to save my little heart out and take myself to Europe for a few weeks in October. There's a writer's retreat happening in Paris around this time. I want to go. On a cellular level, I need to go. That's the goal. 10 days on the retreat, a side trip to Normandy to see a mate and finally go to Mont St Michel (and St Malo if I can swing it), then probably a week or so in England, just because I miss the place like my left arm. 

Thirdly, it's time to get some of my words out there - and not on this blog. I want to write something and get published again. It's been too long.

My current mantra is "Do something today your future self will love you for." It's good for keeping you on the straight and narrow.”   

Well, I am a bit healthier, I did go overseas to Europe and had a ball, going to London, Paris, Sommieres, Normandy, Picardy, Mont St Michel and St Malo. Big tick. 

I got a lot of novel planning and thinking done.

And I recite to myself, “Do something your future self will thank you for.”

I’m once again not going to set any real resolutions, but I do want to do some more travel out of Australia, write more and stay healthy. 

3. Did anyone you know give birth? Or get pregnant? 

I had one old workmate give birth earlier in the year. I’m thrilled for her. She and her husband didn’t think another child would come their way. 

4. Did anyone you know die? Or have a serious illness? 

Thank goodness, nobody close to me died, and the illnesses people have had have been treated and they are either well again or living happily with their conditions. Long may that remain. 

5. What places did you visit? 

I did a bit of travelling this year. These places include:

Sydney – overnight for a concert. 

Adelaide – to see the folks and to do some work for a group I’m involved in. 

The South Island of New Zealand for just over a week. I spent a few days in Christchurch, then drove around the bottom of the South Island, visiting places like Dunedin, Invercargill and Milford Sound. I had a lovely time. 

London – to see friends. 

Paris for ten days

Sommieres, in the South of France, for a couple of days

Bayeux, Amiens and Villers Bretonneux

Oh, and St Malo and Mont St Michel

And six trips to Darwin for work. 

I saw a lot of airports this year. 

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn't have to be a physical thing)? 

Love, sex and more dinners out. Maybe even have people over – as I generally don’t entertain. 

7. What date from this year will remain etched in your memory and why? 

On the fourth of October, I made my way back to Paris, and there started my French adventure. I loved every minute of it. 

8. What was your biggest achievement this year? 

There’s a couple of things. 

I started re-learning French, and this was great – the French will talk to me like a normal person, and not an idiot. The French – even the Parisians, were lovely. Being able to competently talk to people really helped. 

I remained happily employed. 

I successfully tackled some mental health issues.

And I generally stayed healthy – all good things. 

9. Did you get sick or injured? Anyone you know? 

Other than a bad bout of the flu that knocked me out for a few weeks, all is good. Other people have had some issues, but most are working them out. 

10. What was the best thing you bought? 

The airline ticket over to France. And a ticket to see Andrew Scott on stage in London. Oh and a pair of poppy earrings, which I found in a shop in Sommieres. I love them. 

11. Where did most of your disposable income go (money leftover after you pay for food, transportation and shelter)? 

Oh, as always, books, theatre and cinema – and travel. 

12. What song will always remind you of this year? 

This year’s song appears to be Miley Cyrus’s Flowers. It’s joining Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful and most things by Ed Sheeran in the overplayed list. 

13. What do you wish you would have done more of? 

Travel. You can never have too much travel. Oh, and a bit more sleep. 

14. What do you wish you would have done less of? 

Procrastinating. I’m very good at that. 

15. What was your favorite new TV program? Movie? Album/Songs? Or if you didn't pick up any new ones, what are you still watching/listening to?

Favourite new movies include:

Poor Things




My favourite new television show is Lessons in Chemistry. I loved the book and they did a great job of the series. 

I’ve not really found any new songs or albums, but I really enjoyed seeing Aine Tyrell live earlier in the year. She’s an Irish Folk/Rap singer and she is incredible. 

Happy 2024. 

Today's song:

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Tech Support

 Going home and staying with my parents means one thing. I turn into onsite tech support. 

And I will state categorically that my mother is not too bad with computers. She can do what she needs to do – internet banking, send texts and emails, read Facebook, look things up in a basic way. For somebody who’s 83, this is not bad. 

But when things go up shit creek, that’s when I come to sort things out. 

Something else about my parents. They live out in the equivalent of the back of nowhere, meaning that the major carriers do sweet Fanny Adams when it comes to fixing your problems. 

So, it seems that a few weeks ago, there was a lightning strike which took out most of their communications. Eventually, they got their landline back, but the internet remained screwed. Mum has spent hours of the phone with Telstra trying to sort out the issue. They’ve had people out, they’ve done this and that. Due to their location, they don’t have access to the NBN – and instead have to rely on a mobile dongle. 

Which is about as useful as tits on a bull. 

I was also given a laundry list of things to fix while I was here as the WiFi address had changed. 

The iPad

The Kindle

The mobile phone

The printer

Coming into the place, the mobile items were placed in front of me, along with a cup of tea in my Snoopy mug. 

I picked up the first item. I went to work, opening up the settings to connect it to the new network.  

“Mum, is the wifi on?”

“The dongle is plugged in. The technician gave us a new dongle.”

“But is the wifi on?”

“I don’t know.”

Okay. I went into the office. Found the router and modem. The wifi was turned off. Easy fixed. And a learning moment. 

I called Mum into to the office. 

“I have to teach you something.”

“Yes, dear.”

“See this blue light on this box here?”


“If you want the wifi to work, it needs to be turned on.”

“How do I turn it on?”

“Press the button.” 


That helped get things underway. Three out of four items connected without a problem. 

The kindle was not playing ball. The kindle was a first-generation affair. I was told that a friend’s old model kindle wasn’t connecting to the network. 

“How did she fix it?”

“She bought a new one.”

“How about we go down to Officeworks later and do that for you too?” Mum likes her kindle. She reads more than I do. 

“And what will I do with the old one?”

“Next time you’re at Officeworks, put it in the recycling bin. You’ve got plenty of use out of it. It’s worn out. ”

We got the new kindle home. I tried to connect to the wifi. No service. I tried to attached the kindle to my mobile phone hotspot. That worked. We checked the modem. 

“Hey, Mum. Need to show you something. “


“See this red light.”


“It means you’re internet isn’t working.”

“But the wifi light is on.”

“Different things. The red light is the internet service. It should be blue. Think of it like water coming out of a pump. It’s the mains. The wifi is the sprinkler that distributes the water. At the moment the mains are off, so the sprinkler won’t work.”

“But why isn’t the internet working?”

“You’re in the middle of the Fleurieu Peninsula, without and NBN connection and as you have an independent federal MP and most of the people in the district are over 70, the communications companies don’t give a shit. And this dongle is a lemon.”

“But why would they do that? 

“Because they don’t care. And a lot of the technicians won’t think outside of the box. What you have here is about the same as what I get on my mobile phone – one bar of intermittent internet service. Fine for me on holidays in your granny flat, but you’re running a business. Not good enough.”

“So, what are we going to do?”

“I’ll call Telstra with you on Tuesday. I feel like a bit of a fight.”

“You should be pleasant to them. “

“Yes and no. Internet is an essential service, like your phone line which is forever falling over and needing fixing. It might be time to threaten the ombudsmen.”

“Why would you do that?”

“It gets shit done.”

As I said, my Mum is pretty good with “the computer”. I’ve been training her for years. She writes things down. When I gave her one of my old mobile phones, it came with half a day of lessons in how to use the thing. Half a day of pointed training for a happy mum and a happy me as I didn’t have to troubleshoot over the phone. 

I can’t be the only Generation X child doing this for their parents over the Christmas Season. 

Friday, December 29, 2023

To Parkrun, or not to Parkrun

Do I want to do Parkrun in the morning? Or in my case, do the Parkwalk. 

Parkrun? Yes, it's a thing all around Australia. It's a set five kilometre course, which starts at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. It's free, but you do have to sign in and bring along this bar code, which helps to record your times. It's run by volunteers. It's all over in about an hour. They have tail walkers who make sure everybody clear at the end, marshalls along the way and people cheering you along. It is a very friendly atmosphere, and you go at your own pace. And I'm thinking about going. 

If they let people walk the Parkrun course here at Myponga, I will go. And they generally have a big contingent of walkers at these events. Saying that, the Myponga reservoir has aboout 30 people turn up most weeks. The ones in the city have well over a hundred. The one I have gone to in Darebin has 200 or more people turn up on any given Saturday. 

Yes, there is a Parkrun course here in Myponga, along the banks of the reservoir and around the fire trails at the back of the town. It will be strange to go down Eatts Street again. I just remember that being the place where our old school bus driver used to live. 

So do I go to Parkrun? Leave the car near the school and walk across the road, dodging the cars going down to the Kangaroo Island ferry? Do I front up and go for an amble around the track, safe in the knowledge that somebody has been through before to chase away the snakes? 

Do I really want to go and do Parkrun? I have my gym gear with me. It's only 5 kilometres. It will be a cool morning. As we are over the escarpment, the temperature is about five degrees cooler than it is on the other side of the hill. 

Do I want to be pleasant to people I don't know, or people I may have known some 40 years ago? Remember, I grew up around here. 

Do I risk skittling kangaroos as I drive the seven kilometres into town just after dawn?

Do I really want to do this, rather than stay in bed, with my cat, reading a book?

The question will be asked at seven 'o'clock tomorrow morning. Until then, the jury is out. 

Today's song:

Notes from the road

 I’m safely ensconced in my parent’s granny flat. I’m fed and watered. The cat has basically forgiven me. I’ve got the heater on as it is a bit cold here in Myponga. I’ve unpacked my little suitcase. We picked up some almond milk on the way home from dinner in Victor Harbor. 

But here is what I have learned on my day on the road on the 800 kilometre journey back to Adelaide. 

1) Planners of rural service stations have absolutely no foresight. 

Finding a loo on the road can be difficult. Having taken the Western Highway across to Adelaide on an annual basis I know where to find these havens of necessity. Today’s trip had me stopping at the Ballan Services, Horsham KFC, the Bordertown Services and Tailem Bend. 

The services in Victoria near Melbourne are fine. Plenty of toilets. All is fine. On the South Australian side of the border, other than you can get Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee and Fru Chocs, the loo situation is awful. There is a new service station on the left as you come into Bordertown. There is over thirty petrol pumps. But there are two – yes, two, unisex stalls. Two loos. Misguided. There are these new OTR service stations all over South Australia – with next to no facilities. Considering the traffic on these roads you think they’ve put a few more loos in. Had to stand around hopping for five minutes. Thankfully, the facilities were clean. 

2) Chiko Rolls

I used to love chiko rolls. They are an item from my childhood. Nobody can tell you definitively what is in one, but there is something about them which are sort of gross, yet sort of yummy. Tip for young players: if considering acquiring a chiko roll, get it from a reputable chippy and watch them fry it fresh. Do not get one out of the bain marie at the servo in Tailem Bend. Bain maries are bad. 

3) Travelling with a cat

Avoid if possible. Thankfully mine, once in the car, is a good boy. It’s the getting him in and out of the car which is the issue. I was used as a scratching post this morning after he escaped from the cage when I was trying to transfer him from his carrier into the cage in the back of the car. 20 minutes of running around the car park at home trying to catch him. Lots of swearing, coercing and the like. The thing is, he's never been outside. He doesn't know what outside is. When I finally caught him, he went full Tasmanian Devil. 

Thankfully, he had the hump with me and slept the bulk of the way home, waking hourly to ask, 'Are we there yet?'. He's now all sweetness and light and asleep in an armchair. I think he's sorry about the scratch on my chin. My left arm looks like I'm a teenager with big issues in need of some counselling. 

4) Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a fantastic way to keep you company on long car trips when you're by yourself. 

Yes, I do some necessary telephoning on the way. I had a chat with Jonella while I was crossing the Wimmera, and another with Blarney as I was on the freeway out of Adelaide.

The rest of the trip I had on an audiobook. I finished Anna McGahan's Immaculate - which won the Vogel Award this year. McGahan is a Brisbane actress of some repute - the book was fantastic. Seriously thought-provoking and inventively written. 

The next book up was Richard Flanagan's Question 7. I'm in two minds about this one. I like Richard Flanagan as an author, I love the ideas in this gem of a non-fiction book, but he's narrated his own book. Anna McGahan did this too, but as a trained actress, the narration was flawless. Richard Flanagan's voice is fine at best, soporific at worst. Not what you want on a long car trip. I have about 20 minutes of it left to run, so that will be knocked off on tomorrow's trip to town. 

5) Car Games

What's that Dead Thing on the Road, Car Cricket and Spotto are not as fun when you are on your own. 

I'm tired now. It's been a long day. That will do. 

Let's see if it's cold enough for the cat to sleep with me. 

Today's song:

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Movie Review: Poor Things

 Movie Number 44 of 2023

The Movie: Poor Things 

The Cinema: The Sun Theatre, Yarraville (seen in 35 ml)

Stars: 5

File Poor Things under absolutely bonkers and absolutely brilliant. But some people are going to walk out of this. Others, like me, will stay and love every twisted minute of this treat from the fractured mind of Yorgos Lanthimos. It's an amazing tale. Yorgos Lanthimos is the director who brought us The Lobster and The Favourite. It's got all of his trademark features - a warped storyline, fantastic costumes, excellent acting and a stellar cast. Throw is some full-frontal nudity, a few tasteless (but very funny) situations and a script that makes you think, and you get this gem of a film. We also saw it at the Sun Theatre in 35mm - which brings the movie to life even more. 

Essentially, Poor Things is a re-telling of the Frankenstein story. We follow Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) as she starts her life again after being reanimated by her 'father', Godric Baxter (Willem Dafoe) your archetype mad scientist. We watch as Bella works through her new and alternative life from infancy, through childhood, to becoming her own person. 

I'm not going to say much as I don't want to ruin this for anybody. 

I will say that there are some brilliant characters who help Bella on her way. Max McCandles (Ramy Youssef) is her father's apprentice, who helps Bella acclimatise to her new life. Mark Ruffalo is fabulous as her father's lawyer come Bella's fiancĂ©. Kathryn Hunter is marvelous as the madam at Bella's brothel, and Christopher Abbott is wonderful as Bella's odious first husband, Alfie. 

You do need to pay attention so that you can work out what is going on. 

And as I said, I'm not going to say too much about the actual plot, other than it will make you think about a lot of things. From little things like what kids get up to when they visit the parents at work, to how women stay with insufferable men. Tony Macnamara script which is an adaptation of Alastair Grey's novel is phenomenal. It's spit take and laugh out loud funny, as it is confronting and gross in places. 

There is also quite a bit of full-frontal nudity and graphic sex in this film. Ohm, and a bit of gore, but it's quick and it doesn't linger. Certainly not one to see if you're a prude. The two people next to us walked out after half an hour. I've had other friends say they had similar in the sessions they were at. 

This is Yorgos Lanthimos's masterpiece. The Favourite and The Lobster were fantastic. This is even better. Holly Waddington's costumes, the amazing, and also bonkers, sets, the photography. It's a visual feast. 

Poor Things will be up for many awards. Emma Stone, Yorgos Lanthimos, Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo have already received a slew of nominations for this. 

This is up there with my favourite films of the year. Yes, I like strange films, the ones that make you think, the ones that make you laugh out loud - films that surprise you. Sure, it's not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but this is fantastic. I'll be going again in the coming weeks just to pick up more. 

Today's song:

Tuesday, December 26, 2023


 Packing for a car trip is completely different to packing for an interstate car trip, which is completely different to packing for work trips. 

For one, packing isn't as structured. You can take what you want, knowing there isn't a weight limit. Other things go into the car that you'd never take with you. A brick of almond milk, gluten-free bread, sugar-free tonic, coffee pods. The celery sticks may as well come with me. They will only die in the crisper while I'm away. Yes, these things are all available in South Australia, but they won't be on tap when I wake up in my parent's granny flat the next morning. It's much easier to bring my own. 

Clothing can be washed while I'm over there. But other clothes need to make their way into the bag. Bathers, as I hope to catch up with a friend down the beach. Maybe something nicer to wear out to dinner. A dressing gown for hanging out in the granny flat. Gym gear as I might take myself on the Myponga Park Run on Saturday morning. As I'm slow, somebody will have chased away the snakes on the track before I come through. 

I have to decide what book to listen to on the way over. I'll knock off my current audio book tomorrow (Anna McGahan's Immaculate - it won the Miles Franklin. I'm really impressed by it.) Will it be the Richard Flanagan, the latest Booker winner (Paul Lynch's Prophet Song) or maybe try and get into The Luminaries again - it's been years since I started it and I've never gone back. 

Then there's the cat's gear. Lucifer is coming with me. This will be the third time he's made the trip with me over to South Australia. Thankfully, he's good in the car. But carting a cat over state borders is akin to taking a toddler with you. We need his food, and bedding, and toys. The car has to be set up with his big travel cage, which he quite likes. He's got his bed and a litter box and some food. The nine-hour drive won't phase him much. Once an hour he'll ask the question, "Are we there yet?" Then he'll go back to sleep. He loves it in the granny flat. He spends the day watching the birds and butterflies. It makes a change. 

Oh, and I need to put my knitting projects in the back. As there's next to no internet down at Mum's, and the television is the terrestrial cable channels, it's good to have something to do. 

All I have to do now is stop procrastinating and get the bloody job done. 

Today's song:

Monday, December 25, 2023

And so this is Christmas

 I still scratch my head at why we do this to ourselves, this Christmas thing. 

It's hard, and stressful, and expensive, and anxiety creating, and to be honest, just plain strange. I mean, what other day of the year do you sit around, stuff yourself stupid with rich food, stick a paper hat on your head and fall asleep at the end of it, all with your relatives and friends in tow?

Still don't get it. 

For me, it was a nice, low-key Christmas. 

The queue at the McDonalds drive through at 9.30 a.m. was surprising. This is a bit of a tradition when spending Christmas with Blarney and Barney. When we've spent a few Christmases in Launceston, the only place open for coffee is McDonalds, so this was a bit of a carry over this morning when wanting a coffee (and after I tipped my stove top coffee maker over while washing the dishes. ) Thankfully, Blarney has a very good coffee machine. Still, with the long queue, the wait wasn't justified and I drove on. 

The sausage rolls for breakfast went down a treat. Thanks to RecipeTinEats, these were made last night and went down well, as in one of the Units commented that they were better than the ones Barney makes. I impressed myself. 

Christmas here is just a version of Seinfeld's Festivus - the Festival for the Rest of Us. 

First there is the airing of the grievances - of which there were many but done in a good-natured way. 

Then the showing of strength - and watching the Units play fight was a good enough alternative for this. Thirteen-year-old twin boys have to have some redeeming features. 

Of course we had the Festival/Festivus meal - and there was enough to feed a small army. All very nice. 

The only thing we didn't have was the Festivus pole. It seems you can get a small one on Etsy for around $20. 

Barney and I had a music off. A playlist of 80s and 90s bangers was playing quietly in the background. We made a completion out of shouting the name of the song and the band once was recognised. 

And at the end of the day, after the meal, after two laps of the block and finally settling down, in front of the open fire, which was playing on the television, it was time to go home to the cat. 

Christmas in the middle of Summer just doesn't feel the same as it does in Europe or America. You don't get to go all hygge, hunker down and sloth. The warmer weather means that a big hot meal is difficult to stomach, unless your family goes the seafood and salad route - which mine does most of the time. Christmas pudding when it's 35 degrees in the shade doesn't make sense. The cassata was made in honour of my aunt, who had a Christmas Day birthday, and I like to do this in her recipe. Christmas isn't quite the same without her and my uncle about. Both have now passed. 

And now I'm home with the cat.

It's done for another year. 

The line of least resistance and minimal participation has been taken. 

And life will go on.

Today's song: (Which I never knew came out in 1971)

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Sunday Stealing: The Annual Wrap Up

 The biscuits have been made and distributed to the neighbours, the cheesecake is in the oven, I've got the ingredients ready for the sausage rolls for breakfast tomorrow morning. The flat smells like baking. It must be Christmas. 

Questions have been provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. Who did you spend time with this year?

Mostly my friends. There was a bit of respite in October when I went overseas for three weeks and got to make some new friends. 

2. Anything change with the pets in your life?

Nope - still just me and Lucifer, although he's got a bit cuddlier, which is nice. 

3. What was your job like this year? What do you do? Did any roles or assignments change? If you aren’t employed, base this question on your work at home or volunteering.

I changed jobs in March as the one before that was a contract position and it came to an end. I'm now traveling to Darwin on a monthly basis. The role is the same, just a different company. 

4. What was the best book you read this year?  How many did you read?

By the end of the year I will have read 50 books. I'm nearly finished two, so I'll finish them off in the next few days. 

As for the best things I've read this year, there have been a few notable mentions. 

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus was most wonderful. 

Barbara Kingsolver's Demon Copperhead was very deserving of the Pulitzer Prize - it's an incredible achievement. 

I adored Louis de Bernieres' Daniel Pitt trilogy (The Dust that Falls from Dreams, So Much Life Left Over and The Autumn of the Ace) - three great books with a stellar lineage. 

And kudos to Robbie Arnott as his book Limberlost is just wonderful. 

5. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? Did you feel differently? 

I went out for lunch at a favourite French restaurant with some friends for my birthday. I'm 55. I feel a lot younger. 

6. What political or social issue stirred you the most? 

There were a lot of things that got to me this year. That we had a referendum for the rights of aboriginals earlier this year that didn't get through has made me look at Australia and wonder how we could do things better. It was, frankly, an embarrassment - and the rejection of the law change made us look like red-neck bigoted hicks. 

The revolting treatment of women continues in this country. Around 60 women have died at the hands of their partners this year alone - and the media coverage is woeful. Add to this the outrageous defamation case going on in our courts, again, where a rape victim had to go through days of excoriating cross-examination - yeah, it goes on, and I hate it. 

And don't get me started on the abortion debate in America. Just awful, backwards and a complete walk over of women's rights. 

7. Who was the most interesting new person you met?

I can't give one person, but I met some fantastic people in France. Sonia the Map Maker and Liz and Tom at the Hotel de l'Orange spring to mind. Fantastic people. Interesting and quirky. Just my types of people. 

8. What changed in your home? 

Nothing. It's still untidy and covered in cat hair. 

9. What have you learned throughout the year? (Other than crafts)  Can be a new skill or a life lesson.

I learned lots of things. I learned that I'm good at regulating myself around other people. That I can travel with people and not go spare. 

10. What was your favourite outfit for warm weather? Cooler weather?  what do you wear when you dress up? Any new clothes or accessories you really love?

We're going into high summer and our winters aren't that cold. I have lots of winter clothes that I love wearing. I tend to dress up basics with scarfs and team them with boots. I have a navy linen dress I bought secondhand which I love. It's airy and comfortable. That and my new cherry earrings. 

11. Did you make or give up on any efforts to be healthier? Diet, water, exercise etc?

Yes. I spent six months talking to a dietician on a weekly basis. It's been very helpful. 

12. Fave meals, snacks, desserts, restaurants etc? Eat out or eat in?

I've just got home from a meal out with friends at my favourite Vietnamese place down the road. As it it Christmas tomorrow, I will have some cassata and sausage rolls, which are now prepped and sitting in the fridge for cooking tomorrow. 

13. Did you learn any new crafts or techniques? What was your favourite thing you made? 

No new techniques, but I knitted a lovely long cable scarf and a number of beanies over the year. 

14. What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?  (Some suggestions-family, travel, work, lifestyle, hobbies, pets, appearance)

World peace. I want to stay happily and actively employed. I want to have visitors to my house on a semi-regular basis. And I want to write that bloody novel. 

15. What was the best new/new-to-you thing you a) bought b) made c) acquired in some other way?

Best new to me thing - my navy linen dress. it's lovely. 

Best thing I made - gotta say, the rum balls I made for the neighbours were wonderful. 

Best thing acquired in some other way - The cat downstairs, who has always given me a wide berth is finally allowing me to give him a pat. So I've got a bit of cat love that I've been missing out on for four years. (His sister has been falling at my feet for years). 

Today's song:

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Rum Balls, Venetians and Cassata

 I forget how much I love to bake. I rarely do it as I don't have people to cook for and the calories are just too much for my solitary existence, nor to I spend much time in an office any more. Besides, baking is best shared  and for special occasions. 

But it's Christmas, which means the annual Christmas baking. 

On my list, there is: 

  • Rum balls
  • Venetian biscuits
  • A cassata
  • A baked cheesecake
  • Sausage rolls for Christmas morning. 
The rum balls, which I have renamed Bundy Balls, have been made, along with the Venetians - these have been made for my stairwell neighbours - all good people - as it comes to neighbours, just what you need - quiet, not nosy, friendly enough and considerate. Good to have a quick chat with. I've got something little for the little girl next door. She's one and a complete delight. I'm Auntie Next Door. 

The first layer of the cassata has been made. Brandy-soaked cherries and sultanas mixed with cream and frozen. The ice cream is softening for the next layer, which will be mixed with melted chocolate. The third layer is plain ice cream - and I'll put some toasted almonds on top. This gets made in memory of my darling Aunt who died over ten years ago. Her birthday was on Christmas Day and we always made this for her birthday cake. 

I've never made a baked cheesecake before, but it can't be too hard. There are lots of tips online. 

So it's all coming together. 

Oh yes, tomorrow, I have to get the mixture together for the sausage rolls - it will be a joint effort for breakfast. Sounds like a plan. 

Needless to say, I'm very content at the moment. I'm doing something I love. 

Friday, December 22, 2023

Movie Review: One Life

 Movie Number 43 of 2023

The Movie: One Life

The Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens (Preview Session)

Stars: 4

Opens next week.

File this one under British, Historical and uplifting. It also has some of the greats of British Cinema in the film making it even better. All of these factors meant that I was going to enjoy this one, but what I liked is that I learned something too. This is a little known bit of World War II history which shows just what one man can achieve.

The story follows Nicholas Winton, played in the late 80s by Anthony Hopkins and in the late 30s, by Johnny Flynn. Modern day Winton is reminiscing as he cleans out his study. A lifelong humanitarian, he is struck by the work he has done and the ways in which he feels he has failed his fellow many. In his retirement, he is still volunteering for humanitarian groups. 

In reality, before the outbreak of war, Winton was instrumental is helping over 600 children from Czechoslovakia be transported to safety in England. Many were Jewish, or the children of dissidents who were living in refugee camps after being driven out of their homes by the Nazi occupation. 

This story is one of wonder and bravery. As Winton says, he is just an ordinary man, doing what he can, but he and his group or aide workers went out of their way to assist the children by arranging foster families, visas and transportation for them, putting all of them in grave danger. 

The cast includes Helena Bonham Carter as Winton's mother, a force to be reckoned with, Lena Olin as his long-suffering wife and Romola Garai as Doreen and Alex Lloyd as Trevor, English aid workers who are keeping things going on the ground in the camps. 

James Hawes direction is solid. It's very matter of fact, rather than schmaltzy, it keeps to the facts, telling the story of a man who wishes he could have done more, and feels like a failure because of this. 

One Life provides a view into what one good man can do.

Take tissues. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Cat Blankets

 Another Christmas task finished. 

I've made the cat blankets.

Cat blankets?

Yes, cat blankets. Little blankets for cats to put in their bed. They are crocheted out of remnant or cheap wool and given as Christmas presents to Blarney and Barney's cats. The uglier the wool the better. 

This is this year's effort. One for Kylo. One for Rey Rey. (The cats were named by nine-year-old boys four years ago. I'm sure there were a lot of cats named like this at the time). 

I used to make these for Maow Maow. He loved them. He'd get a new one every year, mainly because they get manky after a while and washing does them no good as they seem to be held together by cat hair and dirt after a while. 

This photo of Maow Maow came up the other day. On my bed, with his blankie. (Maow Maow left us in 2020).

We do some strange things for our animals. It's a labour of love. 

Today's song:

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Public Service Announcement: Myki Taps

 A public service announcement from the people who don't tell you things when they should. 

My Myki card has been misbehaving of late. It's not like I use my myki very often - once or twice a week it gets used when I go into town. 

If you don't live in Melbourne, you won't know about Myki. It's our public transport ticketing system. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Your card can go dead without notice. Cash top ups it seems to take forever to load. The rollout was badly handled. It's the red-headed stepchild of public transport tickets. 

Regardless, I don't mind the old Myki, until it goes to shit. I do tap on and of the trams and it's no drama -  until the last few weeks. Maybe it's just me, but when I've tried to tap onto the train - and it is normally the train when this happens, the gates haven't been letting me through. It will often take three, or four or ten taps to get the gates to open. There is money on my Myki - I know this. It's on an automatic top up. And it works sometimes, but not others. 

Last night, coming home from the cinema with my kid brother, I attempted to go through the barriers with my myki. After ten taps I went to the ticket office. And yes, this is an anomaly in Melbourne as there are few manned stations on the network. Being at Melbourne Central, there was somebody to talk to. 

The nice man at the station listened as I told him how my card was refusing to tap on, even though it was registered and topped up. I could tap on a multitude of times, but it was always reading red and not letting me through. It was annoying, especially as I knew that there was money on the card.

The man smiled at me. 

"You know you don't have to touch the card on the reader? Just wave it in front of it. That's all you do."

"But we tap on."

"Not any more. You only need to wave it. I talk to about ten people a day about this. "

"Since when?"

"About three months ago."

"Were we told about this?"

"I'm not sure."

And okay, it's not like I'm going to read every last thing that comes from Metro Trains or Yarra Trams, but it would be nice of them to put out a PSA telling you that you don't actually have to tap your card on the reader to make the bloody thing work. 

This has been driving me nuts for months.

You also learn something new every day.

Today's song: 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Movie Review: Wonka

 Movie Number 42 of 2023

The Movie: Wonka

The Cinema: Hoyts Melbourne Central

Stars: 4

A film about a chocolate maker is saccharine sweet. Who knew?

My kid brother and I went along to see Wonka tonight. He wanted to go because he likes blockbusters. I wanted to go because I was curious about a lot of things. When it comes to Willy Wonka I'm a purist. I really didn't like the 2005 Johnny Depp version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I have reservations about the frankly creepy 1971 version with Gene Wilder in the main role. I mean, seriously, that scene with the boat - did parents just take it as read that the producers had got into the psychedelics and we thought we wouldn't notice.

This film, thank goodness, is nothing like the other two films (although I'll get to the Hugh Grant/Oompa Loompa thing later). This is a film you can take your young kids to and they won't be fucked up by it. It is pretty twee, over the top cutesy to the point of being 'woke', but in all, if you don't expect much and leave your brain behind, is an enjoyable film. I put a lot of this down to the mostly English cast who know what to do with this sort of material.

I was pleasantly surprised by this. As a prequel it works well. 

It's also a musical, in that it has musical numbers - not too many, and they are very well done. 

So, what is the story about? 

Well, Willy Wonka (Timothee Chalamet), after years at sea, has come to town to make his fortune as a chocolatier in a town known for its chocolate. He is met with scorn by the local chocolate makers, Slugworth, Prodnose and Fickelgruber (played with delight by Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas and Matthew Baynton) Willy finds himself broke and on the streets until he is picked up Bleacher - who takes him back to Mrs Scrubitt's  flop house (the inimitable Olivia Coleman can do no wrong) and laundry. 

After a bad day in town, trying to peddle his wares, Willy finds him indentured to Mrs Scrubitt, doomed to work for eternity in her laundry with a messy gang who've found themselves in the same fate. The accountant, Abacus (Jim "Mr Carson" Carter), Lottie Bell a telephonist (Rahkee Thakrar), Piper Benz, a plummer (Natasha Rothwell) and Larry Chucklesworth, a comedian (Rich Fulcher). He also befriends Noodle (Calah Lane) a young girl who is also stuck at the laundry doomed to never leave. 

And this is where the hilarity starts and the teamwork out a way to get out of their situation. 

Oh, and there is Hugh Grant as the Oompa Loompa. 

A bit has been written about this casting as oompa loompas, in the past, have always been played by actors with dwarfism. Not now. It's noted that Hugh Grant gets all the best lines. He looks like he's having a ball. 

Actually, everybody in this film is having a wonderful time - and this makes up for some of the misgivings I have about it. Some could say it's a bit woke. I prefer to see it as a product of its time. On the good side of things there are plenty of nods to the book and the original film. For a prequel without material, this is well done. the video below explains a few of the call outs without ruining the film. 

As I said, I was pleasantly surprised by this. I'm also glad you could take young kids along to this and know it's not going to leave them messed up, like the original do to so many of us in the seventies. And like the original, I shed a tear or two at the end. 

They've done a good job on this one. 

Today's song:

Monday, December 18, 2023

Movie Review: Maestro

 Movie Number 41 of 2023

The Movie: Maestro

The Cinema: Village Cinemas, The Rivoli, Camberwell (Note: This is coming to Netflix on Wednesday)

Stars: 4

I'm really glad I got to see this film about the legendary Leonard Bernstein on the big screen. Some films warrant it. I think of what Oppenheimer might be like on the telly. Or Murder on the Orient Express (the Branagh version). This production out of the Netflix stable is going to stream there from Wednesday the 20th, but it's getting a limited run in the cinemas. 

And rightly so. 

If you haven't seen some of the quality films produced by Netflix until now, have a look. There are some crackers. The Two Popes, Don't Look Up, Glass Onion, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Roma... Awesome films which win awards. 

This is up there with the quality stuff. Bradley Cooper's acting, writing and directing are fantastic. 

Maestro does come across as a labour of love. There's also been some controversy about the prosthetic nose Cooper wears throughout the movie, the story of a genius, and of a marriage. But there is more to this than a fake nose. Cooper is exceptional in this. 

The focus of the film is the relationship, and subsequent marriage of Bernstein to his long suffering and rather brilliant wife, Felicia, played by Carey Mulligan. The film spans about forty years, looking at the relationship from when they first met, through the marriage, complete with "Lenny's" philandering, to Felicia's death in 1978.

There is also a great supporting cast, with smaller roles going to Matt Bomer, Sarah Silverman, Maya Hawke, Michael Urie and Alexa Swinton. I spent a bit of the movie working out where I had seen a few of the cast. 

Shot partly in black and white, partly in colour, it takes a deep dive into these two complex people. Bernstein was bisexual and had relationships with many men and women. Felicia, always on the sidelines, held the fort as her husband cut his way through the musical elite.

This is a loving portrait, beautifully shot, with great acting and a fabulous Bernstein sound track. 

This is very much Bradley Cooper's movie. It's been nominated for a number of Golden Globe awards. I'm pretty sure this will get a few Oscar nods. It probably won't win, but nominations will be well deserved. 

This is going to be on Netflix from Wednesday, 20 December. I'm glad I've seen it on the big screen, but it will still be great to watch in the comfort of your living room. It's definitely worth a look.

Today's song: 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Sunday Stealing: Christmas

 On the good side of things, I got the worst of my Christmas shopping out of the way after our book group meeting. All that is left is to get some books for Blarney, some beer for Barney and some vouchers for the family, and I am done (waiting for pay day on Wednesday now). 

So, here are the Sunday Question, thanks, as always, to Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

I can't remember. I remember my step-dad forgiving me a small loan I took with him to pay for some tuition many years back. I'm forever grateful for that. I gave myself a trip to Thailand, where we rode elephants on Christmas day (and gave them cuddles). That was pretty good. This year I'm giving myself a trip to Sydney to see Ludovico Einaudi play at the Sydney Opera house. He's amazing. 

2. What is the worst Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

I have no real memories of receiving bad presents although I'm sure I've received socks over the years. Saying that, I've just bought some socks for Twelve, my trainer, as a Christmas present. He's a boy - it was either socks or beer.

3. Do you have a favorite Christmas song?

Yes. See today's song at the bottom of this post. 

I'm also okay with some of the more chorally songs, like Carol of the Bells... but the songs that are played too often - no thanks. Give me Shane MacGowan and Kirsty McColl please. 

4. Does your family have any favorite holiday traditions?

Does avoidance count?

Christmas isn't an easy time for my family. My niece lost her battle with leukaemia eight years ago in the week before Christmas. It was a shocking time for the family, and we still feel the reverberations. I will admit to avoiding spending Christmas Day with my family most years because if this. Living interstate, I have my Melbourne family, so I see myself being on ham glazing duty at Blarney and Barney's place. I will make a cheesecake. I may even go over early and make sausage rolls and savoury toast/cheese toasties (Barney and I argue about the best way to make these). We might make this a new Christmas tradition. 

5. What is your favorite Christmas snack?

I have a bit of a love of White Christmas. It might be an Australian thing. Recipe in the link. 

6. Did you believe in Santa growing up?

I did until I was five-years-old. And then the girl from across the road, a Jehovah's Witness, put me on the straight and narrow. I was not allowed to tell my sister. So, thanks to Karen Hawker for putting me in the know so young. The Jehovah's Witnesses stole my innocence and took away my sense of joy. . 

7. How early do you start decorating?

I don't decorate for Christmas. The nearest thing I have to a Christmas decoration is a Skull vodka bottle full of fairy lights. I've never decorated the place for Christmas. I'm allergic to tinsel. 

8. Are you an early or last-minute shopper?

Somewhere in between. If I see something that somebody might like I will get on the boat early. This year, I'm waiting for pay day on Wednesday before I do the bulk of it, which I have to say, is mainly vouchers and alcohol. 

9. Would you rather give or receive gifts?

I like doing both. 

10. What’s your favorite Christmas movie?


Okay, if you want a 'real' Christmas movie, then that would be probably Love, Actually, even if I want to brain Alan Rickman for doing the dirty on Emma Thompson. 

11. What is one of your Christmas memories?

I've had some great Christmases with Blarney and Barney in Tasmania. We have a tradition when we are down there for going to get a coffee at McDonalds in Launceston - so bogan, so much fun. 

But my favourite Christmas we one I had in friends in London about 30 years ago. It was over a few days. There were the family, their baby son, a gay couple and another friend. There was a lot of alcohol and Pictionary. It was a good couple of days. 

12. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

No, that's something you do on Christmas Day. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Today is that day.

Today is that day, when we think of you. 

Because you're here, but you aren't. 

You are the flash of butterfly wings in a garden,

A banal K-pop song on the supermarket tannoy, 

A stray giggle over something bizarre. 

A lock of pink hair, unexpectedly expected.

You are the one who gave cuddles freely, 

Who tried, and failed to befriend your grandmother's bitch cat.

You are the one who loved Taika Waititi, with a passion.

Because we don't eat our friends. 

You are smelly breath in the morning,

And hair that smells of sunshine. 

You are the one who liked her eggs,

Sunny side up, with tomato sauce - the latter a family trait. 

You were smart enough to run away from your grandmother

When she threatened to attach your teenage pimples. 

Your mother and I were not fast enough. 

Another family trait. 

And I think of you often. 

Every time I go to give a pint of blood. 

Or see a Bernese Mountain Dog with a child, 

Or a young girl, dressed in purple, with rail-straight long hair,

Or when I hear a stray giggle.

You made such an impact. 

I don't think about your disease, 

Or the nine months in between, 

Or the abject hell you went through. 

Before you went away. 

I try not to think of come utter waste

Of undeniable potential the world will not see. 

But today is the day I think of you. 

And I know, that you know, where ever you are, that you are always missed. 

Today's song: 

Friday, December 15, 2023


 Holidays started today, not that I think I deserve a holiday - I only had one in October. 

It's three weeks off, and I want to kick some goals. 

So I've got out the Kanban board. 

What's a Kanban? I'm glad you asked. 

It's a visual way to monitor your tasks. 

You write what you need to get done on a post it. Then when you start the job you put it in the underway column. Then when the job is done, it goes in the done column. 


I just need the structure for the next few weeks - and this works. 

There will be more cards (post its)

So far I have jobs like: 

  • Clean the oven
  • Exercise for 45 minutes (daily)
  • Clean the floors (weekly)
  • Write some fiction (daily)
  • Put some stuff on Facebook Marketplace
  • Clean and tidy the spare room
  • Get a skin check (booked in for Monday)
Stuff like that. 

The point of the Kanban is that you can see what you've done over the time. 

Hopefully, it will keep me on track. I want to come out of this break having achieved something, rather than spend the three weeks getting elegantly wasted. 

Today's song:

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Movie Review: Stop Making Sense

 Movie number 40 for 2023

Movie Review: Stop Making Sense (2023 Remaster)

Cinema: Cinema Nova, Carlton

Stars: 6 (Yes, it’s that good)

Yes, I’m biased. I love Talking Heads as much as I love The Pixies. But whereas not so many people know about The Pixies, lots of people are aware of Talking Heads. Most people know about Psycho Killer and the big suit, the standard lamp and that strange mix of techno, pop, soul and whatever else David Byrne and his band of merry misfits came up with in the late seventies and early eighties. And yes, it’s all a bit strange. 

I’ve also seen David Byrne live on stage. Once at the Brixton Academy in 1992. The second in Melbourne on his American Utopia Tour in 2019. These concerts go down as the best I’ve seen. Better than Robbie Williams. Better than The Hoodoo Gurus. And just a smidge better than The Pixies. Byrne gets extra points for the choreography he and the band put into these shows and the pure joy that comes from the stage. 

And yes, it’s also a bit strange that I have not seen Stop Making Sense from end to end until now. It's been one of my favourite albums since I was 16-years-old. Over the years I’ve viewed most of the songs from the movie though video and Youtube clips, but I have never seen it end to end. 

I’ve been missing out. 

After being enthralled by the American Utopia concert, it’s easy to draw some parallels. The stagecraft, which was much more refined in the 2019 concert was all there in 1983, when this was filmed, but without the technology. 

The film started with Byrne coming onto the stage alone, with a small cassette player and a guitar – and we are OFF. 

Slowly, he is joined my more of the ensemble. Tina Weymouth on the bass. Jerry Harrison on the electric guitar and keyboards. Chris Frantz on the drums. And the sessional players. Back up singers, Ednah Holt and Lynn Mabry, Steve Scales on percussion (The man plays a mean cowbell.)

The concert takes you through the Talking Heads staples. Their take on Take Me to the River, Swamp, Slippy People, Girlfriend is Better (in the big suit) the most amazing version of Life During Wartime…the list goes on. 

What got me about this remastering of Jonathan Demme’s classic is that as a concert, this has not dated. The clothing may be out of an Eighties dress up party, but the music stays fresh and out there tight. David Byrne is a genius – he’s devised this concert, worked on the choreography and sang his heart out for an hour and a half. 

This movie is legendary. As rock concerts go, this one of the originals and one of the best. Unsurprisingly, it has a near perfect score.

In my eyes, this gets six stars, because a more perfect music concert has never been committed to film quite like this one. It is phenomenal in its entirety. Seriously, it's perfection.

If you can, see it on the big screen. It's worth the price of the ticket and the choc top to witness such greatness.

It's even worth spending 20 minutes trying to get a car park at the Lygon Street Woolies - the only dampener for the night. But the parking fairy came through and all was forgiven. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023


 What is it with Christmas and The Nutcracker Suite?

 ABC Classic FM is one of my radio stations of choice when I’m at the office. It’s good to drown out all the conversations around me – some of which are rather loud – others have information I wish I didn’t know. And then there's the drone of the Christmas carols over the tannoy. Thankfully today they had some banal music, which a colleague referred to as bad Hillsong pseudo-rock. 

ABC Classic FM it is. 

And what comes on today just before lunch? The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy. 

Thanks, Tchaikovsky. 

What is it with the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy? Why does it get played at Christmas? Why do I have visions of five-year-old girls, in baggy tights standing on their tip toes, their sagging tutus bunching around their knees, grouped on the stage of a local hall, the drapes across the proscenium arch looking battered and dusty, the smell of furniture polish and sweat hitting the nostrils of the anxious parents sitting the in gallery, waiting and watching for their little pride and joy demonstrate the alleged poise the weekly, expensive ballet classes provide. Something you can't wait to see. Sure. 

Or you get firemen showing what they can do to this Christmas staple. 

I remember going to the full ballet of the Nutcracker Suite about 20 years ago. It was at the Myer Music Bowl. It rained. It was performed by one of the local elite ballet schools and it wasn't that bad. Well, it was a lot better than your niece or nephew's end-of-year dance concert. 

The next thing that came to mind. Just what exactly is a sugarplum? I had no idea. Is it like a Damson plum? Or a Davison plum? Or a prune?

Turns out it's something akin to a boiled sweet or a rum ball - depending on who you listen to. You learn something new everyday. 

Hearing this set Christmas piece, I had a smile, and a laugh, and finally left my computer to go to the bathroom and get a cup of tea. When I came back the station was playing a plethora of South Sea Island classics, mostly in Maori, with a lot of strange harmonic vocals which acted well as brown noise. 

You take your wins where you can.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023


 Today was a day of low-level boring admin. The type of admin which I am very good at, but it also drives me a little spare. I won't go into details, but let's say that JIRA is not my friend at the moment, and if people actually listened to me in the first place, we wouldn't be where we are now. 

So, for a lot of the day, I was doing this mindless admin. I broke up the hours with reading a few pages of the book group book. Hate to say, but I'm not enamored with that either. The House in the Cerulean Sea is a cut rate Harry Potter. It's good we've given it ago, but I'm hating the writing. The other two books I have on the go - the latest Ian McEwan and a small novel Reindert gave me years ago are much better for quality, if not for story. It makes such a difference when every second line is not a cliche. 

At lunchtime, I was in need of a break, something to calm my anxious, and a rather frazzled mind. 

The answer. Shelling pistachios. 

I wanted to get some ready to make this wonderful salad, and I buy them in bulk, which means shelling them. 

There's something about keeping your hands busy. It's a mindless task. Not mindless in the way that re-dating and re-categorising JIRA tickets can be. If you don't know what JIRA is, be thankful. This is more a soothing mindless task. 

You have to organise your receptacles. A bowl with the nuts, a bowl for the nuts and a bowl for the shells. 

Every pistachio is different. Some crack easily, some have lost their nuts, some will require a nutcracker (or in my case, I just use my teeth - nobody else will be eating the salad). 

There's a small pride in the work, ensuring the shells and nuts end up in the right container, working out the best way, the shell and place with limited movements. The feeling of the hard shells in your fingers. The sense of gratification and achievement once the pile of nuts is shelled. 

It's a bit like knitting or crochet - a lot of repetitive movements which lead to something at the end of it all. 

Strangely, it made me feel good. 

And then I went back to my boring admin task.

Today's song: 

Monday, December 11, 2023

Countdown to Christmas

 One of the joys of being neuro-spicy is managing your anxiety - and at this time of year, mine tends to peak.

Looking back, I've always been like this, but it never had a name. 

And the name of this condition I get in December is anxiety. Who knew? Not me. 

It's good to put a name to things. 

I've just had a mini-meltdown for not having the address of the place I'm supposed to be going to on Thursday night. Of course, I have to move my P.T. session with Twelve. I tipped him off that and all will be well, but I'm working in the office on Wednesday and I have French Conversation meetup after, and I think I'm having lunch with my Punjabi kid brother on Wednesday, and there's getting to book group listings printed, which means a trip to Officeworks sometime in the next few days, and there's working out what I have to do for Christmas, and what sort of cheesecake I'll be making and do I do a cassata as well in honour of my aunt, and of course I have next week off so I'm having my skin checked and while I'm at it I should get my annual sight and hearing checks, and I have to show around an overseas brother around the temple, and I want to make Jennifer Aniston salad, but I have to go and get parsley and hope the whipper-snipper didn't take out all of the mint from the garden downstairs this morning, and I have to put in for my flights to Darwin in February, talking of which I will be at the airport three times in three days, and do I try and find a better hotel when I'm up in Sydney for the Enaudi concert or do I stick with the Tank Stream, which is okay, but it doesn't have a bath, and I have to shore up who is taking the cat while I'm away, and should I go to the Lume while I'm on my break or just go to the Triennial, and why do people think I'm a wanker when I talk about movies and art and books and do I really have to finish this month's book group book as I hate the writing, but the story is okay I guess and do I do some baking for my stairwell neighbours - I mean they are good neighbours and....

Welcome to my head. 

Can you see why I want to sit on the couch and knit? 

At the moment I just like going for a walk, cuddling the cat and remembering to breathe - this too shall pass. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, December 10, 2023

No Clinkers

 Book Group can be demanding, especially at this time of the year. 

As designated book bitch (organiser) I have three tasks:

  1. Make sure there are no double ups in what books people are bringing along to book group. When you have criteria (Quality fiction, under 500 pages, easily obtainable andnot a memoir or autobiography) 
  2. Book the restaurant for our end of year meeting. (I also set up our monthly skype meetings)
  3. Bag up the lollies for the lolly vote. 

I used to ask for requests. What sweets do you want to make up your lolly bags? We normally give the waiting staff at La Camera the bulk of the lollies after the meeting (all members are provided with a rubber glove to protect the unwrapped sweets, much to the bemusement of the other diners at La Camera)

However, this year, I may be in a bit of trouble. For the life of me, I could not find any clinkers. Clinkers appear to be everybody's favourite in the group. At Victoria Gardens Coles, there were no clinkers. I've been looking for a week or so now. Nothing. And I can't be bothered going elsewhere. I pull my weight for the group. I can live without clinkers. 

I've bagged up the lollies I like tonight. The jubes, the licorice allsorts and bullets and the jelly babies. Besides, if it's going to be a hot day, the chocolate gets all melty and I have to ask the wait staff to put the lollies in the fridge.

Regardless, this task is done for another year. 

The list is set. Everybody has their choices in. Even I've settled on the books I'm putting up. It was a task. One that I was hoping to put forward Paul Murray's The Bee Sting turned out to be 600 pages long - which put it out of the running. I'm happy with my choices. Now I just have to run down to Officeworks and print the list off for the meeting. The restaurant is booked and looking forward to having us back. And the lolly bags in are in the fridge where I can't eat them, although the spares are in a bag in the freezer. 

And that is book group for another year. 

I've only been doing this for 15 years. It's still fun. It involves licorice allsorts. How can it not be fun?

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Sunday Stealing - Pink

It's a wet Saturday afternoon. I will do what I normally do on wet Saturday afternoons. Jobs, and get the weekly questions out of the way. As always, the questions come thanks to Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. Do you tend to have a guilty conscious?

No. I do nothing to feel guilty about. The only time I feel irrationally guilty is whenever I go through airport security. I wonder who has put what in my luggage. Rationally, I will have done nothing wrong, though I did get picked up for having a metal hairpin in my hand luggage last time I went to Darwin. I loved that hair pin. 

2. Do you still have your wisdom teeth?

I still have two of them. The ones on the right were taken out a long time ago in different sessions in the chair. The bottom one left a dry socket for a few days. I think that was the worst pain I have ever experienced. 

3. Peanut Butter - creamy or crunchy?

Definitely crunchy. Smooth peanut paste (as we South Australians call it) just doesn't make sense to me. 

4. Get up off your butt. Take 5 steps. Which leg did you start out on?

On the left. Force of habit. Years of ambulance cadet and freemason's training. You always start on the left. 

5. What color is your favorite kitchen utensil?

Silver. It's my grandmother's old colander. I love that it ended up with me. My grandmother died 20 years ago in January. 

6. Did you watch the Michael Jackson memorial/funeral?

No. Why would I watch that? I did watch Lady Di's, Prince Philips, Queen Elizabeth, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser's funerals. The first three were amazing just for the ritual and pomp.

When John Howard finally shakes this mortal coil,I won't be watching that one

7. Do you know anyone who graduated from high school this year? Were you invited to their graduation party? Did you go?

I know a number of kids who graduated from high school this year. They are all my friend's children, but as graduation isn't a big thing around here outside of the kids graduating and their families, it wasn't something to go to. I'd never expect to go to a high school graduation party. It's not something we Australians make a big deal of outside the family (and even then, it's pretty subdued). 

8. White with black stripes or black with white stripes?

Are you talking about zebras, which I believe are black with white stripes. 

9. If we were to call your 6th grade teacher, what would they say about you?

Hmm. He'd say that I was reasonably smart, a bit strange, dreadful at sport and basically obedient. 

10. Can you draw a perfect circle?


11. What was your favorite scratch & sniff sticker scent?

I have no idea what this question is about.

12. How many light switches and electrical outlets are in the room that you are in right now?

Two light switches and three electrical outlets, although all of the outlets have extension cords and power boards attached to them as this place was built in the seventies when these things weren't such an issue. 

13. Do you know sign language?

I know a couple of signs of Auslan (the official Australian sign language). I wish I knew more. It's a fantastic language to know and use. 

14. Do you step on cracks in the sidewalk?

Yes. Although I have some superstitious habits, this isn't one of them.  

15. And the sheets on your bed look like....?

white with a blue floral print. They are neat and tidy and clean. I make the bed every morning - it's a good habit to get into. 

Today's song:

Friday, December 8, 2023

From the post box

The postbox gets cleared once a week. I've had it for over twenty years. It used to make sense to have one, especially as I live in an area where mail theft is rife. Now that I rarely get mail, it feels like an expensive luxury for something that gets little use. But it is peace of mind, and I do share the costs with the my Freemason's lodge, as all mail is directed that way instead of sitting in an empty building for weeks on end. 

On Wednesday, I found an envelope addressed in an unknown hand. It was sent from Brisbane. Envelopes don't get postmarks any more, rather a strip of yellow tape with a barcode. That takes all of the romance put of receiving mail. 

Inside the envelope was a note and some photos. 

The note reads, "Dear Panda, Thought you might like these to bring back memories. We have also kept copies. Love, Noelle and Peter."

Family friends. Family friends who I still keep in touch with. Uncle Pete had a job which took him all around the world - and Australia. He used to drive really cool things about the place - he was the transport industry and could drive anything. Uncle Pete has dropped me off at school in everything from a Mac truck, to a new coach, to a ute. 

Uncle Pete still gives me a call when he comes to Melbourne. We have lunch at the IKEA canteen just down the road. When I was last in Brisbane, I had lunch with Noelle and Peter. 

They're friends you keep. They've known me since my birth some 55 years ago. 

The photos were taken in the early 80s. I reckon it was around 1983-4. The house renovations were going on at the time.     

They're your normal, run-of-the-mill 80s photos. Sepia toned with age. Candid. Slightly out of focus. 

The first is of my sister, my Mum, Sheba the dog, and me. We're in driveway of the house. Mum has a perm. I have something that looks like a fringe. I would have got rid of that well quick. My sister is in a track suit up the top of the driveway. 

I'm still wondering why I thought myself the fattest and ugliest girl in the world at the time. I have no hips. My legs go on forever. I've pretty much had the same haircut for 50 years. Who knew?

The second photo is of my sister, our pony, Pebbles, and Noelle and Peter's daughter, Bec. She's now a mum of two living in Brisbane. 

We loved Pebbles, not that I was a into riding. She was a lovely pony. 

There was a photo of when we were doing the renovations. That would have been around 1984. 

And then there was this photo of Mum. She's asleep with a hydrangea in her hand. Mum can still fall asleep anywhere and at any time and putting things in her hands when as she sleeps is a bit of a family running joke. 

I have to thank Noelle and Peter for sending theses down. I have so few photographs of myself, it's strange seeing some. 

The photos will be taken back to Mum for her records - probably best to keep them in one place. 

Today's song:

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Tattoo Nightmares

 I have a tattoo. It's very small and out of the way and if you didn't know it was there you'd probably mistake it for a birthmark or mole. 

I have no regrets about this. 

So, doing some scrolling a bit earlier, my algorithm keeps coming up with these tattoo remediation clips. 

Like this...


I don't get two things. One is why people would ever do that to their bodies?

The second is why is the algorithm throwing these clips my way?

I don't know. (Yes, not in the mood for writing tonight).

Today's song: 

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

What I learned today

 Sometimes you learn funny things. 

In my scrolling, while have a few minutes of sanity break, I got onto the Bureau of Meteorology website. 

I'm an avid weather nerd. Also living in Melbourne, if you don't like the weather, wait half an hour. 

But I found the page about cyclones. I think it was the fact that the first cyclone of the season has been identified and it's heading for the Queensland coast. Cyclone Jasper. 

Things I didn't know about cyclones. First of all, they were first named in 1962. Until 1979, they were named exclusively after girls, then some bright spark at the Bureau probably got sick of the women's libbers complaining about this, so they started alternating masculine and feminine names. 

There are five lists of twenty names already for when the cyclones hit. They don't have to make landfall, but they do need to be a category one or stronger cyclone and be in the vicinity. If a cyclone has it's inception out of our territories but moves into our waters, we will keep it's original name. A good example of this was Cyclone Yasi. 

Cyclone Yasi

And the Bureau are getting on board with the names, which up until now have been pretty white bread. The names are becoming more modern. I remember having three girls called Tracey in my class at school in 1975 - and thought it quite unfair that a big storm was named after them. Since the sexist naming has stopped, they've also started going for names which are a little more obscure. I'm sure there are some meteorologists who were sitting in a room thinking about their exes, they parents-in-law and put the name on the list. (Cyclone Zelia sounds like a complete handful - that will be coming in the next few years.)

But the Bureau are getting a bit more adventurous. Of the five lists of names, of which they have provided phonetic spellings, they're started to be a bit more diverse - or some would say woke. In years to come we'll have a Cyclone Trung, Mingzhu and Niran, which makes a change from the cyclones named after teachers, mechanics and Italian waiters. 

This all tickled my fancy as I stuck my noise reducing earplugs in my ears and tried to ignore the Christmas carols playing in the co-working space. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

20 Minutes a Day

 20 minutes is all it takes. Who knew?

The day started well with an email from Duolingo - it appears my 20 minute a day, 447 day learning streak had paid dividends. 

And yes, I have a dreadful competitive streak, and yes, going to France for a holiday was good impetus to keep going, but I've been back from holidays for six weeks and I'm still doing my 20 minutes a day. I fit it in when I can. Before I get out of bed. During natural breaks at work. On the couch before I go to bed.  It's 20 minutes a day. it's nothing. 

And yes, I'm lucky, because I'm a polyglot - languages come easy to me. And yes, I did French all through high school where it was one of my favourite subjects. I did French in first year university and hated it. Regardless, lessons of 40 years ago have stuck. And yes, I've always tried to keep some of the language skills fresh. So, 20 minutes a day is nothing. 

What this doesn't say is that I've been doing my lessons with a 90% accuracy.

It also doesn't relate how easy this made travelling in France. I don't think my French is any good, but I was able to converse freely, and albeit simply while I was there. When I ran out of French I simply threw up my hands and said, "Pardonnez moi, je suis Australienne..." If you're Australian and speaking okay French, you're in. Besides, you're not English and American. 

So I will keep going with this French folly. I have a cellular need to get back to Europe and doing my daily lessons is part of my way of manifesting this. Besides, I enjoy it. I feel better about things when I'm speaking in French. It's a glorious language. It's got great words - like libellule (dragonfly), coquelicots (poppies) and bagpipes (cornemuse). (The dutch word for bagpipes is better - doedelzakken).

It's also got me thinking. If this is what comes from doing something for 20 minute a day, what else could I do. Sure, I normally spend about 20 minutes a day on this blog.  I've upped the exercise in the last few weeks - I know what benefits can be gained from ensuring I get some movement in place. But what else could committing to 20 minutes a day make better in my life?

Today's song: