Weekend Coffee Share

If we were drinking coffee I’d be offering you a delicious ice coffee instead, with ice and milk and sugar. Because it’s frigging HOT here. Or better yet, how about a refreshing mint julep? Darn it, we’re out of soda.

In my pathetic middle-class desire to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the earth we’ve taken to using refillable soda bottles. Called Soda Stream, it has been available in Australia for what feels like forever. You have this contraption that looks like this:

sodastream

(copyright SodaStream)

a bunch of spare plastic bottles and a large soda gas canister that fits in the back.

In fact, this is the exact version we have. It’s fun and cheap to use and when the gas canister is empty you can swap-and-go replacement cylinders at your local supermarket. That’s the plan, anyway. I’ll let you know how we get on…*

*much much later…

Huzzah, we found and bought replacement bottles! Fizzy water, welcome back. Is this cheaper than buying 1.25 litres of mineral water for .70c at Aldi? Not sure. What I do know is, we drink one heck of a lot when we have it. We’re probably spending about .50c per bottle, even though it suggests one gas canister will supply up to 60 litres, therefore costing us an imaginary .30c per litre.

IN OTHER NEWS.

I WENT TO THE GYM TODAY AND SWAM A LITTLE. Yes, I really really did. I feel virtuous in all sorts of ways. I’m gearing up to get back into the swing of consistent exercise and slightly less food. When I weighed myself¬† – at the gym, because I don’t own a set of human scales – I was pleasingly NO heavier than I have been at any time in the last 6 months. I’m just…squidgier. And as we all know, muscle is heavier than fat, so I can actually be heavier than I am now but a lot trimmer looking. And I’m sick of my face looking fat.

The plan is to lose about 2 kilos and assess the difficulty in reaching THAT milestone, then work at losing another 5. I need to get to the gym at least 5 times a week, and curtail my lolly and carbohydrate and alcohol intake. It’s not like I don’t have the time.

In family news, my stepson turned 18 last week. All of a sudden he’s an adult, although we all laughed hysterically when he said he wanted his mummy to drive him to uni for the first day (he doesn’t have a job, a car, or money yet). We celebrated his brithday at a brilliant Pan-Asian restaurant called PawPaw, in Woolloongabba, Brisbane. Food was AMAZING. He drank alcohol in front of us, but he’s no drinker – he’s not interested in getting wasted, even as he jokes about being 18 and drinking. We bought him a wrist watch – a proper one that looks like it came from a Mad Men set. Gorgeous. We’re also buying him a Barista course and an RSA (responsible serving of alcohol) course, so that he can actually work. He’s even talking about moving out of home at the end of the year. Bahahahahahaha. Anyway. It’s good to see him stretching his wings a bit.

In other news, my oldest child is throwing an engagement party for he and his girl, sometime in April. We’re travelling south to share in the day, but every day there’s more bills to pay and more frustrations to be had. We just can’t stretch our funds far enough. Dammit, I need a job.

I think that’s it for the coffee share. Although this should REALLY come under the banner of Monday murmurings.

I hope your weekend was a joy. Ours was lovely.

 

newcoffee

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster.

 

 

Advertisement

Weekend Coffee Share (the day after)

If we were having coffee you’d notice me becoming increasingly agitated by my internet service provider’s shit service. Every few weeks the signal goes wonky for up to 5 days. Internet is interrupted and with heavy household usage we can’t send through big files when this happens or watch streaming TV.

F**K you, OPTUS.

Anyway.

So Valentine’s Day, huh? It’s a thing, I guess. I’m determined to train my hubby out of this one because sometimes I think there’s just too much emphasis on TRYING to be romantic when really you just want to eat dinner, go to bed and watch re-runs of The Good Wife.

If we were having coffee you’d notice we actually celebrated the stupid day a whole day earlier, by going out to an afternoon High Tea with Champagne. Which was lovely. And on the ACTUAL day it was negative-romance. In other words, we didn’t make each other breakfast in bed, we didn’t buy each other flowers, we didn’t go for a romantic walk by the sea. DH went to a concert (later reported he never wants to hear a certain type of piano music ever again), and my daughter and I went to see Deadpool. Fully sold out, it was a great movie. Violent, oh, so violent. And funny. Oh, so funny.

Last night I didn’t drink any alcohol. I was jittery. Not in a “oh my god I’ve got the DTs” kind of way, more like “oh. Forgotten to drink. A bit bored. Why am I watching renovation reruns?” kind of way.

If we were having coffee, or any brew, come to think of it, you’d notice I’ve gone and bought more herbs and hanging baskets and potting mix. Possums love certain herbs and I’m trying to work out how to hang them so the little wee beasties don’t eat my parsley, but we might be fighting a losing battle here. Anyway, I’m giving it a shot. It’s been hot as Hades, here in sunny Qld in February. February is long acknowledged to be the hottest month of the year in the southern hemisphere. And it is STINKING hot. I’m about to close all the windows and turn on the air-conditioning. After about 11.30am it’s horrible in the house if I don’t do this.

Also, if we were having coffee, you’d notice I’m quite tempted to do some volunteer work. I was thinking refugees. Because both main parties (2 party preferred gov’t system here with smaller independents keeping the bastards honest) are so reprehensively inhumane where our boat people are concerned I want to help in some way. I’m not a good advocate – I can do better things behind the scenes, like type and teach English, that sort of stuff.

Finally, I’m also thinking about doing a charity fundraiser this year: Live Below the Line. The fundraiser is through Oaktree, an Australian-based charity:

oaktree

Live below the line

The way it works is you only have $10 for food for 5 days. People sponsor you and the money raised goes towards education works in PNG, Timor-Leste and Cambodia. My sister did it for 3 years, and I think it might be my turn. It starts in May.

I’ve done a calculation on what I could live on for 5 days. It’s not pretty! The prices below are in Australian $.

250 grams salted butter $1.30

6 eggs $1.50

1 kg plain flour $1.00

2 onions .60c

1 can tomatoes .59c

1 sweet potato .50c

1 400 gram can tuna in oil $2.50 OR *edit 250 grams bacon $1.87

1 large carrot .30c

1 celery stick .20c

1 lemon .75c

1 packet 2 minute noodles .23c

*edit: 2 cups rice .75c

Discretionary: 1 piece fruit OR 400 grams milk OR 2 single cloves garlic OR spice mix OR 10 Lipton’s tea bags .39c

Total: $10.00 (based on current Aldi prices)

There is no cereal, no tea, no coffee, no sugary thing, no milk or dairy, no green food, no salt. The hardest part of this would be forsaking salt, my 4 coffees a day and my alcohol. I don’t have a very sweet tooth, and I can see how I’d really start to taste the sweetness in the onion and sweet potato.

The lemon is necessary – it adds amazing acidic zing to otherwise bland foods. The butter has to be salted: it’s my only source of added salt, and luckily butter makes everything taste great. The 2 minute noodles really ARE that cheap, and they come with pre-packed flavourings. I think I would be making this meal the lunch meal on the last day, out of sheer desperation for some flavour. Eggs and tuna/bacon are a great source of protein, and at this price, even though they take up 2/5 of the total cost, it’s about right for the amount of protein I’d need over 5 days.

So here’s how my brain is divvying up this meagre food. 1 kg flour (wholemeal, probably) is a good amount for 1 person, right? With the flour I can make egg pasta and some chappatis. For breakfast I can have egg, many ways, including in a wrap or on flatbread, or I can toast the flatbread with butter.

For lunch I can have a tuna wrap, or a sweet potato and fried onion wrap.

For dinner I can make a pasta. There are a couple of ways I can make the pasta sauce: 1 is as a napoletana, using the carrot and celery, and the other is as a tuna sauce. The tuna comes in oil, and is salty, which would save my otherwise tasteless bacon-free food. By buying a 400 gram can, it should feed me for 4 meals. With lemon, it will be a tasty, zingy treat.

Rinse, and repeat. The main difficulty will be finding new ways to prepare the same basic ingredients and managing mid-afternoon snacking.

For example, the sweet potato (which I’m having instead of white potato for added sugar, plus lower GI), could be boiled, roasted, mashed, fried, or prepared as a rissole, a dip, or roesti. It will have to serve at least 2 meals, which is where the dip comes in. The pasta sauces will have to be reused during the lunches for a sauce in the wraps, so I can’t reduce them like I usually do.

For me the cheat’s question is, can I use found food to add flavour to my meals? For example, I grow herbs. After the initial cost of buying the herbs, they are free. I have basil, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, dill, coriander, chives, oregano, mint, lemongrass, and vietnamese mint. Can I use these to enhance my dishes, or do I need to fling myself round the neighborhood to pinch some herbs hanging willfully over a fence? Rosemary is one herb where this happens a lot. If I’m able to use my herbs it will make a huge difference to the flavour of the food. Also, have you had sage butter pasta sauce lately? Delish.

ANYWAY. I’m just thinking about it, because I can’t afford to give money – I have to find other ways to give for charity. And that’s my Weekend Coffee Share. What are you up to?

*Edit. Last night I reviewed the price of bacon: from Aldi you can get it for $1.87 for 250 grams. That’s 5 pieces of lovely, salty bacon (this is why in the olden days people used to keep their bacon and lard drippings – too expensive to throw out). I’m rethinking my strategy regarding the tuna. Buying bacon I can also get 2 cups of rice, which will provide 4 meals, and still have enough money left over for spices/fruit/peanuts/tea bags. Also, I’m wondering if I can cheat and go into the local uni cafeteria to get me some single packets of salt and sugar. I’m pretty sure that’s what happens in real life.

This is hard. If I’m working this hard now trying to manage food for 5 days, what does this mean for all those poor sods who have to do this all the time?

weekendcoffeeshare

Hosted by Diane, at Part-Time Monster.

 

Friday filibuster

Hiya. It’s been a couple of weeks. I’m a hopeless blogger in that I lose track of days and then it’s a week between blogs and before you know it, October’s here already.

I don’t mean to do this, but I get busy sometimes. Even when I’m not “work busy”, other things such as birthday shopping get me otherwise occupied.

So, hello. I’m back. Last week was a fairly shitty week, when I had to accept I was not offered the job – they DID get back to me eventually, and it confirmed my supposition. But the letter was lovely and apparently I WAS impressive and had excellent skills – I just didn’t match the skills they needed for the job right now. There may or may not have been retail therapy.

Back to the drawing board. I’m doing some editing work, and applying for a DECRA, and eventually I will actually start my monograph. It’s a slog, so I’m ignoring it for now.

It’s a news blog day today!

In renovation news, all the electrical work is now done and I’m just waiting for the final bill. I still have to paint some of the sections and gap fill etc, but it’s not far off completion in the bathroom at least! (excluding the oil paint on the windows, for which I actually have to wait until it’s cooler). IMG_2974IMG_2981IMG_2969

The room looks quite chic but the tiles, lights, mirror and fittings were typical Australian prices and we didn’t go for the most expensive selections at all. Perhaps the most expensive element was the vanity unit, but I don’t have a break-down of the actual cost as it was built into the total price. The really fun part, after selecting all the bathroom fittings, was finishing off the decorations. It’s lovely to get some plants in the house: I’m a truly terrible plant keeper so these are surviving despite my best attempts to neglect them. Choosing vanity-ware, towels, bins and toilet brushes was ridiculously fun, too, and I’m so happy with the end result.

The other day I actually washed the floors throughout the whole house, so we’re nearly at normal again.

housewife

Personally I think housekeeping is a Sisyphean task for which I am singularly unqualified, so I prefer not to do it much. We are tidy people and I do clean up after myself on a daily basis, but I don’t count that as housekeeping: that’s more about managing personal cleanliness. (Put it back where you found it, or find a better spot for it!)

When DH and I were both working long hours I hired a fortnightly cleaner. The cleaner was rather passive aggressive, complained a lot and would try to destroy my vacuum cleaner through little vicious acts of sabotage. She went.

Anyway. Cleaning out other areas of my life: I’m over the pity party, so I’ve switched my brain back on and I’m determined to maintain a gritted teeth joie-de-vivre. Which is rather contradictory but what the hey. I’m almost at the “I really really need to tackle the tax” thought, and the creative and academic writing will continue now. I’ve had to accept that I won’t see any money for my efforts, but we can mostly cope. I AM gigging and teaching a bit, which is good, and I’ll keep trawling job sites for more work.

And soon I’ll have a go at painting the bedroom and lounge room, because they need doing. I just have to buy some more ceiling paint, grit my teeth, and do it.

Plenty of teeth gritting this year!

In other news I’ve decided to keep live chickens for eggs. Huzzah!

aston_chicken_coop_with_chickens

I’ve seen the hens and coop ($370) that will be perfect in our large backyard, and we don’t require a permit. It’s a stupidly expensive thing to do, given that we can buy a dozen free-range eggs for $6, and we rarely go through more than a dozen a week ($312 per year on average), but I want to control some of what I’m eating, from a purely ethical stance. In Australia while we have basic guidelines in place around free-range chooks they are not enshrined into law. The basic guideline states there should be 1500 chooks per hectare (1000m2), which gives them about the size of a queen sized bed each to scrabble around in. This is ok, but the powers that be (big food companies – is there a word that mimics “big pharma” for food?) want to make it 20,000 chooks per hectare. This is unacceptable.

Also, I want to know what my chooks are eating. We’ll feed them a combination of chook pellets (fish byproducts I’m told but there are vegetarian options), corn and wheat grain, and leafy green things. It’s not the cheapest option in the world – backyard farming – but it’s a fun thing to do and it’s not like I don’t have the time to keep my animals.

Our backyard is quite open. We will put the chookhouse in a shady area, but we also have to worry about foxes and snakes. Nevertheless, I’ve never seen a snake in our neighborhood, and Poppy the dog will kick up a ruckus if there’s a fox around. The possums don’t seem to have any natural predators here so they are fairly free with their wanderings, which makes me think the wildlife here is contained to birds and big-ass insects. I’m channelling my inner farmer here. My ancestors were farmers and I have kept chooks before. I love the gentle noises they make and the feel-good self-sufficiency of the backyard farm.

Of course, if I was a truly ethical eater I’d probably be a vegetarian. But it’s the little things that count. We try to buy bacon and pork products from a local butcher who sources ethical producers (those who don’t keep the piggies in little nasty pens, but give them room to move and live a short but hopefully happy life before they go to the slaughterhouse). And for years we’ve been eating free-range chickens, pole-and-line-caught tuna, farmed fish (we have a great farming industry in Australia that uses lots of efficient, earth-friendly practices), so on.

So I’m looking forward to naming my not-yet-purchased chooks, perhaps after Gilbert and Sullivan characters: Buttercup, Katisha, Yum-Yum? Ideas for names welcomed!

And now: I’m baking home-made muesli and spaghetti bolognese and delicious brownies. Hola!

Australia Day: plainspeaking.

Retired Australian Army General David Morrison was yesterday announced as the Australian of the Year. This was 3 years coming as I think he couldn’t be nominated for this award until he had retired. The one great reason (and there are many more than this) is the following speech made to the Australian Army. It was a private speech, but it quickly went viral. What plain speaking can do, eh? This speech is worth sitting through for the plain prose and stark message, and its emphasis on diversity and equality in the workplace. I loved this speech when it came out and was uncertain as to why he hadn’t been nominated earlier. Anyway, the last two years saw an Indigenous AFL footballer Adam Goodes as Australian of the Year, and Domestic Violence victim, survivor and passionate advocate Rosie Batty. This year was an ex-army leader whose straight talking speech is something all (reasonable) Australians found compelling and honest. Enjoy the clip.

 

Another speech made by the wonderful and under-appreciated indigenous journalist Stan Grant also stirred Australians, as an impromptu speech he made in October did the social media rounds just now. This is the voice of desperation from our indigenous Australians, with a call to action: “we are better than that”. Australians (again, the reasonable ones that make up the majority vote, thanks for asking) have responded wonderfully well to this speech. Grant is characteristically humble about his speech and his role in advocacy for indigenous rights: he names many great advocates before him whose speeches are braver and stronger and better than his. However, this speech comes at a time when there is a sharp division in the media between the noisy right and the desire of the Australian majority to be better than our international image would suggest.

 

So today, on Australia Day, hubby and I will go to an Art auction. The auctioneers we know well, and lots of wonderful indigenous artists are represented there. We probably won’t buy anything but it’s good to value stuff for future reference. We have lots of cheap and cheerful wall art as we have bought at least 5 pieces from them, all under $1000 each. DH took two pieces to work as his workplace won’t release artworks they buy as there is a stupid loophole in Australian Tax law that says if you buy artwork for superannuation purposes it cannot be shown or hung in public spaces. For reasons entirely unknown to me. Anyway, it means we personally buy the art for the work space. Sometimes it’s bought back by the university as part of general decoration, but I think we own all the pieces there at present.

I love indigenous art: it’s abstract and non-figurative (mainly), but has a definite visual narrative that you understand as you get to know the artist’s vision. The works we buy are usually narratives of nature, place and country. Given the ongoing arguments Australians have about Australia Day, with its hellish history for our First Peoples, it’s good to be able to, in a small, entirely selfish way, give something back to the first Australians. And to those who may think these folk are being exploited: no. I did my due diligence. The artists are represented with dignity and their copyright and artist rights intact.

So off we go, to sit in a room and be yelled at for a few hours. On Australia Day I can think of nothing more fun. Happy Australia Day to you.

img_2880.jpg

IMG_0770.jpg

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee you’d notice the beautiful new coffee machine in the kitchen. It’s cranberry red. Nuff said about coffee, except to mention I drink quite a lot of it. Black and strong and espresso, thanks.

If we were having coffee you’d notice it’s not at the kitchen table because I’m trying to do my tax. There are receipts all over the table. 2 years worth for both my company and my personal tax. I hate receipts. I finally found a new system: chuck all the receipts into a chic black tin box originally containing Aesop grooming products and close the lid. Do not open the lid for a LONG time. Hence the kitchen table has now become a hideous receipt-encrusted eyesore.

If we were having coffee you’d notice a few appointments in my diary this week: I have an interview coaching session on Monday with my DH’s work coach. I’m terrible in interviews and vivas, because I can’t think fast enough and I ramble. Conciseness and precision are not my allies. Hence why I am doing so many 100 flash fiction challenges: I need to edit better. The spoken word: I wish I was Aaron Sorkin and had his brain. But I am not. On Thursday I have a singing gig, yay, and on Thursday night I head south to Sydney for a job interview.

This interview is important because the job is a good one.

I really really want this job.

However, if we were having coffee you’d notice my hesitation about leaving my DH to go work in another state. It’s HARD WORK. I have no fear our relationship would fall apart but it would get one hell of a beating. I’d have to work hard to manage my work commitments alongside family commitments, and to balance weekends and travel plans. UGH. And I have NO extended family in Sydney. They’re all in Melbourne. I’d be all alone (all by myself).

 

 

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’ve put on a kilo or two – that’s too many sticky buns and lounging around work for me. Summer here is hot. I’ve been painting. Then there was Xmas. They’re my excuses. The reality I was depressed and I’ve been watching a hell of a lot of TV/ Netflix/Stan. Now I’m fat again. Time to get to the gym which I’ve not attended since September (hence the fatness).

*Note to self: New Year’s Resolutions, dammit.

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’ve started cooking again, and I planted a herb garden last week. It’s going well, thanks for asking. The brand new bathroom is now fully useable (if still missing an extractor fan), and I am using fluffy white towels. Brand new. It’s a luxury. Finally, I want to draw your attention to my bedside table – it has 3 books on it. I’m part way through all of them.

Life is pretty good this week. It might be because of the good coffee. How was your week?

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Diana at Part-time Monster.

weekendcoffeeshare

Today I feel like gardening.

It’s Monday morning here in sunny south-east Queensland and I’ve been awake since 6.15am. The new food plants have survived the possums for two nights although maybe not forever because the possums are hungry like raccoons without the smarts to get into rubbish bins:

IMG_2926_2

I planted sweet basil, rosemary, parsley, oregano, thyme, chilli, Vietnamese mint, and common mint. I wish I had bought some coriander but it usually goes to seed before I’ve harvested the leaves. The one plant that has survived ALL attempts to kill it was a wedding gift from the in-laws and sits on the chair. It’s super happy right now because I’m watering it regularly and feeding it. The petunia plant on the right of the stand is looking a bit sad but it’s not mine. I just rescued it from my daughter who had forgotten to water it.

When my brain finally clocks this as a good thing I’m going to move the old concrete laundry tub closer to the kitchen door and plant lemongrass and sage and lemon verbena and dill and stuff. And if I stay in this state rather than moving to another state such as NSW (because job), then I’m getting chickens and a veggie garden. We don’t have any (decent) food trees in our back yard. This makes me sad. Subtropical Brisbane can grow just about any tropical fruit, including avocado and guava and paw paw and bananas and mangoes, but I’m told mango trees are invasive because they seek water, and I’m just no good at picking (or eating) fruit. Nevetheless, I’m going to plant an avocado tree and a lemon and a lime tree because we inhale avocados and use a lot of lemons and limes in our cooking.

We DO have a compost bin but it’s ages since I’ve fed it and I never know quite what to do with it once I’ve composted stuff. I tell you what, though, when I finally move the bin the compost inside will be amazing. It’s been fermenting for 4 years!

The better half at 8.00am decided he wanted to Karcher (water-pressure-clean) the front fence in preparation for its second coat of paint. The first coat is already 3 years old, and is starting to come away from the palings, despite a great undercoat and primer job back in the day. Today is MONDAY. He should be at work. I’m not sure why he’s doing this now but the fence looks a lot cleaner. Not sure when we’ll get to paint the fence though. It’s hot out there in Brisbane land and the fence gets full sunlight all day. Yesterday DH created a rustic (read didn’t prepare the ground or lay sand or anything because why) brick patio by the fence for the rubbish bins. The lawn (it used to be called the weed) is looking really gorgeous, neat and green, and DH bought with his gift voucher a new petrol line trimmer, which works a treat.

We’re both a bit bored, I think. Yesterday we went to see Sisters, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Which was hilarious, as you’d expect.

This year, if I don’t get any permanent work, I will spend the year gardening, and chook farming, and painting, and exercising, and getting my monograph published and NOT worrying about money.

Happy gardening to you!

PS here’s a picture of the dear little injured possum with a big gash on the head (old injury), who has come to the porch for a wee rest because it’s not coping in the sun. I’ve called the wildlife rescue and left a message but I’m not sure they will ring back.

possum

 

 

Today is a good day.

A new day, a new year, a new life, a new something else.

For those who are interested, I left the house. Yes, I have been a little bit agoraphobic. It basically comes down to this: if I leave the house I know I’m going to spend money, so best not.

I had breakfast with a girlfriend. It was good. A delicious Eggs Benny with bacon (that’s an Eggs Benedict for people not in Australia – we insist on shortening every proper noun). Then I went and deposited a cheque, and then I bought more groceries because that’s what I do when I’m about to be seriously broke.

And then I watched the last 5 episodes of the 7th and final season of the West Wing. Who do I love the most? CJ Cregg? Toby Ziegler? Josh Lyman? Donna Moss? Leo McGarry? Sam Seaborn? The completely hunky Matthew Santos? (I’m talking characters here, he’s the even more gorgeous Jimmy Smits in real life). I probably love CJ the most. She’s the woman every strong woman wants to be. Smart, funny, thin and fashionable, driven, in charge. But Josh Lyman. The thinking girl’s hunka hunka burning-up-because-he-never-sleeps love. And we all know he had a six pack under those white shirts (thank goodness they finally started wearing white shirts by the end – grey and green blech at the start). And then there’s Eeyore Toby Ziegler. Soulful, sad, smart, a little bit morally superior, with brown eyes to die for. And Donna Moss, the character who grew the most over 7 seasons and who steadfastly loved her man despite him being an idiot. I loved these characters and I loved the actors and I loved the show and I loved that after Aaron Sorkin left the 5th season the show got a bit meaner and sadder and more difficult. It needed it. Sorkin lives for the soapbox and his characters are well-meaning but a little morally elevated and a touch grandiose. The writers who took over insisted on making the characters more human. It had a remarkably consistent cast, all of whom came back for the final few episodes. It wasn’t perfect TV but it was close enough for me. I shall miss it. That’s no joke – it was 125 hours of TV, 156 episodes. I’m nearly ready to begin The Good Wife, but I’ll need a few weeks of mourning time for my favourite ever TV show.

westwing

Perhaps I should start to read The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro, now sitting on my bedside table, and begin my Goodreads pledge.

In other news I’ve been sniffing around for work and have been offered a bit of copy-editing to do. It’s boring work but I learn stuff every time I do it, and I don’t have to teach people, so yes, thanks! to that. And I’m about to start gunning for an ARC DECRA. I have interest from a local uni who have offered to sponsor me and give me support to apply. Wow.

Today is a GOOD day.

 

 

Rain

It’s raining here in hot, steamy Brisbane. The last time it rained like this in January we had such severe flooding that insurance premiums went up by 50%. I jest. Actually, it was a pretty rough time for many Brisbane residents whose homes and possessions were destroyed by flood and now I’m hoping our council’s flood mitigation plans are well in place!

brisbane rain

It’s been raining a solid 24 hours, and there’s no indication it will stop any time soon. The clothes on the line are sodden – I might have to give up and re-spin them and dry them in the dryer. I hate doing this as it’s normally so hot here the sun dries them in 30 minutes when line-hung. But we’re at the time of year when mould and mildew becomes a problem. If the clothes aren’t dried properly they start to smell once stored away. I’m thinking I might have to MacGyver (or life hack, not sure which) some moisture soakers for my clothes drawers. Charcoal is not my preferred home hack!

pegs

I love the rain, and I like the lowered temperatures it brings. It’s cool enough here for me to wear long sleeved t-shirts! (that’s saying a lot, usually in January I just want to be completely nekked. Now I understand why people wear thongs – flip flops – and mu-mus in tropical places). Once the rain stops, though, the steam starts. It’s like being in a sauna without an exit door. By April I’ve gone bonkers.

So in things to do on this cool, rainy Summer’s day: I’ll make some home-made muesli. I’ll cook Brownies. I’ll do that washing thing. I’ll buy some groceries. I’ll watch another episode or 4 of season 7 of the West Wing. I’ll finally start compiling my tax (groan).

Tax.jpg

It’s a slow news day here today.

(Quick edit: Just discovered 2 of our plastic storm water pipes have come adrift from their other pipes due to the intensity and speed of the rainfall and are pouring water onto the concrete garage floor – we have a high-set Queenslander and it’s basically an outdoor space under the house. The water just pours out into the garden and it’s not as weird as it sounds. Now a trip to Bunnings awaits for some plumbing glue or whatever it’s called. Sigh. But what a great opportunity to also buy some fresh herbs to plant in my long dead herb garden – I’m so sick of buying cut herbs and having them go off in the fridge.)

Here’s to the New Year

Good morning! I hope you’ve had a restful/exciting/peaceful/joyous/insertappropriateadjectivehere holiday season. DH (darling husband) is back at work and I am again alone at home. No daughter, no step kids. Just me and the animals and a really clean house.

spic-and-span

(Photo courtesy of daysgoneby.me)

Saturday I finally got around to vacuuming the whole house because dust and builders, and boy did it feel good. We’ve cleaned out the old bathroom so the children can put their own stuff in the drawers, we’ve organised the pantry, cobbled together a linen cupboard, taken clothes to the charity bins, bought a full length mirror for the WIR. It feels good to get so much stuff done. Old, unwanted things become a burden when you know they work: you can’t bear to throw them away. However, you’ve upgraded and now the old unwanted thing skulks in the back of the cupboard. In our case, without any cupboards to speak of, it’s skulking in plain view. We need to organise a garage sale, it’s true.

But I prevaricate. This year is a turning point for me. I’ve had more than a year to gather my thoughts, be angry, grief-stricken and generally unproductive. Now it’s time for action. I’m no religious nutter but in the past when I didn’t have a job or money I would “make a call to the ether” and invariably something positive would turn up. I guess this means I was open to opportunities as they arose. Now my opportunities are narrower, so how to hear the ether calling back?

I’m also aware of a life phase coming to its end. It began when I moved north and now it feels finished. Not, of course, from my marriage or blessed relationship with DH who is my light, my joy, my rock, my better half. I just feel that something new awaits me. Dunno what it is.

I shouldn’t write a listicle of NY resolutions: I’m a goal setter without the need for a New Year’s punctuation mark. But here are a few goals I can be getting on with for the month of January at least:

  1. Blog more frequently using ideas from the interwebs, and link with other bloggers. See? I’m already doing it. I’ve got Weekend Coffee Share through Part-time Monster, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy and I’m thinking of doing some Friday Fictioneers or some other fast fiction writing. I’d love some help engaging with the blogging community – drop me a line if you would like to share some ideas about where to go and what to do. By the way, I also have another blog called The House that Jess Built. Check it out if you’re a renovation nut like me.
  2. Do my TAX. I have a refund owing and bills to pay.
  3. Finish painting the woodwork of our new renovation and paint the bedroom and lounge rooms now that the majority of the work is finished. (Yes, all right, I’m sitting here writing in my blog rather than actually doing this).
  4. Revise an article, write an article with a friend and start writing academic papers again. (This might sit in the too hard basket while I gather up the courage).
  5. Oh, all right: exercise again, cut down from my holiday eating and drinking, get healthy, that sort of thing. There’s always a get fit clause in a New Year’s Resolution post. I’ve been super fit and healthy before (see 2012/2013 blog posts) but it takes a peculiar kind of obsession I just don’t possess because it crowds out having fun, eating, you know: living. But I COULD move about some more, and perhaps eat a bit less. The drinking I’ll take one day at a time. Last year I did a 3 week break from alcomohol and it made no earthly difference to my health, weight, sense of well being or stress levels. Maybe I’ll try not drinking on Mondays. Lol.
  6. See my friends. I like to do this anyway but maybe a bit more so now?

 

So there it is. Small beginnings. What are your goals this year?