I’m gonna stop now.

I’m getting shortlisted for jobs but unfortunately I’m bombing out in the interviews. Next week is my last job interview. I’ll be retiring after this. It’s too hard to keep going.

What friends and family fail to understand is that I’m really terrible at Vivas. I seem quite robust and confident, but I panic when spoken words are required. So interviews, which are vivas for jobs, do me in. I can’t think on my feet. I respond to fairly asinine questions with even more asinine answers, and don’t even ask me to tell you a story about how magnificently I managed something. I won’t remember it, thus will panic and relate instead some terrible unrelated story.

I can’t remember my value proposition, and I think I’ve reached the end.

I’m done now.

Also, I think I’ll take a little break from this blog. If you’re all still interested in my renovations you can access my other blog The House That Jess Built at brisvegashome.wordpress.com, in which I chat about the endless house painting I seem to do.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing my research journey and other life events with me. I have really valued the small community I joined, your kind words and commentary, and camaraderie.

Take care.

 

 

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Wayfaring: a ranty rant about urban planning

So yesterday I decided to WALK to work. It’s about 6 kms away, but the sky was lovely and overcast, the weather a perfect 22 degrees centigrade, and I had new walking boots I intend to wear in NY. It would take me a little over an hour and I needed to increase my exercise regime from one paltry PT session per week.

I googled my walking path and noticed a thing. It’s an actual problem thing. Brisbane has nowhere nice for people to walk long distances. I live inner east. I’m not too far from the Brisbane river, but in between my house and the river are several main roads that are actual arteries to get into town. These roads are 6 lanes wide, that sort of thing. They are not pleasant to walk along. They are noisy, I am increasing my CO2 and toxic metal levels simply by being near them, and I really just want a nice walking path into town. Do you think I could find one? NO.

Here’s the screen shot of what Google thought would be several good ways to get into town:

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The blue path is a major arterial road. So is the second. The third way, I kid you not, involves a fucking ferry and 2 river crossings. I have, in my desire to get some exercise, stumbled on what I believe is a significant issue facing Brisbane. We’re fat fucks because there’s nowhere to WALK. The two shorter options are major arterial thoroughfares for CARS. They are not easy walking options. Also, Norman Creek (that wibbly wobbly green thing bifurcating my walk at the right of screen) has about 1 human-crossing bridge available along its length. So in effect I’m stuck walking along a stupid fucking main road OR I can tack across some fields in the vain hope that I’ll find a river crossing to get to the main river.

This is a tragedy. Also, the pretty walk along the river doesn’t start until Kangaroo Point cliff walk because there are no boardwalks between Hawthorn and Kangaroo Point, but do you think there’s a pedestrian crossing on Leopard Street from East Brisbane? NO. I have to risk life and limb trying to navigate across this really busy road when there’s also a SCHOOL nearby without access to a pedestrian crossing. I cannot tell you how pissed off I was trying to simply navigate through town on foot.

This is why Melbourne wins the best city in the world for liveability while Brisbane is shit. Cities like Melbourne, Paris, even London and NY, recognise the need for traversing spaces for pedestrians. There you can walk along the rivers to get into town and you don’t come across a fucking Maritime museum with barbed-wire fencing as you approach it from the south. I’m not holding Melbourne up to perfection but at least they have boulevards and beautiful walking paths nearly every direction you approach town from. You can walk along the river in either direction, you can walk along St Kilda Boulevard (cars are set in the centre lanes and there are TREES), you can approach from the north via Royal Parade (same deal). In Melbourne it’s pretty and lovely to walk in, and right now, with blisters on my heels from boots that were clearly not made for walking and a sense of impotent rage about this city with its heat and humidity and my incapacity to deal with either, I’m not in the best mood about Brisbane and its shit urban planning.

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’m deep in comfort cooking mode as the weather cools. Have a piece of chocolate cake and a cup of tea.

The weekend ended up being full of family and home and small comforts. After going to the ballet on Friday night with DH who is invited to EVERYTHING (this was a really beautiful Gershwin-inspired show, with ballet and tap and some gorgeous gorgeous orchestrated Gershwin and some of the most lovely costumes I’ve seen in AGES), I prepared a letter of recommendation for my PhD supervisor (she’s up for an award). Hubby was off with stepson visiting Sydney on Saturday, so I parked myself on the couch and enjoyed putting together the 500 word written commendation. One of my great joys is writing, and I’m beginning to do a lot more of it. Starting can be a bitch, but once I’m into it, I hate to stop.

I spent the rest of Saturday doing Very Useful Things. Earlier in the week I’d bought some fresh herbs and gardening equipment. I’m determined to grow herbs the possums can’t reach. So after spending the morning going to a yoga class, shopping, and cleaning the chookhouse, in the afternoon I covered an old concrete laundry tub with bird netting and stakes. Earlier on Friday I’d prepared the tub with a combination of potting mix, perlite, coco-peat and cow compost. I planted and watered the plants, and covered them in this new chew-preventer. It seems to have worked. I’m pretty sure that if they were determined the possums could get into the tubs, but they’d have a hell of a time getting out from under the netting – it’s very tangly stuff.

In south-east Queensland, the subtropical climate means that you can plant almost anything nearly all year round. Keep the plants well watered and they grow like topsy. I’ve been enjoying adding some interior plants to our house in the spare corners. It makes the house feel so friendly and house plants are once again back in fashion. My only problem is remembering to water them!

I also prepared a ham and potato soup. Now, I’m not normally a recipe sharer, as most of my recipes can be located online, but this was widely regarded by my family as a soup to beat all soups. Here’s the recipe. I omitted the cream because it just doesn’t need it, I used a smoked ham hock, and I used Campbell’s salt-reduced real chicken stock. I cooked the crap out of the ham hock before adding the (red-skinned) potatoes, because ham hocks need longer cooking. And by setting aside some of the potatoes before blitzing the soup means that the soup has lovely chunky pieces, as recommended. I like this soup much more than split-pea and ham soup.

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One of the things my stepdaughter and I like to do if we’re at home together in the evenings is watch a silly rom-com and eat snack-food. I made some nachos because we had been given 5 ripe avocados by a student, and we watched Bridesmaids again, hysterical when the pooping scene began. DH arrived home just in time for the scene, one of his all time favourites. One of the reasons I love this movie is that it has an all-woman cast of comedians (and Rose Byrne, who is delightful, and funny). Even the subsidiary male characters are comedians, and Jon Hamm SHOULD be a comedian. Gosh he has a goofy smile.

Sunday was spent with the whole family. It was a lovely day. Step kids and my daughter all behaved themselves, the day was a gorgeous autumn, south-east Queensland at its best. Bright sun, cool, crisp mornings and chilly, still evenings. Stepdaughter was singing in a choral concert at a local festival, so we watched this very good school choir perform 3 lovely songs. I ate my favourite market food: Turkish Gozleme, and then hubby and I went home for a bit before heading out to the local shopping mall, where I bought two pairs of new shoes (flats. I’m sick of wearing high heels, and I can’t walk in them any more), and my stepdaughter tried in vain to persuade us to replace her broken phone with a brand new one (nope. She broke it when she SAT on it, and there’s still 6 months on the contract, so I’m not spending more money on it). She got my old iphone 4S instead.

Later that day I made a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. It really looked like this, and it’s a beautifully light and moist cake. Made with real chocolate, butter, almond meal and eggs, it’s sinfully easy to prepare. Serve it with icecream, cream and raspberries.

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And then I prepared a lamb leg roast with gravy, roasted root vegetables and green beans. I added a tiny slosh of fish sauce to the gravy and it worked a treat. Added necessary body and salt. Told you I was in a cooking mood! Today I’ve made a macaroni cheese dish to cut up and freeze for lunches and side dishes, and later on I’ll make a quiche or two.

I’m making all this food because I love the weather. It reminds me of my hometown weather, all cold mornings, rainy afternoons and frigid winters. I very nearly made scones yesterday afternoon too, but then there would have been no dessert and the dog would not have been walked.

So today’s share is about food. I hope your weekend was similarly full of family comforts.

Today’s post brought to you by Diana, here.

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Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee (or a brew), I’d be inviting you to sit with me on our small enclosed porch, which I’ve recently dressed with some fresh greenery and new cushion covers. It’s amazing how awesome a nook can look with some palm fronds and a pot plant or two. And a stray climber to add some hipster greenery chic. (No, I’ve not done that deliberately: it grew all by itself.) Sorry about the image size: WordPress used to have small, medium and large sizes but they’ve taken out the medium one. Bad, bad WordPress.

 

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I’ve been doing some cushion updating recently. Diabolical for my DH, who thinks the following scene is an appropriate reminder of what I’m doing to him:

I think they look quite nice but I concede I may have reached the limit:

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The stabby Ben Stiller limit. The truly sad part is that the old cushions are still on the bedroom floor awaiting repurposing!

While I’m waiting for my job interview, I’m doing some soft furnishing upgrades. I’m not yet ready to start painting the interiors again but it’s getting close! In the meantime, I’ve created rooms of colour stories. The master bedroom is and will be a combination of soft blues and greys, navy and white soft furnishings married with warm antiques and soft white walls. The lounge room is the winter room, best enjoyed with a comfortable rug and a glass of red wine. It’s warm reds and autumn colours married with dark wood furniture. The kitchen has splashes of red but I’m not being precious about the colours there. The dining room is a bright mish mash of primary colours, turquoise, orange, blues, greens, pink and yellow. It sounds too much but they’re mostly paintings and glassware, riotous pops of colour. I’m loving colour right now, but it’s best enjoyed with bright white walls and that means house painting. Not yet.

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’m rather enjoying some home time right now. I’m cooking a bit more; I’m baking, I’m loving the chookies. It’s easy in my household to be so outward looking that we don’t get to spend time making our home lovely. The DH, who it must be said is not a homebody, has finally mown the front lawn and we’re slowly cleaning up the garden in preparation for some landscaping. This morning DH cleared away a garden disaster zone near the house in the backyard and I have a cunning plan to level the area and pave it, giving us a bit more usable outdoor space while we wait in vain for the next lot of funds to renovate the remainder of the house.

As the wife of a VIP who runs a music school, I reached my functions threshold this week. Last night, to be precise. Sometimes I just need some quiet nights at home and this week was one of them. Never mind we’d been out Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings! This weekend is an ensembles festival. I begged off. Hubby has in no way tried to persuade me to accompany him, luckily.

Tomorrow is Mothers’ Day in Australia. I’m truly hoping I get to wish my mum a happy day, because it’s all getting a bit difficult to stay in touch from far away. You’d think birthdays and special occasions would become more important away from family. Truth is: life gets in the way and I often forget to plan for special times. I always swore it was due to busyness. Nah. I’m just forgetful, and the birthdays and special moments just seem to get closer and closer these days. The older I get, the faster they go by.

Screw you, old age.

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Nah. Seriously. Have a great day, ladies. May your young children give you a piece of pottery they made in Art class; may your teenagers do the dishes, laundry, wash the floors and clean the bathroom and kitchen; may your adult children give you something really really special. Like a gift card for a massage or something. And champagne.

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This post was brought to you by Diane, at Part Time Monster. There’ll be a linky very soon!

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Holiday Funtime 

DH and I are on hols right now, although it doesn’t feel very holiday-like to me. Last Friday we flew south to my home town Melbourne for my son’s engagement party on the Saturday and I’ve been schlepping about so hard I’ll need a holiday to get over the holiday. 

Friday am we arrived and promptly went to bed for a bit, because I’m tired all the time. In the afternoon we dragged ourselves into town to visit Whistler’s Mother, which (who?) was on show at the NGV International. Then it was an early dinner at a Korean diner before 2 comedy shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Folks, there were 500 shows at this festival. Unbelievable. Then cocktails at my favourite little bar Double Happiness, which is quiet yet buzzing. Not too loud and shouty there. 

   
 
Saturday was the engagement do, but not before DH and I went back to the NGV to see Warhol and Wei Wei. An amazing exhibition. Then it was a delicious Mexican lunch at a great place on Chapel St before seeing another silly show at my favourite venue Chapel off Chapel. This time it was Songs for Sarah Connor, terminated. Not as original as I’d hoped: I wanted more original songs rather than rewrites of well known show tunes. 

Then, Sunday morning after the engagement party we borrowed my sister’s car and headed to Aireys Inlet for a brief respite from the world. It’s quiet here and you can hear the ocean from the house. 

  
Then on Tuesday I headed back to Melbourne for my sister’s PhD graduation. Very proud. We now have 2 doctors in the family, neither of the life-saving kind. 

  
Of course, a real doctor would have come in handy for when my newly minted Dr sister decided to have a mild allergic reaction to the shellfish at lunch and get an itchy redness. I didn’t leave town until well after 7pm, so am in bed today recovering. 

Tomorrow we must leave my favourite place but I’m pleased to announce that not only am I writing a cabaret but I’m also starting my crime fiction novel. At the moment I’m just writing a bunch of disparate scenes to see how I write fiction. There’s no plot yet. Mostly descriptions of Brisbane. I think I haven’t read enough crime fiction set in hot climates; mostly the books are set in temperate zones or cold climates. Time for some steam heat. 

Mum and dad go home and I get to go to the gym again

Oh my fricking god. Can’t do up my bloody pants. The weather seems so be cooling down slightly: so much so that the doona was dragged up from the base of the bed where we fling it each night because fricking hot weather. Imma gonna get me to the gym; imma gonna stop eating all the things; imma gonna stop drinking all the things. Imma gonna eat my homegrown free range eggs and get my sorry fat arse to the fricking gym, y’all. Jaysus. 

Folks are flying home today. It has been fun, I’ll miss them. We discovered Mount Tamborine. That was fun too. Right. Time to take folks to the airport. 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were drinking coffee, you’d be in the backyard with me meeting my new additions to the fam. Introducing Euphemia, Josephine and Iolanthe. New members of the menagerie and my birthday gift. Which possibly explains why no posts for several days. Plus, mum and dad flew up to see us and that’s added another level of busyness to the weekend.

   
    
  
And our first egg. I’m a proud mama but have to watch out for vampire teddy bear Poppy the groodle who will eat the chickens, sadly. We’re planning a chicken run. Gotta go, driving to Tambourine today with the olds for a gentle day out. 

 

Friday Filibuster: From little things big things grow. Some Australian protest songs.

From Little Things Big Things Grow is a song by my favourite muso and serial adulterer, Paul Kelly and his mate Kev Carmody. It’s about how one man’s actions can galvanise a nation into shame for its appalling treatment of indigenous Australians, and begin a “reconciliation” (given that we never had a conciliation in the first instance I’m not sure how we can be reconciling, but whatevs), a recognition of wrongdoing, where a People’s country can be returned to them in a gentle, yet powerful ceremony that is both as profound and as prosaic as pouring earth into a person’s waiting hands.

 

Given the current parlous state of Australia’s ethical and moral stance against refugees and asylum seekers I’m hoping that some small Australians, those ordinary people who work in hospitals and banks and schools and police stations and offices, will rise up and say to our two major parties (Liberal National Party and The Labor Party) that enough is enough. Stop treating these people as criminals. Be humane. Be mindful of international law. Follow that law. Actually, they are doing this, but the right wing goons, who are a small but self-important bunch, are holding the parties hostage. Here’s a song by our beautiful Missy Higgins called Oh Canada that evocatively illustrates the plight of refugees and asylum seekers everywhere.

 

 

Another great artist, Tim Minchin (composer of Matilda the Musical), has written an angry song about our Cardinal George Pell, who seems to have become strangely too ill to travel to Australia to answer a Royal Commission into the Catholic Church’s years of wanton cover up over a string of appalling paedophilic priests who ran rampant around Australia. Heads have rolled over this one but more will roll as more is uncovered.

 

Anyway. This post wasn’t going to be about protest songs. It was going to be about weight loss. Hah. Got you! So it’s just that I’ve started going to the gym every day, swimming. I swim for 30 minutes, or 14 laps of a 50 metre pool (yes, I know that’s super slow. I don’t care). I swim breaststroke, and today it took me a little while but I finally got into a beautiful Zen state, where time disappeared for a while. As I say to DH, it’s my daily meditation, swimming.

I’m back to calorie counting, but not too much – I’m not cutting out carbs and I’m being more circumspect about how I count those calories – in other words I’m not sweating the small stuff like I used to. I’ve also cut out snacking and most sweet foods. It seems to have worked: I’m already down 500 grams in 5 days. A nice start. Tomorrow I’m going to a proper gym class at 8am (yuck), followed by a swim to cool off.

So, from little things big things grow. A daily gym routine to get me out of the house, more thought about WHAT I eat, and the results show that little things can have a big impact. Go little me.

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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.

 

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