No news is good news, right?

Typewriter-ClearNoony noony noony noo.

I’m the Sesame St typewriter this month. That’s how I’m feeling right now. I’m about to finish organising my book proposal and Post Doc applications but otherwise life is just noodling along, pretty calm and relaxed. My referees are coming along nicely, my book proposal is nearly done, my Post Doc is pretty shite right now and I need to get my referee love sorted BEFORE  June, but mostly I’m feeling cool.

I’ve recently seen more pro-am theatre than I ever want to see again, but I don’t mind. As my mum says, “I’m notching up those karma points for my old age”. And most of it has had some very good points. At least at no time was I really bored. That’s important.

My daughter is OK (which is as good as it gets), my DH is a bit ill with a persistent cold because he needs a long holiday, and the house plans are on the final stretch to costings and council approval. The animals are in fine health, I polished the furniture yesterday and the laundry is done (not by me).

My teaching is going fine (as far as I can tell, I’m over it slightly so the care factor is rather low), and I’m performing again, adding valuable dollars to our school fee account. The house sitters are organised, the bills are paid, Netflix and Stan are getting a good work out, I’m going to the gym and calorie counting again (minus the calories for Pinot Noir, because I need it), I’m cooking, we’re eating out a lot, I’m seeing heaps of great theatre and shows, seeing friends, I’m organising our wardrobe and pantry with some new coat hangers, storage jars and a shoe stand (which is a GREAT thing to have). Exciting overseas holiday plans are coming along well – Spain and France this year. And that’s it.

Noony noony noony noo.

Why then do I have a niggling feeling of impending doom?

charlie-brown

 

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A call to arms.

Oh dear. It’s a Sunday. The weather here in south-east QLD is hot, humid, and very, very wet. There are no children about. This can mean only one thing for DH (darling husband) and me: shopping time!

DH has a problem with shoes. As I see it, he doesn’t have enough. Boots, lace-ups and one pair of thongs does not a happy wifey make. All those pairs of lovely shorts going to waste because bugalugs here doesn’t have a decent set of casual clodhoppers. The red Vans died about a year ago. But he’s still wearing them. They’re no good with shorts. And the white leather sneaker Seinfeld lookalike Nikes don’t count. He’s old enough to know that look died out in the late 80s along with puffy shirts and groomed mullets. And thongs are not appropriate for those casual lunch get togethers with friends at restaurants (this happens more often than one would think).

DH would disagree about the shoe quantity. But I’m a bit sick of him wearing lace-ups with jeans – it’s too much, people. He looks like my grandpa. Who died in 1979.

So today became an expedition. To the shopping mall we went. Apparently so did everyone else, but the Gods of Asphaltia were smiling on us today – we found a carpark first corner, about 20 metres from the entrance to our favourite mall. Huzzah!

This type of shopping often occurs after I have said something like: “that’s it, we’re not spending any more money until the house is finished”. It’s a call to arms. Into the breach we go, debit cards aloft and rampaging.

First stop Myer – there’s a shoe sale. DH complains that all the shoes make him look and feel old. There’s nothing I can say. He’s 53. Thirty minutes later after some strong-arm tactics by yours truly we’ve found him the perfect set of tan boat shoes and we’re off. boatshoes1

 

My turn next. It’s makeup at 30 paces (and a gift bag, awww) followed by three pairs of shoes for 3 different occasions. And it’s a sale. 50% off, folks. We’re killing it! Stopping briefly to refuel with a salad and a delicious hot cinnamon doughnut (mmm, doughnuts) we continue to work tops for me and finish the day with a triumphal purchase of champagne flutes at 40% off.

Well done, all! A champion three hours spending money. And home to quiet repose.

TV watching may be next, perhaps I’ll make scones with lashings of cream and jam, and we’ll have cups of tea. What a lovely way to spend a rainy, rainy, rainy Sunday.

 

 

 

The Christmas special

This might be the last blog I write in 2014, as my time gets taken up with a ROAD TRIP south and Christmas celebrations with the family. I take a moment now to reflect on all the stuff that I have been through this year, and my plans for 2015. Take heed: it’s a long post. Grab a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Firstly, my beautiful daughter M. After coming out as transgender in September 2013, she moved unwillingly up north to Brisvegas in January of this year, to be cared for and supported by me and her step-father. This was a traumatic move for her, given her dislike of the hot humid state generally. She has been through a lot. So have we all as a family, now. M’s experiences as a transgender mtf woman have been typical of this marginalised group. She has been misgendered, she has suffered discrimination and abuse from trolls in Logan (a bogan suburb now proven beyond doubt), and despite help from health care professionals and a truck load of pills, she has suffered mightily from her own demons. These demons were the hardest to manage.

Before she found peace in her appearance with a stonking great new haircut and gorgeous red dye job, she was seriously depressed about it. Her male-pattern hair growth and male looks cause her great heartache, and she often thinks about suicide. My daughter is tall, model slender, and, to my mind, absolutely beautiful as a trans woman. As the female hormones kick in and the testosterone blockers do their work, she is becoming more feminine-looking, softer, and smoother, with clear, fine white skin and beautiful grey-green eyes. But she doesn’t yet see herself that way. She started hurting herself. It was a low point for me as a mother to see my beautiful girl cut into herself and hate herself so much.

It has taken quite a bit of encouragement to get her to see her health-care providers and manage her condition. She is not out of the woods yet. But already her increased medication is improving her well-being, and she is in contact with her health-care providers who have been very supportive. And of course, she talks to me, and I to her. Talking helps, and we are starting to see the triggers for her unhealthy behaviours. One of them is mis-gendering by strangers. She needs to call them out for it. Another trigger is her appearance and hair style. She needs to feel in control of that, and have enough funds to cover her look. I’m sure there are other triggers, and I’m sure one of them is me, when out of fear and concern I say things that might inadvertently hurt her.

But my daughter, despite living in the margins and interstices of life, can be incredibly black and white, and tends to stubbornness. Actually, she has always been as stubborn as a mule. Nothing there has changed since she was 2. And, bless her, she sometimes fails to give a little. We parents have to do all the compromising, and most of the time it’s fine. But there are some minor moments when we also need that compromise from her, and this is when the problems arise. Mostly it’s about the condition of her room, or her sporadic contribution to the housework, or the people she invites to stay over without asking us, or her clothing when she is going out with us. Stupid things. Adolescent things. Things that mean nothing in the grand scheme of life, but that mean a lot in the day-to-day living.

I finally snapped a few weeks ago and realised I needed support from others in a similar situation. I’ve contacted PFLAG in Brisvegas and already have had the most wonderful outpouring of support from parents with transgender adult children, who, like me, need someone to talk with and to share stories with.

But, more importantly, I’ve received the most wonderful support from my friends and family and work colleagues. They have been understanding, quiet, and caring. After all, there’s very little they can say or advise me on – they do not have the experience of this. Instead, they have listened, silently offered their friendship and love, and for that I am truly grateful. One great woman is Deb. Deb is M’s employer. M, with help from me, my boss and Deb, was given work near my work’s local coffee shop. M is fast becoming a great employee, given up to 25 hours work a week at the moment while another employee is on maternity leave. Deb has been a marvel of patience and love and I don’t know how to thank her enough.

Second on my list of 2014 happenings, I finally submitted my PhD. Today is the day when the reports are due back. As if. (Actually, I just checked online – one is already back. And now my stomach is churning.) But who knows? I certainly know I will be a Dr by this time next year, and with any luck I can call myself Dr by March next year, when it actually counts. In the end, the last gasp to the finish line wasn’t nearly so horrible as others make out. I took small vacation breaks to write in: 3 days here, a week there. And at the end, it was 2 hours here, a day there. After shrinking from my Lit review for most of the 5 years, I finally sat down to do it in July and found a way through. It was a rewarding, engrossing time of discovery and, once again, epiphany. The last 3 months of my PhD weren’t hard, as I have previously reported. On the advice of a friend, I compiled my entire thesis into one working document, formatted it early, got most of the frontispieces done (although obviously missed something as I had to keep going back and revising it for stupid bureaucratic reasons), and organised the appendices early too. That way, I was just adding to the lit review and the reference list as I went. My final weeks were about me reading the whole document through, finding tiny edits and enormous sentences and fixing both. In the end, I was writing as if I was dancing. It felt joyful.

But I didn’t really count on the grief I felt at finishing this big thing, and not having something else to work towards in the future. My job is peripatetic, without security, and I have no way of knowing what income I will receive next year. As someone who has struggled to get by for so long, I am rather sick of it. I have teaching at university since 2008, I’ve published and will continue to do so, I’m researching, I’m doing everything a good girl entering academia should do, but am struggling to convert all this work into a full-time gig. And I’m angry at the people who take the system for a ride and refuse to contribute while people like me are on the sidelines waving their arms about saying “pick me, pick me!” Anyway, grief and anger have been my friends the last month or two. Not helped by M’s emotional turmoil, of course.

Thirdly, work. Work has been engrossing, rewarding, at times frustrating and also heartbreaking, when the people you teach, care about and care for, sometimes reward you with insensitivity and thoughtlessness. But at the same time my expertise is getting ever better, my approach more thorough, my interactions with work colleagues more relaxed. It has been a good year. I teach too much and it is exhausting work, and it is certainly not something I would have wanted for myself when I began my performing career, but I’m pretty good at it. But there’s no denying I would like to balance my teaching work with research and more performance. All to come, I guess.

Fourth, travel. This year has mostly been about me escaping home for anywhere else. Noosa in QLD, Aireys Inlet in Victoria, Montville; all these places I have stayed at to finish my PhD. And of course, there’s NYC. A big trip but not a perfect one. Note to self – leave DH to his own devices so I can shop without him being all grumpy guts in the corner.

Fifth, house and home. We’ve been planning our renovations and we have money actually sitting in the bank gathering dust (certainly not gathering interest, FFS). But it’s not quite enough to do all we want to do, and the plans have stalled and my designer, who has great ideas, is very bad at staying in touch. DH and I are both annoyed, but I am particularly annoyed because I cannot keep teaching in my studio space – it’s just not good enough or quiet enough for the money my students are spending on me to educate them. The waiting around has become a pain in the butt.

Sixth, Poppy love. I love her, she loves me, nuff said. Oh! And I’ve finally worked out how to artfully clip her poodle fur using the right equipment, so it should be easier and cheaper now on to clip her ourselves. Huzzah.

Seventh, shows. Lots and lots of shows. So many shows. Many, many shows. Am I showed out? Nah. Love it. Bring it. My experiences make me more critical, but this is a good thing. Always aim for perfection, even if it’s impossible to reach. Highlights? Desh at the Brisbane Festival, Honeymoon in Vegas on Broadway, and It’s Only a Play, also on Broadway. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Into the Woods at our place. Rigoletto at Opera Queensland and Frizstch’s last conducting gig with QLD Symphony Orchestra performing Mahler’s 3rd. Lowlights? Old, outdated and overblown: Aida at the Met, The New York Theatre Ballet with a turkey of a Swan Lake.

Eighth, DH and me. It has been a huge year. He has taken on the top job at our workplace, and I have been finishing my PhD, and my trans daughter has been living with us. It has been a bit of a rocky time, and at times we have struggled to maintain our connection to each other. It’s there, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes other commitments get in the way of a strong, loving connection with one’s life partner. But he is coming on a road trip with me, and we have to spend 3 days in a car together. That’s a good thing! And when we head to the beach house (my folk’s place at Aireys Inlet) I think he really will relax. Even his work colleagues are beginning to complain that there’s no evidence of tapering off at his work! In other words, he came dashing into the top job and everyone has been frantically dashing about ever since, trying to keep up. I think they want him to go away on holiday. For a long time. Me? Well, I long since stopped trying to keep up with my workaholic hubby. We pull together pretty well, and I bully him into stopping work every now and then.

I’m sure there’s more. But now I have to go shower, get ready and lunch with a fabulous friend. Happy Christmas, everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When money burns a hole in the pocket.

I have some spare money at the moment. Notice I say AT THE MOMENT. Because I can feel a shopping spree coming on. I’m trying SO HARD not to spend my lovely lovely money, because we are about to spend lots of money on the house and I need to ensure my lovely lovely money lasts all the way to February next year. I’ve not paid myself from my business since July, and I won’t pay myself from my business until I have no more money left in my transaction account.

DH and I tend to spend money when we can’t really afford big ticket items such as a new stove or fridge. We end up spending lots of money on little, less expensive items, that in total probably come up to the big ticket item. But I’m tempted to buy a new fridge this week. Our old fridge is finally not going so well, its seals are failing for the 2nd time, one of the plastic shelves has been broken for about 5 years, and it’s not big enough for a large family. Especially when adult children live at home, and we basically have a share house now.

Alternatively I could pay off the Credit Card. Now THAT’S a thought. Or I could do my tax for 2014. That’s another thought. Get more lovely lovely money from the return. Sorry for this post: I’m feeling spendy at the moment.

Car salesmen and things that might be a little bit bullshit.

You’d think buying a new, reasonably expensive car would have bells and whistles attached to the negotiations. Clear, transparent dealers, clear terms and conditions, a clear understanding of when the vehicle is due for delivery, an open, clear approach.

Nada, zip. I feel as if I’ve been in that “Griswold’s family vacation” scene where their new car is not as the contract states. (I hated that scene: you’ve signed a contract for a particular vehicle, so you should get that vehicle or the dealership could reasonably be sued. Now I see why the Griswold scene of their old car being crushed is so appalling. Because it’s true.)

We’ve had to get heavy with the dudes, man. NO, we DON’T want the extended special warranty and the other special doohickey and thingamajig because if my husband dies it’s ok. I’ll be in mourning, but I’m pretty sure his life insurance covers these things. No, don’t give us all the bells and whistles: give us the bare bones deal. We’ll cope. Surely these cars are supposed to last at least 5 years.

Yes, we want our all cow interior. Yes, we want Sat Nav that you will have to install yourself because the car we’ve ordered doesn’t have Sat Nav factory fitted. If it can’t be voice activated because of a weird wiring thing, we still want the reversing camera that you people claim COMES WITH THE SAT NAV. And yes, we want tinted windows. Oh for Pete’s sake, throw in the car mats too and some bloody petrol!

Ok, rant over. We’re getting a perky little VW Tiguan 2014 2.0 TSI white SUV with all cow interior, sat nav, reversing camera and tinted windows. Because 3 weeks ago I drove my husband’s car and the steering wasn’t working too well. Nor was the clutch. I was afraid. For my life and his. And wouldn’t you know it, I’m not sure about that steering at all.

2014-volkswagen-tiguan-r-line_100415066_sIgnore those alloys. Our wheels are smaller. And I’m not sure there’s chrome on the roof racks. Anyhoo. It’s nice, sporty and fast, and feels luxurious and is as good as our last car in terms of mpg and all the usual enviro things (look, we’re a 2 car family, and we need cars in this state as PT is appalling). So we’re hocked to the eyeballs, but it’s ok. We’ll manage. As long as I pay all our debts. Argh!

It has been a month since my last confession…

I’m not Catholic. Never was, despite my surname. So, apologies for stealing this confessional statement. But, wow! Hasn’t time flown!

No news is good news, right? Well….kinda. In my life this month, a bunch of stuff has been happening – mostly good, some not so good.

The new car is AWESOME. I love driving it. Tick!

My diet is TERRIBLE. But I’ve not gained any weight that I can tell. And I’m back on the straight and narrow today. Tick!

My exercise regime is LAUGHABLE. But I’m working on it. Little tick for motivational purposes.

My work life is FANTASTIC. I love my job. I have a minor yearning for some performance stuff but otherwise I have the perfect gig. Now to make it a permanent tenured position (never going to happen, but hey, a girl can dream). Tick!

My family life is WONDERFUL. I love my husband. We are easing into a lovely place – teasing yet caring, understanding of each others’ scruples but not averse to raising the eyebrow on occasion. Or the ire. I love my boys and miss them terribly but I saw them just recently and spent guilt money on them because I can. My extended family are all great and doing amazing things. Tick!

My social life is OK – could be better – I have little time to visit friends and have not called anyone lately, even though I’m a constant on FB. Bad Jessie. Must call friends and SEE them. No tick – a cross instead.

My PhD study is AWFUL. I have no time to work on it consistently, I have even less time to care about it at the moment, and I got the most horrible response back regarding the gaping flaws in my Methods Chapter. So I’m taking time off it again. Because I’m sick of it and I want a new supervisor who is pleasant and personable and who is a mentor and whose caring approach makes me want to do better. Right now I feel nothing but RAGE. No tick here. Cross.

The house renovations are SADLY in hiatus while our weekends are busy, but we are in the planning phase of the next job. If my youngest boy comes to live with us I will have to find another place to work because we can’t all fit into the house as is. And we will need to renovate the interior in order to get everyone to fit. This could be fun AND expensive. Half tick for planning, at least.

The dog is getting BETTER, calmer, and her training is going quite well. I’m a bit lazy about it and we rarely have time to do much, but she’s getting there. She’s a bit neurotic around the kids, who tend to psych her up a bit and make her jumpy. She growls at us when she is on her bed at night sleeping (with her eyes open), and we walk past. We are training her out of that, too. Half tick for perseverance and her ability to sit, drop, leave it, and sit on her mat.

Finally, our spending is a tad OUT OF CONTROL. This is what we bought yesterday. Because hubby was complaining about the poor result we were getting from our coffee machine (5 years old and is starting to fail a bit), and he wanted a new one. And I wanted a red one. We got a new, red, expensive, beautiful machine: a Breville 900CB. It’s awesome. Truly.Breville coffee machineOur coffee now tastes amazing and the machine was laughably easy to set up. But no tick for thrift. Big cross for being a spendthrift.

So, there you go. Ticks: 5 full, 2 half. Crosses: 3. Hail Marys required: none. I’m an atheist. Looking forward to when those crosses on my PhD become ticks, and when our spending is pulled back – this will NEVER happen because we want to renovate the house and that’s exxie. I can, at least, do something about my friends. See y’all soon. xxx

 

And now for my next trick…

Bought a car. Brand new. Honda Civic VTi-S 2013 5-door Hatch. Silver. Here’s a picture.

honda_civic_hatchI like that all the specs that used to be high end additions are now just standard. Such as alloy wheels; bluetooth; cruise control; air-conditioning; usb ports and decent sound systems; stabilising/supporting/super dooper clever driving assistance thingies; reverse parking camera; power windows and side mirrors; highest possible 5 star ANCAP safety rating. Our basic model 6 speed manual Civic hatch, which with our trade-in came in at under $AU19,000, is brilliant. Reviews on the 2012 model weren’t too polite because the car was competing against a lot of very good cars at the same price point but offering a lot less, so Honda gave themselves a head plant and upped the specs for the 2013 model. It’s a thing of beauty, even if the engine lacks torque and is a bit “old lady” to drive. So what. I am an old lady.

The interior is very comfortable and high spec, and as I said to the DH, as we spend time inside the car when we are using it, it makes sense for us to be in an attractive, well made interior, which was very roomy compared with the other cars we tried.

honda interior

We had been looking at new cars for a few months and the guys at Honda knew us from the last time, so they also knew we were potential buyers of their product. There was a very gentle sales pitch from our very good sales person. He knew the product was very good and that if we wanted to buy we would. It didn’t stop him calling us the following morning to see if we had made a decision, but his approach was so understated we felt comfortable in his presence.

On the other hand, Mazda, your sales people are not good. At all. They may make a lot of sales but, frankly, I wanted to punch them in the neck. Hubby and I had nearly come to blows with one super aggressive agent on the Friday, when we just wanted to find out what deal we could get and what payment plans were on offer. Slippery. Then, when I took the kids for a test drive the following day, the sales agents basically just held us in lock down trying to get me to sign for a Mazda3 even though the kids were hungry, DH was at work, and I had given no assurances that we would even take the car. 2 and a half hours later I had to leave the premises because the sales strategy was one of highly skilled torture. Trying to wear a teacher down is not a good idea. We deal with this all day every day, and frankly, I can outlast any sales agent, especially the sociopaths. I am nearly entirely certain the sales manager there was a sociopath. The finance dude was more clever, but even then I wasn’t given clear figures – no idea of the interest we would pay, or whether the terms included a deposit. Nothing. Anyhoo. Mazda, your product is awesome, but I hated your sales pitch and aggressive, slightly hysterical approach. DH couldn’t believe how exhausted I looked. I’m still in recovery mode, although that may be the effects of the Moet from last night.

So, we may have paid $1500 more for a car with more or less the same stuff as Mazda, but we get 5 year extended warranty and roadside assist, so that’s cool. And we got free floor mats. Onya Honda.

Now to pay for it. There goes my cleaner!

Buying “investment” clothes – is it a crock?

Taking some time off teaching and writing and cleaning (it’s called enjoying my weekend), I got to musing about clothes. As you know I’ve lost quite a bit of weight lately, and my more recent purchases prior to the weight loss no longer fit me. I’ve recently had to throw out most of my old clothes, including those I used to wear when I was a young thin thing.

While I still have some workday clothes I am aware of having very few lovely clothes to wear to functions, including dress pants and shirts. Little black dress? Last year I had three good ones. This year: a ten-year-old Table 8 linen shift; and an Esprit knit jersey bought 1 month ago.

Living in humid, steamy QLD means clothes become old very fast. They lose shape, need frequent washing and frequent replacing. Leather goes mouldy, cotton mildewy. In my old life I used to buy clothes almost as long-term investments – I would wear a favourite piece for several years until it fell apart or just became too shabby, but here I can’t – the clothes just don’t last more than a couple of summers. It makes life quite expensive, and I find myself buying a “uniform” of clothing usually consisting of stripy shirts and plain pants, and the occasional wrap dress because at least they’re affordable and replaceable.

Sometimes I dream of being able to buy whatever clothing takes my fancy, including the gorgeous expensive stuff from top designers, but I can rarely afford it. Except every few years. When I buy shoes.

Last night hubby and I went to a do, as we do, and I pulled out my new knit jersey dress and my 5 year old black patent leather Salvatore Ferragamo pumps. They cost me about $AU300 on sale in a wonderful shoe shop in Paris on Rue Capuchin (in Australia 2 years later they retailed at $AU700). I’ve worn them about 10 times a year and this morning I gave them a quick clean and lo – they came up looking wonderful again:

IMG_1935

At the time of purchase I called them my “investment” shoes. Hubby laughed, but I was serious. There are certain clothes I buy because I believe they will last a long time, and are timeless fashion. The cost of the shoes means that I spend time looking after them, including regular cleaning, and storing in their original box. With cheaper shoes I am less inclined to do this, but buying these first really expensive shoes has taught me the meaning of quality and care, and they suit most evening clothes. Consequently, my expensive shoes, sober in colour and design, are certainly investment shoes if they can last this long, look this good, and have another ten years of wear in them.

I wonder if men buy investment clothes? Are good Italian cloth suits investments? Should I call them investment garments at all? Because they don’t make me any money, that’s for sure! But I wear these good quality clothes to make a good impression, to look my best at functions where I need to be seen. Which surely makes the purchase of expensive clothing worthwhile, when it can be worn time and again and still look fabulous. Certainly saves the purchase of cheaper stuff year in year out. Except that, darn it, I still buy cheaper stuff year in year out!

Stormy weather

Today we see the end of a serious cyclonic weather cell that’s been causing havoc over the last few days. It gave us a rather interrupted night’s sleep last night as the wind howled about our house, the louvres rattling and shaking, bangs and crashes heard near and far. The cat was trapped under the house (luckily the house is high set, so when I say that, it’s not as bad as it seems – it’s head height under there!), the puppy was subdued all day and we spent a very quiet day at home, not really doing very much. I made scones and tea. We had delicious steak and salad for dinner.

Well, it’s not really true that we didn’t do much. Yesterday, in the pouring rain, we put in a temporary (albeit expensive) pathway for my singing students, who are due to commence lessons today. I seem to remember this weather difficulty in years past, when my first week of teaching was invariably upset by wild weather. And when I say wild weather, I mean Brisbane floods of 2011, cyclonic tropical wet season storms and crazy rain. Our house is completely flooded in the concreted breezeway under the house – this is normal, and we discovered the leak in the west wing which was supposed to be fixed by the new guttering, has not been fixed by the new guttering. Oh well. The worst has passed, at least, and now our large garden, which is now thoroughly soggy, can be sown with grass seed and we should have a solid carpet of lawn in a few weeks. The summer sun has scorched the lawn in parts and the garden, which was a dust bowl, is now a healthy mud bath.

I suppose putting in a pathway in the pouring rain has its advantages. For instance, one can easily see the uneven sections, and rain has a habit of smoothing out these bits and tamping down the sand, so that the path is now quite smooth. The charcoal 40×40 pavers look good and we’ve put iceberg pebbles around them, which makes the entryway look reasonably professional. Given that this is temporary, I’m happy with the result, even if it is just a tad uneven. Not enough to trip people up, though!  The fence has not been finished – it’s a soggy mess of unpainted wood, and the gate was torn off its new hinges. Time to get us some better hinges, I think.

Poppy is learning how to fetch and chase things. She has not yet learned to pee or poo outside, but given the weather, I’m not surprised. We’re struggling to get her house trained, although other aspects of her training are going very well. She will be a very energetic dog. I spent 30 minutes teaching her to chase and return a toy, and she still had more energy in her! She’s a dear little thing and I am crazy about her. She’s growing fast and has rather large paws.

As for me and my diet, well. My diet has been bonkers lately, but I’m getting back on the straight and narrow this week. The house maintenance work has kept me fit and healthy, and I’m managing a circuit class per week plus PT. I think I’ve continued to lose weight slightly, despite my crappy diet and I’m resigned to checking my weight next week. I hope I’m at or under 65 kgs. If clothes are any indication, 5 years ago I bought size 11 boot cut Levis which I have rarely worn, because they were too small – even at time of purchase. Now not only do they fit, but the waist is really comfortable – loose, even. This is massive. Of course, NONE of my other, newer clothes fit any more. They swim on me. But I can’t afford to go buying new clothes when I have bills to pay, so I’ll have to wait until April, as I promised myself. Well, all right, I did buy ONE little skirt which I love! And shoes. What this DOES mean, however, is all the old size 10 clothes I’d kept because they were too lovely to discard, can now be worn again. Old linen jackets, shirts and even the occasional dress now fit again. It’s just the casual uniform of navy pants and stripy tops I prefer to wear during the summer swelter here are now a little large. But I’m getting there! And feeling great.