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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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. 

 

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.

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee, you’d notice it was actually Monday morning here in the Southern hemisphere. This is flying under the radar of east coast USA, which is a cool (possibly frigid and snow-bound) 16 hours behind us. Therefore it’s only Sunday night somewhere in the world. I’ve already had 2 coffees and am very very ready for my third.

I’m dying here a bit. I had my job interview last Friday. It went really really well. Even if I don’t get the job, I’m not sure what more I could have done. I was open, friendly, answered the questions (which were easy and simple) to the best of my ability. I felt comfortable, at ease, poised and prepared. As I may have mentioned last week, I had a coaching which enabled me to get the best out of my elevator pitch, and illuminated my skills and strengths. I now know what I do really well, and I know I’m passionate about research. It has taken me until the last few weeks to work that out.

They have promised to call me today so my sleep has been rather interrupted. I’ve taken off the phone’s mute button; the default position. I’m not altogether sure they’ll ring today as tomorrow is Australia Day and it’s a holiday – there may be a Wednesday phone call instead.

But of course it’s Monday now and do you think I’ve done any meaningful work since I awoke? No, nope, non, nada, nyet. I DID get up and shower but my day has been otherwise characterized by lack of movement. Yet, I have a list of Things To Do. I have a DECRA to complete. I have some private teaching to plan (if I don’t get the job). I have 20 hours of editing work to do. I have a book proposal to finish and a monograph to write.

There’s plenty I could be doing. Dammit.

If we were having coffee I’d be telling you about the great weekend my hubby and I had in Sydney, that shiny, fast paced city. That we saw friends and shows and that I felt quite at home in a town that’s neither like Melbourne nor Brisbane. I’d be telling you about the rain that was a constant of the weekend.

I’d be telling you about a show we saw, ostensibly for children, composed by the brilliant Kate Miller-Heidke, called The Rabbits. It’s an allegorical tale about the 1788 invasion of Australia by the British, and the rape, destruction and desecration of the First Peoples of Australia (and their land) in the name of that abominable Roman concept of Terra Nullius (nobody’s land). It’s done beautifully, simply, and breaks your heart. Because its story is truth.

I’m an inhabitant of this land and have been all my life. My Irish, Scottish and English ancestors came here in the 1850s and worked the land, bred, and experienced both prosperity and privation. Even though for many years I was a single parent, poor and marginalised, I cannot imagine my children being removed from me and my homeland violated. I cannot imagine being part of a race who were so oppressed that the scourge of this oppression continues to this day through poverty, violence, drug and alcohol addiction, serious health problems, unemployment, lack of access to good quality food and water, education, housing, healthcare and legal services. And yet The Rabbits (published in 2000, written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan), this simple tale based on a picture book, let me imagine all of this and more.

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(Copyright 1998 Shaun Tan. “They came by water”. Oil on canvas)

The book has won numerous awards and the opera (in all honesty it’s the most cross-genre work I’ve seen in forever because it includes operatic conventions, panto, pop, blues, and other elements I haven’t thought of yet, set on a stage) has been beautifully realised by Miller-Heidke. She is a composer of special quality. Trained as an opera singer, she has carved out a great career as a pop singer/song-writer. Her music becomes more sophisticated and beautiful the older she gets, yet it is mainly diatonic, tuneful and easy for the lay person to enjoy. The more educated ear also love her work because it sounds easy but just isn’t. She has that rare gift of eliciting emotion through key changes that a listener won’t understand unless you’ve been trained in it. And even then I cried. I just wanted to weep and weep and weep, but as I was not alone I felt hampered by social niceties, and therefore didn’t. Great art has the capacity to move you in all sorts of ways and this work moved me like few others. Take a look: The Rabbits

If we were having coffee I’d tell you about how good it was seeing an ex-student of mine act and sing beautifully in another show we saw called The Fantasticks. It’s a rather flimsy tale and with sinister undertones not fully realised in the rather meh production, but he was great. My lovely student. Very proud.

If we were having coffee you’d be one of several people I’ve managed to have coffee with over the last few days. The Sydney trip was not just for a job interview; it was an opportunity for rare catch-ups with friends and acquaintances. There was afternoon coffee with E who braved simply appalling traffic to get into the heart of town, a late supper with S who had just done a very awkward singing telegram, and brunch with one of my oldest friends C and his son, who is delightful, precocious and super bright. DH managed to be brave during it all – he’s not a friends-type of person, but he enjoyed the interactions nevertheless.

And if we were having coffee you’d notice I’m a little bit annoyed that the possums got to my herb garden on the back porch. It was only a matter of time, of course. Thus far they’re particularly fond of dill, parsley, and coriander. They’ve nibbled half-heartedly at the sage and won’t touch the rosemary, and aren’t interested in the basil, thyme or the oregano. The saddest bit is they’re not at all worried about the dog, who goes psycho when they arrive on the porch for their evening repast.

So now that we’ve had coffee and I’ve been procrastinating yet again, I’ll leave you with thanks and an invitation to join me again. Maybe not on a Monday morning, but on a lazy Sunday.

Au revoir!

(Weekend coffee share is hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. Why not join in the chat?)

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Weekend coffee share 1/11/15

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’m going for several cups of the black stuff because I’ve had one hell of a hangover this weekend. My fault: DH was hosting his first Gala on Friday night (first time the Gala has been hosted in 20 years at our institution) and we celebrated with the staff and friends before, during and after the event with sparkling wine. I hadn’t eaten much and although there were plenty of nibbles at the after party I didn’t drink any water. I’ve been paying for it all weekend.

I’ve been in a grumpy as hell mood subsequently but I’m cheering up now because today I’m using my Ilve oven and cooktop for the very first time. Today I made (for the first time, too) an apple and strawberry crumble cake. At this time of year in this hot state we can get cheap strawberries. Not always the best quality, but there’s usually enough in a couple of large punnets to make a delicious something. I’m closer to kitchen perfection with my appliances too – my sisters chip in for birthday gifts so that we can get something nice, and I had requested a Kitchen Aid hand-held mixer to go with the lovely old-fashioned Kitchen Aid cake maker thingy DH had bought me for Xmas the year before (Empire Red, folks). I don’t cook very often but Sundays when the family is gathered it’s nice to put together a Sunday Roast and something sweet. My Sunday cooking mostly consists of roasts and something sweet (but super-easy to make), such as scones or a simple cake or pancakes.

The cake was perfect. The Ilve oven is a bit slow. So while it says 200 C degrees, it’s closer to 180 or even 160. I’ve put our portable oven thermometer inside to test the accuracy of the dial and yep, it’s pretty slow. So even though I used the normal oven setting for the cake (which was a bit slow, but this doesn’t matter too much for cakes) I found it necessary to crank up the dial and use the fan-force setting for our roast chicken dinner.

The cooktop is also slow, but I’ve found using Ceran electric cooktops this is normal. We just have to adjust up the temperatures all the time otherwise the setting sits permanently on simmer, whether it’s at 2 or 8. Luckily the setting goes all the way to 12. One better than 11, Spinal Tap! Oh, and one other thing. It’s perfectly level. After enduring 4 years of a cooktop with a 2 degree angle it’s great to finally work with a level cooking surface. I kid you not. This makes a difference.

So Sunday night we set the kitchen table, sat under our new light, ate dinner made with our new oven and cooktop, and were able to switch off the kitchen lights at the end of the day. Bliss.

 

In which I generally bitch about stuff.

I have had enough of this weekend. Really, I have. Friday started well enough: I stayed at home to wait for our new fridges and stove, which arrived and are pretty. However, trades are thin on the ground at present and there’s no electrician available to install our new stove. So there’s a big dusty cardboard box on a crate in our kitchen. At least our stainless steel pigeon pair of fridge/freezers look good. Why pigeon pair? Because we can’t get a regular 4-door fridge through our front door. Anyway, the pair work well and make our kitchen look quite good: larger, actually. I had fun putting all the food in the new fridges and retiring the old white fridge, which although still functioning had lost most of its seals, the fridge light, and an important shelf which had been broken for years. Question is, do we replace the seals and the light and the shelf to give to one of the kids for when they move out or do we let it go to the whitegood repairman to resell? 

Friday evening I take the dog for a walk, prepare dinner for the kids (adult children, mostly), and head out to a fabulous new show by a local modern dance company. All’s well: the hubby and I skip out on the post-show function speeches and are having a great chat in the car, to be continued, when I discover the cat has peed on our bed. On our doona. And on some of my clothes I had heaped on there to hang up after arriving home. I lose it with the cat. She is becoming senile and doing this on a regular basis now. She is flung outside for the foreseeable future. I am furious and turn on DH, because I’m just generally shitty. He’s not well and turns on me. We scrabble around to find clean sheets but there’s no other queen bed doonas about so shiver throughout the night under a single sheet and an old blanket (normally in a sub tropical climate this would not be an issue but it’s still winter here and nights get cold). 

Saturday arrives. I awake in a filthy mood. I head to the gym where I work out my frustration with a good dose of HIIT. It’s helping me lose weight and yes, 1 kilo down since the previous week. I feel better. I go home, make myself a delicious cooked breakfast and not one hour later the hot water unit blows up. On a Saturday. And I haven’t had my shower yet. For the second time this weekend I lose it. We can’t get someone to replace the unit until Monday. So no hot water for our showers or kitchen taps. 

At this point I give up on the whole house renovation thing because the house is now falling down round our ears and there’s no joy in sight. I can’t get a builder to come round and do any work for us, there are no trades, and why oh why does the hot water cistern have to explode now? Hubby takes over. I’m done. Done with the whole shebang. I’m sick of not being able to close our bedroom properly (3 sets of doors into our bedroom, 2 being French doors with no handles so the dog just pushes them open and there’s also no privacy), I’m sick of wanting a simple thing like asking builders to come and renovate our house and not having ANY luck. 

I have a cold shower and we head out to look at some stunning houses recently up for sale and very beautiful and well beyond our meagre budget but with 5 bedrooms and 3 living areas and pools. We covet, enviously. We drop the doona off to be cleaned and buy some pee-deodoriser. The children have disappeared to friends’ houses, so hubby and I retire hurt to watch some Netflix and eat comfort food. It’s going well until we get the evil circle of lag. No more Netflix: no more streaming TV because stupid poor service from our and all Internet providers in Australia.

So you can see why I’m shitty today. I hate this weekend. And the cat keeps whining at the back door. 

And later I have to go to a concert. I think I’ll bail on this one. I’m too shitty to converse with anyone. Let this horrid weekend be over.

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.