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.

ham-potato-soup

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.

older

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.

mothers-day

 

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

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Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee I’d be telling you that this is the second time I’ve tried to upload a weekend coffee share but my internet connection is so crap (thanks OPTUS and the Australian Federal Gov’t for your shit, misinformed policies on internet capacity and speed) that I lost the first one due to dodgy internet connection. WordPress doesn’t like interruptions and tends then not to save drafts. I’m racing against time to finish this post before the linky closes.

(Actually, how about this: I’ll post it now and edit as I go. Sounds fair. Back soon.)

And….that was quick. I often upload my shares on a Monday morning which is still Sunday night in other hemispheres so I think I get away with it!

Righty-ho.

Now, I could tell you about my three chookies Euphemia, Josephine and Iolanthe who are very dear little girls, but who are not yet laying consistently (in fact, I’m pretty sure 2 of them haven’t started at all as we’re only getting one egg a day). I sit and watch them every day. Or I could tell you about my doggy girl Poppy, who is a bit smelly and not eating very much. I think she’s overheating in this crap weather and needs another trim. Or I could tell you about my cat Lucy, who manages to piss someone off nearly every day. However they are self-sustaining little creatures, mostly. I could tell you that my attempts to manage our herbs are coming to no good. I can’t manage the water issue or the sun issue. They either get too much sun or not enough, or I manage to drown them in water or dry them out. I wish they’d let me know what the problems are without just dying on me. On the plus side, the basil seems to be growing well and the possums have finally stopped eating the chilli leaves.

I could also tell you about the umpty-hundreds of concerts I’ve seen this week, very excited by all the offerings at the Brisbane Baroque festival, including Handel’s acclaimed Agrippina (who knew 4 hours could go so fast?!); a Bricolage of Heavenly Bach, a Vivacity of Vivaldi with Vivica Genaux and tonight a Purcell treat called King Arthur with some wonderful ex-QLD CON graduates in the roles.

But no. Feeling the pinch of unemployment. And no recreational or legal drugs to while away the hours. Sigh. Except coffee. Here, have a brew.

My last post revealed I’d finished the book chapter. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, even if it WAS 10,000 words long. Plus a 165-word Abstract, and a 1000-word reference list. But that leaves me in that awful pit place of no job and few prospects. I’ve applied for 2 jobs OS: one in New Zealand (a 3-hour flight away, then a 2-hour drive), and one in Singapore (7-hour flight). There’s nothing here except a Head of Music at a couple of high schools, for which I think I’m uniquely unqualified, because I don’t like children. Much.

I’m having a hell of a time staying positive and actually I just think I’m not very. I have a couple of creative ideas, but that would mean actually doing them. And when I’m low (depressed because no job= no value in the world, and this is literally the ONLY reason I’m low: I don’t have a fulfilling job) I’m not very proactive about creativity. I pretend to be a social constructivist but in reality I think I’m a pragmatist and I feel a lot more useful being gainfully employed.

Oh, to hell with it. Creative ideas are below in list form. Because that’s how I roll. Have another coffee. And here’s some delicious ginger cake I made a while back. Do have a slice, and enjoy the read:

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  1. Oily Rag Opera. A chamber opera company for small productions that only need 4-6 singers and a decent pianist. It could not pay for performers or players or personnel. How can it? The cost of putting on an opera is so high that even to stage a community production can cost upward of $50,000. And that’s just for the performance space! But I’d like to do a chamber opera: perhaps Suzanna’s secret or something like that. With actual proper opera singers who in this state are mostly out of work, and a good MD and D. If we could get a black box performance space this thing could have legs. There is some opportunity in this state for such ventures.
  2. Badly, sadly, madly.  Crazy women’s cabaret. A 55 minute cabaret with 3 female performers, one female MD, and one female D. Has it been done before? No doubt. There’s a few cabaret shows springing up in Australia – when I say a few, I actually mean shit-loads. There are hundreds. We have decent cabaret festivals in every major city, plus a heap of fringe festivals and comedy festivals too. So. 3 performers, 10 songs. Some self-penned songs (yes, I do this too), and some Musical Theatre favourites, and a few trios/duets. Obviously the theme being bad, mad or sad, all the songs have to relate in some way to a woman’s internal crazy. You know, stalker chick, psycho killer, manic depressive, abandoned woman, that sort of thing. With a half-decent patter and stage direction.
  3. Write a novel. Don’t know what about. Feeling a bit bereft of ideas for this one. I’m a bit plot driven, so perhaps a crime thingy. I love crime noir styles and have a peculiar fondness for a fellow called Peter Temple, who in my book writes some of the most compelling Australian crime fiction ever. His prose is sparse, hard to unpack at times (no problem with this: he writes for an intelligent audience), and he really GETS the bleakness of some Australian landscapes, whether of the human mind or the natural world. The only problem I have with it is that Temple writes with a strongly male focus, and all his main characters are male. He doesn’t write women well at all, really – they’re usually caricatures of what he thinks women OUGHT to be. Which isn’t so bad, exactly, just that I’d love to have some female protagonists in my reading. So, perhaps I could write my own.
  4. Write some more songs and compositions. This is not so hard if I’m doing pop and folk-inspired music. When it’s more classical or cabaret inspired it’s harder because my keyboard skills just aren’t up to it. And I actually believe good keyboard skills are what makes good composers. They know how to put chords together. Anyway, I could certainly write a few songs again. About fricking time. Or I could fix up some old ones.
  5. Write me my fricking monograph from my thesis and get me to a publisher, stat.
  6. Write a couple of research articles I’ve been putting off because.

So there you have it, folks. Yes, I have some creativity. No, I don’t feel like using it right now. Have another coffee, or perhaps a tea.

Brought to you by Diana here

newcoffee

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 having coffee, you’d be squeezing yourself in amongst the folk sitting round the kitchen table: my husband (DH), my step daughter and her friend, my stepson, and me. We are “studying” together. My DH is helping his daughter and her friend with some music homework (we’re musicians but I tell you what, reminding oneself of Fugue subjects and episodes is both doing our heads in). I am trying to finish off an article about the use of video data in qualitative narrative inquiry, and my step song is finishing off his RSA certificate (for alcohol serving). We’re all here with computers and textbooks and notebooks. It’s lovely. It’s the rarest thing we’ve ever done together. Just hanging, studying. My daughter brought home a stray friend (name and gender unknown), and for a few hours today the house was full of quiet busyness.

ORorke-Hall-studying-together

(Copyright O’Rorke Hall)

It’s a quiet, family house this weekend. Rarely, our event attendance finished yesterday (2 concerts in 2 hours. Mega), and we went to a post event where I drank stupid amounts of champagne and ate pulled pork sliders. Yummo.

This is what I heard last night from the wonderful musician Daniel de Borah:

 

Then we went to this:

 

Today and tomorrow is event free. Almost unbelievable. DH has laid plans to mow the lawn (gentle reminders from me that his in-laws are arriving this week and I’d rather not have them gasp at the new savannah appearing in our backyard). I’m doing minor housework that involves little more than looking at the floor and deciding not to sweep it. We’re sitting around chatting, doing homework and spending time in a room together.

Bliss.

What are you up to this weekend?

 

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Weekend Coffee Share is brought to you by Diana, at Part-Time Monster. Join in the conversation!

 

 

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 (the day after)

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

F**K you, OPTUS.

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Live below the line

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

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

250 grams salted butter $1.30

6 eggs $1.50

1 kg plain flour $1.00

2 onions .60c

1 can tomatoes .59c

1 sweet potato .50c

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

1 large carrot .30c

1 celery stick .20c

1 lemon .75c

1 packet 2 minute noodles .23c

*edit: 2 cups rice .75c

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

Total: $10.00 (based on current Aldi prices)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

weekendcoffeeshare

Hosted by Diane, at Part-Time Monster.

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee I’d be inviting you to ignore the laptop and accoutrements I’ve set up on the kitchen table because it’s cooler in here than anywhere else in the house.

 

The air-conditioner is in this room too. When the day is hot and before the cooling breezes come through at about 4pm, the house is like an oven. So the dining room table is by far the best place to work. But it does mean my stuff is out, making a mess. It’s annoying for everyone!

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’m no longer grieving, depressed or angry. Last year was HARD. This year is a little better. I’ve pulled out my gym gear and am getting ready to hit the ground running. But not today. I WAS tempted by gym this morning because they have a fabulous outdoor pool that helps me get back into the swing of exercise, but the pool is closed for a swimming carnival, and I’m not tempted to go to the gym with a thousand screaming kidlets. Perhaps at 3pm when the kidlets go home.

Those who don’t know my previous posts won’t know of the crazy self-immolating time I had in 2012-2013 when I totally rocked an Australia size 8 (size 4 in US). I was a gym-and-diet junkie. I wasn’t uber-thin, but I was very, very strong, and my cuddle-layer was missing. I was super-healthy, super-fit, felt super-hot, could wear ANYTHING. It’s amazing when you are slim how clothes just work. I had a trainer, I worked out consistently and dieted my socks off. I looked great, felt about 25 again, looked 25 again for about a minute, and really enjoyed my svelte thighs and slim arms. I’m one of those people who put weight on their arms, so I get arm-chub, which is as close as I’m going to admit I have a body image problem.

This was not sustainable because I went off carbs and had to calorie count like a demon, but it showed me that I am capable of getting strong and fit and slim, through hard work and sustained healthy eating habits. I’m not the world’s worst eater by any stretch. I make my own muesli, I eat avocado and eggs on sourdough toast, and I don’t go overboard on takeaway food (last week notwithstanding, when for dinner I had Afghan takeaway Tuesday, Japanese Wednesday, Vietnamese Thursday, and several chicken wraps for lunch. This is an aberration while DH and I get used to my evening teaching again).

But it’s easy to be lazy and grab a pie from the freezer, because 25 minutes heating it is easier than spending 5 minutes preparing a fresh tuna salad. Go figure. And I love my red wine, so cutting down on my nightly alcoholic bevvie is almost impossible.

If we were having coffee, I’d be telling you that, once again, 2016 is the year of getting fit. I have the time, so no more excuses. My lovely community gym has a raft of excellent day classes starting at 9.30am, including HIIT, boxing fitness, TABATA, and if I go for a swim after it’s likely to give me that endorphin boost I love. My body loves being active but I have to work out quite hard to get results, and my muscles just ACHE. I hate this, even as I know exercise is good for me. But you know the REAL reason I’m having to get fit? I don’t fit into half my lovely lovely clothes anymore. I hate it when my waistband is too tight! And the other day my model-thin daughter (who can’t seem to put weight on no matter how hard she tries, where did THAT come from?) told me I looked OLD because I was wearing what I fancied was resort chic. I thought I looked like this:

resort wear1

When what I apparently looked like was this:

old lady fashion

(This woman actually rocks her outfit, but I’m not quite there age-wise).

If we were having coffee you’d notice my new pair of glasses. They’re bifocals. They’re giving me a headache. They’re Ralph Lauren Polo glasses, navy on the outside, striped navy/white on the inside. I like them because I can SEE but I hate when I get headaches from glasses. Always happens with multi-focals.

So, how to fill my days. That’s the challenge this year.

What’s YOUR exercise regime? And do you rock the resort look, or do you, like me, just look frumpy?

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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.

rabbits2

(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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