Weekly catchup: a new phone!

Did I tell you how old my smartphone was?

I bought it in March 2015.

Six years is not bad going for something I use every day – to blog, email, search, buy stuff, text, borrow and read books, phone, track all manner of things, access social media platforms, take photos, listen to music.

I’ve been umming and ahhing whether to go android or get another iPhone. You know Apples are over priced! And Samsung give super discounts to teachers. But do I really want to learn a new system?

After playing around with Mr S’s Googlephone for the past few months and checking out friends’ androids, I decided to stick with the iPhone.

Losing all my message threads and the apps was too much to handle. So looks like I’m hooked for life!

One of The Dreamer’s close friends works for Apple. He gave me a discount. Yay!

People have suggested I get work to buy me one – after all, I do a lot for work on my phone. But then work owns it. And all it contains. No way. With any luck my phone will last another five to six years!

I am so in love with my new phone. I thought I’d hate it, or at least find it pointless to have upgraded and paid so much. No, I love it.

It is so smooth, and crisp, and responsive. It’s nicer in the hand. Smaller than my iPhone 6 but with a larger screen. Its squarer edges make it easier to hold.

Oh, I shouldn’t have waited so long.

And the Apple guy advised me to go for a lower plan as I am wasting data and thus wasting money. So I’ve also phoned my provider and dropped to a much lower plan, saving over $10 a month.

Aren’t Apple so clever with their packaging? Even pulling off the outer wrapper is a joy.

Photo copied from Apple website. This is the colour I picked.

I’m off to listen to some music.

What I’ve just read: a book with four journal articles on an early convict- built road, The Great North Road. Yes, strange choice but I will soon visit part of the road that still exists – it’s been turned into a bush walk. Listened to Adam Hills’ audiobook of his autobiography, Best Foot Forword. It had moments of brilliance, surprise and humour. Hate his similes: too many, too frequent, too forced. Not a really laugh out loud or riveting read/listen.

What I’ve been watching: I didn’t watch Wife Swap this week but I did watch Botched. I love Botched. I think I want to go to LA and have those two do some cosmetic surgery on my face and boobs. And I watched yet another Michael Portillo train show but this one was in Australia – the Ghan, which I want to do with Laura and Brett. Probably can’t do for another 20 years. Not cause of COVID but because no one looked under 80 on the train – except the workers.

I’ve borrowed DVD of Season 1 of Vera from my public library. Hadn’t seen episode 1 so watched that. Will skip episode 2 as I’ve seen that. I’m also watching Our Yorkshire Farm on a catchup free to air channel. I loved Amanda Owen’s books and would so love to spend a year in some part of Yorkshire, experiencing the change of seasons. Not so much on a farm where I had to work but somewhere sort of remote.

Steps to my goals:

  • Sleep: I’ve slept deeply but most nights have only been 6 hours. I need to get to bed earlier.
  • Water: I’ve not put in steps to ensure I drink more. I need to do something here.
  • Exercise: walked for four afternoons. Will return to gym soon.
  • Decluttering: nothing this week, but I am wearing out some clothes that will go at the end of this term, or this year. Next year I won’t need work clothes – yee ha.
  • Main thing too embarrassed to tell you about: solid work on it on Sunday and had some parts fixed up so I can do more this weekend.
  • FIRE: my super is at $410,000. Not bad.

First time tomato grower

This summer, I had my first attempt at growing cherry tomatoes.

I bought a raised garden bed, some soil and three cherry tomato plants – two Tiny Toms, a miniature plant suitable for growing in pots, and one Tomato Sweet Bite (Solanum Lycopersicum).

The tiny tims were a dud. Bland flavour. Not many tomatoes. Won’t bother with them again. My advice is, even if you want to grow some in pots on a verandah, don’t waste your time with this variety.

The Sweet Bite was a success. Cherry toms after cherry toms. Seemingly unending. No bought cherry toms have as sweet and fullness of flavour.

Early on I had a problem with caterpillars eating the leaves. Turns out they are a common problem. Bud worms. Luckily I got onto them quick smart with an organic treatment that only kills the caterpillars. The caterpillars only got into a few tommies. The advice is to spray every week. I only sprayed twice and that stopped them.

Did you know tomato plants grow from cuttings too? Mr S knocked off two stems which I popped into some soil. They grew roots and are now producing fruit.

As it’s been a very wet summer, sadly the late tommies split. and as it was also very hot – summer here desiccates plants in a matter of days – the leaves all fell off.

I didn’t fertilise as often as suggested by the bottle of fertiliser. Not sure I needed to do more though the later tommies were small. But that may have been due to lack of consistent water as I was away for a couple of weeks.

The raised bed could only cope with one plant. The plant was really too tall and too heavy for the pot. Next year I will plant cherry tomatoes in the ground but I think that I will lose them to possums. (The possums couldn’t get up the raised bed.)

Anyway, that will be next year’s challenge. Grow more cherry tom plants somewhere in my garden.

The tommies are all finished. No earlier photo due to camera issues.

A post in which Lucinda proclaims the correct shape for a tea cup

OK, I’m being deliberately, stridently definitive with the title of this post, but “My favourite shape for a tea cup” just didn’t have the right amount of certainty and authority.

It’s a given that tea should not be drunk from cardboard or plastic cups.

Likewise, thick mugs are a no-no. Ruins the taste. Fine bone china is a must. It’s not that I will not brook mugs; I have a favourite fine bone mug. Had it for decades. I will be sad if they go out of production. Dunoon.

Size is important. I hate those small coffee cups that you always seem to get at conferences and hotels. Not enough volume. And the tea goes cold too quickly. Also hate oversized cup, especially wide soup-bowl-like ones. Again tea goes cold too quickly and they’re hard to drink from.

Within these parameters – fine bone, not too small, not too big, cup not mug – is a wide range of possibilities.

But this is the perfect shape.

There’s a simplicity that is pleasing. It just looks right.

The photo doesn’t show the shape properly. It’s more rounded than pointy at the bottom. (Note: the saucer doesn’t match as the original saucer was smashed but I couldn’t let go of the cup.) The biscuit hanging was from Japan. Also a perfect biscuit to go with a cup of tea. Not overly sweet, simple flavour, firm, no “bits” in it. (I have a position on biscuits with bits in them.)

Yes, whatever this shaped is called – if it even has a name – this is the correct shape for a tea cup.

If you come over, I have a lovely set of perfect shape cups (slightly smaller than my orange one) that I will serve you tea, loose leaf, of course, from a perfect tea pot. Being some bikkies. Or cake.

Weekly catch-up: You need a new phone

Christmas Eve 2019, I dropped my phone and cracked the screen. I can be certain of the date because my son was stuck in LA airport as his connections (with the same airline!!) didn’t match. I was worrying and texting and talking and drinking.

My Darling spent the night in LA airport and didn’t make it home for Christmas. And my phone was seriously cracked.

All of a sudden, people started expressing an interest in my phone. And felt the need to give me advice. “You should get your screen fixed.” “You should get a new phone.” And the corker: “Are you an adult? You shouldn’t have a cracked screen.”

Then, around April, my photo lens started playing up. It did lead to some interesting effects that people thought I did intentionally, such as when a Shinkansen, the high speed train, sped by.

The lens is totally dead now. Well, doesn’t that invite all manner of advice! Especially as I can’t use a QR code to sign into venues for COVID safety. (It also added to my absence from blogging – I couldn’t add any of my own photos.)

Add in the idiosyncratic charging issue that grew more and more annoying …

And recently, calls failing mid call. Repeatedly.

So I’ve set myself a challenge. (You know how I like challenges!)

Prepare my phone for replacement

Things to do:

  • Sort through my saved passwords. Delete ones not needed. Change ones used too frequently. And write them into my diary
  • Sort and declutter photos. Make photo books, deleting most photos that are used in photo books
  • Save videos to Google Photos
  • Delete unnecessary apps
  • Extract notes I want to keep

I hope/plan/aim to have this all done by the end of February and the new phone purchased.

Watch this space!

What I’ve just read: Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. Really enjoyed this. Escapist murder mystery. Not your Nordic dark, graphically violent, scarily suspenseful murder. More Miss Marple. There’ll be s book two and, I’m sure, a TV miniseries.

What I’ve been watching: I watched the cutest documentary on quolls in Tassie – Quoll Farm. If you get a chance, watch it. Same night I watched a documentary on Princess Anne’s 70th. Although I’m a republican, it was interesting. And I could do some household jobs, coming in and out of the lounge room, and not lose the gist. Gogglebox allows me to catchup on a week’s worth of rubbish TV. I’ve been tired this week, so I started a couple of shows but never made it to the end – Vera and Hard Quiz.

Steps to my goals

  • Sleep: Saturday – slept poorly as I had eaten too much and was also worried I’d sleep in and miss my flight so kept waking up. Sunday in bed by 10.40pm Woken by alarm, which is Mr S turning on the radio for me, at 6am. Monday – slept poorly. Tuesday – 11.30 to 6 and deeply. Wednesday – didn’t record it so can’t remember. Thursday – at least 8 hours. Friday – naughtily fell asleep on the lounge but in bed before midnight and then read a bit, all up about 8 hours. I think instead of recording here, I will record my sleep in my diary.
  • Water: I have a beautiful glass and work, given as a gift. It reminds me to drink. But not enough. I have to find my bottle and fill that up every day.
  • Exercise: walk on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. I’ll be going back to he gym soon – booking in classes helps me keep in track and make boundaries around work demands.
  • Main thing for the year: I’ve been doing some work towards this. Stepping in the right direction.
  • Decluttering: to the local recycling centre with a worn pair of sandals, worn out handbag, two pairs of worn out shoes, single mattress protector and sheets.
  • Main thing too embarrassed to tell you about: a daily task undertaken to make progress towards it.
  • FIRE: doubled my mortgage repayments – now paying $8,000 a month. Plan to have the mortgage gone in three years. Bought four dresses!!! I know. But they are so beautiful. I am in love.

Flying (again?). What about the environment?

As part of my new blogging routine, Thursday is green or gardening day.

Pre-COVID, there was this movement in Europe to take no-fly holidays. Easier to do when you live in a population-dense place.

Much harder to do in Australia.

Okay, I could holiday close to Sydney. Plenty of beautiful places. I discovered some last year as we couldn’t fly interstate or overseas.

Prior to COVID, the Sydney-Melbourne flight path was the busiest in the world. Hopefully, with the rise of virtual meetings, all the important business people and politicians won’t have to fly up and down in a day for their very important meetings, once things “return to normal”.

To see my mother, I have to fly. Driving for 9 hours non-stop on my own is out of the question.

The book I read, and loved, in January, Fight for Planet A by Craig Reucassel, said that offsets are the way to go. Like many people, I worried that the airlines wouldn’t use the donation to actually and effectively offset carbon emissions. But Craig says, in Australia, offset programs are closely regulated, so be assured. The money is used to sequester carbon.

So this time I ticked yes, I will fly carbon neutral. It was only a couple of dollars! Be gone guilt about the emissions from the flight.

In the future, it will always be a yes for me.

Here’s some links about it:

  • Choice, a consumer protection agency in Australia
  • Jetstar, the airline I flew with

You need to write a blog post about that

I have a go-to friend who I contact whenever I hear or see things that annoy me. Things that rile me up. That get my goat. That stick in my craw.

Things like mispronunciation of words on TV and audiobooks.

Or horrid accents or disconnect between the narrator and story on audiobooks.

Or people doing stupid things. Stupid as defined by us, of course.

Likewise, she contacts me when she witnesses something that breaks her rules. She tells me that I need to write a blog post about that.

(‘Cause that’ll show ‘em. That’ll put them in their place.)

We also contact each other when we find out something we didn’t know – to check if the other knew it, to confirm we are not strange to not have know it. (Like, did you know riffle – as in to riffle through papers – is not pronounced rifle? We didn’t.)

Anyway, as part of my attempt to routine-ise my blogging, Tuesdays will now be dedicated to blithering. Offloading about rules. Writing about the obscure and the overlooked. Sharing my views on unimportant topics and on strange things learnt.

BTW, I reserve the right to break my own rules. As I did in the previous paragraph. I hate people turning nouns into verbs, or worse just using a noun as a verb (as in “He disrespected me.”)

And as I say to my friend, when she is fired up about something and wants me to write about her issue in my blog, “That’s your issue, you write your own blog,” I expect our views will not always align. And that’s OK.

Weekly Catch-up: Dutiful Daughter

Last year, we all learnt that plans have to change and do change quickly. My goals for February quickly were tossed aside when Queensland opened their borders to NSW residents from February 1.

For readers outside Australia, I live in the capital city of NSW. Sydney was hit first with COVID. One of the first things the other states did was shut the borders. So we couldn’t cross into other states!

The first time the borders opened between Qld and NSW, I planned my trip north to visit my mother in the upcoming term break.

Then another wave hit in the southern part of Sydney and Qld closed its borders to people from that part. I thought I was safe – I’m at the very north of Sydney.

Then Qld blocked one more local government area (LGA).

Everyone was asking me if I was going north. I said I’d wait until they did one more LGA.

Ha! They went: one, two, all.

Borders reopened just before Christmas so I had everything booked to go up in January. Perfect timing as my mother was going through a sticky patch and I could help her with decisions and selling and getting rid of stuff in preparation for downsizing.

And then Sydney got another outbreak. I ummed and ahhed whether I should jump on a plane, miss Christmas with my family or or risk waiting a fortnight.

Waited and yep, borders closed.

Unexpectedly, the second day that school resumed, Queensland announced it was allowing people from Sydney in. So, even though school had not been back a full week, I took carer’s leave and hightailed it to Qld. I couldn’t risk the borders slamming shut again.

Anyway, perfect timing, except for missing Mr S’s 60th birthday. Mum’s house had sold in record time – it was on the market for less than a week. The removalists were coming the week the borders reopened.

I spent the first five days packing, helping my mum get rid of more stuff, taking that stuff to the op shop, directing removalists, dealing with electricity and phone/internet suppliers, connecting the internet, buying the needed connection to get the phone working. Exhausting. But what a dutiful daughter! Really, they would have struggled without my help.

Then I set up the mobile my sister had bought our mother. Now my patience started wearing thin. Possibly not quite errant, but not the most dutiful of daughters.

Now to explain the need of internet access for banking! They don’t have an active credit/debit card so couldn’t pay the removalists. I paid it and they needed to repay. Like the removalists, I don’t want cash. “What if we get a debit card? Can you use that to take money?” No, I’m not a business. I don’t have a card reader.

How will they pay the rent of the house they are in while waiting to buy a new, smaller property? “We don’t want this internet banking thing. Can’t we just get the bank to send the owners money?” You can try but I don’t think they will. You need to transfer yourself via online banking.

OK, I did become a bit sharp. Still, internet access established (by me) and once money is in the bank it will be my job to pay the rent regularly. DD, again.

But we are still not finished with dutiful daughter jobs. Signing my parts of enduring power of attorney. A visit to my mother’s doctor with her to get him to sign his section on the enduring power of attorney form and discuss my concerns about my mother’s health.

Add in a visit to my aunt who lives nearby and who had a stroke last year. All round it’s been a fortnight of adult offspring care tasks.

I did get to do several rainforest walks. I wish I could share some photos but the camera on iPhone is dead.

Here’s one from an earlier visit:

If I was closer, and the borders didn’t keep closing, I’d be able to spread these tasks out. But then, possibly if there wasn’t a sense of urgency with the move, my parents wouldn’t have accepted my help?

Copying Laura from The Occasional Nomads, I am going to add a regular bit below.

What I’ve just read: The Blue Zones: lessons for living longer by Dan Beuttner. This has invigorated my health goals. Adding drinking water and working on better sleep (again) to my goals. Worth a read. The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan. Interesting style but too too depressing story about adult offspring who won’t let them mother die and forced on her painful, invasive medical interventions. Strange choice for my week with my elderly parents. Lol!

What I’ve been watching: too much shit on tele. I need to be more selective. Turning the Tv off will help me with my goals of sleep and home routines. I watch too many American home makeover shows. My favourite is the husband and wife couple on The Fixer-Upper. I also watched the first episode of the new series of Wife Swap. The Australian version. And Hughsies, We have a problem. And repeats of Would I lie to you and QI. Think I should go cold turkey and not turn the TV on after dinner.

Steps to my goal

  • Sleep – I’ve been sleeping well here. No stress of work to keep my mind rolling over.
  • Water – will start tallying my water consumption again.
  • Exercise – four days of rainforest walks in a row.
  • Decluttering – leaving a pair of sandals in Qld. Old and worn. Goal was to wear them out this summer. ✔️
  • Main thing for the year – I have a major goal I am too embarrassed to share until it is finished. But for now, know I haven’t done anything for it this week as my focus was helping mum move.
  • FIRE: I’m starting to think about the FIRE movement – Financially independent, retire early. Thinking but not doing much. Actually becoming more aware my purchases are working against it. $55 for lace bunting? Why? Jeans with beading for $250. I don’t really need them. Anyway, thinking and awareness are the first steps.

Environmental hypocrisy

Is it hypocritical to care about the environment and drive a petrol powered car?

I know I am privileged to live in a city with clean, regular and fast public transport options, which given reasonable options, I often use. I rarely drive into the city. The train is just too convenient and fast. However, I always drive to work as it would take a train and a bus and triple the length of my journey. Of course during COVID, I’ve been minimising the use of public transport and haven’t gone into the city much at all.

Mr S and I love road trips, and took several long ones during the summer holidays. There’s no public transport options for those. Though I suppose we could visit one place for a longer period of time.

I drive to the gym when I could catch a train. But the convenience! And the time! I know it’s ironic that rather than “waste” time walking to the station (all of 6 minutes!) and walking from the station at the other end (equally short!), I drive so I have time to work out. I should investigate whether the trains will meet my class times and not involve much waiting. I suppose I’ve just assumed I’d have to wait and the train times wouldn’t align with my classes.

On the upside, Mr S and I walk. A lot. We walk to the local supermarkets with our reusable bags or our nanna trolley. (If we’re doing a big shop, we do drive.) Mr S has even walked with a moving trolley to the local bottle shop to buy cases of beer! I walk to the public library. We walk up to our local restaurants and pub. Mr S walks to work – every single day!!!

I drive a recent model small car. It is very fuel efficient. I’m really happy with it. But is it enough?

The reduction in cars on the road has made such a difference to our air quality in Sydney, without the concerns about carbon emissions. According to the book I have just read, which was also a TV series here in Australia, Fight for Planet A, transport makes up around 19% of our total emissions, with 60% coming from the cars we drive.

What next?

The idiotic conservatives in power have mocked electric cars. God, they even want to build a new coal powered electric plant because private industry doesn’t.

After reading Fight for Planet A, my next car won’t be an electric car.

What?

Yes, that’s right. Because I don’t have solar power, I would be recharging my car using coal powered electricity.

I’m getting a hybrid car. The car creates its own electricity from breaking. As a urban driver, I break a lot! And as a holiday road trip driver, I won’t have to worry about finding recharging stations in the country.

OK, this isn’t going to happen for about three years. I’m happy with my little car and won’t change it over yet. And, of course, things may change in three years.

Here’s my next car:

Tell me what do you drive? And do you use public transport? If not, why not?

Answering machine? Home line? What’s that?

I wrote this post in December 2019. Just found it while looking through my drafts.

This post starts with a mystery.

A message was left in my home line answering machine. The caller asked for me by a diminutive form of my name; a form that I used when at high school or one usually used by men when I introduce myself in my full name. You know like Suzanne to Susie! Or Jennifer to Jenny. Or Catherine to Cathy.

(Why it is usually men who use a diminutive form? Recently I was tempted to call a man Stevie who continually used the diminutive version of my name. He calls himself Steve, introduces himself as such and signs his emails the same. I introduced myself with my full name and use the full version in emails. He heard everyone else call me by the full version. Yet he persisted with the -y or -ie version of my name. This is one of the mysteries of this post. Not the main mystery. So let’s return to the answering machine.)

The message left a name of which I had no recollection. And said, very conversationally, “Long time no speak.”

“So what’s the mystery?’ you ask.

Well, who leaves messages on answering machines these days?

And who was this person?

I did what any sensible person did.

No, I didn’t call right back.

I Googled the name. It didn’t help. The name came up as a rural reporter. Was she responding to a tweet I posted? One in which I heavily criticised the state government which is my employer? That would be very paranoid of me.

Had she moved media employers and was trying to contact me about a workplace issue where a parent had threatened to go to the media?

There was a couple of Google results that had same name as a dodgy sounding charity. Was it a marketer, trying to sound conversational?

I turned to FaceBook. No help there.

I used Reverse Australia to see where the landline was based. And then did a street view search on Google maps to see if it was a home or a business. All looked like a private dwelling.

I discussed it with a friend who shared my thoughts that this was strange. (Not my searching. That’s not strange. No, the message was strange.)

After exhausting all search techniques, I returned the call. Turns out she was looking for an old school friend. I was not that friend. We just had the same first name.

Several years ago we would get lots of messages on our answering machine. There’d be no mystery. We’d return the call. Or not.

Now the only people who phone our home line are:

  • My mother
  • Telemarketers
  • An old friend of Mr S who persists in being without mobile or any social media

I’d get rid of the home line except it comes with the internet package.

Anyone who wants to contact me sends a text or a message or a video chat or an email.

Do you still have a land line? Do you use it?

Would you have phoned back? Immediately or when you had time? Would you have searched the net first?

Just start writing

More than seven months since my last post.

Should I just ignore the gap? Jump in with a post on the right shape of tea cups or the value of flannelette sheets?

Was it COVID that caused the pause?

In a way.

While things slowed down – no theatre, no going into town, no nights out, very little travelling for much of the year – other things ramped up – work stress (and not all due to COVID), exercise and “getting (most) things done”.

Isn’t it funny just as I let my French lessons go because I couldn’t fit in the needed time to study , COVID hit and I wouldn’t have been able to go to class anyway?

The age old question of how to spend the hours in the day! I decided that I needed to spend more time on physical exercise and I didn’t want to be rushing around on the weekend – French lesson, to the city for lunch and theatre, to the hairdressers, to the gym. Ha! They all stopped anyway.

So what did I do?

I turn into a pottering gardener who takes cuttings to strike! A regular Bunnings visitor. I exercised quite a bit when the gyms reopened. Read apace. Walked. And I started cleaning out the photos on my phone.

As the blog title commanded, I just had to jump in and start writing. And I am back! Like that poem – not Hughes’ The Thought Fox but something similar – just write and it is written. Start and it is done in the process of doing. (Wish I remembered the poem. I quite liked it.)