November catch-up

It’s been a wet couple of weeks to end November.

Last weekend, we went for a bush walk, in the rain.

It was lovely being alone on the track. Just Mr and me. We only passed two other couples. Things looks, sound and smell differently in the rain. Some tree trunks are orange and red. The rain muffles all other sounds, except the creek which has turned into a ragging torrent.

Half way through, I realised my Gortex jacket no longer kept the rain out. Well, it is over 20 years old and the rain was relentless. All good until….

Taking off my hiking boots on our front porch, I spied a leech!!! Three exclamation marks are not enough to convey the full horror. I squealed and panicked. “Get it off me!” Then I saw a second one on my pants. More panic. Luckily I had exercise tights on from my morning BodyBalance class. The black slugs couldn’t get under them and were thwarted by the tights from getting higher.

Except the one outside my tights and trying to suck me through the tights. I had Mr S hold the pants away from my leg while I took off my boots and then rolled off the pants.

Three suck marks showed the place where is given leeches a good feed. And they didn’t stop bleeding for hours! Mr S had the evidence of one – high on his thigh a tiny bite mark that also wouldn’t stop bleeding.

After the trauma I needed a long soak in a hot bath with several glasses of restorative bubbles.

I went back to the front porch to see if my clothing was leech free and could be brought in to wash. No leeches. Where do they go?

A few minutes later, in the kitchen, I spied one on my toe!!! How do they hide so well? And attach themselves so quickly? And move so noiselessly? Yes, I squealed again!!!

Yesterday I went to my favourite yoga class. I was a little hesitant as the gym is in a shopping centre. And it’s coming up to Christmas. And it’s the day after Black Friday (whatever that is and why on earth we have to adopt more commercialism). And it’s wet. What else are people going to do but hang out in shopping centres!

Yoga was lovely though I did prefer it when the class started at 9.30 as I was out before the crowds. Now it starts an hour later. Add to this, I popped into a shop to pick up the token Christmas gifts for our admin ladies. When I got to the carpark it was chaos. Very slow. Bumper to bumper.

And damnation. I ran into another car leaving the carpark. My fault but god the man was incredibly aggressive. I offered my drivers licence to photograph and he shouted, “I’ll do more than that!” as he paced around my car, shouting and gesticulating. There goes my zen state from yoga! But hey! No one was hurt and I have comprehension insurance.

Came home and restored myself with a pot of tea and the second book in the Thursday Murder Club. The Man Who Died Twice. I’m loving it.

Then walked up to the local Danish church Christmas market. No market due to COVID but you could preorder things, which I did. And you could have a Danish hotdog with the lot, which I also did. (Not sure if this sausage was a good example of Danish sausages but if so, Germans do better sausages.)

I follow Diane in Denmark on Instagram. She’s a Scot who’s been living in Copenhagen for 20 or so years. For a few months, I’ve been coveting her Danish mixing bowl. Looked for it in the shops. Only found it online. Reasonably priced. But the postage cost to Australia! $95 one place was going to charge.

Well, how lucky am I! The church was selling them. So I got two. I know I will love mixing cakes in them. And whipping cream. They have a rubber ring to stop the bowl slipping on the bench. Very clever.

What else did I get? A 40cm advent calendar candle and a Danish paper wreath in Danish colours.

Home for a nap, chats online to family and ending the night with the movie that marks the Christmas season for me: Love Actually.

Haven’t been decluttering much under the house. The rain has made that impractical and uncomfortable. (Though I have been decluttering around four things a day inside the house – slow and steady, trying to take out more than comes in.)

Haven’t really done any gardening. Though the garden is loving the rain. I sprinkled some blood and bone so the rain this week will soak its goodness into the soil. The flowers below have all come from cuttings from last year. I have had great luck with the hydrangeas! And such a variety from all the cuttings I have taken.

Today, the last Sunday of November, I have done several hours of work for work to do. And some potting and reading and walked up to a local bike shop to buy an e-bike for me for Christmas. Quite surprised at myself. But then I haven’t ridden it yet.

Three weeks left until My Adult Gap Year. From then you’ll find me blogging on my other site. I wonder if there’ll be a change of pace? Or a change of tone?

Ending lockdown

The removal of restrictions is happening quickly.

Our state government said there’d be fewer restrictions once we hit 70% and more at 80%. We’re nearing the 80% mark.

Given I am busy with work, I didn’t rush out to a pub or restaurants last week when we were allowed. My hair appointment isn’t for a few weeks as I only really have time on the weekend. (Well, this year. Have I told you lately I am having an Adult Gap Year next year?) I certainly didn’t line up at the shops to buy tat. (I sometimes despair at people – shopping for recreation.)

I did go back to my personal trainer in the gym. A few days after my PT session, I realised the benefit of continuous exercise. All the walking I did was no replacement for squats and abominable abdominals.

I had some joggers that I’d ordered online to collect. (All the walking I’ve done wore out my joggers!) They were meant to be ready weeks ago but went missing. The collection point was a local discount store that was only open for collection of online orders.

By the time my shoes were found, shops had reopened. I left it a few days, anticipating the shops would be packed. When I went, the car park was almost full. It was almost at Christmas level. Madness!

The biggest “freedom” was Friday evening spent with neighbours. We all brought nibbles and bubbles. Twelve of us. All sharing stories and checking in and shooting the breeze and celebrating birthdays.

Truth be told, the host originally wanted it for Monday – the first day of “freedom” and also one neighbour’s actual birthday. But he was busy. It was mooted that we sneakily meet on Sunday before “Freedom Day”. In our sleepy suburb, surely no one would see. And look at all the illegal gatherings in the beachside suburbs.

Well a visit by the police to my house on Sunday morning put paid to that. Someone had made an allegation that one of my sons held a party on the Saturday night. “No, officer, he most certain did not. I wouldn’t allow it.” Police apologised and left. (Son didn’t host a party but I could hardly say I don’t break the Public Health Orders, and then be found, less than 10 hours later, to be doing that same thing! And we don’t know made the allegation or why they did.)

So Friday night it was. Much better to allow some kicking back with no work the next day.

Next freedom: catching up with friends who live in other parts of Sydney.

Weekly catch-up: escaping

It was Mr S’s 60th birthday earlier this year. We didn’t do much because I was helping my mother move and, with the COVID restrictions we couldn’t plan a big do.

Younger son wanted to do an escape room together. He suggested both boys pay for the four of us Dad’s birthday gift. Last weekend was the day.

Younger son cooked dinner for us at his flat, making a fine chicken tikka masala.

While he was cooking, we enjoyed a few beers on the roof of his flat. After the week of rain, Sydney turned on a sparkling afternoon.

The walk along the harbour to the train station, just as the sun was setting, had the magical twilight feel.

It’s only a short walk to the station from younger son’s flat, but it was dark by the time we got to the platform. Nearly full moon before Easter. (Both my boys were born on Easter Sunday, so the full moon before Easter is theirs!)

The only spot left in the escape room was the last shift in their hardest room. Luckily, older boy has a brain for number puzzles. We solved it with minutes to spare. (With a few hints from the operators.)

This was my first escape room. Mr S enjoyed it but said he wouldn’t do another. I would like doing another, maybe one that was less maths-y and had more physical puzzles. The boys and I agreed we all will do one together again.

It is great to have such fun as a family.

What I’ve been reading: Honeybee by Craig Silvey- a kind of Aussie transgender The Outsiders. And Ikigai: the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. Not really a secret but still an interesting read. Basically, keep busy doing what you enjoy, keep moving, eat well and surround yourself with friends.

What I’ve been watching: more Escape to the Chateau and Fisk and Gogglebox and Space Invaders and Vera.

Exercise: I’ve gone back to the gym. I knew I had to break the hiatus and just go or I’d keep not going. Obviously. I still watch the clock in classes and I was dog tired the first class I went back to after work so I repeatedly yawned which didn’t endear me to the instructor. But hey! At least I was there. And I have been walking everyday. Just a short walk. But still: moving!

Weekly catch-up: social studies

Do you remember Social Studies at primary school? Social studies – that strange mix of history, geography, current affairs, famous people.

I’m reading the scraps of a primary school social studies book that I brought home from my mother’s when I helped her downsize.

The book was published in 1954. Well before I was born. How I came by it, I can’t remember. Possibly, a teacher was decluttering and gave it to the little avid reader, the little girl who always had a book in her hand. But wait. What’s that name in the front? Bobby Schweizer. That rings a bell. Weren’t they the German family who owned a restaurant and my mother was the live-in housekeeper come childminder? Yes. Yes, they were.

This book has moved interstate twice and moved in and out of many houses, possibly never being unpacked for the last quarter of a century from the box with my school workbooks and reports. With all that movement, it deserves to be read. Otherwise the thought of all that effort in moving and storing stuff for no purpose doesn’t bear thinking about.

So beyond feeling the need to justify all that storage and schlapping from one part of Australia and back again, why read it?

Well, it’s interesting. To see changing perspectives of what’s important and to see how things have changed.

Did you know it took seven and a quarter (I’m sure that quarter was important) hours to fly from Adelaide to Alice Springs!!! with several stops on the way. God, that’d be a long seven hours.

The photos of Sydney in the 1950s are amazing. So much green space. The harbourside open and clear. Not a skyscraper in sight.

In the section on Places and Objects of Interest in Australia, the unnamed author who says he is indebted to Miss H. J. Urquhart, the Headmistress of the Public School, South Strathfield, writes about Burning Mountain. Mr S and I have been there. We found it extremely interesting but I’d never read about it anywhere before, so it was funny to see it as worthy of putting in a third class text book in the 50s. It’s on the road from Sydney to Tamworth. The sign “Burning Mountain” attracted me so one time we stopped. Mr S wasn’t so keen as he thought it’d be nothing, just a name of a place. I really had to talk Mr S into stopping as once he’s on the route home, he doesn’t like to stop. Well, we were both amazed – it was definitely worth the stop. Burning Mountain has been burning for centuries – the fire following an underground coal seam and scorching the forest above. Still, a strange place to be included in a list of places of interest.

The social studies book has given me some places I want to visit. Never heard of Egg Rock on Mount Buffalo in Victoria. But after reading this, I’ve just added the Victorian high country for a summer exploration sometime.

There’s more references to the French sailors (who were here when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay) than I remember in my texts books at school. I didn’t know that Laperouse went missing so the French sent another boat to look for him.

The book made reference to a poet and poem of whom I’ve never heard – Adam Lindsay Gordon. Shock horror. Where have I been? Turns out to be considered one of the best earliest Australian poets. AND a couple of his poems have been turned into songs by Elgar. Sentimental ballads of the era had fallen out of favour when I was at school. If not for this book, I’d never have discovered The Sick Stockman. Worth a read.

But most, what’s the word I’m looking for?, disturbing..??? Shocked to the point of laughing in disbelief in this book is the casual racism. The unselfconscious contradiction. There’s so much to take your breath away, it deserves a post of its own.

So they will. On a Ranty Tuesday.

What I’ve been reading: tried a couple of items – Olivia Newton-John’s autobiography on audiobook, being one. She is reading it and she has a great voice to relax and help you fall asleep. Started reading a book on coming out gay in the 70s but there’s too much explicit S&M for me.

What I’ve been watching: Second episode of Fisk had me laughing as much as the first. This will be a series I will re-watch. Watched first series of Escape to the Chateau. It is escapism for all of us! And which constant, continual declutterer doesn’t like a decluttering show? Extreme hoarders always make me feel good about my stuff. But in the hoarders on Space Invaders, I see myself. I wouldn’t mind the team doing my house.

  • Sleep: not enough!
  • Water: I’ve started tracking my water and as I knew, I don’t drink enough. We’ve had days of torrential rain – it’s funny how you are more likely to forget to drink water when it’s cold or rainy.
  • Exercise: several usual walks
  • Decluttering: lots of paper gone. And other top

Weekly catch-up: empty nesters

Both my sons moved out earlier this year. The oldest to the inner city. Where he feels comfortable. Among the buzz of hip life. Full of intellectuals, hipsters m, wannabes, freaks, drop outs, young urbane types.

My youngest has moved out with another young lad from our street to a flat on the harbour at Kirribilli, that looks directly onto the Opera House. No one can believe what they are paying. The views are to die for. And with its gentility, it’s more The Dreamer’s scene than the city and inner west. He can skate or train across the bridge to the city and then escape back north.

Both are keeping their rooms here. And the spare room which has lots of their stuff. And shoes on the front porch!!!

Even if I was so inclined, I couldn’t empty their rooms. Mr S wouldn’t let me. He wants to boys to be able to come home any time they want.

Older Boy comes back quite often. He is a member of an athletics club close by and he trains with them. He might sleep here about once a fortnight. Or drop by for dinner.

Younger boy is back several times a week – sleeping here about twice a week.

He also comes to wash, to eat dinner with us or to eat whatever we had for dinner (we often cook double quantities to save cooking every night). On being asked, “What’s for dinner?” I asked if he thought dad and I might be cooking for two now. The look on his face told me he hadn’t even considered that option. He just assumed there’d always be enough for him too. Well, there is but it means we will have to cook another night too. And to be honest, Mr S always cooks for about twenty people.

The Dreamer has also said he is returning when his lease is up in June. So he has not really moved out – not physically, not mentally, not permanently.

So while we get several nights a week as empty nesters, we are not really empty nesters. Will we ever be?

I don’t feel deserted. How can I be? They’re here frequently.

I don’t feel at a loose end. I have never defined myself as a mother. Anyway, I am still a mother. Mothering was never my whole purpose and I didn’t live through my boys’ lives.

I can’t miss their mess because it is still here.

I don’t miss their company because we still catch up. One weekend we all went to an engagement party. Next weekend, we all went out for lunch and drinks and chat in the city. And then there’s the nights they’re here. And The Dreamer works at my school a couple of days a week.

I quite like the quiet. No SHOUTY computer game talk. No midnight feasting, klompimg around the kitchen, tinging of the microwave. No loud, not my taste, music.

So no grief here. But then maybe it’s because the nest really isn’t empty as much as it is that I have other things in my life besides mothering?

What do you think? Have you suffered empty nest syndrome?

What I’ve just read: I have several books on the go. None finished yet.

What I’ve been watching: started the investigative 3 part series into the fire in the ghost train ride fire at Sydney’s Luna Park in 1979. I couldn’t watch most of episode 1. It was too harrowing. I felt dread at the thought that the producer was just bringing up the pain of the families of those boys who died so she could have a sensational show; promising them a “real” answer rather than an electrical fault. But fuck, it was powerful and emotional and well done. No one who watched wouldn’t be in tears. Unless you kept turning it to mute and looking away like me. So you could say I didn’t really watch it. But I did watch some, even more without sound.

My pick for the week: Fisk. Written by and staring my favourite female comedian, Kitty Flanagan. Cringy, laugh out loud, nodding in agreement with situations. It’s great. I love the young comedian, Aaron Chen, who plays the “Webmaster”. All round brilliant cast.

Weekly catch-up: Hobbies

I’ve never been one to have hobbies.

Once, while in my early 20s, when visiting German relatives in Germany, an aunt asked me what my hobbies were. She was adamant that one MUST have hobbies.

That struck me as quite a strange thing to be adamant about and it stuck with me. Because I don’t have hobbies. And for the next 25 years? I still didn’t have hobbies. Oh god. Am I just a wage slave?!?

I’ve never been into sport. Blah! What is the point?

Dance? I have little rhythm, always start with the wrong foot, can’t tell my right from my left without winking, and can’t move my arms and legs with any sense of style.

I’m not at all crafty or creative. I’ve tried sewing. A practice in frustration. Was going to sew my sister a dress for her 21st. Hahaha. Who was I kidding! She never got a 21st present from me. Who knows where the cutout material ended up.

Knitting? Never finished the jumper I started. Let alone a scarf. Luckily my mother finished the jumper. I think. Anyway, I left the wool and wonky-tensioned piece with her.

Twenty-seven years ago, I found a craft for the non-creative. Cross stitch. All you need to do is count. I can do that. Did several. Then mis-counted on one and couldn’t finish it. “Just make it up,” said my mother. “Improvise!” That just won’t work. I’d end up with a very wonky piece and not in a creative way. I still have that UFO (UnFinished Object) and a few other kits in my cupboard.

I tried some scrap booking. More scrap, less booky. Why stick things around your photos? I don’t get it. And not because my pages look like I fought with the glue and other sticky things. I look at “good” ones and think why?

When I was a teen, my mother made me have music lessons. I won’t say it was a waste of money. But it definitely isn’t a hobby I’ve continued with. Much to the relief of anyone who isn’t tone deaf.

I tend to have challenges. Growing sweet peas. Running. (That one went as quickly as it came. See sport above.) Striking cuttings.

I do like words. Reading. Blogging. Learning languages. I think they’re my hobby.

Last year, I read Miranda Hart on hobbies. She struggles with them too. She outlines the ages of hobbies:

  • Teens – you’re only allowed to continue with your hobby if you’re talented in it. Think gymnastics, ballet, sport. Otherwise, with the need to be cool, you abandon hobbies.
  • 20s – you only need hobbies for your CV for job applications.
  • 30s – you look for some meaning. Search for something. Maybe join a book group. Or a masculine pursuit to find a partner, such as boxing or car mechanic classes.
  • 40s – gardening, but only if you’re professional successful or married. Otherwise you have to wait until you’re 50. Phew, this is now my hobby. My sons say it is a chore, not a hobby. So maybe I still don’t have a hobby.

Miranda says the only acceptable hobby throughout the ages is cookery. For this too, she gives stages, which are scarily accurate.

  • Child – adorable baked items
  • 20s – spag bol
  • 30s & 40s – lovely stuff with butternut pumpkin and chorizo from magazines
  • 50s & 60s – beef Wellington (possibly other comfort food)
  • 70s & 80s – back to adorable baked items

All well and good but last year I largely gave up cooking. I just can’t be arsed. It’s, I don’t know, like I’ve done enough dinners, baked enough cakes. Someone else can do it. Thank heavens, Mr S stepped up to grocery shopping and cooking.

Do you think people should have hobbies? Do you have a hobby? Or three?

One of my hobbies. (Saying something clever/funny but devastating.) When I realised it wasn’t everyone’s normal state. So it must be my hobby.

Last year, I took up “finding” cuttings for plants. I call it helping plants propagate. My friend calls it stealing. But look what it has given me:

What I’ve just read: this week’s read was fantastic. An antidote to decluttering, to simplifying. Miss Savidge Moves Her House by Christine Adams. Google it and watch the videos that were made in the 80s and earlier. What an unusual and independent and tough woman.

What I’ve been watching: it’s been one of those weeks at work when mindless shite on TV is needed to switch off the brain and when you can’t remember what you actually watched anyway.

Steps to my goals:

  • Sleep: bad – sooooo tired.
  • Water: bad – signs not drinking enough = headaches.
  • Exercise: blargh. Getting off the couch after a 10 hour day is hard.
  • Decluttering: holy t shirt cut up for rags.
  • Main thing I’m too embarrassed to tell you about: nix
  • FIRE: lots of talking and dreaming, little action. Though I did cook dinner on Thursday instead of spending $100 at a restaurant.

Weekly catchup: not my adult gap year

I was not meant to be working right now. This was meant to be my year off. Mr S’s too. Thirteen months of owning our own time.

We postponed it due to COVID. Can’t travel over seas. With state borders repeatedly closing, there were times we couldn’t even have travelled interstate, with no guarantee that state borders won’t close again.

Now, while I’m not sad we are not having this year off, I made it quite clear to Mr S, who wanted to postpone for two years, that I am definitely having 2022 off. I didn’t only want to go to the UK. I wanted to potter and garden and learn German and exercise and read and bake and explore and … and … and. So much more.

But mostly I wanted to not go to work.

Our forced savings for the year off have stopped being deducted from our income, which meant our pay as gone up to 100%. Having got used to living on 80% of our income, I didn’t want to waste the 20%, so I’ve upped our mortgage repayments.

With 20% of our income being taken out post tax and saved for us for four years, we have a nice lump sum waiting for us. We momentarily thought about cashing it in and paying off our mortgage.

But no! I WANT that year off.

I say to myself repeatedly, “Only three and a half terms left.” It’s a pretty liberating feeling. (Yes, I will be back after the year off but more than a year off – 13 whole months!!!)

I can see why FIRE is attractive.

It’s not that I haven’t got satisfaction snd identity and fun and fulfilment from work. But I’m ready to get more of that from other things.

What I’ve just read: Laura Tingle’s essay on NZ in the Quarterly Essay: The High Road: what Australia can learn from New Zealand. Sharp and incisive and comprehensive. Australians need to know more about NZ and this is a good start.

Also read Snakes and Ladders by Angela Williams, a memoir about a woman who was sent to prison for breach of weekend detention, a decade after her original drug-fuelled crime and after having turned her life around, getting uni degrees. I got to this book via a FB group which started in protest about the current sexual mistreatment of women working in Australian parliament but the FB group wiped the word women from the title as it was deemed exclusionary. At which point I left the group. The women are being raped, sexually assaulted, harassed because they are women. The protest is being co-opted by a group with a different agenda.

What I’ve been watching: I finished season 1 and started on season 2 of Our Yorkshire Farm. Mr S got into it too. What a fabulous family! But while I’d love to live there, farming is not for me.

Continuing with Season 1 of Vera – episode 2, which I have seen before, probably more than once but it was still so scary – the sounds, background music, faces popping up at windows. I had to mute bits. I can’t cope with really scary bits. I know it’s imaginary. I know they catch the killer but still. Why so scary? Why oh why do people always turn their back on the crazy murderer? And why are English coppers always on their own when there’s someone with a hammer about?

I also watched some rubbish – James Corden interview Prince Harry. (I will be watching Oprah’s interview next week.) Flicked between Gogglebox and Wife Swap. My two rubbish addictions!

Steps to my goals:

  • Sleep: crap week
  • Water: not enough.
  • Exercise: ditto.
  • Decluttering: said goodbye to the dress that I thought would last for a few more wears. But happy to release it while it is okay for someone else. With quite a few other items from my wardrobe, I will either take to a clothes swap meet or to the op shop.
  • Main thing too embarrassed to tell you about: did nothing.
  • FIRE: our first increased mortgage repayment went in, dropping our mortgage by over $7,000. If we keep this up, the mortgage will be gone in three years. My super is nearly double our mortgage, so worse case if work really shit me and I couldn’t continue is we could pay off our mortgage and fix up the house and live off Mr S’s super which is more than double mine.

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.

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.